Ricotta Meatballs

For the past couple of years, we’ve been using a food kit service. You place your order on line by Friday, and on the following Monday, you get almost everything you need for how ever many kits you’ve chosen that week. Salt, pepper, and small amounts of olive oil are about all you need to add.

With a lot of the kits, I do add stuff, like my own Sherry Peppers Sauce, but I also learn interesting things.

Such as, you can use Ricotta cheese in place

of egg when making meatballs!

Genius idea! And, if you use gluten-free panko crumbs instead of regular bread crumbs, they’ll, well, be gluten-free.

Bonus!

INGREDIENTS
Meatballs:
•10 oz ground beef
•1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
•1/4 cup Ricotta cheese
•1 tbsp shredded Parmesan
•2 garlic cloves, minced
•2 tsp dried parsley
•2 tsp dried basil
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 tsp black pepper
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp garlic infused olive oil

Sauce:
•8 oz prepared marinara sauce
•1/2 cup pasta cooking water
•1 clove garlic, minced
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Note: since this is a portioned food kit and ours is a small household, these amounts will make ten meatballs. Feel free to scale up, for more.

In a large bowl, stir the breadcrumbs together with the cheeses, garlic, and seasonings.

Note: for “zippier” meatballs, add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed pepper flakes.

Add the meat to the bowl, top with the Sherry Peppers Sauce and, using your hands mix until nicely blended.

Divide into ten meatballs (a cookie scoop works a treat here).

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the meatballs and cook, browning each side until slightly crusty.

Remove the meatballs from the pan and let rest.

Add the minced garlic to the meatball pan and cook on medium-high heat, stirring, just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the marinara, pasta water, and Sherry Peppers Sauce and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a low simmer, then return the meatballs to the pan, cover, and cook until the meatballs are cooked through, another ten minutes or so.

Serve over pasta with fresh parsley and additional shredded Parmesan.

Tasty meatballs!

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It’s Not Just Sauce – It’s Peachy Keen!

Last year, we had an unexpected family gathering and, as one, does, I served a large dinner in celebration of a happy outcome; barbecued ribs with a new-ish sauce variation I was playing around with.

It was a hoooge hit, and so, a lot of folx ended up with jars of Holidaze BBQ Sauce for, well… the holidaze.

But then, I got to thinking of the warmer weather, and if peaches might could be just as good as pineapple in the new sauce?

And so, Peachy Keen Barbecue came about; but it was just a one-time, toss together recipe so, with summer finally upon us, I resolved to stock my pantry.

INGREDIENTS
•4 quarts Barbecue Sauce
•1 quart Pepper Relish
•4 cans (15 oz each) peaches in light syrup (don’t drain)
•1/2 cup Arby’s Sauce

Note: I make and can my own barbecue sauce and pepper relish; but feel free to use jars from the market.

Stir all of the ingredients together in a large non-stick pot or, better yet, a multi setting slow cooker/sauté pot such as this one.

Simmer over medium low heat for several hours, stirring and whisking often to gather up any solids from the bottom of the pan.

Note: my old (18+ year old) large (6-1/2 quart) slow cooker worked a treat, because on the HIGH setting, it ran hotter than any other slow cooker I had owned. But then, it died on me. No worries, I replaced it with a 7 quart multi-cooker with a BROWN/SAUTÉ setting, which works a treat, because the HIGH slow cook setting is not as “high” as it was on the old pot.

So… if you have it, set your pot to BROWN/SAUTÉ at 250º and simmer for several hours, still stirring and whisking often to gather up any solids on the bottom or sides of the pot.

Note: you could run your canned peaches in light syrup through the blender before adding them to the sauce; but I chose to use my immersion blender after the sauce had simmered for four hours or so.

You will know your sauce is ready when it is slightly thickened and the color has darkened to a deep brownish red.

Give it a taste. Because my Barbecue Sauce and Pepper Relish are both a bit spicy and sweet, my Peachy Keen Sauce is as well. If you prefer your sauce less, ermmm, zippy, then choose a sauce base and pepper relish more suited to your tastes.

Ladle your sauce into prepared canning jars, seal, (remember to use just your fingertips to tighten the bands) and process in boiling water for 15 minutes.

Remove the jars to a rack to cool, listening for the little “POP!” that will tell you your jars have properly sealed.

You can also test the seal by pressing a fingertip into the center of each processed jar’s lid. If the center doesn’t move, it is sealed. If you push it down and it “POPS!” but the center stays down; it is sealed. If the center pops back up, you can either reprocess that jar for another 15 minutes, or stash the completely cooled jar in the fridge and use as you would any opened jar.

