Thursday, October 31, 2013

i heart eggplant.

I have had this recipe for months and have been dying to try it! 
Eggplant (meatless) Balls
1 large purple eggplant
2 cups bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons dried oregano
2 eggs, whisked
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup wheat or white flour
EVOO for frying
Preheat oven to 350. Prick the eggplant all over with a fork and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 1 hour or until skin is collapsed and insides are totally soft. Let cool for at least 20 minutes and then slice open and scoop out insides, discarding the skin. If necessary, chop coarsely with a knife.
Place the bread crumbs to a large bowl. Add the eggplant, garlic, oregano, beaten eggs, grated cheese, and salt. Stir thoroughly with a spatula to completely incorporate all ingredients. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Pour flour on a plate and set aside. Using a tablespoon, place a scoop of eggplant mixture into your hands and roll into golf ball sized balls. Rolls the balls gently into the flour. In a large saucepan, pour olive oil until it’s about 1/4 inch high. Heat over medium heat until the oil begins to bubble. Carefully add half of the meatballs and let cook 2-3 minutes, until medium brown on the bottom. Gently flip them over and cook 2-3 minutes more on the other side, until they are evenly colored. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meatballs to the paper towel. Gently press down with another paper towel to absorb some of the oil. When preparing to serve the eggplant balls, warm them in your sauce over medium heat for at least 10 to 15 minutes to ensure they are warm all the way through.
We enjoyed our meatless eggplant balls with spicy vegetable marina on top of roasted spaghetti squash. Meat-free and very delicious!

Eggplant balls would also be fantastic in a crusty hoagie roll with sauce and cheese on top.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

best of both grandmas

For Vance's birthday, I made one of Vance's favorite dishes - a famed entree in his grandma Hamor's repertoire, swine hocks. The hock of the swine translates to the lower leg of the pig. These big lugs are rubbed, seared, roasted and shredded. 
The evening before serving, chop 8 garlic cloves together with 3 sprigs fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary. Add about one tablespoon kosher salt and a generous amount of fresh ground pepper. With a sharp knife, poke slits all over2 1½–2 lb. pork shanks (fresh hocks) and rub the garlic mixture over the shanks. Refrigerate overnight.The next day, wipe most (but not all) of the garlic mixture off of the shanks with a paper towel. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy skillet. Add shanks and brown them well. Add 1½ cups dry white wine and ½ cup low-salt chicken broth. Bring to a boil, and then lower heat to simmer. At this point, either put the pan in a 350 degree oven (covered by a lid or foil), or transfer the contents of the pan to a crock pot. Cook for about 3 hours, basting regularly and turning the shanks about halfway through. If liquid evaporates, add more broth. When the meat falls off the bone easily, remove the meat and bone. Discard bone and set the meat aside.
I served the hocks (or shanks) with roasted carrots & white turnips, braised red cabbage and smoked gouda grits. It was a bit of Germany meets the South. 
In keeping with the "Vance's favorite childhood foods" theme, I Haluski last night. Haluski is a Polish dish of cabbage, onions and noodles (and butter - typically lots of butter). This dish is big in the Pittsburgh area and Vance's Grandma Albaugh used to make it as a side for Sunday dinners. I added some carrot and parsley for color and sliced some sausage to make it a main course.
We should have been drinking Iron City or Penn Pilsner instead of Amstel!
8 ounces uncooked egg noodles
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 smal head of cabbage, rough chopped
3-4 tablespoons parsley
1-2 tablespoons EVOO
2 bratwurst sausages (or sausage of your choice)
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook egg noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, add oil to a large dutch oven on stovetop. Sear the sausages for a few minutes, remove and set aside. In same pan, saute onions until softened, 5-10 minutes. Add carrots and garlic and saute for another 5-10 minutes - add cabbage. Slice the sausage into about 5-6 slices each and add to pot. Saute for another 15 minutes.Once the noodles and cabbage mixture are ready, add the noodles to the dutch oven. Stir to combine then add black pepper and parsley on top.
When Vance asked for Haluski this week and I said "sure" he exclaimed..."it's like the best of both grandmas!" = love.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

