Meatballs

A bowl of pasta and meatballs makes just about everyone happy, including me.   Believe it or not, it’s an easy meal to pull together during the week and I’m always on the hunt for easy meals the entire family will like.  I often double this recipe and make a big batch so I always have some on hand.  I let them cool after they come out of the oven (I don’t put them in the sauce) and then put them in a zip top bag for an extra dinner in the future.  They are great sliced on pizza, in a hero, for a snack or even an appetizer. 

The meatballs are baked in the oven rather than on the stove so clean up is easy since there won’t be any oil splattering all over the kitchen – a major selling point for me.  I also like using less oil to cut down on calories.  You can certainly slave over the stove making your own sauce but for a great shortcut I go with my favorite jar sauce, Patsy’s.  Good food with good shortcuts is the name of the game for weeknights.

One of the keys to delicious meatballs – or any recipe – is great ingredients.  For these I always use ground beef with a high enough fat/meat ratio so they don’t dry out.  80/20 is my go-to and I balance the extra fat with the cooking in the oven vs. the stove.  Sometimes I will do 1 pound of beef and then add 1 pound of pork which adds great flavor.

Ingredients

2 lbs                Ground beef (80/20)

2                      Eggs, lightly beaten

1 c                    Bread crumbs (I mix Italian and plain panko)

1 c                    Parmesan, grated

1 c                   Warm water

2 tbs                 Dried parsley

1 tsp                 Salt

½ tsp               Pepper

                        Olive oil

Preparation

Preheat the oven on to 400.

Combine the meat, eggs, bread crumbs, parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper into a large bowl.  Add the water a little at a time.  The meat mixture should be wet but still hold its shape. 

Use a small ice cream scoop to form the meatballs.  You can roll them in your hands to shape them. Be sure to wet your hands so the mixture doesn’t stick.

Place the meatballs on a foil and parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake till they are browned and sizzling, approximately 20 minutes. 

Meatballs aren't just for pasta and one batch goes a long way!

This recipe usually yields about 40 – 45 meatballs. 

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp scampi makes an appearance on many, many restaurant menus and is recreated in homes regularly for good reason.  It’s indulgent, luxurious and delicious and brings together some of the most popular ingredients for cooks and chefs – garlic, butter, olive oil, lemon and of course, shrimp.   If you look up most recipes for shrimp scampi in cookbooks and online, it is prepared in a pan on the stove.  Not sure about you but I would like to reduce the recipes I fry or sauté to cut down on the mess as oil splatters everywhere, which is inevitable.  This version builds all the flavors into one dish, at the same time, and they cook together in the oven.  One dish, easy clean up and also a beautiful presentation from the oven right to the table.

I frequently make this for dinner during the week because it doesn’t take much to pull it together.  But it also is an impressive dish for a dinner party.  I put the large casserole dish in the middle of the table along side a big bowl or pasta and a crisp salad and we’ve got a great meal.  Some red pepper flakes and a little (or a lot!) grated parmesan cheese on top and it’s perfect.

Shrimp scampi is delicious on its own but I like a little texture so I started adding a topping of panko breadcrumbs which gives it great crunch, especially when it’s mixed in with the pasta.  Your call on the adding the topping but if you do, be careful to get the topping on the shrimp as much as possible.  Breadcrumbs are sponges and will soak up the sauce you worked to create at the bottom of the pan.  I protect that delicious sauce but pushing the shrimp together so there aren’t too many gaps between them and when I put the dish on the table, I prop up the end with the breadcrumbs so the sauce pools at the other end.     

Ingredients

1 ½ lbs.           Raw shrimp, deveined, tails removed (I use Jumbo which nets 21 – 25 per pound)

2 tbs                 Garlic, finely diced

¼ c                  Olive oil

3 tbs                 Butter, diced into small pieces

1 tbs                 Dried parsley

2 tbs                 Dry white wine (I’m partial to Pinot Grigio)

1 tbs                 Fresh lemon juice  

1 tsp                 Seasoned salt

Topping

½ c                  Panko breadcrumbs

1 ½ tbs            Butter

¼ tsp               Dried parsley

¼ tsp               Seasoned salt

Preparation

Preheat your oven to broil.

