Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mama Maroni That's A Tasty Meatball!

Bobby Flay had another Throwdown that interested me. It was about meatballs. While I've had a pretty good recipe for a number of years from a friend of mine that loves to cook. I've always wished the meatballs were a bit more tender. The commercial for the meatball throwdown talked about tender meatballs. I had to watch.

My experience from past Throwdowns was the winning recipe if not Bobby's would not be on the Food Network website. I could understand that. It's their livelihood. Therefore, I record the show, so I can take copious notes. In an effort to get the winning recipe as close as I can. Just for giggles I decided to see if the winning recipe Grandma Maroni's Meatballs was on the Food Network site. To my great surprise it was.
1 pound ground chuck
4 ounces dried bread crumbs
4 large eggs
4 ounces whole milk
6 ounces grated Romano
3 ounces grated Spanish onion
2 ounces finely diced fresh garlic
2 ounces finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 ounces finely chopped fresh basil leaves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray.
Mix all ingredients thoroughly in large bowl. If mixture seems a little loose add more bread crumbs.

Roll meatballs loosely about the size of a golf ball and place on baking sheet. Place into preheated oven for approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Serves 8-10 Enjoy!

It is slightly different than the notes I took from the show. Some ingredients Mike Maroni told the viewer some I guessed on. Here is the recipe I made.
Lynne's Throwdown Meatballs
1 pound ground chuck
4 large eggs
4 ounces Pecorino Romano
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
4 T finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup grated onion

Mix by hand. Make meatballs 1 1/2 ounces about the size of an egg. Bake in a hot oven (425 degrees F).

All ingredients ready for mixing.

How it looked after hand mixing. A great challenge for me as I hate to get my hands sticky and gooey, but combining in a mixer makes the meatballs tough. I've tried it. Worth getting your hands dirty for a good meatball!
I love to use my cookie scoops when I need to measure out a ball of something. Mike Maroni said each meatball should be about 1 1/2 ounce. Being a stickler for good meatballs I weighed each one since there weren't going to be many.

I measured the meatballs out onto my Silpat. I normally bake them on a Silpat, because in the past I use a very lean burger. This recipe using a ground chuck made me change my mind to something with a lip to catch any dripping.

This silicone pan has a lip and I needed it! There was a lot of fat to catch after baking.

I made the meatballs using the above notes/recipe and they were fabulous. The only thing I'd change is they were a bit loose. They didn't fall a part, but they were a bit mushy in the mouth. I would bump up the bread crumbs to 1 cup next time. The recipe made 23 meatballs. The meatballs just melted in your mouth they were so tender and flavorful. I've found that Romano cheese is a must. I've used Parmesan in the past as I usually have it on hand, but the Romano has a stronger flavor that really gives the meatballs a delicious flavor.

The sauce I use is one my cooking friend also gave me. It's very basic and fast. I can make this sauce in the time it takes me to prepare dried pasta. I haven't bought bottle sauce in years.

DeAnn's Tomato Basil Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
4 tablespoons minced fresh basil, about 1 handful
4 cups canned crushed tomatoes

Saute' onion, garlic and basil in olive oil until onion is soft. Add tomato sauce and simmer about 30 minutes. Sauce freezes nicely.

I brought the sauce to a good simmer for about 30 minutes.

The meatballs were done by now and I dropped them into the sauce.

I was surprised at how close my sauce was to Maroni's Sauce.

6 ounces good olive oil, not extra-virgin
12 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 large or 2 medium Spanish onions, finely diced
2 (28-ounce) cans imported crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white or black pepper
1 large handful julienned
fresh basil leaves

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add oil. Once heated add the finely sliced garlic and onions to the pan. Cook over medium heat until soft and slightly brown. Next add the canned crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper and stir. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the julienned basil.

The end result with my 2 recipes for sauce and meatballs were perfection! Delightful tender savory meatballs and a light yet flavorful sauce to accompany them... a meal fit for company, but we ate it all ourselves.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Poodle Goes Camping

At least she wanted too. My daughter was packing for her yearly camping trip. She was trying to roll up her sleeping bag and our Rotten Stinkin Poodle wouldn't get off of it. I think all dog owners probably know of this problem. Anything you spread out on the floor... wrapping paper, newspapers... sleeping bags will promptly be layed on or sat on by your dog. I thought it was just a small dog trait. I found differently when my 100 pound boxer/mastiff mix sat his fanny on a newspaper I had spread out on the floor to read. I kept pushing at him to move and he just look over his shoulder at me with this odd mix of looks of "What?" and "Hey I'm just doing my job."
Found this adorable picture on my computer and in honor of one of my favorite blogs to follow The Poodle (and dog) blog I thought I'd add another dog entry to my blog today.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Genius... Pure Genius!

