Spiced Meatballs with Smoky Red Pepper Sauce

I know I can’t be the only person out there with an ingredient or condiment that they put on everything, right? You guys know what I’m talking about. You love it SO much, its flavors are SO awesome that you just always have to have it (sometimes huge quantities of it) in the house. You search for excuses to somehow incorporate it into every meal. The love you have for it is just that strong.

I mean, I’m a foodie so it should probably go without saying that I’ve got more than one contender.

There must, at all times, be a bottle of Frank’s Original Red Hot Sauce in my house. Preferably, the big one. You know why? Cause I really do put that stuff on everything:

Pizza, eggs, chips, salsa, salad, vegetables, french fries, chicken wings. I’ll shake some of it into stews or braises to give it an extra ‘zip’. Heck, I even mix it in with strawberry jelly to smear on my biscuits or toast because I love the contrast of the sweet with the spicy (Look, don’t knock it til you try it!).

Caramelized onions are another one for me. I could eat them completely on their own as a side dish to be honest, but I can put them in just about anything. For that reason, I’ll usually always pick up at least one or two yellow or red onions from the grocery every week so I can always have some in the kitchen to caramelize for anything I might be in the mood for. If you guys haven’t hopped on the caramelized onions bandwagon, please do. Like Frank’s Red Hot, they can and will elevate just about any dish. This is also where having a recipe that is impossible to screw up, like these Foolproof  Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions, will really come in handy.  Just saying.

Right up there with caramelized onions for me are roasted red peppers. God, I love roasted red peppers so much. Any slow roasted pepper is delicious, but there’s just always been something about the red ones that had me hooked from that very first taste. Like Frank’s Red Hot and caramelized onions, I will look for excuses to put roasted red peppers in anything. I am convinced there is no savory dish that they would not taste good in and enhance. None.

I really don’t care how good your favorite pizza is. That pizza game is weak until you start eating pizza with roasted red peppers on top.

You’re really outchea trying to eat tacos with no roasted red peppers? Fix your life.

Trying to eat healthy by eating a salad? Fantastic. Slice a roasted red pepper in there and give it a pop of color and a pop of deliciousness.

Psst. Come here. Closer. Closer.  *whisper voice* Hummus tastes 1000x better with roasted red peppers blended in it. Believe me. Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. Try it sometime.

This dish ended up happening for two reasons: first, I wanted to try to make a roasted red pepper romesco sauce to go with some meatballs. Second, I didn’t have an almonds. Romesco sauce is one that is primarily made of red peppers and almonds, so not having almonds on hand was…kinda putting a damper on my plans. But I improvised and came up with something else that I’m actually very pleased with.

So check this sauce y’all. It’s not a tomato sauce. It not only has quite a few roasted red peppers in it, it also has roasted sweet onions AND a whole head of roasted garlic. I know. That seems like a lot, but trust me. It all works. Roasting the veggies gives them a richer, sweeter flavor that melds well with the spices that pack a punch of their own.

I decided to try and up the ante of the roasted flavor in the veggies by pairing them with smoked paprika and ras el hanout. Both are intensely smoky and slightly spicy with woodsy undertones that leave a sweet aftertaste on the tongue. Combining them together with all those veggies and garlic that were roasted is going to result in a sauce that you’re probably going to be tempted to slurp up on a spoon all on its own. But don’t do it! Cause, meatballs.

I used a lot of the same spices in the ground meat that I did the sauce. I prefer to bake mine rather than saute them in a skillet as I’ve found that they hold together better that way. Another suggestion-kinda-not-suggestion I have is to finish cooking your meatballs IN the sauce itself, as that meaty flavor can literally cook inside the sauce and give it even more flavor.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering: yes. I DID sprinkle some Frank’s Red Hot on top of these when I sat down to eat. Not because they ‘needed it; I just really do put that stuff one everything. Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #185, co-hosted by Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen and Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes.

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Spiced Meatballs with Smoky Red Pepper Sauce

Recipe by Jess@CookingisMySport

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Ingredients

For Meatballs

  • 4 lbs ground beef (or turkey, if you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2- dashes Soy Sauce
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups bread crumbs (up to 1 cup more, if needed)

For Sauce

  • 6-7 red bell peppers, de-stemmed, seeded and cut into halves or quarters
  • 3 sweet yellow onions, cut in halves
  • 1 whole head of garlic, outer loose skin removed, but still whole
  • 4 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ras el hanout spice mix (optional, if you can’t find it you can always use cumin)
  • 2-3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2- dashes Soy Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

 

Directions

For Meatballs: combine the ground beef in a large bowl with all of the dry spices. Add the soy and Worcestershire sauce, then the eggs. Pour in the breadcrumbs and mix together with your hand; don’t knead it too much though, or the meatballs may be tough. If the mixture seems too wet, you can always add more breadcrumbs to tighten it up.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Shape into meatballs (about 2 tablespoonfuls each). Place 1 1/2 inches apart on a lightly greased (with cooking spray) rack in an aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until browned.

