Sausage Meatballs


I spent most of my Saturday afternoon watching the Food Network, which had an ongoing theme of great comfort foods. Now I wouldn’t necessarily suggest that when someone mentions ‘comfort food’ you immediately think of meatballs, but I definitely think that these qualify as a great comfort food! I found this recipe for Italian Meatballs and adapted my own version using spicy sausage instead of ground beef.

I have never made my own meatballs before. It’s kind of a mix between disgusting and fun. You mix all the ingredients together with your hands and roll out each of the meatballs, so please, please, PLEASE wash your hands! Here is my recipe!

SAUSAGE MEATBALLS

Ingredients:

12 oz spicy sausage
1/2 medium sized onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup bread crumbs1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 egg white
1/3 cup all purpose flour
4 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. worcestershire
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Directions:

Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Heat 2 Tbs. vegetable oil in a small skillet on medium heat and add onions and garlic, allowing them to sweat out and get soft, but not caramelize.

Prepare the meatball mix in a large bowl. Remove sausage from casing, add bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley, egg white, worcestershire and red pepper flakes. Once onions and garlics are done, add them to the mix as well.

Use your hands to mix together all the ingredients. Make sure you wait a few minutes for the onions and garlic to cool before you stick your hands in there though. Once a homogenous mixture is created, roll the meat mixture into small balls (about 1 Tbs.) and line up on a baking sheet.

Put flour in a shallow bowl and start to heat remaining vegetable oil in pan. For this, I used the same pan that I used for the garlic and onions to keep that flavor going. Coat each meatball in flour, shaking off the excess, then move to pan over medium heat. Continue to cook meatballs until they are cooked all the way through and crispy brown on the outside.

Once done, transfer the meatballs to a plate covered in paper towels to soak up excess grease.

This made about 40-50 meatballs for me and I used them to make spaghetti and meatballs. I have A LOT left over and I just cooked the ones that I was going to use for dinner that night. For the rest, I kept them on the cookie sheet that I lined them up on and put them in the freezer for about 10 minutes to ‘flash-freeze’ them. After 10 minutes, I was able to throw them into a plastic bag without worrying about them sticking together. So now when I’m ready to use them again, I can just take out as many as I need and return the rest to the freezer!

 

frozen meatballs

 

 

 

delicious meatballs ready for their pasta marriage ūüôā

 

 

 

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


I think I may have already posted a recipe for this type of cookie, but I’ve found a different recipe and this version is better than any other cookie I’ve made. It’s Betty Crocker’s Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and it’s DELICIOUS! I think I’ve figured out why I love it so much, and that’s because of the amount of brown sugar that it uses. Normally, the recipe on the back of a Nestle chocolate chip bag will tell you to add 3/4 cup (white) sugar and 3/4 cup packed brown sugar. Betty Crocker on the other hand calls for no regular sugar but 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar. From just the way that the butter and brown sugar combines, you can tell that the consistency will be different better. The other thing about these cookies is that they will always come out perfectly chewy–I think it’s because the oats soak up all the goodness of the rest of the batter and end up cooking just enough to make the cookies have the desired crunchy-to-chewy-ratio.

This major difference in the recipe made me wonder…what is brown sugar? Maybe you know already, but I had no idea. Apparently, the sugar is brown because of the presence of molasses. So the amount of molasses in the sugar is how it is identified as normal granulated sugar, light brown sugar, or dark brown sugar. Light brown sugar contains 3.5% molasses and dark brown sugar contains 6.5%. You would think that brown sugar would be the most natural form, being the least refined option. However, brown sugar is often manufactured by adding molasses to completely refined white sugar crystals. This is done because it is easier to control the molasses to refined sugar ratio and ends up saving money in production. Oh! Fun fact! In the 1800’s, the refined white sugar industry (who did not have full control over brown sugar production at the time) started a smear campaign against brown sugar. They reproduced microscopic pictures that showed impurities in brown sugar. Apparently they were successful in their campaign–by the 1900s, cookbooks were warning that brown sugar was susceptible to ¬†‘minute insect’ infestations. Thanks Wikipedia!¬†Alright, that’s enough learning for the day! On to the tastiness!

OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Makes about 36-40 cookies

Ingredients:
-1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
-1 cup butter, softened
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 egg
-2 cups quick-cooking oats
-1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
-1 tsp. baking soda
-1/4 tsp. salt
-2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (12 oz bag)

Directions:
-Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir brown sugar and butter until well blended. Stir in vanilla extract and egg until light and fluffy. Stir in oats, flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in half of the chocolate chips (6 oz.)

-Drop dough by the tablespoonful onto a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
-Bake for 5 minutes and add 3-4 chocolate chips (remaining chocolate chips) to each half-baked cookie. Continue baking for 4-5 more minutes, or until golden brown.
-Cool slightly and move from cookie sheet to wire rack.

The half-and-half trick with the chocolate chip cookies is just something I’ve learned recently. Not only does it make the cookies look better for blog pictures, but I honestly think it makes it taste better–you have some chocolate embedded in the cookies and some yumminess on the top too! YUM!

Broccoli Cheddar Casserole with Chicken


So I usually find my recipes from various blogs on the internet, but this one is a spontaneous creation of my own. My plan, when I set out for the grocery store, was to make a yummy broccoli cheese soup and serve it in a bread bowl. It was this delicious-looking recipe that I found online earlier today. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any bread bowls and had to just substitute some french bread on the side. And yes, I know, I could have made my own bread, but I didn’t have time for all the kneading and rising and all that jazz–french bread it was. So I got the rest of my ingredients and headed home. Just as I set out all my ingredients on the counter, I realized that I forgot the most important one–chicken broth! Chicken broth is the whole foundation of the soup! After spending about 10 minutes debating whether or not I should go back out to get it or not, I decided to try and make something else with the ingredients that I had. Thus, my broccoli cheddar casserole with chicken was born.

In the process of naming this dish, I had to look up what the word ‘casserole’ actually meant. Turns out that anything that has been cooked and served in a casserole dish is considered a casserole. Simple enough.So my recipe is basically broccoli cheddar soup (sans chicken broth), with baked chicken pieces, poured over pasta, sprinkled with Swiss cheese and baked in a casserole dish.

Broccoli Cheddar Casserole with Chicken

Ingredients:
1/3 c. flour
1/4 c. butter
1 tsp. Pepper
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese
3 cups chopped broccoli
2 chicken breasts
1 package of pasta (any kind of small pasta would work–I used macaroni, but you could also use something like rotini or fusilli)

Directions:
Boil water and cooks pasta. Drain and rinse.

Season 2 chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

In another pot, melt butter and add flour and milk. Mix until smooth. Next, add in 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese. Keep this mixture on very low heat and once it is all combined, turn off heat and put a top on the pot. Steam chopped broccoli and add to cheese mixture. Remove chicken from oven and cut into small pieces (about 3/4 inch long). Add chicken pieces into cheese mixture as well.

Return drained pasta to its pot and pour cheddar mixture over top. Mix together and then transfer to a well-greased casserole dish. Sprinkle 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until a brown crust forms.

Pretzel Bites


Any attempt that I ever make to start eating better is promptly dashed against the rocks when I’m faced with bread. And finding this recipe was no exception. I’ve adapted this recipe for pretzel bites from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. She says the recipe makes about two dozen, but I’m not quite sure how many I actually made because I had eaten too many by the time the second batch came out of the oven…oops!

Pretzel Bites

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbs. tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cup warm water
2 Tbs. baking soda
3 Tbs. butter, melted

Directions:
Mix 1 cup water with yeast and sugar in a cup or small prep dish. In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Add water mixture and mix until dough comes together. You may need to add more water or flour to get the right consistency. The dough should be smooth and not sticky. Knead dough for about five minutes. Lightly flour the dough and place back in large bowl. Cover with a dish towel and let rise for 30 minutes to an hour.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees and prepare two baking sheets by lightly greasing them.

Once the dough has risen, move back to a floured surface and divide into 4 equal strips. Then cut strips into bite-sized pieces (about 1 inch wide). Combine 1/2 cup warm water and baking soda in a small bowl or cup. Stir the mixture well so that the baking soda dissolves well. Dip each piece of dough in mixture and transfer to baking sheets. This mixture helps to make the pretzels golden brown in the oven.

Bake pretzels (one baking sheet at a time) for 7 minutes, or until golden brown. Melt 3 Tbs. butter. Remove the pretzels from the oven and brush pretzel bites with butter.

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