In a bowl, combine the shrimp with the olive oil, white wine, lemon juice and seasoned salt.

In a single layer, place the shrimp in a large casserole dish.  Cut up the butter into small pieces and place around the shrimp.  Sprinkle with parsley and place in the oven on a low rack (not directly under the broiler) for about 8 minutes. 

In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and butter and microwave for 30 seconds or until the butter melts.  Mix together.

Panko topping

Once the shrimp is pink and the sauce is bubbling, remove the pan from the oven carefully. The shrimp will be slightly smaller so push them together so there are limited spaces between them.  If you skip this step, the topping will absorb all the sauce.  Sprinkle the topping over the shrimp and return the pan to the oven to toast the topping which will take about 1 – 2 minutes.  DO NOT WALK AWAY – THE TOPPING CAN BURN IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE.  Not everyone in my house likes the topping so I usually only do half of the shrimp.

Remove the pan from the oven and serve.  If I put the pan on the table, I put a towel under the side with the topping to tilt the pan so the sauce pools on the other side which makes it easier to get to the sauce.

Serve over pasta and an extra squeeze of lemon.

No-Guilt Sesame Chicken

We love Chinese food (as you can probably tell from my blog) but sometimes the dishes we love aren’t exactly the healthiest.  Try as we might, the not-so-healthy dishes are delish and it’s hard to resist.  Not to mention ordering in adds up so I am always looking to recreate dishes at home whenever possible.  Sesame Chicken is traditionally fried and then tossed in a sauce and served with broccoli.  This version isn’t fried to save the calories and mess because who wants to get oil splatters all over their kitchen?

For any stir-fry I make, I velvetize the chicken which is one of the things Chinese chefs do to keep the chicken moist and tender.  If you are like me, then you’ve made chicken at some point only to have it be dry and tough. This secret step combats that with a simple marinade of corn startch, oil and water.

Stir-frying the chicken, then the broccoli and finally tossing with the simple sauce makes this a great, quick weeknight meal.  I serve this over rice (white or fried) or noodles (Chinese egg or rice).  If you make noodles, be sure after you cook and drain them, to toss them with a little sesame oil so you don’t get one big glob of noodles.

Ingredients

1 lb.                  Chicken breasts, sliced into 1 – 2 inch pieces about ½ inch thick

2 heads           Broccoli, cut into florets (about 6 – 7 cups)

3 tbs                 Corn starch

4 tbs                 Canola oil

1 ½ tbs            Sesame oil

1 cup                Chicken stock

¼ cup               Oyster sauce

1 tsp                 Ginger, grated (I use a microplane to grate the ginger and garlic)

1 clove              Garlic, grated

1 tbs                 Toasted sesame seeds

Preparation

In a bowl, velvetize the chicken by mixing it with 1 tbs canola oil, 1 tbs sesame oil, 2 tbs corn starch and 3 tbs water.  Mix well and set aside for at least 30 minutes. (I usually prep the rest of the recipe and have everything ready to go once the chicken is done). 

Cook the chicken in a large pan over medium heat with the remaining canola oil, adding more if needed.  Cook the chicken a single layer or you will crowd the pan and steam the chicken so you may need to do more than one batch.  Set the chicken aside once it’s cooked.

For the sauce, combine the oyster sauce, remaining sesame oil, remaining corn starch and ¾ cup of water in a bowl.  Mix well and set aside.

Add the chicken stock to the pan and scrape all the little bits off the bottom which should take less than a minute.  Add the broccoli and cover for two or three minutes until the broccoli is tender but not mushy (you should be able to slide a knife easily through a stalk).  Add the garlic and ginger and toss till fragrant, about one minute.

Return the chicken to the pan along with any juices on the plate.  Toss with the broccoli and then add the sauce, mixing well to coat the chicken and broccoli.  Cook for about two minutes till the sauce thickens and coats the broccoli and chicken.  If your sauce is on the thick side, you can simply add some water or chicken stock to thin it out. Mix in sesame seeds and serve.

