Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Anatomy of a Real Food Dinner with recipes....sortof.

First, I promised that my next post would be book reviews.  but I've discovered something.   That something is that book reviews are hard to do.   I'm still working on them, but in the meantime, I wanted to post these "recipes".  

I used quotation marks because as recipes go, these are not professional.  In fact, I've been putting off posting my recipes, because so many of them aren't written like recipes.  

Here's the deal - I am a cook.  I love to cook.  I was raised in a family where cooking was what we did.  Everyone in my family is a good cook.  But the way that we cook is intuitive.  We do it by taste, by sight, by feel, by past success and failure, and by this knowing down deep about what works and what doesn't. 

I know that when I talk about the food I make, people want the recipes - and I just cringe inside when I get those requests.  Recipes?  What recipes?  I don't have recipes for most of what I make.  For this blog,  I've mostly done baking type of recipes so far...because those are the recipes that I have.  But here's the irony of that - I don't like to bake.  I only bake because I love my family, and they love baked goods.  I can bake, but baking doesn't relax me, or bring me joy, or give me the sense of creativity or satisfaction that I get when I am in the kitchen just cooking.   I bake because I love my guys, but I cook because it's a part of me.    
One night this week, I made chicken apple meatballs in an apple cider sauce.  First time I'd ever made them, although the idea of them had been swirling around in my mind for some time.   Then I made a cauliflower casserole type thingy....based on a make-ahead mashed potato recipe.   So, although I don't really have recipes, I'm going to try to recreate the process of making this meal.  It was really good.  My big guy and my little guy both had seconds at dinner, and my big guy wanted to make sure there were enough leftovers for his lunch the next day. 

For the meatballs, I started with:

1 lb. ground chicken
1 lb. ground pork.   (I had intended to use all ground chicken, but realized I'd pulled pork out of the freezer, that's what I used.)
1 large apple - peeled and finely chopped.  (I used a honey crisp apple)
1 large egg
3 slices of dried bread, ground into crumbs.
about 1/3 -1/2 cup of chicken broth.  (I make chicken bone broth, and used that)
salt, pepper, garlic powder, poultry seasoning, minced onion (okay - I should have used fresh chopped onion, but I didn't think about adding onion until my hands were deep into the ground meat mixture.  It was easier to reach for the dried minced onion at that point.)  For the spices - I really have no idea how much - start with about 1/2 teas. of each and adjust to taste from there.  Ummmm, yeah - I do taste the raw meat while I'm cooking.  :)
Anyway - mix that all up really well.  I use my hands and squish it all through and knead it.  I get a lot of satisfaction out of playing with my food that way.  :D    Once it's all mixed really well.  I use my large cookie scoop (it's 3 Tbls.) and make meatballs.  You should have between 20-24 meatballs to fill a 9x13 baker. 
Once the meatballs are all in the baker, make your sauce.   I used 1 cup of chicken broth (more from the same batch that I used above.  I freeze it in pint jars - 2 cups of broth per jar.) and 1 1/2 cups of apple cider mixed with a couple good drizzles of raw honey, and a good dollop of Dijon mustard.  (probably about 2 teas. of mustard.  maybe more.)   Mix this all together with a whisk, and then pour over the meatballs.   Bake, uncovered,  at 375 for 30 minutes, then flip the meatballs and bake for another 30 minutes.   Remove the meatballs from the baker, and pour the sauce through a strainer into a saucepan, and heat to boiling.   Mix some thickener ( I use arrowroot powder, but use what ever works for you - cornstarch, flour, tapioca starch...) with a couple Tbls. of apple cider, and whisk into boiling sauce, stirring until thickened.  Serve sauce with meatballs.

There - that's the first recipe.   Tomorrow, I'll post the Cauliflower Casserole that reminds me of mashed potatoes, but my son says it's just like macaroni and cheese - only healthier!


  1. Looks Awesome! When I was a kid learning to cook I always tasted everything even my meatballs. My mom was always grossed out and would scold me but everyone always said mine were the best. Even better than my Grandmother and Great Aunt's!

  2. Wow. I'm still waiting for that cauliflower casserole recipe... ;) (Okay. Not really, but I just noticed that you never posted it! Or am I missing it?)


  3. Is there any way to get emails from you?...None of the options on the pages work for me...(I refuse to give all my personal info to google just to receive email) you have a facebook page?...that would be ok..Not my favorite link/page, but I can go there and look