Goodcookbecky's Blog

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Italian Meatballs

img_4050I have recently made a few new recipes.  Two of them by Bobby Flay – and both of them outstanding! This one is for Spaghetti and Sauce.  We LOVED the meatballs!  I will be making them again in the future – maybe even in bulk to freeze them for the future.  I did  not use veal as it is sometimes hard to find.  I doubled the recipe because we had more than 4 people eating dinner… Now I wish I had made even more!

Spaghetti and Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

adapted from Bobby Flay

Serves 8

Meatballs Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely minced and sauteed
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil/canola oil

Homemade Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large sweet onions, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 (28 oz) cans whole peeled tomatoes, with liquid, pureed in a food processor
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 small bunches fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • basil leaves for topping, optional

Instructions:

For the meatballs:

In a large bowl, combine ground beef, ground pork, eggs, grated Parmesan, cooked garlic, dry bread crumbs, minced fresh parsley, salt, and pepper.  Use two large serving forks to break up the meat and mix all the ingredients until it is evenly seasoned.  Do not overwork it as it will become tough.  Form 1 to 1 1/2 inch meatballs with your hands.

Heat a non stick skillet with 1 cup of cooking oil over medium high heat.  Cook the meatballs in batches, turning them over with tongs and continue cooking until golden brown. You do not need to cook them through entirely, as you simmer them in the sauce.  Drain the meatballs on a wire rack for a few minutes while you finish cooking the remaining meatballs.

For the sauce:

In a large stock pot, cook the onions in olive oil over medium heat and cook until softened.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add processed tomatoes, bay leaf, parsley, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring the sauce to a boil and add in the browned meatballs.  Reduce the heat to just a simmer and cook the sauce and the meatballs for 45 minutes or longer.

Serve over cooked pasta and top off with basil and additional grated Parmesan cheese.

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Chicken and Spinach Alfredo Calzones

IMG_8001My son loved his Chicken and Spinach Alfredo Pizza for his birthday and I found that it is just as delicious as a Calzone.  My family loves Calzones.  Usually I vary the filling by request – classic pepperoni, olive and cheese, or Hawaiian.  It is a lot like pizza in that you can customize what your family likes.

 

Chicken and Spinach Alfredo Calzones

goodcookbecky

Serves 6

Dough:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 packet rapid rise yeast
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil (plus a little additional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups flour

Filling:

  • 1/2 jar purchased Alfredo sauce
  • 10 oz frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • rotisserie chicken
  • package Italian cheese blend
  • 1 egg beaten (to brush on Calzones before baking)

Instructions:

Prepare the dough: Place 1 cup warm water in the bottom of your mixing bowl (I use my Kitchen Aid).  Add yeast and sugar.  Stir. Add 2 tablespoons of canola oil, 1 cup of flour, and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Stir until combined.  Add remaining 2 cups of flour.  Use the knead attachment and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.  Add about 1 teaspoon of canola oil and coat the dough ball with it.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and then a towel and allow to rise about 30 minutes.  Divide the risen dough into 6 equal size portions.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

On a floured board roll out each individual portion of dough into about 6 to 8 inches in diameter.  Place 2 tablespoons of Alfredo sauce on one half of the dough, leaving about 1/2 inch dough along edge exposed.  Top with about a tablespoon of spinach, spreading it out over the Alfredo.  Place about 1/2 cup of shredded rotisserie chicken on top of the sauce.  Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of additional Alfredo Sauce over the chicken.  Sprinkle the top with 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.  Carefully fold the portion of dough that does not have topping over the filling and seal the edge with the exposed edge that the filling is on.  Press down gently to ensure a good seal.  Transfer the calzone to a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining dough portions.  I can fit 3 or 4 calzones on a baking sheet.  I rotate the baking sheets in the oven at the half way point to ensure even baking.  Allow the calzones to rest about 15 minutes before baking.

Just before baking, Beat the egg in a small bowl with about 2 tablespoons of water.  Brush the calzones with the egg wash with a pastry brush.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the baking pans half way through cooking.

Allow the calzones to cool about 15 minutes before consuming the filling will be very hot!

