Monday, July 27, 2015

Maddie's SECRET Meatballs

First let me start off by saying, YES, this really IS this big of an issue for my granddaughter.  This precious, beautiful little princess won't come within 10 feet of a veggie if it was up to her.  She is spending the summer her with her dad and stepmom, brother and sister and Nonna and Pop-Pop and we have had to figure out ways to get veggies in her.  If for one second you think I can put them on a plate and convince her they are worth a single taste, let alone bite, you are mistaken.  This kid has stubborn down to a science and I know she can't be the only one

Let me introduce you to Madalynn a.k.a Maddie.  She is my oldest granddaughter and she is my precious little cupcake.  She is a special little girl who we don't get to see enough but love her to the moon and back.  We are so excited to have her here close to us for the summer and it has been my mission to get her to eat vegetables.  I would have had an easier time wallpapering the moon.  Look at those eyes, and that face, UGH, she melts me!

Maddie loves meatballs.  In fact, everyday she wants something with meatballs.  I thought to myself, self......secretly load those babies with veggies.  So I did.  She almost called me out, as she was eating them she saw a TEENY TINY piece of spinach and squealed, "NONNA THERE IS LETTUCE IN HERE".  ROFL  I was laughing so hard.  The struggle is real friends, lettuce in her meatballs, SOMETHING was fishy about this whole thing.  I proceeded to watch her out of the corner of my eye, carefully inspecting each meatball before eating it.  She must have eaten 15 of these things.  I tried to use kid rationale before making them.  Things like making them small enough she didn't have to cut into them to see any possible contraband.  I used ground chicken just for a leaner alternative and we eat tons of it so I always have it on hand.  As she was eating I asked her if we should share these with other kids so their parents or Nonnas could make them her special meatballs and I got the firm thumbs up.  So here they are, Maddie's SECRET Meatballs, what they don't know is in there, will be GOOD for them!  I am so happy to be able to share these and my beautiful grandbaby with you all.

Before you start this "kid approved because they have no idea what they are REALLY eating" recipe you will need to concoct your veggies using a food processor. 

1/4 of an onion
1 small carrot
1/2 of a stalk of celery
1/4 cup fresh spinach leaves
1 clove garlic
1 T dried Italian seasoning

Puree this until it nearly all liquid.  Remember the goal is to have nothing recognizable in these meatballs.  Set aside to add to your meatball mix.

1 lb. ground chicken
1 egg
vegetable puree
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (plain or seasoned, it makes no difference and you may need more or less depending on how moist you like your meatball mix)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Using a tiny scoop or just your hands make little meatballs, no more than 1/2 inch in diameter.  We don't want them to have to cut the meatball and risk seeing anything "suspicious".  Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Remove and place into your favorite marinara sauce and let simmer for a good 30 minutes so they can soak up that great flavor!  Serve over pasta of your choice!


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Thin Crust Reuben Pizza

Ohhh Ohhhh OH, Oh those summmmmerrr nights! Wella, wella, wella, UH.... 
Yes, I am watching Grease in the background.  I guess that means I am listening to Grease.  Anyway, I hope that song is now stuck in YOUR head for awhile like I have!

This is a bit of a "semi-homemade" pizza.  Let me be honest, I do this from time to time and I go through spurts of it.  In the summer I tend to do it more, simply because of being busy and not wanting to heat up the kitchen.  But I have my own opinions, I think even though you purchase some ingredients, it is homemade, it is assembled by your hands in your kitchen with your love, and dang it, that is homemade.  Am I right here?  This is probably the first time in maybe 5 or 6 years, (dead serious) that I BOUGHT a pizza crust thingy.  I have to much going on and my sister requested that I made a pizza like this for her last winter.  WHAT?  So she had to be put on my waiting list, I think 6 months out isn't bad at all!  Let me just tell you friend O' mine who want to make your own sauerkraut, pizza dough, and Russian dressing on a 100 degree day......GO FOR IT.  Isn't happening for me.  Also if I had real corned beef on hand, I would have gone that route.  But this is a quick and easy pizza, so just do it!