For Sauce: Lower heat down to 350°. Rub about 1 teaspoon of vegetable or canola oil on top of garlic head. Sprinkle the top with salt & pepper and place in the middle of a piece of aluminum foil. Wrap the foil around the garlic, like a package. Place on a half sheet pan and bake in the oven for about 50-55 minutes. Remove and allow to cool until warm enough to handle.

Meanwhile, crank oven up to 450°. Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.  Drizzle the peppers with oil, salt & pepper, then arrange with the cut sides down on the pans. Roast in the oven until the skins have started to char & separate from the inner flesh and the peppers have started to collapse, about 25-30 minutes (you may need to rotate pans halfway to ensure even roasting).

Remove the peppers and onions to a bowl and cover with foil to allow to cool down, about 30 minutes. Once cool, use your fingers to rub away the outer skins of the red peppers (they should come away easily).

Discard skins and place roasted veggies into a blender or food processor. Take the roasted garlic head and break off individual cloves. Use your fingers to press/squeeze out the pulp into the container of the blender/processor with the veggies. (It should come out very easily). Place the lid on, and puree the mixture together on high speed until very smooth.

Pour the mixture into a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Pour in the beef broth and add the spices, Soy and Worcestershire sauces, sugar and salt & pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and allow sauce to cook for about 20 minutes. You may add a few of the meatballs inside to give additional beefy flavor.

Spoon sauce on top of the meatballs or dip meatballs in sauce, eating with rice, quinoa or couscous. 

Garlic Knots

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‘Sup, peeps?

See what I’ve been up to?

Garlic Knots.

They look pretty awesome, right? I made quite a few.

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I mean, a LOT.  As in, I had to throw them all in a great big gallon size Ziploc bag to store them.

So, you know what I’m gonna do?

I’m gonna give you guys a crap load of excuses (I mean, REASONS) to eat just as many of these Garlic Knots as you want. Because in actuality, garlic is actually pretty good for you. And these have garlic in them. So it all floooooows together.

Incidentally, they are also the “reasons” I gave myself that having just this many carbs in my house is a good idea.

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Garlic can combat common sicknesses, including the common cold. Apparently, by 63%.

So when you start to feel those summer sniffles or itching coming on, what do you think you should do?

Have some hot chicken noodle soup. And a Garlic Knot. Of course.

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Garlic may improve bone health, minimizing bone loss in females by increasing estrogen in females.

Now don’t get me wrong: you should DEFINITELY keep taking those calcium supplements. Drink your milk. All that good stuff.

But you know what else you should do? That’s right.

Have a garlic knot.

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Garlic is chock full of good nutrients. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Manganese: 23% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B6: 17% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin C: 15% of the RDA.
  • Selenium: 6% of the RDA.
  • Fiber: 1 gram.
  • Decent amounts of Calcium, Copper, Potassium, Phosphorus, Iron and Vitamin B1.

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Listen up, cause this is important:

You gotta get your vitamins in, guys. Don’t neglect your health. Eat a Garlic Knot. They’ll make you feel better. Trust me: I know.  They’re light, fluffy and oh so delicious. They’ll also be at this week’s Fiesta Friday #78, co-hosted by  Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and Petra @ Food Eat Love.

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Garlic Knots

Recipe Courtesy of My Life and Travels

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Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp Maple Syrup or Honey
  • 1 envelope (2 ¼ tsp.) active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • About 4 C flour
  • 1 Tsp salt
Garlic Butter
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp minced garlic cloves
  • 1 Tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 Tsp garlic powder
  • 3 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese

Directions

Combine the water, maple syrup and yeast. Let it sit for 10 minutes.

Stir in the oil then, stir in flour and salt. Add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together, if needed.

Knead dough for 5 minutes.

Place dough in a large, greased bowl. Turn to coat dough. Cover the bowl with greased plastic wrap, and let it rise until double in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Divide dough into 16 equal pieces.

Roll each piece into a dough rope/snake that is about 9-10 inches long and about 1/2-inch thick.

Shape into a knot (fold one end of dough over the other so that it looks like an awareness ribbon. Twist dough at the place where the two sides overlap. Fold ends back, and tuck under). You can also just tie the dough into a knot and leave the ends out.

