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Category Archives: Appetizers and Finger Foods

Homemade Meatballs

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I think sometimes people don’t realize just how many foods Craig had to give up when he could not longer consume dairy.  There are definitely the obvious foods like pizza, cheesecake, and lasagna (though I did make a very tasty goat cheese lasagna last year that Craig can eat).  But Craig also misses out on a lot of other stuff that you might not necessary think of.  One of those examples is meatballs.  Basically any meatball you buy from a store or order at a restaurant has milk and/or cheese in it.  I had never really thought about it before, but I realize now that I had definitely been taking my ability to eat meatballs for granted, as my poor husband has been deprived of this for years.

So, I obviously had to rectify this problem by making homemade meatballs.  I searched through a few different recipes until I found the perfect one.  The ingredients just made the final product sound delightful, and oh, it was!  I used soy milk instead of regular milk, and I omitted the tiny bit of parmesan cheese that was in the recipe (but of course I will include it in the recipe below for all you dairy-loving folks out there).  We have had these on meatball subs as well as spaghetti, and I am sure that we will go on to use these by themselves as appetizers or finger foods in the future, because they are just that fabulous.  To quote Craig, “Now I see why the old grandmother on The Wedding Singer paid him in meatballs!  These meatballs are fantastic!” 😉

Homemade Meatballs

Recipe from: allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
    • The original recipe used extra lean ground beef, but I didn’t.  A lot of the fat ends up staying in the pan at the end anyway, kind of like when you make meatloaf.
  • 1/2 tsp salt
    • The original recipe used sea salt, but I used kosher salt, and I’m sure regular salt would work just fine.
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 dash (or to taste) hot pepper sauce
    • something like Tabasco (which is what I used) or Frank’s RedHot
    • I used “a few dashes”…It’s really just about personal preference, but I didn’t feel like one dash would do much in an entire pound of meat plus other ingredients.
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup milk
    • The original recipe used skim milk, but I used soy milk.  I really think the recipe would be great regardless of your type of milk choice.  🙂
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
    • I obviously omitted this.
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Directions

  1. Put meat in a mixing bowl and add salt, onion, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, oregano, red pepper flakes, hot pepper sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.  Mix well.
  2. Add the milk, parmesan cheese (if using), and seasoned bread crumbs.  Mix until blended evenly.
  3. Form 1 1/2-ish inch balls and place on baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees until no longer pink in the center, about 25 minutes.
Meatball Sub

Meatball Sub!

This is obvious my spaghetti and not Craig's since it has parmesan on top...  ;-)

This is obviously my plate of spaghetti and not Craig’s since it has parmesan on top…His was already almost completely eaten when I was ready to take the picture. 😉

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Sweet and Sour Chicken

So, I have a confession.

I am intimidated by chicken.  I mean, have you seen my recipes?  I’m all about throwing chicken in the crock pot, because with crock pot, I can prepare everything else, and it basically does all the work.  If I’m not using the crock pot for chicken, I am usually using our George Foreman grill.  We like to buy chicken breasts on sale and put them in baggies with marinade before freezing them.  That way, when we pull them out to thaw, they already have the marinade on them and we can just put them on a George Foreman grill.  So easy.  If we are having chicken that is not from the crock pot or George Foreman grill, then I didn’t make it.

At least that was the case until this past Monday.

It’s true.  I decided it was time to conquer my fear.  I was determined to make chicken that took preparation and effort.  Not a lot, but some.  I was going to try something new…I was going to use both our stove and our oven to cook chicken.  Until Monday, I used the stove to brown ground beef, and I mainly used the oven to bake.  I don’t know why cooking chicken intimidates me so much.  It just does.

Or at least it did.

You can go ahead and give me a round of applause.  No need to wait until the end of this post.  Not only did I make chicken for dinner on Tuesday (without the use of the crock pot or George Foreman); I made sweet and sour chicken on Tuesday, and it was good.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not trying to come off as a chicken-cooking hero who took on my fear without a second thought.  I was very scatter-brained and basically going crazy for the length of the entire meal preparation.  I even felt overwhelmed by it at times.  But I did it, and now that I am looking back, it was actually not difficult.  So now, not only am I providing you with a great sweet and sour chicken recipe, but this also means that more recipes are to follow, for I have opened the door to a whole new world (cue Aladdin song) in cooking.

Recipe Adapted From: Made It. Ate It. Loved It.

