Saturday, November 20, 2010

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Because I have to...

On top of spaghetti,

All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball
When somebody sneezed.
It rolled off the table
And onto the floor,
And then my poor meatball
Rolled right out the door!

It rolled in a garden
And under a bush
Now my poor meatball
Was nothing but mush

The mush was as tasty
As tasty could be
Early next summer
It grew into a tree

The tree was all covered
With beautiful moss
It grew lovely meatballs
In a tomato sauce

So if you like spaghetti
All covered with cheese
Hold on to your meatballs


Bon appétit! 

1 large egg
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
8 ounces ground pork (I`m sure this would work fine with just pork, just beef, just turkey...)
8 ounces ground beef
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
3/4 pound spaghetti

1. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, 1/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir in half the onion and half the garlic. Add breadcrumbs, cheese, pork, ground beef, and 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Mix gently. Form into 16 balls.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs; brown on all sides, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon. Cook remaining meatballs in remaining tablespoon oil; remove meatballs.

3. Add remaining onion; cook over medium-low until soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining garlic and 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning; cook 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in tomatoes and 3/4 cup water. Return meatballs; cover, and simmer until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove meatballs.

4. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti according to package direction until al dente. Drain; return to pot. Toss with sauce; serve meatballs on top, sprinkled with more cheese.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Orecchiette with Sausage & Roasted Red Peppers

I decided to make this dish for my husband because he loves sausage so much. Before, when we weren't planning out our meals, I'd often ask him, so... what do you think we should make for dinner tonight? And the answer... most often was, you guessed it, "Umm... Hmm... Oh, I know! How about sausages?". I love him so much :) 

I think that the most exciting part about making this dish was roasting the red peppers. I'd never roasted my own pepper before (it's surprisingly easy!). They really did contribute to the taste - I was quite surprised. This dish was pretty mellow tasting - good, but mellow. If I were to make it again, I think that I'd add some garlic and freshly cracked black pepper to give it a little bit more oomph. I decided to take some pictures of what your peppers should look like. Don`t worry, they`re supposed to look charred and beyond reconsiliation but underneath that crispy black exterior is a delicious, perfectly roasted red pepper.   Bon appétit!

2 medium red bell peppers, four flat sides sliced off core, ribs and seeds discarded
2 medium yellow bell peppers, four flat sides sliced off core, ribs and seeds discarded
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound orecchiette or other short pasta
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat broiler. Place peppers, skin side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; broil 4 inches from heat until charred, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; steam 2 to 3 minutes. Using a paper towel, rub off pepper skins, reserving any juices in bowl. Thinly slice peppers crosswise into 1/4-inch strips; return to bowl. Set aside.

2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.

3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook sausage, breaking it up with a spoon, until browned, 7 to 10 minutes. Add roasted peppers; cook until heated through.

4. Transfer sausage mixture to bowl; add pasta, butter, reserved pasta water, and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Chicken Enchiladas

Jeremy and I have a most favourite Mexican restaurant that we like to frequent down on Elgin Street in Ottawa called Poncho Villa. If you`ve never been, it`s probably because you`ve never seen it - you really have to be looking for it as it`s tucked down in a little courtyard. It's almost directly across from Jack Purcell park. They serve, in my opinionin my opinion, quite possibly the best Mexican fare in the city. I love sitting on their little cobblestone patio in the summer and watching all of the folks walk by. I think that what Jeremy really likes is this hot sauce they have that he puts on practically everything (not really a Venezuelan in his choice of heat!). When we were living on Gilmore St. and Panchos was right around the corner... well, all I can say is that we frequented our little restaurante mexicano pretty often. All that to say, everytime we sit down at Ponchos, I have to explain to Jeremy what an enchilada is, what a tostada is, quesadillas... (thankfully he's got the burrito and taco down). I just don`t understand how he can eat this food so often and always forget what`s what. I guess I can never remember how to program the VCR, so there you go! 

This recipe is pretty yummy. It`s no Panchos, but pretty yummy. A little warning - they take a little bit of preparation. Not crazy, but a little bit. They're nice to make for one dinner and then freeze the rest for a night when things are a little hectic and you can just pull them out of the oven. These serve up really nicely with a side salad with AVOCADO (of course!). Bon appétit!

For the sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup water
salt and fresh ground pepper

For the enchiladas12 (3) ounces shredded Mexican blended cheeses or pepper Jack cheese
2 cups cooked black beans
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 large piece of chicken (boiled and then shredded)
6 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
1/2 cup corn (optional)
salt and fresh ground pepper
8 large white corn tortillas

To make the sauce
In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Stir in 1 teaspoon cumin, flour and tomato paste - cook, whisking, for 1 minute. Whisk in broth and water - bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper - set aside.

To make the enchiladas
Start by boiling your chicken in a medium pot. Cutting the chicken up in to smaller chunks will help it cook faster. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 8 ounces cheese (2 cups - not all of your cheese!), beans, spinach, corn, and scallion whites. Shred your chicken by pulling it apart with 2 forks and at it and your remaining 1 teaspoon cumin - season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400

Stack tortillas and wrap in damp paper towel - microwave on high for 1 minute to warm them. Top each tortilla with about a heaping 1/3 cup of filling - roll up tightly and arrange, seam side down, in 2 9" x 9" or 2 7" x 11" baking dishes coated with nonstick spray. You will want 8 rolled tortillas in each one.

