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Chicken Parm Meatballs

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I love ground chicken. I love ground turkey, too. Basically, I feel like the chicken has a slightly creamy texture when cooked with. I don’t even know how that’s possible, but beef seems too, basic. It’s almost like it’s drying. Which isn’t the case if it’s not in ground form. Obviously, I’m not talking about the super lean beef, but the ground chuck that you’re supposed to use for good flavor. Nope, I just can’t do it lately, I can’t cook with beef.

I suppose that’s good for me, in the long run, so it works out.

But I have to say, I’ve used ground chicken in pasta sauces, with lasagna, stuffed into peppers, and made chili with it. I’ve been working with ground turkey less than chicken, but today I’m returning to my old poultry friend in these delicious, and giant (!) meatballs.

From Dinner, A Love Story

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Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill or parsley
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino (or Parm)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • paprika to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (or there abouts)
  • 1 14-ounce can store bought pizza sauce (or pasta sauce, I had pasta sauce so that’s what I used)
  • about 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly (I didn’t have that, so I used a shredded mozzarella blend, with a bit of cheddar mixed in)

Preheat oven to 400°F, setting rack to upper third part of oven.

In a large bowl, using your hands, gently mix together first 11 ingredients (everything up to the olive oil). Shape into lacrosse-ball size balls (that would be somewhere between golf and tennis) and place a few inches from each other on a foil-lined baking sheet.

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Brush oil on top of each meatball (I just drizzled it around them and on top so some oil got under the meatballs as well. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

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Remove meatballs from oven, spoon some sauce on top of each meatball, and cover each with a slice of cheese. Broil another 3 to 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden.  Heat remaining sauce in a small saucepan.

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Serve with some pasta or potatoes. I used some spaghetti squash, to keep it healthy.

These meatballs (if the same, large, tennis ball size) are about 128 calories each. Two is more than enough, especially with a side, for a meal.

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Rhubarb and Blueberry Jam

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It’s blueberry season again. I know that last year I went a little crazy and although I only posted once last year about my jam, I continued to make it all summer long. Similarly was my obsession was apple butter two years ago. I couldn’t get enough of the stuff .This year I’m going to be adding a bit of rhubarb to my jam, as well as a whole vanilla pod. This way I can get more of the creamy, vanilla flavor to balance the sugar necessary for the rhubarb to be sweet enough to be edible.

Rhubarb and Blueberry Jam (with balsamic vinegar and lemon)

  • 4 rhubarb stalks
  • 2 cups of blueberries (fresh is preferred, buy frozen works just as well, do not thaw when adding)
  • 2 1/2 cups of sugar (I used  1 1/2 cups of regular sugar, and 1 cup of vanilla sugar)
  • 1 vanilla pod (opened and seeds scraped out)
  • 1 pectin box (1.75 oz sure-jell containers)*
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lemon

Place everything but pectin in a dutch oven and slowly heat on stove, over medium heat. After ten minutes of warming the fruit should be releasing the juices. Add in the pectin and stir.

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Let bubble away slowly, about thirty minutes, keeping an eye to make sure it doesn’t stick.

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Continue to cook till desired consistency is reached, about 1.5 hours.

Using a potato masher, attempt to pulverize the fruit that is now lovely, and soft. Using a whisk add in juice of one lemon with zest. The Whisk will allow the fruit to soften even further.

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To test that the jams doneness, place a plate in freezer for ten minutes. Take out and add a line of jam (about a teaspoon) to cold plate. Let sit for a few seconds, and move plate around to see if the jam has set. If it has, you’re all set for canning! If not, bubble away a little longer and retest (there is too much natural juice that needs to evaporate).

* The rhubarb gives off A LOT of juice, therefore the sugar is not enough to solidify it. The extra use of the pectin here will help with that.

Spinach and Cheese Baked Manicotti

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There are days when I don’t want to be homemade. I don’t want to make everything myself, and marvel at how much better everything tastes. I also have days were making you’re own tomato sauce just seems like it’s too much of a hassle, even for me. Even adding extra oregano is a chore.

However, I do still have to eat. And on the days that homemade is too demanding I got for my partly-storebought-home-assembled dishes. This manicotti dish has almost nothing in it that’s homemade, and perfectly original, it is however, delicious, easy, and takes only 15 minutes to put together.

For the Filling:

  • 1 24 oz bag of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 bar of cream cheese
  • 1/2 lemon, juice and zested
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp of ground cloves
  • 2 tbsp of granulated onion
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 box manicotti pasta, cooked and left to cool slightly
  • 1 large can of Heinz tomato sauce, in any flavor you like. I used garlic and herb
  • 1 cup mozerella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

Add all the filling ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Set aside.

Prepare an 8×8 inch square dish. By prepare, I mean, simply add 1/4 cup of tomato sauce to the bottom instead of oil. This will keep the manicotti from sticking and also keep it moist.

Stuff the manicotti, by using a teaspoon, and slowly adding the mixture into the hole. If this doesn’t work, you can always open up the manicotti and stuff it that way, and then close it back up. The stuffing should keep it together, because it’s very sticky by itself, thanks to the cream cheese.

Cover with tomato sauce when all manicotti is stuffed and in the pan. Sprinkle with mozerella and parmesan cheese, to your preference. I usually prefer tons of cheese!

Bake in over for 25 minutes, till cheese is melted.

Lemon Pudding the Old-Fashioned Way

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I woke up today with the urge to do something really nice, and something that dealt with lemons. At first, and for a while, I’ve been tinkering with the idea of having my own recipe for Lemon Curd. I was gonna tweak and combine a few that I’ve tabbed over the days to make my own, perfect for tarts in the summer.