Ingredients:

Chicken Breading:

  • 3-5 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup canola oil

Sauce:

  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 tbs (same thing as 1/4 cup) ketchup
  • 1/3-1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
    • amount really depends on personal preference
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic salt

Directions:

Rinse chicken, trim off fat, and cut into 1(-ish) inch cubes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Dip chicken into cornstarch, coating completely, and then into the eggs.  Heat oil in skillet.  Cook until browned (most certainly does not need to be cooked through).  Place in baking dish (try to use a dish big enough that you can for the most part fit all the chicken in one layer).  Whisk the sauce until smooth and pour over chicken.  Turn chicken pieces so that the sauce gets both sides.  Put in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes.  Turn the chicken, and then continue cooking for another 15 minutes.

We ate our sweet and sour chicken over rice, and it was great!  The recipe itself doesn’t make a ton of sauce by the time you are done baking, so if you like a lot of sauce (for the rice, vegetables, etc.), I would suggest making a double batch.  However, if you do make a double batch, you only want to pour half of it (being the amount listed in the recipe) on the chicken for cooking, or else the chicken may get soggy while cooking.  Before the chicken is done baking, heat the second batch of sauce up in a saucepan or microwave (make sure to stir it throughout heating).

Besides just having this as a sweet and sour chicken meal, Craig and I both think that this also makes a great finger food.  It would be fabulous for a football game or New Year’s party, with some toothpicks next to it and maybe a small bowl with the second batch of sauce for dipping.  A certain party favorite!

“Save Some For Me” Guacamole

“Save Some For Me” Guacamole

I couldn’t decide what to title this post, because just calling it “Guacamole” seemed lame.  I thought about calling it “Game Day Guacamole,” because it is great to have when a bunch of people are together watching a football game.  I thought about calling it “Fiesta Guacamole” because no fiesta is complete without having guacamole present.  I thought about calling it “Summer Cookout Guacamole” because it is always one of the first things eaten up at our summer cookouts.  I thought about just calling it “Taco Night Guacamole” because it is an obvious great addition to any family taco night.

Really, I just felt torn.  I didn’t want some naive person to see my “Game Day Guacamole” while trying to prepare for a summer cookout, and then move on without giving it a chance.  I didn’t want some poor soul who was preparing for a football party to see my “Fiesta Guacamole” post and think that this recipe wasn’t for them.  There were just so many things that could go wrong…too many things at risk.  What in the world could I call this guacamole that would actually apply to every possible scenario where it would be served and eaten?

As Craig snacked on guacamole and chips, with med school papers in front of him and the Gamecocks football game on in the background, I continued to prepare the rest of our taco salad dinner.  My mind wandered from the title of this post to the football game to the cleaning I needed to do around our place back to watching Craig eat up the guacamole.  I hope he makes sure to save some for me, I thought.  I made a lot this time, so I should be good.  I continued to think back to the countless times in my family that someone missed out on getting guacamole because they were in the other room…or maybe they were watching something on t.v….or maybe they accidentally fell asleep (that is a BIG NO-NO in the Warner family if you don’t want to miss out on good food)…or maybe they just looked away for a moment.

It’s not that a I grew up in selfish family or anything.  We definitely don’t mind sharing.  We just love guacamole, and we really love this guacamole.  You just eat it up without even thinking and before you know it, it’s all gone.

Yep, “Save Some For Me” Guacamole really does summarize this easy recipe extraordinarily well.

Before you go on to read these ingredients, please know that they are estimates.  I wasn’t even going to list amounts of each ingredient, but I know that some people out there may have an anxiety attack reading an entire recipe with no amounts listed.  I have never actually measured this out.  Everything is really to taste, and that’s how I encourage you to make this.  You can use these amounts as guidelines, and then play around with the guacamole until it most suits your taste!

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 ripe Hass avocados
  • 1/2-1tsp salt, or to taste
    • Kosher is definitely best, but regular salt will work also!
  • 1/4 cup fresh, chopped cilantro
  • 1/2-1 jalapeño, diced up (optional)
    • Don’t include a lot of the seeds unless you really like hot stuff!
  • 1/3-1/2 of a lime’s juice
  • 1/2-3/4 onion, chopped
  • 1/2-1  large tomato or 1-2 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic

Directions

Remove each avocado from its peel and pit.  If you are unsure how to do this, or you are just curious how I do this, click here!  Once you have removed all the avocados, you are welcome to go ahead and cut them into to chunks to give yourself a head start if you would like, or you can just toss the avocado halves into a bowl.  Use a fork or spoon to start mixing the avocados, using the edge to cut through bigger pieces into smaller chunks.  Once it is just barely starting to look like guacamole (your goal is to still maintain some avocado texture through the end of this), go ahead and add the other ingredients, mixing each one in at a time.  The order does not matter much, except that you definitely want the tomato pieces to be the very last thing you add.  Otherwise, they will just get mushed and make everything else soggy.

That’s it!  Wow, how easy is that?!  Now you can go enjoy your football game, your fiesta, your summer cookout, your taco night, you whatever!  Just make sure you get some of that guacamole before it’s all gone!

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