Place knots on a baking sheet. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until light golden brown.

To make the garlic butter, melt butter in a small saucepan.

When the butter has melted, stir in the garlic, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and parmesan cheese.

Toss knots in the garlic butter

Pizza Hut Breadsticks

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Today’s Fiesta Friday post, hosted by  Indu @Indu’s International KitchenSelma @Selma’s Table, and Hilda @Along The Grapevine, will be dedicated to the CEO of Pizza Hut, Scott Bergren. (Yeah, I googled it. So what?)

Dear, Mr. Bergren: (or Scott, can I call you Scott?)

I don’t know anyone that likes to eat pizza just on it’s own. You’ve gotta have something on the side. What I choose to eat on the side depends on where I’m getting my pizza from. All bread sticks are not created equal; if I’m going to pay for them, then I want them to be the bomb.com. If they’re not, I’ll just order the pizza then call it a day. Capisce?

So with that in mind, I’m writing you today to talk about bread sticks. I’m sure you won’t mind the topic of conversation; pizza and bread sticks are your life (literally).

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I’m not gonna lie to you: Dominoes breadsticks are pretty solid. The outer seasoning is somewhat greasy, but it’s still got great flavor. The inside of the bread is soft and tender and the texture has a really nice chew. The marinara sauce is pretty good too. If there’s a special at Domino’s that includes pizza & breadsticks, I would definitely want to get the breadsticks. I’m sure you and all your research strategists sit around and plan how to one up Domino’s from year to year, and when it comes to their breadsticks I can’t say that I blame you.

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Little Caesars. Heh. Here’s the thing: with this place, I feel like you kinda get what you pay for. It’s rather cheap food, and oftentimes it kinda tastes that way too. Their Crazy Bread isn’t terribly bad, but it’s not terribly great either. Number one, the bread is EXTREMELY greasy. There’s not much browning or outer crust to speak of, which is a major  issue for me. The outer seasoning pretty much seems like liquid butter with clumps of dried parmesan cheese. The marinara sauce has decent flavor, but it is pretty thick, which creates a problem when the bread sticks themselves are very thick and chewy- I’m a sauce hog, so I always want more. I have been known to get Crazy bread on it’s own when I want a quick snack to hold me over for a few hours; it’s worth the $1.99 you pay for it, but not much else.

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Having said all that, I have to give you my own personal congratulations on your product: in my opinion, Pizza Hut has the best breadsticks out there, period. Whenever I’ve eaten out at Pizza Hut, I always get a side of breadsticks, whether there’s a special for it or not. The texture of the bread is spot on: soft and chewy on the inside, but it has a perfect browned outer crust that has a balanced crunch when you first bite into it. It’s not too thick and heavy The seasonings are also more complex than just butter and parmesan, although I can taste those too. The sauce is a close second to my love of the breadsticks; it’s not too thick so you don’t run out before you finish the breadsticks and it’s also slightly sweet, which I really like. You guys really nailed it with the breadsticks, Scott. So don’t change a thing.

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I loved your breadsticks so much that I decided to try and make them on my own at home. I was very pleasantly surprised with the result. I understand that because I don’t have the verbatim recipe that Pizza Hut, as well as a commercial pizza oven it won’t be a dead ringer for the original, but I think that what I had was a very very close second. The sauce was pretty close to yours too. In fact, I felt so inspired by the success of the breadsticks, that I thought I’d go one step further and try out an even more ambitious attempt – but that’s for another post.

Oh yeah, and one more thing, Scott. I do have one criticism of you guys over there at The Hut.

You discontinued the single best item you’ve ever had one your menu. One of the best things I’ve ever eaten, period.

The Big New Yorker Pizza.

Whoever it was at Pizza Hut Headquarters that came up with this recipe deserves a  fat promotion. Everything about it was absolutely perfect. It was my pick me once upon a time, Scott. That pizza literally cured one of the worst days I ever had once. I never, ever, ever, ever got tired of it.

Having said all that, I feel that whoever’s decision it was to discontinue The Big New Yorker deserves the sack. (…Unless that happened to be you. I hope that it wasn’t, so that we can still be friends.)

Please do me a solid and bring it back to Pizza Hut, Scott. Nice chat- we should try it again sometime.

