Saturday, April 17, 2010

Still Havin' a Ball

In my never-ending quest to find new recipes that fit my favorite eating style (that would be grazing-is it still called grazing?) I decided to try the Noble Pig's recipe for Chicken Meatballs with Chipotle Honey Sauce. Let me tell you a little about Cathy of Noble Pig fame. First of all I don't know her, but I do read her blog which makes me feel like I actually do know her. Anyway, a few years ago I stumbled across her Highly Addictive Lemon Squares and she had me hooked. Not only is Cathy an enthusiastic blogger (she posts almost daily), but her writing, photography, attention to detail and recipes are fabulous. I think I was most recently impressed when she did a post around Super Bowl time that featured nineteen! yes nineteen appetizer and party suggestions and one of the dishes I bookmarked in my head was the Chicken Meatballs. I finally got around to making them and they are as tasty as I expected. The sweetness of the honey combined with the smokey bite of the chipotles makes your taste buds dance and then dance some more. All the ingredients are easy to find in the regular grocery store and in true Noble Pig style, the recipe is easy to make.

Cathy's original recipe made 48 meatballs. I cut the recipe in half because I didn't need that many meatballs and (unfortunately) wasn't having a party. I made a few minor changes along the way for the sake of convenience, but all in all, this is one fine recipe.

Chicken Meatballs with Chipotle Honey Sauce

1 pound ground chicken
1 egg slightly beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 T fresh lime juice -about 1/2 a lime
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 chipotle peppers chopped-they come in a small can labeled "with adobo sauce"
1 T adobo sauce
1/2 tsp salt
cooking spray

1/4 cup plus 2 T honey
1 chipotle pepper
2 T chicken broth -I used water
2 T tomato paste
1 T lime juice - use the other half of the lime
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt

To make the meatballs: Combine all ingredients (except cooking spray) and mix well. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray. Form chicken into 24 meatballs, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the sauce: In a blender combine all ingredients and process until smooth. Set aside.

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove meatballs from the fridge and lightly mist with cooking spray. Bake 12 minutes and remove meatballs to a baking dish. Add sauce with a spoon or brush until all the meatballs are coated. Bake another 12-15 minutes. I did not use all of the sauce but saved it in case I need more when I reheat the rest.

And what beverage would you like with these tasty little morsels I pondered. A cold beer might be nice. Maybe a glass of white wine. I think I'll have a Skinnygirl Margarita. I couldn't resist. I saw Bethany Frankel's (almost) life size cut out at the liquor store and decided to give this concoction a try. Now I'm not much of a margarita drinker, but for about 12 dollars a bottle, this ice-chilled Skinnygirl tastes pretty darn good and definately complements the meatballs. Thanks Bethany. Thanks Cathy. I'm havin' a ball.

Note-I'll be taking a week or two off from blogging since I'll be entertaining my friend Jeannine while she visits from Canada. See you in a few.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Havin' a Ball

My friend Jeannine from Canada is coming for her annual visit in a few days. Since we're wine and cheese gals I've been doing some prep work. Have you ever bought a cheese ball at the store? Eh, they're okay. Have you ever made a cheese ball at home? Well there's no comparison to the store bought and totally worth the small effort it takes. Here's my recipe.

Three Cheese Ball
1 8 oz package Neufchatel cheese- it's cream cheese with 1/3 less fat
1 12 oz package Wispride sharp cheddar (spreadable) cheese- I try to look for low fat since I can't tell the difference
1 6 oz package crumbled blue cheese

Unwrap cheeses from packaging and place in a large bowl at room temperature to soften. Cover with plastic wrap. Sometimes softening can take one to two hours. When soft, mix cheeses together until they are combined. I use a heavy spoon, rubber spatula and some good elbow grease. When the cheeses are well incorporated (don't hurt any limbs doing this) put the softened mixture in the refrigerator to harden slightly. A half hour or so.

When the mixture has hardened a bit and is easy to handle, you're ready to form the balls. As you can see, this is quite a bit of cheese and you have to decide how many balls you're going to make. I usually opt for two, although I have made more, as well as an occasional gigantic one if I really want to make a statement. On a cutting board or flat surface, pour out 1 cup of finely diced walnuts since you'll be coating your cheese balls in some crunchies. Roll away and have fun.

