Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Harissa Spiced Meatballs with Cilantro Yogurt

I think meatballs might be at the top of my favorite food list. Now that I've got a fridge full of them I'll be one happy lady the rest of the week. This recipe could easily be served as hors d'oeuvres or as a meal if you're feeling carb conscious. 

So this recipe calls for Harissa. Harissa is a paste made of spices traditional in northern Africa, but also really popular throughout Europe. The spices used in Harissa are commonly dried chilies, coriander, caraway, cumin, paprika and salt. The spices are usually blended with oil and garlic to make a paste. I've incorporated all of the ingredients into the meatballs to make a Harissa Spiced Meatball.

I found a Harissa blend at a local spice shop. You could probably do the same or make your own!

Harissa Spiced Meatballs with Cilantro Yogurt
makes 20-25 meatballs

for the meatballs
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
1/2 yellow onion (finely diced)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp harissa spice blend
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (minced) or 2 tbsp dried fire roasted tomatoes
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1.5 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper

for the dipping sauce
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (rough chop)
1/4 lemon (juice)
1 tsp harissa spice blend
pinch kosher salt

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.

In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients. Get your hands in there and mix until everything is one cohesive mass. If the mixture seems really wet, add some extra bread crumbs. If it seems too dry, drizzle in some extra olive oil.

Form golf ball size meatballs. Roll the meatball around in your hand until it feels like it will hold together. Drop the meatballs onto the foil lined sheet. Continue until all meatballs are formed. Pop into the oven for 15 minutes. 

As the meatballs cook, make the yogurt sauce. Mix together yogurt, chopped cilantro, lemon juice, spices and salt. 

Serve the cooked meatballs with the dipping sauce. 

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pierogi and Brussels Sprout Soup

Hello from sunny Arizona! I'm down in Phoenix this week with my mom visiting my sister. We're doing a little wedding planning/celebrating, but I really came down here because my sister won a teaching excellence award and we're heading to a dinner celebration tonight on her behalf. So a big congrats to my sis! 

I know spring has officially sprung across most of the country, but in case you want one more cozy soup recipe, here it is. I bravely made my own pierogies for this recipe, but God bless you if you chose to make your own. That was tough work. Next time I'll call up Mrs. T.

Pierogi and Brussels Sprout Soup
makes 1 large pot

1 yellow onion (diced)
6 cloves garlic (smashed)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp flour
1 lb. chicken breast (cubed)
10-12 small to medium pierogies (frozen or fresh, any stuffing)
10 Brussels sprouts (shaved w/ a mandolin)
8 cups chicken broth (low sodium or homemade)
4 cups water
1 tbsp smoky paprika
salt and pepper
olive oil
Greek yogurt or sour cream for serving

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add chicken cubes, salt and pepper and brown up on all sides until cooked through. Remove and set aside on a plate.

Lower heat to medium and drizzle in some more olive oil. Add onion, paprika, salt and pepper. Let onions soften for 5 minutes. Add smashed garlic and tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes. Add flour, mix to create a thick paste and let cook for 2 minutes.

Add all broth and water and whisk to make sure flour is incorporated without clumps. Add salt and pepper. Turn up heat and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and add chicken and pierogies. Let simmer until pierogies are cooked and float to the top. When they float, add the shaved Brussels sprouts and cook for 2 minutes until soft. *Note: If you don't have a mandolin to shave the Brussels sprouts, just slice them up as thin as you can. 

Turn off heat and serve with a scoop of Greek yogurt or sour cream. 

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Monday, March 24, 2014

One More Green Sauce Recipe

Just one more. I promise. But can you tell how much I love this green sauce? It's so addictive. For a real treat, add a couple scoops to your scrambled eggs and wrap it up into a breakfast burrito. Hello hangover helper. Or hello 5 minute breakfast from heaven. Just go make this sauce already. Scared because you don't have a food processor? Use your blender. Same deal.

Avocado and Cucumber Chimichurri Salad
makes 3-4 sides

3/4 English cucumber (halved, seeds removed, sliced)
2 avocados (cubed)
1/4 red onion (minced)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 can cannellini beans (drained)
1/2 cup cilantro chimichurri
salt and pepper

Cut cucumber in half and scoop out the seeds. Slice the cucumber into 1/2 inch pieces. Toss into a mixing bowl with avocado cubes, red onion, crumbled feta, drained beans, 1/2 cup chimichurri, salt and pepper.

Serve immediately or cover and put in fridge. 

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bling Bling

It's official. Brian locked it up this weekend with a big proposal in Sonoma. We're getting married! 

We had a perfect little weekend up in Sonoma with lots of wine, some beautiful weather, a little bubbly and a whole lotta bling. For the curious ones out there, Brian proposed back in the vineyards at our last tasting, at Porter Creek. The winery came highly recommended to us as cute, little winery tucked back in the hills, over a one lane bridge, complete with a dog and chicken coop. Add it to your trip if you're planning a trip to wine country. 

I was a ball of tears and forgot to say yes. I eventually got it together and we celebrated by sharing the news with family and friends and toasting with a little champagne. Thanks to everyone who has already shared the love!

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