Monthly Archives: February 2014

Asian Meatballs with Sesame Noodles

Like to cook once and eat twice? This is a perfect double duty recipe.  I made this meatball mixture originally for potsticker filling.  Rather than making a huge batch of those, I used half for the gyoza, and used the other half for these fabulous meatballs.  Some quickie sesame noodles while the meatballs cook and you have dinner on the table lickety split.  If you don’t want to use them all right away, just stick the cooked meatballs in a freezer bag and save for another day.

Asian Meatballs with Sesame Noodles

Asian Meatballs with Sesame Noodles

Asian Meatballs with Sesame Noodles

Meatballs:
1/2 – 1 pound ground pork (I used one pound, which will make a double batch or use half for gyoza filling)
1 shredded carrot
1 inch ginger, minced
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
3-4 green onions, chopped

Noodles:
1 package thin spaghetti noodles
1 cup spinach, coarsely chopped
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce (or more to taste)
1 tsp. lime juice
Salt (if needed – sometimes the soy sauce is salty enough on its own)
1-2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a bowl, combine meatball ingredients.  Roll into meatballs and space evenly on a baking sheet.

Meatballs!

Meatballs!

Bake for 30-40 minutes until brown and cooked through.

While the meatballs are cooking, bring water to a boil and cook noodles according to package directions.  When noodles are ready to drain, throw the spinach into the water with them, then drain the whole thing.  Toss with the other ingredients and then gently toss with the meatballs.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve hot or cold.

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Beef Stroganoff Soup

Spring is on the horizon but for now it’s still soup weather at my house.  Oh let’s face it, I make soup all year long.  But this one is especially nice for warming up on a chilly day.  I was in the mood for beef stroganoff but wanted something not quite so heavy.  I also only had a small amount of meat on hand.  So I decided to turn one of my favorite dishes into soup instead.  In  the process, I managed to slip in some extra veggies.  And ding, ding, ding…we have a winner!  I will definitely be making this again.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still a somewhat indulgent soup with a nice creamy base.  But it’s also got a healthy dose of veggies.  Compared to eating a plate of beef stroganoff, I’d say this is the healthier choice, if for no other reason that I’m not heaping it on top of a pile of noodles.  I would caution you to resist substituting low or no fat sour cream or whipping cream for the regular versions in this. The lower fat versions tend to curdle sometimes and you will just not get the same nice creamy flavor and texture.  If you want to lighten it up, simply use less of these ingredients and then balance with a bit more water or broth to get the soupy consistency you want.

Beef Stroganoff Soup.

Beef Stroganoff Soup.

Beef Stroganoff Soup

3/4 pound sirloin, sliced thinly
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. flour
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp. butter
4 cups beef broth
1 cup water
1 cup dry pasta (I used bow ties but any small shape will work)
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup whipping cream
1-2 tbsp. sherry
1 cup chopped spinach

Toss beef strips with flour, thyme and salt & pepper.  In a soup pot or Dutch oven, melt butter.  Add beef and cook until brown.  Add onion and mushrooms and saute 2-3 minutes until veggies start to soften.  Add broth, bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Add water and bring to a boil again.  Add pasta, stir, and reduce heat to medium (low boil).  Cook for 10-15 minutes until pasta is tender.  In a small bowl stir together whipping cream and sour cream until smooth. Stir in spinach, cream mixture and sherry.  Cook 2-3 minutes until spinach is wilted and soup is heated through.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

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Potato Palooza! My Top 20 in Spuds

This week marked two years since I started this blog. It started with a 30-day vegetarian challenge issued by my daughter, Claire.  From there it has become a fun way to share my love of food and cooking with my family and friends (even the friends I’ve never met!), an online recipe box for myself and an ongoing cooking project for me and my kids to work on together.

To celebrate, I thought I would highlight my favorite food – the potato! I know National Potato Day is in August, but let’s be honest.  If you know me, you know it’s always National Potato Day at my house.  Maybe it’s my Irish side, or maybe just because they are irresistible, but I love them.  And apparently, so do you, since some of these rate among my most popular posts over the last couple of years.  I thought it made sense to have a collection of these favorites all in one place.  So I give to you my top 20 in spuds.

One of the most fun things about potatoes are all the incredible ways to cook them.  Which is your favorite?  It’s so hard to choose! Just click on the photo caption to go to the corresponding post.

The #1 most popular potato post on my site, and in the top five of ALL my posts, you can’t go wrong with this fancy presentation of an old favorite.

