Friday, January 23, 2009

Cranberry Chili Meatballs

These are a holiday party staple around here, pretty easy to assemble and cost effective, I like to make a big batch because they go fast!! I made them for our annual "Ugly Sweater Party" this year and the next morning Nate used the few I'd saved for my blog photos to make an omelet with mozzarella, it was delicious!

Makes about 90 meatballs
3 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup minced sweet white onion
3 eggs
2 cloves minced garlic
a tiny dash of cayenne pepper
salt & pepper
1-2 T water
1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
3 jars of Lee Kum Garlic Chili Paste
3 15oz cans/containers cranberry relish (I use the chunkiest cranberry sauce I can find- Trader Joe's is awesome if you don't want to make it yourself)
4 1/2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice (about the juice of one large lemon- roll before cutting in half and juicing)
4 T Packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp of lemon zest

Pre-heat oven to 325
Mix the meat, salt, pepper, eggs, bread crumbs, cayenne, water, onion and garlic in a large bowl. Prep a cookie sheet by covering with foil and spraying with non-stick spray. Roll meat into small meatballs (smaller than walnut sized, about 1 T each). Lay balls on cookie sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes per side (turn over once half way through cooking).
In a large bowl combine garlic chili sauce, cranberry, lemon juice & zest, & brown sugar and mix with electric hand mixer until well combined.
Place cooked balls in a large pot and pour sauce over to combine gently mix until sauce is completely incorporated.

I always make these ahead~ so here are all the possibilities;

Make 2-4 days ahead and freeze; pour the balls and sauce into some disposable bakeware (like the big "Gladwear" for baking casseroles in)cover the balls wit a layer or two of Press n' Seal, and then the lid.
Remove from freezer and place on counter to defrost about 2 hours before cooking.
Pour into crock pot and cook on low for 4 hours.

Make the night before-Put the browned balls (once cooled) in the crock part of the crock pot- covered with press n' seal then the lid- and put the sauce in a Pyrex and refrigerated over night. For the party- Heat them in the crock on LOW for 4 hours, stirring every once in a while.

From oven to crock pot~ Combine balls and sauce, add to crock pot and cook on low for 3 hours, serve warm~

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Goat Cheese Bites

I made a variation of these last year for our holiday sweater party and think that you pretty much can't miss with fig & goat cheese!
These are a simple and beautiful appetizer that freezes well and can be made ahead, and heated up as the party moves along! I love the fig preserves at the holidays- but these are great with marmalade or other preserves to reflect different seasons.

Makes 60-70
12 oz goat cheese
8 oz softened cream cheese
one egg
3 boxes of frozen puff pastry
2 jars of fig preserves

Let the puff pastry thaw on the counter. Using a hand mixer combine the goat cheese, cream cheese & egg. Using a small biscuit cutter (about the size of a silver dollar) cut circles out of the puff pastry a circle of puff pastry in a greased mini-muffin tin, add a scoop of cheese mix, top with a dollop of fig preserves. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until cheese and puff pastry is golden.
You can freeze these and then just re-heat them at party time! :O)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie~ Berry Surprise Cake

Awwww, I didn't make it.
No Berry Surprise Cake to see here, today...I will be making this at some point, and will be back in the TWD mix next week, but I am leaving on a cruise (my first!! I CAN'T WAIT) and since the weather in SoCal was seriously 80+ degrees this past weekend (sorry!!) we hit the beach, not the kitchen.

SO- head on over to the TUESDAYS WITH DORIE blogroll and bask in the beauty of the brilliant Berry Surprise Cakes!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Holiday Cranberry Crackers

I discovered these last year when my co-worker Nicole brought them to our office, and posted about them HERE. I can not believe how easy they are to make, store (for holiday cookie plates) and EAT!! They are also fabulous for getting creative and topping them with anything you can think of~

2 packages of Salteen crackers (there are 4 packages in one box)
2 sticks of butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
a package of saltine crackers
1 bag mini dark chocolate chips
Almonds, chopped, crushed or slivered

