One more one-pot pasta dish

Wine and pasta are such a perfect pairing that it’s worth doing twice.

We’re replacing white with red, sticking with spaghetti, and focusing on red meat. That’s right, it’s time for spaghetti bolognese.

Spaghetti bolognese ingredients (except I really used my own broth instead of bouillon).

I adapted a recipe from “Cook It In Your Dutch Oven,” though — like the scampi — most recipes I found were pretty similar. What I liked about this one is that it added additional vegetables than just tomatoes; what I didn’t like is that it had the vegetable puree mostly replace tomatoes. Call me traditional but it’s not bolognese without an abundance of tomatoes.

So, instead of pureeing, I just diced the vegetables, cooked them longer, and had a chunkier sauce. Because of that, I also decided to use crushed tomatoes instead of tomato sauce so it was all chunky. I kept in the 3 T. of tomato paste too but I’m not sure it’s necessary. I just needed it for another recipe anyway so I kept it in.

I also used all broth instead of a mixture of water and broth, and replaced beef with buffalo.

I think all the changes worked. It made a hearty, heavy meal feel healthier, and all tasted great. My only small complaint is that this supposed weeknight meal took longer with cutting all the vegetables (rather than pureeing), and also isn’t *that* short even without it. Still worth it, though, and made for days of yummy leftovers.

Nom nom nom.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground buffalo, or any ground meat
  • 6 oz. pancetta, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 celery rib, diced
  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 (14 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 T. tomato paste, optional
  • 1 c. dry red wine
  • 5 c. broth (I used homemade chicken vegetable broth but any will do)
  • ½ c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (I used more)
  • 1 lb. spaghetti, uncooked
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat butter and oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and the onion, carrot, and celery. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened.

Add the ground meat and tomato paste, if using, and cook until the meat is just cooked through, about another 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir in the diced tomatoes and the wine, and cook for about 5 minutes to reduce the liquid total by about half, stirring occasionally. Add broth and Parmesan, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook the sauce mixture for 20 minutes to let the flavors combine.

Increase the heat, and bring the sauce to a boil. Gently add in the pasta, and return to a simmer. Cook covered or partially covered — depending on how thick you like your sauce — for another 10 to 15 minutes until the pasta is cooked to desired tendency. Add more broth if necessary. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve and add extra Parmesan, if desired, and enjoy!

Sumptuous shrimp scampi to share with your sweetheart

I have a thing about Valentine’s Day, and well, really, most dates in general: I don’t like them. I don’t like to dress up; I don’t like the fancy-pants restaurants you’re *supposed* to go to for special occasions; and mostly, I don’t like the pressure to have a romantic evening.

If they’re your thing, more power to you; make the reservations, and have a good time.

I was lucky, then, to find a partner who feels the same way I do. A restaurant that requires us to feel like we don’t belong is not a restaurant we’re going to, no matter the rave reviews. Advance planning, likewise, isn’t really our thing.

Instead, I usually try to find something special but simple to make for dinner — and yet, I also don’t feel pressured to do so, if I feel lazy or if take-out beckons. In past years, I’ve celebrated the holiday with peanut stew. This year, I found something even simpler and yet also fancier: shrimp scampi.

Shrimp scampi ingredients. They didn’t all fit but they would have if I didn’t buy large quantities of wine and olive oil.

I’d never made it before, and honestly, hadn’t gotten it in restaurants because it’s usually too pricey to justify what it is. But after tasting it, I can see why it’s a go-to fancy dinner order. It’s damn delicious.

It’s also still too easy to make at home to justify the upcharge for having it made for me. There’s few ingredients, and it’s even a one-pot meal. In all, it’s about a half-hour of work. It’s the perfect stay-at-home dinner date whether you have a special Valentine or not.

SHRAMMPIES!!!!

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. angel hair pasta or similar (I used spaghetti because I wanted whole wheat and I couldn’t find it in angel hair)
  • 1 ½ lb. peeled and deveined uncooked shrimp
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • ½ c. dry white wine (and, let’s be honest, more to serve in a glass on the side)
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ¼ t. red pepper flakes (I used more but we like a little more kick to our food)
  • 3 T. unsalted butter, cold and cut into smallish cubes
  • ¼ c. coarsely chopped parsley, flat-leaf preferred
  • Juice from ½ lemon

Directions

Bring water to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Add the pasta, cooking to al dente according to package instructions (between 7 and 12 minutes, depending on pasta type). Reserve ½ c. of cooking water, and then drain the pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile, pat the shrimp dry and season both sides with salt and pepper, to taste. In the same large Dutch oven where you cooked your pasta, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for about 1 minute. Flip, and then add the wine, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the shrimp are just opaque and the wine has reduced by half, about 2 to 3 more minutes.

