That’s one spicy meatball!

I know this picture make you think of something that is your arch enemy, aka carb fest aka good bye cute little dress… However this is just a sheep in wolf’s clothing. People let me introduce you to my world famous turkey spaghetti.

Now let me first say I apologize for my absence lately. No excuses with stuff from my personal life but let’s just say grad school + super strict diet to drop a few lbs has left me with far less to post about. That said I promise to try and post at least a little more often from here on out… Now where was I? Oh right, Meatballs and carbs lots of glorious carbs.

 

 

I have posted (below) my very top secret recipe so I will save recipe talk for later. For now let’s talk substitutions. I personally go with lean ground turkey sausage and whole wheat pasta because it save me a small portion of the guilt that I usually reserve for steaming piles of noodles covered in meaty sauce. That said please feel free to go with full fatty pork sausage and creamy ribbons of tagliatelle. The reality is that either way you go you are sure to be impressed and to impress. So the next time you are planning on spending and afternoon at home (reality check: good sauce takes a long time) give this a try…and if you really want to impress a guy serve him this. The fellas they love them some spaghetti.

 

 

Meatball Spaghetti Sauce

Meatballs

1 pound/pkg of Italian Sausage (cut casings and remove meat)

½ C. plain or Italian bread crumbs

¼ C. grated parmesan cheese (the jarred stuff is fine)

1 egg beaten

1 T. Olive oil

2 T. Butter

 

–         Use hands to combine meat with all other ingredients in a large bowl.

–         Roll meatballs in desired size

–         Melt butter with olive oil in large pot over med-high heat

–         Sauté meatballs in butter/oil until browned remove from pot to a covered dish to stay warm while you prepare the sauce.

Sauce

1 Lrg. Onion diced medium

1Bellpepper (any color) diced medium

2 Cubanelle peppers diced medium

2 cloves garlic minced

1 C. red wine

2 Beef bouillon cubes

1 C. water (my trick put the cup of water in jar from sauce and shake then add to pot)

1 Jar spaghetti sauce

1 Can crushed tomatoes (diced works too)

1 T. tomato paste

1 t. Sugar

1 T. favorite Italian blend seasoning (optional to taste)

 

–         In same pot over same heat from meatballs add onions and sauté till almost translucent.

–         Add peppers and sauté for aprox 3-5 minutes.

–         Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant.

–         Add red wine and allow to come to a boil, make sure to rub the   bottom of the pan as it comes up to temp.

–         Add all other ingredients except seasoning blend.

–         Reduce temperature to a simmer and let sit with lid cracked on pan for as long as you can.

–         Taste after about an hour to decide on needs for seasoning blend.

My little angel is in a carb-coma

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Croque Madame

my way (French cooks are rolling their eyes as we speak)

There is this super famous ultra luxe frenchie version of a ham and cheese sam’ich called a croque monsieur, maybe you’ve heard of it? Well I personally prefer the lady version, croquet madame. When I make it I don’t go all ga-ga for béchamel I just use a couple cabinet staples to make my quickie meal. The main reason I prefer the feminine counterpart is due to its versatility. The warm cheesy ham and egg goodness seems perfectly appropriate to eat any time of day.

This one is so easy that this is the only snap shot I got of the cooking process

If you prefer a more traditional recipe try this one, however if you go my way it will be quick and painless and still totally tasty. Biggest tip I can give: make sure the egg is just at over easy/medium. You want as much luscious yolk as possible! Second and third tip are just as simple  2) always serve with a simply dressed salad of spring mixed greens (the acid in the vinaigrette cuts into the richness of the cheese and yolk, you see I always include some of the greens in with a bite of sandwich) and 3) if you can slice your toast right off your favorite loaf of fresh bread. Do these things and I tell you what, you are in for a total treat. Bonus: telling your friends that you had  “croque madame” for lunch  while you read Italian vogue feels incredibly chic ;)

 

Croque Madame

2 Slices of bread

2 Slices of swiss cheese

2 Thick cut slices of ham

2 Eggs

1 T. Butter

– Heat oven to broil.

