Italian Ricotta Meatballs with Cheesy Polenta

Today has been a great day! I have been recipe testing in my kitchen all day-feeling creative and a tad bit like a mad scientist. I really do enjoy the creative aspect of cooking-combining flavors and textures that make people say, “Mmmm!”

I have been craving Italian food for a while now. Due to Covid I have been unable to go to my favorite restaurants to get my fix. I don’t know about you, but I rarely have a good experience with Italian to-go….it’s just not the same.

So this week I have Italy on the brain! I decided to make my hubby and I these ricotta meatballs with a cheesy polenta and it did not disappoint. These meatballs are SO tender and fluffy on the inside. And if you choose to broil them for a bit-whew! That crispy exterior just pushed them over the top!

I need to tell you though, I am not an egg inside of meatballs girl…there, I said it…. I personally feel that when you start adding eggs to meatballs you are making your way over to meatloaf. And meatloaf, as much as I love it, does not have the same texture that a really good meatball should have. #sorrynotsorry 🙂

So pour yourself a glass of really good wine and enjoy this dish with someone you love. And hey, it’s quarantine-you could just enjoy it on your own too <3

Ingredients

For the Meatballs:

1/2 lb ground beef

1/2 lb ground pork

1/2 cup ricotta

2 large garlic cloves, grated (or pureed in a food processor)

1/2 onion, grated (or pureed in a food processor)

2 tbs basil, chopped

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

1/2 tbs salt

1 tsp pepper

2 slices of bread, cut into chunks

1/2 cup milk or milk alternative

1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce

For the Polenta

4 1/2 c water

1 tps salt

1 c yellow cornmeal (you can buy grits if it is easier for you to find)

1 c grated Parmesan

2 tbs butter

Salt, to taste

Instructions

For the Meatballs

Preheat oven to 425.

In a small bowl, mix the bread and milk together and let soak as you prepare the meatballs.

In a mixing bowl combine the beef, pork, minced garlic, grated onion, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Carefully fold until just combined. Squeeze excess milk from bread and mix completely into the meatball mixture.

Roll into meatballs-a tad smaller than golf ball size- and arrange onto a baking sheet. Place into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. For a crispy exterior, turn the oven to broil and broil for 5 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on them. I can’t tell you how much toast I have burned from an un-watched broiler!

For the Cheesy Polenta

Bring the 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium size pot. Once boiling, add the salt and pour the cornmeal slowly into the stock, whisking as you pour. Whisk until there are no lumps.

Reduce the heat to medium low, whisking often, until the polenta begins to thicken-about 30-40 minutes. If the polenta is not as soft as you would like, add the 1/2 cup of water and loosen it up. Add the butter and Parmesan cheese. Salt to taste.

Serve meatballs on a bed of cheesy polenta. Top with favorite marinara sauce.


Crispy Chicken Nuggets

I finally received my grocery order! **insert angels singing from the heavens** I don’t know about you, but I had my items waiting in my cart for a long while. I would go back everyday, multiple times, to see if any curbside or delivery slots had opened up–and for a couple of weeks there were NONE! Zero. Nada. Zip. To say that my anxiety was on the rise is an understatement. But alas, the delivery came and all is right in my household again.

Today’s dish comes at the request of my friend who grew up on her dad’s chicken nuggets. I absolutely loved the idea of making these tiny parcels of goodness for Troy because I knew he would go bananas over them….and he did. Thank goodness I made them for lunch because they were devoured in 15 mins flat!

I served these with my Everything Sauce and it was a perfect pairing. The recipe for the sauce is below.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

3 chicken breasts, cut into nugget sized cubes

1 1/2 cup milk

2 tbs hot sauce (or more if you like it spicy!)

2 eggs mixed with 1 tbs milk

2 cups panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup flour

1 tbs cornstarch

1 tsp salt, more to sprinkle when nuggets come out of the oil

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

frying oil of choice- I used vegetable oil

Instructions

Mix the milk and hot sauce together until well combined. Place the cubed chicken into the mixture, cover, and place into the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. This is going to help your chicken be super moist!

In a shallow container, beat the eggs until frothy.

In a separate container, combine the panko, flour, cornstarch, and spices.

In a heavy bottom skillet on medium heat, pour in your oil until it is about an inch in depth. Let it come up to temperature while you start breading your chicken. To test your oil, place a piece of panko in the oil. If it starts to bubble, your oil is ready. If it sinks to the bottom then the oil is still to cold for frying.

