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Wednesday Meatloaf

31 Mar
What’s better than a little meat loaf?
NOTHING!
Especially when it’s not your typical meatloaf…
I like to cook with turkey as much as I can get away with (my husband LOVES beef).
SO I went to my favorite chef for answers, and she never fails to deliver something good!

Giada’s Pancetta and Turkey Meatloaf

Ingredients
1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 cup grated Romano
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
10 ounces sliced pancetta, about 10 slices
Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Add the turkey and gently stir to combine, being careful not to overwork the meat.
On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, lay out the pancetta, overlapping the slices, into a large rectangle shape. In the middle of the rectangle, place the turkey mixture, shaping into a loaf. Using the parchment paper, wrap the pancetta up and around the turkey loaf to cover completely. Squeeze the parchment-covered loaf with your hands to secure the pancetta and solidify the shape of the loaf. While still covered in parchment, bake the loaf until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Giada makes sandwiches out of it, but I like it just the way it is with a little Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. Why ruin it with Mayonaise and bread? Heck no!
I love the way it looks, too. The Panchetta makes a cool latticed pattern across the top, definately a good way to impress guests with somethin’ saucy!
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Tasty Tuesday: Spring Snow, Italian Wedding Meatball Soup, and Book Updates…

9 Mar

Knight Angels Out of Editing

So, I got the call from my editor in New Jersey this past weekend, and she’s done with Knight Angels. She loved the book, which makes me very happy. So far, anyone who has previewed and edited the book loves it! I’ve added a few things here and there, and the final editing process is far from over, but I can see the end on the horizon!

I’m setting a release date for late April. I’m thinking the 22nd (22 is my favorite number after all) but don’t hold me to it. There are too many variables to know for sure.

In a way, I’m nervous to get the book back from the editor. I always get a little anxious over finishing a book because I wonder if I’ll be able to write the next. After editing for so long you lose touch with the groove you were in while writing it. Knight Angels was my NaNoWriMo winner, and those of you who know what I’m talking about understand how that month of writing is like carrying a baby!

Luckily I have been writing a little in between. I’ve been dabbling with my children’s chapter book here and there, trying my best to remain fresh. Reading also helps, though I’ve been slacking on Beautiful Creatures. It usually takes me a week to finish a book, but I fear it’s been over a month!

Spring Snow

 

This past weekend was so beautiful, now though, it’s frigid again. I wonder what the wheat in the fields are starting to think, and what it will do to the harvest. Yesterday it snowed, but nothing much accumulated. I had a cup of soup for lunch, and it was so good, that I made soup for dinner – also good. My husband LOVES Italian Wedding Meatball Soup, and so do I. I decided to include my hearty recipe!
 
My friend asked me what makes it ‘Wedding’…
 
I told her to ask the Italians. I have no clue. I figure it’s something they traditionally served at weddings. I mean, that makes sense, right? Either way it’s still good, and either way, it’s really easy to make! I like to add a few secret ingredients as well, it really adds to the flavor of the broth and meatballs… 
 
 
 

Italian Meatball Soup

 
 
 
INGREDIENTS
 
 
1/2 red onion
(diced)
 
1/2 c. italian bread crumbs
 
1 package acini di pepe noodles
(cooked and drained)
 
1 pound ground turkey
 
1 egg
 
1 clove garlic
(minced)
 
olive oil
 
5 cups chicken broth
 
1 package fresh spinach
 
 
DIRECTIONS
 
After the meat is defrosted, combine egg, bread crumbs, onion, and garlic in a bowl. Mix ith hands. Now this is where I add the secret ingredient! Goat cheese!!!! I love goat cheese – love, love, love, love. Since it’s tart, and not to mention creamy, the cheese really adds something to the meatballs – yum. I add about three ounces.
 
Mix all this together. In a large pot (I used a Le Creuset) add a tablespoon of olive oil and the broth. Bring to a boil. When the broth is boiling, take a small spoon and scoop the meat (small, about half a golf ball) and form gently. Drop in boiling broth and repeat until all the meat is gone.
 
The meatballs cook rather quickly, but allow to boil five minutes after you drop the last ball in. In the meantime perhaps do a little clean up 🙂
 
After five minutes, add the acini and the whole bag of spinach. It seems like a lot at first, but the spinach wilts down rather fast. Stir until spinach is wilted and serve!
 
Yum yum yum.
 
