In Which I Watch a LOT of TV and Cook a Shitload of Food.

I spent the majority of this weekend either cleaning, sleeping, or watching Twilight on DVD. Well, not just Twilight. The special features, too. I also watched Dollhouse on Hulu twice, because it was such a good episode. If you’re not familiar with Dollhouse, click here because there’s no way I’d be able to give you a proper synopses without totally fucking confusing you. It’s another Joss Whedon show, and that right there should be reason enough for you to watch.

Anyway.

We had a potluck luncheon at work this week for two employees that are leaving. For these occasions I usually make Buffalo Chicken meatballs, which are always a huge hit, but I saw a recipe on Everyday Italian for this sundried tomato jam and goat cheese crostini a while back and I’ve been dying to try it every since; I figured this potluck would be as good a time as any. First things first, though, here’s the meatball recipe:

Rachel Ray’s Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground all-white-meat chicken
  • 1/2 small onion, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce, such as Frank’s brand

Mix the chicken, grated onion, grated garlic, chopped parsley, salt, and pepper in a bowl. (Don’t overmix, the meat will get tough. And no one likes tough balls. Heh.) Mold and roll into balls, smaller than a golf ball (I have a 1 oz. ice cream scoop I use to make them.) Place meatballs on a non-greased cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and bake in a 400F oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. (Don’t forget to wash your hands, you’ve just handled raw poultry.)

After the meatballs are done baking, remove from the oven and set aside. Melt the butter in a deep sautee pan and add hot sauce. Toss with meatballs and serve with dressing and veggies of choice on the side.

These keep pretty well in a crock pot, which makes them great for potlucks and parties. From what I can tell, Rach’s method makes bigger meatballs than mine, but I prefer to make smaller ones for parties. I’ve got it in my head to make a sandwich out of these sometime soon, just make the meatballs bigger and serve them on a sub roll with dressing…yum.

The next one I’m going to post is the crostini, I’m just going to cut and paste here, I don’t normally variate from the original recipe the first time I make something.

Crostini with Sun-Dried Tomato Jam, by Giada De Laurentiis

Sun-Dried Tomato Jam:

  • 1 (8-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped, oil reserved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Crostini:

  • 1 baguette, cut into 3/4-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

Directions

Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of the reserved sun-dried tomato oil, olive oil, onion, and garlic. Stir and cook until the onions are soft and beginning to brown at the edges, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the sugar, vinegar, water, chicken broth, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and continue simmering until most of the liquid is reduced and the mixture is the consistency of jam, about 5 to 10 more minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

For the Crostini:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Place the baguette slices on the baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the baguette slices with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until lightly toasted, about 8 minutes.

Place the soft goat cheese in a small bowl. Stir in the thyme.

To assemble:

Spread the crostini with Sun-Dried Tomato Jam and top with the goat cheese and herb mixture. Transfer to a serving plate and serve.

I know, I know. Goat cheese. Don’t be afraid of the goat cheese, it’s actually very good – it’s tangy, yet creamy. This crostini was delicious, and a big hit at the party. Some tips: Do not make this if you are in a hurry. That jam will be ready when it damn well feels like it. I wouldn’t especially make this too far ahead, with respect to the bread, since it will go a tad stale, even though it’s baked, but the jam and cheese will hold up for a while, I have some leftover that I’m planning on keeping for my girl’s night this Thursday.

Speaking of Thursday night girl’s night, I made a new recipe this past Thursday that I have so much left of I decided to make it my Sunday night dinner as well. It was a light version of a pulled pork sandwich from Everyday Food Magazine, and it’s fantastic. I’ll definitely be making it again.

Lighter Pulled Pork Sandwich

  • 1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes in puree
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound), cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 head small green cabbage, shredded
  • 4 whole-wheat rolls, split

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, stir together tomatoes, sugar, garlic, mustard, and 1/2 cup water; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; add pork, and simmer, covered, until tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer pork to a plate to cool. Simmer sauce over medium, uncovered, until reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make slaw: In a bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon vinegar, celery seed, and 1 tablespoon water; season with salt and pepper. Add cabbage, and toss to coat.
  3. Shred pork with 2 forks, and return to sauce; stir in 1 teaspoon vinegar. Serve pork on rolls, topped with slaw.

Another keeper. I could only find a two pound pork tenderloin, so I had to sacrifice and double the recipe. It’s a shame, I tell you. Along side of the sandwiches I served a Rachael Ray mac and cheese that I’ve made before and thought it would compliment the sandwiches well. I was correct.

Rachael Ray’s White Cheddar Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

  • 1/2 lb whole wheat shell pasta
  • 1/2lb extra sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 TB butter
  • 1 TB flour
  • 2 Cups broccoli florets
  • Dash hot sauce
  • fresh nutmeg
  • salt and pepper

Heat a large pot of water for pasta. Add salt when water boils and add pasta, cook to al dente. Add broccoli to the pot the last two to three minutes of cook time and drain.

While the pasta cooks, heat two tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add flour to melted butter, and whisk together to make a roux. Add milk slowly to the flour and butter mixture, allowing to thicken slightly. Season with salt and pepper, add grated cheese, and allow to melt. Grate in fresh nutmeg to taste, and add a dash or two of hot sauce (if you like). Stir cheese sauce into pasta and broccoli and serve.

I know the recipe says whole wheat pasta shells, and that’s what I usually use, but the only whole wheat shells I saw at the store cost almost five dollars, and I’m sorry, I know I should stick with the healthier whole wheat pasta, but five dollars for a pound of pasta? Go fuck yourself, dude. There’s a recession out there.

If you look at the link for the recipe, you’ll see a recipe for pork chops with the mac and cheese – that was the theme for that particular episode of 30-Minute Meals; a thirty minute ‘square meal’. I’ve made the whole meal more than once, it’s fantastic. You should totally try that, too. A great Sunday night meal, either way.

Whew. Big post. I’m kinda tired now. Perhaps I’ll go nap. Or, you know, watch Twilight again.