On Top Of Spaghetti

Meatballs!

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.

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Remember, Remember the 5th of November

The gunpowder treason and…spicy popcorn.

Tonight’s snack accompaniment to V for Vendetta: popcorn (specifically, popcorn that spilled over and “exploded” the pot) tossed in cayenne pepper and garlic salt.

While It’s Still Warm Enough To Grill

It’s unseasonably warm here. I’m hoping that I don’t jinx the weather by saying this, but it’s actually still nice enough out to grill for dinner. In November!

Speaking of grilling…one of my favorite veggie side dishes is grilled asparagus. It’s incredibly easy: arrange fresh asparagus on a sheet of aluminum foil with some minced garlic, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Shape the foil into a packet, and grill alongside whatever else you’re making. Done and done.

If you’re coordinated enough to arrange the asparagus directly on the grill, they’re extra tasty that way. I like the foil method because I have a tendency to lose a spear or two if they’re not contained.

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.

Love Me Tender

I’m pretty sure that if it were up to The Boyfriend to decide our dinner menus, we’d have pork tenderloin at least four times a week. He’s a fan.

And so, tonight’s dinner: pork tenderloin with brown sugar and black currant rub.

I jotted down the recipe this time, because apparently it’s preferred over lemon-pepper or pineapple pork tenderloin.

The Recipe:
Pork Tenderloin with Brown Sugar and Black Currant Rub
Serves: 4
Time: 50-60 minutes

2.5 lb pork tenderloin
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp basil
1 tbsp lime juice
1/3 cup black currant nectar

Do This

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

While the oven is heating, rinse off the pork tenderloins, and trim off most of the fat. Make cuts 3/4 of the way through the tenderloin, spaced out every inch and a half or so. This has a dual purpose: you’re pre-slicing the meat for serving, and the brown sugar rub gets more coverage.

Place the tenderloins into a foil-lined baking dish. Rub the olive oil into the tenderloins, making sure to get into the cuts you just made.

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and basil. Rub this into the olive-oil coated pork tenderloin, again making sure to get all of the nooks and crannies covered. You should have plenty of brown sugar rub; try to distribute it evenly into a thick sugar crust.

Stir together the lime juice and black currant nectar. Gently pour it over the pork tenderloins (or if you have a baster handy, use that), softening the sugar rub, and (again!) trying to get into all of the cuts.

By now, the oven should be preheated. Slide the tenderloins in, and cook for 30-45 minutes (or until the internal temp reaches 160 degrees). Let stand for 5-10 minutes before finishing slicing and serving.

Optional: make a sauce using some of the juices and a mix of black currant nectar and some of the same spices from the rub (brown sugar, garlic powder, pepper, salt, basil).

We served this with steamed asparagus and rice pilaf.

Oh Aubergine

I have a new favorite sandwich.

I noticed that the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day book has a selection of recipes meant to go with the breads, including sandwiches. This is my variation on the Aubergine Tartine.

The Recipe: Eggplant, Brie, and Red Pepper Sandwich
adapted from a recipe found in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day
Serves: one
Time: approximately 30 minutes

two lengthwise slices of eggplant, about 1/2″ thick
half of a red pepper, sliced into strips (about 1/3 cup)
a handful of sliced onions (about 1/4 cup)
2 tsp minced garlic
4 tbsp brie or other soft cheese
two slices sourdough (or your favorite) bread
olive oil
salt
pepper

Do This

Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil (on both sides) and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet, and pop into the broiler (on low, if you have multiple settings) for five minutes. Take the baking sheet out, and carefully flip the eggplant slices. Broil for five more minutes, or until the slices are soft and lightly browned.

Multitasking time: while the eggplant slices are in the broiler, drizzle some olive oil into a sauté pan, and sauté the onions, red peppers, and minced garlic for as long as the eggplant is broiling — or until they’re soft, but for me, this timed out perfectly.

Spread brie onto each slice of bread. When the eggplant is done in the broiler, stack the slices onto the bread, and top with the onions/peppers. Add a slice of romaine lettuce if you prefer, and close the sandwich.

If you used an oven to broil the eggplants, it should still be hot. Put the sandwich back on the baking sheet that you used for the eggplants, and slide it into the oven for two or three minutes. If you didn’t broil the eggplant in an oven, preheat your oven to 350 just before assembling the sandwich.

Enjoy the sandwich while it’s still warm and melty.

So…I’m officially sold on this Five Minutes A Day concept. I know, I know, it’s been less than a week, and new love is always the most exciting, but I can’t see myself getting tired of this anytime soon. The master recipe is way simple, and has me hooked on fresh baked bread — the baking stone is kind of living in my oven right now, and I’m excited to try out different bread recipes. This sammich recipe? Sealing the deal.

