Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Northern White Beans and Ham with Polenta

If your family is anything like mine I can distinctly remember the smell of bean soup cooking approximately 2 weeks after we had ham for dinner.  This usually occurred sometime after Easter.   Whomever ate over for Easter always "offered" to take that ham bone off my Dad's hand---no no sir, we know your tricks. You want the ham bone so you can make our soup!  Don't you dare.  That ham bone holds the gift that is bean soup,  a deep secret locked inside of it---a family recipe...or actually a mumble jumble of stuff that my dad labeled Bean Soup.  My mom DD hates bean soup--she's cray.

This is my take on bean soup,  because I didn't have a ham bone to cook, because I didn't have ham,  because I would never need an entire ham, because I'm single (no cats yet, which I am proud to report).  Woe is me.

This is easy because it all occurs in the crockpot--HOLLA.  I made this on Sunday and put in the fridge for the week.  I am firm believer some foods get better with time.  I mean a day later, not 6 months later.  Then you'd be cray.

Northern White Beans and Ham with Polenta
Prep: 1 hour 20 minutes
Cook: 8-9 hours
Serves: 4 (1 1/2 cup servings)

Ingredients for Beans:
1 lb bag of dried Northern White Beans
1 1lb package of ham hocks, or a small ham with a bone
1 small white onion, diced
2 tbsp of onion powder
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of pepper
2 tbsp of grated Parmesan Cheese
6 cups of water 

1. Rinse and sort through the beans.  Make sure you do not have any stones or dirt in the bag :).
2. Place beans on the bottom of the crockpot.
3. Place the diced onions on top of the beans.
4. Place the hamhocks of the small ham on top of the beans and onions.
5. Sprinkle with all of the seasonings, except the Parmesan cheese.
6.  Pour in 6 cups of water.
7. Cook on low for 8-9 hours, or until the meat falls of the bone.
8.  Remove and discard bones and fat.  Stir meat back into the bean mixture.
9.  Mix in 2 tbsp of Parmesan cheese.

Serve with a crusty bread, or like I did Italian Seasoned Polenta :)  

Ingredients for Polenta:
1lb bag of Polenta
1/2 stick butter
1 tbsp Oregano
1 tbsp of salt
1 tbsp of pepper
1 tbsp of garlic powder

Directions for Polenta:
1. Make the polenta according to the package directions.
2. Right before the polenta is as thick as you want it melt in butter and add in spices.
3. Once the polenta is cooked through,  pour it into a parchment paper lined sheet tray.
4. Cover with foil or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
5. Slice the polenta as needed----

Pan fried Polenta
1. Heat up one tbsp of olive oil
2.  Place in 1 4 ounce polenta cake and fry on each side for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown.
3. Dip in your ham and beans :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Philly Stuffed Peppers

Sometimes, you just get a craving for a cheese steak.  Mine would be provolone, fried onions, and provolone cheese.  This version of the stuffed peppers has all of that, minus the bread, the grease, and above all the REGRET.

Philly Stuffed Peppers
Prep:  10 minutes
Cook Time- 40 minutes
Serves: 3

3 Green Peppers, stems removed and cleaned--cut in halves
1 small white onion
1 container button mushrooms, cleaned and slices
6 slices buffalo mozzarella or whole milk mozzarella
1 lb 8/20 ground beef 
1 tbsp olive oil
Red Chili Flakes,  if you like spice (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Bring one quart of water to a boil and place your halved green peppers into the water for 5-7 minutes.
2. Remove from water and drop directly into an ice bath--a bowl with ice and water.  This will stop the cooking.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
5. While the oven is preheating saute your mushrooms and onions in 1/2 tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat until they are not as firm and onions are translucent.
4. Remove from pan and set aside.  
5. Cook ground beef without oil in the pan until it is no longer pink.  Drain off excess fat.
6.  Mix onions and mushrooms back in and season with salt and pepper.  
7. On a foil lined baking sheet place six pepper halves on their "backs" so the opening part is facing up.
8. Stuff 1/6 in the mixture in each.  Drizzle stuffed peppers with remaining 1/2 tbsp olive oil.  
9.  Cook for 20 minutes like this.
10. Switch the oven to broil and remove the peppers.
11.  Place one slice of buffalo mozzarella cheese on each stuffed pepper and return to a high rack in the oven to melt the cheese for approximately 3-5 minutes.

Enjoy :)

Nix the cheese for this to be Paleo :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Basil Meatballs

I am not sure there are many things in the world as good as fresh herbs.  I recommend everyone grow an herb garden!   For beginning cooks,  buy fresh herbs at the supermarket!  Your probably thinking, how do I keep them fresh?  Well, this is a trick I learned from Rachel "let's see how much I can carry in one trip during my 30 minute cooking show" Ray.  Seriously, anyone else notice she doesn't like to take more than one trip to the fridge or pantry?  She will pile ingredients up past her face then try to walk with them.  I guess that's how she solidifies that her meals only take 30 minutes to make.  Lies.  Anyway, I digress...

1. Trim the bottom of your purchased herb bunch.
2. Dampen a papertowl.
3. Wrap the paper towel on the stems of your herb plant making one big bunch, like a bouquet if you will.
4. Place in a sealable plastic bag. 
5. Place in fridge.

Fresh herbs for at least week :) 

Of course, some people swear by jarred herbs.  However, as a home (professional in my mind) cook,  I feel they lack a little something. 

Basil Meatballs
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40-45 minutes
Serves: 6

1 lb veal, pork, and ground meat (meatloaf) mix
1/2 can chickpeas, drained
4 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
1 bunch or approximatly 1 cup of basil,  ripped into medium size pieces
2 tbsp grated Romano Cheese (spaghetti cheese as it's called in my family)
1 egg
2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tbsp of olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil to aide in cleanup.  Spray with nonstick spray.
2.  Pulse drained chickpeas through a food processor so it is still kind of chunky, and not thin like hummus. Set aside.
3. In a large boil combine onion, garlic, cheese, salt, pepper, and your pureed chick peas.  Mix gently with your hands.
4. Lastly add in the basil and mix VERY GENTLY as to not bruise it too much.  Remember to mix everything gently otherwise your going to have little rock hard meatballs.
5.  Weigh out approximately 4 ounces of meat mixture and form into balls (about 6)
6. Begin placing the basil balls on your baking sheet a couple inches apart so they do not steam each other.
7.  Once all of the balls are on the baking sheet drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil over top.
8.  Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes until crispy brown on the bottom.   
9.  Heat up sauce of choice and serve :)


If you are planing to serve in sauce,  make sure they cool completely before you put them in the sauce or they will fall apart--and you will have meat sauce.  Which, is still a ok in my book.

Seriously, the best balls I ever made.  If you are like my family in your head your saying "that's what she said".