Sesame Noodle Bowls

I never met a pasta I didn’t like and if you ask me what food I cannot live without is, I would say Asian. Japanese, Korean, Chinese, etc. – I love them all.   So, perfecting a recipe for sesame noodles was critical when I started eyummykitchen.com.  I love how savory, sweet and peanut-y these silky noodles are.  I’ve made this countless times but finally landed on the right ingredients and ratios so I’m thrilled to get this on paper (cooking with recipes has been a big part of starting the blog!)

The sauce has all the iconic Asian flavors along with peanut butter and the ingredients for the sauce go into a blender so it couldn’t be easier to make.  And, if you don’t use it all up it stays in the fridge for a few days and would be great mixed with napa cabbage, toasted ramen noodles, veggies and chicken.  (Might have to write that one up too!).

Normally I use spaghetti for the noodles – or Chinese egg noodles which you can get at an Asian market – but I had only thin linguini on hand so that’s what I used.  Once the noodles are dressed, they sky is the limit for how you build your noodle bowl.  I go heavy on thinly sliced cucumber and have added everything from shredded carrots, napa cabbage, bean sprouts, water chestnuts and grilled chicken.  I always finish them with scallions and toasted sesame seeds on top and lots of chili sauce or chili crunch (my new obsession) since I like them spicy.  I like to prep everything and put out the toppings so everyone can make their own individual bowl with goodies.  I’m partial to eating these noodles cold and the longer they sit in the fridge, the better they get.  

Once the noodles are cooked, I drain it, rinse it to stop the cooking and then toss it with a little bit of the dressing so when I go to serve them later, they won’t be one big mess of stuck together noodles. 

Ingredients

1 box (16oz)     Spaghetti or Chinese egg noodles

1 tbs                 Scallions, sliced on a bias for garnish

1 tbs                 Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Sauce

1 c                    Canola oil

¾ c                  Smooth peanut butter (I like smooth Skippy)

¼ c                  Apple cider vinegar

1/4 c Soy sauce (I use low sodium)

3 tbs                 Sesame oil

2 tbs                 Honey

1 tsp                 Ginger, grated

2 cloves           Garlic, minced

3 tsp                 Kosher salt

1 tsp                 Black pepper

Preparation

In a blender or food processor, combine all the sauce ingredients till smooth.  Store in an airtight container – minus a ½ cup – in the refrigerator till ready to serve.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  When it is done, drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.  Toss with the ½ cup of the sauce and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour in an airtight container.

When you are ready to serve, toss the noodles with 1 cup of sauce at a time and add more according to your preference.

The sauced noodles are great plain with some scallions and toasted sesame seeds on top but we usually add some protein and veggies, including:

  • Chicken (I like to grill thin breasts but a rotisserie chicken diced or shredded is great here)
  • Steak. Thinly sliced and cooked.
  • Cucumber, thinly sliced
  • Red, orange or yellow peppers, thinly sliced
  • Napa cabbage
  • Shredded carrots
  • Diced water chestnuts
  • Blanched broccoli
  • Chili sauce or crunch

Steamed Fish Asian Style

If you’ve been following my blog, you know of my love for Chinese food.  My mom made amazing Chinese food and since I was in High School, my family has been going to NY’s Chinatown religiously.  My husband and I are equally passionate about Asian food and our very favorite Chinese restaurant (maybe even our favorite restaurant) is Peking Gourmet Inn in Falls Church, Virginia outside Washington DC where we used to live.  It is legendary among the DC crowd and we were there almost every week without fail. We even considered getting married there (no lie). 

I’ve learned over the years, thanks to my mom and many wonderful meals, how to recreate some of our favorite dishes.  One of the dishes we love is a steamed whole flounder.  It comes to the table on a large platter, piping hot and sitting in a delicious sauce with topped with shredded scallions, ginger and garlic.  We are trying to eat more fish so I knew this was a dish I wanted to recreate.  Doing a whole fish is more than I was willing to undertake for a weeknight meal so I opted for thick, individual pieces of Cod.  This recipe would work with any thick white fish like halibut, sea bass or even salmon.  If the fish is too thin, it will probably fall apart while it cooks.