Preheat the oven to 400. Get a cookie sheet out, cover with foil and lay crackers out all over the cookie sheet. Take the butter and brown sugar and melt together in a medium pot over medium heat don't stir until it is all melted!!, now wait for the sugar/butter to caramelize (you will notice big bubbles)- once that happens, remove the pan from the heat and use a spoon to drizzle the caramelly goodness all over the crackers. Then sprinkle the crushed nuts on top.
Bake for 5-7 minutes. Take the crackers out and IMMEDIATELY sprinkle the chocolate chips over them, then transfer off the cookie sheet to cool before the chocolate chips re-harden.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesdays With Dorie~ Savory Corn & Pepper Muffins

I love cornbread and so far pretty much every variation of it you can imagine...I'm into it.

These were no exception- they were fantastic!! For this week's TUESDAYS WITH DORIE, REBECCA of EZRA POUND CAKE has chosen SAVORY CORN AND PEPPER MUFFINS.
Be sure to cruise by her blog and check out THE RECIPE, and to see the groups muffins, hop on over to the ~TWD BLOGROLL~

This week's pick is not just a favorite genre of mine, but Nate's too- and he pretty much made these muffins (I hope that is a substitution that's allowed!!) I did help, chopping bell pepper, measuring buttermilk, melting butter and servin up an egg yolk- and he did everything else!! We were so excited when these came out of the oven we ate two of them when they were SMOKIN hot, and totally delicious...

Thanks for a yummy savory, super peppery muffin pick Rebecca!!

Next week we're making Berry Surprise Cake...hope that didn't just ruin the surprise!! Happy Baking!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie~ French Pear Tart

HAPPY NEW YEAR TWD!! I am so excited to be part of TWD as the group celebrates a whole year of baking fabulous recipes from the book "Baking; From My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan.

I've been thrilled to be a part of this awesome group and could not think of a better way to kick off a new year - a second year of TWD - than with this delicious French Pear Tart. In addition to the excitement of the French Pear Tart itself, this weeks pick was one I've been looking forward to, because it was chosen by Dorie Greenspan!!
Visit Dorie's site to see the real deal, and the TUESDAYS WITH DORIE BLOGROLL to see everyone's tarts ;o)

I loved this recipe because it was perfect to pace out over a Sunday morning.
I made the crust first, then while it froze I made the Almond creme. (Thanks to Dorie suggesting in the recipe that the creme can be made ahead~)
Then the crust cooled and the creme fridged while we had lunch, after that, I poached pears and baked it up! My knife skills are a work in progress, but I think I did an ok job to be improved upon next time!

This tart is beautiful and INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS- Nate and I both love this tart and would make it again

If you don't already own Baking; From my Home to on out and buy it, you will bake more in 2009 than ever before! WOOOHOO!!

Tune in next week for Savory Corn & Pepper Muffins~ I can't wait!

Monday, January 5, 2009

The BEST Stuffing EVER.

This is seriously the BEST stuffing I have ever had in my life. I don't know that I'd ever want another type of stuffing ever again, this ROCKS! A HUGE thanks to Colleen Beauregard for sharing this family tradition with our family this year and letting me make (and share) her sensational stuffing recipe~ She noted that she usually quadruples this recipe for her family because it is such a favorite. And added in the email she sent, "I used to make extra casseroles and freeze extra batches to send with the kids back to college. You know, back in the day!!!"
Well, I couldn't get enough of this and although we only made a single batch I wish I still had some in the freezer to heat up and enjoy!!

Italian Sausage Stuffing
(Bake in casserole and in turkey.)

1/2 c butter
1 lb. sausage (out of casing)
1 c chopped celery
1 medium size onion, chopped
1/4 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 package (10 oz.) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry.
1/2 c each raisins and grated Parmesan cheese
1 c sliced almonds
3/4 c of dry white wine
1 t each rosemary and oregano * Note from Co: "I always use more...till it looks good"
1 package of stuffing cubes (about 4 cups)

In 4 - 5 quart pan, melt butter. Add sausage, celery, and onion. Cook over med-high heat until sausage is cooked...about 20 minutes. Stir often so sausage is crumbly. Add mushrooms, stir until most of liquid from mushrooms has evaporated...about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in all remaining ingredients.Add the stuffing seems to blend better. Taste and add any additional rosemary or oregano and salt.