Take a couple of pieces of chicken out of the milk mixture and place them into the eggs. Remove one piece of chicken from the eggs at a time, shaking off the excess egg, and place it into the panko mixture. Fully cover and set on a wire rack.

Once your oil is hot, place chicken, one piece at a time, in a clockwise pattern. This will help you remember which pieces to turn first and in what direction. Fry for 3-4 minutes on one side, flip, and another 3-4 minutes on the other until you reach a golden brown crust.

Remove from oil and sprinkle with salt while it is still hot. Serve with my everything sauce *recipe below*

Evie’s Everything Sauce:

Y’all, this sauce is seriously yummy! I love using this sauce as a dip for my fries or as a condiment on my burgers. This recipe couldn’t be any easier either!

1 cup of ketchup, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2 tbs dijon mustard, 1 tbs hot sauce (or to taste–I like a little kick!) and 1 tsp of honey. Mix all ingredients together and chill before serving.


Evie’s Yum Sauce, Chipotle Lime Sauce, and Mayonnaise

Hello all! I don’t know about you, but this quarantine has had me playing a game of Chopped everyday!

Luckily, I have a kitchen basic and two sauces to add an extra pop of flavor to your dishes!

Mayonnaise is such a kitchen staple that I always have in my refrigerator. It’s the base to many of my sauces. I smear it on fish before I top them with breadcrumbs and I even use it instead of butter when I grill bread on the stove. Mmmm….I love mayo….

Evie’s Yum sauce has an Asian flair that I spoon over veggies, chicken, and seafood—I even recently drizzled this over avocado toast and it was amazing!

The Chipole Lime Sauce is great drizzled over eggs, in tacos, with dipped quesadillas, on veggies, and pretty much anything I want to add a kick to. These two sauces are pretty much always in my fridge.

If you are looking for a flavor boost to one of your dishes, try one of these out!

Happy Eating!

Ingredients

Mayonnaise: 1 egg

2 tbs red wine vinegar

juice of half a lemon

1 cup light olive oil salt to taste

Evie’s Yum Sauce:

1 cup mayo

2 tbs coconut aminos

1 tbs coconut aminos teriyaki sauce

1/2 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp chili garlic sauce

squeeze half of lime

salt and pepper to taste

Chipotle Lime Sauce:

1 cup mayo

1 small chili in adobo (or 1/2 of large chili- the more chili you use the spicier it will be. Start small and build to heat taste)

1 tsp of the adobo sauce

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp chopped cilantro

juice of half a lime

Instructions

To make the mayo: In a wide mouth container, crack egg and pour in vinegar and lemon juice. Pour in 1/2 cup of the light olive oil. Using an immersion blender, place the blade on top of the yolk. Turn it on without moving the blender. Slowing stream in the remaining oil. Salt to taste.

To make Evie’s Yum Sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a wide mouth container and blend with an immersion blender. Salt and pepper to taste. **A magic bullet or blender may also be used**

To make Chipotle Lime Sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a wide mouth container and blend with an immersion blender. Salt to taste. **A magic bullet or blender may also be used**


Filet Mignon with Chimichurri Shrimp and Gorgonzola Mash

Wow guys! It has been a hot minute since I have posted a new recipe. I am so sorry! My life has finally settled down and has allowed me to finish writing this special date night recipe. I was diagnosed with the flu the day after Valentines Day! I of course forgot to get my flu shot, so when it hit me, it hit me hard. I was so sad to be sick on one of the biggest date nights of the year!

One of Troy’s favorite meals is steak and potatoes-classic right? But I wanted to take his love of this dish and add a steakhouse flare. I decided to play with the classic pairing of steak and blue cheese. Gorgonzola is like the cousin of blue cheese-less pungent, leaving a smooth finish to the sauce.

The creamy mashed potatoes are the perfect vehicle to explore this flavor if you haven’t before. If I can be honest here, I love Gorgonzola so much that sometimes I add an ungodly amount to my mashed potatoes! Thank goodness Troy is a human garbage disposal.

I love seeing the look of delight on Troy’s face when he digs in to any of my dishes, but this one really holds a special place in my heart. I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

Ingredients

3-4 large russet potatoes

4 tbs ghee, or butter

1/2 cup coconut milk, or milk of your choice

1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese-more if you are like me and can’t get enough of this stuff!

salt and pepper to taste

6 jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined with tails still attached

2 tbs avocado oil

1/2 cup chimichurri, recipe follows

2 6oz filet mignon

2 tbs butter

2 tbs avocado oil

kosher salt

Gorgonzola cream sauce to finish, recipe follows

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For the potatoes:

After scrubbing potatoes under running water, pat the potatoes dry and peel completely. Quarter each potato and place into a medium pot. Cover with water and heat on medium high until boiling. Once boiling, heavily salt the potatoes and turn down heat to medium to help keep the starch from boiling over.

