Spicy Stuffed Spinach Meatballs


I know, I know. It has been nigh a month since my last post. I would feel really guilty if I didn’t have a pocket full of really good reasons for being so negligent. First and foremost, I am pregnant, which means that lately a lot of my recipes have consisted of  “you know what sounds good? THIS chocolate and THIS fruit! let’s put it in the Vitamix! whee!” which really doesn’t make for an interesting read, or a recipe that isn’t completely basic and boring. Also I was a bit wrapped up in marrying this guy. Isn’t he the cutest?


We wrote our own vows and escaped for the day, just the two of us. Oh and we made dirt cake. With love snails.

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That dirt cake was fantastic, by the way. We made it with homemade caramel pudding and freshly whipped cream and reached a new level of cookies and cream nirvana. If you are coming to our baby shower at the end of June, be excited, because I am making another one.

See, told you. Great excuses. But I’m glad to be back.

Occasionally I will have a really, really good idea, in response to which Evan’s eyes bug out a little, and he just says “YES! NOW!” In the flurry of marriage vows and blended drinks, one such idea came to me. On my list of “truly great, yet very-doable-for-a-weeknight” foods, spinach loaf, meat loaf, and meat balls all come out near the top. On my list of favorite flavors, “cheese” and “spicy sweet” are probably top 5, maybe even top 3. There was a day recently when I wanted all of those things in my mouth, simultaneously, asap. So I went home and made it happen.

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These meatballs/mini meat loaves are based loosely on a recipe given to me by my grandmother, but they have been altered a considerable amount.  They are a perfect storm of meatloaf, meatballs, spinach loaf, cheesy goodness, and spicy sweetness and they will wreak absolute and amazing havoc on your taste buds. I halved the amount of meat, added a pack of thawed, drained spinach, and about tripled the amount of bread crumbs. I also added some crushed red pepper for good measure, then loaded them with pepperjack cheese.

These balls are coated in spicy-sweet glaze based on my favorite meat toppings, ketchup and sriracha. If you have yet to try the genius combination of slightly sweet, salty ketchup and distinctly spicy sriracha, then make your first time really special with this recipe. You could even light some candles if you’d like. I didn’t eat them in the bath, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t. Yes, they’re that good. I am already counting the days until I make them again.

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Spicy Stuffed Spinach Meatballs
recipe largely my own, partly my grandmother’s

1/2 lb lean ground beef
1 10-oz package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 egg
1 stale hard roll or hamburger bun (or a fresh one, dried out in the oven a bit)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
about 1.5 oz pepperjack cheese (I used two deli slices), cut into 18 chunks

1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup sriracha
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp diced jalepeno

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine spinach, spices, meat, and egg (you can use your hands, a fork, a potato masher, or my personal favorite, a pastry cutter). Tear bread into small pieces and incorporate into meat mixture. Grease a 9″x18″ casserole dish. Form the meal mixture into 18 walnut-to-golfball-sized balls (if you find that the mixture is sticking to your fingers, try wetting your hands a bit first). Insert a cube of cheese into the center of each ball, then reform the ball around it so that the cheese is completely covered.

In a medium bowl, combine all sauce ingredients and mix well. Pour over meat balls and turn them to completely coat them in the sauce. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, basting once. Serve with pasta or mashed potatoes and green salad, or pop a few into a toasted hoagie bun for a new experience in meatball sandwiches.

Candy Bar Cookies

20130323_151053I know I just posted about cookies a few weeks ago, but what can I say? The world needs more cookies. I try to only grace my corner of the world with about a dozen cookies at a time because I feel the need to eat any cookies that come out of my oven as soon as possible…and well if I make more than a dozen, that’s just ludicrously unhealthy. I also tend to be really bad at planning ahead and having my pantry properly stocked, and so sometimes I have to get a little creative with my ingredients when the mood strikes to have something gooey, home baked and delicious in my hands in under an hour and without having to go to the store. The other day one of these adventures went insanely well. I wish I had a picture of the pure excitement on Evan’s face when he tried these cookies, but alas moments are fleeting, so I suppose you will have to try this recipe yourself and make some faces of your own.

