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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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Triple Banana Walnut Muffins

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I have finally done it! I have created (sort of) my very own recipe. Let me explain, in terms of baking, I don’t really have any skills, simply because it’s more precise than cooking. Although I love to bake, I cannot say with full confidence that I’ve never not followed a recipe. Sure, I can sub in ingredients and maybe add more of one than another, but that’s adapting a recipe in it’s most basic form. Here, I barely followed the recipe at all, and I feel so proud.

Also, I apologize for the lack of pictures, but as I was just messing around in the kitchen, I honestly didn’t think that my first attempt that not following a recipe would come out so successful. 🙂

These muffins are very healthy, by muffin standards. They do have flaxsee (not a flax egg) for extra healthiness. Also I bought a lot of flaxseed and was trying to figure out where to use it.

This recipe was adapted, in part, from skinnytaste.

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Triple Banana Walnut Muffins

  •  3 bananas (decent sized, not large, but not too small, preferably very ripe)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup of plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup of chopped  walnuts
  • 1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mash bananas in a medium bowl. To that bowl, add 1 egg, oil, yogurt, flaxseed and brown sugar. Mix to combine. Add in the flour and baking powder and mix.  Finally, add in the vanilla, salt and the chopped walnuts. Mix all ingredients until well incorporated.

Line your muffin sheet with cupcake liners.

Fill your tins to the top. Mine made exactly 12 muffins. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and muffins are firm and risen.  I started to check mine at 16 minutes (just to be sure, but they still had a bit of cooking to do).

French Rabbit “Stew” with Mushrooms and Pancetta & Endive Side with Pancetta

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I am sick of chicken and pork. Totally tired of turkey meatballs and the pasta with endless varieties of meat and nonmeat sauces. Creamed and tomato alike. This weekend was the day(s) that was going to end! I found a recipe that I just had to try, to be more specific, an ingredient: rabbit. I got this french cuisine cookbook maybe a year ago, and I thought I’d master every recipe in it, including all those odd rabbit, eel, and veal ones, however, I haven’t opened since it first arrived in an amazon package.

I have to say, in Los Angeles it isn’t as hard as I thought to get rabbit. Although it was more expensive than in Europe. Mainly, that’s because in America we don’t really hunt it, and certainly not in Los Angeles. I’m sure if I lived in the Midwest or even in the South, or hell, even in Fresno, I’d be able to get rabbit for a lot cheaper than what Gelson’s was offering to sell me.

I did get lucky with a local butcher. And honestly, nothing is better than local. Seriously folks, I felt amazing just knowing that  I was supporting someone that had great produce, great service, and a reasonable price! Well, as reasonable as it could get.

And so I set forth to make this fancy (in my eyes) “stew”. I put that into quotations because my notions of what a stew was, were tested. I thought of stew as a thick soup, usually overly hearty, and filling. This was delicious, and filling, but certainly not hearty, and not thick. It was essentially Rabbit that was browned in butter and garlic, and then braised in a cup of white wine, with some flour added in to make a slightly thickened sauce for the finished product to cover the meat in.

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French Rabbit Stew with Mushrooms and Pancetta 

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 oz thick cut pancetta, cut in cubes
  • 5 pearl onions, or 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 1/2 lb rabbit (I used a 2.8 lb rabbit) cut into serving pieces or dissected at butchers
  • 1 tbso all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bouquet garni made with parsley, thyme, and bay leaf (fresh)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 lb white mushrooms, halved (I roughly chopped mine, and used brown)

In a flameproof casserole, or dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and onions and cook until lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta and onions to  a bowl.

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Add the rabbit pieces and cook until nicely browned on all sides (I had to do this in two shifts). Stir in the flour and cook until lightly browned. Return the pancetta and onions to the pot. Add the wine, garlic, and bouquet garni and season with salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.

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Add the mushrooms to the rabbit and cook for 15 minutes.

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Remove the bouquet garni. Transfer the rabbit and sauce to a warmed serving dish and serve.

