Pomegranate-Glazed Meatballs

Well, hello there.   I know I haven’t posted in a month, and I apologize, but I’ve needed this break in the worst possible way.  Part of the problem is that I stare at a computer screen all day and most days the last thing I want to do is go home and stare at it some more.  Another part of the problem is all of my “photography stuff” got consigned to the basement over the holidays and I have so not been motivated to run up and down those stairs looking for appropriate place settings for pictures.  And it’s also the dead of winter, which in northeast Ohio means NO sunlight, which means using artificial lighting for photos and I’ve gotten to the point where I hate that.

Yeah, I know – excuses, excuses.  At any rate, I’m not going to make any promises about the frequency of posting in the near future, but I think I’m ready to get back into the saddle again, at least on a provisional basis.

Even with all of the above-mentioned excuses, I’ve managed to photograph a thing or three I’ve cooked over the last month (when the stars were aligned just so); this is one of them.  And it is very, very good – Beloved keeps asking me when I’m going to make it again, and we argued over what little leftovers there were the next day.  It’s also incredibly simple, and these days, that’s a huge plus.

If you look at the photo, you’ll see this is served over something you might think is lentils, and you’d be 100% correct – it’s a sprouted lentil pilaf, and it was really delicious.  In the wake of all the brouhaha about resistant starch, we’ve been incorporating a moderate amount of properly prepared legumes (soaked, sprouted or fermented, which deactivates much, albeit not all, of the lectins and phytates) back into our diet.  Which makes me happy, because I’ve always liked them.

If you wish to avoid legumes for whatever reason, these would be very nice served over just about any vegetable puree or steamed white rice.  Make those itty bitty, cocktail-sized meatballs, and they’d make a great appetizer, too.

The meatballs would also work well made with ground pork or turkey if you can’t find or don’t care for lamb.

Pomegranate-Glazed Lamb Meatballs.  These little gems are delicious - bright and exotic.

Click the image to enlarge

Pomegranate-Glazed Meatballs
Serves: 3
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/pomegranate-molasses/” target=”_blank”]pomegranate molasses[/url]
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pistachios
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, gently mix together the lamb, garlic, salt, coriander, cardamom and pepper until combined; form into meatballs. Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake the meatballs until golden and just cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Brush with pomegranate molasses, making sure to coat the meatballs completely, and return to the oven until glazed, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with mint and pistachios and serve.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 384 calories, 21.5g total fat, 101.3mg cholesterol, 581.8mg sodium, 1104.5mg potassium, 17.9g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, 28.8g protein

Fennel Breakfast Sausage

Another recipe!  Yay!

We’ve taken the last two weeks off from work, and considering the fact we haven’t had a real vacation since we got married (6 years ago today – Happy Anniversary Jan and Beloved), we really, really needed it.  Having all this time off has given us plenty of time to do wildly fun things like clean the garage,  stack 2/3 of a cord of firewood we had delivered, clean out one of our freezers and pressure can massive amounts of chicken and beef bone broths.

We live on the wild side, we do.

At any rate, it’s also given me the time (and more importantly, the motivation) to do some actual cooking.

When we first began buying whole, humanely raised, antibiotic-free hogs (has it been nearly 4 years?  It has), we had a good portion of the ground pork made into fresh sausage.  While the sausage blends that Whitefeather Meats offers are just delicious (I’m especially fond of their chorizo and hot Italian sausages), it does cost extra on top of the normal processing fees and you’re limited as to what kind of sausage you have in your freezer.

It took me two hogs to decided to get all of the ground portions of our hogs as just plain ground pork.  That way, I have plenty of unseasoned meat for things like burgers and meatloaves, and when I’m in the mood for a certain kind of fresh sausage, all I have to do is mix it up.  Really, it’s hardly any more trouble than opening a package and you control the ingredients you use, as well as the proportions.

I made this as part of our brunch New Year’s morning and boy, oh, boy – it is some of the best breakfast sausage we’ve had lately.  It is just so good!  In fact, while we were scarfing it down, Beloved said, “You know…this would be really good on a pizza.”  Like most men, he loves pizza, but he’s right – if you’re inclined to eat a pizza with sausage on it, this would be a marvelous choice.  It would also make a pretty darn good base for a meatzza, as well.

