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.

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.

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 😀

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.

HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN ala SLOW COOKER

HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN ala SLOW COOKER

This recipe is ALWAYS a winner. Full of flavor and JUST spicy enough to please everyone at your dinner table.

8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 cup Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup honey

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped Thai basil

  • Lay chicken thighs into the bottom of a 4-quart slow cooker.
  • Whisk liquid aminos, ketchup, honey, garlic, and basil together in a bowl; pour over the chicken.
  • Cook on Low for 4 hours.
  • Serve over rice or noodles.

NOTE:  To spice this up I use Jalapeno ketchup instead of plain.

ROAST PORK with GARLIC ONION GRAVY

ROAST PORK with GARLIC ONION GRAVY

3-4 pound pork roast
1 bulb garlic, cloves peeled
3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon avocado oil
2 shallots, halved and sliced
2 carrots, halved and sliced thin
2 stalks celery, chopped
FRESH thyme sprigs
2+ cups chicken broth (preferably homemade and STRONG)
2 tablespoons Wondra flour
3 tablespoons cold water

  • Preheat oven to 325°.
  • Make as many slits in the roast as you have garlic cloves and insert 1 clove into each slit.
  • Rub roast with Cajun seasoning.
  • In a heavy skillet heat avocado oil.
  • Sear each side of roast until browned.
  • Remove roast from skillet adding to roasting pan.
  • Add carrots, onions and celery to skillet, sautéing 5-8 minutes until tender.
  • Arrange veggie mixture around roast.
  • Top with thyme sprigs.
  • Add 1 cup of the broth to roasting pan.
  • Cover loosely with foil.
  • Roast 45 minutes to an hour (145°).
  • Remove roast and arrange on platter, tenting with foil and let stand while you prepare the gravy.

  • Strain pan drippings through a sieve into a saucepan. Discard solids.
  • Add remaining broth to drippings.
  • Whisk together the cold water and Wondra flour.
  • Add flour mixture to pan drippings, whisking until smooth.
  • Cook over medium high heat 5 minutes until thickened to desired consistency.

SPICY PIMIENTO CHEESE BURGERS – BUNLESS BURGER series #5

When I was a kid I remember driving by McDonalds and seeing their sign claiming how many burgers they had sold. It ALWAYS seemed like an exorbitantly high number to me, but these days I do believe hamburgers are one of the most eaten fast food and BBQ sandwiches.

I’d never really thought about it, but got curious about the origins of the hamburger. It will probably come as no surprise that the hamburger can actually be traced back to Hamburg, Germany. Ironically you almost have to give the credit to Russia though. In the mid 18th century Hamburg was the largest port in Europe and the seaman brought the idea with them of their acquired taste of eating steak tartare from Russia. But, even Russia cannot lay claim as it was the Mongul nomadic warriors that brought steak tartare with them from central Asia to Russia to begin with. The legend claims that the warriors would tenderize their meat by placing it under their saddles during their long rides where the motion of the saddle would tenderize the meat to a pulp and they would then enjoy the meat raw. I can find no mention of who actually decided to cook the meat into a “burger”. But according to my research it was the German immigrants brought the cooked burger to us here in the states.  The first North American restaurant to offer up a hamburger steak on their menu was DelMonico’s in 1834 New York. Strangely enough the hamburger steak sold for 10¢, double the price of roast beef and even veal. Eventually, people became more familiar with hamburgers and the price dropped as it became more a food of the masses when it was placed on a bun with the added condiments, tomatoes, pickles and was sold on horse drawn lunch wagons, at diners and lunch counters instead of the elite.

The one thing that everyone seems to agree on is that a good burger has a good amount of fat to keep the burger moist. LESS is more when preparing a GOOD burger. LESS ingredients and LESS handling – lets the meat speak for itself. 😀

PIMIENTO CHEESE BURGERS
1 – 1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
Pimiento cheese (recipe below)
melted butter

  • Preheat grill to high for direct grilling. Lightly spray the grill with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Divide the ground chuck into four equal portions, 4-6 ounces each.
  • Form each portion into a 3/4-inch burger and make a deep depression in the center with your thumb.
  • Brush both sides of the burgers with the butter and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
  • Grill the burgers, turning once until golden brown and slightly charred on both sides and cooked to desired temperature, about 4 minutes each side for medium.
  • During the last minute of cooking, place a dollop of the pimiento cheese mixture on top of each burger and close the grill lid, cooking JUST until the cheese has melted, about 1 minute.
  • Place the burgers on the buns (if desired) and top with the bacon, sliced red onions, sliced tomatoes, your favorite pickles and lettuce as desired.

SPICY PIMIENTO CHEESE
12 ounces softened cream cheese
1 pound SHARP Cheddar cheese, finely grated
3/4 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
1 large Red Bell Pepper, washed, seeded, roasted and chopped fine
1 teaspoon QUALITY Worcestershire sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon Frank’s original Hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, hot sauce and salt until smooth.
  • Blend in grated Cheddar cheese.
  • Fold in bell pepper until well distributed.
  • Chill well.
  • Serve with crackers or on a burger.

COWBOY BURGERS

COWBOY BURGERS – 8 burgers
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup finely chopped Pastrami
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Sweet Baby Ray original BBQ sauce
8 slices QUALITY cheddar cheese
French’s crispy onion rings or crispy bacon (optional)

  • Gently blend all the ingredients  except the cheese slices and onion rings together.
  • Form 8 patties.
  • Split buns and lightly butter. Set aside.
  • Heat grill to medium high.
  • Grill 3-4 minutes, flipping once per side for medium rare burgers.
  • Top burgers with cheese.
  • Place buns, split sides down on grill.
  • Close grill a couple minutes until cheese is melted and buns are lightly toasted.
  • Place burger on bun, top with onion rings and condiments.
  • Serve warm.

CHICKEN BACON APPLE STRATA/BREAD PUDDING

This recipe is perfect for the FULL family weekend where you want to spend more time with the family than in the kitchen. This can be made well in advance and just be popped into the oven when needed. It’s the perfect recipe for either brunch OR supper! I adjusted the flavors from the original to our liking, but ALSO think that next time I will cut the bread into chucks and do it more like a bread pudding.

CHICKEN BACON APPLE STRATA
3/4 pound bacon, chopped
8 slices thick sandwich bread
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 large eggs
FRESH ground salt and pepper
3/4 teaspoon creamy horseradish
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Cook bacon until crispy. Drain on paper toweling.
  • Spray a 10 inch spring form pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Arrange 4 slices of bread in the baking dish, cutting bread as necessary to form a single layer.
  • Arrange half the apples over the bread layer followed by the bacon pieces and cheddar cheese.
  • Top with chicken pieces in an even layer.
  • Top with remaining apples followed by the remaining.
  • Top with remaining bread slices.
  • Whisk together the milk, eggs, horseradish, salt and pepper. Pour over bread tops, pressing to submerge the bread into the egg mixture.
  • Cover with saran and refrigerate at LEAST 8 hours.

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • When ready to bake, top with the melted butter.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake 45-60 minutes until strata is puffed and golden brown.