Jessica

*Just to clarify, this IS just a copycat recipe. I don’t own the actual Pizza Hut logo or breadsticks recipe. So don’t sue me 😉

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Pizza Hut Breadsticks

Recipe Courtesy of Savoryreviews.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

For Dough:

  • 1 1/3 cups warm water (105°)
  • 1/4 cup non-fat powdered milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp granulates sugar
  • 1 (1/4 oz) pkg dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (for dough)
  • 9 oz vegetable oil (3 oz per pan)

For Breadstick Seasoning

  • 2 tbsp dry parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic salt
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp dried basil

For Dipping Sauce

  • 1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • ½ tsp dry basil
  • ½ tsp dry marjoram
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

 Directions

1. Add the dough hook to your stand mixer. Put yeast, sugar, salt, and dry milk in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add water and stir to mix well. Allow to sit for two minutes or until the mixture starts to bubble. Add oil and stir again.

2. Gently add the flour and stir until dough forms and flour is absorbed. Then knead the dough with the dough hook on speed 4, for 5 minutes.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide dough into two balls. You can refrigerate the second dough ball. Pour 4 tbsp of oil into a 9×13 cake pan making sure it is spread evenly

4. Roll out the dough into a 9×13 rectangle. Then place the dough into the 9×13 pan. Cover the pan with a sheet pan and let the dough rest and rise for at least 1½ hours.

5. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. After the dough has risen, cut the dough into 10 equal breadsticks. Lightly spray the top of the breadsticks with butter flavored PAM. Then lightly sprinkle the top of the breadsticks with the breadstick seasoning.

6. Place the breadsticks in the oven for 10-15 minutes. When the breadsticks brown and the edges get crispy, remove the pan from the oven.

7. Then using a spatula remove the breadsticks from the pan. Break the sticks apart at the scored lines and serve with the pizza sauce. While the dough is rising, mix the sauce ingredient together in a sauce pan. Heat with medium heat until the sauce starts to boil, then lower the heat to low. Let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes before using.

 

Dornish Garlic Strata

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Game of Thrones Series Week #7

I swear that every time I think I’ve seen the most dramatic Game of Thrones episode this season, the next one will come on, and I will be freshly stunned and shocked by the jaw dropping ending. I think this may be the best season yet, and from what I understand from my twin sister (who knows what’s going to happen with the story ahead of time), the best is still yet to come in the final two episodes we have left. There was a lot to recap from this past week’s episode- yes, even more than that last scene, which I’ll get to in a minute. So let’s review, shall we?

  • I find the romance between Grey Worm and Missandei to be cute. They definitely have chemistry between each other, and although I think they may be one of the sweeter couples in the GoT series, I can’t see that they have much of a future together. Unless Missandei is one of those women who don’t mind being in a relationship with a guy who’s been ‘handicapped’ (if you know what I mean), which she doesn’t seem to be for now. Peeping Tom or no Peeping Tom, she’s definitely into Grey Worm. Side note: the Mother of Dragons braids her servants hair and does Girl Talk in her spare time? Since when did this happen?

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  • Speaking of Daenerys, oh man, how about  her kicking Ser Jorah to the curb? I understand her suspicion of him now that she’s found out the truth about the poison, but I still feel like this may be her one, big ‘fatal error’ that sets things into motion towards her losing her shot at ever being able to take over the Iron Throne for herself. Whether she realizes it or not, Jorah was the best and truest friend that Daenerys has EVER had. Tywin Lannister certainly realizes it, and she’s playing right into his schemes to thwart all of her plans just because of one mistake that Jorah made years ago. All that he’s went through with Daenerys should have been more than enough for her to at least grant him the opportunity to properly explain himself to her and allow him to give his side of the story. Not only that, I’m also disappointed that she made the blunder of throwing him out of her country alive when he now has so little to lose and now, so much to get revenge on her for. Let’s not forget, Jorah still had sour grapes over her new dalliance with Daario Nahaaris. To be rejected by the woman you’ve loved, served, protected and stood by through thick and thin is hard enough for any man- but to then be kicked to the curb over 1 misunderstanding without even the chance to properly defend himself is probably going to be enough to send Jorah over the edge and straight into the enemy’s camp. He knows her mind, her secrets, the workings of her kingdom, army, and her plans. If Daenerys was really set on ridding herself of him, she should have just had him executed and let that be the end of it; Banishing Jorah is going to be the nails in her coffin, mark my words.

