Meatballs for Beginners

I think meatballs are one of those things that you just kind of whip up without thought.  It’s one of those things that you just throw in whatever you have.  I remember the first time I attempted meatballs and I turned to a cookbook, called my mom, and I didn’t know what I was doing.  The only thing I remembered about making meatballs with my mom when I was young was squishing the meat in between my fingers before forming it into balls.  I liked the texture:)

If you haven’t made meatballs before, just know that the ingredients are VERY flexible.  I didn’t measure when I made these, so they’re estimates, but pretty close.   This is a base recipe for some meatballs that turned out delicious, but feel free to substitute my ingredients for something else to get a different flavor.

Sweet Meatballs

1 lb. ground beef

1 egg

1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

2 Tbsp. dried onion flakes

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put everything in a bowl and mix it together.  The best way to mix it is to squish it combined with your hands.  Form into balls and  place on greased cookie sheet.  Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through.  Serve over spaghetti and red sauce.  I used THIS pizza sauce and it was sweet and yummy.

Seasoned Breadsticks

IMG_0550

This past week I never cooked.  Yep, not even once. Wow, I am amazed that I’m admitting this, but that’s just how life goes sometimes.  Hello McDonalds, hello random frozen things in the freezer, and hello sandwiches.  I spent most of last week cleaning.  When I’m pregnant I always tell everyone that I can have a moderately clean home, or a cooked dinner, but NEVER both on the same day.  Well, I’m not pregnant so I can’t use that as an excuse, but my house did get a really good cleaning:)  I made these a couple of weeks ago, and luckily froze some for a rainy day (which happened to be last week).  This will be two recipes in a row from Our Best Bites.  Yes, when it’s good I can’t help but share it.  I will never make any other breadsticks again.  Amazing!  It’s really the seasoning that makes it so perfect.  You’ll love it!  Happy cooking.

Seasoned Breadsticks

(word for word from HERE)

1 1/2 c. warm (105-115 degrees) water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
3-4 1/2 c. flour

In a large bowl (the bowl of your mixer, if you have one), combine water, sugar, and yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes or until yeast is bubbly.  Add salt and stir. Add 1 1/2 c. flour and mix well. Gradually add more flour (usually between 3-4 cups, depending on your elevation and your humidity) until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and it barely sticks to your finger.  Spray a glass or metal bowl with cooking spray and place dough in the bowl.

Cover and allow to rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Remove from bowl and place on a lightly-floured surface. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Roll into a rectangle and cut into 12 strips with a pizza cutter.  Roll out each piece of dough into a snake and then drape over your forefinger and twist the dough. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining 11 pieces of dough. Try to space them evenly, but it’s okay if they’re close; pulling apart hot bread is one of life’s greatest pleasures!

When there’s about 15 minutes to go, preheat your oven to 425. When done rising, bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Rub some butter on top of the breadsticks (just put a ziploc bag on your hand, grab some softened butter, and have at it) and sprinkle with garlic bread seasoning or the powdery Parmesan cheese in a can and garlic salt.

Garlic Bread Seasoning

1/2 c. powdered Parmesan cheese

2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. basil
2 tsp. marjoram
2 tsp. parsley
Combine ingredients in a jar (preferably one with a sprinkle top) and shake. Well, don’t shake until you’ve put the lid on, but I assume most of you are smart enough to figure that out! :)Sprinkle on top of breadsticks or combine 1 1/2 Tbsp. seasoning with 1/2 c. of softened real butter and spread on a loaf of French bread (cut in 1/2 lengthwise). Wrap in foil and bake at 375 until butter’s melted. If you want, you could also pop it open-faced under the broiler for a few minutes so it gets brownish and crispy.

Cafe Rio Heaven

This takes some time to make all of these, but the effort is well worth the outcome.  The flavors are perfectly complimentary of each other and you will LOVE them!  This is a perfect recipe to make for a party or company you want to impress.  Thanks Brittany Allred for this AMAZING recipe!