I'm very conservation conscience. I used cloth diapers on both kids, I breast fed both kids, I recycle, I save water, my kids ride their bikes to school, I carry cloth grocery sacks in my car every where I go. BUT when I go into a grocery store my bags remain in the car. I can't seem to remember them to save my life. Usually I'll be at the check out when something jogs my memory that they are in the car. If I have a kid with me I'll send them out to get them if there is time. If I'm by myself... screw the environment I use the stores bags. Paper or plastic...yes please... anything to keep me from getting a little extra exercise in my day.

I stopped by Trader Joe's to pick up some cereal and there in the parking lot was this genius of a sign!! "got bags?" I LOVED it! I grabbed my well traveled bags from the back of my car and let them see the inside of a grocery store. Felt so good. Now to get all the grocery stores to put up this handy sign.

Gourd Happy... or my dad has a green thumb or... whatever Lola wants Lola gets!

What did I mean by the title... I couldn't decide what to call this installment. Here's what happened last spring. My mother (Lola) asked my dad to plant some gourds in his yearly garden. Since my mom is his muse he didn't just plant a gourd plant he planted about 30 feet by 10 feet of his garden in different types of gourds.

My mom has the idea that she's going to decorate gourds. My dad seems to think she won't do anything with them. Quite frankly I didn't really think so either, but I'm not going to squash her dreams with negativity. So, with a craft happy daughter dad should know that they'll get used. If mom doesn't do any by herself she'll for sure get to decorating gourds with me.

We read a book about how to dry them out and gourd growers in this book said they like to just leave them outside to dry. My dad covered them with plastic and for the most part they were drying, but some were rotting. I convinced him to try method number two that was told to me in person by a gourd grower. They said to dry them in wire baskets in garage. So, the kids and I picked 2 wagon barrels full and ran them up to the garage. My dad was helping to clear some room. Then the 2 large dog crates became our only barrier. Suddenly, dad and I had the same idea... since the dog crates weren't being used fill them up with gourds. The crates don't have to be moved and the gourds are encased in an airy environment for further drying.

Here's crossing our fingers that we'll have a lot of gourds to decorate!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gone to Seed

The carrot wasn't the only thing gone to seed when we were up for our visit. My folk's poodle had too. My folks live in the country and they keep their poodle closely cropped, so she doesn't get burrs in her fur or foxtails in her ears. So, we were so shocked to see her hair so long. She really was quite cute and cuddly. My dad does the trimming and normally does it right on time, but in February they were getting ready for my mom to have an "elective" hip replacement surgery. We chuckle at elective, because if someone is in so much pain from arthritis and a fracture from a car accident years earlier that they can barely walk... isn't it a necessity?

Had my mom fallen and broken her hip they would have rushed her into surgery and fixed it. Since it was "elective" they did a month's worth of tests to make sure she was healthy enough to endure the surgery. I was very grateful that such care was taken, but made me wonder about all the other hip surgeries. My Grandmother has broken both her hips. Not at the same time a couple years a part. She was in her 80's for the first one and 90's for the second.
Did they just rush her into surgery thinking "Hope she survives!" 4 weeks worth of tests weren't done on her. Fortunately, my Grandmother is a lot healthier than my mom. And as it turned out my mom was healthy enough for her surgery. Both gals are doing well and walking great.
My poor dad is getting a bad rap about his poodle trimming timing. I should have taken pictures last time I was up to visit mom, because their poodle was all trimmed up and looking her country cutest again.

On NO! Home Depot is in big trouble!

This was a very windy day in February. I had gone to Home Depot to get some weather stripping oddly enough not for my house, but for my knitting machine. I saw Channel 3 news doing a report in the parking lot. I really didn't know what for until I started to leave. Across the street was one of Home Depots awnings! It is normally covering the sod to keep the hot sun off it. Now it was on some one's roof.

I had to chuckle if anyone was going to damage my home I'd want it to be a home repair store. Hopefully, Home Depot has good insurance and or the man power to fix this person's home. We know they have the supplies.

A Beast of a Carrot!

My dad grows a pretty big garden every year. He's retired and has the time and loves fresh produce. In February we were up for a visit and he said he still had carrots in the garden. My daughter ran down to pick one. She loves a good uncooked carrot. Cooked carrots that's another story. All I have to say is "Thanks a lot Marley!" ;) Anyhow my daughter comes back with a carrot she referred to as "The Beast." This is what she came back with...

We had a good laugh, thought only in Rough and Ready do the carrots grow this big and washed it off.

We started wondering how should it be served? Chop up into carrot sticks? What I ended up doing was slicing it in big rounds. Then I used a large round biscuit cutter, which was perfect for cutting off the outer ring of skin. I served the carrot in large circles on every one's plate for dinner. They were delicious.

I've gotten a little behind

I've got a computer that really needs fixing. Only problem is my DH doesn't think it's that big a problem. My computer doesn't recognize the USB ports most of the time. I know the computer isn't a living thing, but I really do feel like it has moods. When I turn my computer on in the morning I have to see if it's in the mood to recognize the USB ports. Some days yes, most days no. Big problem when one wants to upload photos!