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  • You know, I’m definitely not going to say I’m thrilled about this turn of character for Sansa, but I’m also definitely not going to say that I don’t completely understand why she’s decided to stay on Littlefinger’s ‘good side’ and try to make herself an ally for him, and not a mere prey. She knows that he was obsessed with her mother, she saw him shove her aunt through the moon door without blinking an eyelash, she knows that he poisoned Joffrey- all with that cool, sneaky smile on his face. It took her a while, but our Sansa has finally grown up and seen the way that the world works. She knows she’s not tough or strong enough to take Littlefinger on as an enemy, but she obviously feels strong enough to try and play his (creepy/disgusting) infatuation with her as Catelyn’s daughter to her own advantage. I can’t say that I can see any other way for her to survive at this point. Women do what they have to do when they have to do it- it’s just the way things are. (Another side note: was I the only one reminded of Maleficent by Sansa’s new threads and hair job? Maybe it’s just because Angelina Jolie’s movie just came out, I don’t know. But she did  seem very reminiscent of of the Disney icon to me,)
  • In other news, Ygritte’s heart wasn’t completely demolished by Jon Snow’s diss as she was willing to let Gilly and her baby live. To be honest, I can’t wait to watch it freeze right back up when the two of them meet back up again. I don’t care how good a fighter he is; Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and that means that our Jon is in for SUCH a beat down when Ygritte gets her hands on him again.It’s bound to be epic.
  • Well, Theon turned his ‘faux’ performance out after all- resulting in more people dying and Ramsay Snow dropping the ‘bastard’ title from his name. Oh joy. Oh rapture. I’m sure this will go splendidly.

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  • And of course, there was the Trial By Combat. Oh man, what a scene. I’m trying to think of a more grisly, gruesome death scene in Game of Thrones up to this point (and we all know there have been plenty), but I’m coming up with blanks. Nothing tops Oberyn’s exit. Blegh. Here’s my take on the fight: Guys, I’m sorry, but this was doomed from the very beginning. You know why? Because Oberyn was going into this fight with his feelings. It was personal for him, and there’s always a much bigger risk when you fight with your feelings. I understand why he wanted to fight the Mountain; he wanted vengeance for his sister and her children. But it was this desire for vengeance that ended up getting him killed. Oberyn not only wanted to kill the man who killed his family, he wanted to get  a confession from both the killer and indict/humiliate the man who ordered the hit: Tywin Lannister. If he’d been satisfied with just killing the Mountain, he never would have gotten distracted enough to let him live long enough to force him to name Tywin as the mastermind behind the crime. He couldn’t afford to be that careless with that good (and huge) a fighter- it should have been a quick, clean, precise kill. Oberyn was obviously capable of doing that, but he wanted to kill the Mountain, he also wanted to humiliate the Lannisters. His own pride was ultimately his unfortunate downfall. God knows what Tyrion is going to do now that his champion is dead. I’m sorry to see Oberyn go; he was a very charismatic character, and I was touched by his devotion to avenging his sister’s rape and death.

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Because last week was our farewell to Prince Oberyn, I thought that I would dedicated this week’s dish to him. In thinking of aspects of Oberyn’s character, I obviously decided to draw on inspirations from his amorous, exotic nature, while also being substantive and delicious. (Yes, I did just use that word because Pedro Pascal = male deliciousness on a stick. Am I right? Of course right.)  What I came up was this strata recipe. What makes this an Oberyn recipe? The garlic and the eggs; both are considered to be ancient and modern aphrodisiac foods (you learn something new every day, huh?). I ate mine with jalapenos and salsa on top to give it that extra ‘Dornish’ kick; it was just as fantastic as it looked. This would make a great recipe for a brunch to feed a crowd, or an easy fix for a Breakfast for Dinner craving.

R.I.P. Prince Oberyn. You fought well. You (and your smoking hot accent) will be thoroughly missed.

Game of Thrones Series

Week 1: Pigeon {Chicken} Pies

Week 2: Winterfell Brown Bread

Week 3: Southron Spinach & Plum Salad

Week 4: Baratheon Smothered Pork Chops & Apple Gravy

Week 5: Lemon Cakes

Week 6: Dothraki Flat Bread

Week 7: Dornish Garlic Strata

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Dornish Garlic Strata

Recipe Adapted from Annie’s Eats and Ina Garten

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

For Garlic Oil:

  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

For Strata

  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 (10 oz.) pkgs frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained
  • 8 cups stale, cubed bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp garlic oil
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese (6 oz.)
  • 12 large eggs
  • 2¾ cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup meat of your choice (sausage, chicken, bacon, ham)
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic & herb seasoning (like Mrs. Dash)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

 Directions

1. In a small saucepan, bring garlic and oil to a boil, then turn heat to low, and cook for 5 minutes, until garlic is lightly browned. Turn off heat and set aside. The garlic will continue to cook.

2. Remove garlic cloves from the oil & slice them. Place them in a bowl & pour the oil over them.

3. Place bread cubes in a bowl, and pour garlic oil over them. Toss to combine, set aside.

4. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add onions & peppers to pan and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the spinach, remove from the heat and set aside.

