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Friday, July 29, 2011

Meatball Subs

I had purchased some ground beef at the farmers market a few weeks ago and it was the perfect amount for a few meatballs! The meat was delicious from John Crow Farm. We had some steak tips from these guys and they once again prove to have very tasty meat.

The key (in my mind) to a successful meatball sandwich is 3 things.
1. Sauce. Not too much but not too little
2. Bread. The bread must be able to handle the meatballs. If it can't, your sandwich won't stay together.
3. (This one is the most important) The Meatballs! They can't be too big, but they can't be too small. Also, they can't be too dry otherwise it throws your sauce ratio off. 

I've been working on my meatball recipe a long time and this one is pretty close to perfect. I'd love your thoughts if you have any suggestions. 

Beef Meatballs for meatball subs
1lb ground beef
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko-italian mixture)
2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
1/2 a small onion - finely chopped
1 egg
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for the pan - enough to cover the bottom
Provolone cheese - 2 slices per sandwich
French bread - fresh, not too hard on the outside
Tomato sauce - just a few spoonfuls per sandwich

Mix the spices, egg, meat, garlic, onion and breadcrumbs together in a bowl. Make sure it mixes together well otherwise your meatballs won't be spiced evenly. Take a wad of meat and roll a ball about an inch to a inch and a half in diameter. They will look small but they sit better in the bread and they cook faster. Plus they are easier to manage in the frying pan. I ended up with around 18 balls.
Once you've rolled all the meat up - heat up your frying pan. You want to add the balls one at a time to the pan and you're going to want to roll them around frequently so they don't over cook on one side. Based on the photo below - you don't want to fill up the pan any more than that otherwise they don't have room to move.
While the meatballs are cooking, prep your sandwichs and turn your oven on to around 350 degrees. Slice the bread so it's almost all the way through and plop your cheese in there evenly. I don't usually use the ends of the bread since its hard to take a bite into. BUT I do have a solution so you don't waste them... keep reading... I also added a little salt and pepper to the bread. Plop a spoonful of sauce on the bottom of the sandwich and spread it up the sides a little bit. 
Once the meatballs are done, add them to the sandwich and then top them off with a few dolups of sauce. At this point, I used our pizza stone and put the sandwiches directly on that into the oven. I left them in there to toast for about 5 - 10 minutes. While they are baking, remember how I mentioned I don't waste the bread? I yank out the middle of each of the ends, put a little drop of sauce and pop a meatball into each! Little bread bites. Yum.
At this point - you're now ready to eat! Happy sandwich making!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Turkey Scallopini with Gravy & a sad attempt at scalloped potatoes

Sometimes things work out great when you're cooking and sometimes they don't. I think it's just as important to share the failures as it is the successes when you're in the kitchen. I also think it's kinda funny when you screw it up so bad it's inedible... this is what happened last night. I wanted to make turkey scallopini and scalloped potatoes. Not too difficult. The turkey turned out FANTASTIC! Will certainly be a staple recipe in our house moving forward. The potatoes - not so much. Here's the story of my unsuccessful scalloped potato attempt.
I started out like the recipe said, slice the potatoes, layer them in the dish and add a little flour mixed with salt in peper. I also added some diced onions to give an extra added layer of flavor. Mistake #1 - potatoes are not sliced thin enough.
The potatoes are in the pan, ready to go and...I forgot to add any liquid to the potatoes before I popped them in the oven. Yep. Mistake #2 Uncooked sliced potatoes in a casserole dish with onions, butter and no liquid = very not tasty at all. It doesn't end up tasting like a baked potato (which once I realized this, is what I was hoping for) since they weren't russet potatoes, it ends up like a bunch of dry potato goo.
So to try and remedy the situation, I added milk and baked for another 30 minutes. It helped but not enough. So on a last ditch effort, Matt tried to mash them and add some spices and bake for a little longer. This may have worked but now it's around 9pm (2 hours after we ate the turkey) and neither one of us is that interested. Mistake #3 Don't mash scalloped potatoes. Needless to say, we've got a bunch of inedible potato goo hanging out in the trash can.
Oh well. If you have a good recipe for easy (and no heavy cream needed) recipe, please send it my way!

Now on to the success - Turkey Scallopini! So tasty and so super easy. For how bad the potatoes were, the turkey was so good.
Skillet Turkey Scallopini (or Chicken if you prefer)
Serves 2

  • 1/2 pound turkey breasts (or chicken breast) pounded thin
  • Bread crumbs (I used the panko ones)
  • 1/2 a medium sized onion, diced
  • 1/2 packet of turkey gravy powder
  • 1/4 stick of butter (optional)
  • 1 cup Chicken stock
  • 1/4 water
  • salt and pepper to season chicken
  • Olive oil for the pan
1. Pound the chicken till its about 1/2 inch thick, dip it into the panko bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper. Set it aside.
2. Heat up your sauce pan with the oil and add the diced onions. Cook them till they are translucent and starting to caramelize. Move them out of the pan but not too far away, you'll need them again soon!
3. Add a bit more oil to your pan and place the turkey in. Don't touch it. Let it cook for at least 5 minutes so it starts to brown on the bottom. Then flip it over and don't touch it till it starts to brown again. Cook it until the meat is almost done.
4. Mix up the gravy on the site and pour over the meat, add the onions. And if its not thick enough, add the water.
5. Cook the meat and gravy till the meat is done. The gravy keeps the meet nice and juicy.
Serve that sucker up!

Another side anecdote
One of our kitchen cabinets never ever stays close (ghetto I know but you learn to live with it because you're too lazy to fix it) but last night I banged my head into it about 100 times so finally, I had to get it to stay closed... wah la! My genius invention - closed-door-ala-spoon!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chicken a la King

It's been hot - we haven't been cooking. It's been too darn hot... until last night! YAY!

Matt and I were chatting this past weekend about dishes we loved as kids, what mom used to make and what we loved out of the "meal rotation." So that's where Chicken a la King came up. Matt has mentioned it a few times as a dish he loved and it sounded pretty easy so we gave his mom a call, got the recipe. We didn't eat this exact dish in my house but we did eat a few things that were very similar. It's very easy to make, not too terrible for you and you can substitute very easily based on what you have in the house and your tastes. You could swap out the peas for celery or carrots. I'm not sure peppers would be a good flavor but why not try!

Chicken a la King
This recipe is for 2 people

  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup of peas
  • 1 cup of chopped broccoli
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 lb chicken breast or turkey breast (diced into large chunks)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 package of No Yolks noodles - extra broad (or you could use rice as well)
  • 1/2 packet of turkey gravy (the dried stuff - this is optional)
  • 1 tsp of olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan

  1. Dice up your chicken/turkey and your veggies so they are ready to be added
  2. In a large sauce pan, add the olive oil to cover the bottom. Season the meat a little and then plop the meat into the hot pan. Add in the soups one at a time, then the peas, broccoli, gravy and lastly the milk. 
  3. Once everything is mixed together, let it simmer for 30 min or until the meat is cooked. In the meantime, cook up those noodles!
  4. After abou 30/45 min, take a quick taste and make sure it doesn't need any additional seasoning.
  5. Serve the mixture over the noodles and enjoy!