– Place bread on a sheet pan covered with foil under the broiler for just long enough to give it a light toast on the top.

– Remove pan from broil and flip bread.

– Top bread with ham then swiss cheese (this is where you would spread the Dijon mustard if that’s your thing. I hate mustard so I skip this tradition however I have tried a smear of Allouette which was pretty decent but not essential)

– Put a non-stick pan/skillet on the stove to heat for your eggs, go ahead and add your butter to the pan so that it can melt.

– Place the sandwiches back under the broiler.

– Gently crack two eggs into the warm buttered pan (or do them one at a time if you’re picky about presentation)

– By the time you flip the eggs the cheese should be bubbling golden brown so pull the sandwiches’ from the broiler.

– Assemble on the plate by place one over easy egg on top of each slice of bread.

 

Easy Frenchie salad of mixed greens with vinaigrette

1-2 C. Spring mixed greens or arugula

1 T. Fresh lemon juice  (good vinegar of your choice works too)

2 T. Olive oil (the best you can afford to keep on hand)

1 t. Dijon mustard

½ t. Herbs de Provence

½ t. Kosher Salt

¼ t. Pepper

 

– In the bottom of a large bowl mix lemon juice and mustard with herbs and seasonings (use a fork or a whisk).

– While whisking stream in olive oil until emulsified.

– Just before plating in the same bowl toss greens in vinaigrette.

 

* I always make the vinaigrette while the broiler is heating up. Then toss the salad after I flip the eggs.

 

He's wondering if he get's one too :)

Golden-Doodle Carrot Sorbet

WHEN can I eat it?

So this last minute post for this week comes in because I had to use up some carrots on the fly. So I made the pups some (what I am calling) Golden-Doodle Carrot Sorbet (because it’s golden).

 
 
 
This recipe was seriously soooo easy you simply must make it for your pups sometime. If you have food processor it’s more of a snap. Just pile your “ice cream” or “sorbet” ingredients into a mini food processor and blend. Once everything is in pop it in the freezer and blend it about every hour or so until frozen. Then lets your pups have a scoop on a hot day .
 
 

carrot, yogurt, honey, everybody in the pot :)

 I went with simple veggie and yogurt because that’s what I needed to get rid of. The biggest thing to remeber when putting these things together is the list of dangerous foods for dogs (here’s a link for a list of good and bad).

Always ready to catch a kamikaze carrot...

The second thing to think about is amounts, homemade dog treats are generally not the time to go “double dutch” aka just a little at the time. My dogs have iron guts so they have yet to have any tummy trouble with goodies of any kind. Still they only got about 1/4 cup of frozen carrot sorbet tonight and the rest was saved for another sunny day. Whoops just realized I let them have dessert before dinner….I don’t think they minded much ;)

 

Didn't take him long :)

 

Little sis liked hers too, sadly she doesn't have the self control to sit and ake pictures : /

So what kind of  “sorbet” will you be making for your kids on these dog days of summer?
 
 
  
 
                                                                          Golden-Doodle Carrot Sorbet
 
   1 c. Carrots shredded
   1 c. Plain Yogurt
   1 t. honey
   1/2 banana
 
  – Combine all ingredients in a food processor blend, freeze, repeat till frozen then enjoy*.
 
* I piped the kids ice cream out in an attempt to make it look like poop a little more fancy  and used a tiny pinch of  flax seeds for sprinkles :)
 
 
 
 
 

Even did the Elvis lip begging for more <3

Sometimes Magic Happens…

Forgive the crude decorations, I was without a proper piping bag, this was done with two spoons.