Now wrap the balls loosely in plastic wrap, store in the refrigerator and wait until cocktail time. Serve at room temp. And as great as they are at cocktail time, the leftovers are fabulous too. Use as a spread on a roast beef sandwich. Slather on a bagel with lox and onion. Toss on top of a baked potato. Oh yeah. This is good stuff.

How about some re-mixes? To the cheese mixture add jarred horseradish (drain any liquid). It offers a nice bite. If you like spicy, try a small, drained jar of pickled, chopped jalapenos. I've also added Worcestershire sauce and it's earthy and warm. Instead of walnuts, try chopped pistachios. Now if you're not a nut lover, roll the balls in finely chopped herbs like parsley or cilantro. Whatever way you make these, I know you'll have a ball! Enjoy

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cookie Heaven

I spent a good part of last weekend baking cookies for my friend Jonathan's birthday. He requested my Strawberry White Chocolate Chip Birthday Cookies which I was delighted to make. But I wasn't going to stop there so I baked up some Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies as well. A bit of a chocolate fest, so you know I was happy. I used my trinity flour mix in every batch I made, and NO WAY can you detect the ground oatmeal and whole wheat flour in these cookies. And, what's even better is that these recipes are no fuss, no fail and delicious.

Here are the proportions for the flour mixture again in case you missed it the first time.

Trinity Flour Mix

  • 4 cups AP flour
  • 2 cups old fashioned oatmeal ground in a food processor or spice mill
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

In large bowl combine ingredients. I don't sift or do anything besides use a whisk to incorporate. Then I pour the flour into a large re-sealable bag and it's ready when I'm ready. Okay... on to the cookies.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies
This is a Giada recipe that I've been making for a few years now. She originally made these for a Halloween episode and rolled the uncooked dough in orange turbanado sugar. I have done this using plain old Sugar in the Raw and it's nice- offering great crunch and eye appeal. I didn't do it this time though.

3 1/2 cups trinity flour mix

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking soda

2 sticks softened unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar (I used no calorie Splenda)

1 cup brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup Splenda Blend brown sugar for baking)

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup Nutella

3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (my addition)

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees. In medium size bowl combine flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside. In large bowl cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla extract and mix well. Then add the Nutella. When everything looks yummy and incorporated add the dry ingredients. I don't add it all at once, maybe in two or three stages. Now fold in the chocolate chips. Roll dough into 1 to 1-1/2 inch balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Leave a good few inches between cookies because these babies spread. Also-if you want to coat the cookies in raw sugar, do it before you bake them. Bake 10 minutes. The cookies might not look done at 10 minutes, but they are.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
This is an Ina recipe. What can I say? The woman rocks and hasn't led me astray yet. Her original recipe called for toasted pecans and raisins. I've made that. Delicious. But I'm a chocolate gal and took the walnut/chocolate route. I think I now use more brown sugar and less granulated than her original recipe, and the end result is chewy and crunchy and simply heaven. And by the way, this makes a lot of cookies. I think I got close to 4 dozen.

2 sticks softened butter

1 1/2 cups brown sugar (I used 3/4 cup Splenda Blend brown sugar for baking)

1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used Splenda no calorie sugar)

2 eggs- Ina uses extra large eggs but I use large and I haven't had a problem- I guess either size will do

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups trinity flour mix

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp Kosher salt- Ina specified Kosher salt, so that's what I do. If you don't have any- use 3/4 tsp table salt (I'm guessing)

3 cups old fashioned oatmeal

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Now this next step may sound a bit unorthodox, but add baking powder, cinnamon and Kosher salt to the egg/sugar mixture and combine. These are not Ina's directions, but they're easy and they work just fine. Now add the trinity flour mixture in batches and mix. Stir in the oats. Add chips and walnuts. With a large spoon scoop out about 1 tablespoon of batter per cookie and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Ina says to flatten the cookies with damp fingers. I have forgotten to do this many times, and it hasn't made too much of a difference in the end result, so if you forget, you'll still be okay. Bake 12 to 14 minutes.

Happy Birthday Jonathan!