If you don’t eat pork, this would work well with ground turkey or lamb.  Omit the maple syrup, which is optional, and it’s Whole30 compliant, too.

Fennel Breakfast Sausage. Making your own breakfast sausage at home couldn't be easier; this sweet and savory version is just delicious.

Click the image to enlarge

Fennel Breakfast Sausage
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and gently mix. Using your hands, form the sausage into eight 2-inch patties.
  2. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Lightly fry the sausage until browned and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 329 calories, 24.2g total fat, 81.7mg cholesterol, 770.6mg sodium, 371.1mg potassium, 7.7g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 6.1g sugar, 19.4g protein

Migas

Well, hello there.

If you’re wondering if I’d fallen off the edge of the earth, you’re not alone – I’ve been wondering that myself.  But no, just extremely busy (more on that tomorrow).

I’d mentioned a bit earlier that ever since The Young One has been off to college, I hadn’t felt much like cooking.  Or at least cooking anything worthy of a blog post; most of it’s been either recipes I’ve posted before, or stuff so simple that you could hardly call it “cooking.”  A lot of it couldn’t even remotely be considered “paleo” (but again, more on that tomorrow).

At any rate, I have prepared a few things worthy of a photograph and blog post – this is one of them.

My first husband was (is, I suppose, since he’s still living) Hispanic, and his grandmother was one of the finest cooks I’ve had the privilege to have known.  It was she who introduced me to authentic Mexican cuisine, rather than the Tex-Mex I’d grown up with, and her handmade tortillas, refried beans, menudo, and caldo de res were beyond compare.  I couldn’t wait for the holidays every year, when she and my mother-in-law would crank out enormous batches of tamales, both sweet and savory, and the buñuelos she made us as a treat for New Years were the best I, or probably anyone else, have ever tasted.

And she introduced me to Migas.

In the Mexican-American household – or at least, her Mexican-American household – Migas is a simple dish of eggs scrambled together with bite-size pieces of corn tortillas, and I loved it from the first time I took a bite.  Having said that, it occurred to me when I made this particular recipe that I hadn’t eaten it in over 25 years.  You see, when I was pregnant with Darling Daughter (in 1986 – yeah, I’m that old), migas was one of those things that, for no good reason I could tell, just turned my stomach – I simply couldn’t eat it. (Pregnancy will often play horrible tricks like that on you.)  I re-entered the workforce when she was about 6 months old, and I guess it just never occurred to me to ever cook it again.  I don’t know why.

Fast forward to a couple of days after Christmas.  Jolly and The G Man had spent Christmas Eve with us, and I had made Mexican for dinner, which included beef and cheese enchiladas.  (Hey, it was our Christmas Eve dinner – we could eat what we liked.  And we did.)  So, here I was, left with half a package of corn tortillas sitting in my fridge, softly calling to me, “Here we are…are you going to let us go bad?’

The answer to that would be, “No.”  And Migas, which Beloved had never eaten before, was the result.

Ironically, this version is a gussied-up, restaurant-style, Tex-Mex version of the simple dish Grandma taught me, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious.  You can, of course, make it with just the eggs and tortillas, but the addition of the vegetables is just wonderful.  You can also leave out the cheese and half and half for a dairy-free version, or you can leave out the tortillas if you’re avoiding grains.  It won’t be Migas without them, of course, but it’ll still be pretty darn good.

Migas. Simple Tex-Mex comfort food at its finest.

Click the image to enlarge

Migas
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 8 corn tortillas, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack or cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the eggs and half and half until well blended; set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to soften and the onion turns translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the jalapeno and cook for another minute more.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan. Stir the tortillas into the vegetable mixture and cook for one minute; pour in the egg mixture and stir gently to combine. Reduce the heat slightly and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the eggs are softly scrambled. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then gently stir in the tomatoes.
  4. Divide the Migas between 4 plates; top each with cheese and serve immediately.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 479 calories, 30.8g total fat, 430.2mg cholesterol, 350.2mg sodium, 457mg potassium, 27.7g carbohydrates, 4.3g fiber, 3.8g sugar, 23.7g protein

Roasted Sprouts and Spuds

I’m still not doing a lot of cooking; in fact, we’ve pretty much been living off of Thanksgiving leftovers for the last 5 days.  Today, though, I’ll probably freeze what’s left of the turkey and toss the rest.  I’m sick of looking at it.

