Thursday, February 10, 2011

Italian Meatballs in Marinara

 This was TO DIE FOR.  All 4 of us ate until we were so stuffed.  We sat around the table saying how full we were but that we wanted to keep eating!

Got the meatball recipe off of Christna Ferrare's site on OWN.  Marinara I found on

Servings: Makes 10 4 oz. meatballs


Jamie's Famous Meatballs Recipe

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 8 ounces ground pork  (I used 2 lbs of ground beef)
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I had Italian Seasoned on hand)
  • 1/4 cup and 1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan (or Pecorino Romano)
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 cloves chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil , for frying


Using a whisk, mix the milk and the bread crumbs in a deep bowl. Add all the other ingredients. Using your hands (you can use gloves), mix well until the mixture looks even. With a scale, weigh out the mixture into about 4-ounce portions and form them into meatballs.

Place olive oil into a frying pan, and heat until it begins to smoke slightly. Carefully place the meatballs in the pan using tongs. Keep rotating each meatball so they cook evenly until the inside of the meatball reaches 140°. Place the cooked meatball into a marinara sauce of your choice and let simmer for approximately 2 to 4 hours.

Yield: 10 meatballs (4 ounces)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Inactive prep time: 0 minutes
Cook time: 2 to 4 hours  (I only let them simmer about 20 minutes.  We were hungry!)

I happen to have a scale.  This is like the one I have.  If you don't have a scale, big deal, just try to make them all the same size.  4 oz is pretty big meatballs.  They sell fancier scales for 3-5 times the amount of money, but I like the kind that has a plastic bowl on top so that you can throw that in the dishwasher.

I made this just like the instructions (except for omitting the pork & replacing it with the ground beef).

 For the Marinara Sauce


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley  (I didn't have dried parsley so I used a little dried basil)
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese   (I just used the parmesan)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder  (I had granulated onion, so I used about 2 teaspoons, to taste)
  • I also sauted an onion & added it


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute garlic until aromatic and tender. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, oregano, parsley, Romano cheese, Parmesan cheese, bay leaves and onion powder. Reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 40 minutes.  I allowed it to simmer for about 20 minutes until my meatballs were done, then I added the meatballs for the last 20 minutes.

Served it with spaghetti noodles & sauted zucchini.  Which by the way even my kids find amazing. 

 Sliced zucchini, saute in a little olive oil until tender & a little brown.  Sprinkle liberally with garlic salt to taste.  I'll post my favorite garlic salt.  It's a favorite for a reason.  You can find it in any grocery store.  McCormicks California Style (with parsley) Garlic Salt.

Sonya's Chicken Tortilla Soup

I think traditional tortilla soup usually has a tomato base.  But not mine.  There is a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant where I used to live in Riverside.  It is called Mexican Kitchen.  I ordered this once & I was hooked.  I went home & duplicated it perfectly. All the ingredients are optional & you can take out & add whatever you want.  Everything can also be a guess.  There is no exact science to this.  So really there are no measurements.

Chicken Stock or broth about 64 ounces  (I make my own, see recipe)
Shredded chicken (from the chicken I made the stock from)
Yellow Onion, 1 medium onion, diced (set aside a little fresh for garnish)
Celery, about 3 sliced
Carrots, about 3 sliced
Cilantro (to your liking, set aside some fresh for garnish on each bowl)
Green Cabbage  (I wash it then hack it up, I use mostly the green outer parts)
Monterey Jack Cheese (or a blend "Mexican Cheese") (garnish to your liking.  I like a lot)
Corn or Flour tortillas (garnish)
Avocado (diced for garnish and YUMM!)
Oil for frying tortillas (if you want them fried)
Salt to taste (You probably won't need any.  It depends on your broth or stock).

I put the broth/stock in a big pot (like you would boil pasta in).  Add the onion, celery, carrots, & cilantro (leave some cilantro for garnish, it really does taste better to have fresh cilantro in each bowl).  Bring to a boil & then lower to a low simmer.  Put a lid on it.  Cook until the carrots are tender but you don't want soggy (I hate soggy carrots).

Preparing Tortillas:

You may want to prepare your tortillas now.  I just take a few out at a time, then put them on a flat surface & roll a pizza cutter over them, making strips.  You don't have to fry them if you don't want to.  Sometimes I just serve them whole and warm on the side.  With flour tortillas, you can just throw them in the soup when serving & not even heat them up.  For corn tortillas, I like them heated.  I put them directly on my gas stove burner on low eat and turn them.  I'll break off a piece & eat it on the side along with the soup.  Just heat a pan with oil in it (Grapeseed oil would be great.  You want a flavorless oil but any oil will do in a pinch) & fry the strips and then set them aside to drain on paper towels.  Doesn't take long.  Get 'em in, get 'em out.

