On Top Of Spaghetti


Spaghetti + meatballs = one of my favorite quick dinners. And homemade meatballs are a lot easier to make than you might expect — hint hint to a certain little sister of mine :)

The Recipe: Easy Meatballs

Yield: approximately one dozen meatballs
Time: 35 minutes

1 lb. ground sirloin
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Do This
Preheat the oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Combine all ingredients, and roll into meatballs. I usually get about a dozen with this recipe, but your yield may vary depending on the size of your meatballs.

Bake the meatballs for 30 minutes (or until the centers are no longer pink — this may take longer if your meatballs are on the larger side).

And…that’s it! Homemade meatballs! They’re friends with spaghetti. And garlic bread. And parmesan cheese, sometimes.

Wanna spice things up? Crushed red pepper makes a hot addition to this recipe.


Amazing Braising

I finally used my dutch oven for the purpose it was (likely) made for: I braised beef short ribs in merlot.

I am still amazed that this piece of kitchen equipment is suited for stove-top use, but that’s kind of that it’s made for.

Meat that is so soft you can break it apart with a fork? Wine-soaked veggies and smashed potatoes? Yes, please.

Bonus: the leftovers are just as good. The beef didn’t dry out in the microwave like I feared it would.

Bonus #2: if you save the sauce, it makes a delicious baked potato topper.

Thanks again for the dutch oven, Gma! You are the best :)

Quick update: I’ve gotten some emails asking about the process. I (loosely) followed the braising directions from my trusty
How To Cook Everything, but I’ll be editing this post soon with the how-to’s.

Beef (actually) Stroganoff

Last time I thought about making Beef Stroganoff, I had no sour cream in the house, and it was super cold outside, so I wasn’t even going to think about walking to the grocery store for some old milk.

This time, I came prepared. Sour cream? Check. Paula Deen’s recipe? Check.

I thoroughly enjoyed this recipe, and it has restored my faith in Food Network chefs (cough cough, Alton Brown). The only modification I made was to add a little bit of minced garlic to the pan with the onions and mushrooms — Paula really nailed this, and I don’t think there’s anything else I could have done that wouldn’t have ruined it.

I’ve decided that this is one of the ugliest food photos I’ve taken. Oh no, I’ll have to re-make this and take a better one! :)

My Big Fat Greek Pastitisio

Miss Roommate’s fabulous Greek grandma shared her pastitisio recipe with us. She also gave us a package of awesome Greek noodles…bonus!

For a few hours, our house totally smelled like a grandma house. In a really good way.

Carbs. Meat. Cheese. Cream sauce. If that’s not comfort food, I don’t know what is.

This is a really great recipe to make with some help from a friend. If you have Super Greek Grandma Powers (or you’re really great at handling multiple saucepans at once), it can be done by yourself, but having someone handy to find a spatula, drain the macaroni, and not laugh at you because you’re awkwardly trying to stir three things at once is pretty nice.

The Recipe:
Cream Sauce
2 3/4 cups milk
1 egg
2 1/2 tbsp corn starch
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Do This
We made the cream sauce at the same time as the rest of the pastitisio, but I’m listing it first because “add cream sauce” is part of the main pastitisio recipe. If you’re good at multitasking, run all four burners at once!

Pour the milk into a medium-large saucepan. While it is still cold, stir in the corn starch. Turn the heat to medium-high, and heat the milk (but don’t boil it), stirring constantly. Once it starts to get hot, add the butter. It should melt fairly quickly. Keep stirring. I’m not kidding.
Beat the eggs (or…have someone else beat them, because you’re stirring the sauce) and add them in. Don’t worry about the grated parmesan for now, it gets to hang out until the rest of the dish is assembled. Still stirring? Good.

If you’re multitasking, turn the heat down to very low, and try to remember to give the cream sauce a stir throughout the process. The sauce is heating and thickening, and you want to make sure that it doesn’t burn or get lumpy.

1/2 lb long macaroni (we used Misko Macaroni Pastitsio #2)
1 small onion, very finely chopped
1 3/4 lb ground beef
1/2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp ketchup
1/2 stick + 1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup grated parmesan
2 shakes (less than 1/4 tsp) cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 eggs, beaten

Do This
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and, as Miss Roommate’s grandma would say, “butter the hell out of your baking pan.”
Cook the pasta as directed (boil some water, cook the noodles for 10-15 minutes) and drain off the water. Set aside in the heavily-buttered baking dish you’ll be cooking the pastitisio in.
Sauté the onions with 1 tbsp of butter and a little bit of water. While the onions are going, brown the meat in a large sauté pan. Add in the tomato paste, ketchup, cinnamon, salt, and pepper, and stir in the sautéed onions. Turn the heat to low, and continue to brown the meat.
In a small saucepan, brown (but don’t burn) the 1/2 stick of butter. Pour it over the meat, along with the eggs. Stir in the grated parmesan, and transfer to the baking dish with the macaroni and half of the cream sauce. Mix well, so that noodles, meat, cheese, and sauce are evenly distributed in the pan. Pour the remaining cream sauce over top, and sprinkle with the half cup of grated parmesan that you were probably wondering about from before (it’s listed as part of the cream sauce recipe, but it really goes on top).
Bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Your house will smell like grandma’s house, and your tastebuds will agree that this is worth the wait.