The sauce and fish go into the oven and right to the table when ready.  I quickly stir fried bok choy and snow peas and served with white rice.  A great, healthy dinner with tons of flavor!

Ingredients

2 lbs                 Skinless, Cod fillets (cut into eight individual portions)

5 tbs                 Low sodium soy sauce

4 tbs                 Rice wine vinegar

3 tsp                 Sugar

1 ½ tsp            Sesame oil

¼ tsp               Kosher salt

¼ tsp               White pepper

2 tbs                 Scallions, thinly sliced on a bias

2 tbs                 Fresh ginger.  Peeled and sliced into matchsticks

2 cloves           Garlic. Thinly sliced

2                      Shallots. Peeled and sliced into rings

1 tbs                 Canola oil

Note: This recipe serves four so you can adjust it accordingly based on how many you are serving.  I figure two pieces of fish per person.

Preparation

Preheat your oven to 400.

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, salt, pepper, garlic, 1 tbs ginger and 1 tbs scallions.  Pour the sauce into a large casserole dish and add the fish.  Cover tightly with foil and place in the oven. 

While the fish cooks, combine the shallots and remaining ginger in a small frying pan with the canola oil and fry on medium heat till crispy, stirring frequently.   Transfer to a paper towel to drain.

The fish will take about 12 – 15 minutes to cook and should register about 130 degrees.  If you don’t have a thermometer, you will know the fish is done when it is firm and the flakes start to separate. 

Sprinkle the crispy shallots and ginger over the fish along with the remaining scallions. I place the dish right on the table to serve.  

One Pot Beef Stroganoff

When I was growing up, there were some foods I saw on TV that looked so good. One of them was Hamburger Helper although my mom was not as interested in making it as I was in eating it (she was/is a great cook so I understand the dilemma).

I’ve seen lots of recipes over the years that remind me of HH and I knew it could be elevated. This simple one-pot beef stroganoff hits the mark. I saw @jocooks posted a similar recipe and I knew I had to give it a try. Hers had mushrooms (not my fav) and I made a couple more tweaks (more noodles, stock and less sour cream). It was delish, hearty and the combination I desperately wanted as a kid. The great part, besides the taste, is everything cooks in one pot and took less than an hour from the stove to the dinner table.

Simple ingredients, uncomplicated preparation, great taste and ready in a flash – these are the reasons I love this dish and you will too! 

Ingredients

1 lb.                  Ground beef (80/20)

2 tbs                 Butter

½                     Sweet onion, diced

1 clove              Garlic, minced

3 tbs                 All-purpose flour

1 tsp                 Sweet paprika

¼ c                  White wine (I used Pinot Grigio)

1 tsp                 Seasoned salt

5 ½ c               Beef broth (I use low sodium if it’s not homemade)

1 12 oz pkg       Extra wide egg noodles

¼ c                  Sour cream

                        Salt and pepper to taste

                        Parsley for garnish (I used dried)

Preparation

Brown the meat in a Dutch oven and drain the fat.  Add the onions and garlic and cook till soft, about five minutes.  Add the seasoned salt and combine. 

Sprinkle the flour and paprika over the meat and cook for three minutes to incorporate the flour and cook off the flour taste. 

Add the white wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to release the brown bits, cooking for about one minute.  Add the stock and bring the mixture to a boil, add the noodles and then reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the noodles are done (they should be al dente).   

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the sour cream.  Garnish with parsley and serve.

Note: Traditional stroganoff has mushrooms but I don’t like them so they were omitted.  If you love them and want to include them, brown them in a little butter before the meat and then set aside.  Add them to once the mixture is done (including the juices on the plate) just before you add the sour cream.

