Monday, July 25, 2011

3 Day Spaghetti And Meatballs

I’ve been working on these suckers for a while now, 3 days to be exact.  If you think back 3 days ago it was HOT outside.  We don’t have central air out in our old country home so the kitchen was pretty darn hot and I worked my butt of to get through day 1. But after all that hard work day 2 and day 3 are pretty straight forward and you’re rewarded with delicious spaghetti and meatballs at the end. 

We both thoroughly enjoyed this meal.  The recipe makes an extra large portion so this is a good one to make for guest or to split up into freezer bags and freeze for a great weeknight meal.  I will definitely plan to make this for guest some time because all of the hard work is done 3 days ahead of time making the day your guests arrive a little more stress free.  Don't forget that another possibility for the meatballs and marinara is to make a meatball sub instead of putting this on spaghetti.

3 Day Spaghetti and Meatballs               


·         2 cups unseasoned bread crumbs
·         1-1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, finely grated
·         1 cup whole milk
·         3 cups beef broth, divided
·         1 cup chopped fresh parsley
·         6 eggs, beaten
·         4 tbsp dried oregano leaves
·         2 tbsp garlic, minced
·         2 tbsp kosher salt
·         2 tbsp ground black pepper
·         4 tsp dried basil
·         1/2 tsp red pepper flakes1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
·         4 lb. ground chuck, I used ½ veal and ½ beef


1.   In a large mixing bowl stir together bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, milk, 1 cup of beef broth, parsley, eggs, oregano, garlic, kosher salt, black pepper, basil, red pepper flakes and nutmeg.  Add ground chuck and mix thoroughly with a fork.  Using a fork prevents over-mixing and compacting which can toughen meatballs.

2.   The best way to shape meatballs is with a portioning scoop that has a retractable blade that releases the meat.  Make each meatball about 2" in diameter or 1.5 ounces each.  Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange the meatballs on a pan so they are not touching.  I get 35 meatballs on a tray and this recipe makes two trays so 70 meatballs.

3.   Cover the bottom of the pan with 1 cup of beef broth and bake for 25 minutes at 450 degrees. 

4.   Remove meatballs from pan and pour pan juices into a large, glass (2 cup) measuring cup to be used for the sauce.  Repeat process for second tray of meatballs.  Cool meatballs completely, cover and keep refrigerated until use. 

5.   Once you have pan juices from both trays, place measuring cup in the fridge for the fat to settle on the top (30 minutes).  Remove from the refrigerator and discard settled fat, reserving leftover pan juices.  Set aside.

Three Day Marinara

·         3 cups yellow onion, diced
·         4 tsp garlic, minced
·         3 cans (28 oz. each) whole plum tomatoes
·         Reserved meatball pan drippings
·         ¼ cup dried parsley
·         ½ cup dried basil, I would start with ¼ cup and go from there
·         2 tbsp sugar
·         3 cans (6 oz each) tomato paste
·         Parmesan cheese, grated 


Day One

In a large pot (I use my Dutch oven) sauté onions in oil over medium-high heat until translucent (6 minutes).  Stir in garlic and cook until you can smell it (30 seconds).  Add tomatoes, pan drippings from the meatballs, parsley and sugar.  Simmer for one hour on low, uncovered.  Remove from heat.  Let cool completely and place in the fridge overnight.

Day Two

Remove sauce from the refrigerator and puree until smooth in the food processor in small batches.  Return sauce to the pot and add tomato paste.  Bring to a boil and simmer on low for one hour.  Remove from heat.  Let cool completely and place in the fridge overnight.

Day Three

Add cooked meatballs to the sauce and simmer uncovered until heated through, about 1 hour on low and covered.  Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain.  Stir in the cooked pasta and toss well to coat.  Garnish with lots of grated Parmesan cheese.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

More Zucchini And A Great Cause

Every year my cousin puts together a great event called Suevivor Idol.  The Suevivor’s raises money for Breast Cancer Run for the Cure, held each year in October.  Shannon does an amazing job at raising money for this great cause.  She organizes a variety of fundraising events like car washes, golf tournaments, garage sales and Suevivor Idol.  Idol is basically a karaoke competition where friends and family get together to enjoy the music, have some beverages and share some food.  To find out more about this great cause and all of Shannon’s incredible work you can visit the website at

Last year I made my chocolate chip cookie and they seemed to go over well.  I thought another cookie would be in order and with all of my zucchini kicking around I figured I would incorporate some zucchini.  I love a good oatmeal cookie and the zucchini really helps to keep them nice and moist.  I made about 4 dozen and they were all gone.  I kept an eye on people taking them at the dessert table, most took one and ate it while standing at the table then grabbed another one to take back to their seat.  A SUCCESS! 

