Sunday, September 22, 2013

Pintester Challenge: Meat. Balls.

So, it wouldn't be a Pintester Challenge without inappropriate references and childish sniggering over innocuous words (like, "duty" gets me every time).  So today I made meatballs.  Let the sniggering begin.

I have to admit that I'm pushing up against the Sunday, Sept. 22 deadline, so I can't be very witty or snarky. I just need to get this shit done, so here's what happened:

I found this pin for Thai Green Curry Meatballs on Mel's Kitchen Cafe:

Thai Green Curry Meatballs

I mean, who doesn't like a good meatball (snigger)?  And I like curry, especially green curry, so I thought I'd give it a try.  Here's the deal. They were delicious!  Sorry, no fails, no ball-rolling nightmares (har har).  Just full on goodness. :-)  I did change up the recipe a little by decreasing the oats (hate too much filler) adding finely minced carrots (I try to get veggies into my kids any way I can) and baking the balls (ha!), 'cause mama ain't got time for sauteing in batches. But other than that, made it just like the pin. ;-) True confession, though. One of my kids didn't like the sauce, but liked the meatballs.  I still count it as a win.

Here's my version:

Thai Green Curry Meatballs (adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 cup finely minced carrots
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon Thai green curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3 green onions, white and green parts finely chopped
  • Sauce:
  • 2 cans (13.5-ounce each) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch stirred into 1 tsp cold water to make a slurry
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (from about 2-3 limes)
  • Hot cooked rice for serving
  1. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, oats and milk. Let the mixture stand and soak for 5-10 minutes. Add ground beef or turkey, carrots, ginger, curry paste, fish sauce, sugar, cilantro, salt, garlic and green onions. Mix to combine and distribute all the ingredients through the meat. The best way to do this is to use your hands. Really.  Just get in there and squish everything around.
  2. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Roll meat mixture into balls (about golf-ball size - I like big meatballs) and place onto lined baking sheet.  Once all the balls have been rolled and placed on the sheet, bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.
  3. While the meatballs bake, heat a large skillet to medium heat and stir in the coconut milk, green curry paste and sugar. Bring to a simmer, then add the cornstarch mixture and stir to combine.  Cook on low heat until thickened.  
  4. When the meatballs are done baking, pull them out of the oven and place the meatballs in the skillet with the sauce. Go ahead and pile them all in, trying for a single layer. Simmer the meatballs and sauce for 8-10 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through, flipping the meatballs once or twice.
  5. Stir in the lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over hot, cooked rice.

See? These directions just write their own jokes, really.  Giggle away, friends!

Does this qualify for the Pintester Movement? I'm pretty sure Sonja, the original Pintester, didn't make this, but I don't have time to search through her pins and find it (or another pin she DID do), so I'm submitting this anyway. It IS something that I pinned, but I'm not sure that counts. Personally, I consider this a public service, because it's one less dinner you have to think about.  You're welcome. Seriously, though, you have to make these Thai balls (snort)!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Flippin' Cornbread

So here is why I'm kind of a nightmare cook - and a horrible blogger:  I wanted to make cornbread quickly (i.e., no extra trip to a store). Why did I need it quickly, you might ask?  Well, I had just made Chicken Marabella (my all-time favorite chicken dish, BTW), pulled it out of the oven, and realized I had nothing to sop up the super-delicious sauce, which is the best part.  Instead of making rice, I got it into my head that I should make cornbread (I could have made biscuits, but that seemed fussier, for the single reason of having to roll the dough out). The good news is that Chicken Marabella can hold and even be served at room temperature, so I had a little time to make the bread.

The problem?  I didn't have enough cornmeal, no buttermilk, no self-rising flour (these were all needed for any one of the recipes I found in my cookbooks). So I used what I had: whatever amount of cornmeal (about 1/2 cup), wheat flour to make up the difference, sour cream, honey (instead of sugar), barely enough baking powder. Didn't have time to mess with completely melting the butter, so I just stirred it up to soften the not-quite-melted parts and dumped it in with the wet ingredients. No time for getting things to room temperature or sifting or such.