Remove the Dutch oven from heat, add the butter cubes, and stir until melted. Add the pasta, parsley, and lemon juice. Toss until combined, adding reserved pasta water by the tablespoon, until a sauce forms that coats the pasta. (Don’t worry if you don’t use all the water.) Serve immediately, and enjoy!

Putting the pot in pot pie

When I knew I was doing Dutch ovens, I knew that I needed to buy a Dutch oven cookbook for guidance and ideas throughout the year. But I found it was real easy to come up with the first few things I needed to try so I put it off.

Finally, though, I went ahead and got “Cook It In Your Dutch Oven” from America’s Test Kitchen. I patted myself on the back for how many of their ideas were things that I’m planning to make this year already, but my jaw dropped (not literally) when I came across the pot pie recipe.

This pie lady never thought of making a pot pie as a not-quite-pie, but definitely all pot.

Chicken pot pie ingredients.

The recipe was for spring vegetables, but I damn well know what goes in a pot pie and I know it’s wintery AF.

And bad mistakes, I made a few.

First of all, the lattice top crust that makes up the top (spoiler: there’s no crusty bottom) is with puff pastry and I am so bad at dealing with puff pastry. I muddled through but it was frustrating.

Second of all, the recipe called for chicken thighs. I got a mix — 1 lb. each of chicken breast and chicken thighs — but I didn’t realize that trimming raw chicken thighs is frustrating and nearly impossible. I should have known by now, but I mostly work with breasts, or thighs that are cut after cooked.

Third of all, seasons. The substitutions I made worked real well for a winter pot pie, but it didn’t occur to me until too late that some of the ingredients made more sense in a spring recipe rather than winter, and I should have probably scrapped them. They are the optional ingredients below — tomato paste and lemon zest (the original also calls for some lemon juice from about half a lemon). I think they’d work better in a real spring recipe (with asparagus instead of potatoes, and tarragon instead of parsley)  than this one, though they didn’t manage to ruin the whole thing.

What I’m saying is, despite my mistakes, and despite the modest frustration, it was still good. Because pot pies are good. And errors can be corrected so that pot pies are even better.

I’ll probably never love working with puff pastry, but honestly, a good hearty (or even spring!) pot pie is worth it.

It sure looks pretty, but it also tastes pretty great.

Here’s what I did (with recommendations for what I should have done):

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 6 T. butter
  • 1 lb. (about 4) leeks, white and light green parts, sliced
  • 4 carrots, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 lb. potatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (I used the jarred stuff)
  • ½ c. flour
  • 1 T. tomato paste (optional)
  • 3 c. chicken broth, more as needed
  • ½ c. heavy cream
  • 1 t. soy sauce (we were out so I used Bragg liquid aminos)
  • 2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (or thighs if you’re a masochist)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 T. dried parsley flakes or chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 T. lemon zest (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Cut a sheet of parchment paper to match the outline of a Dutch oven lid. Set aside. Roll puff pastry sheet into about a 15- by 11-inch rectangle, and then cut (a pizza cutter works great) into 10 1 ½-inch wide strips. Place 5 strips parallel and 5 strips perpendicular on the parchment paper round you created.

There are fancy techniques to do this more efficiently, but weave the 10 strips into a lattice top into whatever is easiest for you. Cut the strips to fit onto the parchment paper round.

Move your lattice top puff pastry using the parchment paper to the up-turned lid of the Dutch oven, and refrigerate while you prepare the rest of the pot pie.

Move oven rack to the lower middle position in the oven, and heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, melt the butter on the stove top over medium heat.

Add the leeks, carrots, celery, and potatoes, and cook until the leeks are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for another minute. Then, add in the flour, slowly, and stir for another minute. Add the tomato paste, if using.

Then, stir in the broth, scraping up browned bits as necessary. Add the cream, and soy sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook until the mixture thickens, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in the chicken pieces, and continue to simmer for a couple minutes before removing from heat.

