Basic Recipes You Can Adjust To Your Own Taste

After taking a much needed break, the blog is back! I’ve been busy cooking, cleaning out closets and celebrating. I turned 40 and then had a restful Mother’s Day. I have so many great recipes and gluten-free finds to share from the past couple of weeks! Stay tuned!

I am continually thinking about how to put into words the kinds of recipes I like to make and then I had an epiphany while driving by myself in the car the other day. I turned on NPR (WGBH Boston, 89.7) and heard Christopher Kimball’s voice. It was Milk Street Kitchen Radio with Christopher Kimball (formerly of America’s Test Kitchen) and Sara Moulton (who has a show on PBS now but I used to religiously watch her cooking show on the Food Network, over 15 years ago). They took an interesting caller, asking about how to get his fiance to eat more of a variety of foods. He wanted to know any good cookbooks for kids, as he compared her palate to that of a child.

Mr. Kimball’s answer is exactly what mine would be, although much more eloquently said. He said that instead of trying to cook down to her taste level, to make what he calls “bridge recipes.” The light bulb went off in my head. That is exactly what I do! His example included finding a basic recipe for fried chicken and then change up the flavors, because most countries have their version of fried chicken (Japanese tempura, etc).

Here are some of my “bridge recipes” and some variations you can make to help expand your family’s palate or just change up your weekly menu.

My basic meatball recipe can be changed up by making Italian Stuffed MeatballsVietnamese flavored meatballsTex Mex flavored meatballs, Greek MeatballsSwedish Meatballs or even Meatloaf meatballs! Meatballs are a familiar shape for kids or even picky adults 🙂 By changing up the flavors you can expose them to new tastes.

There are a million ways to make roasted chicken. It is also something many people like and are familiar with, so it is another great vessel to make “bridge” recipes from. So instead of Herb Roasted Chicken try my  One pan Roasted Chicken with tomatoes and feta, Honey Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs or Marinated Roasted Teriyaki Chicken.

Another great way to create “bridge” recipes is to change up the sauces you use. Try these sauces to change up your grilled chicken, steak, fish or even veggies: Barbecue Sauce, Balsamic Honey Mustard Sauce or Tomatillo salsa (this post also has a basic quesadilla recipe which you can make many variations of! A great “bridge”recipe!).

Thank you Christopher Kimball for helping me articulate my style of cooking.  I make basic recipes and create “bridge” recipes from them by using different sauces or spices from a different culture. What is your favorite “bridge” recipe?  Check out Milk Street Radio to find out when it is on in your area or download the podcast! They are great!

Meatloaf Two Ways

Meatloaf is really comfort food at its best. What is better than meatloaf? Meatloaf meatballs! This recipes tells you how to make both from the same mixture. I’m a big fan of making more than I need since it is doing the same work for double recipe. That means I can put something in the freezer to easily pull out one night when I need a quick meal.

Meatloaf (Bulk recipe)

Ingredients

2 pounds of ground beef (top round or sirloin)

1 pound of pork sausage (Wegmans sells 1 pound tubes that are labeled gluten free)

½ cup of gluten free bread crumbs

1 clove of garlic, minced

½ of a red onion, grated

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

½ cup of milk

2 eggs

½ cup of ketchup

1/8 cup of balsamic vinegar

3 Tablespoons of honey

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together all the ingredients up to and including the eggs.  Make a small patty and cook it, so you can taste for seasoning. Repeat with more seasoning if needed.

For Meatloaf:  Once seasoned to your liking, split the meat mixture in half. Form two loaves of meatloaf. Place them on a metal cooling rack over a baking sheet. Make the sauce by mixing the ketchup, balsamic vinegar and honey together in a small bowl. Pour a couple of tablespoons of sauce over each loaf, then brush to cover. Cook in oven for 50 to 70 minutes or until the meat thermometer reads 160 degrees (FDA Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures). Take out of the oven and brush again with sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes and asparagus or polenta and green beans.