After my little brother ate a couple I told him that he was getting some healthy zucchini in the cookies.  He was surprised and said he still thought they were good.  So this is a good way to sneak in a little vegetable at the same time.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Zucchini Cookies


·         ½ lb. zucchini

·         ¾ cup lightly packed dark brown sugar

·         2½ cup old fashioned oats

·         2/3 cup + 2 tbsp sugar

·         1¼ cup flour

·         ¾ tsp salt

·         ½ tsp baking soda

·         ¼ tsp nutmeg

·         1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp

·         1 egg

·         2 tsp vanilla extract

·         2 cup chocolate chips

·         1 cup chopped pecans


1.       Preheat your oven to 375°F and lightly butter two cookie sheets.

2.      Grate the zucchini using a food processor or box grater to yield 1 cup grated zucchini. Toss the zucchini with 2 tbsp of sugar, transfer to the mixture to a fine-mesh strainer and set it over a bowl to drain for at least 30 minutes. This draws moisture out of the zucchini and prevents the cookies from becoming cakey and slimy, so don’t skip this step.

3.      In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients and set aside.

4.      In the bowl of your food processor (or of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), process or mix the butter until it’s light and fluffy. Add the sugars and mix well, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and oatmeal, mixing just until blended. If you’ve done all this in the food processor, transfer the batter to a large bowl and stir in the chocolate chips and nuts, otherwise just stir the chips and nuts into your mixing bowl.

5.      After the zucchini has drained, squeeze it between several layers of paper towels or cheesecloth or a dishtowel to absorb excess moisture. You want to remove as much moisture as possible, so you’ll have to work at it a bit. Fold the shredded zucchini into the cookie batter.

6.      Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto the prepared cookie sheets, spacing them about an inch or two apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden brown. Remove the cookies from the oven and cool on the sheets for 1-2 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Prosciutto Panini with Tomato Jam

Wow, wow, wow, I loved dinner tonight.  Since I decided I had to make the tomato jam it took a little while to get dinner on the table, but it was well worth the wait.  The flavours melt together so perfectly.  With each bit you could taste every ingredient from the spice arugula to the salty prosciutto, and you can’t forget the gooey cheese and perfect tomato jam.
The hubby loved the tomato jam.  We’ve already made a plan to make more when our tomato plates start producing.  What I liked about putting the tomato jam on the Panini instead of slices of tomato is that tomato wasn’t sliding out the bottom of my sandwich with each bit.  You still get the great taste of tomato but with much less mess. 
If you don’t want to put together the Panini at least make a plan to make a batch of the jam, you’ll love it!

Prosciutto Panini with Tomato Jam
·         4 panini buns

·         12 slices prosciutto

·         1 cup baby arugula

·         200g Edam cheese, sliced

·         ½ cup tomato jam, see recipe below

·         Olive oil


1.       Preheat Panini press to medium high heat

2.      Cut buns in half lengthwise.  Brush the top and bottom Panini buns with olive oil.  Spread tomato jam on inside of the top half of the bun.  Layer cheese, 3 slices prosciutto and arugula on bottom half of bun.

3.      Place Panini into press and cook for about 5 minutes until bread is golden and cheese is melted.

Tomato Jam


·         2 lbs tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded and diced

·         6 tbsp fresh lemon juice

·         1 cup brown sugar

·         1 jalapeno diced

·         1 clove garlic, minced

·         1 tbsp ginger, minced

·         1 tbsp fish sauce

·         1 tsp red chilli pepper flakes

·         2 tbsp red wine vinegar


1.       Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes until thick and jammy.

2.      Remove from heat and let cool.  Pour into container and refrigerate until ready to use.  Can be kept for about 2 weeks in refrigerator.

TIP:  The best way to peel a tomato is to slice an X into the bottom of the tomato and place into a pot of boil water for about 2 minutes.  Remove from the water and let cool, enough so you can handle them.  The peel should slide right off.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Zucchini Takes Over The World!