Put the the up-turned lid with the puff pastry on top of the Dutch oven (still up-turned and do so carefully!), and brush it with the egg mixture (I also added a tablespoon or so of water). Sprinkle with salt, if desired.

Transfer the pot to oven and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes until the puff pastry is puffed and golden, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove pot from oven and carefully transfer the parchment and pastry to a wire rack and remove lid. Stir in the peas, and let sit until heated through about 5 minutes. Add more broth if necessary. Add the parsley flakes and lemon zest, if using, and stir in salt and pepper to taste. Plop (carefully!) the puff pastry on top of the filling, and enjoy!

Cassoulet casserole!

This week’s recipe is another that has been on my list for years. I almost made it during my casserole year, but ended up *shrug emoji.*

This year, however, after reading that cassoulet is the ultimate Dutch oven dish, I figured I had to try it, and try it early this year.

Cassoulet ingredients.
Cassoulet ingredients.

Another hold up in my mission was, well, the ingredients in cassoulet. Not only are many of them hard to find, and therefore, not all that cheap, those ingredients are also extremely fatty meats that are not all that appetizing.

To make up for this fact, I mercifully found a vegetarian cassoulet. Only that seemed pretty boring.

So, I did what anybody — well, one other notable foodie at least — would do, I reverse engineered the vegetarian cassoulet to add the amounts and types of meats I wanted. I settled on pancetta and andouille sausage.

For the vegetarians, these can easily be skipped and my assumption that it would be boring was wrong. For the meat eaters, feel free to add duck fat, duck legs, salt pork, pork shoulder, chicken thighs, or any of the variety of meats that appear in the multitude of recipes for this French classic.

I did what tasted best to me, and dear reader, it was amazing.

I won’t lie, it’s time consuming, and the recipe can be tweaked in hundreds of ways to suit one’s tastes, but I can definitely see why cassoulet has the reputation it does, especially in a Dutch oven.

This cassoulet only gets better with the addition of garlicky bread crumbs (not pictured).

Here’s what I did, adapting the Epicurious vegetarian recipe:

Ingredients

For the cassoulet

  • 8 oz. pancetta
  • 3 medium leeks, white and pale green parts, sliced
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped (I used more)
  • 1 T. dried thyme
  • 2 parsley sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ⅛ t. ground cloves
  • 12 to 16 oz. andouille sausage, sliced
  • 16 oz. dried cannellini or great northern beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 quart broth, vegetable or chicken

For topping

  • 4 c. fresh bread crumbs from a baguette (about 1 baguette) (I actually did this and it was much better, and the bread can be days old as well; just tear bread into chunks and blend well for about a minute)
  • ⅓ c. olive oil
  • 1 T. chopped garlic (I didn’t measure)
  • ¼ c. chopped parsley (I used about half a bunch)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

For the cassoulet

Fry up the pancetta in a large Dutch oven. Once mostly cooked, add in the leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, and herbs and spices, and cook stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are softened and lightly golden.

Add the beans, and broth, and bring to a boil. Cook partially covered, for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sausage after about 30 minutes, and continue to cook for another 15 to 30 minutes, until beans are fully cooked through.

For the topping

Meanwhile, while the cassoulet cooks, make the garlicky bread crumbs. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, toss the bread crumbs with oil, garlic, and salt and pepper, until the crumbs are coated. Spread on a sheet pan and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the mixture is crisp and golden. Cool the crumbs in the pan, and then return the bread crumb mixture to the medium bowl and stir in the parsley.

To finish

Mash some of the beans in the pot with a potato masher to thicken the broth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Just before serving, sprinkle the cassoulet with the bread crumbs, and enjoy!

That’s a spicy meatball!

My family knows me well as among Christmas gifts were cooking equipment and utensils. My brother gifted me brand new sheet pans, for which he felt bad that it came at the end of my sheet pan year.

However, I plan to keep making sheet pan recipes even if I’m not blogging about them. And anyway, it turns out I can keep blogging about them as this week’s recipe utilizes both a sheet pan and a Dutch oven and both are vital to the meal coming together.

I have had this curried meatball recipe from Epicurious on my to-make list for a couple years but just hadn’t gotten around to it. As I was looking for recipes for this year, I was delighted to note that I finally had an excuse to get around to it.

Curried meatballs ingredients.

And now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. It was a bit of a pain in the ass with all the steps, but honestly, worth it. The spicy meatballs complement the smoky curried sauce and make for a wonderful mix of flavors.

