Friday, April 20, 2012

Meatballs and Rigatoni

Another recipe from Pioneer Woman's second cookbook. In case you are wondering, no, I haven't become a food blogger ;-) Just review recipes from the new cookbook and trying to make myself get back into blogging a little more regularly.

This one took a little more effort than the last two, but still not terribly difficult. I again, made a few adjustments. I can't ever seem to follow a recipe to the T unless I'm baking. What does that say about me? Hmmm....
The first adjustment I made was the breadcrumbs for the meatballs. PW makes her own breadcrumbs with day old crusty bread, toasted and then blitzed in a food processor. I guess this is great if you find yourself without any breadcrumbs in your pantry and you're 30 minutes from a grocery store or you just simply don't want to go out. But I just don't find it necessary if you DO have breadcrumbs in your pantry. I did, and that's what I chose to use. I also don't have a food processor and I broke my blender a few months ago and haven't replaced it yet. So Panko breadcrumbs from Trader Joes it was.

Meatballs (with my adjustments):
aprox. 1/2 cup bread crumbs (unseasoned)
1 lb ground beef (PW uses 3/4 lb of beef and 3/4 lb of ground pork)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg beaten
1/4 cup fresh minced Italian parsley
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/24 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for browning. 

Mix all the ingredients with your hands and then shape into balls. I used the medium cookie scoop from Pampered Chef to help make the balls. Place on a plate or a dish and then put them in the freezer for a few minutes to firm them up. 
In a heavy pot add the olive oil and heat on medium high heat. Brown the meatballs on all sides, working in batches to not crowd the pan. You don't have to cook them all the way through. When they're browned just put them on a plate and set aside til later. 
Start the sauce.

1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine (I used white and this step is totally optional)
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 28oz can whole tomatoes
1/4 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
1 tsp sugar
1/4 minced parsley
12 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
I also added a dash of red pepper flakes to add a little kick.

After browning the meatballs, add in the onion and garlic and cook until the onion begins to soften. Add in the wine and cook for another minute. Add in tomatoes, salt, pepper, parsley and basil. Stir and cook for about 30 minutes.
Add the meatballs into the sauce and cook for another 30 minutes.
Serve over cooked rigatoni. 

I had 2 goods, one OK and one good, but too 'tomato-y'. Megan and I really liked it. But you can't really go off what Megan says because she pretty much likes everything. Jake liked it but prefers regular spaghetti always. Pete liked the meatballs but found the sauce too 'tomato-y' and watery. Pete is funny about tomatoes. He doesn't like any chunky tomato sauce. He won't eat a fresh tomato on anything. But he loves ketchup and spaghetti. The sauce just tasted like your basic tomato-basil sauce. I really liked it. But I like tomatoes. Pete just prefers a more thicker, heartier sauce. 
I'd definitely make the meatballs again. They were really yummy. But next time I'd probably use my regular sauce recipe or a jarred sauce to keep the boy happy. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Grilled Corn Guacamole + BBQ Chicken Pineapple Quesadillas

We LOVE avocados in this house. And we really love guacamole. And hey, we even like corn. So when I saw this recipe, I thought's either going to be really good or kinda weird, but it can't be bad, right? Dude. It was excellent. Again, PW's recipe makes enough for an army, or at least a party so I adjusted it to fit our family of four.

Grilled Corn Guacamole
2 ripe avocados
1 Tbsp chopped onion (i used red cuz it's what I had)
1 Tbsp diced fresh tomato
1 tsp fresh jalapeno, minced
juice from half a lime
dash of salt
dash of ground cumin
1 Tbsp cilantro
1/4 cup grilled corn, off the cob.

First, grill the corn. Corn isn't in season right now so what I did was get out some frozen sweet white corn from Trader Joe's. I defrosted it on my counter for a while, then put it in a dry cast iron skillet on medium high heat until it started to char a little. As that was cooking, I got all my other ingredients ready and in the bowl. Mash it all together and BAM! Guacamole.

Verdict: Man, it was good. The corn adds a nice texture to what usually is kinda mushy. And a sweetness too, that we all seemed to like.

We pared the guac with BBQ chicken, pineapple quesadillas. I've made these before. Probably when PW first posted them on her blog. But my family had forgotten, I think, so it was new to them. ;-)  This was another one of those recipes where I just happened to have everything already in my fridge so I went for it.

