Porcupine Meatballs

I had meatballs on the menu for the other night, but was tired of the BBQ meatballs that I usually make, so I went with these porcupine meatballs.  They are made with uncooked rice that puffs during the baking time, making them look like the spikes of a porcupines.

Porcupine Meatballs

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 cup uncooked long grain white rice

1/3 cup milk {maybe less}

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 jar {approx 26 oz} spaghetti sauce

1/2 cup water

Combine the ground beef, rice, Parmesan, and seasonings together in a large bowl.  Slowly add the milk, adding just enough to bring the mixture together.  Form into golf ball sized meatballs and place in a casserole dish that has a lid.  Pour on the spaghetti sauce and water.  Cover with the lid and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Makes about 18 meatballs.

Stuffed Peppers

I had stuffed peppers on my mind after seeing a post from Chloe the other day, so when I had a few leftovers in the fridge suitable for filling the peppers I gave them a try.  I’m not really going to list specific measurements for everything because I was just using what I had in the fridge.  I also ended up with a little extra filling, but it was tasty eaten plain.  The sun-dried tomatoes added a nice chewy texture and a subtly sweet flavor {similar to raisins} to the dish and the chickpeas remained a little crunchy, so overall the balance of textures was really nice.

Stuffed Peppers

Inspired by:  Valuable, but Small Life

Ingredients:

1 red bell pepper

1/2 yellow bell pepper

1/2 cup cooked rice

1/4 cup leftover ground beef cooked with onions and jalapenos and seasoned with taco seasoning

1/2 of a can of chickpeas, coarsely mashed {could substitute black beans}

sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1-2 Tbsp tomato paste

chicken broth or water

Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Wash peppers and cut them in half lengthwise. Remove the stems, seeds and white membrane. Place the peppers cut-side down in a microwave safe dish. Add half an inch of water, cover and microwave on high for 9 minutes, or just until softened. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, lightly mash chickpeas with a fork or pastry blender, leaving some whole.  Reconstitute the sun-dried tomatoes if necessary, or drain if they have been packed in oil, and chop.

Warm up the rice and beef, in a saucepan and then add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, mashed chickpeas, and tomato paste.  Stir everything together and add some broth, a little at a time, to bind it together.  Just cook until everything is heated through.

Divide the filling among the steamed pepper halves.  Sprinkle each pepper with the Parmesan.

Place on a baking sheet or broiler pan and broil for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

Enjoy with a dash of hot sauce!

Almond Rice Pilaf

This was a nice alternative to plain white rice that I served up with some shrimp.  I wish I would have browned the onions and almonds a little more, but it was still good.

Almond Rice Pilaf

Source:  taste of home

Ingredients:

3/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup silvered almonds

1 Tbsp butter

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups uncooked instant rice

Directions:

Brown the onions and almonds in butter in a medium saucepan.  Add the broth and bring it to a boil.  Stir in the uncooked rice.  Cover and remove from heat.  Let stand 5-10 minutes.  Fluff with a fork before serving.

Mexican Rice

We wanted to have some sort of Mexican flavored meal the other night, but didn’t really have a plan in mind.  I tossed around the idea of making burrito bowls but didn’t really follow through with it.  All along I knew I would be making this rice though.  In the past I always relied pretty heavily on prepackaged rice (and some pasta) mixes for some reason.  But now I’m trying to reduce the amount of processed foods that we eat and take control over what ingredients go into our food.

The meal that we ended up with was this – a side of black beans seasoned with cumin and s&p, sliced avocado, this Mexican rice, grilled sausage, and tomatoes.  It was quite good and colorful too!

Next time I’ll definitely add some cayenne pepper to the rice because it was a little too mild for our tastes.

Basic Mexican Rice

Source:  Delish

1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth (low sodium if possible)
salt & pepper to taste
cilantro for garnish

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add chopped onions & rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until rice is golden & onions are softened. Add garlic powder, cumin, tomato sauce, and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Season with salt & pepper as desired. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Pineapple Chicken

I think that most home cooks are constantly hunting for new ways to prepare chicken dishes.  I like to serve chicken at least twice a week and really try to prepare it a variety of ways to keep it from being boring.  Thankfully chicken is a really versatile meat.  I adapted this particular recipe from a Vera Bradley cookbook that was given to me by a former coworker.