It also makes quite a bit so you can impress friends by sharing or sacrifice one night for several days of yummy leftovers.

That’s so spicy and saucy, and noms.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

For meatballs

  • Olive oil
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 jalapenos, halved and seeds removed if desired
  • 6 garlic cloves (I used more)
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped (I used a heaping T from a jar of minced ginger)
  • 1 T. lime juice (we were out of lemon)
  • 1 T. garam masala
  • 1 t. ground coriander
  • ½ t. ground cumin
  • ½ t. cayenne pepper
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 3 T. plain yogurt
  • 2 t. salt

For sauce

  • ¼ c. olive oil
  • 4 medium onions, chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 ½-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped (I used 1 ½ heaping T from my jar of ginger)
  • 3 dried chiles de arbol
  • 3 t. curry powder
  • 4 t. ground cumin
  • 4 t. ground turmeric
  • 3 t. ground coriander
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 (14.5 oz. can) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 T. lime juice
  • ½ t. Cayenne pepper
  • Cilantro for serving (optional) (I forgot it, sadly)
  • ¼ c. yogurt (optional) (I added just to get rid of the remaining amount in my small container)

Directions

For meatballs

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray rimmed sheet pan with oil, and set aside.

Puree the scallions, jalapenos, garlic, ginger, juice, and spices in a blender until smooth. Blend egg in a large bowl, and add the puree mix. Add the yogurt, beef, and salt. Mix with your hands until well blended. Roll into 24 balls, of about golf ball size, and place them on the oiled sheet pan about 1 inch apart. Spray with a little more oil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until cooked through.

For the sauce

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the onions, garlic, ginger, and cook, stirring often, until the onions are starting to brown. Stir in the chiles, spices (except cayenne), and continue to cook for about another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Add the bay leaf and 2 c. water, and return to a boil. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes.

Let cool slightly, and then transfer the sauce to a blender, blending until smooth. Transfer the sauce mixture back into the pot. Stir in the remaining yogurt, lime juice, and cayenne, and taste, adding more seasoning if needed.

To finish

Add the meatballs into the sauce, and bring to a simmer. Cook the mixture until the meatballs are heated through, and flavors meld a little, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with rice and cilantro, if desired, and enjoy!

Smokin’ soup to start off the new year

My sweetie and I had a tradition of smoking meats at Thanksgiving and Christmas until our smoker got stolen a couple years ago. Mercifully, we were able to get another one this year and pick up right where we left off.

The best part for me is, of course, the food. But a nice secondary benefit is I have one less thing taking up space and time in my kitchen. My sweetie handles the meat. I handle the sides and dessert.

I won’t bore you dear readers with all that we made at the two holidays even though I’m still drooling over them. But after Thanksgiving, I told my sweetie we were doing an extra bird at Christmas because I had plans for using it to kick off the new year right.

And ringing in my new If It Fits I Cooks project for 2019: the Dutch oven.

The wild rice and smoked chicken soup is an Amy Thielen recipe, though I varied it slightly because I already had a favorite creamy wild rice and chicken soup.

Chicken and wild rice soup ingredients.

My most important contribution is the addition of slivered almonds for added texture that blends with the wild rice well. Oh, and I used leftover (frozen) carcasses from the Thanksgiving chicken to make a smoky broth that added a little something.

Like most soups, this is difficult to mess up but it is time consuming. Wild rice always takes forever. Chopping veggies — something I weirdly enjoy but many don’t — is also a chore. And then of course simmering long enough for all the flavors to meld.

But it’s January and there’s not much else to do. This is the part where I’d usually say there’s the added benefit of keeping the stove going and warming up, but if you live in central Iowa, that has uh not been much of an issue so far this winter.

Happy New Year lovely readers and I hope you’ll follow me on this foodie adventure again in 2019!

Nom Nom Noms.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 2 c. chopped smoked chicken (I didn’t measure but it was roughly the breast meat)
  • ¾ c. natural wild rice (uncooked)
  • 6 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ c. white wine (preferably Chardonnay)
  • ¼ c. all-purpose flour
  • 8 c. chicken stock (homemade is best!)
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • ½ to 1 c. slivered almonds, to taste
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Add the rice (cleaned, if necessary) to 1 ½ c. water and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 25 to 45 minutes. (The wide time range is because mine never seems done at 25 minutes, but it’s good practice to start checking around then and taste testing — it goes in at the end of the soup-making so it needs to be done by the time it’s added.) Strain off any excess liquid.

Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks, celery, carrots, and a little salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, adding the garlic near the end of the saute time. Add the flour slowly and stir until combined, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil (this happens quick in a Dutch oven).

Add the stock, the cream, and the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer. Add the chicken, and cook at a bare simmer for 30 minutes uncovered to meld the flavors together. Add the cooked wild rice and almonds and simmer the soup for another 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, serve, and enjoy!

Oops! All crusts lasagna

This week I was craving more sheet pan pasta since I’ve loved both of the dishes I’ve made this year. I started Googling, and soon noticed that — unsurprisingly — most of the recipes were not too different from what I’d already made.

Then, I happened on a sheet pan lasagna. I would have been pretty skeptical that the famous, familiar casserole dish would work on a sheet pan, but it came from the Food Network, and I figured they couldn’t be all wrong.

Sheet pan lasagna ingredients (minus extra herbs and spices for the sauce).

I stuck fairly close to the original recipe, except I’m particular about my sausage and lazy about removing it from its casing. So, instead of de-cased Italian sausage, I bought Beeler’s ground hot sausage (a family favorite), and altered my tomato sauce to include onion powder and oregano.

It went over so well with friends that we had few leftovers, and I loved it so much, that I have already bought the ingredients to make the recipe again, only this time using my very favorite vegetarian lasagna recipe.

The recipe calls it “all-crusts” lasagna, which is fair, but I just think of it as the bits of traditional lasagna that are a little crunchier, and therefore the best.

Also, even better, it uses the same amounts as the regular casserole version so you’re not feeding fewer people (or having less leftovers), you’re just making a different kind of tasty lasagna.

So good I’m already making it again this weekend. *drool*

Here’s what I did (BUT feel free to adapt to your regular recipe as I plan to do this weekend):

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. ground hot sausage
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (I used more, like 4 cloves)
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 15 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ c. milk
  • ½ c. packed basil leaves (I didn’t measure. I used some in the sauce and then in the cheese mix, and I’m sure it was more than ½ c., so do this to taste as well)
  • ¾ to 1 c. grated Parmesan
  • 1 lb. shredded mozzarella
  • 1 package no-boil noodles (It calls for “flat” noodles and 12 of ‘em, but I buy whatever, and use the whole package because who needs 3 leftover lasagna noodles crowding pantry space?)
  • 3 T. olive oil, plus more for coating foil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 T. dried oregano (optional)
  • 1 t. onion powder (optional)

Directions

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat 1 T. olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, and cook the sausage until it is browned and cooked through. Transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon.

Reduce the stovetop heat to medium and add to the same skillet (with any drippings left in the pan) the remaining 2 T. of olive oil and garlic. Cook for about 1 minute until the garlic browns at the edges.

Add the crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper, and optional spices/herbs (I also added additional basil here). Cook for 10 minutes, at least, until the sauce smells more like a pasta sauce and not just tomatoes.

Separately, in a medium bowl, add the ricotta, egg, milk, basil, ½ c. of the Parmesan, and any more salt and pepper (to taste).

On a large rimmed sheet pan (estimated 18 x 13 inch), spread ⅔ c. of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. Space out half the noodles (remembering that they expand when they cook). Top the noodles with all of the ricotta mixture, all of the sausage, another ⅔ c. of the sauce, and half the mozzarella. Add another layer with the remaining noodles and top with the remaining sauce. Then, top the noodles with the remaining sauce, remaining mozzarella, and another ¼ to ½ c. grated Parmesan.

Lightly oil one side of a piece of foil big enough to cover the sheet pan (I just used the spray stuff for this part).

Bake the covered lasagna for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until the pasta is cooked through and the top is crusty and browned, and enjoy!

Meatball mashup

It’s 6 days until Thanksgiving, and so I decided to take it easy this week by going simple and safe. But still delicious.

I’ve already made meatballs this year but they were quite different, and I already made a similar recipe that I turned into individual meatloaves. So, this isn’t a unique recipe to this year; however, it’s a new twist.

Meatball ingredients, minus the garlic I decided to add at the last second. Also, in the background, next week’s recipe and spices!

Mostly, I love this meatball recipe because it’s quick and easy. It takes 5 to 10 minutes of prep, and 15 to 20 in the oven, so it’s quick. And it’s made of things I mostly already have on hand, except the beef, so it’s easy.

