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spaghetti-al-bianco-2The little trivia portion for this recipe says that “When Italians feel the need to look after themselves, they cook “al bianco”, or “white” food without the acidity of tomatoes.”  So, since 1. I’m part Italian and 2. I’m not feeling well as I’ve got a cold, I decided to try it out.  And it did make me feel better! Ah, the magic of Italian food!  Now, I’ve never had spaghetti al bianco before so I have nothing to compare it to but this was really, really good and a nice change from tomato sauce!  It was super easy to make too!  Saute the veggies and add the meat, mushrooms, and stock and let it simmer. How hard is that? It’s not!  The end result is a light pasta dish, with just a hint of lemony freshness at the end.  Seriously, it does make you feel better…. as did the glass of wine I had with it!

So, since hubby is away and I have enough for like 8 servings I’ll be eating this for a while.  Too bad he missed out!

Here is the recipe:

Spaghetti al Bianco

Source: Good Cooking, The New Basics by Jill Dupleix

Serves 4 (but those are big servings)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 oz dried wild mushrooms ( I used a full 1 oz of dried porcini)
  • 1 leek, trimmed
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 thyme sprigs ( I may have added extra? I wasn’t sure what to do.. do you pull the little bits off the stem? throw it in whole? I ended up doing a bit of both… it was good anyway)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 lb lean ground beef ( I only used 1 lb as that is what I had.. it was fine)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • sea salt & pepper
  • 2 cups hot stock or water (I used 2 cups of beef stock made with one of those Knorr cubes)
  • 14 oz spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

How to pull it all together:

  • Soak the dried mushrooms in 1 cup boiling water for 30 minutes. 
  • Finely slice the leek and celery, finely dice the carrots.
  • Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan and cook the leek for 5 minutes.
  • Add the carrots, celery, thyme, and parsley, and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the beef and cook, stirring, until nicely browned.  Sprinkle with the flour, sea salt, and pepper, and stir for a minute or two to cook the flour.
  • Add the mushrooms with their soaking water, discarding any sediment. Gradually stir in the hot stock or water, then simmer, partly covered, for 45 minutes or longer. ( I simmered for @ 1 hour)
  • Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling, salted water until al dente-tender but firm to the bite.  Drain well, then toss with the meat sauce and add the grated lemon zest. (Don’t leave out the lemon zest, it makes the dish in my opinion)
  • Serve with grated Parmesan

broccolini

DING DING!!! IT’S THE BONUS RECIPE CHALLENGE!!!

This month’s challenge was Sauteed Broccolini, chosen by Mary Ann of Meet Me In The Kitchen.  Good choice Mary Ann, as this dish went perfectly well with the Chicken Piccata in the last post.  My first challenge with this dish was actually finding the broccolini.  Luckily I went to the store armed with the visual aid of the pretty picture from the website.  So, I went up and down the produce aisle in Sainsbury until I found it.  True, I could have asked someone, but I’ve had enough odd looks from the employees there in the past when asking for “American” things that I was just not going there.  (FYI: Some things that get odd looks: canned pumpkin, corn meal, fat free cheese… the list goes on.)  Sigh… 8 more days and I’ll be back on American soil!

SO….. this dish was ridiculously simple.  Blanch the broccolini, or ‘Tender Stem Broccoli” as it was called, in hot salted water.  Then saute it in a pan for like 2 minutes with some stuff.  The end.  And, it was delish!

 

Here is the recipe:

Sauteed Broccolini

Source: Ina Garten

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch broccolini
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

How to pull it all together

  • Blanch the broccolini in a large pot of salted boiling water for 2 minutes.  Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of ice water.
  • Melt the butter in a large saute pan.  Add the lemon zest  and garlic and stir.  Drain the broccolini and add it to the garlic mixture and heat for 2 minutes.  Add the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper, and toss well before serving.

