Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?

Erma Bombeck
"from No One Diets on Thanksgiving"
26 November 1981

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

1907 New Zealand Water, a natural choice

I was watching the news the other night, and one of the reporters was doing a story on the water in the St. Louis area that, for 30% of the customers, tasted funny. But, the reporter added, they should be assured that it was safe and they were working on it.”  Uck, I thought, as I reached for a cool bottle of 1907 New Zealand Artesian water. What was giving it that funny taste?

If you have ever experienced something similar, or wondered why that cup of coffee, glass of iced tea, agua fresca, or other water-based beverage
tasted funny, have you ever given a thought to the water? Perhaps it's time that you should. As my son always says, If you think that water has no taste, then you haven't been to Michigan. I can add Pennsylvania to that list, along with Iron County in Missouri where I was punished sent to Girl Scout Camp one summer where we totally understood after that wretched week where Iron County got its name.

Water is an important, yet largely unappreciated ingredient in many things, and yet I doubt that most people give it much thought.

Sourced 680 feet deep at the foot of New Zealand’s Kaimanawa Ranges, resulting in pure, uncontaminated water, 1907 New Zealand water is naturally alkaline. The high alkalinity helps to keep your body well-balanced, and fight the high levels of acidity that can result from a fast-paced lifestyle that may not consist of all of the best foods all of the time.

So the next time you want a cool, refreshing beverage, or rich cup of coffee, reach for the water that will ensure that you get a pure, fresh, clean, unadulterated taste to whatever you are drinking.

Thanks to the good people at 1907 for providing me with some of the best water that I have ever tasted!

Cheesy Baked Meatballs

I never much cared for anything with tomatoes when I was a kid. I opted for mustard over ketchup (making me a bit of a youthful neighborhood oddity), and would always forego any type of Italian food, including pizza. Tomato sauce always tasted bitter to me. As I got older and became serious about cooking, I learned about the wonders of bechamel sauce, and how beautifully it pairs with tomato sauce in Italian dishes, tempering the sauce, turning into a dish that is absolutely wonderful.

For this reason I have been stalking the Cheesy Skillet Meatball recipe that has appeared on both the
12 Tomatoes and View from Grand Island blogs. I love meatballs, and with one version of this recipe making use of bechamel, I figured they had to be good.  So I combined the two and came up with I think is probably my favorite meatball yet. I added a few more seasonings to the meatballs to give them a bit more of a kick, and baked them longer than either recipe suggested. We loved them! As an added plus, they reheat perfectly, and make the best meatball sandwich that I think I have ever tasted.
Cheesy Baked Meatballs
1 lb. ground beef
1 extra-large egg
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 Tbl. minced onion
1 tsp. onion salt
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp. Beef or Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 heaping Tbsp. ketchup
Pinch of cayenne pepper

16 oz. jar of your favorite pasta sauce
(I use Paul Newman’s Sockarooni)

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Set the oven to 350ºF.

Crack the egg into a large mixing bowl and whisk until blended. Add the meat, breaking it apart as you add it to the bowl. Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the tomato sauce and the mozzarella cheese. Mix to combine everything well, using your fingertips. Don't compact the meat, and don't over mix.

Scoop out the meat into approximately 15 balls (I used a small ice cream scoop.) and roll the balls into nice rounds with your hands.

Place the meatballs on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

After you put the meatballs in the oven, pour the sauce into a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish and place in the oven along with the meatballs for the last 10 minutes of cooking, to heat up the sauce.

While meatballs are baking, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until roux is golden, smooth, and paste-like, 5-7 minutes.

While continuing to whisk, stir in whole milk. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 10 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in salt and nutmeg.

Remove both pans from the oven and transfer the meatballs to the skillet, nestling them into the sauce. Bake 15 minutes. Top with bechamel. Return the skillet to the oven and cook for another 15 minutes, if you made your meatballs smaller or larger, the cooking time may vary.

Remove the skillet again and top with the cheese. Return to the oven to melt the cheese, 2-3 minutes.

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