It’s begun and I’m not sure if I’m ready for it yet.  The zucchini plants in my garden are in full bloom and that means a never ending supply of zucchini. With zucchini number one I made this tasty Chocolate Zucchini Bread. 

The recipe doubles nicely and I was able to make one for home and one for work.  I think it was good success because there is pretty much nothing left.  I had to tell the hubby to leave a slice or two for me the take photos of so that I could post the recipe for all of you.

The loaf is very chocolaty and I would love to tell you that you get a great “zucchini” flavour but I would be lying, but it’s in there I swear.  I could definitely tell that there was something other than the chocolate in there but it could have been the allspice and cinnamon.  The zucchini did help to keep the loaf moist and it’s a good excuse to say you’re getting some veggies out of eating a tasty dessert:)

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Yields one 9 x 5 x 3 loaf


·         1 1/2 cups shredded raw zucchini (about 1/2 pound or 227 grams)

·         1 cup all-purpose flour

·         1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (not Dutch-processed)

·         1 tsp baking soda

·         1/4 ttsp baking powder

·         1/4 tsp salt

·         1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

·         1/4 tsp ground allspice

·         1/2 cup safflower or canola oil

·         1/2 cup granulated white sugar

·         1/2 cup light brown sugar

·         2 large eggs

·         1 tsp pure vanilla extract

·         3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips


1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Grease (or spray with a nonstick vegetable spray) a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Set aside.

2.      Grate the zucchini, using a medium sized grater. Set aside.

3.      In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon, and ground allspice. Set aside.

4.      In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the oil, sugars, eggs, and vanilla extract until well blended (about 2 minutes). Fold in the grated zucchini. Add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Then fold in the chocolate chips.

5.      Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the bread has risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 65 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and cool completely.

Makes one - 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Finally....Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

When I sat down to write today's posting I couldn't figure out how to start things off.  I told the hubby that I was having trouble getting started and he blurted out "Cookie Burgers".  I think he was trying to say that these cookies are like burgers but with cookies instead of bread and icing instead of meat.  I shrugged him off, mostly because lately whenever I ask him what I should make for dinner he ALWAYS says burgers. So hearing the word burger from him automatically annoyed me.  Turns out his comment helped because I ended up having something to start with.

I have had these cookies in mind for almost a year now.  I finally decided that no matter what I would make them this weekend.  These cookies are very decadent, filling and packed full of calories. One serving gets you two cookies and a generous portion of peanut butter chocolate chip icing sandwich in the middle.  The cookie takes a little longer to put together than your average cookie but they are sure to impress and definitely deliver a great tasting treat.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
From Fine Cooking Magazine
For the cookies:
·         6 oz. (1-1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
·         2 oz. (2/3 cup) cake flour
·         1/2 tsp. baking soda
·         1/4 tsp. salt
·         6 oz. (12 Tbs.) unsalted butter, completely softened at room temperature
·         3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
·         1/2 cup sugar
·         1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
·         1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
·         1 large egg
For the filling:
·         1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
·         3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
·         3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
·         3 Tbs. heavy cream
·         1/4 cup coarsely chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
·         1/4 cup coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate, or mini semisweet chocolate chips
To make the cookies
1.       Heat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
2.      In a medium bowl, sift together the two flours, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, peanut butter, and sugars with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg; continue creaming until smooth and fluffy, about 3 min. with an electric mixer (longer by hand).
3.      Stir in the flour mixture by hand just until it's incorporated; don't overmix or the cookies will be tough.
4.      Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of batter, spaced about 2 inches apart, onto the lined baking sheets. With floured fingers, flatten each dab of batter into a 2-inch round. Bake until the cookies are puffed and golden, 12 to 14 min., rotating the baking sheets if needed for even baking. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool.
While the cookies cool, make the filling
5.      In a small bowl, cream the confectioners' sugar, butter, and peanut butter until smooth. Add the heavy cream; continue creaming until smooth and fluffy. Stir in the chopped peanuts and chocolate.
To assemble
6.      Transfer the cooled cookies to a work surface, flipping half of them over. With an offset spatula or a butter knife, spread a scant teaspoon of filling onto each turned-over cookie. Set another wafer on top of each filled cookie, pressing gently to spread the filling. Store sealed at room temperature or in the refrigerator.