If you care to join us at the Barefoot Bloggers click here to link to the site and hop aboard! :o)

PS: To make this South Beach and/or WW friendly, you can replace the butter with a trans fat free spread.

chicken-piccata-2

 

So the Barefoot Blogger recipe for March was chosen by Lindsey of Noodle Nights & Muffin Mornings.  Lindsey chose Ina’s Chicken Piccata!  Sounds great and it went well with one of this month’s Bonus Recipe Challenges.  This recipe was a bit different then my usual recipe for Chicken Piccata, but since we’re all about branching out from the familiar I gave it a whirl.  And I have to say, I was a bit disappointed!  I know.. I know… disappointed with an Ina recipe?  I can’t even really say disappointed because it tasted fine.  Seriously, it was actually pretty good.  It just didn’t taste like  Chicken Piccata to me.  Where were the capers???  That was the big missing thing for me… Also, I wasn’t a fan of breading the chicken.  It tasted good, but it also just tasted like a breaded and fried chicken cutlet with a lemon sauce.  So while it was a pretty yummy meal, it just wasn’t what I expected, and I will be sticking with my regular go to recipe for Chicken Piccata.  (Will post soon, as it’s on the menu this week.)

Here is the recipe:

Chicken Piccata

Source: Ina Garten

Ingredients:

  • 2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 3/4 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs
  • Good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine ( Note, never use a wine in cooking you wouldn’t willingly drink by the glass)  
  • Sliced lemon, for serving
  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving

How to pull it all together:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Line the sheet pan with parchment paper. ( I skipped this part, it was fine)
  • Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4 ” thick. ( I skipped this because I’m lazy. I just used my fillet knife to thin them out and it was fine. I do it all the time).  Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a shallow plate.  In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon water together.  Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. 
  • Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Here are some visual aides:

flour

egg bread-crumb

  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat.  Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned.  Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5-10 minutes while you make the sauce.
  • For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel.  Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes.
  • Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine.  Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate.  Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and sprinkling of parsley.

 

 wine-label I used Wolf Blass Chardonnay Semillon 2007  

greek-bean-stew-with-feta-2

 

I ♥ FETA!!

And…. I’m starting to like beans.  But only certain ones… not the nasty ones! Let’s just make that very clear.  However, in an effort to expand the repertoireof recipes I make I happened upon this one.  Once again, I was a sucker for marketing. Yup, the pretty picture in the cookbook sucked me in!  Reading through the ingredient list it sounded pretty simple and non yucky (even with the beans). I mean, how can you go wrong with yummy, tangy, creamy feta cheese?  You can’t!  So I tried it out and had it for dinner as hubby is at some Darts and Snooker night (weird British Pub thing… don’t ask).  Anywho… it was super delish and very filling!  I find beans in general kind of confusing… especially over here in England as sometimes they are called something different.  So, I just looked at the picture in the cookbook and tried to match it to one of the cans in the local Sainsbury.  Turns out I used butter beans… they were good even plain!  I may be converted yet! 

The recipe is from the book Good Cooking, The New Basics by Jill Dupleix.  So far, everything I’ve tried out of this book has been awesome!  The little trivia portion of the recipe says that the traditional beans to be used are dried gigantes(What the heck is that? Sounds a bit scary!).  It then goes on to say that since those beans need overnight soaking (too much work for me) you can use canned jumbo lima (hurl!), cannellini (um ok) or red kidney beans (shudder unless they are in chili).  I (as you can read above) just matched the pictures like a 3 year old would.  And I’m glad I did!

This recipe is both South Beach and WW friendly (ballpark @ 5 pts per serving, but you can get it lower)… it can be made more so by halving the amount of olive oil and replacing with cooking spray… you can also use low fat feta and replace the sugar with a sweetener.

 

Here is the recipe:

Greek Bean Stew with Feta

Source: Good Cooking, The New Basics by Jill Dupleix

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, peeled (dur? why do they put that on there? Like you’re going to cook the onion in it’s skin whole? eww!)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed (I minced mine up with the knife)
  • 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced dill
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (you can replace with a sweetener I would think if you are carb counting, although I don’t think 1 tbs will kill you)
  • 3 cups canned beans
  • 4 oz feta cheese

How to pull it all together:

  • Halve and finely slice the onion. Heat olive oil in a heavy pan and fry the onion until soft but not browned. 
  • Add the garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, and 2 cups water. 
  • Stir in bay leaves, parsley, half the dill, the sea salt, pepper, paprika, and sugar, bring to a simmer.
  • Simmer, partially covered, until nice and thick, 20-30 minutes.  Drain and rinse beans, then add them to the stew and simmer gently for 10 minutes longer.
  • Rinse the feta cheese (I didn’t do this), pat dry, and cut into chunky cubes.  Add to the pan and simmer until the cheese is soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Serve in small bowls, drizzled with a little extra olive oil (I didn’t do this either) and sprinkled with the remaining dill.  Serve hot or room temperature, with some warm flat bread and a Greek salad.