Spoon stuffing into a buttered casserole, cover with foil and bake in a 325 degree oven for about 40 minutes.Remove foil for the last ten minutes or so of baking.

You can make the stuffing ahead of time....just don't stuff it in the turkey until you are ready to put the turkey in the oven.

Also you can take a baster full of turkey drippings and drip it on the casserole you plan on cooking on Turkey day. All the extra casseroles/frozen batches never get this extra treatment and still taste marvelous so it is not really necessary.

From the kitchen of~
Co Beau

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

This recipe was suggested by my friend Erin, we were huddled around some baked potatoes at a USC game this past fall and she mentioned twice-baked sweet potatoes using cream cheese, I couldn't resist!! Unfortunately the lighting was pretty whack, but dinner was delicious and I'll be making these again for sure!

For 8 people
8 small sweet potatoes
1 8oz package of cream cheese
4 T butter
brown sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 350, wash the potatoes. Place the potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for about 55 minutes or until soft all the way through. Let them cool, until they are warm but ok to handle with out burnin' your mits off!
Cut a diamond/ oval shape opening in the top of each potato and spoon the inside into a large bowl- leave enough potato attached to the skin so it stands up and isn't just a floppy peel. In the bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, cloves, cinnamon, brown sugar and salt.
Re-fill each potato with the mixture and bake again at 350 for about 30 minutes or until warm all the way through and golden on the top. You could also add a few marshmallows to the top before baking, but I knew I was going to be eating half a TWO-FER PIE, so wanted to save the calories for desert! HA!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Turkey Joes over Spaghetti Squash

It's 2009 and I hope to continue making more easy weeknight dinners that don't break our calorie bank! We both made big efforts in getting healthy last year and hope to keep that up and even improve on our eating and exercise habits in 2009~

This is one of my favorite go-to recipes that is healthy and full of flavor! I usually make this sandwich style on whole wheat buns, and we've had it as leftovers in taco shells, but Nate had never had spaghetti squash before so I thought this would be a fun twist!

1/2 sweet Maui onion chopped
2-3 clove garlic, minced
1 Red Bell pepper, finely chopped
1 lb ground Turkey (or beef)
1 6-oz can tomato paste (I also get a small can of tomato sauce- see below)
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
several pinches of kosher salt
1 spaghetti squash (you can also use toasted bread, pita, taco shells...)
Grated cheese *my two faves are sharp cheddar or jalapeno jack
Sour cream to garnish

Remove sticker and wash spaghetti squash. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Microwave on a microwave-safe plate for about 6 minutes in 2 minute intervals. This will make it easier to cut in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and center like when you carve a pumpkin (YAY!)Fill a 9 x 13 baking pan about 1/2 full with water and put the squash cut side down into the pan. Bake the squash for about 50-60 minutes, until squash is tender. Take squash out to cool.

Spray a large saucepan with non-stick spray and a little bit of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper. Saute until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add meat and brown, about 5-7 minutes. (two options at this point: if you use extra lean turkey and you do not have fat to drain, just leave all liquids then add tomato paste and option to that if you've cooked with ground beef or something that you'd rather drain some of the fat, then after draining and adding paste & spices, then add a small, like 6oz can of tomato sauce for sauciness)
Add spices: chili powder, cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, and salt, stirring after adding each spice. Simmer, stirring occasionally & saute (if you have left the juices in and only added tomato paste- let the sauce thicken a bit about 12 minutes)

Scrape the squash with a fork onto a plate (we each ate a 1/4 of a squash and had the other half the next night for leftovers) top with Joe's mix, some cheese and a bit of sour cream. OH! and Black pepper...yummy~

