Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tasty and Not Greasy Meatballs Pasta Sauce over Fettuccini

Which Meat?

 I’ve experimented with different compositions of meat:

100% beef-just not flavorful enough
Blend of Pork/Beef- not bad but I find that it’s the pork that makes it more tasty (just my preference)
Turkey – not bad, a healthier option, but it lacks that ‘je ne sais quoi’-actually what we call ‘flavor’ (even with good seasoning choices)-but it’s not a bad alternative….
Lamb – I love lamb but many don’t. Lamb has to be cooked just right, but otherwise it has a gross side flavor.  Either way, good ground lamb is hard to find (at least around here) and some people really hate it, so it’s not a good choice for every day dinner.
Chicken – I think ground chicken makes the most flavorful, yet healthy meatballs

I prefer, Kosher Ground Chicken.  This is the most flavorful ground chicken I’ve eaten.  After researching this, I realized that this flavor is due to the Kosher method of processing the meat.  It’s sort of like brining. I can only find Kosher Valley at Whole Foods.  The ground chicken goes fast (I've had to call the butcher and they only get this delivered on Fridays-by Saturday they are mostly gone).  While not the cheapest, it is very tasty and doesn't have chemicals (hormones and antibiotics).

How to Prepare?

I’ve pan-fried meatballs but don’t like the grease factor and the time it takes to pan-fry and continuously turn them. Recently on Diners, Drive Inns & Dives (Food Network), I saw these great meatballs that were baked.  I’ve heard of baking meatballs but never tried it.

Baked chicken meatballs


½+ c. breadcrumbs
¼ c soy or non-dairy milk
Chopped parsley (optional)
2 eggs
Hint of maggi (optional-it’s a German flavor type ingredient-sort like Worchester sauce or soy sauce)

1 tsp. organic onion flakes
½ tsp. organic garlic powder
½ tsp. salt
Some freshly ground pepper
1-2 tsp of 365 Organic Ketchup (not only is this ketchup healthier, but it also won in taste tests conducted by Chicago Tribune)-optional. I forgot to add this once and it still tasted great.

Paprika (to sprinkle on meatball after it's on baking sheet)

Pasta sauce (home made, or even a shortcut one)

16 oz. organic fettuccini (or another noodle)

Gently beat 2 eggs and combine with meatball ingredients (exclude pasta sauce and fettucini).

Line a pan with foil (if you can find non-stick) and spray with a cooking spray (I use Spectrum).  Make balls (roughly walnut size-they will expand). Sprinkle lightly with paprika.  Bake on 375 for about 30 minutes (may need to turn the meatballs about 2/3 into the cooking cycle).

Remove meatballs from oven and simmer with pasta sauce for about 15-20 minutes (or more if you have time).

Cook fettuccini a la dente (it’s not just a joke in the movie My Cousin Vinny). Most pasta I've eaten in restaurants is way too mushy.

Drain pasta, shock with cold water and reheat with some olive oil.

Serve hot fettuccini and pour meatball sauce over it. 

There are no leftovers with this dinner.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thanksgiving/Holiday Guide Part II

My original intention was to add photos of the cooked food photographed in my prior blog entry along with recipes.  Between work, daily obligations and so forth-I haven’t been able to get around to it.   Better late than never…so I have the photos for most of the  items.  Instead of adding specific recipes for each, I will simply address some keypoints/highlights for making this a successful dish.

The Pumpkin pie (dairy free, made with organic pumpkin) was not photographed.  It was attacked before we took any photos.  Hopefully I will make another one soon.  It’s fairly simple to make and tastes delicious.  The ‘overflow’ of the filling that I made turned into pumpkin brulee.

So in the spirit of “it’s better to blog at some level than not to blog at all (and have the blog be totally outdated)”-here are some holiday pointers:


Completely made from scratch.  I baked a dill bread (added fresh chopped dill to the dough).  Cube the bread and bake it on low heat (275) for a while (maybe 45 minutes) the day before Thanksgiving.  Then the next day make the stuffing.  There are many fresh stuffing recipes out there.  The main points are to sauté and season the vegetables (with Earth Balance soy butter).  Then in a very large bowl, mix the vegetables with the cubed bread.  Pour some organic broth over it to moisten.  I also add 2-3 beaten eggs.  This mixture is then baked for about 45 minutes on 350 (covered).  For the last 15 minutes I add some of the drippings from the turkey to improve the flavor and bake for another 15 minutes uncovered.

The stuffing is delicious.  We also used it for a tofu casserole. 


Once you brine you never go back….so I used Alton Brown’s Turkey brining recipe.  I also use his recipe for roasting the turkey.  Pointers such as put the turkey in for ½ hour at very high heat to get crispy skin are handy.  I also like the turkey armor he makes with foil for preventing burns. 
This method makes for such tender and tasty turkey.  The drumsticks are not fibery or chewy at all.  The breast meat is moist and yet cooked.

Traditional Sweet Potato Dish:

I refuse to use that Princella (or whatever it’s called) canned sweet potato.  Instead, I use my Cuisinart food processor to thinly slice real sweet potatoes.  I have refined a recipe for baking (brown sugar, a little Kahlua,  soy milk,  cinnamon, nutmeg, soy butter).  For the last 10-15 minutes add the marshmallows.  This year I used the mini ones. 

Tofu Stuffing & Vegetable Casserole:

I can’t claim credit for this dish.  It’s delicious.  The main steps are sautéing some vegetables, seasoning them as you also make a great thickened sauce (roux).  Separately  fry tofu cubes.  Layer just right, bake and sprinkle the top with Daiya cheese and breadcrumbs.  This is Shanti’s signature dish.

Green Beans Dijonaise:

Another classis dish for us.  No processed / canned green beans.  Instead everything is fresh.  The sauce consists of soy butter/dill/Dijon mustard. 

Traditional mashed potatoes and gravy:

Again, all from scratch.  Gravy is very simple to make…as the Vegan Black Metal Chef dramatically states: “Gravy is broth and fat.”   I use the turkey drippings with organic free range chicken broth to make it. 


Played around with the cupcakes as well as made a pumpkin pie (non dairy from organic pumpkin).  I don’t have a photo of the pie.  We were too impatient and forgot to take one.

The day after:

Turkey Soup:

Fresh soup made from the turkey carcass…delicious.  Although it looks ‘fatty’ in this photo, I scrape the fat off.  I served it with Hungarian vermicelli noodles and it was delicious.

Turkey Tetrazzini

I used to make this dish, but then stopped because we don’t consume dairy.  This year I was able to make a delicious non-dairy version.  Practically the same steps as the dairy version.  Jordan had two servings (not typical).  I need to make this again.

While cooking:  Caviar and Alaskan Wild Sockeye Salmon

This was a treat for waiting. Quick snack-toffuti cream cheese on homemade bread, fresh dill.  The paper plates-the dinner was going to generate a lot of dishes...and my dishwasher was broken.

Now it’s time to think about the Christmas meal.  I bought the free natural (no antibiotics, vegetarian fed duck) today.  The rest is yet to be figured out. Traditionally, in Budapest we had an elaborate dinner on Christmas Eve and then also more special meals on Christmas Day.  

Contents are protected by the U.S. Copyright act and may not be duplicated or redistributed.  All contents are owned by BlogToTheNextOne ©2011