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Archive for the ‘Main Dishes – Pork’ Category

We love this tasty dish from Practical Paleo, but I despise making meatballs. The process is just tedious and messy. So I’ve found a way to maximize output and minimize mess – at least how many times I have to make a mess.

This meatball recipe uses nuts and veggies as the binder for the pork as opposed to eggs or breadcrumbs. The result is a sneaky way to get a little extra nutrition and fewer carbs. The original called for cooking these tidbits in a skillet first, but we found we actually prefer the bit of crunch from not cooking them ahead. (Not to mention having one less dish to wash!)

Here are my meatball tips:

  1. I double the batch. This means I’m making this family favorite once but getting more than one meal.
  2. I use my cookie scoop/melon baller to measure out the meatballs. This ensures they are the same size without a lot of guesswork.
  3. I put enough in a pan for dinner. The rest go on a cookie sheet to freeze. After being frozen, I put them in a freezer container and label. From there, I only pull out what I need for the next meal and bake as usual.

Thanksgiving Stuffing Meatballs

meatballs and corn

Thanksgiving stuffing meatballs with corn on the cob. Yummy!

  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • 2 Tbsps. Italian Sausage Spice Blend (recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped*
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped*
  • 1/4 cup carrot, finely chopped*
  • 1/4 chestnuts, walnuts, pecans, finely chopped*

*I put all these ingredients in my mini food processor. Speeds up the prep time.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine pork and spice blend until will combined. Then combine onion, celery, carrot, and nuts with the meat mixture until well combined.

Form into 1-inch meatballs. Place in an oven-safe dish or on a baking sheet and bake approximately 25-30 minutes or until cooked all the way through.

To use frozen meatballs: Place as many as you need on a baking dish or baking sheet and bake at 425 for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

Italian Sausage Spice Blend

  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp. fennel seeds, ground
  • 1 Tbsp. ground sage
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper (or 1 tsp. black pepper)
  • 2 tsps. dried parsley (optional)

*I mix up a big batch of this (like, triple) and keep it on-hand in my spice cupboard. I tend to leave out the fennel, and it is still tasty. You can use 2 tablespoons of this per pound of meat to make sausage.

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spaghetti squash bolognese

A new favorite? Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

Have you ever had a favorite recipe you suddenly didn’t like anymore?

For as long as I can remember, my favorite food has been spaghetti with meat sauce. I devoured it. I used to eat a portion larger than my father’s – when I was eight!

Mom’s meat sauce was simple and convenient: ground beef, a jar of spaghetti sauce, and a package of seasoning mix. It was a regular meal, at least every two or three weeks. I mean, it was so easy to make, and it was my favorite food.

Until it wasn’t. *frowny face*

Something happened while I was pregnant with Baby Number Two. My tastes started changing. At first I thought it was the day; you know, how something just doesn’t taste good to you that day. But after a few more times, I knew that wasn’t it. So then I thought maybe my preferred spaghetti sauce had changed its formula.

I think we tried five or six or more different brands and variations of jarred spaghetti sauce, trying to find something that suited me. I could still eat it, but in much smaller amounts. My girls, who had always eaten it, were now ALSO turning their nose up at it. Therefore, we were not eating up the leftovers, and not really enjoying our meal.

I’ve mentioned before my husband’s desire to go paleo. Our favorite paleo cookbook features a great recipe for Spaghetti Squash Bolognese. We’d made it several times and liked it very much. We’ve always served it over squash, as in the recipe, but I thought I’d give it a go over pasta.

Well, I now have my new go-to spaghetti sauce recipe.The combination of meats and the thick sauce are savory and satisfying. Unfortunately, it is not nearly as convenient as the previous version, so I’m planning to make it in large batches, freeze some, and maybe experiment with the crockpot.

If you’ve ever had an old favorite turn into a least favorite, why did it happen and what did you do?

Also, if you have a simple, tasty spaghetti sauce recipe, please share!

Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 2 Tbsp. bacon fat or butter
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely diced
  • 1 glove of garlic, finely diced
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk (you could try whipping cream. If you do, let me know how it goes!)
  • 3 ounces (1/2 small can) tomato paste (I measured this at 6 Tbsps.)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise so that two shallow halves remain. Scoop out the seeds and inner portion of the squash, sprinkle with seas salt and black pepper. Place both halves face down on a baking sheet. Roast for 35-50 minutes until the flesh of he squash becomes translucent in color and the skin begins to soften and easily separate from the “noodles” that make up the inside.

Allow the squash to cool enough so that you can handle it, and then scoop the flesh o9ut from the inside of the skin into a large serving bowl. Set aside until the sauce is finished.

While the squash bakes: in a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the bacon fat or butter, and saute the onions, carrots, and celery until they become translucent. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.

Add the ground meats and bacon, cook until browned through. Once the meat is done, add the coconut milk, tomato paste, and white wine/broth. Simmer over medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes or until the suace is well combined.

Add sea salt and black pepper to taste before removing he sauce from the heat. (This is essential! I learned the hard way that you need to taste and then season. The sea salt makes ALL the difference in this dish.)

Serve sauce over roasted spaghetti squash.

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campers breakfast hash

Potatoes and eggs are super yummy in this skillet meal.

Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? I wasn’t sure how this one would go over, as my kids don’t particularly like potatoes, but they loved it!

Full of hashbrowns, sausage, eggs, and peppers, it is a nice all-in-one meal. The original recipe calls for a HUGE amount. I wasn’t sure my skillet would hold it all (nor if my family would like it) so I halved the recipe.

I felt the amount of sausage was skimpy, so I left it at about what the original called for, without halving it, and after making it, I feel it was skimpy on the veggies, too. I will continue to play around with this one. Try it and see what you think! What would you change?

Camper’s Breakfast Hash (Original amounts)

  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 pkgs. (20 ounces each) refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes
  • 1 pkg. (7 ounces) brown-and-serve sausage links, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 12 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, melt butter. Add the potatoes, sausage, onion and green pepper. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are lightly browned, turning once.

Push potato mixture to the sides of pan. Pour eggs into center of pan. Cook and stir over medium heat until eggs are completely set. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat; stir eggs into potato mixture. Top with cheese; cover and cook for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is melted.

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When I can get everyone – everyone! – in my family to eat a meal, we officially have a winner. This all-in-one we made ages ago, and it got lost in my recipe box. Found it recently and decided to try it again, remembering that everyone liked it last time. (Last time, neither of the kids were quite as picky as they are now.)

History repeated itself, and everyone ate it! (Can I get a Hallelujah?!) My three-year-old even repeated several time, “I like this supper. I like all the things in it.” The flavors complement each other very well, and everything is fairly mild, so it has kid-appeal. The egg adds a nice touch, so I don’t recommend skipping it…though I almost did.

sweet potatoe and sausage hash

Sweet Potato Sausage Hash

  • 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch slices.
  • 12 ounces bulk pork sausage. (I used 1 lb. mild sage sausage because that’s what I had.)
  • 1 fresh Anaheim or sweet bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4 cups spinach and/or baby kale
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 eggs (we only did two)
  • salt
  1. In a very large skillet with a lid, heat 2 Tbsp. water over medium heat. Add sweet potatoes. Cover; cook 12 minutes.
  2. Uncover skillet; add sausage and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until sausage is brown and sweet potatoes are tender, stirring to break up sausage. Drain fat if necessary. Stir in spinach and cumin. Cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Transfer to a serving dish.
  3. Add oil to skillet. Heat over medium heat. Crack eggs into skillet (or alternately, into a bowl and scramble lightly before pouring into skillet, like I did.) Sprinkle with salt. Cook until desired doneness. Serve over hash.

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Vanilla and pork? Hmmm. When we first tried this, the recipe had us make grilled peaches and a peach spread to put on pork chops before grilling them. The peach spread didn’t thrill us, but the brined pork chops are easy and incredible! The brine tenderizes the meat, and causes it to soak in flavor. (I will definitely be covering brining in a future post.)

IMG_3176

Vanilla Pork Chops, shown here with Veggie Trio

We make this family favorite often – even my girls love them. When we can, we grill them, but they taste great broiled or just baked in the oven as well.

Vanilla Pork Chops

  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. In large plastic bag or container, combine water, salt, sugar and vanilla until salt and sugar are dissolved. Place chops in bag and set in deep bowl. (I use a deep container and don’t use a bag.) Refrigerate 6-24 hours.
  2. Drain chops. Grill over medium coals 6-8 minutes per side, or until meat thermometer reads 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Alternately, you can broil approx. 5 minutes per side, or bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

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I’m a mom. Few children I know like to eat vegetables, at least in the quantities they are supposed to. (Heck, I don’t like to eat vegetables in the quantity I’m supposed to.)

So when I want comfort food, like Cheesy Hash Brown Bake, I find ways to be sneaky with veggies without sacrificing flavor.

IMG_3163

Mmm…yummy. Can you tell there are carrots and broccoli hiding in this photo of my party potatoes?

The original recipe calls for 3 lbs. of frozen hash browns. My mom always used the cubed hash browns, but I found that I prefer the shredded hash browns from a texture standpoint. This offers easy opportunity for subbing in other veggies, like shredded carrots, and/or broccoli slaw.

Food processor

My food processor makes shredding easy.

I started by buying a bag of broccoli slaw and a bag of shredded carrots and substituting these for part of the hash browns. Then I tried using my food processor’s shredding disc to shred my own carrots and the stalks from broccoli, and we liked the texture better. I also recently subbed shredded cheddar for the shredded “process cheese food” and found no difference in flavor. So here is my recipe.

Makeover Party Potatoes

  • 4-5 cups shredded hash browns
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded carrots (or bag of shredded carrots)
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded broccoli (or bag of broccoli slaw)
  • 1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
  • 1/2 cup onion, grated, or 1/2 cup dried minced onion
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups chopped ham

Topping:

  • 2 cups crushed corn flakes
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Thaw potatoes. Mix all ingredients for casserole together. Put in 9×13-inch baking dish. Top with buttered corn flakes. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

*You can also split the casserole ingredients between two 8×8-inch baking dishes. Make only half the topping and top one with it. Bake this one. Cover the other with plastic wrap and/or foil and freeze. (A disposable foil or plastic pan works great for this.) Top with buttered cornflakes before baking at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until heated through.

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