Monday, January 30, 2012

Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs

Like Stephanie, I cooked the meatballs pictured below on low for 5 hours, and then let them sit on warm for another 3 ½ hours before dinner was served.

Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs
recipe adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking

¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
4 slices smoked bacon
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup dry breadcrumbs
1 egg
½ medium yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups beef stock
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

Cut the bacon into 1-inch pieces and place into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the bacon until it is evenly ground and no large pieces remain. Pour 1 cup of flour into a shallow dish.

In a large bowl combine the bacon with the chopped parsley and ground beef. Add in Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, eggs, and the dried spices. Mix gently until evenly combined. Using a portioning scoop or 2 spoons, shape the meat mixture into 3 inch-sized balls lightly dust each meatball with flour. Be careful not to pack the meat mixture too tightly together or the resulting meatballs will be tough. Place meatballs on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze, uncovered, for at least two hours. If you plan to freeze overnight, cover the meatballs.

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Spray the inside of your cooker with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Once your meatballs are frozen, place them one-by-one (don’t dump) into your lightly greased slow cooker. It's okay to stack them. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the broth and tomato paste to create a gravy. Pour this evenly over the meatballs. Cover, and cook on low for 5 hours, or until the meatballs have browned and are fully cooked. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Peanut Butter Milkshake

I love peanut butter and even though I had peanut butter on toast for breakfast, I decided to try making a peanut butter milkshake for a little after lunch snack. Using just a handful of everyday ingredients and a blender, you can throw together a creamy treat that will delight any peanut butter fan. I recommend using the leftover topping on some vanilla ice cream topped with mini chocolate chips. YUM!

Peanut Butter Milkshake
recipe courtesy of In Katrina’s Kitchen

1 cup ice cream
½ cup milk
¼ cup peanut butter ice cream topping, recipe follows

Blend until smooth; add more milk until you reach your desired consistency. 

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Topping
recipe adapted from In Katrina’s Kitchen

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until butter and peanut butter melt and are incorporated with the sweetened condensed milk. Use warm or store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Italian White Bean Soup

Sorry for my week-long absence. It seems like the weather changes have caused my body to rebel with a killer cold. I usually only get sick about once a year but when I do that sucker hangs on with a vengeance! Lucky for me there is no shortage of wonderful soups that can comfort even the worst cold. This soup is easy to make and packed full of delicious veggies. 

Italian White Bean Soup
recipe adapted from A Couple Cooks

1 bulb fennel, tops reserved for garnish
2 bunches kale
2 28 ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
2 cups water
2 cans cannellini beans
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Chop the fennel bulb into a large dice. Wash the greens, remove the stems, and chop them roughly. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Sauté the fennel for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices and simmer for about 8 minutes. Add the vegetable stock,  soy sauce, cannellini beans, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer and add red pepper flakes, dried basil, smoked paprika, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the greens and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Serve garnished with grated parmesan cheese and fennel fronds.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Garlic Bread

Garlic bread is one of those things almost everyone knows how to make. Below you will find my favorite garlic bread recipe. This bread is the perfect side to the cheesy Spinach Lasagna Rolls we enjoyed for my mom's birthday. I like my garlic bread a little on the soft side but if you prefer a more crunchy bread, open the loaf and place under the broiler until toasted.

Garlic Bread
recipe adapted from Ina Garten

4 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 loaf ciabatta bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the garlic, parsley, oregano, basil, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until the garlic is finely minced.

Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan, add the garlic mixture and cook for about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat.

Slice the ciabatta bread in half horizontally, and spread 1 tablespoon of butter on each half. Spread the garlic- herb mixture evenly on top of the butter, and put the halves together. Wrap the bread in aluminum foil.

Place the bread in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Open the foil, and continue baking for an additional 5 minutes. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Florentine Meatballs

Meatballs are my go to when ever I have any kind of ground meat on hand. I have made this recipe with ground chicken, turkey and ground beef. My favorite is a mix of beef, pork and veal but feel free to use 1 ½ pounds of your favorite ground meat. I like to make a double batch of meatballs and freeze them for a quick weeknight meal along with my Fifteen Minute Tomato Sauce or Simple Tomato Sauce that has been frozen and reheated on the stovetop.

Florentine Meatballs with Cheese Sauce
recipe adapted from Rachael Ray

½ pound ground pork
½ pound ground veal
½ pound ground round
5 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
½ cup finely grated Parmesan
1 whole egg
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
1 ½ teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup bread crumbs

Cheese Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup chicken stock
2 cups shredded provolone cheese
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ cup parsley leaves, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pork, veal, ground round, spinach, cheese, egg, basil, parsley, garlic powder, salt, red pepper flakes, and bread crumbs. Using your hands, mix all ingredients until well incorporated. Use immediately or place in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Using your hands, shape the meatballs into rounds and place them on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

While meatballs are in the oven, heat a small sauce pot over medium heat. Melt 2 tablespoons butter, add the onion and cook 2 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute, then whisk in milk and chicken stock. Bring liquid up to a boil then stir in the shredded cheese. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg and reduce the heat to the lowest setting until ready to serve.

