Monday, October 27, 2008

Computer has crashed!

Sorry it's been a few days. My computer has crashed and I am so upset. I am trying to get it fixed so hopefully within a couple days I will be up and running. I have been cooking some good stuff so when it's back up...I will have some amazing dishes to share with you all. For now...check out my adorable son. He wanted to be a hippy for Halloween...he picked out all his stuff....I love that he thinks hippies are cool! :)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sweet n Spicy Asian Style Meatballs

Sweet n Spicy Asian Style Meatballs with Warm Asian Slaw

This is why I love making a recipe that I can use for several different items and occasions. I gave you my simple meatball recipe yesterday and used half of the meatballs for a comforting meatball soup, the other half I saved because I have a party to go to tonight and am going to take a tray of meatballs with me for an appetizer. I skewered the meatballs with toothpicks and dipped them in this very easy Asian dipping sauce that I almost always keep in the fridge because it is so versatile. Everyone makes Swedish meatballs and BBQ meatballs so next time you want to make meatballs, try these Sweet n Spicy Asian Meatballs, your friends and family will love them! This is a good way to take a classic meatball and make it a little modern with an Asian sauce me....everyone will love them!
For my meatball recipe go to:
Sweet n Spicy Asian Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup Thai Chili Pepper sauce (almost all grocery stores now carry this, even find this at Wal-mart in their ethnic food aisle, near rest of Asian foods/sauces)
1/2 cup Teriyaki Sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons honey
pinch or dash of ground ginger
pinch or dash of garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring just to a boil. Turn off heat and continue to stir and remove from heat. This sauce can be served warm or cold. Will keep in your fridge for a couple weeks. It is so good on meatballs and chicken wings! You can sprinkle a few sesame seeds on top of meatballs or wings after you dip them in the glaze.
Use a toothpick to skewer your meatball to dip them in the sauce

Make sure to roll the meatball around the sauce to get a good coating of the sauce on it.
I love serving these meatballs with this Warm Asian Slaw.
You can drizzle a little more sauce on top once you've plated your meatballs on top of the slaw.

Warm Asian Slaw:
2-3 cups Broccoli Slaw (I love broccoli slaw because it is PACKED with vitamins and nutrients. You can find this in almost all grocery stores now too, near the salad/slaw items. If you can't find it, just use regular slaw mix)
2 tablespoons butter
2-3 tablespoons Sweet n Spicy Asian Dipping Sauce

Saute the broccoli slaw with the butter for about 1 minute.
Add the Asian dipping sauce, mix well and cook for about another minute.
I like serving this slaw warm but it is still really good cold, too.

I like to take my meatball and pile on the Warm Asian Slaw on top and put it all in my mouth as one big about good!!!

There are so many reasons why broccoli is good for you and I know sometimes it's hard to get kids or even grown ups to eat broccoli but it is a have to find a way to eat this stuff so that's why I love products like broccoli slaw and broccoli sprouts, same health benefits of broccoli but a little easier to hide in foods and add different flavors to please those picky eaters out there. According to (another of my favorite sites)'s what you get from this magical vegetable.....

Health Benefits Of Broccoli (according to

Broccoli provides a high amount of vitamin C, which aids iron absorption in the body, prevents the development of cataracts, and also eases the symptoms of the common cold. The folic acid in broccoli helps women sustain normal tissue growth and is often used as a supplement when taking birth control pills and during pregnancies. The potassium in broccoli aids those battling high blood pressure, while a large amount of calcium helps combat osteoporosis.

The vegetable is also fiber-rich, which enhances the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, as well as aims to reduce blood cholesterol levels. In recent years, broccoli has made the headlines regarding three components found in the vegetable. For instance, indole-3-carbinol has captured the attention of those looking to prevent hormone-related cancers, such as breast- and prostate cancer. I3C promotes "good" hormones, while working against destructive ones.

The sulforaphane in broccoli also helps to increase the level of enzymes that block cancer, while the beta-carotene in broccoli transforms into vitamin A within the body, providing an effective antioxidant that destroys free radicals (responsible for weakening the defense of cells).

Additionally, the health benefits of broccoli have been linked to preventing and controlling the following medical concerns: Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, calcium deficiencies, stomach and colon cancer, malignant tumors, lung cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and even the aging process.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Kurdish Meatball & Potato Soup

I bought a bunch of ground chuck that was on sale today. Not knowing exactly what I was going to do with it (besides freeze a bunch) I thought of what would warm me up on this dreary, rainy, gray day....It's been storming all week here and it's getting really cold, really fast. I mean last week it was in the 60s and now we're in the 40s! How does that happen? I long for a more moderate climate...maybe someday! When I really need some comfort food, something that just the smell alone warms my bones, I think of all the great soups and stews my mother makes. We always had some sort of soup or stew on the stove, alongside a big pot of rice, of course. In our culture, we serve almost all soups/stews over rice which seriously is not a bad idea. Next time you make your favorite soup, ladle it over some rice and you'll see what I'm talking about!

So what to make with pounds of ground beef....hmmmmm. Well, what came to mind first was a recipe where I could make two or three different things out of it. Hmmmmmm....I got it....MEATBALLS! I remember this meatball soup my mom used to make and it is so delicious! Plus, I could make enough meatballs to have some leftover to use as an appetizer for a party this weekend. Perfect!

Avesta's Meatballs:
2 pounds ground beef (or mix 1lb ground beef and 1 pound ground lamb)
1 small chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 teaspoons garlic powder or 2 cloves crushed fresh garlic
2 teaspoons ground hot red pepper (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients together and roll into balls.
I don't use egg or bread crumbs in these meatballs. I don't like any fillers or binders when I don't have to use them. I don't have a problem keeping my meatballs together. If you find you're having trouble or you want a moister meatball, add two eggs to this recipe.

