Goodcookbecky's Blog

Letting the juices of life (or food) drip from my chin!


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Italian Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs

“That’s a spicy meat-a-ball” is a great line from the movie “Mask”.  Well, okay it isn’t all that spicy – but it is a delicious recipe that I once again found on my favorite recipe site allrecipes.  I followed the recipe almost exactly.  I added more garlic than it called for, doubled the recipe and reduced the salt by half.  Here is my doubled, adapted recipe.  Enjoy.

After a day like today I needed comfort and this fit the ticket.  My van was repaired to a tune of $628 dollars (and excluded the expense of 600 dollars for a new window motor and 160 for something with the throttle..– maybe next time) Then, I have been battling the evil and vengeful garage door which now has completely given up the ghost.  My husband just booked 3 weeks of travel for the month of September and I am having a bit of a pity party.. and oh yeah, I forgot: yesterday my bread machine broke too… now going back to the kitchen for more comfort food!  (This is not a good diet week)

Italian Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs – adapted from allrecipes

Serves 10

Meatballs:

  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 2 cups bread crumbs (about 4 slices of white bread, processed)
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cups onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 12 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 (14.5 oz) cans whole tomatoes, peeled
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans diced seasoned tomatoes (with oregano or basil is nice)
  • 2 tsp salt (originally double that – you can always add if you wish, but it’s hard to take out)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Directions:

For the Meatballs: Combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, cheese, pepper, garlic powder and stir to combine.  Add in the ground beef and eggs and combine (with clean hands works best).  Form them into 24-36 meatballs depending on the size you want.  After you formed them cover and refrigerate them until later.

For the Sauce: Heat a large sauce pan and add the olive oil.  Add the chopped onions and saute them until they are softened.  Add the chopped garlic and cook for 2 more minutes until the garlic is fragrant.  Add in the tomatoes, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for at least 90 minutes.  Use an immersion blender to blend the tomatoes if you don’t like it very chunky – ( An immersion blender it is a really good investment if you don’t have one – I use mine more than a blender plus I don’t have to remove the sauce from the pot and then pour it back.  You can find them in most stores for around 30 dollars and up).

After you blended it add the bay leaves, tomato paste, dried basil and pepper and stir to combine.  Making sure the tomato paste dissolves into the sauce.  Add in the meatballs and cook for 30 minutes longer.  Take a meatball out and cut into it to see if it is still pink on the inside.  If it is cook the sauce a little longer.

Serve over your favorite pasta and sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese.

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Crab Cakes

My Uncle Bill lives near the coast in Maryland and his wife Evelyn made these crab cakes for us on a recent trip to the East Coast.  Yesterday I made them with canned crab meat.  Though they were not as good as hers, because she used fresh crab, they were perfectly acceptable to eat.

I added garlic to the onions at the end to give it more flavor.  It was a nice addition.  I think they would be really good with Cajun or Creole seasoning as well.  Also I did not have a pepper in my pantry so I chopped up green onions and added them for color just before forming them.

Aunt Evelyn’s Crab Cakes
Makes 6-8 crab cakes
Ingredients

  • 1 lb. crab meat
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1/2 pepper, minced
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp old bay seasoning, or Cajun
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, or Panko crumbs
  • Olive oil, for frying

Directions:

Saute onions and peppers in butter until softened.
Make a roux with butter, flour and milk.  Add worcestershire sauce and old bay seasoning.  Add in onions, peppers and crab meat.  Form into crabcakes.  Dip in egg and roll in breadcrumbs or panko crumbs.  Fry in olive oil (or olive oil and butter)

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Chicken Kiev

You know you have a winning recipe when you look over at your usually mild mannered  husband and see him licking the plate!  Yes, it’s true — he was licking the garlic sauce off the plate!  Well, today’s recipe of Chicken Kiev fell into the category of “why have you not made this before? What has taken you so long to try this recipe?”  Once again it was something that was a little bit of a pain to assemble, but the end result was well worth the effort!

Chicken Kiev has a fond memory for me too.  When I was in England for a year I had my first taste of really good Chicken Kiev.  I was supposed to be attending a class, but a few friends and I cut for the evening — upon our return it was hard to hide the smell of garlic on our breath.  It was well worth it then, and well worth it now.

I have purchased the pre-made Chicken Kiev that they sometimes sell at the grocery store, but it does not come close to the goodness of this recipe.  This one is a WINNER!  I know at this point, I am gushing and you are wondering if I will be okay in knowing that we ate it all and that there is nothing left over…  I will be okay.. my husband wants it for dinner tomorrow.. but I have a date with another family favorite: Avgolemono Soup (Chicken Lemon Soup).