For Meatballs: Once seasoned to your liking, make one and a half to two inches in diameter meatballs. Heat a large skillet with about a tablespoon of olive oil in it.  Sear each meatball and place on a metal cooling rack over a baking sheet. Cook in oven for about 20 minutes. Check your largest meatball close to the center and make sure it is cooked through.  Serve with the sauce for dipping. Tip: you can keep the meatballs warm by placing them in a slow cooker on warm or low with a little beef stock (enough to cover bottom of pot, not meatballs).

You can make either of these methods to feed a crowd or make one of each and freeze half. I know, I know, some of you don’t like making such big batches 😉 Make a 1/2 batch and let me know how it turns out!

For my family, it works for me to cook in large batches when I have time, so for those many times that I cannot cook, we have something delicious and homemade to pull out of the freezer.

As a family with a child who has celiac disease, our take-out options are limited and often more expensive, so having easy meals in the freezer are a life saver for our busy lifestyle. It helps that we have a large deep freezer in the garage. What are your go to bulk meals?

 

Guacamole, Dip and more Superbowl Ideas, oh my!

As many of you know I am not the biggest football fan 😉  I enjoy cheering local teams though and since I live less than 20 minutes from Gillette Stadium (and shop at the Trader Joe’s in its shadow!), I am looking forward to next Sunday!  I always love a chance to cook, so here are some recipes and ideas for your Superbowl Sunday feast.

This is my favorite Guacamole recipe! Use it on its own to dip your favorite tortilla chips into or add it to a layer dip. You’ll see my idea for a layer dip below.

Guacamole

Ingredients

2 – 3 avocados (depends on size, 2 large or 3 small)

Juice of 1/2 a lime

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon of black pepper

4 Tablespoons finely chopped tomatoes

2 Tablespoons of minced red onion

1 handful of cilantro, chopped finely

Directions

Add avocado, lime, salt, cumin and pepper to a medium sized bowl. Mash together with a fork. Add tomatoes, onion and cilantro. Mix together. Add more lime juice if needed on top to keep guacamole from browning.

If you want to make a layered dip, here is an idea:

Take a can of black beans and mash with a fork and place on the bottom of your serving dish.  Place a layer of the guacamole. Take 8 ounces of sour cream and mix with 1 teaspoon of chili powder. Add that as the next layer. Top with 1 cup of shredded cheddar, cilantro, chopped olives and chopped tomatoes. Let sit in fridge for 2- 24 hours. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips or add it to a tortilla with some shredded chicken or pork.

Dip, chips, wings, meatballs, ribs, chili, pulled pork, Rainbow pizza or grilled pizza…you name it! There are so many options for your football feast. Desserts? Make these Chex Crispy Bars, Ice cream sundaes, brownies or cupcakes and frost with chocolate frosting and then pipe white frosting to look like laces. Simply having chocolate chip cookies or a bowl of M & Ms or rolos or hershey kisses would be plenty!

What are you having Sunday night for the Superbowl?

Swedish Meatballs

Over the past couple of months I have written about Bahn Mi Meatballs, Taco Meatballs, Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Stuffed Italian Meatballs, Greek Meatballs and even Simple and Plain Meatballs waiting for your own favorite sauce.

One of the favorites in our family is Swedish Meatballs. This is a perfect, stick to your ribs kind of meal perfect comfort food for this weekend while you are watching football, warming up after a day on the slopes or just coming home after a day of carting your kids around to all their different activities.

Swedish meatballs

Ingredients

About 2 pounds of meatballs, thawed (You can use these Plain and Simple Meatballs)

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

½ of a medium sweet onion diced

1 clove of garlic minced

6 Tablespoons of butter

6 Tablespoons of flour (I like to use Gluten Free Cup4Cup)

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon of fresh ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves, optional

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of pepper

3 cups of chicken or beef stock

1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

1 Tablespoon of lemon juice

½ cup of heavy cream

 Directions

In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil and cook onions and garlic until translucent. Add butter, flour and spices. Whisk until butter is melted and flour is cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Whisk in stock, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice until thickened. Add heavy cream. Stir to combine. Add meatballs and heat them through.

Serve with your favorite noodles or mashed potatoes. I even had the leftovers on top of gluten-free buttermilk biscuits the next morning (a play on biscuits and gravy) to fuel up to shovel the foot of snow we got the night before. I’m testing the biscuit recipes and will share them with you soon!

