Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Meatball Sandwich

As a little girl one of my earliest memories is cooking with my grandmother in her kitchen "helping" her to make meatballs. While I'm fairly confident that I wasn't helping as much as I thought I was, my nonna never complained. I've always loved cooking with her. She always seems to know exactly what something needs and never needs a recipe or a measuring cup. Watching her work was and still is magical. Making "eatballs" will always be something that reminds me of my grandmother and inspired me to step outside the box. Typically the meatballs we make we bake and then they go right into the tomato sauce to boil for another hour. I know that seems like an excessive amount of cooking but it helps the meatballs remain moist after a lot of the fat cooks off while they are baking.

I decided to instead serve the meatballs immediately after I finished baking them. Topped with caramelized onions and mushrooms, and toasted with asiago cheese on Portugese rolls. Mmm. Mmm.

Mac 'N Cheese Please

So I don't know about you, but one of my favorite things to make EVER is mac 'n cheese. It's the perfect hodgepodge. I mean, how can you possibly go wrong with any combination of cheese and pasta?!? This one here is my basic quick and dirty combo. I'm sure you'll get different variations of this ooey gooey goodness in later postings as well.

To Start:
1 lb of pasta
1 small shallot
1-2 sliced scallions
crumbled bacon
1 16 oz bag of shredded cheese, we used cheddar and parmesan
2 small cans of Campbell's cheddar soup mix
Salt and Black Pepper
bread crumbs

Prepare the pasta; boil and salt the water, wait for the rapid boil add the pasta, tap your fingers for the amount of time allotted on the pasta instructions stirring occasionally, drain the pasta through a colander leaving a small amount of the liquid in the bottom of your pot.

While the pasta is boiling, use a small frying pan to caramelize your shallots.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix in the two cans of Campbell's cheddar soup, the shredded cheese, the scallions, 3/4 of the bacon and the caramelized shallots together and then pour into a baking dish.

Sprinkle on the rest of the bacon, some bread crumbs and I like to add a little more of the shredded cheese on the top.

Bake in the oven for about 20- 25 minutes.

Eat & Enjoy!!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Summer Loving and Longing

Unfortunately it always seems that summer comes too slowly and leaves us far too quickly. As we near the end of September and before my mind switches to serious fall fare, with aromatic apple pies and every thing perfectly pumpkin [[yum!!]], I started getting nostalgic about all the goodies we had during our Hampton's trip and I couldn't stop thinking about the...


Oh god I love the Guac! You can have it plain, you can have it with chips, you can put it on a burger or substitute it for the mayo in your lobster roll.. I digress. While I enjoy guacamole year round it always seems to taste better in the summer. Maybe it's the freshness of the tomatos, maybe it's just that I can't stand to live without it, but for me guacamole is a summertime staple.

2 avocados
1 bunch of cilantro
1 small white onion
1-2 tomato (cut tomato and remove the seeds)
1/2 a lime
salt and black pepper
1-2 Jalapenos depending on your preference, you can choose to leave these out

Picking the avocado's:
When I first started making guacamole, one of the things I had the hardest time doing was picking the right avocado's. If you are purchasing avocado's for guacamole that you plan on making that day you should be able to press your finger easily into the side of the avocado. The leathery peel should yield to your touch. If you're shopping ahead of time and not planning on making the guacamole until later in the week you should look for a firmer avocado that still needs some time to ripen.

The best thing you can do when making guacamole is to go get yourself a molcajete, which is really just a grainy stone mortar and pestle. It helps to combine the ingredients so that you're not just getting chunks of different ingredients here and there but a true blended flavor. You want to take the white onion that you've chopped and the cilantro and grind them into a paste. Once you've broken down the onions and the cilantro has started to have a pesto-like consistency, season with salt. If you like a little spice, which I do, you will want to grind the jalapeno as well while you're doing this.

Once your paste is done take the avocado and cut it in half. Avocado's have a large circular pit in the center so be aware that you will be unable to cut through it. To separate the halves I like to take either side that I've cut and twist it like I was opening a jar. Note that one of your avocado halves will still have the pit in it. The easiest way to remove the pit is to simply hold that half in your hand and gently squeeze, the pit should pop right out.
Then cut the avocado flesh, the soft green part, that remains in the skin in a grid-like pattern. Pinch both sides and the ripe avocado should fall out easily. Discard the peel. If you're having trouble with this grab a spoon and scoop out the inner part.

Mix the avocado into your paste. When you have reached the consistency you like, squeeze the lime juice into the mixture and add the tomatos. Mix thoroughly. Do not grind the tomato's! Through lots of trial and error I've found that when I grind the tomatos into the mixture I don't like the consistency of the guacamole. Lime juice in addition to adding flavor, helps to keep the guacamole from oxidizing. Avocado's when exposed to air tend to brown like apples once they've been cut. This doesn't effect the flavor or make it unfit to eat but it doesn't look nearly as pretty.

Season with salt and black pepper to taste and enjoy!!