Dividing evenly, sprinkle enchiladas with remaining 4 ounces cheese (1 cup) and evenly spoon the sauce over the top. Bake, uncovered, until hot and bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving - garnished with the reserved scallion greens.

Makes 8 servings.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mango Blueberry Smoothies

A couple of years ago, some dear friends of ours gave us a 'Party Blender' set (aka the Magic Bullet). Sadly, it sat in our closet until about a month and a half ago, when, late one night, Jeremy decided that he wanted to make himself a cookie and cream milk shake (this entails loading up the blender with about a dozen cookies, some ice cream and milk...). Needless to say, out came the party blender. Our lives have been a non-stop smoothie jamboree ever since. So yummy and so darn good for you. We decided to pick up some mango at the grocery store this week to feed to the blender and came up with this yummy concoction. Bon appétit! 

Ingredients (2 smoothies):
- 1 mango, chopped
- handful of blueberries
- 1 banana, split
- dollup of plain yoghurt

Directions: BLEND.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Homemade Pizza Puffios

As much of an extrovert that I am, I still consider myself to be a real homebody. I love cuddling up on the couch with my husband and puppy to watch a movie or read a book. I have this special blanket from Jesse & Kavi that feels like you`re being bundled up in a big, soft, warm and cuddly sheep (without the sheepie smell!). It`s amazing. 

Once a month, Jeremy and I have `pizza and a movie` night where we toss our pizza dough ingredients in to the bread maker, take Georgie out for our nightly trip to the puppy park and then return home to freshly made, ready to go pizza dough. It's fantastic. If you have a bread maker, I highly recommend you try making your own pizza dough - it's so incredibly easy, inexpensive and so much better than buying store bought. On our last 'pizza & a movie' night, we decided to do things a little differently and made ourselves some 'puffios' instead, mostly so that I could have something to bring in my lunches this week. "What the heck is a 'puffio'?" you might be asking. If you are from Corunna or Sarnia you should be ashamed of yourself if you don't know (Antonio's Pizza... ), but if not, I believe they're also called "calzones" - essentially, pizza folded in on itself. Puffios are typically deep fried so that they, yup, you guessed it - PUFF up, but, having just finished a shift on Stroke Rehab, I decided to save my arteries the unnecessary punishment and baked em' instead. These guys are a little bit of work, but fun if you have little ones because they can each decorate their own. You can use whatever pizza dough recipe you typically use, but in case you need a good one, here's my favourite from my most wonderful friend Lyndsay who is getting married in less than a week. Remember that the dough takes a good hour to rise so start that ahead of time. Bon appétit! 


1 package active dry yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
2 tsp sugar
2/3 cup warm water
2 cups flour (if you want to do a 'whole wheat crust', use 1 1/2 cups white four and 1/2 cup whole wheat or 12 grain flour)
1 tbs corn meal
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs. olive oil 
Optional: any herbs to season your dough - dash of oregano, pinch of rosemary, pinch of red pepper flakes etc.

Really... this is what you want, but I've included a few ideas that are always good... I did not add any quantities of ingredients. Go with what you'd like... 
1 can pizza sauce
Sprinkle of garlic powder
Different meats: Pepperoni, sausage, bacon, ham (all pre-cooked...)
Different vegetables: Olives, red or green pepper, pineapple, broccoli, onion
Different cheeses: mozzarella, feta, goat, parmesean


For the bread maker: 
Toss er' all in and set your bread maker to 'pizza dough' ... if you don't have that kind of setting, I'm sure just the 'dough' setting would work too. This usually takes 45 minutes to an hour.

For the hands:
1. Combine your yeast, 1 tsp. sugar and the water in a large bowl for approx. 10 minutes (until mixture becomes frothy)
2. In a separate bowl, combine your flour, 1 tsp. sugar, corn meal and salt
3. Add the olive oil to the yeast mixture
4. Add 1 3/4 cups of your dry mixture to the wet and knead until a rough ball forms
5. Transfer your dough to a floured surface and knead 3-4 minutes
6. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray or butter, add the dough and cover with a damp towel. Place in a warm, dry and draft-free place for 1 hour (I like to turn the oven on for 20 seconds just to warm it up a little bit, turn off the heat and then place the bowl in the oven).
7. Once the dough his risen, PUNCH it down and fold in on itself to make another ball. Transfer this to your floured surface. 

- Once your dough is ready, place it on a floured surface and ensure that it is in a nice, uniform ball. Cut the ball in half, then cut each of these 1/2 in to 3 pieces each (you should end up with 6 pieces of dough).
- Form each of the individual pieces in to a ball and then roll out to about the size of a salad plate (I'm thinking about 6-7" in diameter). Do not make them too thin though or they can rip when you try to fold them over.
- Pre-Heat your oven to 375F and prepare 2 baking sheets sprayed with cooking spray or butter and lightly sprinkled with corn meal
- Add your ingredients.  Be sure to leave a good 3/4" space around the outside. Start by adding a good tbs of pizza sauce toward the middle (but not right in the middle...), then your toppings, followed by the cheese(s) and finished with a sprinkle of onion and/or garlic powder. Warning: You do not want to have sauce hanging over the edge or it wont seal correctly and, as tough as it is, try your hardest not to over stuff :)
- Lightly brush the outside edge of the circle with water. Fold the top over and seal with a fork. Punch 3-4 holes in the top of each to let the steam escape. 
- Bake at 375F for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy!