3.02.2015

The Perfect Meatball

My 1.5 year old can put back a lot of meatballs! I had always given him store bought meatballs, but since he eats so many I thought it was time for me to start making them fresh.

The recipe below is the first one that I tried and it's absolutely the best! It's so basic and addictively good. The only issue is that it takes quite a while to make these so they aren't good for a weeknight dinner. However, they do freeze well so you can make a few batches ahead of time and enjoy throughout the week. Making two batches of these produced about 75 meatballs (and 2-3 hours of work).

Anne Burrell's Excellent Meatball 
A meatball stack


via Foodnetwork.com

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
Salt
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork
2 large eggs
1 cup grated Parmigiano
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup water
  • Coat a large saute pan with olive oil, add the onions, and bring to a medium-high heat.
  • Season the onions generously with salt and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes. The onions should be very soft and aromatic but have no color.
  • Add the garlic and the crushed red pepper and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and allow to cool.
  • In a large bowl combine the meats, eggs, Parmigiano, parsley, and bread crumbs.
  • Squish the mixture with your hands until completely combined.
  • Add the onion mixture and season generously with salt and squish some more.
  • Add the water and do a final squish. The mixture should be quite wet.
  • Test the seasoning of the mix by making a mini hamburger size patty and cooking it. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. 
  • Shape the meat into desired size.
  • Coat a large saute pan with olive oil and bring to a medium-high heat.
  • Brown the meatballs on all sides, and then place them on a cookie sheet.
  • Put the cookie sheet in the oven, and then bake for about 15 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked all the way through.
Due to my son's allergies, I have experimented with this recipe a few times. No matter what I omitted (such as cheese and eggs), these meatballs turned out good - though, the original recipe is best!

2.13.2015

C is for Cupcake - Two ways!

I don't remember what motivated me, but a while back I decided to make cupcakes from scratch. It was more work and pricier, initially, but it was so good! Totally worth it. Jump ahead a few years and I made them again for my son's 1st birthday party. I didn't have as much attention/time/care to put into these as I once did, so they didn't turn out as perfect as before, but still very flavorful.

Cupcakes and Frosting

via sweetpeaskitchen.com

Cupcake ingredients:

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 cup + 2 Tbs whole milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites (3/4 cup), at room temperature
Lions and Hippos
2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbs granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp table salt
12 tsp unsalted butter, softened but still cool
Muffin pan paper liners

Frosting ingredients:

20 Tbs (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2½ cups Confectioners’ sugar
1/8 tsp table salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs heavy cream

Decorating ingredients - optional:

Mardi Gras decorations
  • Purple, green, and yellow food coloring
  • Purple, green, and yellow sanding sugars
Animal decorations
  • Caramel corn
  • Nutter Butter cookies
  • Candied eyes
  • O-shaped cereal
  • Black decorating gel
  • Red, yellow, and blue food coloring
Making the Cupcakes
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Line muffin pan with paper liners.
  • In a 2-cup measuring glass, combine milk, egg whites, and extracts and mix with fork until blended.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed combine cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add butter and continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.
  • Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed for 1½ minutes.
  • Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more.
  • Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl.
  • Return mixer to medium speed and beat 20 seconds longer.
  • If you are making the animal cupcakes:
    • Pour batter into muffin pan
  • If you are making the Mardi Gras cupcakes:
    • Split the batter into 3 separate bowls
    • Mix in the food coloring into each bowl
    • Put batter into individual pipping or ziplock bags
    • Squeeze/layer each color into the muffin pan (for example, purple, then yellow, then green)
  • Bake 15 to 17 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Transfer muffin pan to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cool completely prior to frosting.
  • Decorate!
The original recipe used these as Mardi Gras cupcakes which is how I originally decorated them and they turned out great. I loved the cupcake so much, I decided to try to make these again with a single batter color and added the animal decorations on top (thanks to some Pinterest inspiration). I made and decorated the animal cupcakes the day before and kept them in a plastic container in the basement. However, that ended up being a bad idea. The caramel on the lions ended up melting off and making a big mess and the cookies on the hippos ended up soggy. I do not bake enough to really give advice on how to solve these problems, I just want to let you know that it happened. :)

10.20.2014

Green Wraps

Many many years ago, I was asked to bring an appetizer to Easter at my grandparent's house. I don't really know what I was thinking, but I thought I would make a pinwheel but have everything in it to be green. I had no idea how it would turn out, but I wasn't worried. Well, it turned out great (of course it did, otherwise I wouldn't share it with you :))

A Snack Shack original, we don't have too many of these!

Green Wraps 
These could use a tighter roll, but that doesn't change the flavor!

Spinach tortilla wraps
8oz soft cream cheese
1 package dry ranch dressing
Broccoli, florets chopped up and crumbled
Green bell pepper, finely diced
Cilantro, chopped
Green onion, finely chopped

  • Combine all of the ingredients together except for the wraps
  • Spread the cheese mixture over the wraps
  • Roll the wrap up, and then slice into 1" bites
These have a great cooling cream cheese ranch flavor that hits you first and then all of the crunch from the green veggies.





9.26.2014

Cookie Dough Bites

I was worried about making these because they seemed too cliche. They contain everything you need - sweet, salty, and crunchy. It was too good to be true. Well, it's true! These are awesome!!

They are easy to make, but be careful, you will be asked to make them again!

Cookie Dough Bites
slightly addapted from sallysbakingaddiction.com
I added a little extra chocolate drizzle, but it wasn't really needed


1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs milk or cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
40-50 pretzels
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, for melting
1 tsp shortening or butter, optional
Heavy cream, optional

  • Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl using a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together on medium speed until light and creamy.
  • Add the milk and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  • Turn the mixer off and add the flour and salt.
  • Mix on low speed at first, then turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until combined. - Keep mixing until it comes together.
  • Mix in mini chocolate chips.
  • Roll the dough into balls, about 2 tsp; it depends how thick you want each dough filling.
  • Sandwich balls between two pretzels and place on prepared baking sheet.
  • Freeze for at least 20 minutes. If you are making these ahead of time, stop at this point and continue with the remaining steps on the day you are ready to serve.
  • While the pretzel bites are chilling, melt the chocolate with the shortening for about 1 minute in microwave, stirring every 20 seconds. If it still seems too thick, add some heavy cream - I melted the chocolate using a double boiler on the stove.
  • Remove the pretzels from the freezer, and then dip the pretzel bites halfway into the melted chocolate and place bites back on baking sheet.
  • Refrigerate the dipped bites for at least 10 minutes to allow the chocolate to set.
  • Cover and store pretzel bites in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


6.05.2014

Oyster Crackers

I have been eating oyster crackers since I was little. It was one of my favorite party snacks. It's so simple to make, yet I now tend to forget about it and haven't eaten it in a while! So, I was recently thinking of an easy birthday treat to bring into work and then I remembered this!

Oyster Crackers
1/4 tsp dill weed
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
1 packet ranch dressing
1 box/bag of oyster crackers

Combine all ingredients in a bowl!



2.18.2014

Loving My Lemon Chicken

After making my fish fry recipe and pork recipe this week, I had lemon, capers, and dill left over. Using those ingredients and the frozen chicken we always keep in the freezer, I was able to make this awesome lemon chicken recipe.

Skillet Lemon Chicken With Capers 
Even with the over cooked chicken, this dish was delicious!
Inspired by Food.com

4 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour, divided
1 tsp salt (I used a hefty amount of seasoning salt)
2 eggs
tsp olive oil
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup Moscato
1 large lemon
2 Tbs capers, drained 
1 Tbs fresh dill, chopped

  • Place each chicken breast between two sheets of wax paper and flatten each to about 1/4 inch thick.
  • In one pie plate (or wide, shallow bowl), beat eggs slightly.
  • In another pie plate, mix 1/4 cup flour with salt.
  • Coat chicken with flour mixture, then dip in egg.
  • Put battered chicken on a plate.
  • Add flour/salt as needed until all chicken is coated.
  • In nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat until hot.
  • Melt 1 Tbsp butter.
  • Add chicken.
  • Cook 5 min to brown, then reduce heat to medium.
  • Turn chicken and cook about 4-5min more until juice runs clear when pierced.
  • Transfer chicken to a warm dish or place in a low oven.
  • Add garlic to the drippings in the skillet.
  • In a bowl, whisk stock, wine, lemon juice, and 1 1/2 tsp of flour until smooth.
  • Stir into mixture in skillet and scrape skillet to incorporate any browned bits.
  • Heat to a boil - 1 minute. Stir in capers and remaining 1 Tbs of butter. Simmer until thickened.
  • Pour sauce over chicken, sprinkle with dill, and garnish with additional lemon slices.

1.08.2014

Phast Philly Dinner

There are some Pinterest pins you see over and over again. Well, this philly cheesesteak recipe was one of them and I finally decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did because this recipe is really good! It tastes great, and is pretty quick/easy to make! I was even able to make it successfully while tending to my (then) 1 month old.

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers
via peace love and low carb blog

8 oz thinly sliced roast beef
8 slices provolone cheese
2 large green bell peppers, sliced in half lengthwise, remove ribs and seeds.
1 medium sweet onion, sliced
6 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs garlic, minced
Salt and pepper - to taste
  • Preheat oven to 400°
  • In a large sauté pan over low-medium heat, add butter, olive oil, garlic, mushrooms, onions, and a little salt and pepper. - I omitted the olive oil
  • Sauté until onions and mushroom until caramelized. 
  • Slice roast beef into thin strips and add to the onion/mushroom mixture. Cook 5-10 minutes.
  • Line the inside of each pepper with a slice of provolone cheese.
  • Fill each pepper with meat mixture until they are nearly overflowing.
  • Top each pepper with another slice of provolone cheese.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese on top is golden brown.
This probably isn't a recipe that I would plan on making ahead of time, but it did reheat pretty well. Oh yeah, it's a little messy to eat :)

12.04.2013

Nailed It!

I'm not even sure why I decided to make this marshmallow recipe because I don't even like marshmallows.....that is until I made them fresh and added peppermint!! These marshmallows were the perfect consistency and the peppermint was an instant burst of refreshment.

Peppermint Marshmallows 
via jun-blog 
The top photo is from the original blog
and the bottom photos is my attempt

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water
12 oz granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp peppermint extract
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
nonstick spray
12 drops of red food coloring from red beet powder - I used regular food coloring


  • Place the gelatin into the stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Attach the whisk attachment.
  • In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover, and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
  • Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture.
  • Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high.
  • Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Add the peppermint extract during the last minute of whipping.
  • Meanwhile, combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. - I used a glass dish
  • Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture to the baking pan and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
  • When ready, pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan.
  • Dot the marshmallow across the pan with food coloring and using a fork or toothpick, swirl the food coloring to create a marbleized effect.
  • Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later.
  • Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a knife dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture.
  • Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
As you can see above, the final product didn't look very good in the pan. However, once I cut it up into small pieces, it actually looked pretty festive. Not pretty, but festive :)


11.22.2013

Pistachio Torte

Pistachio torte is one of my few family food traditions. There are other variations of this type of pudding torte, but the pistachio always comes out on top.

Pistachio Torte 

1 1/4 sticks soft butter
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped nuts (any kind will do, but I tend to use walnuts)
8 oz soft cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup softened Cool Whip
3 cups cold milk
2 packages of instant pistachio pudding - or any pudding flavor
Toasted coconut - optional topping, how to toast coconut
Shaved chocolate - optional topping


  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Combine butter, flour, and chopped nuts in a bowl.
  • Place flour mixture in a 9x13 pan and gently pat into a crust to cover the bottom of the pan.
  • Place in oven for 15-20 min - completely cool.
  • Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and Cool Whip in a bowl and then spread over crust.
  • Beat both packages of instant pudding with the milk for 2 min - pour over the cream cheese layer.
  • Gently, spread the remaining Cool Whip over the pudding.
  • Top with shaved chocolate and toasted coconut - optional.

I brought this dessert to a pot luck over the summer and I heard someone say it's so good and addicting that it's like crack!

11.06.2013

Crazy Water - Dining Review

As a foodie, a lot of people ask me for recommendations on restaurants and I am glad to give my opinion. However, I've never wanted to add restaurant reviews to my blog. Well, last year I saw an opportunity to be a guest writer for a local restaurant review blog and I thought it would be a lot of fun! To apply for the position I had to write a sample review (300-400 words) - so I decided to write about Crazy Water.
Well, the position seemed to have fallen through and I don't want my review to go to waste, so I'm posting it here.

Crazy Water

A few years ago I was at William Sonoma talking with one of the workers about which stick blender I should buy. After chatting for maybe 1/2 hour, the conversation eventually led to her sharing what she thought were the best restaurants in Milwaukee, one of them being Crazy Water. 

Ever since, I’ve been meaning to try Crazy Water and finally my husband and I decided to make the venture out there this past monday night. When I first walked in, I was hit with the aroma from the kitchen. However, it wasn’t coming from the back of the restaurant. Crazy Water's kitchen is located in the front for all to see. You can even see it from the street because it’s nestled in a bay window between the end of the bar and the front door, in a space only slightly larger than most people's cubicle. This home-style kitchen adds a lot to the cozy, candlelit atmosphere.

The menu is not big, but offers enough variety with groupings of small plates ($8-$12), large plates ($12-$34), and sweets ($8-$9). We ordered more food than we normally do, but I wanted to make sure we had a decent sampling. We ended up sharing the chorizo stuffed medjool dates [wrapped in bacon and smothered in a chipotle sauce] ($10), yuzu marinated pork belly ($10), Niman Ranch flat iron steak [with frico caldo and a blue cheese fritter] ($26), and then finally a Door County cherry chocolate chip bread pudding ($9).

Overall, the flavors were spot on. The steak was cooked to our order, the pork belly was tender, and even the blue cheese fritters were bursting with flavor. We also found the smokiness of the chipotle sauce that covered the dates to be a surprising touch (though I could have done without the bacon) and the cherries were a refreshing surprise in the bread pudding. Each dish was simply plated and the sauces were delicious. However, the only thing I cannot speak highly about was that our dishes were not served hot. It was almost as if they were made earlier and sat around too long (but not under a heat lamp). Either way, the service was good and I am looking forward to trying this place again. One comment on Foursquare mentions that this place should be kept a secret...well, the secret is out.

It was pretty dark in the restaurant, so I wasn't able to get great photos, but here is a sampling of our meal.
Bread pudding 

Dates

Pork belly

Steak