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Serve with Buttery Endives with Pancetta (below)

Endives in Butter with Pancetta

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 lbs endives ( I only used two endives, about .6 lb, and trust me, it was not enough, when cooked down, even for two)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 lb thickly sliced pancetta, cubed
  • 3 1/2 ounces dry-cured ham (optional)

In a flameproof casserole, or dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the endives and cooking until lightly brown all over. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons water. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to very low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.

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Add the pancetta and ham, if using, and cook for 20 minutes. Transfer to a warmed serving dish.

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**Special Thanks to Boyfriend, who was patient and caring enough to take the photos for me this time, while was dashing to and fro in the kitchen trying to time the two recipes together. Thanks!**

Corned Beef to Celebrate March

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I was trying to figure out what to make this weekend, and I couldn’t think of anything better than corned beef. The first time I’ve made corned beef I followed a recipe and roasted it. The end result was dry and chewy. I knew I should have boiled it, but the instructions on the package just said roasting. This time I wouldn’t have any of that nonsense and I decided to do some research.

Apparently, roasting is very popular but timing varies between beef roasts and it’s just a guessing game. That’s not something I’m comfortable with. A few recipes however did mention braising. Braising is boiling but in the oven, basically. That sounded like a melding of the two things that people argued the most about. So I decided to try it.
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Corned Beef with Onion, Carrot, and Cabbage

1 3-lb package of corned beef with spices included
fennel seeds
black peppercorns
coriander seeds
mustard seeds
1 small head of lettuce, cut into half and chopped into strips.
4 cloves garlic
3 carrots, peels and cut into half
1 medium onion, cut into quarters

In a large pot add the corned beef and the packaged ingredients. Fill pot with lukewarm warm 4 inches above the meat. Put on medium high heat and bring to a boil. Continue to simmer while skimming the skum off the top of the water for 15 minutes. When you skim, chances are you’re also going to be scooping the spices as well. Not to worry, you’ll be adding those before you put the pot into the oven.

After 15 minutes preheat oven to 325 degrees F and add carrots, onions, and garlic to the pot. Simmer for 4-6 more minutes. Add in the spices (seeds and peppercorns) according to your tastes, usually 2 tbsp each. Cover the pot with foil, and cover that tightly with the lid.

Place in oven for anywhere between 2 hr 45 min to 3 hrs.

Take out of the oven, and gently peel off the foil (careful not to burn yourself with the steam). Take out the corned beef and place into  foil, wrapping all sides tightly around the meat to keep with warm and tender. Attempt to remove the garlic (it’ll disintegrate, so be gentle with it), and add in the cabbage. Cook for about 8 minutes.

Excuse the spot by the plate. Some Guinness couldn't help but spill.

Excuse the spot by the plate. Some Guinness couldn’t help but spill.

What I Did for Valentine’s Day

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I’ve had quite an eventful weekend. This was the first weekend where I forced myself to do homework, tons of homework, after work  and throughout the week, instead of waiting for the weekend. This was because Friday, February 15 was my Valentine’s Day. I haven’t had a chance to really hang out and see Boyfriend the past three weeks or so. And I know there’s a chance I won’t be seeing him this weekend either (thanks odd work schedule). So we decided to be indulgent, and extravagant, and lovey-dovey (sort of), and have a Valentine’s Weekend.

Not so much because we’re lovers of the holiday (and I’ve read plenty of blog posts about how Valentine’s day should be every day, and why should men assume that they can be awesome this one day, and completely romantic and the rest of the time be completely ignorant in the ways of love) but because we haven’t seen each other in a long time, and we haven’t been alone in a long time, and just, couple-y, therefore Valentine’s way the perfect excuse to go over the top.

That being said, I was so happy with how our plans turned out that I, sadly, didn’t take many photos (being so lost in the many moments). My apologies. I did take a few photos. And I hope to be better in the future about it, however, there are recipes that I made (even though two photos are missing), that were completely amazing, and I can’t wait to make them again!

But first, say hello to my three new Otto fishes. I could only get a shot of two at a time, so you’ll have to imagine the third 🙂

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First recipe up, is this lovely Molten Chocolate Cake. 

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This was my first time making this recipe, so I followed it to the T, except for used two larger ramekins (to serve two, obviously), and adjusted the cooking time to 15 minutes. The original recipe follows.