 

banana-blueberry-muffins

            Here is another sneaky recipe to get some fruit and veg into your picky eaters.  I’ve adapted this recipe from one for Banana Bread.  The original recipe comes from Jessica Seinfeld’s book Deceptively DeliciousThese muffins are so good you won’t even know your eating veggies!  This is the second time I’ve made them and although they were good they were not as sweet as the first time.  I think that is because my fruit was not overly ripe.  The bananas still had a bit of green tint on the tops and the blueberries I stupidly didn’t taste before tossing in the mixing bowl.  If that is the case, you may want to add additional sugar. 

Ok… here is the original recipe.  I’ve put my modifications in italics. (I just discovered how to change color! Dur!)

Banana Bread

Source: Deceptively Delicious, by Jessica Seinfeld

Makes a 9×5 inch loaf, 2 mini loafs, or 12 big muffins

  • Non stick cooking spray  I used muffin cups, so no need for spray
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour  I used all purpose flour, due to dietary restrictions in my house
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional) I tend to add a dash more :o)
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar (I used dark)
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups banana puree  
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower puree I used sweet potato puree
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 pint blueberries

How to pull it all together:

  • Preheat oven to 325° F.  Coat a 9×5 inch loaf pan, or 2 mini loaf pans with cooking spray.  Put muffin liners in the muffin tin.
  • In a bowl or a zipper lock bag, mix the flours with the baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, if using.  Set aside
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix the sugar and oil with a wooden spoon until well combined.  Mix in the egg whites, banana and cauliflower sweet potato purees, and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Fold in the blueberries.
  • Pour the batter into the loaf pan muffin cups.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55-60 minutes for large loaf, 25-30 minutes for the mini loaves.   I had to bake my muffins @ 35-40 minutes but my oven is all wacky and the temp fluctuates.  SO…keep an eye on them and check them.
  • Let cool on rack for 5 minutes, then turn out to cool completely.

FYI: This recipe is awesome on it’s own without any modifications.  It’s really good with peanut butter smeared on it and a cold glass of milk.

salmon

LOOK OUT!  IT”S THE OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS!  That just sounds scary,  but apparently it’s very good for you!  In an effort to branch out of the chicken rut my family has come to be in, I decided that we should try to eat some sort of fish at least once a week.  Now, I am not a fan of “fishy” fish so I was at first kind of iffy on salmon.  Every time I’ve had it at a wedding or at a restaurant it always kind of tasted the same.  No matter how it was prepared it always just had that “salmony” flavor.  So I decided to try this marinade.  It’s from The Joy of Cooking , All About Chicken book which was a Christmas present at some point from my mother in law (thanks by the way! we use it all the time!).  The marinade is very basic and easy and the most important thing is to use freshly squeezed lemon juice, not the stuff from a bottle.  It WILL make a difference, and it won’t be a good difference either.  So spring for a couple of lemons.  Anyway, back to the salmon.  It is very, very flavorful!  It actually has a bit of flavor besides the ‘salmony” flavor!  We have finally found our way of getting those scary sounding omegas… and we eat it at least once a week.

Here is the marinade recipe:

Broiled Lemon Garlic Chicken 

(Just use the marinade on the fish, although it’s very good on chicken too!)