BBQ Chicken Pineapple Quesadillas

1/2  fresh pineapple cut into small pieces (PW actually grills her pineapple, but I chose not to.) 
2 Chicken breasts pounded out flat, seasoned with salt and pepper
1/3 Cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
butter for the pan
8 flour tortillas (soft taco size)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar cuz it's what I had)

First grill your chicken. Season it with the salt and pepper first, throw it on the grill for about 5 minutes each side (depending on how thick it is) at the last minute or two, brush with BBQ sauce. When the chicken is done, let it rest a few minutes then slice thinly.
Assemble your quesadillas: layer with cheese, pineapple pieces, chicken, jalapeno if you want and then drizzle with a little more BBQ sauce. Top with another tortilla. Melt a little butter in the pan, then grill your quesadillas. (you all know how to do this right? ;-)

Verdict: We really, really liked it. Pete is a huge fan of the spicy + sweet combo and he puts BBQ sauce on just about everything so I knew he'd like it. If you've ever had a BBQ chicken pizza, it's kind of like that, only in a tortilla. These were so good we had them the next night too.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cookbook review/ Sloppy Joes

I picked up the Pioneer Woman's new cookbook at Costco the other day. I just couldn't help it. I've read her blog for years, I have her first cookbook and I just felt like I needed to have it.

I posted this pic on Instagram earlier this week and both Jude and Nicole requested a review. I decided right off that I would pick something new each day from it and review it here on my blog.
First impressions of the cookbook: There's a lot more food in it than the first one. That's a good thing. I like food. However, just like the first one, if you've been reading her blog for a significant amount of time, you will recognize many of the recipes. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, you can't expect her to come up with a slew of brand new recipes, when her M.O. has always been to showcase recipes she uses in her daily life. Anyway, I think there's a nice mix of familiar recipes and new ones. Enough new ones to make everyone happy, I think.
The first recipe I tried was Sloppy Joes. I don't have any pics of this because I wasn't thinking far enough in advance at that point ;-)
Sloppy Joes is listed under "lunch". I would never put this much effort into lunch unless I had company so we ate it for dinner. Not that it took much effort at all. It was very easy and I had everything I needed in my fridge and pantry.
The original recipe serves 8 but I don't need that much so here is the recipe with my adjustments. I'd say it serves 5 to 6.

Sloppy Joes
1lb ground beef
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp brown sugar
red pepper flakes to taste
Worcestershire sauce to taste
Tabasco sauce to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Kaiser rolls or burger buns

Brown the meat, drain the fat. Add the onions and peppers and garlic. Add the ketchup, 3/4 cup water and mix. Add in the brown sugar and all the other seasonings. Stir and let simmer for 20 minutes. Serve on buttered, toasted buns.

Verdict: For as simple as this was dang good! Everybody really liked it. Even Pete who often is the toughest critic. Will definitely make again.

Up next: Grilled corn guacamole and BBQ chicken pineapple quesadillas.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter Saturday

Saturday we were invited over to our friends house with some other friends to have an Easter egg hunt and dinner. They have the perfect place for it. It's country kind of like our place is....only it's not on the side of a hill! It's much more flat out there which made for perfect egg hunting. :)
Here's Carolina giving instructions to the big kids about how the hunt is going to go. Please do not ask about Jake's pants and or boots. I have no answer. 

 And they're off! Each kid was supposed to have 7 eggs to find that had their names on them and then 8 extra. This proved to be very confusing for most! ;-)

 I spy with my little eye a blue egg. :)

 Counting eggs and comparing loot.

 After the egg hunt was done, we adults had a little fun of our own. Carolina set the guys up with the 'ol egg and spoon race. From right to left is Oscar, Pete, Mike and Joe.

  Traditionally this race is conducted with a real, raw egg. But we used all the real eggs to make deviled eggs. Opps. So instead the guys used plastic eggs filled with rocks. This made the whole game entirely different. The rock in the egg made it incredibly balanced on that spoon allowing the guys to run full out without it dropping. You'll notice Pete takes a quick lead off the starting line...

 But Joe sneaks up on the outside, almost edging him out. 

 But Pete is very, very competitive. There was no way he was going to let Joe win! He ran full out and just barely made it over the finish line first. We all got quite a laugh out of that one. 

 We also did a couples 3-legged race. But since I was participating in that, I didn't get a picture. It sure was funny though. Oscar and Kathleen were total pros. It's like the practice in their sleep or something. They beat the HECK out of the rest of us. At one point Pete and I just stopped and watched in awe at their masterfulness! (that is a word)
This pic is just cute. These girls are besties. Inseparable. 

 We ended the evening with a little campfire. It made me ache for summer. It just can not get here fast enough.

Anyway we had a great time hanging with friends this weekend. And I'm still totally shocked these guys played the games without much egging on or complaining. I'm thinking we need to do this more often!