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Favorite Meatball Recipes from 2016

Meatballs are a great way to feed a crowd as a main meal or as an appetizer. They are kid friendly and can be made as healthy or as decadent as you like. Any of these recipes would be great for tailgating, watching football on tv with friends or ringing in the new year.

You can use ground turkey, chicken, pork, beef or your favorite mixture. Meatballs are a canvas. Make them with Asian flavors, Tex Mex or the classic Italian. Here are some of my favorite meatball recipes from 2016:

Greek Meatballs

Taco Meatballs

Bahn Mi Meatballs

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Italian Stuffed Meatballs

Meatballs, Plain and Simple

What is your favorite meatball?

 

 

 

 

Greek Meatballs

Anytime of year is good for meatballs, but especially around this festive time of year they are a great choice for your entertaining needs. Want to add a little different flavor for your holiday appetizer? Try Greek meatballs. Serve with a yogurt sauce, like this one from AllRecipes.com. It would a bright start or accompaniment to the main meal for your guests.

Greek Meatballs for a Crowd (makes 55-60 meatballs)

Ingredients

About 5 pounds of ground beef and pork (I usually do about 2/3 beef and 1/3 pork)

1 pound of bacon, minced in the food processor

1/2 of a large sweet onion, grated

1 egg, beaten

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

1 Tablespoon of oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried mint

10 ounces of frozen spinach, thawed and drained

8 ounces of feta, crumbled

Directions

Place ground meat and bacon into a large bowl. In a small bowl mix onion, egg, garlic and spices. Pour mixture into the meat. Add the spinach and feta. Dig in and mix it all together. Make a small pattie and cook it through. Taste for seasoning then adjust and repeat if needed.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll meatballs and brown them in a heavy bottomed pan with olive oil. Transfer to cooling rack on top of baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.

I know it seems like a lot of meat, but meatballs freeze really well and take some work. If I’m going to do that hard work, might as well make double so you get a couple of meals or appetizers out of it 🙂 If you try to halve the recipe, let me know how it comes out.

Last couple of days before the holidays hit us. Email me or comment with any questions!

 

Taco Meatballs

Another Thursday in December means another meatball recipe for you to use as an appetizer on game day or part of a holiday buffet or to bring to a potluck! Meatballs are very popular and everyone has their favorite recipe. Here is a little twist that pairs Tex Mex flavors with meatballs.

Taco Meatballs

Ingredients

About 3 lbs ground chicken and pork (I use 2/3 pork and 1/3 chicken, you can use either all pork or all chicken or even turkey)

3 pieces of bacon, chopped finely or pureed in food processor

1 garlic clove, minced

½ Tablespoon minced jalapeño (or more if you want them to be spicy)

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 Tablespoon chili powder

½ teaspoon cumin

1 egg

1/4 cup of bread crumbs (use gluten-free breadcrumbs if making this gluten free)

6 to 8 oz of cheddar cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes

2-3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl mix garlic, jalapeño, salt, pepper, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, egg and bread crumbs. Place meat and bacon (or oil) in a large bowl and add the egg mixture. Get your hands dirty and mix it all together. Cook a small patty of the meat mixture to taste and adjust seasonings if you need before stuffing and cooking the whole batch. Roll meatballs. Take a cube of cheddar and stuff it into the center of the meatball, making sure it is completely encapsulated by the meat mixture. Heat a large not stick-pan to medium-high, add olive oil. Brown meatballs and transfer to a baking rack that sits on top of a cookie sheet. Roast for 20 minutes. Serve or freeze.

Serve with taco shells, salsa and avocado or make a wrap with tortillas or serve as an appetizer dipped into guacamole or salsa. These go very well with my Tomatillo Salsa or Red Salsa.

A couple of new meatball recipes coming up. Only 2 more Thursdays left in 2016! Here are some meatball recipes from the past:

Sweet and Sour Meatball Recipe

Bahn Mi Meatball Recipe

Italian Stuffed Meatball Recipe

Meatballs, Plain and Simple

Meatballs, Plain and Simple

These meatballs are a blank canvas. Flavorful on their own but can easily be served with marinara or to make swedish meatballs or even the popular bbq sauce and grape jelly meatball appetizer. They are perfect to bring to a potluck, to bring to family or friends as an act of kindness or just to enjoy at home.

