Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Meatballs for the freezer

Honey started a new job this week. That was simply the end of a very busy time for him since he had spent the week before in Idaho finishing up his old job. And of course we had a little family gathering, and you can see some of the pictures here.

I worked an extra half day on Monday, my usual day off from work and time with the granddaughter. She got to go see her Papa's train club and see the trains running on the track. When we said our goodbyes to her Papa so he could stay at train club and I could get her home for the night, she informed me that she and her Papa were going to build a train track in the back yard they could have their own train club. She loves her Papa and Papa loves her!

Of course when I got the granddaughter home, she made a few "excuses" why I should not leave just yet. So we picked raspberries, watered some of the vegetable garden, and otherwise used up all the time before she had to go to bed. Finally I said my goodbyes and left with a sack of cherry tomatoes and a beautiful zucchini to cook.

This morning I have meatballs in the oven for a quick cook, then they will be chilled and tonight I will use my food saver and pack them away for winter. They smell great, but it is not really a recipe, more like a freestyle process.

I have done some work in the garden (AKA potager), I have come to realize that our yard just has too much shade to actually grown anything of any quantity. But in all my dreams of having a garden to putter in, I really have only dreamed of the puttering. So it is OK. There are sunny spots all over the yard, and I like the eclectic look of a yard/garden that is planted in such a way that the plants are exactly where they need to be. There is a beauty to that, it is really just like nature. Nothing grows well if it is not planted in the right spot. So there might be tomatoes over here, peas over there, etc. But the actual area that is the potager, will be serene and have berries and beauty and a place to relax. I don't think a yard gets better than that.

You can change the personality of the meatballs by the choice of meat used. If you like an Italian style meatball use the sausage. If you simply want meatballs that can be used for whatever and not cuisine specific use all beef.

Freestyle meatball at the ready

3 pounds lean ground beef
1 pound mild italian sausage
4 pounds of lean ground beef

1 medium onion, minced
4 eggs
1 T garlic salt
1 cup dry bread crumbs

Combine all ingredients in a LARGE bowl. Mix well. Shape into 1 inch balls (or smaller if you prefer). Toss in flour to coat.
Brown meatballs in fat of choice or simply spray your pan with Pam. As the meatballs brown, move them to a large baking pan with sides, at least 9X13. Continue browning all the meat balls. Pour 2 cups of beef stock, bouillion or water over meatballs, cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour.
Drain away any leftover stock and/or fat. Chill meatballs. Pack into freezer bags or use a food saver.
Store away in freezer until needed.

Some ideas for use:

Spaghetti and meatballs
Meatball and pepper subs
Meatball pizza (cut the meatballs in half)
Just meatballs

Enjoy your day!


Friday, September 12, 2008

Country Chicken and Looking back on the week

Well I could comment on what I did not get done (move wood, clean annual beds etc etc) or I could just say it has been quiet. Not too quiet, simply quiet. I like quiet. I live quiet. We generally are a quiet couple. Quiet is comforting. Quiet is our norm. We even have a quiet pet.

That is not to say we are boring, oh maybe by commercial TV standards we are boring. But I would venture to say we are, well actually we are just right; for us. And that is what counts. We each have our moments, and there is an occasional "blue streak" that can be heard; and I must honestly say not just from Him!

Honey has been away all week. That has added to the quiet. It will be good to see him come home tonight. To reestablish our quietness together, and stop being separate. He in one state, I in another. Home together.

I have gotten a few things done besides the daily paying job and mandatory upkeep of the home and care of the pet.

There was the great Food Saver awareness day, and the making of 30 stuffed bell peppers.

I did get some plants replanted in better spots.

I did get the soaker hose rearranged for the new rhubarb and blueberry spots and some watering done.

I did make all my own meals instead of eat out, and instead of using "it is only me, and why cook for one", which has been such a handy excuse in the past.

I did remain ever frugal and use the leftovers and planned overs that were in the fridge and freezer.

I did get the herb garden ring assembled and the chives planted. I have not retrieved a start of Rosemary from the kids yet. I will wait until this weekend, that way we both can see the granddaughter, and say hi to the kids.

I did get the lilac tree branches carried to the wood storage area.

See quiet is OK.

