If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding!!

I was lucky enough to have been given a sample of locally grown short-grain sticky rice not too long ago. Rice grown by a community of Hmong people out in Hickory, NC. Incongruous, I know. Nonetheless, I had this bag of local sticky rice that I knew I had to find a purpose for. As you may recall, I had checked out the big Gourmet cookbook from the library not too long ago. In that monstrous book was a recipe for rice-studded meatballs. Rice. Meat. Yum.

I knew I had to make those meatballs. I also wanted to make the famous Vietnamese sandwich, Bahn Mi. I had some pork belly that I planned on using for that. So, Asian night at the Mall house was coming together nicely.

I have a freezer full of pork. It seems outrageous to go to the store to buy the ground pork necessary for my rice studded meatballs. So, despite the fact that I gave up shopping for Lent, I picked up the meat grinder attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer at Target a couple of days ago. In my defense, it was on sale AND I had a coupon. I defrosted some pork shoulder, and whipped out my brand new meat grinder, and set about grinding me up some pork. Maybe now the Pink Floyd reference in the title is making sense. If it’s not, let me gently remind you. (it’s 3:30 and 4:15 in)

It might be a while before I grind anymore meat.

Anyway, I recovered from that rather traumatic experience, and had quite a bit more ground beef than I originally planned. So, I’m saving the pork belly to make the famous Momofuku Pork Buns and used my extra ground pork to make little Bahn Mi pork meatballs, a la this epicurious recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/reviews/Pork-Meatball-Banh-Mi-356790

The rice studded meatballs were good, better when dipped in a little ponzu sauce. (also an epicurious recipe): http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Rice-Studded-Meatballs-109195

Josh loved both forms of meatball. But I knew a big Bahn Mi sandwich on French bread would be a little hard for the kids to eat. That’s when I remembered I had an extra dough ball left in the fridge. I rolled that puppy out and put it on the grill pan. That’s when I realized what I really had on my hands… PITA BREAD! I was able to split the bread and fill it with Josh’s little Bahn Mi. It’s really fantastic (the bread. and the sandwich. but really, this is about the bread) and would be even better on a real grill.

Here’s the kid’s version of the Bahn Mi. Okay, it’s really only Josh’s version. Erin’s (HOMEMADE!!!!) pita was stuffed with ham and cheese. I know my audience.

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This is the ‘There’s no way I’m eating that!’ look.

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The rice/meat balls before they went into the steamer.

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Ready to eat!

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The meatballs for the Bahn Mi cooking away in the oven!

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How good does that look? Trust me, it tasted even better!

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This One is for the Kids!

Because I think sometimes they get a little tired of all my ‘experiments’ in the kitchen! So this night was all about catering to the kids, who love cheeseburgers and pizza.

So I made cheeseburger pizza. I have made this recipe before, quite some time ago – but I remember the kids liked it. The best thing about this recipe is the pizza dough. The recipe is from Cuisine at Home and is so simple.

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

Proof the yeast with the sugar and warm water. Put in a stand mixer with a dough hook and add the olive oil. Add in the flours and salt and mix for 10 minutes. Pop into a lightly oiled bowl and let rise for 2 hours until doubled in size. Divide dough into 4 equal balls and let rise for another hour.

Here’s one of my dough balls!

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To make the pizzas, mix together 1/2 cup of ketchup and 1/4 cup yellow mustard. Brown some ground beef. Grate some Velveeta. (I know, Velveeta. This might be only the 2nd time I’ve used it in as many years).

Instead of just rolling out the dough and throwing it on the pizza stone, I decided to grill mine – as the dough recipe really was meant to be used for grilled pizzas. Since it was freezing AND raining outside, I used a grill pan on my stove. I grilled one side, flipped it over and then spread some of the ketchup mixture, topped with ground beef and the blasted Velveeta. I put the whole pan in a 500 degree oven for about 7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and dough is fully cooked.

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As toppings, toss together some shredded lettuce, chopped cherry tomatoes and chopped dill pickles (which I toss all together). You can mix some mayo with pickle juice and drizzle over the whole thing to really take it over the top.

Josh ate a whole pizza by himself. Here’s his third ‘piece’.

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It’s easy, tasty, and the kids love it. AND, my one leftover dough ball made a star appearance later in the week. Stay tuned for that!

Lady Apple, Where Art Thou?

It seems like every time I go to the grocery store, I see a little bin of cute Lady Apples. Every time I see them, I think of this absolutely fabulous meal I had in New York at the beginning of the year. Lady Apples baked with some sort of Italian Sausage that there’s no chance of me finding down here. The restaurant is Gottino, in NY’s West Village: http://www.ilovegottino.com/

Here’s a picture of those lovely apples that I think of every time I’m in the Teeter:

So, a few days ago I came across a recipe that called for a few simple ingredients: chicken thighs, bacon, and you guessed it, lady apples. I thought to myself, ‘”GREAT! Finally, I can pick up some of those cute little apples that have been taunting me every time I’m grocery shopping!”.

