Monday, October 18, 2010

Sweet and Scrumptious

October 14th would have been Sharon's mom's birthday. Rae Fox was a warm hearted, giving and wonderful gal known for her skills in the kitchen, so I decided it was the perfect time to cook up one of her recipes and then post it for you guys to enjoy.

Rae Fox at 28, taking in the scenery from a New York roof top

At first I was going to make Rae's Almost Famous Scrumptious Meatballs and Spaghetti Sauce but the recipe couldn't be found. So I opted for her Sweet and Sour Swedish Meatballs which are scrumptious as well and a quick fix to boot! Even though back in the day slaving over the stove was par for the course, I promise- you can make these little darlings in 45 minutes tops. The ingredients are simple and brought back a most pleasant taste sensation from my childhood. The sweet and sour sauce is the EXACT, I mean EXACT!!! same sauce my mom used to make with her stuffed cabbage. It's a great memory and an even better recipe.

Rae Fox's Sweet and Sour Swedish Meatballs

1 pound ground beef

1/4 cup cooked brown rice

1/2 medium onion grated

1 clove garlic grated

1/2 tsp salt

2 T parsley chopped

1 egg slightly beaten

1/4-1/3 cup lemon juice-I used the juice of 2 lemons

1/4 tsp vinegar- I used rice vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 15 oz can tomato sauce

1 15 oz can water

To make the meatballs: Combine rice, onion, garlic, salt, egg and parsley. Add ground beef and gently mix with your clean hands. Form meatballs about golf ball size. You should get about 15 meatballs. Set aside.

To make the sauce: In large pot over medium low heat add lemon juice, vinegar, brown sugar, tomato sauce and salt. Combine with spoon or whisk until brown sugar has dissolved. Add meatballs and enough water to almost cover the meatballs. I found that 15 ounces of water did the trick. Keep the heat at a low simmer and cook meatballs for 30 minutes, tossing them in the sauce every so often.

Remove meatballs to a separate plate and simmer the sauce for about 5 to 10 minutes to concentrate the flavors and thicken it up a bit. I let it reduce about 1 inch from where it started.

Pour sauce over meatballs and serve. These meatballs are a great appetizer, which is how I enjoyed them on night number one. Reheated the next night they were delicious with brown rice and a salad. This is one of those recipes that is even better the second day. So I say, make a double batch. You won't be disappointed. Thanks Rae.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Still Stewed

I've been stewing a lot of chicken this year. It all started with my mom's old stand-by:

And then there was the Bashian Marinade Fiasko:

The African Kedjenou:

And the Asian obsession:

I've come to the conclusion that this kind of cooking is perfect for my no fuss style in the kitchen. I love a one pot meal that offers easy clean up, great aromas throughout the house, and leftovers that re-heat beautifully. And let's not forget how figure friendly and healthy this type of cooking is. So where do I go from here I wonder, to keep up my excitement? How about the exotic land of India.

A few weeks ago I was watching a new show on the food network hosted by an adorable gal named Aarti Sequeira. She's from India and was making an Indian version of our American Sloppy Joe's. That's not one of my favorite things to eat, yet the sauce she was concocting sure got my attention. I made a note to myself to incorportate her saucey spices in my next stewed chicken creation. And the only thing I didn't have in my pantry or fridge to complete this dish was the spice mix called Garam Masala. If you're not familiar with this seasoning, it's simply a combination of cumin, coriander, cardomom, pepper and cinnamon, and other spices indigenous to Indian cooking. You can make it yourself, but I took the easy route and bought a bottle in the spice aisle of my supermarket for about six dollars.

Indian Inspired Stewed Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

4 bone in chicken thighs, skin removed

salt and pepper

1 T canola oil

1 cup diced onions

1 cup diced green and/or red peppers

2 T minced fresh ginger

1 T minced garlic

1 Serrano chile, seeds included, thinly sliced (I'd use 2 next time)

1 tsp Garam Masala

1/2 tsp paprika

1 15 oz can tomato sauce

1 14.5 oz can low fat, low sodium chicken broth

2 medium size sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 2 inch dice

1/4 cup fresh cilantro for garnish

Salt and pepper the chicken and set aside. Over medium low heat in large pot add canola oil. When oil is warm, add onions and peppers. Cook about 5 minutes until the vegetables have softened, but not browned. Add garlic and ginger and cook for about 1 minute. Add Garam Masala, paprika, 1/2 tsp of salt, black pepper and the Serrano chili. Stir for about 30 seconds and you'll begin to smell the spices emitting their warmth. Add the tomato sauce and chicken broth and increase heat to a rolling simmer. Add chicken, reduce heat to low and cover pot. Cook 25 minutes at a gentle simmer. After 25 minutes add the diced sweet potatoes and continue to cook with the chicken for 15 to 20 minutes. Your Indian stew is ready. I like to serve this with rice, and next time maybe even toss in some raisins toward the end of cooking. I really enjoyed this meal and will make it again for sure.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Square Meal Updated

