Saturday, March 31, 2012

Meat Pies

I thought that you might just be wondering about meat pies... I know I was.  About a year ago we went up to Bellingham to pick some strawberries.  When we got there we found something:  Man Pies (a new restaurant).  We did not eat there, but we did take a picture outside. Still it resonated with me: Man Pies.

I know it was a little while a go, but recently I was thinking about that little cute restaurant with that mural outside.  Man Pies?  Man Pies.  Really, what is a Man Pie?  That got me thinking. Could I make a man pie?  Well, I would think that it would involve meat and potatoes...and ketchup.  Could that be delicious?  In my family- it could truly be a hit. So, I gave it a try.  Since I am not a man, I called them meat pies, and were pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Sloppy Joe Mini Meat Pies

1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 potato, peeled and grated
1 cup  crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp of tomato paste (I threw in a little catchup, too)
1-2 Tbsp brown sugar (to taste)
2-3 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Muffin pan

3 cups Bisquick (I make my own, but store bought is fine)
1cup milk
1 egg (for brushing the top)

Cook beef until brown and cooked through.  Remove, drain any grease, and reserve.  Cook onion until soft and add beef.   Add tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and season with salt and pepper. (You might want to add more tomato paste or crushed tomatoes depending on how you like it.) Put the grated potato on a kitchen towel, squeeze out any excess water and dump in the pan.  Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer, put the lid on and let it cook for 10-15 min until reduced.  Taste it to make sure it suits you.

Prepare biscuits according to packet directions, make them from scratch, or you can use your own, home made Bisquick, like me. Roll your dough out and cut 2 circles. One should be big (and be used for the bottom of the pan.  The other should be the little topper.  Place the large circle in the bottom of the muffin pan. Bake little crusts for 5 minutes or so.

 Put the beef mixture on top and the smaller circle on top of that.  I used a fork to make little indentations around the edges, cut some slits and brushed egg on top.  Bake @ 350 degrees for 10-15 min.

This post is linked to: Friday's on  Remodel-a-Holic , Just Something I Whipped Up!,

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Open-Faced Chicken Meatball Subs on Naan

Is chicken a frequent player in your dinner meals? It is in my household. My husband does not eat fish, and red meat is only healthy in small quantities, so chicken is the protein of choice more often than not. It goes without saying that this can get tiresome quickly. Since it was Friday and I was feeling adventurous, I created this concoction for dinner. The recipe takes at least an hour to prepare, but you can make the naan a day or two ahead of time and cut down on the prep time substantially.

This recipe calls for ground chicken meat. If you are like me, that ingredient is never a staple in the freezer. However, chicken breasts are. The next words you read may change your life: You can make your own ground meat in a food processor. This works just as well for pork or beef. It is very nice because you can control the fat content in the meat.

The naan recipe came from the blog BudgetBytes, which I found on Pinterest. The chicken meatball recipe is a riff off of Sunny Anderson's "Zesty Chicken Meatballs" from the Food Network. For the whole-wheat bread crumbs, I always save the ends of my wheat sandwich loaves in a bag in the freezer. When a recipe calls for breadcrumbs, I pull one or two ends out and process them in the food processor for a few seconds. Hello breadcrumbs.

Open-Faced Chicken Meatball Subs on Naan
Serves 3. To serve 4, add 1 chicken breast and increase all Meatball Ingredients marginally
Naan Ingredients

2 tsp dry active yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup water
2.5 - 3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
1 large egg

Chicken Meatball Ingredients
2 chicken breasts
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg, whisked
3 tablespoons unseasoned whole-wheat bread crumbs
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Hungarian or hot paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 cup unpacked fresh parsely, minced (approximately 3 Tbsp chopped)
1 tsp brown sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Additional Ingredients
1 jar your favorite tomato sauce
1-2 cups baby spinach, sliced into ribbons
3 slices provolone cheese

For the Naan:
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and water. Stir to dissolve then let sit for a few minutes or until it is frothy on top. At that point, stir in the oil, yogurt and egg until evenly combined.

In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup flour with the salt. Next, add the bowl of wet ingredients to the flour/salt mix and stir until well combined. Continue adding flour a half cup at a time until you can no longer stir it with a spoon (about 1 to 1.5 cups later).