As I was relaying what I thought was good news to Boyfriend, he said he wanted Lemon Pudding. In fact, he was craving it and he’d get himself some of the Jell-O brand (probably tomorrow). Now, I’m not sure if he actually got any, as this took place yesterday, but I was a little insulted at the thought of him buying ready-made pudding.

I’ve been on this kick of “everything homemade” and it’s been great. It’s tasted a lot better and been a lot healthier, too. So as I was going over my Lemon Curd recipe I decided to flip the recipe and make Lemon Pudding instead.

I’ve adapted the recipe somewhat from one that I found on FoodGawker.

Lemon Pudding

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 cups vanilla flavored coconut milk
  • 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
  • pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

Place sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Whisk to combine the two. Gradually add the milk, whisking until smooth. This will take a few minutes so be patient. Add egg yolks, lemon zest, and salt. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring constantly, till sauce thickens, about 6-7 minutes so be patient. You’ll know it’s done when it can coat a spoon.

Keep stirring to get the milk and cornstarch incorporated without lumps

7 Minutes Later

Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and butter. Whisk to make smooth, about 20 seconds. Place in jars (about 3-4 1 pint jars). Let cool completely, and then cover with plastic wrap or lid. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, or overnight, till set. Serve chilled.

Blueberry Lemon Loaf and a Weekend at the Beach

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This weekend the news reported that Saturday’s full moon would be the largest all year. The first thing that I thought of was how romantic it would be to say hello to such a moon under the stars, at the Redondo Beach Pier. Well, the moon was pretty, and bright, but not what I had anticipated. Although I’m a big fan, and sort of a goofy one at that, when it comes to the moon. Still, I knew I had to see it anywhere but my bedroom window.

Boyfriend and I got the pier a little early, and we decided to get a nice workout on the water. Pedal boating is the most fun, and most stressful thing I’ve ever done on the water. Not to mention the most exhausting. We had a few seals in our path a couple of times, and they were able to evade my camera pretty successfully. Aside from the seals, I believe we had a few pelicans fly a bit too low and almost wing us.

In any case, it was a wonderful thing that lasted for about 15 minutes, till we got seasick. I don’t usually get seasick, on an empty stomach anyway, however, weird turnings in the tummy are usually a sign to turn back and get on dry land.

Aside from the cold weather, I wasn’t able to take a lot of pictures, of the beach and the recipe. In both cases I was in too much a hurry to get to the fun stuff to record anything aside from the basics.

(had to remove the broken links- for some reason a few of my pictures were mysteriously deleted)

Now onto the recipe which was inspired by Sweet Pea’s Kitchen.

I wanted to make something fresh for boyfriend, something that would use up my blueberries left over from berry picking, (and I still have about  1.5 cups left over for muffins). He picked out the recipe out of a handful and I made it right away. Although I was in a hurry, which is the reason for the lack of photos, the loaf was perfect, and Boyfriend even went back for seconds. That’s a winner in my book!

For the Loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed
For the Lemon Syrup
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar
For the Lemon Glaze
  • 1 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of one 9 x 5-inch loaf pans; dust with flour, tapping out excess.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
In a separate bowl, mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing loaf to a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.
While the loaf is cooling, make the lemon syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir together the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside. Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the warm loaf. Brush the top and sides of the loaf with the lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush again. Let the cake cool completely, (personally, I skipped this step and just used the glaze because I didn’t want the loaf to be too sweet).
To make the lemon glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of the lemon juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable. Add up to another tablespoon of lemon juice if the mixture is too stiff.
Pour the lemon glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the lemon glaze harden, about 15 minutes, before serving.

Blackberry Lemon Crisp for Emergencies

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Today was one of those days. Actually, it was a full 48 hours, where I’ve been getting bad news after bad news, from all corners of the bad news spectrum: financial, medical, scholarly, and familial.

I haven’t been dealing with it quite as well as I would have hoped, just because it’s hard to handle it all, without going completely mad. And I’ve gotten to that point, twice, today. An hour or so ago, I was able to pull myself up out of the disaster and stop feeling sorry for myself.

I looked up a few things online and turned on my Nigella show, and started to pick up the pieces again. I organized and Post-It’d everything I could imagine that needed to be sorted through, organized, and managed, and then I found this recipe.

It’s perfect for one of those days, and I just about over 2 cups of Blackberries waiting to be used up, and baked.

excuse the slight blurring of the image

Adapted from http://www.pinchmysalt.com

Serves 2-4

2 cups fresh or frozen and slightly defrosted blackberries
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 scant tablespoon + 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
pinch of salt
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons cold butter, chopped into small pieces

I also added some cardamom, about 1/7 teaspoon.

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter a 1-quart baking dish (or as I did, which was in two 16 oz.  ramekin dishes).

2. In a small bowl, toss together blackberries, lemon juice, sugar, scant tablespoon of flour, cardamom (if using), and small pinch of salt.  Pour berry mixture into a greased 1-quart baking dish or divide between the ramekins.

3. In a separate small bowl, stir together oats, 1/3 cup flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and lemon zest.  Add pieces of cold butter and cut in using a pastry blender or two knives (or rub in with your fingertips) until crumbly.  Sprinkle topping over the berries.

4. Place baking dish(es) on a sheet pan and bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes, or until filling is bubbly and topping is lightly browned.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

I don't have Vanilla Ice cream, but my homemade Pomegranate works just as well.