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Stuffed Sausage Meatballs

January 13, 2016 Appetizer, Entrees, Menu No Comments

Meatballs and sausage. Two staples on an Italian-American menu. Sunday gravy would not be the same without them! For today’s recipe, I’m combining the two into one, with a surprise stuffing in the middle. Mind-blowing, right? The easy thing about making sausage meatballs is that you don’t have to put as much effort or ingredients into it as you would a traditional meatball. The meat is already seasoned, and there are more fats contained within it to help hold the shape of the meatball without adding breadcrumbs and eggs. You can, of course, add these ingredients if you like. But they are not necessary. Another good thing about using sausage meat for meatballs is that there is a wide variety of sausages available. From your basic hot or sweet Italian sausage, to chicken or turkey sausage, to gourmet sausages filled with ingredients such as spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and feta. Dare I say you can even use the Gimme Lean vegetarian sausage substitute, if that is your preference. Any of these would make for fantastic meat for these sausage meatballs. And if you can find ground sausage loose (not in the casing), all the better! It will save you some time from cutting the meat out of the casing when you are ready to get rolling (see what I did there?).

I’m not going to get into specifics on ingredients for this dish, because you can really get creative and go in whatever direction you desire. However, I will list some interesting filling combinations that would work well with ground sausage. Keep in mind that you will need a decent amount of meat to surround the filling that you are using. Certain cheeses that you may decide to use may get very soft within the meatball. This is a good thing, but you want to make sure that the filling is fully encased, otherwise the cheese will ooze out of any crevices or openings within the meatball. You are looking at about 6 large meatballs per pound of ground sausage meat. To help contain the shape and texture of the rolled meatball, simply roll the meatballs into some breadcrumbs. This will also make for a nice, crunchy texture.

Filling Suggestions

For my sausage meatballs, I am using a nice chicken and cheese sausage that I bought from my local butcher, and am stuffing them with broccoli rabe and extra sharp provolone. Here are some of my other suggestions that would make for great stuffings in a sausage meatball.

Roasted Red Peppers
Sun-dried Tomatoes
Provolone Cheese (mild, medium or sharp)
Mozzarella Cheese (a smoked mozzarella would be fantastic!)
Feta Cheese
Black or Green Olives
Pesto
Prosciutto
Shrimp

 

Step 1: select your key ingredients. I’m going with chicken sausage, broccoli rabe and extra sharp provolone cheese.

 

Step 2: pat down a handful of meat, top with a small amount of filling. Do not overfill, otherwise the meatball may fall apart.

 

Step 3: roll the meatballs tight.

Step 3: roll the meatballs tight.

 

Step 3: roll the meatballs in breadcrumbs. Lightly spray, and bake at 375˚ for 45-50 minutes, until crispy.

Step 4: roll the meatballs in breadcrumbs. Lightly spray the meatballs, then bake at 375˚ for 45-50 minutes, until crispy.

 

Step 4: serve with a side of your favorite sauce and enjoy!

Step 5: serve with a side of your favorite sauce and enjoy!

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Pesto Bread Twists

December 30, 2015 Appetizer, Menu No Comments

The big New Year’s Eve party is just hours away…and you’re still trying to figure out what appetizer to bring or serve? This easy recipe is a quick and perfect solution. Before I get into the steps, yes you can use your own pizza dough recipe or your own pesto recipe if you wish.  But for a quick time-saving solution, a jarred pesto and pre-made pizza dough will definitely do the trick.

Assuming we’re going the quick route, you’ll need one tube of thin crust square pizza dough, or your favorite pizza dough rolled into a thin square, one jar of pesto and one egg. And that’s it. Seriously! Simply pre-heat your oven to 425˚, follow the steps below, and in under 15 minutes you will have a tasty and zesty appetizer that will be sure to please.

 

 

Step 1: roll out the dough, making sure to keep it thin.

Step 1: roll out the dough, making sure to keep it thin.

 

Step 2: Cut the dough in half, length-wise.

Step 2: Cut the dough in half, length-wise.

 

Step 3: Top one of the halves with pesto, leaving at least 1/2"border on all four sides.

Step 3: Top one of the halves with pesto, leaving at least 1/2″border on all four sides.

 

Step 4. Place the second half of the dough on top of the pesto-coated piece.

Step 4. Place the second half of the dough on top of the pesto-coated piece.

 

Step 5: Cut the layered dough into 1-1/2" wide strips.

Step 5: Cut the layered dough into 1-1/2″ wide strips.

 

Step 6: Twist the slices, place them onto a greased baking sheet, and brush with an egg wash.

Step 6: Twist the slices, place them onto a greased baking sheet, and brush with an egg wash.