I ended up with seven 8 oz. jars, six 12 oz jars and three 16 oz jars.

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Aunt Buzz’s Grilled Cheese

My Aunt Buzz, as a rule, did not like for her food to be “gorped up.”

Chinese food? Chow mein, please, and absolutely no sharesies!

Corn on the cob? Picked from the field after you have set the water on to boil, then a bit of salt and butter. None of this elote stuff.

So, her take on grilled cheese is, at first glance, kinda gorped up, but totally delicious.

Mayonnaise, mustard and sweet relish?

Bring on teh gorping, because, YES!

INGREDIENTS
•Bread
•Cheese
•Mayonnaise
•Mustard
•Sweet pickle relish
•Butter, softened

Note: Aunt Buzz did stick with plain white bread and American cheese; but I have branched out with my fave sourdough bread and Colby Jack cheese.

Arrange the bread slice(s) on a board and spread with mayonnaise, mustard, and sweet relish.

Top with slices of cheese, then another slice of bread.

Butter the top of the bread, then place, buttered side down, in a hot pan over medium heat.

Note: if you wanna gorp things up a bit more, try using mayonnaise on the top of the bread instead of butter.

Spread butter (or mayonnaise) on the top of the bread, then flip when the bottom is golden brown.

Continue to cook until the bottom is golden brown and the cheese melted.

Tasty!

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It’s Time to Make Peach Butter!

There’s a family gathering next month, and I have been asked to replenish the supply of Peach Butter.

“But wait!” you say, “Isn’t that an awful lot of work and prep and all?”

Not really, it is just four ingredients (three, if you decide not to add the brandy) and, since so many folx are making so many smoothies at home now, you can easily find a five pound bag of prepped peaches in many market’s frozen fruit section.

Mango chunks, too.

So…

Let us butter us some peaches!

there is no actual butter involved when making peach butter.

INGREDIENTS
•5 lb diced frozen peaches
•24 oz diced frozen mango
•4 cups sugar
•5 tbsp brandy

Stir all of the ingredients (no need to thaw the peaches or mango) together in a large pot over low heat.

Note: I use my fave non-stick pan, because then I can be a little more hands-off on the stirring while the sugar is melting and while I am simmer the peach butter.

Cook until the sugar has dissolved, stirring every now and then, until the mixture has come to a low boil.

Continue to simmer, stirring often, until the peach butter has turned a deep, almost amber color; about 30 to 45 minutes.

While the peach butter is simmering, bring a large canning pot of water to boil.

Note: because our water is somewhat mineral-ly, I had one cup or so of white vinegar to the pot with the water. This will insure the jars come out of their boiling water bath clean and shiny, with no (harmless, but not nice to look at) milk film coating them.

Once the water is ready, you’re gonna need to process your peach butter in stages in a blender, or (so much easier!) use your immersion blender right in the pot to break up any larger chunks of peaches and mango.

Transfer your peach butter to prepared canning jars, top  with clean lids, tighten the bands on each jar using the “two finger” method – use just the tips of two fingers to tighten the jar bands.

Process in the boiling water for ten minutes, then remove the jars to a rack to cool.

You will hear some popping as the jars cool, that is totally cool, and means that the jars war well and truly sealed.

To check this, press a finger in the center of each jar lid. If it does not move, or, if it pops down and stays that way; you are golden, the jar is sealed.

If a lid pops back up, try re-processing the jar in the boiling water for another ten minutes (usually works a treat) or, transfer the cooled jar to the fridge and use as you would any opened jar of jam or jelly.

I ended up with seven half pints and two twelve ounce jars (my in-laws really like their peach butter); but some batches have yielded up to 14 half pints.

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Marinated Boneless Pork Tip Ends

Fun Fact: were you aware that “souvlaki” refers to the skewers “souvla” used to hold the marinated meat?

I was not, and now, I just do not feel right calling one of my fave (and easiest) dinners souvlaki. *SIGH* Accuracy is hard.

ANYwho, one of the markets I go to used to have these incredibly good pork tenderloin tip ends for about $10 for four pieces (those are two in the image to the left). They were out of stock for a while, and just recently, I

lucked into a package ($15, now) and, with some fortuitous warm weather, got my husband to fire up the grill.

Note: if you can’t find tenderloin tip ends, must any cut of pork will work.