To serve, place your desired number of meatballs on plates; top with sauce and garnish with parsley.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Peanut Butter Blossoms

These cookies were part of our Christmas spread however they are wonderful any time of the year. This recipe is a lot of fun to make with children. Younger kids can shape the cookies and roll the dough in sugar and the older kids can help push the chocolate kisses in the warm cookies.

Peanut Butter Blossoms
recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

½ cup unsalted butter
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus ¼ cup for rolling
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Milk chocolate kisses

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl beat butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add the sugars; beat till light and fluffy. Add the egg, milk and vanilla, and beat well. Stir the flour, baking soda and salt together. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour by hand

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in the remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate kiss into center of each cookie. Transfer to wire racks; cool.

Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Risotto Cakes

This recipe is perfect for using leftover risotto. Using cold risotto will make the cakes easier to shape. The Risotto Carbonara I used already had eggs in the mixture but if you use another risotto like Saffron Risotto, I would mix a beaten egg into the risotto before shaping into cakes to help them hold their shape.

Risotto Cakes
recipe inspired by Ina Garten

2 cups cold Risotto Carbonara or leftover risotto of your choice
1 cup panko
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling cakes
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
1 large clove garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Baby arugula or baby spinach, for serving

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Make the risotto cakes:
Spread the panko in a shallow dish. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Form balls of the rice mixture using a standard (2 ¼ inch) ice-cream scoop or a large spoon. Pat the balls into patties 3 inches in diameter and ¾ inch thick. Dredge the patties in the panko.

Drizzle the patties with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes. Flip the cakes over, and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until nicely browned.  

Make the vinaigrette:
Blend the vinegar, garlic, oregano, 1 teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper in a blender until the garlic is finely chopped. With the blender running, slowly blend in 1/3 cup olive oil.

Arrange a mound of baby arugula on a plate and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Place a risotto cake on top and serve.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Guest Post: Homemade Cream Puffs

I am a firm believer that everyone should try making cream puffs at least once. My problem is that all the recipes I have found are imitating. I am thrilled that Laura from Chef Laura at Home offered to share her easy and delicious recipe!

I’m so happy to be sharing this recipe today with Eating Deliciously!  Feel free to stop by Chef Laura at Home for more recipes, restaurant reviews and more. You can also find Chef Laura at Home on Facebook.  I hope you all enjoy this recipe for Homemade Cream Puffs!

This recipe is a family favorite during the holidays.  You can make them ahead of time and even freeze them.  These Cream Puffs will melt in your mouth.  Enjoy!

Cream Puffs
by Chef Laura at Home


{Pate a choux pastry}

1 cup water
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 to 4 eggs, plus 1 egg for egg wash

{For the filling}

2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla


{To make the cream puffs}
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt, and granulated sugar to a rolling boil over medium-high heat.  When it boils, immediately take the pan off the heat.  Stirring with a wooden spoon, add all the flour at once and stir hard until all the flour is incorporated, 30 to 60 seconds.  Return the pan to the heat and cook, stirring, 30 seconds to evaporate some of the moisture. 

Scrape the mixture into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Mix at medium speed.  With the mixer running, and working 1 egg at a time, add three of the eggs. Stopping after each addition to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Mix until the dough is smooth and glossy and the eggs are completely incorporated.  The dough should be thick, but should fall slowly and steadily from the beaters when you lift them out of the bowl.  If the dough is still clinging to the beaters, add the remaining egg and mix until incorporated.

Using a pastry bag filled with a large plain tip, pipe the dough onto the baking sheet, in 2” diameter rounds or balls.  Whisk the remaining egg with 1½ teaspoons of water.  Brush the surface of the rounds with the egg wash and knock down the points (you may not use all the egg wash).  Bake 15 min. then reduce the heat to 375 degrees F and bake until puffed up and light and golden brown, about 20 minutes more.  Try not to open the oven door too often during the baking.  Let cool on the baking sheet.

To fill the cream puffs, place a pastry tip on your finger and poke a hole in the bottom of each puff.  Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until stiff.  Pipe whipped cream into each cream puff and chill until ready to serve, no more than 4 hours. 

Notes about the recipe:  The moisture in the eggs turns to steam and puffs the batter to try to release itself.  You can fill them with anything.