The recipe came once again from my favorite site for recipes: allrecipes, and because I did not have all the ingredients I changed it up a little.  Here is my adapted version:

Chicken Kiev– adapted from allrecipes

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices of boneless, skinless chicken breast (I buy them thin sliced)

Butter Compound:

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. garlic paste (Napoleon brand is good and comes in a tube)

Coating ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dried dill weed (I used 1 Tbsp fresh chopped)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs

Frying:

  • 2 cups vegetable oil

Garnish:

  • lemon slices (optional)
  • fresh chopped parsley (optional)

I used the thin sliced chicken breasts because I don’t like pounding chicken out thinly. It made for an easier process, but the slices are smaller than if you used the full breast and the garlic butter may be harder to put in, but it worked for me, so I will likely do exactly as I did this time.

Make the flavored butter: 1 stick softened butter with 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and 2 tsp garlic paste.  Combine with a fork.  Place 1/4 of the butter compound on a small strip of foil. Form into a “cigar” and then roll the foil around it to secure the roll and shape it. (I used the quick release foil and the butter was easy to remove from it later.) Repeat with the remaining butter until you have 4 butter “cigars” wrapped in foil.  Freeze them for at least an hour.

After the butter has frozen remove it from the freezer and open the foil. Cut the butter into two pieces.  Place one chicken breast slice on the plate.  Place the butter long wise in the middle of the breast.  Roll the sides around it.  Then fold the end pieces over the seam and secure with toothpicks.  I found longer toothpicks at a kitchen store that are almost double in length from the normal toothpicks, and they worked perfectly.  Some pieces did not come together as smoothly (one chicken breast had 4 toothpicks, whatever it takes to secure it.

In a shallow bowl, season the cup of flour with the remaining 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and dill weed.  Stir to combine.

In a second shallow bowl combine the eggs and water and beat with a fork until combined.

Use a third shallow bowl for the dried breadcrumbs.  Now you are ready to coat the bundles of chicken.

First coat the chicken in the flour mixture, then dip in the egg, and finally roll in the breadcrumbs, making certain it is well coated.  Place on a plate, repeat with other chicken pieces.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes to an hour.

Heat the oil in a shallow fry pan over high heat.  When the oil is hot, carefully add the chicken pieces to the hot oil (Careful as oil may splatter some).  After a few minutes the bottom should be golden brown, this is when you carefully use a slotted spoon and a fork to turn  the chicken over and fry until golden brown on this side.

Remove to a paper towel covered plate and remove the toothpicks carefully.  I like to hold a fork against the chicken as I pull the toothpicks loose so the chicken does not pull apart.  Remove the paper towels and serve with lemon slices and parsley if desired.

NOTES:
If you were successful at sealing in the butter, the garlic-y goodness will flow out onto your plate and you too may look at your spouse or guests and find them licking the plate with delight.

The original recipe called for 1 tsp garlic powder and no paste, but I actually ran out of garlic powder while making this, so I used the garlic paste and it was a happy mistake!  It’s delicious!

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Salmon with Balsamic Glaze

All three of my children enjoy eating salmon.  I’m thankful my kids are not picky (or I never let them be picky- they ate it or they went hungry.)  Here is a different recipe from the norm.  The salmon is brushed with a balsamic glaze and cooked in the oven.  After it is cooked it is brushed with balsamic again.  It has a lovely flavor. My kids still ate the fish with Tartar sauce, but my husband and I thought it was great with just the balsamic glaze.  We will be making this again.  I found the recipe at allrecipes.  My only regret was that the salmon had a ton of pin bones.  I tried to remove them before cooking but found myself shredding the fish, so I left most in and told everyone to be careful.  I now know where I don’t want to get my salmon in the future.  I would have loved to have had salmon steaks as it cooks more evenly.

Salmon with Balsamic Glaze – adapted from allrecipes

Serves 6

  • 6 (5 ounce) salmon fillets
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon white wine
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • dash of soy sauce (my addition)
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Cover a sheet pan with foil and spray it with Pam cooking spray (or another brand).
Over medium heat, cook and stir garlic in a small pan with a scant teaspoon of cooking oil until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the white wine, honey, balsamic vinegar, dash of soy sauce, mustard, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 3 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
Arrange salmon fillets on foil-lined baking sheet. Brush fillets with balsamic glaze, and sprinkle with oregano.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 14 minutes, or until flesh flakes easily with a fork. Brush fillets with remaining glaze, and season with salt and pepper. Use a spatula to transfer fillets to serving platter, leaving the skin behind on the foil. (Don’t use the new foil that has food not stick to it, -like I did -or the skins will stay on the salmon.)

I served this with steamed broccoli, couscous and fresh bread.


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Eggs Benedict

If I was stranded on a deserted Island– I wish it was desserted 🙂 — this would be the food I would take with me!  Eggs Benedict has been a favorite of mine for years now.  When we eat out for breakfast, and this item is on the menu, I typically order it.  This is my ultimate comfort food.

What is the special occasion?  Well, my husband is working from home today – the kids are back in school– and I wanted Eggs Benedict- so, I made them.  Making my own Hollandaise is intimidating to me, so I cheat and use prepackaged sauce mix and it’s still quite delicious (Knorr Hollandaise Sauce Mix)  It isn’t the most amazing Eggs Benedict in the world, for that you would need to travel to the Bouchon in Vegas.  See Las Vegas Baby!

Eggs Benedict

Serves 2

  • 3 English Muffins, split and toasted (6 halves)
  • 6 slices of quality Canadian Bacon ( like Boar’s Head Brand)
  • 6 poached eggs (I fry mine)

For the Hollandaise:

  • I packet Knorr Hollandaise sauce mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 Tbsp butter (half a stick)

Preparation:

Cook the Knorr Hollandaise Sauce mix according to package directions, using the cup of milk and 1/2 stick of butter.  Bring to boil, whisking constantly.  Cook for 1 minute.  Turn off heat and use the sauce.

Place 3 English Muffin halves on each plate.  Place a slice of Canadian Bacon on each toasted English Muffin half.  Top with a poached or fried eggs. Pour Hollandaise sauce over the Eggs.  Serve with coffee.

Tip: To get the poached texture of fried eggs, I start them in a pan until the whites have set some, then I add a few Tablespoons of water to the edge of the pan and cover with a lid and it will give the yolks a poached look.  Just until the yolks have a film over them, then use them before the yolks cook completely through.  I learned this trick from my fellow blogger Pam at her site: For the Love of Cooking.  Thank you Pam.


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Beef Stroganoff

One of our stand by recipes is Beef Stroganoff.  This is a recipe that comes together quickly and with ingredients that I usually have on hand.  Today I made it slightly  different from other times.  I could not locate my recipe book so I tried to make it from memory and it turned out even better than usual.  I think it is the garlic!  It was so good that my family practically licked the pan I made the  Stroganoff in. Serve over cooked pasta.

Beef Stroganoff – goodcookbecky

Serves 6

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 oz – 8 oz white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 jar Beef Gravy (I like Heinz brand)
  • 1 cup sour cream

Preparation:

  1. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet until cooked through and no longer pink.  Drain the fat.
  2. Add minced garlic and cook until aromatic.  Add green onions and mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add beef gravy and sour cream and stir until combined.  Heat through and serve over cooked pasta.

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Asian Lettuce Wraps

On the theme of Asian food:  After making the Asian Onion Soup we had these delightful Asian Lettuce wraps and a side of garlic steamed rice.  This is another recipe that I discovered on allrecipes.com.  It was easy to eat.  I also made a dipping sauce that reviewers said worked nicely.  It added extra spice for the adults (and my 6 year old son who likes spicy foods)– don’t worry it is not overpowering.  Another change I made was that I added grated carrot to the meat mixture.  It added extra color and flavor to the dish. You could easily substitute pork or ground turkey for the ground beef.

You might be scratching your head at some of the ingredients wondering where to get them.  The answer lies with Target! 🙂  They have Asian ingredients like Sesame oil, pickled ginger etc.

Asian Lettuce Wraps – adapted from allrecipes.com
Serves 6-8
  • 16 Boston, Bibb, or Romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 Tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced pickled ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • Asian chile pepper sauce (optional) ( I used Chili Garlic Sauce)
  • 1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil
To prepare the meat mixture: Begin with browning the ground beef and onions in oil in a large pot over high heat. When the meat has cooked, drain the fat.  Add remaining ingredients and cook for about 5 minutes longer.  While the meat is cooking prepare the sauce (extra on side if desired)
Extra Sauce:
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar,
  • 1 Tbsp chile garlic sauce
  • Green onions, thinly sliced (green part only)
To serve: Place large lettuce leaves on your plate and spoon some of the meat filling into the lettuce leaves.  Wrap and enjoy.
Notes:  This is a quick and easy dish that is ready in minutes once you have your ingredients assembled.
For the garlic rice: bring 2 cups of chicken broth to a boil.  Add garlic flakes to the broth.  Add 1 cup Jasmine rice.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook for 15 minutes.  Turn heat off and leave covered another 15 minutes.  Serve with Asian Lettuce Wraps.