 Who in their right mind declares “I will make dessert” to their quasi-elderly grandmother (who is known for her domination of all things pie) while in the grocery store when they have no unearthly clue what they will make? Thusly then said person whips up a semi-difficult dessert on a whim and it turns out spectacular…what else could be the cause of such events if not magic?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here’s the back story, about a month ago on another whim I decided I would make dinner for my grandparents. They are very much from the country and in their eating habits are also very much set in their ways. If the beans aren’t freshly hulled (or pulled from the freezer after being “put up”) and made with ham-hock they just aren’t any good. What did I decide on making them? Chicken Marsala with steam haricot vert and roasted potatoes. I also made a fresh ceasar salad and dessert. I won’t lie to you I had no clue how this dinner would go but I was either gonna go all in or not at all. For dessert I went simple (but also renegade with no clue of a recipe) and whipped up a fresh berry tart (ie premade crust filled with simple lemon cream cheese filling and piled high with fresh berries). The problem with said dinner, they liked it! Actually my granddaddy liked the pie so much that he insisted that all leftovers were his…. This is a problem people. No one and I mean no one messes with my G-momma and her pies and now this old fool is painting me out as baker supremo all around town. Fast forward to last week and we in the same predicament dinner was coming we were at the grocery store and I ask my G what was for dinner, she says she doesn’t know. With Abe’s Table in mind I say “I can do dessert” and I quickly ran to produce as I had an idea for pie but no clue which kind, blueberry perhaps? Then I saw a blessed sign “limes 10 for $.99” Okay key lime pie it would be, I praised my android for giving me a quick link as to acquire all other necessities and made a run for it.

  

I had WAY too much extra zest ...

 
 
Vanilla wafers and graham chracker crumbs aout to become the sandy crust for the pie.
 
 

While I baked she watched, while I whipped she scruitinized, as I juiced she commented…It was like baking in a condescending war zone. First battle crust- Loss. I burnt the pre-packaged crust and had to pray there would be graham crackers in the house. There were, as well as vanilla wafers so I decided on a quick modification then no butter only imitation, damn! The Gods were not with me in that battle. Then filling- Tie. I was able to combine all ingredients just as the recipe suggested but then was fuzzy on when it would be “set” for fear of losing the war I asked for her opinion, as she pulled the pie to cool she exclaimed “shoot” what!!! What happened to my pie?! A finger “accidentally” skimmed the creamy surface, SABATOGE I cried! Whipped cream topping-win. I am a clever girl I knew to pop the metal bowl in the freezer with attachments, I also knew to add a drop of vanilla, I even tried my hand at decorating without a piping bag using only two spoons I dolloped the edge and center with whipped cream however in the end decided I liked whipped cream on every bite and slather the pillows over the expanse of yellow custard like surface. Finally tasting time….WIN She admitted she had never made a key lime pie from scratch the way I did, she used the bottled juice, she also cleaned her pie plate as did we all.

 

Note the sabatoge on the right side of the rim....

  

The only regret, granddaddy once again got to keep the leftovers.

  

In the end I opted for an entire veil of whipped cream :)

 

 

Key Lime Pie

Adapted from Joy of Baking 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crust:

3/4 c. Graham Crackers crumbs

1/2 c. Vanilla wafer crumbs 

2-3 T. Sugar

5-6 T. Butter (melted)

Filling:

3 lrg. egg yolks (room temp)

14 oz. Sweetened conensed milk

3/4 c. Lime Juice (fresh is best but don’t forget to strain it)

2 1/2-3 t. Lime zest grated

Topping:

1 c. Heavy whipping cream

2 T. sugar

1 t. vanilla

Lime slice(s) and Zest to garnish

Crust:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-In a large bowl mix crumbs with sugar until well mixed

-Add melted butter and stir until mixture is the textur of wet sand

-Press/form crust in pie plate (can grease pie plate with cooking spray prior if desired, I didn’t)

-Bake in oven for about 10 minutes then set to cool.

Filling:

-Beat egg yolks until light and creamy/fluffy texture (about 2-3 mins)

-Slowly/gradually add sweetened condensed milk and beat until light and fluffy/creamy (about 3-5 mins)

-Add lime juice and zest and beat to combine.

-Pour filling into cooled crust and bake for 10-15 mins or until filling set (it doesn’t giggle/ripple in the middle of the pie when you shake it).