It all started with an overwhelming craving for chocolate chip cookies brought on by a conversation with my friend Amber. She is currently teaching English on a 3 month job in Russia and blew my mind the other day by telling me that in Russia, chocolate chip cookies are “not a thing.” WHAT? I had a very strange moment of American pride followed by an intense desire to show the Russians just what they were missing (how exactly shoving a million cookies in my mouth thousands of miles away would prove anything to the Russians is now rather unclear to me, but it made sense in my frenzied state at the time). Off to the kitchen I charged, only to realize I had no eggs and no chocolate chips. Unfazed, I pulled up an egg-free chocolate chip recipe and dug out a chocolate candy bar that had been lurking around my snack shelf since Christmas (don’t ask me how it survived so long) and went to town. These cookies are simple, can be vegan if you don’t use animal milk or fat, and the dough can safely be eaten raw if that’s more your scene. If the dough does make it into the oven, the cookies that come out are light without being cakey, with moist centers and delightful craters of melted chocolate. I used a milk chocolate bar this time, but I see visions of toffee bar, crispy rice bar, and any other number of candy bar cookies in my future.


Candy Bar Cookies 
recipe loosely adapted from Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies that Happen to be Vegan

1 cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
chocolate candy bar (about the same amount of chocolate as a standard Hershey bar), chopped
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil or melted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk, soy milk, or almond milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, candy bar pieces, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix in the oil, milk, and vanilla extract to form a sticky dough. Spoon dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Cool on sheet for 3-5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack (or your mouth).

Pork Tenderloin Wraps with Veggies and Balsamic Onions


I am a tortilla girl. As a kid I remember going to my grandmother’s house for dinner and my favorite part of the meal being the soft, warm tortillas, smeared with a bit of butter. They weren’t fancy or homemade, they were just your average store-bought flour tortilla, but when they were heated briefly in a plastic container in the microwave they became magical.

I apply this secret from my childhood to every soft taco, quesadilla, burrito, and wrap that I make today. It all starts with a properly warmed tortilla–cold tortillas are difficult to work with, crack and spill all over the place, and are not as flavorful. If I am making a meal and I happen to have the oven turned on, I will just pop the tortillas in there for a bit to warm them up, otherwise I’ve found that about 30 seconds on high in most microwaves does just fine for a single tortilla. If you are warming multiple tortillas to serve as a side or for a taco or fajita bar, I recommend investing in a tortilla warmer.

My love for tortillas intersects with my love of pork tenderloin, roasted veggies, mounds of cheese, and balsamic vinegar in these pork tenderloin wraps. Yes, they are veritable little pockets of pure love. As if that wasn’t enough, I decided to serve them with honey mustard and that just sent them over the edge into an abyss containing all things truly wonderful.

All of that bragging aside, this wrap has not completely satiated me in my quest for the perfect sandwich. I continue on, bravely, fiercely…and if you have any favorites you would like to pass on, please leave them in the comment section!

Pork Tenderloin Wraps with Veggies and Balsamic Onions

olive oil
1/3 pound pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
4 shitake mushrooms,
4 asparagus spears, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets
1/2 red onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
a few grinds black pepper
pinch of salt
pinch of ground ginger
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
3 large tortillas (I used jalapeno cheddar flavor, but any burrito sized tortilla will do)
honey mustard

20130312_163723(0)I recommend prepping and cutting all veggies and meat before starting so that once you begin cooking, you can get into a groove (instead of a panic) and crank this recipe out with minimal stress involved.

20130312_163621Warm a skillet (I used a large cast iron skillet, but most any medium to large skillet will do) drizzled with olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute for about one minute. Add the onions and cook for 1-2 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low. Continue cooking until onions start to become translucent, then add vinegar, sugar, and black pepper, and a small drizzle of olive oil. Mix well and continue cooking until onions are soft and the balsamic mixture has begun to caramelize.



Crank heat back up to medium high, move onions and garlic to the edge of the skillet, drizzle with olive oil, and add the pork. Cook for about three minutes or until pork is almost cooked through. Add asparagus spears, broccoli, and ginger and lower heat to medium. Cook until veggies are tender and bright green, adding a bit more olive oil if they start to stick to the pan. Add the mushrooms and cook until they have deepened in color and cooked through. Remove pan from heat and prepare three warmed tortillas.