Like salt & vinegar potato chips?  You will LOVE these zippy roasted potatoes!

Who says potatoes are a side dish?  Grab yourself some big spuds and let them shine as a main course.

Forget frozen french fries.  Leave the chemicals behind and make them yourself!  Easy and oh so good.

Work out your aggression and enjoy a tasty side dish with these delightful smashed and baked potatoes.

One of my very favorites and a cure-all for just about everything.  Restaurant quality hash browns right in your own kitchen.

Spanish tortilla. One of my favorite tastes of Spain and such a beautiful presentation too!

Easy to throw together for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  And you can even use up your leftovers!

My favorite camping food – but perfect for a lazy evening at home too.

Not your mama’s scalloped potatoes.  No cans of soup here.  Just unbelievably good comfort food.

Breakfast anyone?  Easy baked eggs with a little potato and cheese.

Lemony potatoes, perfect side dish for fish or chicken.  I can eat a whole batch of these by myself. Scroll down past the fish recipe for the potatoes (but the fish is worth stopping for too!).

 

The most perfect side dish with just about anything, but especially if you are a “meat & potatoes” type.

A very veggie version of Shepherd’s Pie.

The best – and most unusual – stuffed peppers you will ever eat.  A touch of heat and Indian spices make these irresistible.

A classic potato salad to make your grandma (and mine!) proud.

A not-s0-classic potato salad.  This hearty spinach salad features tiny potatoes that steal the show.

Put your leftover baked potatoes to good use in this hearty, comforting soup.

Cheesy, with a southwestern kick.  This is a great spin on the classic potato soup.

Who says potato soup isn’t healthy?  Get your veggies for the day without evening noticing in this delicious concoction.

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Gyoza

I love going out for sushi.  One of the little-known best parts of going for sushi, in my opinion, is the not-sushi.  It’s the gyoza.  Also known as potstickers, or dumplings.  Mmmm, little pockets of heaven.  Pork, veggies, and a bit of Asian mystery all bundled up in a tiny little package just for me.  Dip them in ponzu sauce for a salty, tangy finish and oh man, happy happy me!

These are very easy to make.  Don’t be intimidated by what looks like hours of work.  While there is a little more prep work than just throwing something in a pan, these babies come together pretty quickly and it’s sooooo worth the extra effort!  They are easy enough to make that you can get the kids (or even the dinner guests!) to help with the assembly.  And the really nice thing is this recipe yields a ton of them.  This batch will easily make 60+ dumplings.  I made about 40 and then used the rest of the filling for Asian style meatballs for another day.  Don’t want to eat that many at once?  No problem.  They freeze beautifully for an easy meal or snack later on.

While most of the time in restaurants gyoza is offered as an appetizer, I really enjoy it as a main dish.  A pile of stir-fried veggies and rice alongside and you’re in business!

Gyoza.  Who says it's just an appetizer?  These were main dish quality.

Gyoza. Who says it’s just an appetizer? These were main dish quality.

Gyoza

1 pound ground pork
1 shredded carrot
1 inch ginger, minced
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
3-4 green onions, chopped
1-2 packages round gyoza wrappers (find in the refrigerated section in most produce departments at the grocery store)

Mix all ingredients (except wrappers) in a large bowl.  In the center of each wrapper place a teaspoon of the pork mixture.  I usually work in batches, laying out 9 or 10 skins (put out a little bowl filled with water for dipping fingers), filling, and then crimping all of them.  This is also a fun task for little (or big) helpers.

Making gyoza.  Be sure not to overfill, this is about the maximum amount you want to put in there if you want to be able to seal them up.

Making gyoza. Be sure not to overfill, this is about the maximum amount you want to put in there if you want to be able to seal them up.

Moisten the edge all around with a bit of water and bring the two edges up to meet in the center.  Pressing outward to remove the air, seal the edges, crimping with fingertips.  Place on wax paper on a baking sheet or board.

Gyoza, all crimped up and ready to cook (or to freeze).

Gyoza, all crimped up and ready to cook (or to freeze).

Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Drizzle a bit of canola or peanut oil in the pan and let it heat (I use about a tablespoon of oil for each batch).  Swirl oil around to coat the bottom of the pan.  In small batches, add the gyoza (I can do about 10-12 at a time in my skillet).  Let them sizzle and cook until brown on the bottom.  Add 1/3 cup of water to the pan and cover.  Let cook about 3-4 minutes, until water is evaporated.  Remove dumplings and repeat as needed with additional batches.  Serve hot with ponzu dipping sauce (see below for recipe).