-Chill pie in fridge or even freezer until thouroughly chilled (anywhere from 2 hours-over night).

Topping:

-Chill metal bowl and beaters in freezer for 5-10 mins prior to whipping cream.

-In chilled bowl whip cream, sugar, and vanilla until it forms stiff peaks or whipped cream texture.

-use whatever method you so choose to top/decorate your pie. I like whipped cream all over, it’s minimal fuss and you get delicous whipped cream in every bite :)

See if you can keep thier paws off this pie!

 

Peanut Butter Cookies

When can I eat them?

Ah the joys of cookies in the afternoon, not for me but Lincoln! I have made my fair share of snikerpoodles and every time my dogs go out of their mind excited. If you have pets and you enjoy baking you should definitely do a google search and try out your hand at being a total “Betty Barker”

All you need for cookies

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This recipe read as super simple and I liked that. It also included ingredients I was happy to serve the pups (whole wheat flour, flax seed, peanut butter) with few what I call “extras” from my people pantry (i.e. baking soda, sugar etc.). It didn’t take all too long and since the ingredients are relatively cheap I can now make oodles of gourmet looking dog biscuits that ensure wags and kisses every time.

Be warned it takes some muscle

 

Make sure it's Parchment, otherwise you'll be sending smoke signals like I did by accident :(

 

Upon baking I was very tempted to go in search of clever doggy friendly frosting but then in lue of comments about their shelf life decided against it. I have also opted to keep them in the fridge because in the past I have had the gross realization that food without preservatives will inevitably mold. I also made a slight addition to the recipe and added some honey, which much to my delight didn’t seem to hurt the recipe at all. In fact the dough was so spongy and dry the addition may have actually helped out a bit. I also contemplated the substitution of low sodium chicken stock/broth for water but that lead me down a whole-nother road of subbing the peanut butter for pureed pumpkin to make a more Thanksgiving-y sort of treat…so instead the idea was catalogued for future trials. Either way both Lincoln and Audrey were absolutely delighted to be taste testers. The only real trouble I had was picking which pictures to post, how many pictures of your adorable babies is excessive?

Mmmmm I'm sorry no pictures now, I have cookies

 

Can I lick the spoon? Please ...

 

 

 

  Peanut Butter Cookies

Original Recipe from Dog Treat Recipes

 

2 c. Whole wheat flour

1 c. Rolled oats (plain oatmeal)

2 T. Flax seed (ground or whole)

1 1/4 c. Warm water

1/4 c. Peanut Butter

1/8 c. Honey

Preheat oven to 350

-In a large bowl mix all dry ingredients.

-Add Peanut butter and mix (doesn’t have to be perfectly mixed)

-Add water and honey and mix until begins to form a ball, then roll/knead into dough.

-Roll out dough on a floured surface and cut with cookie cutters or cut into small squares that are bite size for your pup.

-Bake for about 20 minutes then turn oven off, let the cookies rest in oven for 10-20 mins.

 

A heart for my heart <3

 

 

 

A Perfect Imposter (that’s also a cheap date ;)

All that's missing is baguette and pretenious converstaion

I was recently shocked at the price of fresh calamari at the grocery store, I asked for a few little squids to toss into a Mediterranean pasta and all three little bodies cost me less than a buck! Expect future entries detailing the cooking methods best suited for these the cheapest of lean proteins. This post however is all about a little phony. A fake-out that renders themselves almost identical to the little squids sea cousin the snail.

Now I like me some odd foods. I am a quarter-rican and between myself, Lincoln, and Audrey there are few menu items we completely turn our noses away from. Snails happen to be one of those items. I am sure with proper cooking they are excellent I just have yet to have to guts to try them out. You may be wondering what all this snail banter is about, well then I’ll get to the point. While perusing the great an honorable Smitten Kitchen blog I noted a recipe for roasted mushrooms. As with all recipes I read it and then closed the window and decided I would wing it and do things my way.