Chicken “Tot” Pie

Chicken pot pie is always a hit in our house, especially during the winter. But like many things during this Pandemic year, even our favorites are getting a little repetitive and in need of a boost.  It’s not their fault, it’s just that we are creatures of habit and I need to force new dishes and ideas into our routine.  Enter Chicken “Tot” Pie.  Since we love chicken pot pie and always have tater tots in the freezer (thanks to Jake!) why not try a new version with both?

Tater tots take me right back to school lunches so I’m good with them no matter how old I am.  When I thought about replacing the crust with tater tots, I wanted to see how it compared health-wise to the traditional top and bottom crusts.  I assumed tater tots would be far less healthy but I was wrong.  The tots go only on the top so you use less than the pie dough.  I was sold.

This could not have been easier to make.  I made the filling exactly how I do it for my regular chicken pot pie and then topped the filling with tater tots.  That’s it.  No rolling dough and the cooking time was much shorter.  Everyone loved it and while I wouldn’t completely replace the double crust for good, this was a great twist on a family favorite.

Ingredients

4 tbs                 Salted butter

4 tbs                 All-purpose flour

3 ½ cups          Low sodium chicken stock or homemade chicken stock (I use Swanson’s)

Knorr’s Chicken Stock pod or ½ tbs Chicken bouillon powder

Salt and pepper to taste

½                     A chicken (rotisserie or homemade), cooked and shredded into bite-size pieces (discard the bones)

1 12 oz. bag      Frozen corn

1 12 oz. bag      Frozen cut green beans  

1 12 oz. bag      Frozen peas and carrots  

45 – 50             Frozen tater tots

Preparation

Preheat the oven on to 350.

The base of the filling is essentially a chicken sauce or gravy.  Make a roux by melting butter in a saucepan and then adding the flour.  Briskly whisk for two minutes to cook the flour.  The roux will start to get darker which deepens the flavor.  Add the stock while whisking and bring to a soft boil.  Cook and whisk for another three minutes, scraping the bottom to make sure the roux is completely mixed in.  Set aside one (1) cup of the sauce/gravy and then combine the frozen vegetables in a large bowl with the remaining sauce.  If you feel it needs more sauce you can add a little from the cup you set aside.

Pour the filling into a 9×9 casserole dish (or something similar), leaving about an inch space before it reaches the top. Place the frozen tater tots in approximately six rows, snugly. 

Place on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake for approximately 30 minutes till the tater tots are golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Let the pie sit for at least 5 – 10 minutes before you serve. I serve the leftover sauce along side because you can never have too much gravy!

Philadelphia Pound Cake

I’m not the biggest dessert fan (shhhh!) but I am a sucker for a simple cake. No frosting, nothing complicated and at most, all it needs is powdered sugar or some fresh whipped cream. I found this pound cake recipe from Philadelphia Cream Cheese and it was super easy to make. A family favorite moving forward but it was so good, I’m going to have to limit how often I make it! Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 1/2 sticks Butter, room temp

1 pkg Philadelphia cream cheese, room temp

1 1/2 cups Granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp Pure vanilla extract

4 Eggs

2 cups Cake flour, sifted

1 1/2 tsp Baking powder

2 tsp Powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 325.

Beat cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla with an electic mixer till well blended.

Add eggs, one at a time. Mix well and make sure to scrape the bowl along the way.

Add the flour and baking powder, a little at a time and mix well.

Pour into a greased loaf or bundt pan.

Bake for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool before removing from the pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve.

Baked Eggplant Parmigiana

I love Italian food and eggplant parmigiana is one of my favorites.  Creamy eggplant, gooey cheese and marinara sauce bubbling away as it comes to the table.  It needs only some grated parmesan cheese on top and pasta on the side.  But it’s not the healthiest of dishes since the traditional version calls for the eggplant to be fried before it meets the cheese and sauce which definitely ups the calories and fat.  So, when I saw Thomas Keller’s video on how they serve eggplant at TAK Room, one of his NYC restaurants, I had to try it.  In his version, the eggplant is cut into cubes and then roasted before mixing with the cheese and sauce. Genius! Nothing to fry and no unwanted calories.  The first time I made it I was sold.  The eggplant shines and even with the added step of roasting, it was a manageable dinner to get on the table during the week.  Keller’s version includes a homemade pomodoro sauce but I used my favorite marinara from Patsy’s to save time.  This is also a great dish to make earlier in the day or even the day before you want to serve.  Just pop it in the oven and in an hour or so you are ready for dinner.  If you love eggplant, give this version a try. 