4 pieces (squares) Bitter-sweet or Semi-sweet or just plain sweet Chocolate (this is a matter of preference)*
½ cups Butter, chopped into several pieces
1 cup Confectioner’s or Powdered Sugar plus an extra 1-2 Tablespoon for dusting, separated
2 whole Eggs plus 2 Egg yolks
6 Tablespoons Flour
*I actually used chocolate chips, and eyeballed what I thought 4 squares would be. It really doesn’t matter here how much chocolate you use. I think mine was roughly 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chips.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease/spray about 4 custard molds/cups or small ramekins with a non-stick spray and then place them on a baking tray (cookie sheet).The next step requires melting the butter and chocolate. You can use the microwave, in 20 second increments till the butter is melted and the chocolate is softened. Or, you can use a double boiler. (I used the microwave. It’ll look scary with all that butter surrounding the chocolate, at least it was scary for me, however you have to keep stirring, and it’ll all work out).
Add 1 cup powdered sugar then whisk together until smooth.
Add the 2 eggs and the 2 egg yolks then whisk together again until smooth. Stir in the flour till just combined. Divide the batter into the four (or two) ramekins you’re using.
Bake until the sides and top are firm, but center is slightly wobbly and gooey. Let sit for 2 minutes (no more and no less, I MEAN IT), and serve by inverting to a plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or top with whipped cream.
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Next recipe comes without a photo. This one came from Add A Pinch, and was really an amazing recipe. The only thing I can say I followed was the gorgonzola butter and improvised, to taste, the rest. Below is my rendition of the recipe, but you can follow the link to view the original.
Skillet Steaks with Gorgonzola Butter
2 Ribeye steaks
Salt and pepper
Herbs de Provance
1/2 cup cognac
Gorgonzola cheese, about 4 tbsp
4 tbsp butter, softened at room temp
Pat dry the steaks to they are free from blood. Take a fork and liberally stab the steaks throughout, on both sides, and by the fat areas. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the steaks in a ziplock bag and add the cognac. Close the bag and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, and up to several hours.
Next, season your cast iron skillet* and heat it over medium heat. Take out the steaks and let them come to room temperature (about 10 minutes) while the skillet is heating up. Dry the steaks again, when taking out of the cognac marinade. Do not do this liberally. I did because I was so hungry and in a hurry, and my steaks did not brown as well as I would  have liked.
Place in skillet, and cook about three minuets each side. I started off with two minutes a side, but had to turn mine about two and a half times because they were thick .
While the steaks are cooking, mix the butter with the gorgonzola cheese, and place in fridge, to wait for the steaks.
When the steaks are ready, sprinkle top with herb de provance and let sit for three minutes before plating. When placing on plate add a generous tbsp of the gorgonzola butter to melt and ooze around the meat.
Serve with potatoes, salad, bread, and good wine.
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Lastly, this recipe has been in the making for a while. I added more cheese than the recipe called for and added my own spices to the mix, however, the recipe basics were thanks to allrecipes.com.
This recipe too, was too good to be photographed. I even forgot to photograph this while writing up this post, when eating leftovers. So Sorry!
Baked Ziti
1 lb dry ziti pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 lb gound beef
2 (26 oz) jars of your favorite pasta sauce (I used tomato and basil flavor)
1 tbsp salt and pepper (or to taste)
1 tbsp herbs de provance
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp grouond garlic and ground onion powders
dash of liquid smoke
1 1/2 cups sour cream
6 oz of provolone cheese (sliced)– again, I used I believe 8 oz, a full Sargento bag of sliced provolone
6 oz of sliced mozerella—again from sargento, and I used the whole bag
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.
In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F . Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, Provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese, and remaining sauce mixture. Top with remaining mozerella cheese slices and grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.
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Lastly, I want to say Happy Valentine’s Day again to all those that celebrate or enjoy the lovey stuff that comes with the holiday. The photo above has become a standard dessert treat I’ve been making myself after working out and a light dinner. I’m feeling great and happy, and I must say, nothing makes me feel better than strawberries, chocolate sprinkles, and whipped cream.

Banana Poppy Seed Muffins for a New Work Week

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Afternoon all!