Place rolled meatballs on a pan-sprayed baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes (depending on the size you made them, check inside of one meatball to see if fully cooked).
This recipe should make about 30-40 meatballs.

Kurdish Meatball & Potato Soup:
20-30 meatballs
1 can chopped or diced tomatoes (with their juice)
2 cans tomato sauce
2 cans beef broth
1 small chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon cumin
4 potatoes, peeled & cubed
salt & pepper to taste
1-2 cups water (depending on how thick you like your soup/stew)
4 tablespoons olive oil

Kurdish Meatball & Potato Soup

In a large saucepan, saute diced onions in the olive oil until just soft. Add the chopped tomatoes and parsley and saute for just a minute. Add the tomato sauce, beef broth, potatoes, sugar, cumin, salt & pepper and water and mix well. Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes and continue to mix. Lower the temperature, add the cooked meatballs and lemon juice and let simmer until potatoes are soft. You can also add other vegetables to this soup if you'd like. I've added green beans, garbanzo beans, okra, corn...whatever your fancy!

This soup served over rice is so delicious but since it does have potatoes in it, you could eat it alone in a soup bowl with some good buttered bread!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dolma, not just stuffed grape leaves in our family

In our family, we stuff any and every veggie we've got on hand. We also throw in any meat we've got on hand, too.

I had some chicken legs and a bone-in ribeye (that I cut up) that I wanted to use in the dolma. I braised the chicken and steak in about 2 cups of water, salt & pepper to taste. Braise for about 45 minutes to make a nice rich stock.
The dolma stuffing is just 2 cups of uncooked medium grain or long grain rice (rinsed but not soaked), 2 tablespoons of chopped curly parsley, 1/2 onion (chopped fine), 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped dill, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (bottled is fine here), 1/2 cup of tomato sauce & salt and pepper to taste. You can add cooked ground beef or lamb to the mixture if you'd like. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Sometimes I add a teaspoon of ground hot red pepper. If you like spicy...please try the red pepper!
Swiss Chard is one of our family favorites!
Cut off the hard stems on the end.
Place a small amount of the rice mixture near the end of one side of the leaf.
Carefully start rolling your leaf. When you use grape leaves it's easier to bring the sides in, too but with the swiss chard leaves they tend to crack, so just roll them up and not too tight.
These don't have to be perfect because again, the swiss chard tends to crack if you try to roll them really tight. When you place them in the pan, put the loose leaf part down.
Peppers are great to stuff because they add color and are so tasty! Slice the top of the pepper so it is almost sliced off, but not all they way....

Make sure to keep the lid attached and scrape out the inside of the pepper.
Stuff the pepper about half way to the top. Remember the rice is not cooked yet, so don't over stuff your veggies!
Stuffed onions are my favorite! Cut a piece out of your onion so you can grab the layers and pull them apart.

See the layers each become a separate stuffed onion, so one onion can make several stuffed pieces!

Again, stuff about half way full.
And then push one end of the onion behind the other to kind of seal the onion together.
After you've stuffed all your veggies and placed them in a heavy duty pan, place all the meat around your veggies and start pouring the stock on top of the veggies.

Pour all the stock in the pan so that your veggies will sort of "steam" in the stock. This makes the veggies nice and tender and full of flavor!

Move around any meat or veggies to make sure everything is nice and snug next to each other.

Place a heavy ceramic or glass plate on top of the veggies, cover and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes, then lower the heat to low and cook for another 45 minutes to an hour. The heavy plate helps keep the stuffed veggies together while they cook.
See how nice the inside of the onions look. The rice is nice and soft and so flavorful!

The meat is tender and has all those wonderful flavors from the stuffed
veggies in it.
I ate like 3 stuffed swiss chard just plating up this stuff! If you have any stock left in the pan, pour it over the dish!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Heavenly Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I have the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe!
These just may be the perfect chocolate chip cookie!

Avesta's Chocolate Chip Cookies

preheat oven to 375 degrees
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour (this is important in this recipe)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups softened butter (3 sticks, unsalted)
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 bag milk chocolate chips
1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Start by mixing both flours, baking powder & baking soda in a large bowl. I like mixing with a large fork, it just seems to combine the ingredients well for me.

Then beat the sugars and butter until really creamy. Once the mixture is nice and creamy, add the eggs and vanilla and beat again. Don't beat too much though, just until eggs and vanilla are blended in. If you don't have a stand mixer, just beat in a bowl with a hand mixer.

Once the sugars and butter are nice and creamy, slowly add the flour mixture and mix until well blended.

I use Ghirardelli Chocolate chips. I love this brand of chocolate but you can use whatever is your favorite brand. You can even chop up your favorite chocolate bars instead of using chocolate chips. I take the bowl off the mixer stand and mix in the chips with a wooden spoon. You can add nuts or white chocolate chips too if you'd like. Once your cookie dough is ready, chill either in the fridge for a few hours or in the freezer for about 30-45 minutes.

I use an ice cream scoop to make my dough balls. These are not small cookies, though if you'd like to make smaller cookies you may, but the cooking time will have to change. Bake the large cookies on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet at 375 degrees for about 10-13 minutes or until nice and golden brown. If you want your cookies to be a bit flatter, after baking for about 5 minutes, pull your cookie sheet out and smash the balls a bit with a spoon and then continue to bake for another 5-8 minutes. I always make half puffy and half flatter so my guests can pick which kind they like better.

Cool cookies before piling them on top of each other so they don't stick.

Is this heavenly or what?

They look and taste just perfect!

Make sure to have a few while they're warm and gooey with a tall glass of milk!