Friday’s Flavors: Lamb Meatballs With Fontina Fondue

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

For a long time my experience with lamb was a bad one. Memories of inedible hunks of undercooked, gamey meat served to me overseas left me traumatized. Seriously. I never thought I’d make my peace with that particular protein.

My husband had no such qualms, however, and after a tense round of rock paper scissors during an anniversary dinner years ago, he won the right to pick the appetizer. Imagine how I felt when he chose lamb. >.<

But I tried it – and I liked it. A lot.

Had it not been for those meatballs, not at all gamey, served with a savory cheese sauce and just a hint of sweetness from a balsamic glaze drizzle, I’d probably still hate lamb. And once the door was cracked, I kicked it wide open. I’ve since expanded my horizons with multiple cuts and preparation styles, but nothing compares to the good old lamb meatball, and if you’ve been looking for a way to (gently) expand your diet to include lamb, this recipe’s for you!

This works well as an appetizer, an entrée, or as part of Fondue night!

Ingredients:

1 pound ground lamb

1 large shallot

6 large garlic cloves

yellow curry powder

tumeric powder

ground cumin

garlic powder

garlic salt

1 tablespoon butter

spray oil

balsamic glaze

Cheese Fondue Kit

OR

1.5 cups shredded Fontina cheese

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 cloves garlic

corn starch

Preparation:

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with spray oil.

Chop shallots. Melt butter in pan, add shallots and sauté until translucent. Add 4 cloves garlic, crushed, mix until fragrant, and put in a mixing bowl.

Add lamb.

Spices are subjective to taste, but I use about 1.5 tbsp yellow curry, 3/4 tbsp tumeric, 2 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp garlic powder, and a touch of garlic salt.

Add the remaining 2 garlic cloves, crushed, and mix well. (I use gloves for this part.)

Shape into meatballs. If I’m serving them with the Fontina sauce and balsamic drizzle, I make large meatballs, 8-10. However, if I’m using a cheese fondue kit, I make smaller, bite sized meatballs, 24, and serve with an array of veggies for a fun, interactive meal.

Bake 20-25 minutes for larger meatballs, 15 minutes for smaller.

Some Fondue Fruits & Veggies

To make the Fontina sauce, grate the cheese and dust with just enough cornstarch to coat. Heat wine to a simmer, add garlic, then slowly mix in cheese, constantly stirring. You can get creative and add some spices, or keep it simple.

Then, either plate the meatballs, spoon some cheese sauce over them and drizzle with the balsamic glaze, or gather your fondue dippers and have at it!

If you try it, please let me know if you like it!

Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!


Friday’s Flavors: Fork Tender Veal Marsala

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

When talking about restaurants, there are 3 little words I have to say to get it on my husband’s list – “They have veal.” But, invariably, if we try the restaurant, and my husband orders the veal, he complains on the ride home about how tough it was.

It isn’t hard to keep a veal cutlet juicy and fork tender – all it takes is a tiny bit of effort – but that tiny bit of effort is well rewarded and this recipe will even it out because, unlike other veal marsala recipes, you don’t have to cook the meat, remove it, set it aside, keep it warm, cook the mushrooms and sauce, reduce, add the veal back . . . you get the idea. I promise you this method is worth it!

Ingredients:

veal cutlets, 1-2 pounds

fresh, whole Portobello mushrooms

2 large shallots

5 cloves garlic

olive oil

Marsala wine or Cream Sherry

flour seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder, garlic salt, pepper, dried basil and dried tarragon

*** A frying or braising pan with a tight fitting lid. ***

Preparation:

Don’t wash your mushrooms! Clean with a dry brush or with a paper towel, removing all dirt and loose matter. Slice. Chop your shallots and peel your garlic.

Season your flour, mixing well. You want to be able to see the seasonings.

Using the business end of a meat mallet, beat the cutlet, flip, beat again, flip, and beat again for a total of 3 times, working from one end to the other.

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of your pan, then add a splash more.

Add shallots to the pan, mix with the oil, then push them to the edges of the pan.

Dredge your beaten veal cutlets in the flour, coating both sides (no egg wash necessary), then add to the pan. Don’t worry about overcrowding the veal, it shrinks and there will be plenty of time for it to cook thoroughly.

Top with your sliced mushrooms, crushed garlic, a bit of tarragon and enough wine to come halfway up the veal cutlets. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove cover, flip, making sure your mushrooms are now in the wine, stir your shallots, and replace cover. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your cutlets. Usually, by this time, the wine has reduced to a nice, thick sauce absorbed by the mushrooms and meat, but if necessary, remove the lid and cook down.

And that’s it! Plate your veal and top with your mushrooms, shallots, and sauce!

If you try it, please let me know if you like it!

Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Baked Coconut Shrimp (Keto And Paleo Friendly)

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

Coconut Shrimp are one of those tropical treats that are hard to resist. But they’re breaded. And deep fried. And restaurants usually use sweetened coconut, so they’re sugary.

Then those dipping sauces! Orange Marmalade, Mango Sauce, Pina Colada Sauce, Sweet Chili Sauce . . . you get the picture. All are delicious, but quickly turn a treat into a dietary disaster.