You can serve with a bit of bread, though I don’t. The soup, as you will find, is quite thick. I like it this way because it feels like a meal 🙂
 
Enjoy! And have a great Tuesday!

Tuesday Treats: Down the Rabbit Hole

2 Mar

“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, `and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice `without pictures or conversation?’

Alice in Wonderland
 
What better book is there, that should be made into a movie? Especially with Johnny Depp? I was at Macy’s the other day and there was Alice stuff everywhere. They’re certainly planning to see this movie go far, and I’m sure it will. This chilling classic, has a lot to give…
 
Awesome ‘Stuff’
 
So, after peroosing the Macy’s stuff, I decided to peroose whatelse was out there, and what better place than Etsy? I found a lot of neat things, but these were the neatest, in my opinion. The piece features a real image from the original book. You can’t get more authentic than that!
if you love this as much as I did, visit her Etsy shop:
 
$28.50
 
 
Alice on Film
 
So, this Friday, just where will you be?

Wino Wednesday: Affordable Luxury and Romance on a Writer’s Budget

24 Feb

Looking for a little affordable romance?

Aren’t we all??

When I went to get the mail yesterday, I had no idea that it would spark the kind of evening it did. You know the kind – eating lavish foods and enjoying velvety wine. Watching a great movie that encases it all…

And above all – making it affordable!

I enjoy the romantic things in life: A great book (no Kindle!), writing, wine, cooking, art, movies, rich and well made things – handmade.

Heaven forbid this should dent my wallet!

Well… I’m here to tell you – to show you – that is doesn’t have to. Let me outline my evening for you, so that you can re-create it!
 

How It All Started

As I said earlier, it all started when I went to the mailbox. We (Husband and I) get Entrepreneur Magazine. My husband REALLY enjoys collecting wine, and he recognized the man on the cover right away. James Stewart, son of top winemaker, Michael Stewart, at Stewart Cellars in Napa Valley. James decided to break the mold of expensive Napa Valley wine. His father has long been the vintner of premium Napa wines, bottles priced near $100. His son, wanting to tackle a market that was suddenly suffering after the stock-market woes, decided to change things.

James looked at the market, trying to find the hole – the need. He noticed that there was a lack of affordable Napa wines in the twenty dollar range.

What James did shocked many. James took a batch of his father’s grapes that hadn’t made the cut for his premium wines and created his own – affordable – version. He called it Slingshot. In the first year he sold out, and in the second, he’s made more.

This was how my evening started, with a story…

 

The Big Guns

So, My husband finished the article, and looked at me. He then bounded down to the wine cellar (A bomb shelter under our garage, lol) and began to rummage. What you need to understand about my husband is that when he was in college, he spent more time researching wine than studying economics, though he’s still good at both.

I watched him go through boxes and boxes of wine (he has too many)

Out comes these two.

It’s one thing to read a story about a wine and wishfully dream, it’s another when your husband just happens to have it. This here (orange label) is James Stewart’s Father’s wine.

We opened it… SO GOOD!

It was salty, velvety, REALLY easy to drink. But as we know, this is definitely not affordable unless you think the way I did – he bought it before we got married, lol.

A good substitute is naturally the Slingshot I spoke of, or a good $12 Cab. Sauv. bottle like Melange.

With it, I made the below recipe. I RECOMMEND!!!!!

the other wine (Benson Cab. Franc) I’ll get to in a minute…

Affordable Lox and Toast

Package of Smoked Salmon (not the hard smoked, the kind that looks raw) 4 oz. I got farm raised Atlantic, saves a lot of money and tastes good. If you can afford wild, though, do it. this package cost me $4.50

Italian Bread, 4 slices about 1/2 inch. (Get the real waxy kind, NO SOURDOUGH)

Capers (Those little buggers are pricey, but they last a long time)

Herb Cream Cheese (I got onion and chive)

Red Onion (a few slices. Slice as THIN and possible)

1 Tbls. Olive Oil

Toast the bread in broiler, or toaster. DON’T BURN! Spread with cream cheese while warm. Top with a few onions (5-6 little sliced pieces.) Divide salmon into four, one ounce piles and place on top of toast. Drizzle with Olive Oil so that the capers stick. Spoon capers (some juice is good!) over the top. ENJOY!!!!!

Now, if you don’t have the Stewart, like I said, try the Slingshot! if not, eat with a general Cab. Sauv. The robust flavor of the salmon can hold it’s own, and it does not overpower the wine. Quick and salty/delicious!