At that point, turn the ball of dough out onto a well floured surface. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes, adding flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. The dough should be smooth and very soft but not sticky.

Loosely cover the dough and let it rise until double in size (about 45 minutes). After it rises, gently flatten the dough and cut it into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a small ball by stretching the dough back under itself until the top is smooth and round.

Naan Dough Waiting for the Frying Pan

Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat and rub a piece of butter once over the hot surface. Working one ball at a time, roll out ball until it is about 1/4 inch thick or approximately 6 inches in diameter. Place the rolled dough onto the hot skillet and cook until the under side is golden brown and large bubbles have formed on the surface. Flip the dough and cook the other side until golden brown as well. Repeat for remaining dough balls.

Cooking Naan

For the Chicken Meatballs:
While the dough is rising, cut chicken into cubes and place in food processor. Pulse for approximately 10 seconds until the meat looks ground, but not pasty.

Mix the ground chicken with the next nine ingredients (garlic through salt and pepper) in a medium bowl. Form mixture into meatballs (makes about 20 small meatballs).

Meatball Mixture
Raw Chicken Meatballs
 Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat and add the butter and oil. Place meatballs in the skillet and do not disturb for 3 minutes to brown well. Turn, cooking another 3 minutes without disturbing. Keep cooking until browned and cooked on all sides. At this point, I use a meat thermometer to test the internal temp of the meatballs. A meatball is done when the thermometer registers 160 degrees. You can't be too safe when it comes to cooking chicken. Transfer meatballs to a plate, and repeat with remaining meatballs, adding more oil and butter as necessary.

When all meatballs are cooked, return them to the skillet and add jar of tomato sauce. Turn heat to medium-low and cook until the tomato sauce is warmed through.

Turn on the broiler.  Place naan on a rimmed baking sheet. Add meatballs and sauce to each naan. Place spinach over meatballs, and top with pieces of torn provolone cheese. Broil for 5 minutes or until cheese is brown in places and bubbly.

Waiting on Cheese, then Ready for the Broiler!


This post is linked to Hunk of Meat Monday, Melt in Your Mouth MondayCreative Mondays.,  ,  Real Food Wednesdays., and Simple Lives Thursdays

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Taco Salad in a Jar

I try very hard to be organized around here.  We have a lot going on between school, home, more school, laundry... (you get the picture).  Lunches are always something to improve on.  On Sunday I make an assortment of lunch food, individually package them, and freeze them (something that my friend told me she did - and honestly she is a GENIUS for doing).  Each morning (or the night before) the kids can choose their lunches and it is defrosted before noon. Nice.  It really works.  We have frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and ham and cheese.  Other things can be prepackaged and refrigerated (like grapes and carrots) and even put in the pantry (trail mix).  I already feel like I run around like a chicken with its head cut off in the morning - this really helps. 

With all of this pre-planning bliss, I am usually lost in the shuffle.  Why plan for me?  It is just something extra.  I usually end up with something like an apple, a jar of peanut butter, and a spoon for lunch. Or sometimes, just a jar of peanut butter (no spoon).  Glamorous, I know. Today, I think I am ready to plan for me.  Yes, ME! 

Lately, I have had a new obsession: pinterest.  It is so much fun.  Now I am so organized with cute little pin boards and ideas from blogs and websites.  How could I have possibly lived without this tool?  I have found something fun: salads in a jar.  There are so many awesome recipes but I thought that I would make up my own: Taco Salad.  I still have a lot of salsa that I have canned from last summer and I just made some pinto beans... a perfect match.

 I decided to start this project while the girls made a pizza..

 and Kale played Transformers.

Here we go...

Taco Salad in a Jar

Jars, I used 5 pint size jars
1 head of lettuce, cleaned, dried and torn to share equally among your jars
1 can of pinto beans (or one container of homemade) to put in each of your jars
salsa, 3 spoonfuls per jar
cheese, sharp cheddar (to taste) some for each jar

This is the easy part.  Layer ingredients: salsa, beans, cheese, lettuce.  You're done!  Man that was easy.  I could probably do this every week. I'm thinking that I will just bring a bag of crushed tortilla chips to add when it is time to eat. 