falling for apps

Vance's birthday weekend! So much cooking, eating, drinking and having fun! More recipes to come, but a few fall appetizers for entertaining.
Hello Brie, I love you.
small brie (8 ounces)
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk
In a small sauce pan, add butter, sugar and milk. Stir until dissolved. Warm brie on serving plate in the microwave for about 1 to 2 minutes (feeling how warm it gets after a minute). When brie is warm, pour on brown sugar sauce and top with nuts and dried cranberries. Serve with crackers - and love every second.
Spicy Pumpkin Harvest Hummus (clearly, the healthier option)
1 can chick peas, rinsed
1/2 packed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons tahini
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons water
2 garlic cloves, minced
little less than 1/4 cup EVOO
In food processor, pulse together, chick peas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic and water. When pureed, add pumpkin, Cayenne, cumin, salt and drizzle about half the EVOO on top. Pulse more - this mixture can be a bit thick so you might have to stop and scrape the sides. Add more EVOO and blend until consistency of your liking. Once in serving bowl, top with a little shake of pepper. Serve with crudites and warm pita slices. 
In true birthday fashion, we tried out a new cocktail. 
The Jack Rose is one of the six basic cocktails (martini, manhattan, old-fashioned, side car, daiquiri & jack rose) according to the 1940's primer The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David A. Embury. In a shaker combine 1 1/2 ounces applejack, 1/2 ounce grenadine, and the juice of 1/2 lime. Shake fast and furiously with much cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a lime. I added a bit more applejack to cut the sweetness of the grenadine. These cocktails are quite good - on the sweeter side, but tasty.

it's all in the sauce

literally - everything is in this sauce. 
Roasted Vegetable Marina

1 zucchini, chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
1 onion, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
large handful of fresh herbs (I used basil, parsley & tarragon) - chopped until fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons EVOO for sautéing
2 tablespoons EVOO for roasting
generous amounts of S&P
1 teaspoon sugar
2 boxes Pomi Chopped Tomatoes
1 box Pomi Strained Tomatoes

Chop all vegetables and toss with 2 tablespoons EVOO, dried oregano, S&P. Assemble one layer on a large cookie sheet and roast for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. In a large stock pot, add 2 tablespoon EVOO and the garlic, saute for about 2 minutes. Add 3 boxes of Pomi tomatoes, sugar and vinegar, stir. When vegetables are done, remove from oven and cool slightly. In two batches, places vegetables food processor and pulse a few times. The vegetables shouldn't be pureed too much, but you don't want large pieces to remain. Add vegetable mixture to tomato base, add chopped herbs, crushed red pepper, and salt and pepper well. Continue to cook for about 5-10 minutes - taste for seasoning.
We enjoyed our sauce over mushroom & cheese ravioli. This zippy vegetarian sauce would be great over eggplant or chicken - or any type of pasta that you love!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

apple & pumpkin turkey meatloaf

apple & pumpkin meatloaf with spiced sweet potato mash, broccoli & applesauce.
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
6 ounces packed pumpkin
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 pumpkin pie spice
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup onion, chopped (half a small onion)
1/4 cup apple, peeled and chopped (half small apple)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 egg
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
Melt butter in pan and saute onion and apple until tender. In large bowl place all ingredients (including sauteed onion-apple mixture). When cool enough to touch, mix well - but don't over mix. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.
Spiced Sweet Potato Mash - serves 3-4
3 small sweet potatoes
1/3 cup milk
2-3 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
big pinch of nutmeg
Peel and cube potatoes, boil until soft - about 15 minutes. Drain and return to pot. Begin mashing with hand-mixer. Add in all other ingredients and mix until just smooth. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