INGREDIENTS
•Boneless pork tenderloin tip ends
•Italian or Greek dressing/marinade mix
•1 cup canola oil*
•1/2 cup vinegar

*The package specifies olive oil, but if I use that, the marinade will turn into a solid block in the fridge. If you want to use olive oil, cut back to 1/2 cup and top it off with 1/2 cup of canola oil.

That’s it! How is that for a simple recipe?

I use a local powdered dressing mix that is gluten free, no MSG or refined sugars, and even Keto and Atkins friendly (so, bonus!), but you can use a bottle of your own fave.

Add the pork to a gallon-sized zipper bag, then pour the prepared dressing mix over to cover. Close the bag and arrange the pork in a single layer on a rimmed plate (for to catch any drippages). Give the bag a flip or two, just to evenly cover the meat, then stash in the fridge for a few hours or, always more better, overnight, giving the bag a flip or two when you think to.

Remove the pork from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature about an hour before you plan to grill it.

Note: these tenderloin tip ends are wicked thick, so you should plan on about an hour on the grill. If you use thinner cuts, or actually go the Souvlaki route, your cooking times will vary.

Remove from the grill, cover, and allow to rest for ten minutes before slicing.

Oh! So good! Especially with a drizzle of Arby’s Sauce.

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French ‘n Feta Pasta Salad

This is a slightly different take on a pasta salad. I make a similar salad with a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese, some mayonnaise, and Catalina French dressing – Jardinière Salad – but this version starts with plain dried pasta, calls for no mayonnaise, but does use two types of French dressing.

It also gets its cheesy goodness from a generous helping of crumbled Feta cheese instead of that familiar blue box.

All in all, a winner, I think.

INGREDIENTS
•8 oz small pasta
•1/2 cup Catalina dressing
•1/2 cup French dressing
•1/4 cup sliced scallion
•1/4 cup sliced black olives
•1/4 cup sliced peperoncini
•1/2 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/2 tsp Black pepper

Cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions, then drain and rinse (yeh, you do want to rinses your pasta when you are using it in a salad).

Stir the two French dressings into the pasta in a medium bowl, then cover and stash in the fridge overnight.

Note: you’re gonna look at this and say “Whoa! There is way too much French dressing in this!”

And you would be wrong.

Consider the pasta the next day, just as adding the remaining ingredients…

the pasta as absorbed all of that excess liquid – and the flavor – into itself, which will give the finished salad a better overall taste.

Add the remaining ingredients, stir, and chill until ready to serve. I actually added another 1/4 cup of French dressing to mine, just to loosen it up a bit.

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General Tsao’s Tacos

Monday, I air fried a couple of skirt steaks that my market offered up in a tasty General Tsao’s marinade.

We thoroughly enjoyed it, but two or so pounds of steak was too much for just the two of us, so I was thinking I would mebbe turn the leftovers into tacos.

Great move!

I cut the leftover steak into small chunks, added red pepper strips and Sherry Peppers

Sauce and stuff, and we had ourselves some fine tacos!

INGREDIENTS
Tacos:
•1 tbsp olive oil
•1 lb cooked skirt steak, cubed
•1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•Flour tacos
•Chopped cilantro
•Lime wedges

Coleslaw:
•1 bag coleslaw mix
•Sliced scallions
•3 tbsp rice vinegar
•2 tbsp brown sugar
•Chopped fresh parsley

Boom Boom Sauce:
•1/2 cup mayonnaise
•1/4 cup Thai-style sweet chili sauce
•1 tsp Sriracha hot chile sauce, or to taste

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Early in the day, whisk the brown sugar into the rice vinegar in a large bowl, then add the coleslaw mix, scallions, and parsley and toss to coat, then cover and stash in the fridge.

Note: I had some leftover corn that I tossed in as well.

Whisk the Boom Boom Sauce ingredients together in a small jar and pop into the fridge until you are ready to serve the tacos.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, then add the red pepper strips and cook for a few minutes.

Add the cubed beef, the Sherry Peppers and hot sauces and continue to cook until the beef is heated through and the beef and peppers are a bit charred in places.

Warm your flour tortillas between damp paper towels in the ‘wave for 30 seconds.

To serve, arrange the beef and pepper mixture in the bottom of a warm tortilla, then top with the slaw and chopped cilantro.

Top with Boom Boom Sauce and a squeeze or two of fresh lime juice.

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Air Fried Ranch Potatoes

Who doesn’t love French fries?

The air fryer has most certainly improved the quality of our home made fries, but now, thanks to some research on my part and a lot of potatoes sent to me as part of our food kits to be oven fried, I have a cool, new  (could be improved!) variation:

Ranch Seasoned Potato Slices!

