Easy Chicken Meatballs

One of my favorite parts of being back home is cooking in a kitchen with more than marginal counter space, where I don’t need to balance cookie sheets on top of my coffee pot or put ingredients on top of my refrigerator just to get through even the simplest recipe. It’s such a luxury to be able to spread out and cook on one solid surface!! Last night I took the time to make chicken meatballs, and they turned out better than I thought they would. With the frigid weather we’ve been having that rivals Canada, something warm and cozy was just the thing to curl up and eat. They aren’t quite as gooey and deliciously greasy as beef meatballs, but I did feel a little better about myself eating them, like I could justify a third second helping!! The only thing to keep in mind when you’re making them is, if you’re like me and like sampling the raw meet as you cook, you don’t want to do that with raw chicken, just to avoid the salmonella. Unfortunately I didn’t take strict measurements when I was cooking, so the recipe that follows is all of my ingredients, in guestimated amounts. Adjust to your liking. These would be great with some garlic and basil, or even rosemary. I’ll have to try that next time!! Add or subtract ingredients as you like and enjoy!  Recipe to follow pictures.

20131125-210859.jpg

20131125-210906.jpg

20131125-210914.jpg

20131125-210921.jpg

Ingredients

Boneless, skinless, chicken breast – I used about a pound and a half.

1 jar tomato and basil tomato sauce.

2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes (1 big can and 1 small one)

Olive oil for the pan.

Milk

2 eggs

Panko breadcrumbs (I used a mix of white and whole wheat, about 2 cups in total).

Part-skim mozzarella cheese

Hard Italian cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano

Pasta (I used whole wheat rigatoni).

Cut the chicken into 1 inch chunks and grind up, a bit at a time, in a food processor. You want to only process a bit at a time to keep some chicken from being overground and mushy while the rest isn’t even ground yet. Transfer ground chicken to a mixing bowl. Add eggs and breadcrumbs and mix – you may want to use your hands. Add milk as needed to moisten the breadcrumbs. Add more milk and breadcrumbs until you achieve the texture you want. Shape into balls with your hand. Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add chicken balls and let brown. Flip the balls with tongs as they brown in order to brown all sides. When all sides are brown, add tomato sauce and fire roasted tomatoes. Let simmer until chicken balls are cooked through. Add cheese if desired. Serve with your favorite pasta.

Advertisements

A Small Miracle

All life is precious, right? When I left Montreal to go home for the summer, I couldn’t fit all of my plants in the car and I had a bunch of compost that wasn’t quite ready and I also didn’t want to bring home. Traveling with dirt is one thing but traveling with pre-dirt is quite another…

I left my two small geraniums in a large pot with a good amount of compost spread on top on my balcony in the hopes that the flowers would get enough water over the summer and not die on me.

When I came back to school in August, not only were my flowers alive, but the pot also had growing in it two large tomato plants and two pepper plants! They have been slow-growing since I moved the pot inside for the winter, but all are still alive. I noticed flowers on my tomato plant sometime in September, and last night harvested the first tomato. From a plant I didn’t know I planted. I guess my compost pile didn’t heat up enough to kill the tomato (or pepper) seeds in it, and for that I am grateful! My little tomato was my first small miracle! Happy Friday everyone!

20131122-154131.jpg

20131122-154142.jpg

Chocolate Cake in a Mug

Good morning afternoon, Blogkins. (Should that be a word, or should I strike it from my lexicon forever and be embarrassed I ever uttered it?) My brain is fried from schoolwork, so I’m taking a break from my term paper to tell you about the cake in a mug semi-fail I experienced last night. Yesterday was weight day for me at the gym, and I went heavier with the free weights than I have in a while. Which meant that last night, even though I was in a mood to eat my feelings, I didn’t want to completely cancel out my workout. I looked up a few recipes for chocolate cake in a mug that you microwave, and got inspired.

What resulted wasn’t exactly cake… I’m thinking my microwave is kind of powerful and I should have taken it out after a minute and a half instead of pressing the extra 30 seconds to see if it would puff up more. Definite rookie move. I still managed to eat it, it wasn’t that bad, but the texture was vaguely kind of rubbery. Have you ever tried this kind of cake? Has it worked better for you than me?

Also, today I transplanted the carrot tops I’ve been growing in water for a few months into an actual pot. I’m hoping being in dirt will mean I have to babysit them less. I’m throwing in a picture of them just because I think they look pretty. Hope you enjoy!

Microwave Chocolate Cake in a Mug

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened all natural applesauce
  • splash of vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons milk

Stir the dry ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients. Microwave for 1.5 – 2 minutes on high, until the cake puffs up. I sprinkled a few chocolate chips on top of mine when it came out. You can substitute an egg for the applesauce but you may have to add more sugar for the cake to be sweet enough. Have fun experimenting and adjust the ratios to your taste! This can be as healthy or as decadent as you want… swapping out whole wheat flour for white flour might help the texture as well. It could also be a great way for everyone to have their own cake with whatever ingredients they want; rainbow sprinkles, chopped nuts, and chocolate chips would all be great mix-ins, and whipped cream or ice cream would be delicious on top!

20131119-124509.jpg

20131119-124340.jpg

20131119-124037.jpg

Pancakes, They’re What’s for Breakfast!