After I stirred everything together, it seemed a little stiff, so I added a little milk.  Still thick, but I didn't have time to mess with it anymore, so I threw it in a greased, heated cast iron skillet (I put the greased skillet in the oven while it pre-heated), spread the batter around and hoped it would taste okay.

Here's why I'm a bad blogger about it: no pictures, no actual measurements (good luck recreating this monster), no real technique (stirred wet stuff together, then dumped dry stuff on top and mixed it all in one bowl).  So, sorry about that, but thank you for sticking with me!

The result was surprisingly good, if a little sweet for my taste (note for future attempts: use less honey).  I did manage to snap a photo when it came out of the oven:

Um, yeah. Here is the afterthought picture:

Not too helpful, is it?  I was just one drink in, so I can't blame the nearly empty glass in the background for my lame blogging. ;-)

The lesson is this: baking is not as exacting as people make it out to be, so don't be intimidated by it. I do suggest you follow an actual recipe until you get the hang of things, though. I still do, sort of...   :-)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Labor Day the Easy Way

By the time Labor Day rolls around, I am so ready for school to start. Not that I don't love having my boys around, but it gets really tiring to figure out 3 meals a day for 13 weeks! Once we get to September, I am done with cooking.  Breakfasts, which began with fun smoothies, breakfast burritos, and the like, are now reduced to cereal or toaster waffles.  Lunch is down to PB&J. I am serious.  Total kitchen ennui, people.  Lately, we've been eating soups that I'd frozen months ago. Soup is not exactly "seasonal" for August (at least not hot soups), but I am past caring. 

Labor Day found me wanting to spend even less time in the kitchen. So it's kind of awesome that we have a gourmet grocery store near us with fabulous meats.  The Wine'ing Butcher has all sorts of interesting stuff, but it's the meats that draw us.  Normally we get their steaks or sausage, but we had an Amazon Local coupon for some of their marinated meats.  Now, I'm a little leery of buying already-marinated meats because I can make my own damn marinades, thank you very much.  BUT, as I learned when I talked to one of the staff there (they were selling me hard, but not in an obnoxious way, more in an enthusiastic-about-their-product way), they vacuum-seal the meats with the marinades, which lets the flavors to penetrate the meat better and makes it very, very tender!

I'm telling you, people, the folks at the Wine'ing Butcher in Ashburn did not steer me wrong!  Even the kids liked everything...and they don't usually like steak/beef.

We got the Key West marinated chicken, the Smoke House steak tips, and the Steak House steak tips. All were delicious! Personally, I thought the Smoke House marinade was a little on the sweet side, but everyone else said those tips were their favorites. We also got the red bliss potato salad and the coleslaw.  To round out the meal, I made a quick cherry tomato-cucumber salad (just cut cherry tomatoes in half, cut a cucumber in bite-sized chunks and toss with salt, pepper and a balsamic vinaigrette -- homemade or store-bought -- I won't judge), grilled mushrooms (clean some mushrooms, toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper, then grill along with your meats), and some corn on the cob (with butter, of course).  Super easy, pretty healthy, as far as dinners go, and we had some great leftovers to make steak salads the next day!

Just as a side note: before you think I've totally gone off the deep end and eschewing the kitchen and decent food entirely, below is a picture of a dinner from last week, with butternut squash soup (I used apple juice instead of cream or milk) from the freezer, thick slices of home made honey wheat bread, and a salad with mixed greens, walnuts, figs, bleu cheese and a drizzle of lime olive oil and ginger/honey balsamic vinegar).

With all the things already made (mostly), the entire meal took about 15 minutes to put together. This is why I implore you to double your soup recipes when you're making them and freeze the leftovers, because they come in so handy on those days you're just not up to cooking.  Believe me, it DOES happen.  :-)