Boil for 20 minutes or until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes, mash, and add the butter. Once melted, add your milk of choice and stir to combine. Add in the Gorgonzola cheese and stir until melted. Salt and pepper to taste.

For the Shrimp: Salt and pepper the shrimp. Saute shrimp in avocado oil until pink and opaque. Once cooked, place in a bowl and toss with chimichurri sauce.

For the steak:

Heavily salt steak with kosher salt.

In a heavy bottom skillet, I use cast iron, place butter and avocado oil. Heat over medium high heat. When the butter and oil mixture starts to glisten and is smokin’ hot, place in the steak away from each other so they will crust and not steam.

Sear on each side for 2 1/2 minutes and then transfer to the oven and cook for 5-6 minutes for medium-rare. Remove steaks from oven and rest them on a plate under a light tent of foil for 5 minutes before serving.

Chimicurri Sauce: In a food processor, combine 1/2 cup of parsley, 1/2 cup of cilantro, 1 small shallot, 1 clove of garlic, 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp of pepper and red pepper flakes. Process until smooth.

Gorgonzola Cream Sauce: Saute 2 cloves of minced garlic in 1 tbs avocado oil in a small pot until soft. Add 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to medium low and add 1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese. Stir until the cheese melts. Salt and pepper to taste.


Lamb Chops with Mint Gremolata and Roasted Broccolini

Winter break is over and school is returning which means it is back to the education grind. Before my return, I wanted to use my last day of winter break to create something special for my husband that was simple but yummy. For our anniversary, Troy and I went to a local steak house where I ordered lamb chops. They were delicious! In this recipe I take simple ingredients but combine them in a way that will have your loved one thinking your spent hours cooking the night away! The brightness of the mint gremolata elevates the earthiness of the tender lamb. And it sounds more daunting than it actually is, I promise! This is one of those dishes I rate low risk, high reward!

Happy Eating!

Lamb Chops with Mint Gremolata and Roasted Broccolini

Ingredients

1 bunch broccolini

1/2 tbs avocado oil

salt and pepper

1/2 cup parsley

1 cup mint

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 clove garlic

salt and pepper to taste

3-4 double cut lamb chops

1 tbs avocado oil

1 tbs ghee

3 cloves of garlic, smashed

salt and pepper

pomegranate seeds

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place broccolini on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and toss with 1/2 tbs avocado oil, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

In a food processor, place parsley, mint, and garlic and pulse until ingredients are finely chopped. Add the lemon zest and 1 tsp of lemon juice. Mix well and add salt and pepper to taste.

In a heavy bottom pan on medium heat, add avocado oil, ghee, and smashed garlic. Heat until the oil is glistening. Take out smashed garlic when starting to turn golden brown.

Pat chops dry with a paper towel and season generously with salt and pepper. Place chops in the hot pan and brown on both sides. Once browned, add to broccolini and place in the oven for 15 minutes or until a meat thermometer reaches 155 degrees**. Let rest for 5 minutes to redistribute juices.

Drizzle with Mint Gremolata and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

**Note: Invest in a probe digital cooking thermometer. This is a game changer when cooking meat in the oven. You can monitor your meat temperature from your counter top and take all the guesswork out of it!


Spanish Tapas- Potatoes Bravas with Lemon Garlic Aioli

New Years Eve in our household was full of relaxation, watching the countdown, and comforting our fur babies from the sounds of the fireworks.

Our last appetizer of the night were these tasty fried smashed potatoes. Fried in herb infused oil and topped with a smokey tomato sauce, it was just what the hunny wanted! My spin on this classic Spanish Tapa is smashing my potatoes. Smashing the potatoes allows for more of everyone’s favorite part- the crispy edges! The smokiness from the smoked paprika plays nicely with the bright acidity of the lemon garlic aioli.

I hope 2020 brings you more yummy food, laughter, and happily ever after!