Put one-third of the pork and veggies in the center of the tortilla and top with one-third of the cheese. Wrap ‘er up, just like this:

Step One
Step Two
Step Three
Ta Da!

Optional: Preheat broiler to high and place wraps on a sheet of aluminum foil. Broil until lightly browned and toasty. Serve with a side of honey mustard.


Crispy-Chewy Pomegranate Molasses Ginger Cookies


I love taking requests. I adore embarking on a quest to satisfy someone’s cravings in the most delicious way possible. This weekend my partner, Evan, requested that I find a way to make those big, chewy molasses cookies. You know, the big, dark, spicy rounds that have slightly crisp outer edges and fantastically moist centers? I didn’t have to be told twice.

In the process of tracking down a recipe, one of us remembered that we had picked up some pomegranate molasses a while back (we got it at an Asian supermarket but it is becoming increasingly popular and you may be able to find it at a standard grocery store), and a beautiful idea was born. Now I doubt I am the first person to think of this, but it certainly was the first time I’ve ever made or eaten pomegranate molasses cookies–and let me warn you, they are crazy addictive. They resemble ordinary molasses cookies in texture and in the delightful gingery bite, but they also bring to the table a nice fruitiness with a subtle, tart edge. I learned in the process of making them that the tartness will be overpowering if you simply substitute pomegranate molasses in place of regular dark molasses, so I added some brown sugar (which incidentally, adds even more delicious molasses!). The only thing I wish I could have done differently is coated them in some pretty, large-crystal sugar before baking…because who doesn’t love sparkly cookies?

Anticipating an urge to devour all the cookies in one sitting and not wanting to become incredibly ill, I purposely made a small batch. This recipe makes 15 or 16 cookies, so if you would like to make more than that, feel free to double the recipe. I also used half of a “flax egg” as my binding agent, but you can certainly substitute half a beaten egg (or a whole egg if you are doubling the recipe).


Chewy Pomegranate Molasses Ginger Cookies

Recipe loosely adapted from A Thought for Food

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1/2 recipe flax egg 

7-10 cubes crystallized ginger, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375°F and grease a cookie sheet or two. Combine butter, sugars, crystallized ginger,  flax egg and molasses in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to mixing bowl and combine with wet ingredients to form a well incorporated dough. Form dough into balls about the size of walnuts or golf balls, roll in sugar, and flatten slightly with a fork or spatula. I flattened mine with a bottle opener in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.


Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges begin to get crispy. Let cool for a few minutes, then enjoy!

Red Wine Chocolate Soufflés with Salted Caramel Sauce

I have found there to be a great fear of soufflés in the world of home cooks. I used to be afraid of them. I think the fear stems in part from the luxurious texture, the intense flavor-the overall amazing experience of enjoying a soufflé. We think to ourselves “it must be really tricky to make something this good.” About a year ago, I said to hell with it. I was tired of being afraid. I was going in. I found a recipe for cheese soufflé from an old neglected cookbook on my shelf, grabbed the whisk attachment for my standing mixer, and plunged into the dark of the previously unknown.

That day, I found out that soufflés are actually quite easy. I promise that you will be able to do this (as long as you use some form of an electric mixer-please do not try to whisk this by hand, you will be exhausted and probably unsuccessful). All you really need to do to be successful at making a soufflé (or many “intermediate” level recipes, really) is to read the recipe fully before starting so you are familiar with the steps you will be taking, and have all ingredients measured out in advance, because it all happens rather quickly.

Making caramel sauce is one of the only cooking endeavors at which I have failed miserably, time and time again. I figured as long as I was conquering a universal fear of soufflés this afternoon, why not finally face down caramel sauce once and for all? After reading this tutorial and practicing my game face in the mirror, I deemed myself ready to meet the challenge. Oh, what a delicious success it was.


For the chocolate soufflés, I adapted a recipe from a large, basic cookbook I inherited from my mother. I love the way that red wine plays off the bitter notes in dark chocolate, so I decided to substitute some red wine for some of the milk in the recipe. If I were to make this again, I would probably up the chocolate to 3/4 cup, because I found the soufflé to be a little more cake-like than I would like. If you’re looking for a standard, fluffy soufflé, this recipe is really solid. If you are looking for something deeply rich and possibly even a little gooey, up the chocolate content a bit.