Easy-serving tip: make the pastitisio in advance, and refrigerate/freeze it. Cold pastitisio is much easier to slice, and it reheats spectacularly. Plus, you can focus on your guests instead of juggling saucepans.

Use A Fork? Nah.

Nachos with all the trimmings are one of my favorite messy layered snacks. Chips and dips are fun, but I really like when it’s all baked into a melty, layered, delicious mess.

The Recipe:
Messy Layered Nachos
1 lb. ground beef
2 tbsp. cooking oil
1 red chile pepper
1 large green pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 tbsp Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp chile powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. medium salsa
5 oz. sour cream
1 bag (8 oz) shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend, but cheddar is great, too)
scoop-shaped tortilla chips

Do This
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a brownie pan or other deep baking dish with aluminum foil.
Chop the onion, and cut the green peppers into thin strips. Take the seeds out of the chile, and cut it into small pieces. Be careful, and make sure to wash your hands after handling the chile. It’s not fun to take out contact lenses with pepper oil on your hands.
Heat the vegetable oil in a sauté pan. Add the ground beef, and lightly brown (there should be a little bit of pink left). Drain the liquid out of the pan, and return it to the stove. Stir in the Tabasco sauce, sugar, pepper, garlic powder, and chile powder, until all of the seasoning is evenly distributed. Add in the chopped onions, green pepper strips, and chile pepper. Continue to cook until the meat is completely browned and the vegetables are slightly softened (but still crispy).
Arrange a layer of scoop-shaped tortilla chips at the bottom of the foil-lined baking pan. Top this with a layer of meat/veggies, a layer of salsa, a layer of sour cream, and a layer of cheese. Repeat until the pan is filled, ending with a cheese layer. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted.
Serve with forks, or lots of napkins.

The red chiles are totally clutch.

Totally the kind of snack you need a fork for. Or maybe just lots of napkins.

Beef (Not Quite) Stroganoff

This is why we make grocery lists. I was totally going to make Beef Stroganoff tonight, but it slipped my mind that I would need some dairy ingredients for that cream sauce. A return trip to the grocery store was not in the cards, so Beef (Not Quite) Stroganoff happened.

It’s a beef and noodle dish. No cream sauce, though.

I don’t have an official recipe for this right now, because I scrawled it onto a white board and took a blurry cell phone photo of the text (you can imagine how great of a recording technique that is). The gist: beef, onions, and mushrooms, sauteed in beef broth with a little bit of butter and a lot of pepper, served over buttery egg noodles.

Keh-baaahbs. Because Everyone Loves Meat On A Stick.

This time, they’re made with red meat and a positively incredible marinade.

Meat + stick = awesome.

The keh-baahbs actually look more appetizing in real life, but we were grilling them after dark, which isn’t my camera’s favorite time frame. However, I don’t care if my camera liked them. I sure did!

Can’t forget the veggies!

The Recipe:
Beef Keh-baahbs
3 lb steak, cubed (you decide which quality you want…it’s soaking in wine and then getting grilled)
1 bottle merlot (I used Yellowtail because it’s not too pricey, but it’s consistent)
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp basil
1 tbsp onion salt
1 tsp allspice
2 large green peppers
1 large white onion

Do This
Trim as much of the fat off the meat as possible, and cut it into cubes. Mine were a little bit bigger than an inch apiece. Place the cubes in a large, shallow bowl or tupperware.
Blend the spices together in a bowl, then rub into the cubes of meat. Pour the wine over top, cover, and place in the fridge for at least an hour (mine marinated for four hours, but yours don’t have to hang out for that long).
While the meat marinates, chop the peppers and onion into large chunks. Make sure they’re big enough to fit on the skewers.
Assemble skewers of meat and veggies. I like to keep them separate because of the different cook times, but they’re a bit more colorful if you alternate meat and veggies.
Fire up the grill, and cook the skewers until the meat is browned to your taste (I like mine rare, but I know that some people like to cook their beef more thoroughly) and the veggies are just a wee bit charred on the edges.

If your skewers are made of wood, soak them in water before skewering the meat. This will save you some headaches and prevent your skewers from catching fire (I didn’t do that with the chicken keh-baahbs, and they got super burnt on the grill).

The marinade is incredibly easy to do, and it smells amaaaaaazing. After the keh-baahbs were cooked, I saved the juice for reducing into a sauce later.