Good morning, everyone!

It’s unseasonably warm here, but still very grey outside, making it a good day to stay snuggled in as long as possible. I thought I’d take the time to share the newest recipe in my pancake arsenal with you. Yesterday morning I was flipping through the Food Network, and found Michael Smith making pancakes. Healthy pancakes, he said. I was intrigued. I love pancakes. Saturday morning always makes me think of pancakes. As I watched these being made on TV, I wanted them more the more that I saw. When I watched them get cooked up in bacon grease, I knew I was sold, and mixed these up!

I think the whole wheat flour and the oatmeal definitely helped put off the, “pancake hangover,” or what I call that feeling after you eat plain white flour pancakes. You’re super full, but kind of hungry, and just generally lethargic. I think we can all agree that that’s not a great way to start your day! I must admit I cooked up some bacon and cooked some of the pancakes in said bacon grease. Delicious! The one weird quirky bit about this recipe was that it didn’t call for adding any extra milk once the batter was all mixed. In my pancake-making experience, you always add milk. I wanted to stick with the recipe, however, so I didn’t add any milk, and I think everything ended up ok. The pancakes came out thick and cakey. I did have to smush them down a little bit in the pan to make sure there was no raw batter in the middle. I might add a little milk next time to see what happens. Let me know if you try this recipe, how you cook them and how they turn out!

Michael Smith’s Whole Grain Pancakes: http://chefmichaelsmith.com/recipe/country-inn-pancakes/#.UojjDY2E4n4

There are more detailed instruction on his website (above), but here are the basics:

Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat, grain or almond flour
1 cup oatmeal flakes
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups any milk or water
1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 eggs, 4 for added richness
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Mix the wet ingredients in a large bowl.

Add the dry ingredients all at once.

Cook in a preheated and oiled pan or griddle at medium heat.

Honestly, I added the dry ingredients without sifting them, one at a time right on top of each other into the wet ingredient bowl, and then mixed it all together. I only used two eggs, and cinnamon instead of nutmeg. I skipped the water and used 1% milk. They are super easy to make, and came out really yummy! Enjoy!

20131117-110511.jpg

20131117-110527.jpg

20131117-110546.jpg

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies

I’ve been craving chocolate all week, and last night I finally had time to make some brownies. At this point in the semester, I feel like I’m constantly shoving food in my mouth to stay awake, so if there is any way to cut calories or fat from what I am eating, I’m all for it. I don’t follow a gluten-free diet, and I’m definitely not vegan, but I found this recipe for flourless, gluten free, vegan peanut butter brownies here: http://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/2013/10/fudgy-peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-brownies-flourless-gluten-free-vegan/

The website has lots of great pictures, which do the brownies much better justice than the ones I took do, as well as a calorie count and other nutrition info. The recipe was super easy. I even skipped using the stand mixer because I wanted the exercise of blending it all myself, and it still came together nicely. The batter didn’t seem like enough to fill the pan but it filled out nicely in the oven. I forgot about the brownies until a few minutes after they were supposed to come out of the oven (recommended bake time is 18-22 minutes and I left them in for 25), and while they were set, and certainly not raw, they just didn’t crisp up like regular brownies do. I put them in the fridge to cool for 20 minutes and they hardened up a bit, sort of. At first I was kind of underwhelmed, and maybe a tad disappointed. But then I tasted them.

These brownies are amazing! They’re not overly peanut-buttery, and not super-sweet, but there’s a good balance of flavors and the texture is very cakey. They don’t stand up on their own – you wouldn’t be able to cut a slice and eat it with your hands and not drop a good amount of crumbs on the floor (my kitchen floor is proof), but they are delicious. I had to bring out the Shrimp Fork for these brownies last night. The Shrimp Fork, for those of you who don’t know, is my tiny fork that is supposed to be for eating shrimp. I use it whenever I’m eating something delicious and I know I’m going to try and eat way more than I should. I don’t know that it actually keeps me from eating more, but it is about a third of the size of a normal fork so it does force me to slow down and take smaller bites. I hope this means my stomach and my brain have more time to talk to each other and let me know I’m full before I completely overdo. These brownies were Shrimp Fork Good.

I will definitely be making these again – soon, if eating half the pan in one sitting last night was any indication. They are the right amount of chocolatey and don’t make me feel like I need to head straight to spin class as soon as I eat one. Let me know if you try and make them, or if you have another “healthy” dessert you enjoy!

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup all natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey (agave or maple syrup if vegan)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup all natural unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, if desired
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling on top (I used regular chocolate chips)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 8×8 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl of electric mixer or food processor, cream together peanut butter, honey, vanilla and applesauce until smooth. Add cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; mix again until smooth. Gently fold 1/4 cup of chocolate chips into batter. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and smooth top. I usually spray my spatula with cooking spray to help spread it out evenly. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips over the top.
  3. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until top is just set. It’s okay if they look a little underdone; we want these to be fudgy! Plus they are vegan so you don’t need to worry about them cooking all the way through. Cool on wire rack as long as you can. Cut into 12 delicious squares!

20131116-120811.jpg

20131116-120820.jpg

20131116-120829.jpg

20131116-120836.jpg