Leave space between the dumplings so they cook evenly and don't stick together as they steam.

Leave space between the dumplings so they cook evenly and don’t stick together as they steam.

This batch made 40+ gyoza (1 package of skins), which for the three of us equals two meals.  So I cooked half, froze half, and still had some filling left which I rolled into meatballs for another meal.  Or if you have more wrappers, just make more gyoza and freeze what you don’t want to eat that day.

To freeze gyoza, leave on the cookie sheet, stick the whole thing in the freezer.  Let them freeze about an hour, and then you can pile them in ziplock freezer bags.

Frozen gyoza.  Freeze first on a cookie sheet, then pile into bags for easy storage.

Frozen gyoza. Freeze first on a cookie sheet, then pile into bags for easy storage.

To cook, simply take out what you need and follow the directions above.  No need to thaw first, simply put the frozen gyoza in the hot oil and cook as usual!

Ponzu Dipping Sauce

1 tbsp. chopped green onions
3 tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
2 tbsp. mirin
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic chile sauce
1/4 tsp. fish sauce

Combine all ingredients.

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Individual Spinach Quiche in Phyllo

There’s just something about food made in tiny individual forms that makes me happy.  I’m really not sure why.  They are so cute and delicious and let’s face it, it’s fun to say you ate 4 quiche for dinner.

Instead of the traditional pie crust, I used phyllo dough for the crust in these.  I was in the mood for something light and flaky and it was the perfect solution!  As an added bonus, they were also really pretty and had a satisfying crunch.  Since you’re making individual servings they are also really easy to customize to different tastes if you have a mushroom or feta hater among you.

This recipe makes a dozen quiche, but don’t be surprised if everyone eats three or four.  If you have some left over, they are great for breakfast the next day, but the phyllo will lose its crunch after a night in the fridge.

Individual Spinach Quiche in Phyllo.  How pretty is that?

Individual Spinach Quiche in Phyllo. How pretty is that?

Individual Spinach Quiche in Phyllo

1 package phyllo dough (you will probably only use half of it)
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
4 oz. mushrooms
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups half n half
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt & pepper
Feta cheese
Pine nuts

Preheat oven to 375˚.  Spray a muffin pan (regular size, for 12 muffins) with cooking spray and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, half n half, nutmeg and a bit of salt & pepper.  Set aside.

Unroll your phyllo dough and cover with a slightly damp towel so it doesn’t dry out.  On a clean surface, lay out one sheet of phyllo dough.  If you haven’t worked with phyllo before, be warned it is quite fragile, but it’s not tragic if it tears. If it does, just set the pieces side by side and keep going.  Brush lightly with melted butter (it does not have to be perfect).  Top with another sheet and brush lightly with butter.  Repeat with another 3 to 4 sheets, until you have a stack of 5-6 sheets of dough.  Cut into 6 squares.

Yes, it looks like paper.  It even feels like paper.  But it tastes like dough.  It's magic!

Yes, it looks like paper. It even feels like paper. But it tastes like dough. It’s magic!

Place each square into a muffin well, pressing to shape the square to the bottom of the well.  Repeat process with another 6 sheets of dough, and press into the other wells, making 12 pie crusts.

Tiny pie "crusts"

Tiny pie “crusts”

Saute mushrooms in a small skillet until browned.  Put a few mushrooms in the bottom of each quiche.

Mushrooms.  Don't like mushrooms?  Just leave them out.

Mushrooms. Don’t like mushrooms? Just leave them out.

Squeeze liquid from thawed spinach.  Place a wad of spinach in each quiche and spread out a bit.

minispinachquiche4

Top with a few crumbles of feta cheese (or any other cheese you’re fond of).

minispinachquiche5

Pour egg mixture over the top of the veggies and cheese, being careful not to overfill.  This is most easily accomplished by using a measuring cup with a spout or a small ladle. Top each quiche with a few pine nuts.

minispinachquiche6

Bake for 20-30 minutes until egg mixture is poofed up and crust is golden brown.  Let sit for 5 minutes or so to cool and set up.  Use a butter knife to carefully lever each quiche out of the pan and transfer to a plate.  These are great served with a big green salad.

When they are done, they look like this.  Yum!

When they are done, they look like this. Yum!

 

 

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