5. Butter the inside of a 2½-3 quart baking dish.  Layer the bottom of the dish with one third of the bread cubes.  Top with one third of the meat, one third of the spinach mixture and one third of each of the cheese.  Repeat these layers twice more with the bread, meat, spinach and cheese.

6. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, milk, onion powder, garlic/herb seasoning, paprika, and pepper.  Whisk together until blended.

7.  Pour the mixture evenly over the bread and spinach layered in the baking dish.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 8 hours or up to 1 day.

8. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.  Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Bake uncovered until puffed, golden brown and cooked through, 45-55 minutes.  Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

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Dothraki Flat Bread

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Game of Thrones Series Week #6

Even though there was no new Game of Thrones shown last week, I still wanted to post a new recipe today for the series we’ve got going on for it now. I’m having that much fun with this whole making themed food thing. It kinda makes me sad that the season will be over soon…

When I first picked this recipe out, I was a little worried about writing the post because I wouldn’t have an episode to recap and review. I didn’t know what the heck I would be talking to you guys about if I couldn’t be talking about the previous week’s episode. I thought that I wouldn’t have something interesting to talk about.

And then, I made the flatbread. And guys, do I have a story for you.

The official, published title of this post is “Dothraki Flatbread”, but for the sake of the story that’s about to come, I’m gonna go ahead and add a little subtext to that:

“Dothraki Flatbread (And That One Time When Jess Set Her Oven on Fire)”

Yep, you read that right. While making this flatbread, my oven literally caught on fire. Twice.

Curious to hear what happened? Just keep reading.

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I decided to make flat bread for a couple of reasons: first of all, I friggin love the stuff. Chewier and fluffier than traditional pita bread, is flat bread is cooked over very high heat until it puffs up and browns on either side. Then it’s brushed with melted butter and herbs and served warm. I’ve wanted to make some of my own for a while (just to see if I could), and as I was pondering this, it occurred to me that it would be a recipe that I could work into my GoT series. Although Khal Drogo and the Dothraki are far behind Daenerys by now in the television series, I didn’t see any reason why I could include a recipe in my blog series that was dedicated to them. Flat bread’s (or by it’s traditional name, naan) origins are in Asian and Indian cuisines, and I can’t help but think that in George R. R. Martin’s imaginary world, the Dothraki are meant to represent an ‘Asian’/”Ethnic’ culture. I could get into another conversation about that, but instead. I’ll just stay on topic with the story of what happened with the flat bread.

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Okay, so when I was researching cooking techniques and methods of making flat bread, I saw that there were three ways of doing this: making it over a grill, frying it on a stove top, and baking it on a pizza stone in the oven. I’m a lousy griller, so the first option was automatically out. In order to choose between the final two options, I read through some past reviews of other cooks that had made it themselves at home to see what results it yielded for them. Here’s the thing, guys: almost every single review I read (seriously, just about every one) said that frying the flat bread over the stove would make your kitchen/house VERY smoky and set off all your smoke alarms and would take forever to clear out. (The skillet needs to be very VERY hot in order to cook the bread properly) On the other hand, everyone that baked their flat bread in the oven on a baking/pizza stone (again at a very high heat, like 500 degrees hot) said that it resulted in little to no smoke at all, and everything turned out easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

What would you all have done if you were in my situation and shoes?

Naturally, you would’ve chosen the baking stone option, right? I mean, what reason would you have to doubt that anything would happen to go wrong for you, when it had gone so well for everyone else? My thoughts exactly.

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In retrospect, there are a few things that I probably would’ve done differently. First, I should have put a sheet pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Second, I probably shouldn’t have brushed the melted butter over the bread while it was still in the oven on the pizza stone. I suspect that it could have avoided all the drama that ensued. Unfortunately, I didn’t do either of those things, so here’s what happened:

I’ve never turned my oven up that high before besides when using the broiler. I wasn’t prepared for how hot it got. It got really, really, REALLY hot. When I placed the naan on the pizza stone for it’s cooking on the first side, it began to smoke a little from how hot it was. That concerned me a little, but I still let it go on doing it’s thing. The real problems started when I brushed the butter on the bread and flipped it. The butter began sliding off the bread and onto the pizza stone…then off and onto the scalding hot bottom of the oven. Butter and intense heat makes grease spots. Really, really, really, REALLY hot grease spots make the “f word”.

You see where I’m going with this?