But it has the added benefit of being very versatile. It can be made into spaghetti and meatballs, or it can be a meatball hoagie, or just eat them on their own or with a little sauce. My sweetie and I tend to prefer hoagies with cheese and sauce, but I always have spaghetti just in case.

It’s nothing fancy but it’s always a treat.

Many mini meatballs.

Here’s what I did, building off a Betty Crocker recipe:

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. lean ground beef
  • ⅔ c. dry bread crumbs
  • ⅓ c. milk
  • 1 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 t. dried basil
  • ½ t. rosemary chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (I used the jarred stuff)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Oil, for coating

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly grease a large rimmed sheet pan.

Mix together all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, using your hands, until well combined. Shape into about 1-inch balls, and place on the prepared sheet pan. You should get about 24 with this amount.

Bake the meatballs for 15 to 20 minutes until cooked through.

Serve with warmed red sauce of your choice and cooked spaghetti or hoagies with provolone or mozzarella cheese, all to your tastes and liking, and enjoy!

*Programming note: I’ll plan to post early next week for Thanksgiving. If you want to shop in advance so you can have them over the holiday, here’s the ingredients list for pumpkin cookies:

  • ½ c. Crisco
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. Libby’s pumpkin
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 4 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 ½ t. cinnamon
  • ½ t. nutmeg
  • ¼ t. ground ginger (I’ll probably use more)
  • 1 ½ c. chocolate chips (I’ll use semisweet)

 

The Handpie’s Tale

Thanks to my better half — who I’ll celebrate 6 years of marriage with tomorrow — for the title of this week’s blog post. It’s true. I’m making hand pies.

Meat hand pie ingredients.

When he said it, though, it was just one of those dumb puns he always — *always* — makes. But when I made hand pies on Election Day to keep sorta sane, his phrase seemed especially apropos.

Like my feelings about the book, I had some mixed thoughts about the election night. But more than that, it was another election where I had to think about women, and women’s role in our political world.

I promise I’ll get to the hand pies, but first:

All of this was unknown to me as I made my hand pies, but the questions of how it would all turn out was bubbling under the surface. I was full of anxiety, and as I once swore while cooking, my sweetie suggested I shouldn’t have taken on such a complicated project when I was already distracted.

And yet, it was the sort of frustration I could control.

As I reminded him, and myself: I had gone through this before; I knew it’d turn out fine; and even if every bit didn’t turn out perfect, it was going to be OK. As the election results have continued to pour in since Tuesday, I’m starting to feel the same about our country.

Hand pies not handmaids!

Here’s what I did, slightly tweaking Amy Thielen’s recipe from The New Midwestern Table:

Ingredients

  • 24 oz. ground beef (or mix of ground meats, but on a cold evening, trust me, the beef is the perfect level of heartiness)
  • 1 ½ c. rutabaga, diced
  • 1 c. onion, diced (about 1 medium onion)
  • 1 c. carrots, diced (about 2 small, or 1 ½ medium)
  • 2 t. fresh rosemary, minced
  • ¼ c. sour cream
  • ¼ c. fresh parsley, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 homemade crust doughs (Amy’s recipe at the bottom, but technically, any pie-like crust would do, though milk is recommended vs water for heartiness)
  • 1 large egg

Directions

Make the crust in advance, and divide into 6 equal disks. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Heat oven to 375 degrees, and line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the meat and vegetables in a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, rosemary, parsley, and sour cream. Mix until well combined.

Roll out the chilled dough until you have an 8-inch round. (Save your extras if you cut the edges, as I found I had a little extra meat mixture, so I had 7 hand pies, with one being smaller.)

Place meat mixture on one half of one round, and flip the other half of the dough on top of the meat mixture. Press the edges of the round together to seal in the meat mixture. Repeat with the remaining rounds until the meat and dough is used up.

Place the half-moon, meat-filled crescents on the parchment-paper lined sheet pan. Try to leave room between them, though my sheet pan wasn’t quite big enough, and it turned out OK to leave a very minimal amount of space (this might have been when I swore).

Beat the egg with a bit of water (about 2 T., though I didn’t measure), and brush the tops of the hand pies with the mixture.

Bake for about 45 minutes until golden brown, let cool slightly, and enjoy!