But I’m all about finding healthy ways to still have the foods I want, so I created this recipe for Baked Coconut Shrimp using unsweetened coconut flakes and almond flour instead of bread crumbs. I’ll be honest – it’s not as good as deep fried, sugar coated shrimp, but it is tasty, and best of all, it’s guilt free and kind to your body. So, here it is.

Ingredients:

1-2 pounds shrimp, shells removed (you can leave tails on if you want)

eggs (I’ve found you need 1 egg for every 10 shrimp)

almond flour

unsweetened coconut flakes (you’ll use most of an 8 ounce bag)

garlic powder

onion powder

Old Bay Seasoning

Preparation:

In order of use.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray both sides of an oven safe rack and the cooking side of a baking sheet with oil.

I work in batches because when you use an egg wash, things tend to get clumpy fast, so I use one egg at a time and mix the seasoned flour twice. You can add more coconut as you go along.

In one bowl, beat an egg.

In a second bowl, mix your almond flour with the garlic powder, onion powder, and Old Bay to taste.

In a third, fill with coconut flakes.

Dip your shrimp in the almond flour mix, then the egg wash, letting excess drip off, then cover in coconut. Place on the rack on top of the baking sheet so the shrimp can bake from both sides.

When all your shrimp are coated, place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes for large shrimp (16-20 per pound), adjusting time accordingly for smaller or larger shrimp. If you want the shrimp equally crisp on both sides, you can flip them halfway through, but I’ve found you lose most of your coconut this way. They cook just fine (and it’s less work) if you don’t flip them.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. (I enjoy mine with a mustard based sauce.)

And there you have it! Coconut Shrimp with a fraction of the calories and fat, no fry oils, no sugar, no gluten, and no yeast.

If you try it, please let me know if you like it!

Check back next Friday for another Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Easy Mediterranean Eggplant (Paleo, Keto, Celiac, Anti-Candida Diet Friendly)

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

Today I have a riddle for you: What do eggplant, basil and garlic have in common?

Answer: This delicious (and nutritious) dish!

All corniness aside, this is another recipe where I have to give credit to my mom., so you know it’s gotta be good! When she first tried it, she sliced the eggplant lengthwise and had my dad grill it, which is great if you have the time and patience to man the grill and if you seek a smoky flavor, like you’d find in baba ghanoush.

Jump forward a few decades and I’ve mastered how to create this dish in either the oven or on the stovetop! The oven preparation is more hands off, but for those times when your oven is already in use, the stovetop method works well too!

Bonus: This recipe is keto, paleo, celiac, and anti-candida diet friendly!

Ingredients:

1 eggplant

2 large cloves garlic

1 handful fresh basil

2 tablespoons capers

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Oven Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice eggplant widthwise into 1/4 – 1/2 slices. Using a bowl, dip slices in olive oil until well coated. Place slices on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, flip, and bake another 10-15 minutes. (The thicker your slices, the more time they’ll need.)

Mix 2/3 cup olive oil, 2 large crushed garlic cloves, a handful of basil chopped finely into ribbons, 2 tablespoons capers, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well.

Remove cooked eggplant from baking sheet, put a serving on a plate, and spoon mixture on top.

Stovetop Preparation:

Cube eggplant into 1 inch chunks.

Heat 1/2 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add eggplant. Cook until soft, stirring frequently and adding additional olive oil as needed, about 10-15 minutes.

Add crushed garlic, capers, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until garlic is fragrant, and serve.

Any leftovers (if you have them) taste great the next day!

I’m always looking for new flavors to try! What’s your favorite way to cook eggplant?

If you try it, please let me know if you like it! Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Easy Air Fryer Chicken

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

I’ll admit it – when air fryers first broke onto the scene, I jumped on the bandwagon. I mean, frying food without actually frying it? Healthy ‘fried’ food?!?!

And while us air fryers quickly parted into two different camps – those who hated it and those who loved it – I found myself somewhere in the middle. No, it’s not an excellent imitation of deep fried food without all the oil, but yes, it does cook some things very well and I still use mine at least several times a month.

One of the great things about air fryers is being able to cook meals in a fraction of the time. Game hens in 25 minutes. Entire roaster chickens in 45-55 minutes. And if you do it right, the skin is crisp and the meat is tender and juicy. So here’s my secret for perfect (and EASY!) air fryer chicken.

Ingredients:

1 whole 3-4 pound chicken

butter, ghee or olive oil (I use about 2 tbsp of butter)

spices (I use large quantities of garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper and a bit of Old Bay, paprika and garlic salt)

Preparation:

Spray the air fryer basket lightly with a little cooking spray to make clean up easier.

I mix some of the spices I’m going to use in a small dish, as well as my butter or oil so I don’t spread raw chicken germs everywhere. Rinse and dry your chicken, including the inside, removing any neck, gizzards, etc..

Starting with the breast side up, work your fingers underneath the skin. Rub some of your butter or oil and your spice mixture under the skin, then on top of the skin. Flip and repeat. Do the same to the inside of the cavity.

