RICOTTA MEATBALLS & GRAVY

A really flavorful and nice addition to this recipe is a batch of shallots or onions caramelized with mushrooms added to the gravy after the meatballs bake! YUMMY!

RICOTTA MEATBALLS

4 slices white bread, torn into small pieces
1/3 cup whole milk
2 pounds ground chuck
8 ounces deli ham, finely chopped
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
3 ounces FINELY grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion, squeezed dry of moisture
2 teaspoons – 1 tablespoon FRESH ground sea salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon FRESH ground black pepper
4 LARGE eggs
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 batch beef gravy (recipe below)

  • Preheat oven to 450°.
  • Place bread pieces in bowl and pour in milk. Using your hands press bread into milk and let stand 5 minutes.

 

  • In a large bowl arrange meat with a well in the center.
  • Add the ham pieces, onions, ricotta cheese, romano cheese, ham pieces, eggs, fennel, bread pieces, salt, oregano and pepper to the well.
  • Gently and gradually incorporate all together without overtaxing.

 

  • Spray baking dish with non-stick spray or brush with avocado oil.
  • Pour gravy into baking dish.
  • Form meat into 1 inch meatballs and arrange in the gravy 1 inch apart, turning to coat.
  • Bake 30 minutes until meatballs are golden brown and are cooked through.

BEEF GRAVY

1⁄4 cup butter
1⁄4 cup flour
1 tablespoon Better Than Beef Bouillon
2 cups beef broth
FRESH ground salt and black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet (optional)

  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add flour and whisk together, making sure to get all visible lumps.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until mixture starts to turn light brown, be sure to stir constantly.
  • Whisk bouillon and beef broth together.
  • Reduce heat to low and SLOWLY add broth mixture, stirring constantly. It may spit & bubble so be careful.
  • Add optional Kitchen Bouquet.
  • Turn heat back up to medium.
  • Continue stirring until gravy boils and thickens.
  • Makes about 2 cups.

AVOCADO RANCH SALAD DRESSING with HOMEMADE CASHEW CREAM

9 times out of 10 I make our salad dressings from scratch. The basic base formula for non-cream dressings is one part acid, such as citric juice from lemon, lime, orange or a vinegar like apple cider, champagne or balsamic to 2 parts oil, olive, walnut or avocado plus seasonings of choice. Then there are dressings that need seriously dressed up with flavor like this one!  This makes a creamy thick dressing full of flavor that coats everything!

AVOCADO RANCH SALAD DRESSING – makes 1 1/2 cups

1 cup cashew cream (mayo works too)
1 avocado
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
Juice of 1 LARGE lemon
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped dill
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped chives
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
PINCH smoked paprika

  • Whisk all together well.
  • Chill well.

CASHEW CREAM makes 2 cups
1 1/2 cups raw unsalted cashews
3/4 cup filtered water, plus more for soaking
juice of 1 LARGE lemon
1/2 – 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Place the cashews in a bowl and fill with filtered water at least an inch above the cashews.
  • Allow the cashews to soak for 30 minutes or up to overnight.
  • Drain and rinse the cashews well.
  • Place the cashews, filtered water, lemon juice, and salt in a high powered blender or food processor.
  • Blend until desired consistency.

NOTES: Your cashew cream will last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and can be frozen for up to 6 months. If you choose to freeze it be sure to run it through the blender really quick after you defrost it to eliminate any lumps.

ASIAN SESAME VINAIGRETTE

ASIAN SESAME VINAIGRETTE

1/3 cup avocado oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons QUALITY honey
1 teaspoon creamy horseradish
1 clove garlic, minced
FRESH ground sea salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper, to taste

  • Combine in a dressing cruet and shake vigorously.
  • Chill at least one hour before serving.
  • Shake before serving.

PORK TENDERLOIN with BOURBON PEACH SAUCE with PARSLEY SLAW

PORK TENDERLOIN with BOURBON PEACH SAUCE with PARSLEY SLAW

TENDERLOIN
1 pound pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons avocado oil
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
2 cups sliced peaches
2 tablespoons QUALITY bourbon
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon QUALITY honey
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • Heat oil over medium high heat.
  • Generously season the pork tenderloin.
  • Add pork to skillet and sear on all sides until completely browned and cooked to 140°, about 5-6 minutes per side.
  • Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
  • Add peaches to pan, stirring 2-3 minutes to cook through.
  • Whisk together the bourbon, vinegar, dijon and honey. Add to peaches, stirring 5minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in butter.
  • Plate pork and top with peach sauce.
  • Add a generous side of slaw and enjoy!

