Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cheesy Meatball Sliders

Do you like beef? Lots of ooey, gooey cheese? Marinara sauce? Cute slider buns (OK, I might be alone on that one)? If so, then you'll want to make this recipe!

This is another one from Iowa Girl Eats. When I saw it, I knew Nate would love it, and I can't help but love anything stuffed with string cheese. Mmm ...

These sliders were really, really, really (you get the picture!) good. I probably said that a few times as we ate dinner. Nate loved them, too (beef and cheese? I knew it was a winner!).

I followed Kristin's recipe pretty much exactly, except that we halved the recipe so we had 8 meatballs rather than 16 (although, thinking about it now, we should have made more!), and we made up our own Italian seasoning mix -- dried parsley, basil and oregano.

We will definitely be making these again, and we're already brainstorming different varieties. One that we will likely make soon is Greek meatball sliders -- meatballs stuffed with feta and topped with tzatziki, tomatoes and red onions. Yum!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Step Aside, Mashed Potatoes

There's a new kid in town. New to us, anyway.

I'm talking about root vegetable mash. I've had it a few times before (the side dish they serve at The Eatery stands out as one of the best I've had), but never attempted to make it. Last weekend's pre-Thanksgiving feast with foodie friends turned out to be the perfect opportunity for making it.

I looked up some recipes online, but ultimately just bought whatever root veggies I could find at the farmers market and added anything else that sounded good and made sense.

The recipe was super easy and very delicious -- the worst and most tedious part was peeling and chopping all of the vegetables. Here's what I used and what I did:

  • 3 big sweet potatoes
  • 4 potatoes (Yukon gold, red potatoes -- anything works)
  • 6 medium-sized parsnips
  • 2 celery roots
  • a small carton of heavy whipping cream
  • about half a stick of butter, cut into pieces
  • garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste
Peel and cut all vegetables into small cubes Fill a pot (I had so many vegetables that I need to big pots) with salted water, place cut vegetables inside and bring to a boil. Simmer (don't turn the stove too low -- you'll wnat some bubbles) for about 20-25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Drain, and place back in pot. Mash vegetables with a masher. Pour in cream and butter, and shakes of garlic, pepper and salt, and beat with an electric mixer. It should be ready to eat then, or, if serving it later, just put back on the stovetop to heat up. This made about 10 servings.

That's all there is to it! I can't wait to try making this again. I think it would be good with any sort of vegetable you can find -- rutabagas, turnips, carrots included. If I made it again, I might tone down the cream (and use skim or 2% milk) and butter. But it's probably tastier the way I made it!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Enchilada Pasta

I've been slightly obsessed with reading one of my favorite food blogs: Iowa Girl Eats. "Obsessed" might be over doing it. Maybe I should just say I look forward to reading it every day, and always make a point to find it at the end of the day or early the next day.

Anyhoo, I came across this post of hers from the other day about an Enchilada Pasta, and I was immediately drawn to a recipe with Mexican flavors that also feature pasta. Score!

The dish was really pretty good, and it was nice to have everything -- protein, a starch, dairy and veggies -- all right in one dish. If I did it again, I might had some black beans to the mix. All in all, it was really good, although it kind of reminded me of a fancier -- or slightly more complicated -- Hamburger Helper-type meal.

Nate and I worked on this meal together, which meant we kind of made up some parts as we went along -- which included both putting varying amounts of spice in the dish, making it a super spicy meal. Good, but spicy! He may have wiped his brow a few times throughout the meal.  

From the start, I decided to change a few things about the recipe. We used ground beef instead of chicken, mostly because we had some in the freezer we needed to use up. Also, we're not sour cream fans, so I subbed plain Greek yogurt, which we always have, for the sour cream. 

Here's what we did for our Beefy Enchilada Pasta:
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • a pinch of two of habanero powder
  • 1 Tbs.-ish olive oil 
  • 2 small red onions, diced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15 oz. can red enchilada sauce (I used medium spice level)
  • A couple (OK, maybe 10) shakes Cholula sauce) 
  • 4-oz. can diced green chilies
  • 1/2-ish teas. chili powder
  • 1 teas. cumin
  • 1/4 teas. salt
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt 
  • 8.5 oz medium sized pasta (I used whole wheat penne)
  • Toppings: chopped avocado, tomatoes, green onions and/or sour cream, if desired
Brown beef and onions, mix in habanero powder and any other spices you'd like.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté zucchini and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

In large skillet, add enchilada sauce, Cholula, green chilies, salt, chili powder and cumin. Stir to combine then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every so often. Add Greek yogurt, cheese and beef to skillet. Mix to combine, warming the skillet if necessary for the cheese to melt.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and mix pasta into cheese, beef and veggie mixtures. 

Serve garnished with avocado and tomatoes (and green onions and/or sour cream, if desired).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Blog Promise

So ... you could say it's been a while, eh?

This past month and a half has been a bit crazy. I started a new job about two and a half months ago, and while I'm really, really enjoying it, it's busier, faster-paced and has a bigger workload than I was used to. So, I've been coming home quite tired and not really willing to look at a computer screen for any longer.

We have also been lax in cooking interesting and blog-worthy meals. The meals that I've had out, well, frankly, I haven't felt like snapping pictures -- or my battery ran out, which is what happened at ethnic dining night at G. Mirch Masala, a new Pakistani restaurant on the northside (get there -- it's REALLY good!).

Plus, I recently took a girls' trip to Las Vegas, so there was no cooking being done right before the trip or right after. However, I will let you feast your eyes on some of the food we ate while we were there.

But, enough excuses. It makes me sad that I haven't blogged lately, and I've even had a few people ask me about it. So I'm making a promise to you, blog readers, that I will post at least twice a week -- mostly likely Tuesdays and Thursdays, and maybe over the weekend if you're lucky.

So, please keep reading, commenting and trying out the recipes for yourself!

And don't forget the eye candy:

Ricotta gnocchi with fennel sausage sauce at Wolfgang Puck's Bar & Grill at the MGM

The best burger Ann, my friend and travel buddy, has ever had at Wolfgang Puck's (I tried a bite -- it was DARN tasty!)

The LEO omlette (lox, eggs and caramelized onions) and roasted potatoes at Serendipity 3

Ann's breakfast quesadilla