Written by:
Laura from Chef Laura at Home, follow me on Facebook

Friday, January 6, 2012

Snowball Cookies

These cookies were a last minute addition to my Christmas cookie list. I know Christmas is over and done but as I sit here typing this the wind is howling and the snow is blowing against my window. These cookies go by several different names but in honor of the holiday and joyful weather, I am calling them snowballs. I do make these cookies year round, in the summer they are Russian Tea Cookies and if someone is getting married they become Mexican Wedding Cookies. I like to make these cookies round but you can also make them crescent-shaped if you prefer.

Snowball Cookies 
recipe courtesy of Cook's Illustrated

2 cups whole pecans, finely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon table salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup superfine sugar (or regular granulated sugar pulsed in a food processor for about 30 seconds)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups confectioners' sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 325°F and adjust oven racks to middle positions. 

Mix flour, salt and half the chopped nuts in medium bowl and set aside. Place remaining chopped nuts in a food processor and pulse 10 to 20 seconds until you get the texture of coarse cornmeal; stir into flour mixture and set aside.

In bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed or by hand, beat butter and sugar until light and creamy, about 1 ½ minutes with an electric mixer or 4 minutes by hand, then beat in vanilla. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula, and add flour mixture. Beat at low speed until the dough just begins to come together, about 15 seconds. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl again with rubber spatula and continue beating at low speed until dough is cohesive, 6 to 9 seconds longer. Do not overbeat! Working with about one tablespoon dough at a time, roll and shape cookies into balls, crescents, rings, or cigar shapes as desired. 

Bake until tops are pale golden and bottoms are just beginning to brown, turning cookie sheets from front to back and switching from top to bottom racks halfway through baking, 17 to 19 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets about 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes).

Working with three or four cookies at a time, roll cookies in confectioners’ sugar to coat thoroughly. Gently shake off excess. Before serving, roll cookies in confectioners’ sugar a second time to ensure a thick coating, and tap off excess. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 5 days.

When you are shaping them, use a very light hand, it helps make sure they melt away in your mouth when you bite into them. 

Yield: approximately 48 cookies

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tuscan Bean, Sausage and Kale Soup

This soup is perfect for the frigid weather we are having right now. It is warm and filling without being too heavy. Make sure you use dried beans if you plan to make this in your slow cooker. Feel free to use canned beans if you are making this soup on your stovetop. Use a large Dutch oven and start by sautéing the sausage and proceed with remainder of the recipe, cooking until the soup is warmed through.

Tuscan Bean, Sausage and Kale Soup
recipe adapted from What's Cookin, Chicago? originally adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution

Table salt
1 ½ pounds dried cannellini beans, rinsed and picked over
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus extra for serving)
4 ounces pancetta, minced
1 large yellow onion, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cooked & sliced into rounds
3 bay leaves
1 ½ tablespoons Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups kale, thinly sliced
grated parmesan for serving

Dissolve 3 tablespoons table salt in 4 quarts cold water in large bowl or container. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.

Meanwhile, cook the Italian sausage. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
Remove the sausage from the casings and sauté until browned.  Drain the excess fat and add the sausage to the slow cooker.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add pancetta/bacon and cook until lightly browned and crisp. Stir in onions, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until onions are softened and lightly browned. Stir in 1 cup of broth, scraping up any browned bits and transfer to slow cooker.

Stir in remaining 2 cups broth, water, soaked beans, bay leaves, and Italian seasoning. Stir to incorporate all ingredients, cover and cook until beans are tender, about 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and to serve, ladle soup into bowls, top with ¼ cup of kale, a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Risotto Carbonara

I hope everyone had a Happy New Year! This recipe is the ultimate combination of my favorite comfort foods, carbonara and risotto.

Risotto Carbonara
recipe adapted from The Thirty Year Old Housewife

4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium sized white onion, finely chopped or run through a food processor
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
8 ounces bacon, cooked until crispy and roughly chopped
½ cup finely chopped parsley
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg, lightly beaten

Heat chicken stock in a medium size saucepan over low-medium heat.

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium- high heat.  Add the onion and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and sauté until transparent and tender, about 5 minutes.  Stir in rice and cook for 2 minutes.  

Add wine and cook until wine reduces by half. Ladle ½ cup of warm stock onto the rice and stir constantly until liquid is absorbed by rice.  Continue this process of pouring ½ cup portions of stock onto the rice and stirring until the rice reaches a creamy texture and you have used the majority of the stock- this takes about 20 minutes in total. Feel free to taste the rice every 5 minutes to determine if it is done and be careful not to overcook as risotto continues to cook after it is removed from the heat. 

Remove the rice from the heat and immediately fold in the cheese, bacon, parsley, lemon zest, butter and egg.  Stir until the egg is completely incorporated into the rice.  Serve immediately.