Begin cooking breast side down.

After washing your hands, sprinkle more spices on the bottom of the chicken. Keep spices out for when you flip the bird.

Cook bottom side up at 350 for 25 minutes. Flip, sprinkle skin with more spices, then set timer for another 20 minutes. (If chicken is closer to 4 pounds than 3, 23 minutes.)

When time is up, check with a cooking thermometer, inserting into the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone. Chicken is safe to eat at 165 degrees. If it’s within a few degrees, you can let it sit for a few minutes to continue cooking before slicing. If it needs more time, do so sparingly to keep the meat juicy.

And that’s it! Juicy chicken with crispy skin in half the time it takes in the oven! (If cooking game hens, simply cook for 20-25 minutes at 350 breast side up, no flipping necessary.)

If you make it, please let me know how you liked it!

Check back next Friday for another Friday Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Easy (But Tasty) Mussels

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

Mussels are one of the foods that I’ve found a lot of people like to eat, but tend to only do so when dining out – they want someone else to cook them. But it’s SO easy to do it yourself! This recipe works whether you want them plain or (if like me) you want to serve them over pasta!

Ingredients:

2 pounds mussels

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup white wine

1 large shallot, chopped

8 large cloves garlic, chopped

4 large cloves garlic, pressed

salt and pepper to taste

Optional:

2 large handfuls spinach

pasta

parmesan cheese

Preparation:

I think what turns a lot of people off about cooking mussels is the debearding, but it really isn’t that hard and doesn’t take that long. Rinse each mussel individually, making sure the shells are clean. As you do that, grab any whiskers that protrude from the seam of the shell and tug back and forth until they come free.

(Some people soak the mussels for 20 minutes in cold water to get them to release any sand they have in their shells – I’ve never done this and have never had any issues.)

Peel garlic. Chop shallots and some of the garlic. Add olive oil, butter and wine to a cooking container with a lid (braising pan, stock pot, large frying pan, etc.). Add shallots and chopped garlic. When shallots start becoming pale and translucent, add crushed garlic, salt and pepper.

Add mussels, stirring to coat with the mix, then cover. After a couple minutes, when the shells start opening, stir again and recover.

Mussels generally only take about 5 minutes to cook. If you decide you want to serve your mussels over pasta, I suggest adding some spinach for the last minute of cooking. And that’s it! Time to serve!

If you’re a cheese person, a little freshly grated parmesan compliments the flavor nicely.

(Mussels water down the mixture, making it more of a mild flavored broth than a sauce. I think it works nicely over pasta, but if you want something thicker and more flavorful, remove the mussels and spinach, add a little more wine, butter and garlic and reduce.)

If you try it, please let me know how you like it!

Check back next Friday for more Foodie Flavors!

Friday’s Flavors: Caesar Salad Dressing

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!!!

Today I’m sharing with you the number one thing I get asked to make by people who don’t live in my house – once someone tries it, they invariably want it again. And again. And again.

And what is this addictive flavor that people can’t get enough of, you may ask? Surely it involves chocolate, right? Wrong. The number one dish I get asked to contribute to covered dish dinners is my Caesar Salad dressing!

And it isn’t even my recipe, but a variation on one my mom made all the time when I was little! But, it’s easy and delicious, and every time I taste it I fall in love with it all over again!

Note: This dressing is big on flavor!!!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil

fresh pepper (about 20 twists or 1 tsp)

1-3 cloves garlic

3 dashes Tabasco

1-2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1-2 tbsp. red wine or balsamic vinegar (red wine for a milder flavor, balsamic for more bite)

lemon juice to taste (1/4 to 1/2 lemon)

2 hardboiled egg yolks

romaine lettuce

fresh parmesan cheese

croutons

(makes about 3/4 cup dressing)

Preparation:
Add the ingredients as listed above. I usually make this in a measuring cup to facilitate easy pouring afterwards. (I also don’t measure anything when I make this, but have had to crack my own recipe because so many people have asked for it.)

Hard boil 2 eggs.

Add pepper to olive oil. Add crushed garlic. Add tabasco, mustard, Worcestershire, vinegar and lemon juice. (I use balsamic vinegar because it makes for a tangier dressing. My mom always used red wine vinegar, which I believe is the traditional choice. There’s still plenty of flavor with the red wine vinegar.)

Stir with a fork. Add the hard boiled egg yolks. Crush the egg against the side of the glass with the fork. Mix. Keep crushing and mixing until the fork tines stop catching egg chunks.

This makes a nice, thick dressing. My mom used to squeeze a dollop of anchovy paste into the mix, but I stopped doing this years ago and the taste doesn’t seem to suffer – if there’s one thing this dressing has plenty of, it’s flavor!

When I was younger, I used it on everything – steak, chicken, other vegetables (who am I kidding, I still do!).

Mix dressing with romaine lettuce, fresh parmesan, and croutons, or allow each individual to pour dressing on their own salad. You can even chop the leftover egg whites and add them to the salad because this dressing seriously tastes good on everything!

If you try it, please let me know what you think!

Check back next Friday for more Foodie Flavors!

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