PARSLEY BROCCOLI SLAW
3 cups broccoli sticks bag mix
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH thyme
1/3 cup toasted almond slices
1 tablespoon avocado oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Quality honey

  • Toss together the cabbage, parsley, thyme and almonds.
  • Whisk together the oil, vinegar and honey.
  • Drizzle dressing over slaw mixture and toss well.

FLOATING FRUIT CAKE – PEACH

This is a super fun recipe in that the batter and fruit actually trade places during the baking process ending with a crunchy biscuit topping over sweet, juicy fruit.   My favorite flavor is peach, but it works just as well with cherries, blackberries, blueberries, apples or ANY fruit combo you can think of!

PEACH COBBLER

FILLING
8 cups about 10 peaches peeled and sliced OR 32 ounces of sliced frozen peaches, thawed
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl toss peaches with 2 and cinnamon and set aside.

TOPPING
12 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Preheat oven to 300°.
  • Spray 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  • In another large mixing bowl whisk together the butter, flour, 2 cups sugar, baking powder, salt and milk.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan.
  • Layer evenly with peach slices.
  • Bake for 1 hour or until browned and bubbly.

NOTE: You can use other fruits, but omit the cinnamon if using berries such as blueberries, blackberries or raspberries.

CUCUMBER SALAD

CUCUMBER SALAD

1 LARGE English cucumber, peeled and chopped to 2 cups
1/2 cup chopped seeded Roma tomatoes, about 2 large tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped FRESH Italian flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped FRESH cilantro
4 red mini peppers, about 1/3 cup chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup sour cream
Juice of 1 LARGE lemon
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • In a Salad bowl toss together the cucumber, tomatoes, red onion and peppers.
  • Whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice, salt and pepper until smooth.
  • Add parsley and cilantro.
  • Pour over cucumber mixture and gently toss.

CHURCH SUPPER RING

I wish I had taken a picture of the “WHOLE” ring, but never even thought about it for some reason. It does make an impressive looking presentation for a church potluck or even impromptu company. The best part is that any leftover filling makes a GREAT cold chicken salad!  Fill a pita and eat on the run 😀
CHURCH SUPPER RING serves 8-12

2 – 8 ounce tubes Pillsbury crescent rolls
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Heinz Chili sauce
1/2 cup chopped mini peppers
1 small bunch green onions, chopped
6 strips bacon, chopped, cooked and crumbled crisp
1 package Good Season’s Italian Salad dressing

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Spray 14 inch pizza pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Unroll crescent dough into 16 triangles.
    place the wide end of the triangle 3 inches from the edge of the pan with the point overhanging the edge of the pan. Repeat overlapping the corners and lightly pressing to secure edges until all pieces are used.
  • In a mixing bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, chili sauce and Italian seasoning mix until well blended.
  • Fold in chicken, cheese, onions, bacon pieces and peppers until mixed well.
  • Spoon chicken mixtures over the wide edges of the dough.
  • Fold tip up over chicken mixture and tuck under the edge pressing lightly to secure the dough.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  • Cut into slices.

HAM STEAK with RED EYE GRAVY

HAM STEAK with RED EYE GRAVY

1 1/4 pound bone-in ham steak
2 slices bacon, chopped small
2 tablespoons finely chopped onions
1 teaspoon Wondra flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled VERY cold
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

  • Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat until well rendered and crispy.
  • Pat ham steaks dry and season well.
  • Add to hot grease and brown well, about 4 minutes.
  • Flip and sear the second side about 2 minutes.
  • Remove ham pieces to a platter and tent with foil while you prepare the gravy.
  • Add onion to skillet and sauce a minute or so.
  • Add flour and whisk to combine 15-30 seconds.
  • Whisk in broth and maple syrup. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced and slightly thickened, 5-6 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in espresso powder and COLD butter.
  • Season to taste.
  • Pour off any residual ham juices on serving platter.
  • Top with gravy and serve immediately.

NOTE:  The main use of the bacon is to create the grease to cook the ham and gravy in so chopping extra small I find works really well in order to not need to find another use for the bacon pieces. I just leave them in the gravy 😀

HERB SALAD with BROILED TOMATOES & CREAMY CUCUMBER VINAIGRETTE

HERB SALAD with CREAMY BROILED TOMATO CUCUMBER VINAIGRETTE

MAKE THIS STEP 1-2 HOURS BEFORE YOU NEED THEM!
PICKLED ONIONS
1 teaspoon avocado oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
FRESH ground salt and pepper
1/2 SMALL red onion, cut into rings

  • In a medium skillet heat avocado oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add onion pieces and saute’ for a minute.
  • Add vinegar, tossing to coat and remove from heat.
  • Transfer onions to a small plate and let stand 1-2 hours.