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Chicken and Spinach Alfredo Pizza

IMG_7952 - Version 2My rambunctious, fun loving, joy filled son turned 11 today and we had a small gathering to celebrate.  I asked him what he would like on his pizza and he requested Chicken and Spinach Alfredo Chicken.  I had never made it before and was not sure how much sauce to add to the pizza, but I was pleased to find that this was nearly perfect!  It would have been even better with bacon! Next time!

Chicken and Spinach Alfredo Chicken

by goodcookbecky

Yield: 8 slices

Pizza Dough Ingredients:

  • 1 packet Rapid Rise yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110 F)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups of all purpose flour

Pizza Toppings:

  • purchased Alfredo Sauce
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • garlic powder
  • frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained (squeeze dry)
  • 1 roasted chicken breast half, pulled apart into bite size pieces
  • 8 oz shredded Italian Blend cheese
  • 2 strips of bacon, cooked crisp and broken into smaller pieces

Instructions:

To make pizza dough, dissolve the yeast in the warm water in your kitchen Aid stand mixer, if you are lucky enough to have one.  Add the vegetable oil and sugar to the yeast.  Add 1 cup of flour and 1 tsp of water to the mixing bowl.  Use the paddle attachment and mix until the ingredients are well combined.  Add the remaining 2 cups of flour to the dough, and switch to the hook attachment and knead until all the flour has worked into the dough and it looks smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes.  Remove the dough from the hook and pour about 1 teaspoon of oil over the dough, turn the dough to coat it with the oil.  Cover the mixing bowl, first with a piece of plastic wrap and then cover with a clean kitchen towel.  Allow to rise for 30-45 minutes.  It should double in size.

In  the meantime roast the chicken, seasoned with salt and pepper,  in the oven (I used skin on, with bone chicken breasts) and roasted them at 375 for about 40 minutes.  I allowed the chicken to cool off about 20 minutes, so it was cool enough to handle.

Preheat the oven to 375 for the Pizza.

Place the dough on a pizza stone (I love my pampered chef one- in this case I used their large one that has a lip).  I sprinkled the dough with dried oregano.  Next, I ladled about 1 cup of sauce onto the dough and spread it out.  I then dotted the dough with pieces of spinach (be sure to wring it dry before using it – I like using the chopped frozen spinach because you can remove the moisture – which would be hard to do if using fresh).  I pulled the chicken skin off and pulled the meat from the bone and pulled the meat apart into bite size pieces, placing them all along the top of the dough.  Next, I sprinkled garlic powder over top the pizza and chicken.  Sprinkle with bacon pieces if you are using them (I will next time).  I drizzled about 4 tablespoons of Alfredo sauce over the top of the chicken again and topped it with the shredded cheese.

Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

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Spicy Turkey Meatballs

IMG_5108When I hear the words “Turkey Meatballs”, I think “Diet!”  These are NOT diet!  These are yummy yummy and yummy!  They contain ground turkey, Italian sausage, and prosciutto ham! Red pepper flakes along with Asiago Cheese, gives it a kick of spice.  The recipe is from one of my favorite cooks: Ina Garten,  also known as the Barefoot Contessa.  You can find the original recipe on food network.  She recommends Rao’s Spaghetti sauce.. I did find it, but I have to say it is pricey.  More pricey than I like to spend on a sauce (10/bottle), so I used a nice Barilla Tomato Sauce with Basil.  This makes a lot.  I froze about half the meatballs to use again on a day when I don’t feel like cooking (yes that does happen!) I will be making them again!

Turkey Meatballs

adapted from Ina Garten (foodtv.com)

Serves 10

Meatball Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cubed quality rustic bread, crusts removed
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 1/2 lb sweet Italian pork sausage, casings removed and crumbled
  • 4 oz deli sliced prosciutto ham, finely chopped
  • 1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Other ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 jars Spaghetti sauce like Barilla Tomato Basil Sauce, for serving
  • 2 lbs dried spaghetti, cooked according to package directions, for serving
  • grated Asiago (or Parmesan cheese), for serving

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F and line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

Process the bread in a food processor to make breadcrumbs.  Add them back into your measuring bowl and add the milk and allow the crumbs to absorb the milk for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, use a fork to combine the turkey, Italian sausage, prosciutto, grated Asiago cheese (I processed it in the food processor after the bread), parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Add the breadcrumbs to the mixture and toss gently with a fork to keep the meat light, without pressing  down on the meat mixture.  Add the olive oil and eggs and toss gently to combine.