As it turns out my way is freaking amazing! This brings me to my point, these roasted mushrooms ended up looking exactly like delectable roasted snails sans annoying shell and specialty plater. As such I paired them with a nice glass of Pinot Grigio and wished I had the foresight to purchase a baguette to toast up with melted butter so that I could scoop these slippery little suckers on toast points and turn this snack into a full blown fancy pants appetizer. All was noted and I can ensure you, the next time I have people over for wine these little counterfeits will be present, with toast.

Not so pretty but Oh so tastey!

 

Roast Mushrooms

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

 

 

 

1 Container of white button mushrooms (look for med. Size)

¼ C. Olive oil

1 T. Salt

2t. Pepper

1-2 cloves minced/grated garlic

2 T. Chopped Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, divided into 1 1/2 T and 1/2 T (dried can work in a pinch)

2 T. Butter softened

¼ C. Grated or shaved Parmesan

Pre-Heat Oven to 425 degrees. Clean mushrooms to your liking (I prefer to pluck out the stems and give them a good rinse followed by a pat down in paper towels). In a large bowl toss mushrooms with oil and herbs (save the 1/2 T. parsley for garnish). Spread coated mushrooms into a ceramic or glass dish in a single layer. Dot the tops with tabs of butter. Roast mushrooms for about 15-20 minutes or until completely tender (use fork or taste). Top hot mushrooms with remaining parsley and parmesan while warm then serve*.

*Best served with toast pointes. Purchase a baguette from the bakery and have them slice it for you. At home arrange bread on a baking sheet and either spray olive oil cooking spray or better yet use a pastry brush and melted butter. Pop in the oven till just lightly browned and crispy warm. Don’t forget the wine fancy pants ;)

Contemplating what to say at the next cocktail party

Just a warm bowl of love…. Mmmmm potatoes

So any girl, any life form for that matter, worth their weight in salt knows the value of a perfect potato. The versatility and tastiness of potatoes can be matched by few (if any) “vegetable” (is it grown yes, is it a starchy love handle inducing subset of the food pyramid also yes…).

I for one am a lover of all things potato, in fact much to my waistline’s detriment I have yet to meet a spud that I didn’t like. However there is nothing like a perfectly roast potato. It is warm and crisp on the outside at the same time melty soft and almost creamy on the inside. The perfect roast potato needs nothing; no ketchup hold your cheese and horseradish mayo sauce, no thank you I want my starch straight up.

The best part about perfectly roast potatoes is that they are incredibly simple to make. One need not be master of the kitchen to whip up a batch. Day or night this is a side dish that holds it’s own whether settled up with steak or eggs. Oh and if a rouge bite falls during the transfer from pan to plate you need not worry it doesn’t take a bloodhound to sniff out the location of one of these. Only trouble I find are the eyes pointed upward after said bite is swallowed whole, does Lincoln really deserve more of my precious potatoes? This question plagues me every time….

Could you say no?

 Roast Potatoes

3-4 potatoes (any kind will do, if it’s a smaller variety like fingerling use a couple pounds or enough for 3-4 servings)

¼ c. Olive oil

1T. Salt (or herb blend containing salt)

2t. Pepper

1-2 T. herbs dried or fresh

1 clove garlic minced or grated

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Clean potatoes with a brush and warm water to get all the dirt off the outsides. *Cut into bite size pieces, usually about a one inch cube. Pile potatoes in a bowl and top with all other ingredients. Use hands to toss and ensure that every potato is covered with oil and seasonings. Spread potatoes onto a baking sheet making sure each potato is separated. Roast in oven for about 20-35 minutes or till a fork tender**. Toss/flip potatoes a couple times during roasting to ensure every side gets a crispy crust. 

*If using a smaller variety you may not need to cut them at all. The key is that they are ready to go from plate to mouth with no fuss of cutting. Also you want them to be small enough that they cook evenly so you get that perfect texture.

 **When you pierce it with a fork the skin will give way and with little to no force the fork will glide into the center of the potato. Pick a bigger chunk to test as those take the longest to get perfectly tender.