I thought it was pretty tasty overall.  The pineapple flavor really wasn’t too strong, as I feared it would be.   I do think it was missing a little something, but I can’t put my finger on it.  Although I did omit the teaspoon of rosemary and the slices of lemon that were supposed to be added with the pineapple.  I don’t think that they were what I was missing.  So,  I’ll definitely make this again and will try to come up with what was missing. I will also either use less chicken or make more sauce next time.

Tim hasn’t tried it yet, so I can’t give his response…but I can probably guess that he won’t really like it.  He’ll eat it, but it probably won’t be his favorite.  Now that I have thought about it, I remember that he is not crazy about fruit and meat together.  Oh well!

One other thing I may do in the future is turn this into a grilled meal.  I’d like to try using a variation of the sauce as a marinade, then grill the chicken and pineapple.  I would probably make extra sauce as well to serve on the side in that case.  Tim would probably like it better grilled too.

Pineapple Chicken

3 or 4 chicken breasts, cut in half

one 20 oz can of sliced pineapple, drained and juices reserved

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 tsp of Dijon mustard

2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce

2 heaping tsp of corn starch

salt and pepper

{Again, the original recipe called for one tsp of rosemary and the slices of one lemon, but I omitted both.}

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Season the chicken breast halves with salt and pepper on both sides.  Place in a hot skillet to brown on both sides for a couple of minutes. Then transfer to a large baking dish that has been sprayed with Pam.

Drain the pineapple and reserve the juice.   Set aside the pineapple slices.  Mix the juice with the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, rosemary, and corn starch.  Pour it over the chicken.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or just until chicken is done.  Remove from oven and add the slices of pineapple {and lemon if using} in among the chicken, basting everything with the sauce.  Return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes.

Serve over rice.

Shrimp Fried Rice

Wow.  The introductions to my posts are terrible.  I have absolutely nothing interesting to say about this next dish.  It was super yummy though!  So, let’s pretend I said something really funny and fantastic here, okay?  And, I’ll work on my writing skillz for next time.  Allrightythen.

DSC01442

Shrimp Fried Rice

Yields 4 or 5 large servings

Ingredients

16 oz frozen shrimp; thawed, peeled, de-veined and tails removed.

1 or 2 tablespoons oil

3 cups cooked rice

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped bell pepper

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrot

3 finely chopped jalapenos-optional

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 heaping tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

salt and pepper to taste

2 large egg, lightly beaten

2 or 3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 cup frozen peas – optional {I left them out this time}

Directions

Cook rice and set aside.

Heat oil in a large wok, add the shrimp and stir fry until cooked, about a minute or two.  Remove the shrimp to a plate.  Add more oil to wok if necessary.

Add onion, bell peppers, celery, carrots, and jalapenos to wok and stir fry a few minutes, then add garlic and ginger.  Finish stir frying when veggies are crisp tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the rice and allow it to heat thru.  Then, make a well in the center of the wok, add the eggs.  Gradually stir the eggs as they cook and slowly mix them into the rice mixture.

If using peas, stir them in now.  Then add the shrimp back into the mixture.

Add soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.

Jambalaya

We were in the mood for something spicy last night, so I turned to the Food Network site in search of a jambalaya recipe.  No surprise that I found one by Emeril Lagasse.  While I don’t like to watch his shows because I find his personality annoying, I do trust and always have success with his recipes.

I used Emeril’s recipe mostly as a guide, making several changes based on our taste and what I had on hand.  My adaptations are in italics.

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Cajun Jambalaya {serves 4}

Ingredients

  • 12 medium raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
  • 4 ounces chicken, diced {I used one 9 oz. can of cooked chicken breasts}
  • 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion {I used 1/2 cup}
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper {I used a combo of green bell and jalapeno peppers to equal 1/2 cup}
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery {I used 1/2 cup}
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic { 3 cloves}
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes {one fresh garden tomato}
  • 3 dried bay leaves {two small leaves}
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 3/4 cup long grain white rice
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 5 ounces Andouille sausage, sliced {I substituted cooked chorizo}
  • Salt and pepper {I omitted}

Directions

In a bowl combine shrimp and Creole seasoning, and work in seasoning well.  Set aside.

In a large/deep saucepan heat oil over high heat with onion, pepper and celery, saute 3 minutes.  Add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire and hot sauces.  Stir in rice and slowly add broth.  Reduce heat to medium and cook until rice absorbs liquid and becomes tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. When rice is just tender add shrimp and chicken mixture and sausage. Cook until shrimp are done, about 10 minutes more.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Enjoy!

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