When carrots are tender, add your chicken (however much you want) and cabbage.  We LOVE cabbage, so I put a TON.  Let it simmer until chicken is heated through & cabbage has softened up but isn't soggy.

Then top with garnishes.  A little finely chopped fresh onion is amazing on this, as well as the cilantro, the cheese melts & the tortillas are to die for!  I absolutely LOVE avocado so I dice up avocado and put this in as well.

AMAZING!  Then I used the rest of the shredded chicken to make enchiladas the next night.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

I got this recipe while watching Chrisina Ferrare's new show on the OWN network.  It looked easy when she made it, but It took a while because I don't have a good peeler.  I will now be buying a new peeler & I highly advise you do too for everything.  Cheap ones can make life miserable.  It's not that it was HARD to do, it was just time consuming.  Prep time is longer than 10 minutes as recipe stated.

Servings: Serves 4–6  (serves 6)


Butternut Squash Soup

  • 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced thin
  • 3 lbs. butternut squash , peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 scallions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 quarts chicken stock, homemade or commercial (8 cups)
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg, ground fresh
  • Pinch of ground cloves (optional)
  • 2 tsp. dry sherry or dry white wine
  • 8 ounces nonfat cream cheese at room temperature, cut into 4 pieces


Preheat oven to 375°. Spread the sliced onions and cubed squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt, then toss together to coat vegetables with oil and salt.

Place the baking sheet in the oven. Roast the onions and squash for 20 to 30 minutes or until onions have caramelized and you can insert a paring knife easily through the cubes of squash. Place the caramelized onions, cubed squash, 3 scallions, chicken stock, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and sherry into a stockpot. Gently simmer for 30 minutes.

In a blender, in batches, add 2 ladles of soup and 2 ounces of the cream cheese at a time and blend until smooth. Pour into a clean stock pot. Keep up this process until all the soup and cream cheese have been used.

To serve, heat the soup until hot and ladle into heated bowls. Garnish each bowl with 1 tablespoon sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon chopped scallions, 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeƱos, 8 to 10 pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle withalt and pepper to taste, 6 to 8 pieces toasted walnuts, 1 teaspoon walnut oil and a dash of cayenne pepper.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

I couldn't find fresh nutmeg, so I just used the nutmeg I had already ground.  I used my own homemade chicken stock.  I got the sherry at Trader Joe's for about $4.95.  It lasts a long time.  However, I think it's optional.  

I followed the directions to a T.  I just didn't like the garnishments, so I omitted them.  I just added a bit more of cinnamon & nutmeg to the top.  I liked this soup, but for all the trouble, I probably won't make it again unless I have guests for dinner.  And then I will cut the recipe in half & serve it as a starter.  It is very good though.

I think I may buy these peelers.  Versatile!  Inexpensive & good reviews. 

Chicken Stock

This is how I make my chicken stock.

I roast a chicken (rinse chicken first, then salt the inside of the cavity.  In a 375 degree oven roast until temp reaches 165 degrees.  I have a temp gauge that I insert into the thickest part of the meat, it alarms me when it reaches temperature so there is no guessing or timing.  The one I use is just like the one at the bottom of this post.

Then I let the chicken cool.  Strip all the meat off of the chicken & I put that in the fridge to save for enchiladas or my tortilla soup.  I am going to use it to make my tortilla soup.  I then take the bones & some skin (little fat) and put it in a stock pot with carrots, the inside, leafy pieces of celery (the heart?), parsley, onions with skins, garlic cloves & skins & cover with water.  I don't usually need to add any salt because I had salted the inside of the chicken cavity before roasting.  You can also do this with a rotisserie chicken from the store.  Strip the meat & save the carcass.

I then bring it all to a boil & then lower it to a simmer for 45 minutes (if I am in a hurry) to 4 hours or over night (very low heat).  You can simmer it all day, the longer the better.

Once I'm ready to use it, I then take cheesecloth.  You can get it at the grocery store.  And strain the stock & carcass & veggies through it (I line a strainer with the cheesecloth).  I strain it into a very large bowl or another pot.  Then lift the cheesecloth out with the carcass & veggies & throw it away.  Super easy.  This tastes better than any chicken broth or stalk I have purchased to use in my recipes.  I can tell a difference when I don't make it from scratch.  It's too easy not to!  Let it cool throughput before refrigerating it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I've been moving

The reason for no posts lately is that I've been moving!  Seems we're more settled in now so I should be back to cooking in no time flat!  Hopefully tonight!