So yeah, I ignited a fire in my oven. Well, maybe not a fire. More like a big flame. A brief one. It flashed for like two seconds. I screamed. It disappeared. It flared again. I screamed again. Then when it went out, I immediately turned off the oven, removed the pizza stone and put it into the sink with the half-cooked naan still on it. Then I went and sat my shaking, sweaty, frustrated self in a chair for a while to try and calm down.

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Fast forward about 20 minutes later. Me and my older sister have opened up the sliding glass door by the kitchen all the way and have recruited every fan in the house in the effort of blowing out the smoke that has accumulated as a result of my flat bread fiasco. I’m in the middle of a mini-meltdown, ready to throw up my hands and write myself off as the worst cook ever, repeatedly and frantically apologizing and shaking my head (the way I always do when I mess something up in the kitchen). My older sister is patiently and confidently assuring me that it’s not that big a deal, I’m not a bad cook, and the smoke really is going to be all cleared out of the room in about an hour. She also suggests that I try just finishing the rest of the flat breads on a skillet over the stove.

Well, I did. And guess what? Little to no smoke at all. It took about ten minutes, flat. How bout them apples? Don’t ever let me find the people from the reviews who said that baking it on a pizza stone was easier. It will not end well for them.

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Like I said, the fire probably could have been prevented if I had taken the extra precautions with the sheet pan and holding off on brushing on the butter. All the same, I’m still going to be making my flat bread on a skillet on the stove from here on out. Fires are for losers, and the clean up in the aftermath is no fun.

I’m in no hurry to repeat the process of scrubbing out my oven with cleaner, rinsing it out with vinegar & lemon juice, THEN baking lemon and orange peels in it for over and hour just to get rid of the fumes.

So yeah: how was you guys weekend? Anything more eventful than a fire?

Game of Thrones Series

Week 1: Pigeon {Chicken} Pies

Week 2: Winterfell Brown Bread

Week 3: Southron Spinach & Plum Salad

Week 4: Baratheon Smothered Pork Chops & Apple Gravy

Week 5: Lemon Cakes

Week 6: Dothraki Flat Bread

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Dothraki Flatbread

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Recipe Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  •  1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ground basil
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

 Directions

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy.

2. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth.

3. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.

4. Punch down dough. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

5. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, minced garlic and basil. Set aside.

6. During the second rising, heat a cast iron skillet or regular, non stick pan over high heat. Make sure you have a lid large enough to fit the  skillet.

7. Dampen your hands in the bowl of water and pick up one of your flatbreads, flip-flopping it from one hand to the other to lightly dampen it. Gently lay it in the skillet and set your timer for 1 minute. The dough should start to bubble. Brush top of flatbread with melted butter.

8. After about 1 minute, flip the flatbread. It should be blistered and somewhat blackened. Brush cooked side with the butter, then cover the skillet with the lid and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute more.

9. Place the flatbread in a tea towel-lined dish. Repeat with the rest of the flatbreads.

 

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Sticky Hoisin Chicken

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Throwing the word ‘sticky’ in front of just about any food has the potential to boost its appeal up by approximately 45%.

It’s true. Well…sort of. I kinda made that up. Just a little. Okay, so I made up the whole 45% thing.  But not because I don’t think it’s true, because I definitely could believe that it is. Think about it- foods that are sticky are usually the the types of things that make little messes on our fingers and lips that are good for us to lick and smack up to the last drop. We don’t care if they  make a mess- we’re willing to get down and dirty to enjoy them.

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Some of my favorite sticky foods consist of Snickers candy bars, crunchy peanut butter, honey, syrup, Rice Krispie Treats, caramel, sour gummy worms, sticky buns, Gushers (do they even still make those?), pecan pie-

I can definitely keep going, but you guys get the point.

One thing that I noticed about all those things though, is that they’re all ‘sweet’ things. But don’t think that my 45% Rule of Sticky Food doesn’t apply to savory food. It definitely does.

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Case in point: this dish. Guys- the word ‘sticky’ doesn’t just boost this chicken’s appeal up by 45%. Try doubling that number. And then some. Forget every takeout dish you ever had at your local Chinese restaurant. They don’t matter anymore. God knows I love chicken, but even this exceeded my expectations.

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For those unfamiliar with it, I always think of Hoisin sauce as the Asian version of ketchup or barbecue sauce. It’s quite sweet, but not quite as cloying as say, plum sauce. It’s my favorite ingredient to use when cooking Asian-inspired dishes, and the best part of it is that it has that ‘sticky sauce’ effect.