I made this dish for the first time last week a couple of days before Thanksgiving, and loved it so much I made it again for lunch the next day – it was just delicious with the Cider Glazed Chicken Bites.  Really, though, it’s delicious no matter what you serve it with – heck, I’d probably be perfectly happy eating a great big ol’ bowl of just this, it’s that good.

It’s so tasty, in fact, that I’m willing to bet that even if you don’t like Brussels sprouts, you’d like this.  Roasting is such a good way to prepare vegetables – it does wonders for strong-tasting veggies like Brussels sprouts, and shredding or thinly slicing them cooks them more quickly than leaving them whole and gives them a great texture, completely devoid of the “woodiness” that can sometimes plague the nutritious little beauties.

And then there’s the potatoes; whether you choose to eat them or not, if you say you don’t like roasted potatoes, you’re either fibbing or just odd.  That’s okay, of course…I’m not exactly the poster child for “normal” myself.

To make the preparation easier, I ran the sprouts through the slicing blade of my food processor.  I used the fingerlings because it’s what I had on hand; you can use whatever kind of potato you have on hand – yes, sweet potatoes would be fine, and would make it Whole30 compliant – but if you’re using large spuds, I’d cut them into 2″ cubes instead of just slicing them in half lengthwise.

Roasted Sprouts and Spuds. Healthful and seasonal, this side dish is just delicious, and couldn't be easier to prepare.

Click the image to enlarge

Roasted Sprouts and Spuds
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 3 cups thinly sliced Brussels sprouts
  • 4 ounces fingerling potatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Combine the Brussels sprouts and potatoes in a large bowl; drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat. Add seasonings and toss again.
  3. Spread the vegetables on a shallow rimmed baking sheet and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through the cooking time, or until the sprouts are beginning to brown and the potatoes are fork tender.
  4. Serve immediately.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 232 calories, 14g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1448.7mg sodium, 799.8mg potassium, 24.5g carbohydrates, 6.7g fiber, 3.4g sugar, 6.2g protein

Cider Glazed Chicken Bites

Well, here it is, the day before Thanksgiving, and I’ve been up since 6 a.m. cooking.  It didn’t occur to me until some time later that I had a recipe to post this morning, so I’m taking a break for a bit from sweet potatoes and mushrooms and pie crusts.

I know a lot of food bloggers are concentrating on Thanksgiving dishes in the early parts of this week, but I figured if you haven’t figured out what you’re cooking tomorrow, it’s too late for me to help.  I suppose if you’re really desperate and are determined to keep your holiday meal reasonably “clean” you can find a list of delicious, autumnal recipes here.

In the meantime, I’ve got a fun and incredibly tasty, kid-friendly recipe for you to file away until after the Turkey Day excesses are over.

This is one of those recipes that I just sort of pulled out of my, um, refrigerator.  Beloved and I had come home for lunch one day recently and discovered there were no real leftovers that could be reheated, but I did have 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the fridge I’d planned to cook for dinner that evening.  Instead, I took some tenderized round steak out of the freezer for dinner and made this for lunch.

Because we ate it for lunch, this is quick and easy.  It’s also pretty darn good – we just loved it, and it occurred to me that The G Man would really like it too.  I can’t wait to make it for him.

Since I was cooking for just me and Beloved – who inhaled this – the recipe makes 2 servings, but there’s no reason it can’t be scaled to make more servings.

Cider Glazed Chicken Bites. This quick and easy, one pan dish is sure to please the entire family.

Click the image to enlarge

Cider Glazed Chicken Bites
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon lard or bacon fat
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon honey
Instructions
  1. Place the cubed chicken in a large bowl and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Add the rosemary and sage and toss until all the chicken pieces are coated.
  2. Heat the lard or bacon fat in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add the seasoned chicken to the pan and cook, turning occasionally, until the chicken is well browned on the outside but still slightly pink in the center. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  3. Pour the cider into the hot skillet and bring to a boil. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Stir in the honey.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and return the chicken to the skillet, along with any juices that accumulated. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the chicken is glazed and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 419 calories, 12.7g total fat, 157.1mg cholesterol, 278.1mg sodium, 1034.2mg potassium, 23.4g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 8.6g sugar, 50.3g protein