Using your hands, form 2 inch balls and place them on the parchment paper lined sheet pans.  Brush the meatballs with additional olive oil. Bake at 400 F for 35 minutes or until they are completely cooked through.

Add the meatballs to a large sauce pan and cover with your favorite spaghetti sauce.

Serve over cooked spaghetti and top each serving with additional grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese.

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Veal Parmesan

IMG_0203My husband requested Veal Parmesan for his birthday celebration.  I love veal, but it is hard to find.  I have a wonderful little market nearby though that believes in good customer service, and have fantastic quality foods available (Baron’s Market).  They were kind enough to special order it for me.  It made my entire family happy!

Okay, on to the Veal Parmesan.  I looked for a recipe online and the recipe by Emeril Lagasse had one of the highest ratings.  I read the reviews and adjusted the seasonings to be less spicy as some reviewers said it was too spicy.  Here is what I did, I left the seasoning in the sauce the same, but breaded it in the classic European way, salt and pepper on the Veal, pounded thin – dredged in flour, then egg and milk, and plain breadcrumbs, frying them in hot canola oil on both sides.  I served this over cooked angel hair pasta, the sauce, the cutlets, a little more sauce and fresh mozzarella finished off in the oven to melt the mozzarella.  It was not a cheap meal to make, but it was for a special occasion and the 22 dollars spent of the veal was spread over a family of 5- and 7 servings once you take into consideration that you would easily pay 20-25 dollars per serving in a nice restaurant for a single serving it was almost a bargain!  For the budget conscious out there, you can make the same dish using chicken cutlets. If you are sensitive to spice, feel free to reduce the red pepper flakes by half.  It does have a nice kick to it still.

Veal Parmesan

adapted from Emeril Lagasse

Source: (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/veal-parmesan-recipe/index.html)

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 8 thin veal cutlets, about 2 1/2 ounces each
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup plain dry bread crumbs (add more as needed)
  • Vegetable oil

Sauce:

  • 1/4 lb pancetta bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic, about 3-4 cloves
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 (28-oz) can Italian-style tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

Instructions:

For the sauce (can also make ahead of time):
In a large sauce pan cook the pancetta bacon in 1 Tbsp of oil.  When it is cooked to a golden brown, remove the bacon from the pan.  Add the chopped onions to the pan and cook until it is translucent for about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds to a minute.  Add the wine and deglaze the pan stirring bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon, for about 2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, basil, parsley, oregano, and dried pepper flakes to the saucepan.  Bring the sauce to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the cooked pancetta back to the sauce.  Keep the sauce over low heat while you are making the veal cutlets.
For the cutlets:
Pound the cutlets out with a meat mallet between two layers of plastic until they are 1/8″ thick. Season the cutlets on both sides with salt and pepper.
Prepare three bowls: 1 with all purpose flour (seasoned with 1 tsp salt if desired), 1 with egg and milk whisked together with a fork, and the last bowl with dried breadcrumbs.
Dredge the seasoned cutlets first in the flour, then in the egg mixture and lastly in the breadcrumbs, coating both sides in each before moving to the next.
Heat a large non stick skillet that has about 1/4 inch of oil in it over medium high heat.  I like to drop a breadcrumb in the oil to test if it is ready to fry the veal- if it sizzles it is ready.  Then fry 3-4 cutlets at a time in the skillet, turning after 2 or 3 minutes (when the breading is golden brown on the bottom) and fry other side until golden brown.  Remove the cutlets to a wire rack over a baking dish and place in a warm oven to keep warm while you cook remaining cutlets.
Cook your choice of pasta, according to package directions.  I used angel hair, but Emeril used herbed egg noodles.
Top each cutlet with a spoon full of sauce and place a slice of fresh mozzarella on each cutlet.  Place the veal cutlets that are now topped with mozzarella under a broiler to allow the cheese to melt, watching carefully.  To serve: arrange the pasta on the dinner plate.  Ladle some sauce on the pasta.  Top the pasta with the veal cutlet.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired and a little fresh basil, cut in ribbons.