This will beyond satisfy any Reuben lover in your life.  It far exceeded my expectation but I don't know why, it is just like I made a regular Reuben sandwich just in thin crust pizza form!  Some of the toppings, are kind of "to taste" but I will just tell you what I used. 

Oh yea, ask me why there is only 1 photo of my prep.  Because I forgot to take more.  And frankly, it's a pizza, you will figure it out!

You will need

1 Pillsbury (or whatever brand) pizza crust
1/4-1/2 cup Thousand Island Dressing
1/4 lb. deli corned beef sliced thin by the deli and in strips by you
1 cup drained and packed sauerkraut
2 cups grated Swiss cheese

Press dough out unto a pizza pan.  Mine is pretty large. Use a cookie sheet if you need to, just get it pressed out.  Follow package directions, I needed to pre bake mine for 5 minutes.  I let it cool a couple of minutes and then started the masterpiece!

Thousand Island dressing, leave a little border. 

And that is where your pictorial stops!  Next comes half of the cheese!  THEN the sauerkraut, corned beef on top of that, then the rest of the cheese.  Make sure that sauerkraut is drained REALLY well.  Bake for an additional 7-10 minutes.  Your crust will be golden and the cheese will be melty goodness.

This is fantastic and if you aren't sure, just ask me.  I will tell you to just make it, and see for yourself!  That thin crispy crust and those Reuben toppings, good Lord above, it is amazing!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Parmesan Baked Egg Loaf

Good morning, or, I mean evening!  I get confused on these egg recipes ya know.  (wasn't that funny)  We eat them at our house morning, noon and night.  No time is a wrong time for an egg recipe or breakfast recipe at our house! 

So how many of you make egg in a nest?  Toad in a hole?  Bird in a nest?  Frog on the pond?  You know what I am talking about, don't you?  I think we have even had the discussion on social media, on what you call it!  If you call it something different you will have to let me know in the comments!  Regardless of what you call it, I call it perfect for any meal!  This recipe is just a bit of a "grown up" version, which I only say because some would consider this fancy enough for serving guests where they might not serve a plain ol' frog on the pond!

I was inspired by a photo my husband sent me.  It was similar to this, but I could find no recipe, only a photo.  After a couple of tried both of which were fantastic, I found the way I wanted to share with you all.  I know eggs are skyrocketing in price especially here in the Midwest, but when you find a good deal, stock up and make this! 

Here we go, on this fah-nsah nan-sah version of whatever you call it!

1 loaf of French bread or baguette
4 eggs
3 T grated parmesan cheese
2 T melted butter
dried parsley to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 375.  Using about a 2 inch cookie or biscuit cutter, cut through the top layer of your bread.  Using a serrated knife cut out the circle and dig out the bread halfway down to the bottom.  Be careful not to pierce the bottom of the loaf we don't need leaky eggs! 

Now, brush this loaf with melted butter.  Use every last drop of that butter, don't let me catch you leaving a little behind.  Just don't!  Drop an egg into each hole, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and parsley. 

Now, pop this bad girl into the oven, for 18-23 minutes.  You want the yolks to still jiggle, and the whites to ALMOST be firm.  They will carryover cook, so take them out shy of the whites being completely firm. 

Let it cool for a few minutes and cut into 4 pieces or 2 pieces if you are serving 2 to each person.  If you are serving more than 2 or 4 people, well, get another loaf out kids!

I love these and one was so filling!!!


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Strawberries and Cream Crepe Cake

I have such a love/hate relationship with summer.  Do you?  I hate the heat, I love the heat.  I hate mosquitos, I hate bugs, but I love being outside.  I guess I'm a girl who can't be pleased or something.  One thing I DO love about summer most is fresh fruits and veggies.  Though I haven't ever grown strawberries, we have a few farms around here to go pick them at.  My sister did recently and I knew, when I tasted the jelly, it NEEDED to become part of a recipe.  And what is better in summer than anytime of the year?  Strawberry shortcake, of course!  Well, I figured most everyone knew how to make that, and I have been hungry for crepes, so here you go.  The marriage, as I see it, of the two delicious dishes!