Pie dough crust *for 2 pie doughs * from Amy Thielen:

Use a pastry blender or 2 butter knives or your two fingers to combine 2 ½ c. all-purpose flour with 2 sticks (16 T.) of unsalted butter. Place an egg yolk in a measuring cup, and fill with milk until ⅔ c. full (about ½ c. milk). Mix the eggs and milk, and then pour into the flour mixture. Stir with a fork, and/or your fingers until the dough is combined, adding more milk if necessary. Divide into 6 disks, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Happy birthday hot wings

It’s my birthday and I’ll make hot wings if I want to.

OK, my birthday was on Tuesday, and OK, I made the wings last weekend for a pre-planned get-together. BUT they were my little treat to myself, that something extra I would normally say is too much time and effort, but it’s my birthday, dammit, and I wanted to treat myself.

I made the sauces separately, so no ingredients photo this week.

Most people may not think of wings as their treat to themselves, but I’ve always had different birthday wishes. Growing up I remember two birthday foodie requests; we’d either go out for Chinese food, or I’d want Mom’s porcupine meatballs (they had rice in them, and weren’t actually spiky, but that was the name). So, hot wings suited me just fine.

Also, I had found two different recipes — one spicy, one mild — from Homesick Texan that I wanted to try, and figured this was as good of a time as any to try out her two recipes. Then, I realized that though they both used wingettes and drummettes, the recipes were vastly different.

So, I meshed them together. Look, it may have been my birthday, but I am not messing around with different oven temperatures and different cooking times, and methods.

And, whew, they both turned out perfectly. I was quite partial to the spicier ones that registered at about a 6 on my scale of spicy, but the milder creamy salsa verde ones also tasted just lovely, and worked well as a sauce to complement either variety.

These may be best served for a crowd if you make both, or pick your favorite.

Speaking of picking your favorite — segues are for amateurs, as my lovely father says — you still have time to VOTE. Please do so. Pick your favorite. Pick the one who’s not the one who you hate. Pick the person who will make it easier for you to vote (*nudge*). But mostly, just get out there and make your voice heard.

Finished, plated product. The spicy ones are in the back but this photo had me drooling for the milder ones.

And now, here’s what I did, adapting the cooking method but little else saucewise, from Homesick Texan’s recipe:

Ingredients

For the wings:

  • 2 lbs. wingettes and drummettes mix (AKA wings from here on out)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • One of the two sauce mixes, below, divided

Sauce 1 Spicy ingredients:

  • 10 chiles de arbol, stemmed and seeded (I didn’t seed much)
  • 6 guajillo chiles or other milder chiles (I used dried Hatch peppers we had on hand, but ancho are easy to find), seeded and stemmed (I didn’t seed much)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. oregano
  • ¼ t. ground allspice
  • ¾ c. water, and more as needed
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • ½ c. white vinegar, plus more as needed
  • Salt, to taste

Sauce 2 Milder ingredients:

  • 2 jalapenos, cut in half lengthwise and seeded (I did seed these)
  • 4-5 tomatillos (I used 5 because they were smaller), husked and cut in half
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ to 1 c. cilantro
  • ½ c. sour cream
  • ¼ c. mayonnaise
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. cayenne

Directions

Sauce 1 Spicy:

Place both types of chiles in a large bowl of boiling water, and let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse the peppers well, and place in blender. Add the garlic, spices, and water. Blend for 5 minutes until smooth (it seems like a lot, but you want it to be thin, not chunky). Then, heat the oil in a skillet and add the sauce mixture. Cook for 5 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and add the vinegar. Add more vinegar or water until the sauce reaches desired thickness.

Sauce 2 Milder:

Place the jalapenos, tomatillos, and garlic in a medium saucepan. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 7 to 10 minutes until the tomatillos have darkened and softened. Use a slotted spoon to remove the items from the boiling water, and place them in a blender. Add the cilantro, and blend until smooth, adding water if necessary.

Scrape the mixture into a large bowl, and add the sour cream, mayonnaise, and spices. Stir until combined.

For the wings:

Salt and pepper the chicken wings to taste. Place wings in a gallon-sized plastic bag or other large Tupperware. Add ½ c. of the sauce, mix well, and marinate for 1 to 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees, and line a large rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the marinated wings on the sheet pan, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with another ¼ c. of the sauce on both sides of the wings, and return to oven with them turned so that the formerly top side is now on the bottom. Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes until cooked through and the wings seem mostly dried.

Let cool slightly and serve with the remaining sauce on the side, and enjoy!