I know it’s early for Valentine’s Day but I just couldn’t resist purchasing these cute “Baked with Love” Cupcake Cases. I picked them up at TJ Maxx — a set of 24 for $3.99!! And who needs to wait for February, bake some love for your special someone today!!
My gay boyfriend introduced me to this website and although it is lacking in dessert and appetizers it has great recipes. It has a menu and meal planner, cooking tips, 20-minute recipes, recipes for two and so much more!
My favorite thus far is seared chicken with apricot sauce. I shared it with my mom and she made if for company and everyone loved it. Enjoy!!
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon , or 1/2 teaspoon dried
Place chicken breasts between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Pound with a rolling pin, meat mallet or heavy skillet until flattened to an even thickness, about 1/2 inch. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off excess. (Discard any leftover flour.)
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned and no longer pink in the center, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, cover and keep warm. (If necessary, cook the chicken in two batches with an additional 1 tablespoon oil.)
Off the heat, add wine and shallot to the pan. Return to medium heat and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Add apricots and cook until the fruit begins to break down, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in preserves, tarragon and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return the chicken to the pan and cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve the chicken with the sauce.
Per serving: 252 calories; 5 g fat ( 1 g sat , 3 g mono ); 66 mg cholesterol; 15 g carbohydrates; 4 g added sugars; 27 g protein; 1 g fiber; 517 mg sodium; 444 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (15% daily value).
1. You are going to have to cook the sauce longer than the recipe says. Probably at least twice as long.
2. For leftovers I heated up the chicken and sauce, let it cool and put it over arugula!! Mmmm!!!! So good. The sauce alone could be used as a nice dressing. Sooo tasty!
Ever since I saw Cheesecake Factory’s fried mac and cheese balls on ‘Unwrapped’ I have been obsessed. They’re almost a staple now when I visit Cheesecake Factory. I went camping this weekend and thought they would make great outdoors side dish. I was right. These balls are some work, and next time I will moderate the recipe, but they got great reviews!
A guilty pleasure.
I searched the web and found the recipe below over and over claiming to be the secret recipe. Below are my notes/tips in pink.
1 pound Cavatappi (also called cellentani or double elbows, is macaroni formed in a spiral tube shape with ridges) In the interest of trying to be health conscious I used whole wheat maccaroni elbows, they turned out great and no one noticed the pasta was whole wheat
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk, warmed, plus 2 tablespoons for egg wash
1 pound grated Sharp Cheddar
1 pound grated smoked Gouda
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
3 cups seasoned bread crumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying I didn’t have enough vegetable oil so I used olive oil. It produced a more golden brown coloring than regular vegetable oil.
Marinara sauce, to serve
Cook the macaroni according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again and set aside.
In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour into the butter and stir it with a whisk. Cook for 2 minutes.
Whisk the warmed milk into the flour mixture, working out any lumps. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.Remove from the heat, add the cheeses, and stir until melted and smooth; season with salt and pepper. I found I needed to put this over heat again in order to get the cheese to melt. Fold the cheese sauce into macaroni. Pour the mac and cheese into a shallow pan and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours. I didn’t have a large enough pan so I used the big pot I boiled the maccaroni in (which had cooled by now). This wasn’t too shallow and in retrospect I should have left them in the fridge for another hour or so. One comment on a review said she used Velveeta cheese. Next time I think I will try Velveeta. Personally, I think 1 lb of smoked Gouda was too over overpowering of a flavor. What I liked is that these balls were cheesy, but not too gooey, so they didn’t feel too heavy. If you want more cheesy I would def substitute Velveeta and, if you want more of an American mac and cheese flavor substitute American for Gouda. Also, one commenter said she called Cheesecake Factory and they told her they used White Cheddar, Fontina, and Jack cheeses. Next time I think I will use White Cheddar and Fontina instead of Gouda.
Shape the cold mac and cheese into meatball-sized balls and place them onto a waxed paper-lined tray. It makes this sooo much easier if you have an ice cream scooper!! Freeze the balls overnight. This took up a lot of room in the freezer, so beware. I forgot to buy wax paper at the store, so instead I used a regular cookie sheet and sprayed it with cooking spray. Worked great. TIP: If you’re using wax paper for actual baking, then you might not really need wax paper, you can substitute with aluminum foil or a metal pan.
Beat the eggs and 2 tablespoons milk together to form an egg wash and pour it into a shallow bowl. Put the bread crumbs into another shallow bowl. I used the bread crumbs I had available, a mix of regular and whole wheat bread crumbs. I wanted to make this recipe a little healthier so I tried to opt for whole wheat whenever I could. Next time for a little more flavor I may try the Italian seasoned bread crumbs.