Potatoes Bravas with Lemon Garlic Aioli

Ingredients

For the potatoes

10 small red potatoes

3 tbs avocado oil

3 garlic cloves, lightly crushed

2 sprigs rosemary

2 tsp smoked paprika

salt and pepper to taste

For the Bravas Sauce

2 tbs avocado oil

1 small yellow onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves chopped

2 tsp smoked paprika

2 15 oz cans crushed tomatoes

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you like a kick!)

salt and pepper to taste

Lemon Garlic Aioli can be found here

Instructions

In a large pot of salted (like the sea) boiling water, drop potatoes and cook until fork tender-about 15 minutes.

While potatoes are boiling, prepare the rosemary and garlic infused oil. In a large saute pan, put avocado oil, garlic, rosemary, and smoked paprika on medium low heat. Let the ingredients simmer until the garlic and rosemary become nice and crispy. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, roughly chop them (remove leaves from stem and discard), and reserve for garnish. Remove pan from heat as you wait for the potatoes to finish.

Once potatoes are tender, drain, and place them on a paper towel to remove excess moisture.

Now it is time to smash the potatoes! Using the bottom of a coffee mug, gently press down on each potato. They should resemble fat disks- this allows for more surface area to crisp up when pan fried in the infused oil. Salt and pepper them before placing in the pan.

Bring the infused oil to medium high temperature. Once the oil in glistening, place potatoes in the pan and fry on both sides until nice and brown. Remove from pan, finish with salt and pepper, and garnish with reserved rosemary and garlic.

For the Bravas Sauce: In a medium pot, saute onions, garlic, and smoked paprika until onions have softened. Add in tomatoes, cayenne, salt and pepper. Taste, taste, and taste again- do not be afraid to experiment with your food! I am a big supporter of seasoning to your liking. In my recipes you will notice that I do a lot of “salt and pepper to taste” and that is because our love of salt will always differ. So go on, do your thing! 🙂

Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before blending into a smooth sauce.


To assemble: Spoon Bravas sauce to the bottom of a small serving dish. Place fried herb potatoes on top. Finish with a drizzle of Bravas Sauce and Lemon Garlic Aioli.

Extra Bravas Sauce is super yummy when spooned over fried eggs, omelets, fish, and chicken. OooOoo I might need to play around with this more and add a leftovers recipe :).


Beef Wellington with Horseradish Cream Sauce

Beef Wellington with Horseradish Cream Sauce

Christmas is by far my favorite time of the year. Maybe it is the nostalgia of it, but I am the happiest around this time. I love spending time with my family, cooking for them, and hanging around the dining room table playing games. Cocktails are poured, plates are filled, and laughs are plenty during this time.

My husband requested beef wellington as one of our date night meals this holiday season. This man knows the way to my heart! Super tender beef tenderloin, crunchy puff pastry, and a glass of red wine and you will have a date night for the books!

Ingredients

For the Duxelles

3 pints white button mushrooms

2 shallots, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

5 sprigs thyme, leaves only

3 sprigs rosemary, chopped

1/4 cup dry sherry

1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper

For the Beef

3 lb center cut beef tenderloin

Kosher salt and pepper

Avocado oil

12 slices of prosciutto

Dijon mustard

Flour, for rolling out puff pastry

1 sheet of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, thawed

1 egg, beaten

For the Horseradish Sauce

1 tbs prepared horseradish, more to taste if you like a kick

1 cup sour cream

1 tbs Nutpods creamer, original (or regular milk)

salt and pepper to taste

chives to garnish (optional)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

For the Duxelles: Add mushrooms, shallots, and garlic to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add mixture to a dry pan over medium heat. Add the dry sherry, salt, and pepper and saute for 10-15 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Set aside and allow to cool.

For the Beef: Pat the tenderloin with a paper towel to dry. Liberally season the tenderloin with salt and pepper and sear all over, including both ends, in a hot pan with avocado oil. Take out of pan and brush on dijon mustard all over. Let rest.

Roll out plastic wrap that is the length of your cutting board (do not cut). Lay the prosciutto in a shingle fashion so it forms a large rectangle that is big enough to wrap around the tenderloin. Add the duxelles on top of the prosciutto and spread into an even layer-covering the prosciutto. Place rested tenderloin towards the bottom of the prosciutto/duxelles and using the plastic wrap, roll to completely cover the beef. Roll it tightly in the plastic wrap and twist the ends to seal it completely. Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (or overnight if making ahead of time).

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to about 1/4 inch thickness. Remove beef from plastic wrap and set towards bottom of pastry and roll until the edge meets the pastry. Brush the end with egg wash to help seal and trim the excess pastry. Pinch the sides to enclose the beef. Roll tightly in plastic wrap again to hold desired shape and place back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.