I recently re-vamped my Breakfast Strata. I changed some of the ingredients and lost the bread (because I've been eating waaay too much bread lately and last years' wardrobe has become a bit snug). So now I guess it's no longer a strata but a baked Western style omelet with tofu sausage patties. If you're making an icky tofu face now, I totally understand. However Morningstar Farms has a great product and I want you to hear me out.

Their sausage patties taste like the real thing. Plus they're filling and won't have you reaching for a cookie or donut mid-morning in the office. They're low in fat and carbs, have no cholesterol and are high in protein. And they're really yummy. Remember- I can be a food snob, and I think these little darlings are great.

Western Style Baked Eggs

4 Morningstar Farms sausage patties

1 cup onions diced (by now you know I use frozen, already diced)

1 cup red and green peppers diced (ditto)

1 T canola oil

1/4 cup low fat cottage cheese

1 cup shredded low fat cheese (Italian Blend in a bag is good- so is the Jack if you can find it)

salt and pepper

16 oz container egg substitute

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Prep 8 x 8 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside. In large saute pan over low flame, sweat onions and peppers in canola oil. Season with salt and pepper. The veggies should be tender and aromatic in about five minutes. Set aside to cool. While vegetables are cooking, prepare sausage patties in microwave according to package directions. Set them aside to cool and then cut them into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces. In medium size bowl place cooled onions, peppers and sausage pieces. Add cottage cheese and shredded cheese and stir to combine. Add another pinch of salt and pepper and stir again.

Pour vegetable/sausage/cheese mixture into prepared baking dish and add egg substitute. Let sit for 5 minutes. Bake 45 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

When cool, I carefully remove the cooked eggs from the baking dish and slice into 6 servings, (I usually eat one slice immediately) and return the rest into the pan, cover with foil and refrigerate. In the morning I nuke a slice for one minute. Sometimes I serve with salsa or sliced tomatoes. And when I'm in the mood, ketchup really does the trick.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Eleanor's Meatballs

When I was a young mom there was a babysitter in the neighborhood that all the new mothers would fight over. She was very attentive to the kids which was obviously important. But she had another trait that really made her number one on everyone's list- she was a fabulous cook. After a long day at work I'd come home to a plate of her meatballs and spaghetti and would feel like a princess. I've kept her recipe in my (now) antique recipe box for 30 plus years and make sure after I read it, it goes right back inside for safe keeping. Delicious, no-fail mealtballs. And even back then, she was baking, not frying them.

Eleanor's Meatballs
with a few variations from me
  • 1 to 1-1/4 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup water
  • 1 T crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup onions finely chopped (optional)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
The secret to Eleanor's meatballs is that she first combines all the ingredients except the meat. The meat goes in last because as you might know, the less you handle ground meat, the lighter the meatballs.
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl combine bread crumbs and water (start with a 1/2 cup water and see if you need more). I like the consistency to be like thick hummus. Add egg, parsley, red pepper flakes, onion, salt and pepper. Add ground meat and gently incorportate. I use my hands. Form 20 meatballs (about 1-1/4 inches in diameter)- that's what I usually get from this mixture. Place meatballs on baking sheet prepared with cooking spray. Bake 20 minutes and place into a pot of simmering tomato sauce for ten minutes. Serve over spaghetti or linguini. When I made this last week I also sauteed some spicy chicken sausages that were a welcome complement to the meatballs.
Both meatballs and sausages (which I sliced into 1 inch rounds) went into a bubbly pot of store-bought Classico spaghetti sauce. And then landed atop a plate of linguini. A garnish of red pepper flakes and parsley would have been nice, but I couldn't wait.

Later in the week I heated the meatballs and sausages and created an ooey, gooey mozzarella filled, toasted pita sandwich that was so messy I had to eat it with a fork. As you can imagine, it was simply heaven. Thanks Eleanor!