Saturday, January 3, 2009

"Italian" Mac N Cheese 1

My sister is vegetarian, so I always like to make her something non-turkey related for Thanksgiving. (this is how behind I am in my posting!) This year she found out about a whole slew of food allergies (including nuts, onions, avocados and other yummy things) so I asked her what she thought I should make, and she requested Mac n' Cheese~
I have been messin' with finding "my" mac n' cheese recipe that will be my go to favorite, earlier in November, I made MAC N' CHEESE 1, which was good but still wanted to try something different. Nate suggested the gemili pasta (one of his favorites) and replacing the cream cheese from the previous batch with ricotta- hence, Italian Mac N' Cheese. (minus the garlic which was on the allergy list, next time I'll make it with roasted garlic and some chili flakes added, and the mascarpone cheese suggested in my previous Mac n' Cheese post!! THANKS!)

Sweet Life Italian Mac N' Cheese 1
1 package Gemili pasta
1/2 cup Ricotta
1/3 + cup shredded Sharp Cheddar (shred at least 1/2 cup and add more as you stir)
1/3 cup shredded Mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1/8 cup shredded Romano
3-4 oz Velveeta cheese
2-4 T heavy cream or whole milk

In a large pot bring water to a boil and cook the pasta about 8 minutes, or until aldente according to package instructions. Drain and set aside, pour out all water and add Ricotta, cheddar, mozzarella, Parmesan, Romano and Velveeta to warm pasta pot. Pre-heat oven to 350 Begin stirring and slowly add drained, cooked pasta until well combined, add 2 T heavy cream and stir. Add additional cream & cheddar until thick, creamy and delicious~ Pour into a casserole and top with shredded Parmesan. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Lamb Kabobs

We were having some pretty nice weather around here circa Thanksgiving and I thought it'd be fun to do something different than the usual burgers or more turkey leftovers!! This is great to prep the night ahead or right when you get home because .:*the lamb needs to marinate for a minimum of 2-3 hours*:.

Beth's Grilled Lamb Kabobs

1 lb ground lamb
1/2 a sweet onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
a pinch of kosher salt and some fresh ground pepper
Combine everything in medium bowl and cover in plastic wrap, refrigerate 2-3 hours.
Form long patties that are equal in thickness. Oil the grill surface so the lamb does not stick. Grill over medium heat about 4-5 minutes each side, flipping once with a spatula or plastic tongs (don't pull them by the stick!).

Serve with warm pita bread and hummus~

1 15 oz garbanzo beans (1/2 the liquid set aside) drained & rinsed
1 Tbsp tahini paste
Squeeze 1/2 a lemon (about 2 Tbsp) lemon juice
Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp olive oil

Combine all in the food processor, add reserve garbanzo bean juice to achieve desired texture. Refrigerate, covered with saran wrap at least 1 hour before serving.

Also yummy with my Cucumber Salad

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Mac n Cheese 1

I am trying to find the perfect recipe for mac n' cheese, so I began experimenting with some different ingredients (this was my first attempt). I like this recipe but will continue to try different cheeses, pasta, etc. until I find my favorite.

Serves 6
1 small bag of elbow mac
4 oz Velveeta, room temp
4 oz Cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup sharp cheddar shredded
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1 T. Parmesan

In a large sauce pot bring water to a boil and cook pasta for about 7 minutes or to aldente according to package directions. Pre-heat oven to 350.
Drain and return to pot. Add Velveeta, cream cheese, cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan to hot pasta, turn on very low heat and stir constantly until all cheese is melted and ingredients are well combined. Add milk 1 T at a time up to 4 T for desired texture, add pepper to taste. Pour into a casserole dish and cook, uncovered, for 25-35 minutes or until top is golden.

~HAPPY 2009~

Project Sweet Life Kitchen is in full swing- after a brief hiatus while Nate and I battled the flu over the holidays...I'm feeling MUCH better today, the first day of 2009 & I am spending gobs of time working on updates (while cheering for the Trojans in the Rose Bowl!!) WOO-HOO!!

Here are my very favorite dishes of 2008~


~Mini Pulled Pork Sandwiches~

Dinner/Dinner Party~

~Homemade Lasagna~


~Eggnog Brownie Bites~
Post coming soon...