Affordable Main Course

Now is where I get to involving the other wine. 2007 Cabernet Franc. VERY peppery, rosemary, and cilantro. This wine has a serious punch of those flavors.

Below is a recipe my husband found through his wine club with Cakebread – another expensive wine, but the Benson Vineyard one above was the affordable option. Naturally Cakebread paired it with a Merlot, which would also be good. You can try this recipe with either.

What I’m showing you is two versions – the pricey and the cheap.

I substituted the Filet Mignon for Sirloin, and it worked GREAT!

Recipe Courtesy of Cakebread Cellars…

 

Grilled Filet Mignon with Mushroom and Avocado
$ the pricey $

Their Version serves 4-6

2.5 pounds Beef Filet

1 head garlic

1/4 c. Olive Oil

2 sprigs Rosemary

2 c. Dried Morels, soaked in warm water

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 oz. Tomatillos

2 Avocados

2 T. Cilantro, chopped

1 lime

2 oz. Queso Fresco

 

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut the pointed end of the garlic off to expose all the cloves. Place in the middle of a sheet of foil. Drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil. Wrap in foil to seal and place in the middle of the oven to roast for about an hour until the garlic is soft. Remove and when cool enough to handle, squeeze out the pulp and mix with the remaining olive oil and chopped rosemary.

Clean the beef filet of any fat and connective tissue. Cut into two 3″ sections across the grain of the meat. Holding a large knife parallel to the cutting board, cut the filet lengthwise to form thin steaks, about a ¼” thick. Place in a shallow dish and rub with the roasted garlic mixture. Refrigerate and allow to marinate for at least two hours.

To make the salsa, soak the morels in warm water for twenty minutes until soft. Drain and rinse to rid them of any dirt. Cut into small pieces and sauté in a small skillet with two tablespoons of olive oil. Once mushrooms start to brown, add the garlic and cook for another minute, reserve. Place a small saucepan of water over high heat. Once water comes to a boil, add the tomatillos and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. Roughly chop the tomatillos and avocado. Combine with the morel mushrooms and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Season with a squeeze of lime juice and salt and pepper.

To serve, remove the meat from the refrigerator and season with salt and pepper. On a very hot grill sear the steaks for thirty seconds to a minute per side. Serve with pinto beans, top with a spoonful of the salsa and garnish with the crumbled queso fresco.

My Faster and Affordable Version…
 
$ the cheap $
 
serves 2
 
1 – 8oz Sirloin Steak
6 cloves of Garlic – for marinad
6 T. Olive Oil – 5 for marinade, 1 for salsa
 1 T. Dried Rosemary
Salt and Pepper
6 Cremini Mushrooms, fresh
2 cloves garlic, minced – for salsa
 2 Roma Tomatoes
 Dash of Hot Sauce
 1/2 Avocado
 1/2 Lime
 2 T. Cilantro
2 oz. Feta Cheese
 One can plain Pinto Beans
 
 
 Marination 
 
I sliced the beef across the grain to 1/4 inch thickness and placed in a dish. I then warmed the oil in a pan on the stove. When oil was hot, I added the sliced garlic and removed it from the heat so it didn’t burn. Let the garlic simmer there for a few minutes (really cuts out all the time it takes to roast it.) Smash the garlic with a fork and add rosemary. Pour over beef (it’s okay if the oil is still warm) cover with plastic and put in fridge for at least two hours to marinate.
30 min before it’s time to eat warm beans in a little water on the stove.
 
Salsa
 
Heat 1 T. oil in a pan on stove. Add diced cremini’s and saute until they begin to sweat water. Add 2 cloves of garlic – minced. Remove from heat. Dice the tomatoes and 1/2 avocado and put in a bowl. Add mushrooms/oil/garlic. Add cilantro and squeeze 1/2 lime juice. Combine.
  
Putting it together
 
Remove meat from fridge and heat a pan (preferably a grill pan) on stove, Medium high. Grill meat for 1 minute on each side. dust with salt and pepper on each side while cooking. Remove.
Pile half the beans into the middle of plate, top with half the beef, then half the salsa. Top with a sprinkle of feta.
 
And Viola!!!! YUM YUM YUM!!!
 
Enjoy with that affordable Merlot or Cab. Franc!
 
The Movie that Pulls it all together
  
If you haven’t seen this, you don’t know what you’re missing. You really don’t.
it’s called Bottle Shock, and it’s all about california wine and kicking some french butt.