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Dinner in Miniature

Bite-sized bonanza! Small foods smorgasbord! Petite party treats!

Whatever you want to call it, my offering for this month’s Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event is a selection of little dishes, all intended to be eaten in a single bite (or two!). Flatware-free eating, to encourage mingling at a fun little soirée.

I have a tendency to be super indecisive about what I want to eat at any given time (Bacon! Pesto! Cheese! Fried food! Cake! Did someone say bacon?), so I’m a giant fan of tapas, dim sum, and small plates in general. Lots of little bites, packed with flavor = the way to go.

And when I’m hosting? I want to show off my favorite flavors and play around with new techniques, but I also want to enjoy the party. So, without further ado: Dinner in Miniature, a selection of bite-sized treats for an evening get-together without the formality of a sit-down meal.

Olive You

Infused olive oils pair with bread, fresh mozzarella, and grissinetti to make a dipping tray worth gathering around.

Wanna make these hot-infused oils?

Start by selecting a flavor (I went with fresh ground black pepper, crushed red pepper, fresh basil, but you can get creative and try your favorite herbs and spices — or a blend). Pour a small amount of olive oil (2-3 tbsp) into a saucepan, and heat on low until the oil starts to bubble a bit. Add in a few herb leaves (or a few shakes of dry spices), and cook for several minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat before the spices turn brown (trust me — this does not smell good), and pour into a bowl or serving dish. Strain the oil if the herbs and spices are too large, or if you prefer a clear oil for dipping — I like to leave a bit of the herbs in, just to indicate what the flavor is. Pour in a tablespoon at a time of plain olive oil, taste-testing until the infusion is just right. Need more oil for lots of dipping? This recipe is easily doubled, tripled, or expanded as large as you need; just keep the ratios consistent with your favorite small batch.

To Eetch Their Own

Okay, so maybe this one requires more than one bite, but I’ve been dying to use the tomato-as-a-bowl thing for a while now.

I borrowed the eetch recipe from my great aunt Rose (also known as AR). Eetch (which has a Wikipedia entry!) is one of my favorite Armenian dishes. It’s excellent served cold, almost like a bulgur salad — it’s refreshing, and provides a nice, cool contrast to the heavier, warmer plates. Want AR’s recipe? Click here.

Everything’s Better With Bacon

Next up: a duo of bacon-wrapped goodies.

Scallops are a favorite, but they’re even nicer when wrapped in a bacon jacket.

These couldn’t be easier to make:

Season fresh scallops with salt and pepper. Wrap each with half a slice of thick-cut bacon, and secure with a toothpick (tip: soak the toothpicks in water before assembling to prevent burning in the oven). Broil for a few minutes, watching closely to make sure the bacon doesn’t burn. Flip each piece over, and continue to broil until the bacon is done (but not overcooked!) and the scallops are opaque.

More bacon-wrapped goodness:

Dates + almonds + goat cheese + bacon = win. Savory, sweet, and creamy, all at the same time.

The assembly line on this one is pretty easy, too. Slice bacon in half, slice dates in half, stuff dates with goat cheese and wedge almonds inside, close dates, wrap in bacon. Broil until the bacon is cooked.

Don’t Be Crabby…

Or do! These little mini crab cakes aren’t overloaded with breadcrumbs or fluff — the emphasis on crab makes them a little bit heartier.

Served in a ramekin with a slice of lemon — simple and perfect.

These guys are super easy to fry, and are done in minutes! (this recipe is also a bit too long for this post, but it’s inspired by the crab cake recipe in How To Cook Everything…check back soon, when I’ll change this text to a link to a new post with my recipe!)

Sweet Sippers

In shot glasses, of course!

Keeping with the one-bite theme, these bright-colored beverages were served in individual portions.

Blue: a citrusy blue “lemonade” with citron vodka and blue curacao.

Red: a cran-apple liquid Jell-o shot, made with cranberry-flavored gelatin (un-set), vodka, and apple schnapps.

Green: a shot that I like to call the “starburst,” due to its similarity to the candy of the same name. Vodka, peach schnapps, apple schnapps, lemon juice, lime juice, cranberry juice, and sugar.

Covert Confection

And after all of those savory treats: little pancakes, stuffed with mascarpone and chocolate hazelnut spread.

They look a little bit like cornbread, but they’re really dessert! Also…I couldn’t help myself when I saw the special stuffed-pancake pan at Williams-Sonoma. I snagged the batter recipe when I bought the pan — it’s super light and fluffy (and also huge…definitely one to pare down). Mastering the filling part was a bit of a challenge, and I definitely spent some time cleaning melted chocolate hazelnut spread off the stovetop, but it was completely worth it!

So…take a bite. Or several!

Thanks, FoodBuzz, this was an awesome time :)