Archive for December, 2011

Meatball soup

It has been freezing lately (for SoCal, at least) and hearty soups have been on my mind.  But, so has laziness… So I did a stock of the freezer/ fridge/ pantry and I had all of the ingredients to make something I have been wanting to try, Meatball Soup!  I adapted this recipe to my tastes, and just used the frozen turkey balls I had one hand (as I always do!).  I just set the frozen turkey balls out when I started working on the soup, and they were about half defrosted by the time I added them, and it was fine.  This is a really great, easy recipe to crank out on a cold rainy day.  You should have most of the ingredients, especially if you already have some frozen meatballs.  This would also work with store-bought frozen meatballs.

What you need:

  • About 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bag of baby carrots
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Minced garlic, I used about ten cloves
  • 3 -4 bay leaves, fresh or dried
  • Meatballs, I think I used about 16 – 20
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cups water
  • 2 – 3 cups dried pasta of your choice.  I only have linguine, so I broke it in half.
  • Fresh parmesan for garnishing

What to do:

  1. In a deep pot over medium heat combine oil, carrots, garlic, onions, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Cover pot and cook veggies 5 or 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Uncover your soup pot and add broth and water to the pot. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil.
  3. When soup boils, reduce heat a bit and drop meatballs to cook in the broth.  Simmer while meatballs are cooking.  If frozen, this will probably take 10 – 15 mins.
  4. Add pasta to the soup and stir. Cover and simmer soup 15 minutes.
  5. Serve and garnish with fresh parmesan.

Don’t worry about over simmering it, as it will just taste better with the juices of the veggies and meatballs flavoring the broth. This makes 4 entree sized servings.

I apologize for the lack of photos, but I burned myself taking the cast iron griddle out of the broiler and was barely able to limp through the very easy cooking process.


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Stuffed Mushrooms

I got this quick, cheap and easy recipe from one of my good friends, Stuph!  It’s a great to serve as an appetizer.

What you need:

  • Stuffing Mushrooms, one or two packs
  • A few cloves of garlic
  • One onion
  • Olive oil
  • Bread crumbs, about 1/2 cup
  • Parmesan cheese, about 1/2 cup, or more

What to do:

  1. Cut the stems out of the mushrooms in a circular motion and save the stem
  2. Mince the stems along with a clove or two of garlic and some onion, easiest in a food processor
  3. Put a little olive oil in a frying pan and cook the mushroom stems/garlic/onions for a few minutes
  4. Turn off the heat and add the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, and mix well.
  5. Put a spoonful or more in each mushroom.
  6. Bake stuffed mushrooms in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the mushroom is cooked.

Do ahead: you can prepare the mushrooms fully, and then pop in the oven right before serving

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Butternut squash was crazy on sale about a month ago at Sprouts/ Henry’s, so I did the rational thing and bought like seven of them.  Luckily I came across this recipe in Martha Stewart Living for butternut squash lasagna.  It really is perfect because Boyfriend loves lasagna (but I rarely make it because it takes about 6 hours) and I have all these squash to use!  I followed the recipe for the most part, but did make some minor changes based on laziness.

What you need:

  • One butternut squash, about 3-4 lbs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • At least one pound ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 cups of grated mozzarella
  • A tablespoon or two of nutmeg
  • minced garlic, to taste (I used about a tablespoon, maybe a bit more)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • Lasagna noodles
  • Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425.  Peel and cut up the squash into one inch pieces.
  2. Toss or spray with olive oil.  Sprinkle with pepper.  Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
  3. Reduce oven to 375.
  4. Combine ricotta, eggs, cream, mozzarella, nutmeg, garlic and a pinch or two of salt.

    Cheesy mixture

  5. When the squash is done roasting, or has a few minutes left, melt the butter in a large sauce pan.  When the butter is fully melted, add the chopped sage.  Stirring constantly, cook the sage & butter over medium heat until the butter becomes very yellow, about 4-5 minutes.

    Not quite yellow enough yet

  6. If you have a sous-chef, like I happen to last night, have them do this step while you are working on the sage & butter.  Soak about half a pack of uncooked lasagna noodles in hot tap water in a shallow dish.  After 3-4 minutes take them out of the water.  They should still be pretty stiff.
  7. Add the squash and chicken stock to the sauce pan with the sage and butter.  Mash most of the squash and stir thoroughly.
  8. Assemble the lasagna in a 9×13 baking dish, in this order: Layer of noodles, layer of butternut squash (about 1/3 to half of the mixture depending on how many layers you want), layer of cheese mixture.  Repeat until you run out of squash and cheese.  Top the entire thing with a generous layer of Parmesan cheese.

    Bad representation of the layers

  9. Bake for 35 minutes.  Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving, unless you want to burn your face off. 


    The end result was very good, perfect for a chilly night.  It was WAY less time consuming that normal lasagna (if you make your own sauce, as I do), so it’s much more appropriate for a weeknight dinner.

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There is this amazing bakery in San Diego that I LOVE, Bread & Cie.  Along with super delicious bread and pastries, they have a cafe where you can get sandwiches, soup, breakfast, etc.  I always get the breakfast pizza, always.  I crave it.  But it’s so hard because they stop selling it around noon, and it’s really hard to get up and at ’em before noon on the weekends for us.  I honestly have no idea why it took me so long to try and recreate this, but I finally did, and with stellar results!

This is almost an exact copy, except my version has pizza sauce on it, only because I just used a premade frozen cheese pizza from costco.  it would be very easy to make with homemade dough, too.

What you need:

  • A cheese pizza, or prepared dough brushed with olive oil and mozzarella cheese
  • 2 – 3 eggs
  • Scallions, chopped up
  • Garlic, minced or sliced
  • Bacon, I used about 2 pieces for one pizza
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper

What you need to do:

  1. Pre-cook the bacon.  I prefer cooking mine in the oven, but it doesn’t really matter.  To bake the bacon, put bacon on a cookie sheet, or in a pyrex, and bake at 400 for about 12 – 14 minutes (if you are cooking it for real, cook it for 20 mins).
  2. Lower oven to recommended temp for your premade pizza (or 450 for homemade).
  3. Chop up bacon, scallions, garlic, etc.
  4. Crack your eggs directly on the pizza.
  5. Top with all other toppings.

    Ready to bake

  6. Bake the pizza.  Start checking on the pizza after 15 or 20 mins.  Bake until the eggs look fully cooked.

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