Category Archives: dinner

Spicy Stuffed Spinach Meatballs

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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?

wedding

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

Sauce:
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.

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Pork Tenderloin Wraps with Veggies and Balsamic Onions

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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.

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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:

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Step One
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Step Two
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Step Three
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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.

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Crustless Mushroom and Onion Quiche

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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)

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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.