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Baked Ziti

I think the last time we had Ziti, my husband cooked it!  At that time, I was in bed recovering from a very painful spill  down the stairs of my house – I do not care to repeat that – the falling down stairs on my back part – not the hubby cooking part – he did a fine job- he just prefers to program computers – and THAT is something I can’t do!  I love to cook! It has been 2 years since my fall and I am doing much better now, though I still have not learned to walk – that is.. I fell again this summer, but did not injure myself nearly as badly this time! I am a klutz!

I found this particular recipe in Cook’s Country: Best Potluck Recipes (pages 114-116) link

I adapted the recipe a little, because it was meatless, and my husband loves meat in his Ziti.  The other change I made was I used Ricotta cheese instead of cottage cheese (it is a texture thing for me).  The recipe was easy to follow , though it had a lot of steps, but the results were very good.

Baked Ziti

adapted from Cook’s Country  Best Potluck Recipes (p 114-116)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 oz) container Ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided use
  • salt
  • 1 lb ziti, or other tube pasta
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped, divided use
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 tsp cornstarch
  • 8 oz whole milk mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4 inch dice (not pre-shredded)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F and adjust the oven rack to about the center position.

In a medium bowl, stir together the Ricotta cheese, eggs, and 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to package directions, until it is just underdone.  Drain and set aside (in the colander).

In a large skillet, heat the oil and cook the garlic for a minute or two until the garlic is fragrant but not browned.  Stir it the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.  Add the oregano and simmer the sauce for 10 minutes over medium low.  Turn off the heat and add 1/2 cup basil and sugar.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In another skillet cook the ground beef seasoned with 1 tsp of salt.  Cook until done and drain off any fat.  Set aside.

With heat off, stir the cream and cornstarch in the stockpot you used to boil the pasta (so you don’t have to dirty any other dishes).  Turn the heat on to medium and stir constantly for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is slightly thickened.  Turn off the heat and remove the pot from the heat source.  Add in the cheese mixture and 1 cup of the sauce, half of the mozzarella dices and drained ground beef.  Add the pasta to coat it thoroughly. Pour the Ziti into a 13×9″ baking dish. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the casserole.  Top with remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.

Spray a piece of tinfoil with cooking spray (to prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil during baking), and cover the casserole tightly. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 for 30 minutes and then remove the foil, return to oven to bake another 30 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.  Let sit for 10 minutes after baking.  Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp of chopped basil. Serve with fresh French Bread or garlic bread and salad.

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Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes

I don’t think I have ever made a recipe by Ina Garten aka “Barefoot Contessa” that I have not liked!  Here is another winner from her.  Thank you Ina!

I love the combination of sun-dried tomatoes with the cheese and Kalamata olives.  It is certainly a grown up taste.  My kids are not fans of olives that come in cans and in vinegar – so this salad is more for me and my hubby.  I used tri color spiral pasta instead of white ones – I think it looked prettier.  I will be adding this salad to a semi regular rotation though.

PASTA WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES

adapted from Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa Family Style Cookbook p 58)

For the Pasta Salad:

  • 1 lb tri color spiral pasta, cooked and drained
  • kosher salt
  • olive oil
  • 3 ripe roma tomatoes, medium dice
  • 1/2 cup black olives (Kalamata), pitted and diced
  • 1/8 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed in 1/4 inch dice
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the Dressing (use a food processor) to process the following ingredients:

  • 5 sun-dried tomatoes, drained
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 6 Tbsp quality olive oil, (the green stuff)
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1 tsp capers, drained
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper

Last minute ingredients:

  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, julienned (thin ribbon like strips)

Directions:

Cook the spiral pasta in boiling salted water and a splash of olive oil according to package directions.  Drain well and allow to cool.  In a large bowl, place the pasta, chopped tomatoes, chopped olives, diced mozzarella, and sun-dried tomato pieces.  Toss to combine the ingredients.

Process the ingredients listed for the dressing in a small food processor.  Pour the ingredients over the pasta salad and toss to coat the salad with the dressing.  Sprinkle the salad with the grated Parmesan cheese and basil.  Chill and serve.

Warning: this salad is highly addictive!  If you are like me, you will not be able to stop eating it until it is gone, and then you will make some more the next day!

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