For most people, tomorrow is not just any Monday, but it’s THE Monday. The Monday that kids go back to school, as do countless teachers, students (in college, I mean), and service members that work with children. Not to mention all the administration that work in school. I don’t know about you, but I look forward to tons of traffic and being late.

To start the work week (and school week) off right I decided to get into the kitchen, for the first time this weekend, by the way, and start cooking. I managed to make a lovely pasta (simple tomato sauce with a hint of vodka and spices) for lunch tomorrow, as well as some rice and tilapia for dinner today, and banana poppy seed muffins to make getting out of bed worthwhile tomorrow.

I adapted this recipe from Crepes of Wrath, so check that out for the original recipe. Not that I changed it much.

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Banana Muffins with Poppy Seed Bliss 

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large bananas, very ripe and mashed (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp cup honey
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • about 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • raw sugar, for sprinkling (optional)- I omitted this for calorie reasons 🙂
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line and/or grease 18-20 muffin cups and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In another large bowl, beat together the mashed bananas, vegetable oil, milk, lemon juice, honey, and eggs.
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Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just moistened. Fold in the poppy seeds. Place about 1/3 cup of batter into each muffin cup (don’t overfill the cups, definitely do less than 1/3 than a heaping 1/3 cup) and sprinkle with raw sugar, if you like.
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Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and set. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the pan and serving.
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Train Rides and Nutella Muffins

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This weekend was pretty darn close to perfect. I went on a vintage train with Boyfriend and we got lots of time to do homework together, do errands together, and even pretty up my apartment… together! We did everything together and I must say it was a great and lovely time.

Fillmore and Western Railway Train

Inside the amazing and old train

we were on a “scenic” weekend tour… it was a lot of farm land and trailer parks

LOOSE CABOOSE mini chicken farm

This fan is probably older than my grandfather!

 

I even looked after a friend’s doggies this weekend. My first time pet sitting for someone that isn’t my mom and Miss Kitty Cat. I’m excited to say that they are very healthy, well fed, and happy. I hope my friend doesn’t mind me showing off her pooches, they were really adorable. And a little insane cause of the lack of attention. Nonetheless, you can see they were still fun.

 

 

As a result of this very fruitful and amazing weekend I decided to clean and bake for the first time in about two-three weeks. The fact that I’ve been too busy to bake has been astonishing for me, the person that would sometimes bake cookies or muffins and a cake in the same day to have “variety” for the rest of the week.

I’ve had a small sweet tooth for warmth lately. I don’t even know if that makes sense, but that’s what I’ve been craving: cinnamon, apples, brown sugar, caramel, all those amazing things.

I’ve had this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction pinned on google chrome for a while now. And the last time I baked something I used one of her recipes, so I figured now is as good at time as any to get on the nutella train, knowing what I’d make would be delicious.

 

 

Nutella Stuffed Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

makes 8-9 muffins

  • 1/3 cup (5 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk, but regular is fine)
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 tsp Nutella

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 425F.  Spray muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together on medium speed.  Mix in the egg, vanilla extract, and milk. Gently stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  DO NOT overmix – stir until *just* combined.

Spoon 1 heaping Tablespoon of batter into muffin cavity.  Layer with 1 tsp Nutella in the center and spoon another heaping Tablespoon of batter on top.  If the muffin tins are completely full, that is ok.  They will not overflow.  Repeat layering batter + Nutella into each muffin tin.  I got exactly 8 muffins.

Bake at 425F for 5 minutes.  Reduce oven to 350F and bake for an additional 13-17 minutes until batter is set. Allow muffins to cool for about 5 minutes.

While the muffins are cooling, make the cinnamon-sugar topping.  Melt the butter for about 30 seconds in the microwave.  Stir and stick back in microwave if not fully melted.  In a separate small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon.  Dip the top of each muffin into the melted butter and dip into the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Swirl them around in the cinnamon-sugar a bit to make sure you get a thick coating. Set upright on cooling rack.  Enjoy!*

 

 

*I didn’t make the streusal topping because I added a bit more nutella and I didn’t want them so sweet that I wouldn’t eat them, so I sprinkled some raw sugar over the top instead.