Remove the mac and cheese balls from the freezer. Dip the frozen balls into the egg wash then into the break crumbs. Put the balls back into the freezer until you are ready to fry.
Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 350 degrees F. I do not have a deep-fryer. Instead, I heated oil over a gas flame. This resulted in my first batch, two balls, being burnt. I had only left them in for less than a minute. Make sure the flame is on medium heat at the most.
Fry the mac and cheese balls until they are golden brown and center is hot, about 4-5 minutes. If you are not using a deep-fryer make sure to experiment on the first two or three. The balls need to cook for a couple of minutes so they are completely warm through-and-through. If you cook them only a fraction of the time the balls will look fried from the outside but may still be partially frozen or pretty cold on the inside.
Serve hot with your favorite marinara for dipping and add some grated parmesan!
What do you think, can you not wait to try these?!
After I got back from the camping trip I reheated a few up in a frying pan over low heat. I turned them and directly added marinara sauce. They were till very good!!
I keep some of the balls frozen for about a month until one night when the power went out and I fried these up for my roommates– they were a big hit!
Watch a video of the Cheesecake Factory’s process on ‘Unwrapped’:
On my way to the last Harry Potter movie ever I grabbed a meatball sandwich from Subway. They’re pretty good and only five dollars for a footlong. However, the meatballs tasted kinda funny. I kept eating most of the sandwich b/c well I was hungry and paid for it and that’s just the type of person I am. BUT. I thought to myself, I can make this. I can make this better.
So I made meatballs. Healthy meatballs. The recipe takes about two hours total, but you make a lot. I froze what I didn’t use this week. I’ve had two meatball sandwiches for lunch this week and I’m pretty sure I can have two meatball sandwiches at work for the next two months. (Update: I’ve eaten 2-5 meatball sandwiches a month since mid-July! Such a nice backup to have for work when I’m busy and don’t have much time.)
It’s worth the effort to make this recipe!! Freeze up to three months.
Here is the recipe w/my modifications included in pink:
1/2 cup bulgur, (see Ingredient Note)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
8 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper After reading one review I decided to put a little more kick in the meatballs. I at least doubled the amount and they came out with a nice little kick of flavor. If you really want spicy I would say add 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes I stopped by the clearance racks at my grocery store– which consists of dented cans and found 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes half off. I also found two 7.5 oz cans half off, one that was fire roasted tomatoes and garlic, the other tomatoes with onions and green peppers. They added just a lil more flavor. I also used less garlic b/c I can had garlic in it.
4 cups diced plum tomatoes, (about 1 1/2 pounds)After reading one review that said it was too saucy and knowing that I wanted these for sandwiches and not pasta I completely cut out this part of the recipe.
2 cups cubed whole-wheat country bread I used regular sized bread crumbs and the consistency turned out great.
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 pound 93%-lean ground beef
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
1/8 teaspoon salt
Place bulgur in a medium bowl and cover generously with hot water. Let soak for 30 minutes. Drain in a fine sieve, pressing to remove excess liquid.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. (I used a large sauce pan.) Add garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 1 minute. Stir in canned tomatoes and plum tomatoes; increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low. Partially cover and let simmer while you prepare meatballs.
Place bread in a medium bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak for a few minutes. Drain and squeeze out moisture.
Whisk egg and egg white in a large bowl. Add the bulgur, the bread, beef, Parmesan, cinnamon, pepper and salt. Gently combine with a potato masher and/or your hands. Form into 20 oval meatballs about 2 inches long.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; blot with paper towels. Brown the remaining meatballs.
Mash the simmering tomato sauce with a potato masher to break down any large chunks of tomato. Add the meatballs to the sauce. Simmer over low heat, partially covered, for 50 minutes.
Taste the sauce and add sugar, if it seems tart, and additional pepper to taste. Serve the meatballs with the sauce.
Tips & Notes:
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Ingredient note: Bulgur is made by parboiling, drying and coarsely grinding or cracking wheat berries. It simply needs a quick soak in hot water for most uses. Look for it in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets, or near other grains.
I bought some nice sandwich rolls to complement my meatballs. I keep them separated at work until I’m ready to eat. Then I microwave the meatballs and put the roll into the toaster oven. Viola!!
Per serving: 283 calories; 11 g fat ( 4 g sat , 4 g mono ); 73 mg cholesterol; 20 g carbohydrates; 23 g protein; 5 g fiber; 687 mg sodium; 271 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (60% daily value), Vitamin A (30% dv).