This is a very easy dessert.  I think you could technically eat it for breakfast or brunch, maybe supper, oh let's be real, you will want it at midnight too!  You will probably use store bought jelly or jam and that is perfectly fine.  But please don't buy store bought crepes.  My heart won't be able to handle it.  You can go to my recipe for Nutella Cream Crepes and do a couple of things that I will list with the recipe.  Make those Nutella Cream Crepes while you are at it.  And roll that "R" for me baby.  HA! 

NOTE: My crepes appear a bit thick, they are.  I used my 6 inch nonstick skillet that I use only for crepes for this recipe.  Ideally, you will use an 8-9 inch pan for yours.  My cake served 4 very well, yours might serve a couple of more, or leave more for you to eat at midnight.

Here is what you are going to need to make the 3 different components that you will need to make this light, and delicious recipe.

You will need :
a double recipe of my crepe recipe and to this recipe, you will add 1 tsp. vanilla extract.  Make your crepes, and set aside to cool.

Vanilla Cream Filling
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract or paste
1 individual cup of vanilla pudding or 1/3 cup if you are measuring it from regular size batch

Add all ingredients in a bowl and using your hand mixer, mix until well combined, then turn to high and beat for 1-2 minutes. 

Strawberry Filling
1/2-3/4 cup strawberry jelly
1-2 T. hot water

Mix together and microwave for 30 seconds, to loosen the jelly and make it a bit thinner. 

Now, here is how it goes...

First get your jelly/jam and vanilla cream together...
Then pull over your crepes...
Now, lay a crepe on a plate and top with a THIN layer of cream...
Top with another crepe and spread with strawberry jam...
Rinse and repeat until you have stacked all of your crepes.  I don't recall how many my double recipe made of the 6 inch but it will make a few less of the 8 or 9 inch.  No worries, your cake will still be perfect.
When you are done, refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.  If you are doing this with any other fillings I don't think it need chilled, but with the jam it does.  Do not make this HOURS in advance.  You pretty much want to eat it as soon as it is chilled.  It ROCKS!
That is it.  Simple, isn't it?  I hope your enjoy it and make it soon!  Be creative with your fillings too!  Post your photos on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.  Use the hashtag #chefwannabesfood !


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cheesy Broccoli and Chicken Bake

A good evening to you all.  I always say that, don't I?  How should I start?  I mean the options are HOLLAAAAA, or like........YO.  No, those won't work.  Anyway, it IS a good evening, when I am writing this anyway and I hope it is for you too!

Summer has sprung.  I know we are all doing a lot more cooking outdoors but, sometimes, indoor cooking is our choice too!  We still have families to feed or maybe only ourselves.  In fact this recipe will do fantastic in the freezer if you have to many leftovers.  Those of you who are single will love to know that.  You can take out the broccoli, it will still be delish, but, honestly, if you take out the broccoli put in peas or something green.  Cause I am the mom that's why!

Enjoy this easy, and yummy casserole that is sure to fill up the tummies of all you love!

2 T butter
1/4 cup finely minced onion
1/4 cup flour
2 3/4 cups milk
1 T. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
16 oz. pasta, cooked to al dente
2-3 large chicken breasts, cooked and diced
16 oz. bag of frozen broccoli
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (divided)

If you cook your pasta in salted water, make sure to keep the water when you are done and cook your chicken in it.  Drain your pasta and set aside.  Return pot to stove top and add butter and onions.  Let onions cook for 2-3 minutes, while stirring. 

Add in flour and allow to cook while stirring for about 1 minute to cook out the raw flour taste.  Add in onion powder, salt, pepper and milk.  Let come back to a boil, stirring often.  Add in chicken and broccoli.  Remove from heat and add in 1 1/2 cups of your cheese.  Stir and pour into a greased 9x13 casserole dish.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and back for 20-30 minutes.  

This is a really easy recipe that is usually a winner for anyone I make it for!