So, I drop Erin off at school, and head to the best Teeter in town, excited to finally get my hands on those cute little orbs. I push my cart with purpose through the produce section to the spot I know they occupy. Only, they’re not there. I push my cart not quite so purposefully up and down the produce section. I stop and ask the friendly produce man, “Where are my lady apples??”. He informs me that they are out, and they might, MIGHT have some more later in the week.

Well, I wasn’t about to abandon my dinner plans for the evening -  mostly because I just couldn’t get the idea of chicken, bacon, and apples out of my head. So  I went with plan B: I used some of the beautiful (albeit full size) Pink Lady Apples I had from the Farmer’s Fresh Market. I have the say, the results were still quite tasty, and rather pretty too!

The recipe is from epicurious.com and very straightforward. Cook your bacon until it just starts to brown, but is still pliable. Wrap around your lady apples, should you be lucky enough to have them. I wrapped my bacon around cored Pink Lady apple halves. Sear off your seasoned chicken thighs (bone in, skin on). Arrange in your baking dish in put in the oven. Using the same pan you seared your breasts in (ouch!) add apple cider and apple cider vinegar to deglaze and then a dollop of butter. Pour over your chicken and apples and continue to roast until the chicken is done.

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The Meatless Meal

‘Tis the season. Lent that is. This Wednesday kicked off the Lenten season and had me thinking about how to put together tasty, healthy meals that were meatless. Usually, if I try and serve a meal without some sort of meat, my husband will look at me like I have 3 heads. But even he can’t argue with a meatless meal during Lent! And while I always look forward to trying new recipes, my imagination gets stretched pretty thin towards the end of Lent. By the 5th or 6th Friday, I’m probably serving up some scrambled eggs or pancakes for dinner. Certainly not the most healthy option, and definitely not creative.

Ash Wednesday was here before I knew it. I found myself in the Teeter to pick up some heavy cream, because I planned on using the leeks and goat cheese I had in the fridge to make a quiche. I planned on serving it with a simple side salad. Since I was shopping without the kids – oh what a treat – I picked up an issue of Cooks Illustrated and (warning: never shop hungry) decided that I would expand on the leeky theme and make the leek and potato soup from that issue. Oh, and the chewy chocolate brownies.

The quiche is super simple! For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 8tbps butter
  • 5-6 tbps ice water
  • pinch sea salt

I use the food processor – pulse diced cold butter with flour/salt until it looks a bit like coarse cornmeal. Then slowly add water. I’ve learned the hard way that if your dough starts to come together in a ball during this stage, you’ve added too much water and your crust will be tough and brittle. It should still look coarse, but you should be able to pinch it and it will hold together. Pre-bake it @ 425 degrees for about 15 minutes… don’t forget those pie weights!

Here’s the prepared crust, topped with the goat cheese and sauteed leeks.
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For the filling:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • salt to taste

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Bake in the 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the middle is set. Here it is fresh from the oven.

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And our first meatless meal of the Lenten season. I took a picture of Josh’s plate… I ate a WHOLE lot more than that! And I found the soup recipe to be very delicious – and so easy too! It’s in this month’s issue of Cook’s Illustrated.

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Oh, and the brownies were good too. Josh loved them, which is odd because he typically does not like chocolatey desserts. I didn’t take a picture though, because although they tasted very good, they were a gooey mess. The recipe calls for a baking time of 30-35 minutes – I baked mine for close to 40 and they were still a little undercooked.

Happy Valentine’s Day

We celebrated Valentine’s Day at home this year. For the kids, I made their favorite meal – spaghetti and meatballs… and of course, candy for dessert! And after they were tucked in bed, Scott and I shared a pretty fantastic meal. I made individual beef wellingtons – basically a small filet seared off and topped with peppercorn Boursin and a mushroom duxelle, all wrapped up in Phyllo dough. I served that alongside creamed spinach and my favorite potato dish: potatoes Anna. For dessert – Scott’s favorite – Banana pudding, taken up just a notch: homemade vanilla pudding in phyllo cups, topped with carmelized bananas!

The beef, in progress. A few layers of phyllo, brushed with butter and topped with a sprinkling of chopped chives. The filets were from What’s Your Beef, and tasted spectacular, as usual!

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The final product!

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And dessert! The recipe was from Epicurious.com, and many of the reviewers mentioned that the phyllo cups scorched under the broiler before the bananas truly carmelized, and I found that to be true as well. It was still delicious, though!

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I hope everyone’s Valentine’s Day was a good one!