This recipe in and of itself didn’t create enough sauce for me, so I decided to tweak it a little bit. After the chicken was done baking, I poured off the excess juices that were in the pan into a saucepan, then I made the recipe for a marinade again and added it to the saucepan over high heat with about a tablespoon of corn starch. I let it cook until it began to bubble and thicken to that lovely, sticky consistency I was looking for. After it cooled down, I poured it over the finished chicken.

And voila. Sticky Hoisin Chicken. It was thoroughly enjoyed by yours truly and her family with these Baked Egg Rolls, but it would also go well with Low Carb Lo Mein Noodles. Or by itself- that would work too.

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Sticky Hoisin Chicken

Recipe Courtesy of Oprah.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine or white wine
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 12 small cloves)
  • 4 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts halves (about 3 pounds)

Directions

1. In a large bowl, combine hoisin sauce, wine, ketchup, soy sauce and garlic.

2. Trim chicken breasts of any excess fat and place in bowl. Toss to coat and place in refrigerator to marinate, about 10 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 350°. Cover a jelly roll pan with foil; arrange chicken skin side up, spooning marinade on top. Bake until juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a breast reads 170°, 40 to 50 minutes.

 Transfer chicken to a platter; serve warm or at room temperature with instant couscous and crisp-tender broccoli in lemon-soy dressing.

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Baked Egg Rolls

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Guys! I just realized that this is my 50th post for Cooking Is My Sport. 5…0…

I know what you’re thinking- who cares, Jess? And you’re right, it’s not the ‘biggest’ deal in the world. But the blog momma in me can’t help but get a least a little emotional when thinking about it. I’ve enjoyed making every single dish and writing every single post that I’ve put up on this blog. It’s truly a labor of love, and I can’t wait for the day where I’ll be posting my ‘100th’ blog post. So here’s to that.

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Okay. Moving onto the really important stuff. I think that most of us have a love-hate relationship with Chinese takeout food. On one hand, we love it because a): Nine times out of ten, it tastes great. b) You usually get a whole lot of food that makes good next day leftovers, and c) You can pretty much find it anywhere. On the other hand we may also hate it because a) It’s loaded with sodium and MSG. b) It’s not exactly low calorie food and c) You maaaay not know exactly what the ‘ingredients’ are in the food that you’re buying. (You know what I mean).

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I’ve made these eggs rolls for my family quite a few times now, and they’re always a big hit. I’m also gonna go ahead and blow my own horn here and say that these are just as good as takeout egg rolls- even though they’re baked and not fried. Seriously. This particular batch that you see in the pictures happens to be looong gone. I didn’t get any. But I got great feedback that they were delicious. There’s a silver lining for every cloud, right?

Don’t be intimidated by the thought of making egg rolls. It’s not a big deal at all, not even where the rolling part is concerned. Even if you slightly overfill your wrappers (as I am prone to do because me and my family all like big egg rolls) it’s okay, because these are double wrapped. I HIGHLY recommend this, as it makes for a thicker, crispy golden shell and also makes the rolls more durable and easier to happen. The coating from the cooking spray also helps, so don’t leave that part out. This recipe makes two half sheet pans,  so I rotated the pans halfway through baking in addition to flipping them so that they were browned and crisp on both sides.

These would go great with my Low Carb Lo Mein Noodles– it makes for a Chinese takeout meal that’s just as delicious as it is healthy.

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Baked Egg Rolls

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs Ground Turkey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 16 oz bagged cabbage slaw
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 2 (1lb) packages of egg roll wrappers
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In a large skillet, brown ground turkey over medium-high heat.  Drain browned meat and set aside in a large bowl.

3. Place cabbage slaw and green onion in skillet and cook down until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic clove and cook, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and mix in large bowl with ground turkey.

4. In a separate small bowl, combine soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil and ground ginger. Pour over ground turkey and cabbage slaw and stir to thoroughly combine. Let mixture cool.

5. Fill a small bowl with water. Use a damp kitchen towel to place over the open egg roll package to keep the other wrappers moist as you go.

6. Dip your fingertips into the bowl of water and moisten all four edges of the egg roll wrapper. Use around 2-3 tablespoons for each egg roll wrapper (depending upon how well your ‘wrapping skills’ are.) To assemble egg rolls: Fold bottom corner over filling, then fold in side corners. roll up wrap tightly to enclose filling, sealing roll with top flap. Make sure that you moisten every seam of the rolls with water and press them together until they ‘stick’. Double wrap the egg rolls to ensure that they bake crispy and are more sturdy.

7.  Place completed egg rolls on the pans. Spray both sides of the rolls with non-stick cooking spray. Bake until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes, flipping egg rolls half way through to ensure even browning.

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