Thursday, April 30, 2015

Never Eat Alone: Turkey Meatballs and Lemony Rice

Are you up for another cooking skills challenge? Comes with big rewards in flavor and friends! Time to put some of your hard earned cooking skills to the test! And, nothing brings friends together like an awesome meal--people are happier, relaxed, friendlier when they have good food in their stomachs.

College is about the people you meet and the impact they have on your life as well as vice versa! Finding time to hang out and discuss the days events, classes, work-load, and even personal issues or struggles creates community rather than isolation.

If you know how to cook or organize a recipe, share your skills with old, current, and a few new friends--bring them to your table to share a meal.  Find time to eat with others, be sincere in getting to  know them and their interests; and, build something worth bite at a time!

Simple steps to this recipe, but prep work is key.

(Adapted from Cook's Country Feb / March 2015 magazine edition)

Turkey Meatballs & Lemony Rice

Large Non-stick skillet with well-fitting lid
Large mixing bowl
Grater or zester

2 slices of white or wheat sandwich bread, torn into small pieces or rubbed into a meal
1 1/4 lb ground turkey
6 scallions, sliced and separated into green and white sections
1 large egg
3 Tbls parsley, chopped
1 Tbls lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt / 1/2 tsp pepper

2 Tbls olive oil
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbls lemon juice
3 1/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

1. Wash your hands.
2. Prep ingredients, ie scallions, garlic, parsley,lemon zest & juice, chicken broth and parmesan.

3. Combine meat bread crumbs, scallion greens, 50% lemon zest, parsley, egg, salt and pepper in large mixing bowl. Form approximately 20 meatballs and refrigerate x 15 minutes.

4. Heat 2 Tbls olive oil over MED-HIGH heat to brown your meatballs x 5-7 minutes.

5. Remove meatballs from skillet & drain on paper towel. Leave any remaining oil in skillet and add 1 Tbls olive (if needed).
6. Over MED-HIGH heat, cook rice until edges turn translucent. 
7. Add scallion whites, garlic, and 1/2 tsp of salt, cooking for 1-2 minutes.

8. Add broth, lemon juice, remaining lemon zest and bring to a boil.

9. Add meatballs to skillet, cover with lid and reduce heat to LOW x 20 minutes until rice is tender. 

10. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Great meal. Great conversation. Guaranteed.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Spread The Love

Some of my favorite foods are Southern through and through--Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Collard Greens, Okra, Eggs & Grits, Biscuits and Pimiento Cheese. You are talking about the ultimate comfort food! Welcoming people into your apartment, eating meals together, and anything that goes with Southern hospitality--the food says it all! 

Bring some of this goodness to the college apartment this weekend if you are watching NBA or NHL Playoffs, or just shooting the breeze. The Pimiento Dip is particularly easy and delicious if friends start showing up around the apartment to hang out. Simple, no-frill, no-skill college cooking, dipping, eating.

Add saltines, triscuits, veggies, baguette. 
Make a Spicy Reuben!
Whatever you do…Go Atlanta Hawks!

(Great recipe from Cook's Country February / March 2015 magazine)

Easy Pimiento Cheese Spread

Mixing Bowl

2/3 cup mayo
8 oz extra sharp cheddar, coarsely grated
8 oz extra sharp cheddar, finely grated
4 oz pimiento peppers, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne
1-2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbls 1/3 reduced-fat cream cheese, softened

Carrots, celery, peppers
Fresh baguette

1. Wash your hands.
2. Prep your cheeses and mince pimientos.
3. Whisk mayo, cream cheese, lemon juice, Worcestershire and cayenne together.

4. Add pimientos.

5. Add coarsely grated cheddar.

6. Add finely grated cheddar.

7. Stir until well-combined.

Let the games begin! Discuss and exchange ideas and dreams! Snack together!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Parmesan Creamed Corn

Sometimes the side dishes to a meal can be the most difficult decision when making dinner. Ever notice when you go to restaurants how bland the beans or rice dishes are? Like it's just a garnish or an afterthought rather than a part of the meal? 

As a result of this phenomenon, the side dish becomes bland or overcooked and boring, and then, it gets thrown out! What a waste!  

Don't let that happen with your precious college funds! Make every part of your meal tasty and worth eating; otherwise, keep the dollars in your wallet! 

Check out this simple, cheap side dish that you can make any time of the year with a few ingredients, but alot of flavor!

(Adapted from Epicurious Cookbook)

Parmesan Creamed Corn

Oven-proof 8"x8" or 9"x13" dish, buttered
Medium 3-5 quart saucepan

2 Tbls butter
1 Tbls all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne red pepper
20 oz of frozen or canned corn kernels (just plain, no sauces or sugars added)
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated

1. Wash your hands.
2. Preheat oven 425F degrees.
3. Prep your baking dish and get your ingredients laid out.
4. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over moderate heat.

5. Whisk in the flour and stir constantly for 1 minute.

6. Add the half-and-half, salt, and cayenne, and reduce the heat.

7. Stirring occasionally, the liquid should thicken within 3-4 minutes.
8. Add corn and 50% of grated cheese, and stir.

9. Transfer to your buttered baking dish and top with remaining cheese.

10. Bake at 425F degrees x 15 minutes until golden brown.

Great addition for grilled meats. Another way to make and use corn. Alternative to Mac 'n Cheese. Better the next day!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rigatoni Taken Up A Notch

Visiting Iowa City this past weekend was simply fun--full fledged college town with a great downtown area restricted to pedestrians only. Shops, bars, and restaurants are open, people stroll thru the car-free zone and sit in the public square listening to street performers and musicians, sometimes talking with complete strangers. 

We got polled on barriers that limit people from growing their own herbs, vegetables, cooking for themselves, and having access to fresh and organic foods--some folks can't afford it or they simply don't have the space to grow fresh produce or they can't cook. However, if we could change these barriers or teach people to spend more time in the kitchen…small changes could lead to big improvements for our environment, ourselves, our budget, our lives. 

College students living off-campus are at particular risk of limited fruits / veggies and good cooking, because money, time, and skills are limited. Let's change that with a simple pasta recipe for any college-level cooking skill.

Spicy (or not). Flavorful. Cheap. Oddly satisfying with few ingredients. 
Sometimes simple is better!

(Adapted from Saveur Magazine 'Taste of Umbria')

Rigatoni all'Amatriciana 

1 large skillet
1 5-quart sauce pan for boiling water

2 Tbls olive oil
3-4 slices Pancetta (or bacon), diced / chopped (optional if you want all vegetarian and cheaper)
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 large yellow onion, diced
Kosher salt to taste
1 cup of vegetable broth (or ideally, dry white wine if you are legally 21 years old)
3 (16 oz) cans of whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand

1 lb rigatoni, cooked
1/2 cup romano, pecorino, or parmesan cheese, grated

1. Wash your hands.
2. Heat olive oil over medium heat and sear pancetta. If using bacon instead, don't add olive oil. Sear until brown and crisp, approx 10 minutes.

3. Add crushed pepper, onion, and salt. 

4. Cook until onion is golden and translucent, approx 10 minutes.
5. Add broth (or wine) and scrape the pan, stirring until liquid almost evaporated.
6. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil.
7. Reduce heat to simmer, cooking until sauce thickens, approx 40-45 minutes.

8. Boil water and cook pasta until just about done, i.e. 'al dente'.

9. Drain pasta and stir into tomato sauce with 50% of the cheese.

10. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of each serving. I know it looks like just another "tomato-sauce" but it is not! Spicy and flavorful!