Egg wash the top and sides of the pastry and top with kosher salt.

Place beef with the seam side down on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the internal temp is 125 degrees. Once temperature has been reached, take out and rest for 10 minutes-this will allow time for the beef to finish cooking until 130 degrees. This will give you a medium rare beef tenderloin.

Combine horseradish sauce ingredients together, taste, and adjust seasoning. Garnish with chives. Serve alongside beef wellington.


Brisket Ragu with Creamy Cauliflower Mash

I have had some big things happening in life recently! Working with my Firsties has been going great, my friendships are amazing, and my family life has been fun as always. Then all of a sudden, BAM! I start feeling sick and I have been laying in bed the past couple of days….ugh.

Fortunately, I have an amazing hubby who takes great care of me when I’m not feeling my best. To repay him, I whipped up this comforting meal-no better way to say, “thanks honey!”

This dish was made with a side of Ratatouille, which can be found here .

Choose your favorite Cabernet to drink because tonight you will be cooking with it as well! Have fun and drink a glass for me!

We paired this with 19 Crimes Cabernet.

Brisket Ragu with Creamy Cauliflower Mash

Ingredients:

For the Brisket:

1 1/2 lbs of brisket

1 tablespoon avocado oil

1 carrot, quartered

1 stalk of celery, halved

1/2 sweet onion, halved

3 garlic cloves, smashed

3 sprigs of thyme

2 sprigs of rosemary

1 bay leaf

1 cup beef broth

salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

For the Ragu:

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks of celery, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon avocado oil

1 cup of red wine: I used 19 Crimes Cabernet

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup of sauce from brisket

For the Creamy Cauliflower Mash:

1 head of cauliflower, florets broken apart

1 tablespoon garlic ghee (or butter)

1/4 cup of coconut milk

salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Using an Instant Pot, set it to saute. While it heats up, salt and pepper both sides of the brisket.

Once hot, add the avocado oil. Place brisket in and let it brown for 4 minutes. Flip, and brown for another 4 minutes.

Remove from pot and set aside. Add carrots, celery, onions, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf. Saute until soft, but not brown.

Add brisket back to the pot and pour in beef broth.

Close lid and set the manual button to 60 mins. Set it and forget it….for now 🙂

While the brisket is cooking, start your ragu.

On medium heat, pour avocado oil in a heavy bottom pot. Saute carrots, celery, onions, and garlic until soft. Season with salt and pepper.

Add tomato paste and saute for a few minutes more, mixing thoroughly.

Add in wine and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add crushed tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, basil, and garlic powder. Stir to combine.

Turn heat to low, cover, and let simmer until brisket is cooked.

When the brisket has finished cooking, remove brisket, shred, and add to the ragu. Take out woody herbs (rosemary, thyme, and bayleaf). With an immersion blender, blend the liquid to form a sauce.

Place 1 cup of the sauce from the brisket into the ragu and stir to combine.

Creamy Cauliflower Mash:

Steam one head of broken down cauliflower.

When tender, add in ghee and coconut milk. Using immersion blender, blend to a silky consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.


Ratatouille

Yesterday I spent a good part of the day in bed. I haven’t been feeling my best, and today I finally felt back to normal.

To repay my husband for all the help while I rested, I made Ratatouille! It’s a nice, easy side that goes well with beef, chicken, or fish. I made mine with a brisket ragu over creamy cauliflower mash (recipe coming soon). In the meantime, your favorite marinara works just fine.

We paired this with a nice 19 Crimes Cabernet- Yum!

Ratatouille

Ingredients

1 large zucchini, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds

1 yellow squash, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds

1 Japanese eggplant (or 1 small purple eggplant), sliced into 1/2 inch rounds**

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 cups of Brisket Ragu (recipe coming soon)

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Parsley, to garnish

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375.

Cover the bottom of a medium, oven safe pan (I like to use my cast iron for this) with 1 cup of the brisket ragu.

Arrange the sliced vegetables in alternating patterns ( zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant) on top of the sauce in a circular pattern starting from the outer edge to the middle of the pan.

Place a slice of garlic between the sliced vegetables.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon 1/2 cup of brisket ragu over the vegetables.

Bake on middle rack for 30 minutes.

Garnish with parsley and enjoy!

**If using a purple eggplant: For larger rounds- cut in half to create half moons