Friday, February 12, 2010


Have you ever had a craving for something from your childhood, or not so recent past, and gone on a quest to discover that same taste?  It happens to me all the time and most recently involved some meatballs I ate as a child that came back from my past with a powerful craving.  As a child I ate these mostly at church suppers, but the flavor is something that stuck with me.  There are a couple of sites I trust on the net, of course I had 250 cookbooks at home that I could rummage through, the net is usually faster.  I remembered reading a recipe on the Pioneer Woman's blog about barbecue meatballs and thought they looked similar.  I also know about porcupine meatballs which involve rice, that was not my goal.  I would up going back to Pioneer Woman and using recipe as the base from which I created my recipe.  With fingers crossed I set out to make them, and happily discovered a great old friend.
I guess before I go any further I should warn you that these aren't the type of meatballs you would put over pasta, or in a pasta sauce.  They aren't that kind of meatball.  It would be better for you to think of these as teeny tiny meatloaves in a savory, tangy, sweet sauce.  I think they should be served with scrumptious mashed potatoes and green beans, and some great french or garlic bread, but you could do whatever you feel like doing.  We take a lot of food to friends who are in need, and I think I'm going to keep these babies up my sleeve and pull them out when called upon to take food to a friend in need.
The hardest thing about these is browning them in the skillet before you put them in the pan, for real.  Unless, of course, if you have a problem touching raw meat, then it will be a little yucky and painful for a while.  I use our stand mixer to whip the meat mixture into shape, then I go in with an ice cream scoop to make the round shapes.  I have to do that or I would not have uniform meatballs, it's just me.  I found that setting up a station in which I scooped the meat, rolled in flour then placed in the pan to brown, followed by placing them in the 9x13 worked great.  It kept the mess to a minimum.  These can be made the night before, placed in the fridge and baked the next day...if time is something that isn't always on your side.

2 pounds ground beef  (or any combination of ground meat you like)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup milk
1/2 onion, finely chopped (pulverize it)
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt ( I used Jane's Krazy Mixed UP salt)
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 large egg
1 cup flour (for dredging)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the hook attachment, add all ingredients and mix on low speed until combined, then on medium for 3-4 minutes until smooth and combined.  Using a large spring loaded scoop, scoop meat and roll into round balls, roll in flour and place on a cookie sheet.  Continue scooping and rolling until all the meat has been used.

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of olive oil.  Add meatballs and brown on all sides, no need to cook all the way through.  Place browned meatballs in a 9x13 pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

2 cups ketchup
4 Tablespoons sugar
4 Tablespoons brown sugar
6 Tablespoons vinegar
4 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 onion, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon pepper.

Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until combined.

Pour sauce over meatballs, cover with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 350 over for 30-45 minutes.

No photographs, sorry.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bow Tie Chicken

I love to cook and sadly don't really have a lot of time to get in the kitchen and cook up main dishes. My wonderful wife is the main, "hash slinger" in our family and does a great job with our family meals. We try to eat dinner between 5:00-5:30 every night, giving us plenty of time to get our three babies (7, 4, & 3 years old) ready for bed by 7:30-8:00pm. Sitting around our dinner table as a family every night is very important to us and we guard that time and hold it dear to our hearts. Our recent snow and ice events gave me an opportunity to give my wife a much appreciated break from dinner preparations. To my surprise my family loved every singe one of the dinners I prepared--everyone! Naturally I was excited, so I'll be sharing the recipes with you and hoping for your success, too. Trust me, I don't usually have that much luck because our children are picky eaters, but I hit a home run with Chicken and bow ties.

This dish is very comforting and creamy, reminding me of chicken and noodles--only much easier. I would say the star of the show is the creamy cheese sauce. The ingredients are easily kept in your pantry, and usually things most people have on hand. There were no leftovers with this, which is a sure sign of it's success, right? Prep was a snap, I made this in a large skillet and used another pot to boil the pasta, however you could easily make this a one pot meal, using your dutch oven or large stock pot. I'll have the suggestions for that in the notes section at the bottom. Additionally you are free to add and change up the veggies, really the possibilities are endless with what you can do. Let's get started.

  • 4 skinned and boned chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 16 ounces uncooked bow tie pasta
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 celery rib, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • Salt and pepper to taste (probably about 1 tsp. salt for our taste; and 1T. pepper)
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 (8-ounce) package pasteurized prepared cheese product, cubed


Bring 1 quart salted water to a boil in a large pot. In the meantime get a large skillet up to medium heat. Add pasta to water 8-10 minutes or until tender; drain. Keep warm.
Melt one tablespoon butter and one tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat in the skillet; add celery, carrot, and onion, and cook 5 minutes or until tender, add garlic and diced chicken, cooking until the chicken is cooked, should take about 7-8 minutes. Stir in soup, cheese, and cup chicken broth, stirring until cheese is melted. Toss with pasta; garnish, if desired. Serve immediately.

  • To make this a one-pot dish. Boil your pasta in a large dutch oven (you can add the chicken, too if you want) until done, then drain and set aside. Using the same pot, add the butter, oil, and garlic and saute until the onion is tender and clear. Add your broth, soup, and cheese, stirring until the cheese melts, then stir in the pasta and chicken.
  • The amount of vegetables you could add to this is unending. I would love to add mushrooms and frozen peas next time.
  • I'm also thinking that I might cook a few slices of diced bacon to the skillet, set aside then skip the butter and oil, and cook my chicken and veggies in the bacon fat, using the bacon bits as a topping. How good does that sound?
  • A side salad would be the only company that this dish needs, we skipped that and just ate garlic bread. The sauce loves to jump on bread! It's really good.