Source: The Joy of Cooking, All About Chicken by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker & Ethan Becker

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup fresh strained lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons pressed or very finely minced garlic (I tend to use closer to 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (you can add more if you like)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I sometimes use less and then add it if it’s needed)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Salmon (I use @ 4 pieces usually and have plenty of marinade to spoon over rice etc)

How to put it all together:

  • Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl, whisk together
  • Add the fish, skin side up so that the fleshy fish part is soaking in the marinade
  • Spoon some of the marinade over the top
  • Let it marinate in the fridge for at least a few hours
  • Place in pan/broiler safe casserole and broil until the tops of the garlic bits  look golden and the fish is pretty much cooked in the middle. Let it sit for a few minutes because it will continue to cook

The extra marinade is tasty over rice or cous cous if you serve it with the salmon.  A simple cucumber salad is also nice on the side.

 100_0395

cookie-tower

Good grief Charlie Brown!  Well, here is another Ina indulgence since we had guests to visit the other weekend.  I really never bake unless we have company because honestly, who could be trusted not to raid these babies at 2:00 in the morning!  Anyway, back to the magical goodness of the Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookie.  They were so freaking good it was scary!  A tad crunchy on the outside, with a gooey white chocolate chunk center!  They were gone by the end of the day.  Good thing I had gotten impatient with making the individual cookies and just made one huge giant cookie pretty much the size of the pan with the extra dough!  Now that was even better than the little cookies! I cut them into little cube size pieces so we could nibble them on Sunday and then sent the rest of them to the office with my hubby.  He said people hovered and then were practically licking the crumbs from the plate.  Can you picture that??

I wouldn’t change a thing about these cookies, although they may be a good starting point for an experiment.  Maybe instead of white chocolate chunks some sort of candy bar?  Snickers, Butterfinger? Oooh maybe Rollos!  Those are hard to find though. Oh well… I shall ponder the possibilities and report back at some time.  Enjoy!

 

 Here is the recipe:

Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Parties! 
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butte,r at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup good unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds good white chocolate, coarsely chopped

How to put it all together:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  • Add the vanilla, then the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well.
  • Add the cocoa and mix again.
  • Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the chocolate with the mixer on low speed until just combined.
  • Fold in the chopped white chocolate.
  • Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using a 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon. Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly.
  • Bake for exactly 15 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone).
  • Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.cookie-plate

 

 

 

tomato-basil-soup-1

 

Ina strikes again! In my never-ending quest to find filling foods that are either low in carbohydrate count or point value I have found another winner!

The Roasted Tomato Basil Soup is something I had seen Ina make on her show and it just looked really good.  She of course used the perfectly ripe, red, plump, and juicy plum tomatoes probably from her crazy East Hampton garden.  I used the kind of orange looking ones that Sainsbury had… grown in the Canary Islands.  Ina used delicious bunches of basil from her giant herb garden… I used the ones in the plastic container from Sainsbury.  That being said, this came out really good.  It’s a bit heartier then the canned variety, and much fresher without the tinny can taste.  It was a tad too salty but that could be my fault.  I used regular table salt not kosher salt as the recipe called for because I didn’t have it.  So, maybe that was why??  Next time I make it I’ll use less salt and add it at the end if it’s needed.  The other thing I tweaked was that I cut down the olive oil usage to 1/2 the amount called for and only used 1 Tbs butter instead of 2.  It was fine, and cut out some fat that was not really necessary in my opinion. 

What I love about this soup is that you really taste the fresh basil. I think basil is one of my favorite smells!  It also delivers a little kick afterwards from the red pepper flakes.  Next time I make it I may add some things … I was thinking roasted zucchini would be very tasty pureed into this… and for some reason shrimp… not sure why…. not that I would puree the shrimp of course (gross!) but I think it may be something to explore.

The only other changes I would make to this recipe (if I make it exactly as Ina did) is to perhaps roast the garlic in their cloves with the tomatoes rather than sauteing in the pan. I think a roasted garlic taste would have been yummier.  Also, next time I may scoop out the tomato seeds. Sometimes they annoy me.

Here is the recipe:

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Source: Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

  • 3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil  I used 1/2 this amount and supplemented with olive oil cooking spray as needed
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter I used 1 tablespoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-ounce) canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves  I used dried thyme as they didn’t have fresh in the store
  • 1 quart chicken stock or water I used chicken stock, why blah it out with water??