 

Step 7: Bake in 425˚ oven for 8-12 minutes, or until the tops start to brown. Serve and enjoy!

Step 7: Bake in 425˚ oven for 8-12 minutes, or until the tops start to brown. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

pestotwist10

 

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Biscotti di Amaretto

December 16, 2015 Dessert, Menu No Comments

It’s Christmas time! The season of giving, family traditions, good will towards others…and cookies! Lots and lots of cookies! If your family is anything like mine, there will be generous plates of home made cookies and baked good at every house that you visit this season. While I am more than happy to sample every variety that I possibly can, I always find myself drifting back to the classic, old fashioned Italian-style cookies…the ones that are a perfect complement to a nice, hot cup of coffee. I refer to these as the ‘dunkers’.

The cookie recipe that I’m sharing with you today is the perfect example of an old fashioned dunker. It was originally inspired by an Italian biscotti recipe by Father Giuseppe Orsini, that used whiskey and anisette in the ingredients, and would be served with a glass of wine. I modified the recipe to have a sweeter taste by replacing the whiskey and anisette with amaretto and vanilla extract. I also shaped the dough into individual knots instead of the traditional biscotti loaf. You can shape them into knots or rings, or prepare it as a biscotti. Either method would work well with this cookie.

 

Biscotti di Amaretto

Inspired by a recipe by Father Giuseppi Orsini,
author of Italian Baking Secrets

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 large eggs
2 tbspn amaretto
2 tbspn vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds
2-3/4 cup all-purpose flour, unsifted
1/2 tspn baking powder

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, until absorbed. Add amaretto, vanilla extract, and almonds. In another bowl, mix the flour and baking powder and blend thoroughly into the sugar mixture. Cover and chill for 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 375˚. Divide the mixture into four pieces. On a lightly floured surface, flatten each piece to approximately a 2″ x 6″ rectangle. Continue to keep the surface lightly coated with flour to avoid sticking. Cut each piece into 1/2″ strips, and shape the strips into knots or circles (your choice). Place on slightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until edges start to brown. Remove from oven, let cool on a wire rack.

Drizzle with powdered sugar icing.

Powdered Sugar Icing

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoons milk
Mix powdered sugar, vanilla and milk, until spreadable (mixture will thicken slightly as it sets). You can add more milk to make it thinner, or more sugar to make it thicker.

*To use the dough for biscotti, shape the dough into flat loaves, 1/2 inch thick, 2 inches wide, and as long as your cookie sheet. Place no more than two loaves parallel and well apart per sheet. Bake in 375˚ oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool enough to handle. Cut in diagonal slices 1/2 inch thick. Return to sheets and bake at 375˚ for 15 minutes or until lightly toasted. Cool on a wire rack.

Flatten out the chilled dough on a floured surface.

Flatten out the chilled dough on a floured surface.

 

Cut the dough into 1/2" strips.

Cut the dough into 1/2″ strips.

 

Shape the dough into knots or rings.

Shape the dough into knots or rings.

 

Serve with a nice cup of hot coffee!

Serve with a nice cup of hot coffee!

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Apples and Kale

November 18, 2015 Menu 1 Comment

Brussels sprouts have quickly become one of my favorite greens to serve as a side dish to a Sunday meal. My Honey Balsamic Brussels Sprouts recipe, which I posted a while back (found here), is also one of the most talked about recipes on my food blog. For this recipe, I’m combining brussels sprouts with chopped apples and kale (another of my favorite green power foods) for a healthy, tasty and vibrant side dish that is perfect for Thanksgiving dinner.

Because kale can toast up pretty quickly in the oven, you do not need to add it to this dish until the last 7-10 minutes of baking. By simply layering the kale on top of the already baked sprouts and apple mixture, the kale will toast up nicely, while absorbing the flavors of the other ingredients. Once removed from the oven, gently fold in the kale, plate it, and serve it up with all of your other favorite Thanksgiving sides!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Apples and Kale

1 12oz package brussels sprouts, tips removed, then sliced in half
2 apples – peeled, cored and cut into 3/4 inch chunks (Macintosh or Granny Smith work well)
2 tbspn olive oil
1 tbspn honey
1/2 tspn onion powder
handful of chopped kale
zest plus juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425˚. Mix olive oil, honey and onion powder together. Place brussels sprouts and apples into a baking dish. Toss with oil and honey mixture. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, or until sprouts are softened. Remove from oven, layer the top with kale, place back in oven for another 7-10 minutes, or until the kale starts to crisp. Remove from oven, mix together. Top with zest and juice of one lemon. Season with salt and pepper.

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Mixing the brussels sprouts with the chopped apples and the dressing.

 

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Layering the kale on top of the baked sprouts and apple mixture.

 

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The finished dish, plated and ready to be served.

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