Meatballs  (bulk recipe – you can 1/2 this recipe)

Ingredients

about 3 pounds of pork (boneless sirloin) (or 3 lbs of ground pork)

about 3 pounds of beef (bottom round) (or 3 pounds of ground beef)

8 slices of bacon

2 eggs

1/4 cup gluten-free bread crumbs

1/2 cup of milk

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon oregano

1 Tablespoon shredded Parmesan

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together. Grind the meat and bacon together if you are not using store bought ground meat. If you are using store bought ground meat, finely chop the bacon or put it in your food processor. Form each meatball and place onto cooling rack placed over baking sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes. Serve with your favorite sauce or freeze in batches to use another time.

You can brown these first for a deeper flavor, but they are just as delicious just baking them. Keep them warm in your crockpot with your favorite marinara. This works well for entertaining. You can cook some gluten-free pasta and toast up some gluten-free garlic bread or make zoodles (zucchini noodles) for a pretty (and healthy!) red and green Christmas themed spaghetti and meatballs.

My kids love to take the leftover meatballs for lunch! Add some yogurt and carrots with hummus and we have a school lunch or a meal my child with celiac disease can bring with him if we are visiting family or friends.

You will find a great new meatball recipe here every Thursday for the next month! Check out these past blogs too for ideas on what to bring to your next potluck or what to serve at your next holiday gathering.

Italian Stuffed Meatballs

Good Food that happens to be Gluten Free

Italian Stuffed Meatballs

A week later and its time to forget about turkey for a little while and switch up your menu! Try these Italian stuffed meatballs and leave your family and friends asking for seconds and thirds! Thanks to my family and friends who tested this for me 🙂

These meatballs would be great for a weekend dinner or even holiday appetizers meal! If you in the mood for Asian flavors, try these Bahn Mi Meatballs.

Italian Stuffed Meatballs

italian-meatballs-with-sauce

Ingredients

About 3.5 lbs ground beef, chicken or pork (I like to use 2/3 pork and 1/3 chicken thighs or 2/3 beef and 1/3 pork for the best flavor)

3 pieces of bacon, chopped finely (or pulsed in the food processor)

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

½ teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon garlic paste (or 1 clove of garlic, minced)

2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped finely

1 egg

1/4 cup of bread crumbs (use gluten-free breadcrumbs if making this gluten free)

6 to 8 oz of mozzarella, cut into ½ inch cubes

2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl mix salt, pepper, onion powder, oregano, garlic, basil, egg and bread crumbs. Place meat and bacon in a large bowl and add the egg mixture. Get your hands dirty and mix it all together.

italian-meatballs-ready-to-be-cooked

TIP: Cook a small patty of the meat mixture to taste and adjust seasonings if you need before stuffing and cooking the whole batch.

Roll meatballs. Take a cube of mozzarella and stuff it into the center of the meatball, making sure it is completely encapsulated by the meat mixture.

italian-stuffed-meatballs

Heat a large not stick-pan to medium-high, add olive oil. Brown meatballs and transfer to a baking rack that sits on top of a cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes. You can skip the browning step if you like and just add about 5-10 minutes of baking time.

italian-meatballs

Serve with your favorite tomato sauce and spaghetti, make meatballs subs, serve as an appetizer or freeze for another night when you need an easy meal.

Now, let’s talk ground meat. I grind my own meat using this attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer. I love it. The meat tastes so much better when freshly ground. You can ask a butcher to do this for you, just make sure if you are keeping gluten free that they are taking necessary precautions to not cross contaminate the meat with marinated meat or spices that contain gluten.

One post down and 30 to go! A post a day until the end of December! Posts filled with gluten-free holiday treats, easy meals and ideas for your holiday gatherings through the new year that everyone will enjoy!

Here are some links to past holiday posts with the regular disclosure that if it was written before April 2014, it may not be gluten free.

Last minute holiday prep!

Rethinking my cooking bucket list and looking forward to 2015