Here is a quiet way to use up some cooked chicken. Actually this is good enough to cook up chicken (thighs are great here) just so you can make this casserole. This also uses the All Purpose Baking Mix.

Sunday Cafe Country Chicken
400 degrees

6 - 8 slices of bacon
1/2 of a small onion

2 c diced cooked chicken
2 c frozen peas and carrots (or just peas if that is what you have)
2 large tomatoes - diced large
1 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese (about 6 oz)
1 can cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
1/2 soup can water

1 1/2 c All Purpose Baking Mix
2/3 c milk or water

Dice the bacon, brown in a skillet. Remove the bacon to a drain on a paper towel. Reserve about 1 T of the drippings. Dice the onion, brown in the bacon fat. Set aside to cool.

In the bottom of a 9X13 pan, layer the following: chicken, peas and carrots, diced tomatoes, bacon and 1 c of the cheddar cheese. Combine soup and 1/2 can water, mix well. Pour over ingredients in pan. Bake 15 minutes.

Combine All purpose baking mix and water (or milk, your choice). Drop over casserole in 8 drops or biscuits. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the biscuit dough and then the browned onions.

Bake additional 12 - 15 minutes.

Serves 6 - 8



Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gingerbread and Ginger Cookie Mix

A few days ago I was thumbing through a cookbook I have had this book for 20ish years. It only has a few dirty pages, so I know that I have not used it a lot. There are recipes that just now have caught my eye. Maybe I was too young to appreciate the style of writing or the personality of the authors. In some ways these recipes seem a bit tame in comparison to what a seeker will find, on the internet and in newly published books. But as the title states, old does not mean useless.

I am an everyday cook, not one to be fancy. Oh sure I like to make the serving plate look enticing, but usually the food itself is ordinary and comfortable, what I call "everyday". I usually cook the same way whether we are having company or not.

It is the company that makes the food seem unusually good, or special.

And I like that.

I show respect and love for my family by being true in the kitchen each and every day. But I must confess, when I have prepared a dish for company, you better not touch it before serving time, I do want to "show off" a bit!

I love gingerbread and chewy gingersnap cookies. So when I was looking and marking things I wanted to try or make up (some are mixes), I came across a homemade mix that will make gingerbread or chewy gingersnap cookies. The following was found in:


Authoritative recipes for the foods that most
people never knew they could make at home.

by: Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie (copyright 1979)

Gingerbread and/or Ginger Cookie Mix
Makes 2 packages

1 c sugar
4 t ground coriander
3 1/2 t baking powder
3 t ground ginger
2 t ground cinnamon
1 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t ground cloves
4 c flour- spoon lightly into measure cup and level

Measure all ingredients except flour into a large bowl and mix together using a whisk to combine.

Add flour and continue to whisk until all ingredients are mixed together and no white streaks of flour are present.

Divide the mixture into two batches (2 1/2 c each), if any amount remains in the large mixing bowl, divide equally between the two packages. Store at room temperature in either plastic bags or glass jars.

350 degrees

1 c boiling water
3/4 stick (6 T) butter
3/4 c light unsulphured molasses
1 package (1/2 batch) Gingerbread/Ginger Cookie Mix
1 egg plus 1 yolk

Combine boiling water, butter and molasses. Stir until butter melts, let cool to lukewarm. In a large bowl combine the package of mix and the cooled butter mixture, stir to combine. In a small bowl, beat the egg and yolk, stir the egg mixture into the ginger bread mixture, mixing well. Pour into prepared 8 inch pan.

Bake 45 minutes or until top spring back when lightly touched. Let cool before cutting. Serve with whipped cream or lemon sauce.

Serves 9


Ginger Cookies
375 degrees

1/4 stick butter (4 T)
2/3 light unsulphured molasses
2 eggs beaten to combine well
1 package Gingerbread/Ginger Cookie Mix

Beat the butter and molasses together, stir in the eggs and mix lightly. Add the cookie mix and combine until mixture is evenly dampened. Drop by teaspoons onto a prepared cookie sheet. Bake 6 - 8 minutes or until the centers spring back when gently touched. Remove from cookies sheets and let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 4 dozen

Recipe rating:  It's Ok. (tasty but not special)

I like this recipe because it allows variety. Many times when a mix is used whether homemade or purchase, all food is the same.

I hope this adds variety to you meals.