Monday, June 22, 2015

Stuffing Meatloaf

I hope this finds you having a fantastic day!  I am getting ready for my oldest granddaughter to arrive from NJ to spend the summer with my son and his family and of course Nonna and Pop Pop!  ACK!  We haven't seen her in almost 2 years and it just kills me!  Anyway, that is what I am up to, anticipation, excitement and my smooches and hugs bank is just growing by the minute!

So, this recipe was actually given to my husband by a co-worker who I refer to as his "work wife".  If I need him to remember ANYTHING I just tell her or he forgets during the course of the day.  This may not be a new recipe to you but it is to me and I wanted to try it.  I wanted to make a few changes as well.  I BELIEVE she said, a pound of hamburger and 1 box of stuffing mix.  It has been awhile ago, but, I think that was it.  I changed it up just a bit and I think it turned out amazing.  I love boxed stuffing mix, sue me.  I think it is the best thing since sliced bread and if I never have to eat homemade "dressing" again, I am good with that. SO good with that. 

This is not a generic meatloaf I would put  a nice topping on, this, to me, is a brown gravy meatloaf.  You need mashed potatoes and brown gravy because, you just do.  Add some nice steamed green beans, and a fresh warm roll, and oh YESSSS!  Oh and did I mention the kind of crunchy top?  Oh yea, well it does.  And it is amazing!

I used super lean ground beef, and pork.  Even if I had fattier ground beef I always add pork to my meatloaf.  My mom always did, need I say more?

You will need:

2 boxes of PORK flavored stuffing mix (6 ozs. I think)
2 lbs. lean ground beef
1lb. ground pork (not sausage)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Add all ingredients into a large bowl. 

Get your hands in there kids, just go for it!  You can also put this in a kitchen aid with the paddle attachment, which is what I do for my regular meatloaf because it gives it a FABULOUS consistency.  I just wanted to test this one with just doing it by hand.  I supposed you could crush up the bread and seasoning mixture but I put mine in whole.  Mix to combine.  Place into a 9x13 backing dish or your regular meatloaf pan of choice.  My mom always used loaf pans.  I use a 9x13.  Form it into your favorite shape.  I like to make mine wide enough to fit a slice on a sandwich, which my husband likes, more than just the meatloaf by itself!  Bake for 60-70 minutes.  Just check it, you want it done but not dried out.

This is a dense meatloaf, which I personally prefer.  This is my perfect meatloaf.  Just delicious!  Some people might like the stuffing mix crushed up more as I said before, I left it whole.  So do it either way.  I hope you give it a try, I am so glad I did!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Strawberries and Cream Donut Holes

Evening folks!  This is one of the easiest recipes EVER.  It is more of an assembly process but I decided to share it with you anyway.  Are there recipes that are "to easy"?  I think we could all use a few of these in our last minute panic arsenal! 

Honestly, you COULD do this with glazed donuts as well but in my opinion, the sugar coma, won't be worth it.  I love using the donut holes because you can use them as a little mini dessert, little snacks, and it is just enough.  Feel free to make your own donut holes, I purchased mine because I was in fact taking these somewhere as a gift and was in a rush.  I recommend the glazed ones, no sugar dipped or anything. 

The amounts of the ingredients will really depend on how many you are making, I did a dozen.  I also used fresh sweetened whipped cream, but if you groove on cool whip or the stuff in a can, go for it.  The world is your sandwich friends, make it how you like it.  Make sure to buy your donut holes the day you are making these or they will go stale!

I hope this quick and easy, dessert, food gift, or snack is enjoyed by everyone you make it for.  Oh yea, make sure to make it!

1 dozen donut holes
4-6 nice ripe strawberries
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Start with prepping your strawberries, slice them thick or thin, just make sure you put the rounded end slices with the rounded part down in the whipped cream so the tops will sit nicely!  OCD much?  I own it.  In a bowl whip the cream, sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks.  Now cut the donut holes in half and go to town.  You can pipe the cream on, but I just used a spoon.  Don't worry if you get whipping cream where you think it shouldn't be, I mean, that means there is just more.  NEVER a bad thing.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve but I recommend serving immediately.  (you might notice I said I made a dozen and there are only 10 on the plate)  No shame in my game, NONE!!

ENJOY my friends!