Red Wine and Dark Chocolate Soufflés
Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (2000 edition)

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
4 egg yolks, beaten
4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 4 8-ounce ramekins and sprinkle the sides with a bit of sugar, then set aside. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour until combined, then add milk all at once and whisk until smooth. Increase heat to medium, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbling and has begun to thicken. Add chocolate and stir until melted, then remove from heat. Slowly combine 1/4 cup or so of the chocolate mixture with the beaten eggs, then slowly add the egg mixture into the rest of the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and vanilla with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat the mixture, until stiff peaks form. Fold about 1 cup of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold the chocolate mixture into the rest of the egg white mixture, being careful not to over mix, to maintain the “pillowy” texture.

Carefully transfer the chocolate “mousse” to the prepared ramekins and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until puffed up and lovely. While they are a cookin’, whip up a batch of salted caramel sauce, and serve them fresh from the oven, drizzled in caramel goodness.

For best results, do not open the oven at ALL during baking. It is chocolate soufflé, so if it turns out a little underdone, the worst that will happen is a molten center, and I have never met a chocolate lover who would complain about that. If you plan to make other soufflés in your oven, however, I would experiment with bake times on a chocolate soufflé and then apply that bake time to a cheese or other soufflé (as molten egg-y cheese might not be quite as well received, though probably still delicious).


Edit: I posted this the night that I made the souffles. I made four souffles for two already very stuffed people, and we ended up with three leftover ramekins of delicious chocolate goodness that I feared would be exceedingly underwhelming the next day. The exact opposite was true. Leave these sit a day in the fridge, pop them in the microwave, and drizzle them with some warmed up caramel sauce…and melt into a puddle of delirious fudgy joy.

Crustless Mushroom and Onion Quiche


It’s really been one of those weeks. I haven’t had time to go grocery shopping, half of my dinners have come out of a box in the freezer, and here I am on Friday night, exhausted and wanting to wind down but also really craving a warm and cozy home cooked meal. These are the times that I am so glad that cooking, though it is a science, is also an art and an adventure. I know that sitting at home I have a carton of eggs, some mushrooms on their last leg, a few cloves of garlic, and about half a red onion. I also know I have a sink full of dishes and that I want to add to that mountain as little as possible. Today’s adventure will be simple and brief, a kind of experiment in leftovers, really. But sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

Quiche is a beautiful thing. It can be breakfast, lunch or dinner, and it can be as high or low maintenance as you desire. You can put any variety of odds and ends from your fridge into a quiche and more often than not, they come together into a satisfying, inexpensive and filling dish. The only thing that has hindered my love affair with quiche in the past is the need to make a crust. I am a crust enthusiast, and I will tell you in a post very soon how easy (and rewarding) it actually is to make a delicious, flaky, buttery pastry delight, but it does take more dishes and more time. And, well, sometimes I want to be lazy and still feel like I accomplished something. Today I discovered crustless quiche, and my overly tired and ravenously hungry self rejoiced.

I was impressed with how this recipe turned out. It had never occurred to me to just leave out the crust, and I really have to say, I hardly missed it. The recipe is adaptable- you can add a few handfuls of spinach, some bell peppers, some (cooked) chicken breast or sausage, whatever you have available. Recipes are starting points, a map of sorts. Where the adventure leads is entirely up to you.

Crustless Mushroom and Onion Quiche
Recipe adapted very loosely from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook and Ms Chow

1 clove garlic, minced
½ medium red onion, diced
5 or 6 button, cremini, or baby bella mushrooms, sliced thinly
4 eggs, beaten
1-2 cups mozzarella cheese (or whatever you have lying around)
1 tablespoon butter
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon Penzey’s Sunny Paris Seasoning or your favorite herb blend (optional)


Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease a 9-inch pie pan (or an 8-inch cake pan/baking dish, though you will have to let it bake for a while longer). Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and onions and saute for about a minute. Add mushrooms, cook for about two minutes, then remove from heat. Combine salt, pepper, and eggs, cheese, veggies, and herbs, if using. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until outer edges are browned and the middle of the quiche is cooked through.