15 December 2010

This is a recipe I got from my favorite slow cooker food blog, A Year of Slow Cooking. These are hands-down the best meatballs I have ever made, possibly ever had. I never would have thought making meatballs in the slow cooker would work, but it does!

Slow Cooker Apple Cheddar Turkey Meatballs

1 lb. extra-lean ground turkey
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
½ shallot or ¼ onion, finely minced
1 apple, peeled, cored, and grated
½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Make slightly smaller than golf ball sized meatballs and place into the slow cooker. They will fit in one layer in a large 6 quart cooker, but if your cooker is smaller, you can stagger-stack them and they won’t stick together.

Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours. While they cook, juice will collect on the bottom of the crock and the meatlballs will get covered with white slimy stuff. Don’t be alarmed—they will continue to cook and will brown.

Makes 24 meatballs.

It may sound like a weird mix of flavors, but you don't actually taste the apple. It just kind of disintegrates and provides moisture to the meatballs. And even though you can't see the cheese (it doesn't ooze out or anything), they have a distinctive cheddar flavor running through them. So good.

The recipe calls for extra-lean ground turkey. I'm not exactly sure what that means. My turkey was 93% lean. Between the middle and end of cooking, I noticed the meatballs were sitting in a lot of liquid. I got out the turkey baster and removed it. It didn't look like grease; I think most of it was liquid that came out of the apple and the shallot. They weren't the slightest bit greasy when I took them out. You will need to remove any liquid like that if you want the meatballs to brown properly.

Here's what I changed from the original recipe. It called for 1½ lbs. of ground turkey, but I have all of mine split up into 1 lb. packages. And I usually figure that 1 lb. of ground meat is sufficient for 4 servings. It called for 1 tsp of black pepper, but that seemed like way too much and I don't really like it anyway so I just left it out. It called for 1 tsp of onion powder, but I had some shallots that needed to be used up, so I threw one of those in there. I really liked it that way. It also called for dried cranberries, but I thought that would be a little too much going on. And I didn't think that Lena would like them (she picks them out of my cranberry muffins).

I put in the recipe to cook on high. You can cook them on low, but I would guess that they wouldn't brown as nicely on low. I really liked how they got brown around the edges.

I served these with stuffing and green beans.

The raw meatballs getting all nestled in and cozy!

06 December 2010

This is a variation of a Betty Crocker recipe that I saw in a magazine. They were creme de menthe flavored with green food coloring, but I thought it would be fun to do peppermint flavor with red food coloring for our holiday open house this year.

Peppermint and Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 pouch sugar cookie mix
6 tbsp butter
½ tsp peppermint extract
1 egg
1 cup chocolate chips
6 to 8 drops red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix cookie mix, butter, extract, egg, and chocolate chips in a bowl until soft dough forms. Drizzle the food coloring over the dough and lightly stir to swirl it in; don’t mix it in completely.

Using a small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

I am going to use less butter next time. It called for ½ cup and that's what I used this time, but reviewers on the Betty Crocker website suggested using less will reduce the amount that they spread out. They did spread out a lot. And I have a tendency to make them too big, so the less they spread, the better! So I will try using less butter next time.

But other than that, they turned out great. Be careful not to mix the food coloring in too much. Light stirring will give you a red swirl while too much mixing will give you a general pink. The swirl is what I was going for.

This is a dish I made for a Thanksgiving appetizer and for our St. Nicholas Day Open House this year. It's from The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook.

Blue Cheese and Bacon Dip

8 bacon slices
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
¼ cup milk
4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
¼ cup fresh chives, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 1 tbsp drippings in skillet. Chop bacon and set aside. Add garlic to skillet and saute for about a minute.

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add milk, garlic, bleu cheese, chives, and bacon. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 1 quart dish.

Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with crackers.

Makes 4 cups.

If you like blue cheese and bacon, you can't go wrong with this dish. Everybody seemed to like it. The picture above is a double recipe; that's a 2 quart dish. (I forgot to take the picture before everybody dug into it. Whoops!)

The original recipe called for walnuts, but I don't really like them so I left them out. It also called for putting only half of the bacon in the dip and topping it with the rest. But it seemed easier to just put all of it in.

On Thanksgiving I served it with Toasteds crackers and at our open house I served it with Club crackers. I just use whatever is on sale that week!

I think it's quite festive looking with the red bacon and green chives!

02 December 2010

This is a recipe I got from the magazine, Cuisine at Home. Pieces of bacon threaded around chunks of smoky links on a skewer and basted with a flavorful glaze. Roasted in the oven until brown and delicious.

Breakfast Kebabs

½ cup barbecue sauce
½ cup apple jelly
¼ tsp cinnamon
12 pork smoky links (10 oz. pkg)
8 strips thick-sliced bacon

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with foil and top with a cooling rack. Coat rack with nonstick spray.

Combine barbecue sauce, jelly, and cinnamon in a small saucepan over low heat until jelly melts and sauce is warm.

Thread sausage pieces and bacon onto 8 10” long skewers. Brush kebabs with sauce and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

Roast kebabs until both meats are browned and cooked through, 40-45 minutes. Baste and turn the skewers every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings, 2 skewers each.

Mmmm, so tasty! The barbecue sauce I used was really vinegary, so I thought that it wouldn't taste quite right on these, but it didn't end up tasting vinegary at all. In fact, they really don't taste like they have barbecue sauce on them at all. They just have a nice sweet, slightly tangy flavor.

You can use any kind of meat you like. The original recipe called for sausage and ham, but I used the ham for something else and I had more sausage than what the recipe called for, so I just simplified things and used all sausage. I think ham would be good too.

This is a nice spin on the usual bacon or sausage to go along with eggs for breakfast. I served them with scrambled eggs and waffles. My mom had a good idea: she suggested using smaller skewers and putting just a bite or two on each one for a party appetizer. I might have to try that at my holiday open house next year (I already have the menu set for this year's).