This post is linked to: The Sweet Details,
Not "Baaad" Sundays, 
Meatless Monday's
Making Monday Marvelous
Simple Lives Thursday
BWS tips button the-pinterest-challenge

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bread Making for a Cause

One of my greatest little pleasures in life is making bread. The smell of baked bread throughout my house is magical, and sharing my bread with others can be downright spiritual. Jesus was on to something when he spoke about "breaking bread" with family and friends. It is such a great way to connect with others, and the knowledge that I can feed my family without having to depend on grocery store bread it comforting. (And lets face it, its also pretty impressive when you show up to a friend's house with a loaf of just-out-of-the-oven bread and the yes-I-made-it look of confidence on your face).

I found out last weekend that a friend-of-a-friend's child has brain cancer and will be spending 42 weeks at the Children's Hospital in Seattle (2 hours from here). A local mom decided to sell soup, bread, and desserts as a fundraiser to help out with the family's hospital costs. I volunteered to make some bread to sell, and it felt so nice to do something I enjoy so immensely and help out another family in the process. I made 4 loaves of ciabatta bread and 2 dutch oven boules. So far $1400 has been raised and her taco soup was a hit. Hopefully the orders will keep coming in.

Below is my favorite bread recipe. I have tried many recipes over the last few years, and I have found this one to be the easiest, gives the most consistent results, is quite versatile, and tastes amazing. I found the recipe on the Mother Earth News website; you can read the entire article and recipe here. This recipe does require the use of a dutch oven or a heavy pot with a lid that can stand high heat in the oven. A bread making cookbook I highly recommend is Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. This book is great for people just starting out, and for those with experience as well. It has a wide variety of bread recipes and other delicious recipes as well. My sister-in-law kindly gave me the Leslie Mackie's Macrina Bakery and Café Cookbook a few years back.

Now that I have been baking for over a year, I browsed the cookbook and made ciabatta bread with their recipe. It actually called for making a starter first, then using the starter a few days later for the bread. Since I now consider myself past the novice stage of bread making, I wasn't scared. The ciabatta loaves turned out delicious, but I still think the recipe below is my favorite.

No-Knead Dutch Oven Bread

1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting. You may use white, whole wheat, or a combination of the two. I prefer to use bread flour. I like the texture of the bread best with it.
1 1/2 tsp salt

Optional Ingredients:
chopped olives
dried fruit such as cranberries or raisins
sun dried tomatoes

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add the flour and salt, stirring until blended. The dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at least 8 hours, preferably 12 to 18 or over night, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Sprinkle dough with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. If you would like to any optional ingredients, after placing dough on the lightly floured work surface, form the dough into a rectangle and sprinkle the ingredients over the dough. Then proceed to folding the dough over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking tot he work surface or to your fingers, gently shape it into a ball. Generously coat a clean dish towel with four, wheat bran or cornmeal. Put the seam side of the dough down on the towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another towel and let rise for about 1 to 2 hours. When it's ready, the dough will have doubled in size and will not readily spring back with poked with a finger.

4. At least 20 minutes before the dough is ready, heat the oven to 475 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, pyrex, or ceramic) into the oven as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven and lift off the lid. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up. The dough will lose its shape a bit in the process, but that's Ok. Give the pan a firm shake or two to help distribute the dough evenly, but don't worry if its not perfect; it will straighten out as it bakes.

5. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until the loaf is beautifully browned. Remove the bread from the Dutch oven and let it cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.

I know this doesn't seem fair, letting it cool for 1 hour after all that work, but it really is necessary. The moisture in the bread re-distributes during this time. If you cut into the bread right out of the oven, all the moisture will leave and the bread will get hard and dry. I am speaking from experience.

One of my favorite ways to eat fresh bread...pan fried in a little olive oil with a smear of roasted red pepper hummus and cracked black pepper. Now that's living!

Hummus Crostini.... yum!

This post can also be found on Miz Helen's Country Cottage blog for her "Full Plate Thursday" party and Melt in your Mouth Monday
This post is linked to Home Savvy A to Z:

Sunday, March 11, 2012