Ingredients

2                   Medium eggplants

1 tbs              Kosher salt

2 tbs              Olive oil

3 cups           Marinara sauce

1 cup             Shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup Ricotta cheese

½ cup            Grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup            Grated romano cheese

Directions

Peel the eggplants and remove the ends.  Dice the eggplant into one-inch cubes.  Toss the eggplant in the olive oil and salt; set aside for at least 30 minutes but no more than one hour to allow the salt to extract some of the bitterness.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Once the eggplant has rested, gently squeeze out any excess moisture with your hands. Place the squeezed eggplant on a foil and parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Roast for 30 minutes at 400. While the eggplant cooks, combine the parmesan, mozzerella and romano cheeses in a bowl and set aside.

When the eggplant is done, place in a large bowl with two cups of marinara sauce, half of the cheese mixture and the ricotta cheese .  Mix until well combined. 

Pour the eggplant mixture into the prepared casserole dish about two inches deep. Top with the remaining marinara sauce and cheese mixture, bake at 400 until it is bubbling, about 25-30 minutes. 

You can put it under the broiler for a minute or two if you want to get some color on top but don’t walk away or it will burn in the blink of an eye.  

Baked - not fried - eggplant parmigiana is the way to go for a hearty, but healthier, dinner.

Soul Satisfying Meatloaf

Meatloaf could be the poster child for comfort food. 

While it cooks, your house smells like heaven and once it hits your plate with some mashed potatoes and green beans, you are mesmerized.  I don’t make this often, but when I do, it’s a hit.  There are lots of recipes out there for meatloaf and I’ve tried dozens of them and came up with this recipe which is a keeper.  Lots of recipes call for ketchup which I found to be kind of pedestrian and I looked for ways to get concentrated flavors into the meatloaf without slathering it with ketchup.  I start with 80/20 beef which is the single most important tip for good, moist meatloaf.  If you try it with a blend that is super lean, you will have a dry brick for dinner.  Turkey meatloaf is a great option if you don’t want to use beef.  Don’t go with super lean or you will give up lots of flavor. I mix in sautéed onions, breadcrumbs, eggs, stock and Worcestershire sauce and then bake it so the ends are crispy and it’s brown on top. It’s full of flavor and if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, is great on a sandwich the next day.   I go for the traditional sides but macaroni & cheese would be an amazing addition.

Ingredients

1½ lbs          Ground beef (80/20)

1 cup            Sweet onion, diced

1 tbs              Seasoned salt

1 tbs              Olive oil

2                   Eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup           Warm water

1½ tbs          Tomato paste

1 cup             Beef broth

½ cup            Panko breadcrumbs

1 tbs              Worcestershire sauce

1½ tsp           Kosher salt

½ tsp            Freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400.

In a small frying pan, sauté the onions in the olive oil and seasoned salt till translucent, about five minutes.  Add the tomato paste and cook for one minute.  Add the Worcestershire sauce and beef broth and cook till combined and slightly reduced, about four minutes.   Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, place the ground beef in a large mixing bowl.  Add the breadcrumbs, water, eggs and salt. Combine well.  When the tomato/onion mixture is cooled, add 2/3s of it to the ground beef. Reserve the rest for the top of the meatloaf.

Place the mixture on a foil and parchment paper lined cookie sheet and form into a loaf, ensuring it is evenly shaped.  I go for a longer loaf of about two or three inches in height.  Spread the remaining tomato/onion mixture all over the top of the meatloaf.

Bake uncovered for about 30 – 45 minutes until the center registers 160 degrees.  Let sit for at least five minutes before serving.