How to put it all together:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
  •  Toss together the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.
  • In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown.
  • Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade. (I used my food processor and it was fine) Taste for seasonings. Serve hot or cold.

tomato-basil-soup-2tomato-basil-soup-3Mmm.. mmm… good!

meatballs-sauce

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!  Sorry, don’t you just have to sing Italian when eating/cooking Italian? We like to listen to Mob Hits & Louis Prima in our house when we do!  With that said, this recipe was really yummy! I have never bothered to follow a meatball recipe. They all seemed kind of plain… so I would “wing it” each time. I’ve never had really bad results.. sometimes they are really delicious, however they come out different every time I make them.  Sometimes they are too wet, some too dry, some too much flavor, some not enough you get the idea. This recipe was awesome! Even with the substitution I made (I used 1 lb pork instead of 1/2 pork and 1/2 veal, since my grocery store over here didn’t have veal) it was excellent.  I’ll definitely keep this recipe around and keep it in mind when I want to make sauce. I would probably double the recipe for the sauce as it didn’t make that much… Also, I ended up with a lot more meatballs then expected. I probably just made them too small…. Oh well, we’ll definitely have these again!

Oh yeah, the other “tweaks” I made:  I had to season my own breadcrumbs since they don’t sell them over here. I added garlic powder and onion powder and Italian seasoning to the crumbs. Not sure how much, I just eyeballed it.

Also, I don’t fry (at least when it’s not necessary), and I didn’t feel it was necessary for this recipe. I used instead @ 2 tablespoons of olive oil and olive oil cooking spray as needed.

And, I used extra lean ground beef and extra lean ground pork for the meatballs but they were still juicy and flavorful. I think that is it on my “tweaks”.

Here is the recipe:

Real Meatballs and Spaghetti

Source: Barefoot Contessa Family Style, Ina Garten

Ingredients

For the Meatballs:

  • 1/2 lb ground veal   (I couldn’t get veal so I did 1 lb of pork )
  • 1/2 lb ground pork (see above)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
  • 1/2 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 extra-large egg, beaten
  • Vegetable oil
  • Olive oil

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup good red wine, such as Chianti
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For serving:

  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
  • Freshly grated Parmesan

How to pull it all together:

  • Place the grounds meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl.  Combine lightly with a fork.  Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.
  • Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch.  Heat the oil.  Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or fork.  This should take about 10 minutes for each batch.  Don’t crowd the meatballs.  Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels.  Discard the oils but don’t clean the pan.
  • For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan.  Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5-10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper.
  • Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25-30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.  Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and pass the grated Parmesan.

meatballs-on-plate2

orange-choc-chunk-muffin

Oh dear… I think I wish I hadn’t found this recipe!  Luckily, I tend to only make this sort of thing when we have company over,  which living over here in the UK is not that often.  We may be in trouble when we move home though!  These were dangerously delish!   The original recipe was for mini bundt cakes… however I don’t have those pans so I made cupcakes. Besides the amazing taste of the cake, the aroma that permeated the house from the orange and chocolate immediately caused your mouth to water! As for the actual cake, it was moist and refreshingly citrusy… then when I added the orange syrup it made it even more so.  When I added the chocolate ganache topping however… LOOK OUT!  The entire dozen were inhaled by the end of the weekend.  I highly recommend them… the cake was orangey and moist with chunks of Cadbury gooey goodness… and the topping was a mix of milk and dark Cadbury… it was fudgy and magical! All hail the Barefoot Contessa! orange-muffin-glaze-3

Here is the recipe:

Mini Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake

source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Parties!, page 206

  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/8 cup grated orange zest (2 large oranges)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 ounces buttermilk at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup good semisweet chocolate chunksI used chopped up Cadbury Dairy Milk

For the syrup

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

For the ganache

  • 4 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips: I used Cadbury Dairy Milk and a bit of a dark chocolate bar (I can’t remember the brand)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules: I only used @ 1/4 teaspoon

How to put it all together:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 6 individual serving baking molds, such as the flexible non stick 100 percent silicone molds  I used a 12 cup cupcake tin with cupcake liners
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, then the orange zest.
  3. Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks with 1 tablespoon flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the molds on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pans, put them on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
  5. For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cakes.