Crispity, just the right amount of seasoning, and dead simple with the air fryer.

INGREDIENTS
•2 Russet potatoes
•Buttermilk ranch dressing mix
•Salt
•Oil

Note: no, you do not need the salt for the potatoes themselves, but for the water you are gonna lightly boil them in.

Wash the potatoes, quarter, and cut into thin slices – four or so slices per potato quarter works for me.

Transfer the potato slices to a medium pot, cover with cold water, and let rest for five or ten minutes. The water will be cloudy, and that’s a good thing; you are getting extra starch out of the slices.

Drain and rinse the potatoes, and rinse out the pot they were soaking in.

Return the potatoes to the pot with one tablespoon of salt and add enough cold water to cover the potatoes.

Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Let the potatoes boil for five minutes, then immediately drain and run cold water over them to cool them down.

Set the potatoes aside to dry out for an hour or so, if possible.

Place the potato slices in a large bowl and season with the buttermilk ranch

Heat your air fryer to 400º

Arrange the seasoned potato slices in a single layer on your air fryer rack and mist with cooking oil.

Note: I do not use cooking spray in my air fryer because the propellant seems to coat the rack and is almost impossible to get off.

Air fry the potatoes for ten minutes, then turn them over, mist that side with cooking oil, and return for another five to ten minutes, until they are as golden brown as you like ’em.

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Arby’s Sauce

And, just like that, it’s summer.

No, seriously.

Just a day or two ago, it was cold and rainy and I was still wearing a (light) winter coat; then today, sunny, mid 80’s and with a light breeze blowing to keep things comfortable.

So. Summer, right?

Burgers! And burgers, for me, means that it is time to make Arby’s Sauce!

INGREDIENTS
•1/2 cup ketchup
•1/2 cup water
•2 tbsp Heinz 57 Steak Sauce
•2 tsp brown sugar
•2 tsp white vinegar
•1 tsp hot sauce
•1/4 tsp onion powder
•1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/8 tsp white pepper
•1/8 tsp allspice

Stir all the ingredients together (I use my immersion blender) until well mixed, then transfer to a container and stash in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to really mesh before using.

No fuss, little muss, and such a nice sauce for burgers. Or chicken. Or fish.

Try it yourself and see.

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Air Fryer Skirt Steak

I had a taste for flank steak.

And a recipe for making it in the air fryer that looked pretty nice.

But then, Whole Foods ran a sale on skirt steak and even had them in what looked to be a tasty (it was) General Tsao’s marinade, so, plans and recipes changed.

All thanks to da google, I was able to find an air fryer recipe for skirt steak; so, my method remained, more or less, the same.

The one thing I kinda, sorta screwed the pooch on, was that one of the recipes I found recommended browning the skirt steak in a pan on top of the stove before air frying. I thought “what’s the need?” and, wrongly, I now think, skipped that step.

Though our skirt steak turned out tender and tasty, it took a good bit longer to cook, and had minimal crispity bits; so, next time, I am gonna try the pan brown bit first.

INGREDIENTS
•Skirt steak – I had 2, weighing 2-1/4 lb.
•Marinade

Note: as I mentioned above, I bought my steak already marinated. If you are starting with a plain steak, arrange in a gallon sized zipper bag and pour your marinade of choice over to cover (this Steak and Chop Marinade is nice); flip the bag a couple of times to coat all of the steak, then place on a rimmed plate (for to catch any drippages) and toss in the fridge for a few hours or, always more better, overnight, turning the bag over when you think to.

Bring your marinated steak to room temperature and heat your air fryer to 400º.

Brush cooking oil on your air fryer rack, then remove the steaks from the marinade and arrange in a single layer in the basket.

Air fry for four minutes, then turn the steaks over and air fry for another four minutes.

Mine still looked a bit gray at this point (this is where I decided that the pre-browning might could’ve been a decent idea), so I turned mine over again and cooked for another four minutes.

Finally, nice looking and properly browned, I removed the steak to a cutting board, covered with foil and let rest for five minutes before slicing.

A note on slicing skirt steak: you want to slice this cut across the grain, and, if you can work it out, with your knife at an angle. My carving knife was a bit too big for the board and this steak, but it did a decent (I think, anyway) job of it.

Since the marinade was Asian-inspired, I served ours with yellow rice and blanched asparagus; but I do have the leftover steak stashed in the freezer for  tacos this coming weekend.

Cannot wait.

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