see ya later summer

I am so ready for fall weather - but Nashville is taking its good ol' time cooling off. Asparagus was on sale this week so I made an end of summer risotto. Next risotto will be pumpkin - or mushroom - or some other lovely winter dish. This recipe serves four.
1 cup Aborrio rice
4-5 cup of chicken stock, simmering
small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons EVOO
3/4 cup white wine
1/2 -3/4 pound asparagus, blanched and chilled - cut into fifths
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3-4 tablespoons of pesto (I used some lemon-almond pesto that I made this summer)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cherry tomatoes with some EVOO and S&P on a baking sheet. Roast for about 12 minutes until tender and set aside. Over medium heat, saute onion in butter and EVOO until tender. Add rice and stir quickly. Ensure all rice is coated, add wine and continue to stir until absorbed. Add simmering chicken stock, one ladle at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding another. Continue to add stock and stir for about 25 minutes. Reserve a ladle of stock for end. Remove pot from heat, stir in cheese, pesto and S&P to taste. Add a bit more stock if needed and add in asparagus. Plate risotto and top with cherry tomatoes. Last few dishes of summer stop fall.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

heck of a way to start the weekend

...rolling your ankle when coming down from the Bosu ball (or rubber torture device of choice in last night's total body fitness class). And this happened - which resulted in a Saturday full of watching the Food Network, hobbling to the freezer to see what we can eat this weekend, and catching up on my shows - missed during travel in DC and Richmond last week. 
I was able to pull myself together to mix up a couple of cocktails tonight though (I know - what a trooper!) 
pink margarita for one.
 Fill shaker with ice and combine 2 shots tequila, 1 and 1/2 shots fresh lime juice (juice from about half a lime), 1/2 shot triple sec, 1 shot cranberry juice, small squeeze of agave nectar (depending on how sweet you like it). Shake well and serve in salted rim glass with a lime garnish. To make the salt adhere, run a little agave around the rim of the glass before dipping in salt. Pretty in pink - on a Saturday night, with a bum foot. 
evening sunset - via Martha Stewart.
And then my foot was still hurting. So I made another cocktail-obviously for medicinal purposes. In a shaker with ice add the juice from half an orange, juice from a large wedge of lemon, 1-2 shots tequila and shake well. In rocks glass with ice, add a drizzle of grenadine, fill glass 2/3 with citrus-tequila mixture and top with club soda. Garnish with a lemon peel twist. Who needs Ibuprofen when you have citrus and tequila? Happy Saturday night all!

Friday, October 4, 2013

when summer meets fall

My birthday hits when summer meets fall. That end of September time, when you are dying to wear boots and blazers, but it is still 85 degrees out. During this time of year, I get a serious itch for hearty fall food. I broke down and made turkey pumpkin chili a few weeks ago because...well, I love turkey pumpkin chili. Here are a few early fall ideas - not super heavy, but make you realize the leaves are turning.
Apple Atlas Cocktail
To help relieve you when you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.
1 part apple jack
2 parts dark rum
1/2 shot triple sec
2 shakes of bitters
Shake and serve over ice with an apple slice.
Laird's Apple Jack - this will definitely be used a few times before the close the year!
Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Vegetables
1 medium spaghetti squash, roasted until tender - shredded
Bunch of kale, roughly chopped
pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
8 oz mushrooms, quartered
small onion, diced
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
Roast squash and set aside to cool. When you can handle it easily, shred into long strands. Toss tomatoes and mushrooms in about 2 tablespoons EVOO with S&P, roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until tender. In large saute pan, add tablespoon EVOO, saute onion until translucent. Add garlic for 1-2 minutes. Add chopped kale and cook until soft. In large bowl toss squash, garlicy kale, onions, tomatoes and mushrooms. Salt and pepper well and add a bit more EVOO if needed. Toss in Parmesan and mix well. Serve with bread - so delicious and simple!

Golden Butternut Squash Soup (adapted from Martha Stewart's)
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 piece (2 inches) fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 3/4 pounds small butternut squash, prepared and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
sour cream (optional)
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, and squash; cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer until squash is tender, 20 minutes. Using immersion blend, gently pulse to puree soup to the consistency you would like. Stir in orange juice and more salt (to taste). Serve soup hot with a dollop of sour cream on top. This is so good.