IMG_0255
Cafe Rio Shredded Pork
(Thanks for the recipe Brittany Allred!)
2 pounds pork roast
3 cans Coke (NOT diet)
1/4 c. brown sugar
dash garlic salt
1/4 c. water
1 can sliced green chilies
3/4 can enchilada sauce (I used Old El Paso brand, medium spiciness)
1 c. brown sugar
IMG_0251

Put the pork in a heavy duty ziploc bag to marinade. Add about a can and a half of coke and about 1/4 c. of brown sugar. Marinade for a few hours or overnight. Drain marinade and put pork, 1/2 can of coke, water, and garlic salt in crock pot on high for about 3-4 hours (or until it shreds easily, but don’t let it get TOO dry). Remove pork from crock pot and drain any liquid left in the pot. Shred pork. In a food processor or blender, blend 1/2 can Coke, chilies, enchilada sauce and remaining brown sugar (about a cup, you can add a little more or less to taste..). If it looks too thick, add more Coke little by little. Put shredded pork and sauce in crockpot and cook on low for 2 hours. That’s it!

CILANTRO-LIME RICE
IMG_0253

1 c. uncooked rice
1 tsp. butter or margarine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 can (15 oz) chicken broth
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. sugar
3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
In a saucepan combine rice, butter, garlic, 1 tsp. lime, chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat. In a small bowl combine lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff the rice. If you want to use Minute rice just improvise so that the liquids equal the rice measurements. I’m pretty impatient with rice, so I pretty much always make-do with minute rice and it ends out great as long as you’re careful to get equal parts liquids with dry rice.

GARLIC BLACK BEANS
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/3 c. tomato juice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro

opt.: 1 can corn

opt.: 1 tsp each cumin and chili powder
In a nonstick skillet, cook garlic and cumin in olive oil over medium heat until you can smell it. Add beans, tomato juice, and salt. Continually stir until heated through. Just before serving stir in the cilantro. Serve these on Tortillas with cheese, olives, sour cream, or whatever else you would like to add.

Cilantro Ranch

1 packet Traditional Hidden Valley Ranch mix (NOT buttermilk)

1 cup mayonnaise

1cup buttermilk

2 tomatillos, remove husk, diced

1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro

1 clove garlic

juice of 1 lime

1 jalepeno (keep seeds in to make it spicey)

Mix it all the ingredients together and blend. That’s it!

So, here’s the final product.  It’s beautiful, delicious, and pure awesomeness! Enjoy and happy cooking!

IMG_0254

Thai Chicken Satay

Brett has a slight obsession with Thai food.  He loves it! So, he looked up a recipe and I told him I’d make it, with some alterations, of course.  It turned out really good.  I was impressed at how fast and easy it was too.  Something I will definitely make again, except next time I think I’ll double the recipe.

Thai Chicken Satay

1/2 cup canned coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 teaspoon fish sauce (found in asian foods section)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into strips
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped unsalted peanuts
12 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 15 minutes
Thai peanut sauce (We got ours from Pampered Chef)

In a medium bowl, stir together the coconut milk, ground coriander, curry powder, fish sauce, brown sugar, minced garlic, and chili oil. Add the chicken breast strips, and stir to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and up to 2 hours.  Preheat an indoor or outdoor grill for high heat. Thread the chicken strips onto skewers. Discard marinade.  Grill chicken for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until no longer pink. Time will depend on how thick your strips are. Transfer to a serving plate, and garnish with cilantro and peanuts. Serve with peanut sauce for dipping.

Personal Notes:  I used the remainder of the coconut milk to boil some rice in. Yumm!  NEVER smell fish sauce, otherwise you will refuse to put it in your food.  We didn’t measure the peanut sauce, but just poured it over the rice and chicken when we were about to eat.

Yumm! Happy Cooking!

White Chicken Chili

My Sister-in-law Cassi shared this recipe with me a while back.  She got the recipe from the American Heart Association.  You’re going to LOVE it! It’s easy, healthy, flavorful, and filling. . . perfection!

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1.5 lbs chicken breasts (cooked and small cubed)
1  chopped onion (medium)
2 (14.5 oz) cans chicken broth
2 (4 oz) cans chopped green chlils
3 (15 oz) cans white beans (great Northern)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano leaves, crushed

1. Sauté onions, cilantro, and garlic in olive oil until onions are transparent.

2. Add remaining ingredients.

3. Simmer for 10-20 minutes.

4. Serve with tortilla chips, sour cream, and cheese.