“SALAD”
2 tablespoons FRESH chopped Italian Parsley
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped dill
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped basil leaves
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped tarragon
1 LARGE English cucumber or 2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 bunch beech mushrooms, cleaned and separated
1 small bunch green onions, sliced thin
1 small red onion, chopped

  • Toss all together in large salad bowl and set aside until needed.

VINAIGRETTE
Reserved cucumber peels
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 small shallot, minced
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon avocado oil
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
pinch cayenne pepper

  • In a small food processor blend reserved cucumber peels, garlic, shallot, vinegar, sour cream, buttermilk, oil and seasonings until smooth.
  • Pour over salad and toss gently.
  • Let stand 15-20 minutes and allow flavors to meld.
  • Adjust salt and pepper as necessary.

BROILED TOMATOES
4 LARGE Roma tomatoes, halved or quartered

  • Preheat broiler.
  • Place tomatoes on baking sheet skin side down.
  • Season well with FRESH ground salt and pepper.
  • Broil 2-3 minutes until browned and bubbly.

ASSEMBLY

  • Place a large spoonful of salad mixture in bowl or on plate.
  • Drizzle with vinaigrette.
  • Set 2 broiled tomato pieces next to salad.
  • Top with pickled onions.**
  • Serve immediately.

NOTE** I often toss the pickled onions with the salad mixture JUST prior to serving.

OVEN BBQ CHICKEN

OVEN BBQ CHICKEN

2 pounds chicken thighs and legs
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

SAUCE
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Juice of 1 LARGE lemon
2 tablespoons molasses
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Line a large baking sheet with foil for easier clean up.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine ketchup, pineapple juice, vinegar, butter, lemon juice, molasses, brown sugar, garlic, chili powder, paprika, red pepper, salt and pepper.
  • Season chicken pieces with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Dip each piece in sauce and place on baking sheet skin side up.
  • Bake 45-50 minutes or until temperature reads 170°, basting with reserve sauce every 15 minutes and at the end when you remove it from oven.  Tent with foil and allow chicken to rest 10 minutes before serving.
  • Serve with remaining sauce.

SLOW COOKED COUNTRY CHICKEN & GRAVY

SLOW COOKED COUNTRY CHICKEN & GRAVY

Slow cooked Country Chicken and Gravy is TRULY what easy comfort food is all about!! It is  absolutely ahhh-mazing!

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 packet DRY chicken gravy mix
1 packet DRY Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix**(see notes)
1 – 10 oz. can cream of chicken soup**(see notes)
1 3/4 cups water or chicken broth**(see notes)
FRESH ground black pepper

  • Empty the gravy packets, cream of chicken soup, water and pepper in a slow cooker.
  • Whisk until the gravy is smooth.
  • Add chicken breasts in a single layer if possible.
  • Cook on low for 3-4 hours.
  • Serve over rice, pasta or mashed potatoes

NOTES:

  • You can interchange this packet for just about ANYTHING and get an entirely NEW dish. Try Hidden Valley Ranch, Pioneer Peppered Gravy or Lipton French Onion soup.
  • Try changing out the soup flavor also for a new and inventive flavor combination. Use cream of potato or cheddar cheese…
  • The chicken is so tender you can fork shred it into the sauce and make an entirely different dish!  Try adding some carrots or peas for color.
  • I usually have homemade chicken broth around and I prefer that over water. If I use broth I change this to 2 cups as the homemade broth has more body than store bought.
  • You can also add a quick cornstarch slurry at the end if you need to thicken up the sauce.

LOOSE MEAT BACON CHEESE BURGERS

LOOSE MEAT BACON CHEESE BURGERS

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Heinz Chili Sauce
1 tablespoon Frank’s Original Hot Sauce
1 tablespoon Avocado oil
1/2 Sweet Vidalia Onion, finely chopped
1 pound ground beef chuck
6-8 slices bacon, chopped, browned and drained of grease
FRESH ground sea salt & black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet pickles
6 slices cheddar cheese
12 pull-apart dinner rolls

  • Preheat oven broiler.
  • Whisk together the mayonnaise, chili sauce and hot sauce. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  • Heat the avocado oil in skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add the onion and ground beef. Season with the FRESH ground salt and pepper. Cook and stir until browned. Drain off excess fat if necessary.
  • Spread mayonnaise mixture on both sides of buns.
  • Remove from heat and stir in pickles and any remaining sauce.
  • Place bottoms of rolls on baking sheet and toast under broiler a couple minutes – WATCH that they don’t burn.
  • Remove baking sheet and turn oven down to 400°.
  • Spread the bottoms with cheese followed by the meat mixture.
  • Layer cheese on top of meat followed by the crumbled bacon.
  • Add tops to the burgers.
  • Bake 10 minutes until tops are toasted and cheese is melted.

NOTE: Also good with Frank’s Sweet Chili Lime Sauce.