Monday, October 18, 2010

easy Shmeezy food

I figured the time had come to mix things up a bit.  I do a mean chicken.  And some pretty nice pasta.  Sometimes I get really crazy and put them together.  I rarely try other forms of protein sometimes fish, less often pork, a bit of steak... but I don’t think I’ve ever used ground beef for Monday Food Fest!  I decided I needed to correct this, regardless of my personal preferences.  So on I looked up ground beef recipes.  Low and behold, the first recipe I found was for some pretty stellar looking meatballs, so I thought, why not?  For a side I found a Vegetable Side Dish (it’s a pretty accurate name) and for dessert I decided to try my hand at brigadeiro (which I have no idea how to pronounce).  I found the recipe on this cute new blog I follow called Sweet as Sugar Cookies.  I’m in love with many a recipe there.  Apparently this dessert is from Brazil, which accounts for why I can’t pronounce it.
I started with the dessert, which was a BREEZE to make.  Honestly.  If you want minimal effort with maximum taste, make these.  But I’ll get to the taste later.  I used chocolate animal crackers (since we have no Trader Joe’s here...) and followed the recipe PRECISELY.  (Get the recipe HERE.)  Except, well, I doubled it.  Somehow I knew how much we would love it.  It has to chill for a few hours, which is why I made it first.  I have to admit, when it was sitting in the fridge, I didn’t really think it was too much to look at and I started to think I did something wrong.
Then I formed my meatballs.  Also, super easy.  I followed the recipe exactly, again, except I added some basil.  I tried really hard to mix it all together with a big spoon, but it was no good.  I was going to have to go all in.  You see, there was a time I could not touch raw meat with a ten foot pole.  I have never been a vegetarian, but I like to pretend I am.  The feel and texture of meat - whatever it originated as - just freaked me out.  I would like to think I’ve come a loooong way.  Because tonight, I sighed, set the spoon aside, and smushed that meat up WITH MY BARE HANDS.  And, just as with the chicken tree, I had to use visualization to get me through it.  For instance, while it really looked like this:

What I saw was this:

And who doesn’t like playing with play dough?  Anyway, once the balls were formed, they had to chill, too.
I whipped up the veggie side dish - which I think would be more appropriately named “Making Something Healthy Really Not Healthy At All” or maybe, “So This is How You Get Your Kids to Eat Veggies.”  Also, a very easy recipe.  I guess tonight’s theme was “easy.”  I made this just as the recipe says, no additions at all.  And all you do is mix everything together, put it in a baking dish and put some other things on top then bake it.  Come on.  Easy.  Here’s the recipe:

Vegetable Side Dish


1 (16 ounce) packages california-blend frozen vegetables

1 (10 1/2 ounce) cans cream of mushroom soup

1 cup swiss cheese, grated

1/3 cup sour cream

1 (6 ounce) cans French-fried onions


Mix vegetables, soup, sour cream, 1/2 of the cheese, and 1/2 of the onions.

Pour into 9x9 baking dish and top with the rest of onions and cheese.

Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

When the meatballs were done chilling, I put them in a simmering sauce to cook, as suggested in the recipe.  Apparently cooking them this way makes them much more tender than baking.  I think next time I will plan ahead and just let them simmer in sauce in a crock pot for a while.  I was going to make the sauce from scratch, but at the last minute decided I didn’t want to mess up tonight’s theme - so I went with Barilla Spicy Marinara Sauce (and I highly recommend it).  I did NOT want to make spaghetti tonight, since we JUST had pasta.  So, I toasted some sub buns on the stove with butter, 

then scooped some meatballs and sauce on, then topped with mozzarella cheese (which melted nicely because the meatballs and sauce were still hot).  And They were GOOD.  This coming from a girl who doesn’t really like meatball subs.  

Everyone else raved, and dad REALLY loved them.  I was really happy that an easy meal could be received just as well and taste just as good as a crazy complicated meal.  If you are looking for some yummy meatballs for spaghetti, potatoes, subs, and more, here’s the recipe I used.  Delish.

The veggies were scrumptious.  As I mentioned before, these aren’t your run of the mill veggies.  Everyone except bug loved them - we had seconds.  bug picked out some of the broccoli and proclaimed the rest “ucky,” but he’s two.  Who are you going to believe, me or the picky toddler?  Exactly.

Of course, when it came to dessert, bug couldn’t complain.  And neither could the rest of us.  I was amazed at the result of a quick, relatively sparsely ingredient laden dessert.  It was super fudge-y with just a bit of crunch (but the good thing is you can make it as fudge-y or crunchy as you want!)  I think it’s an awesome easy alternative to fudge, or even to brownies, and you can bet this is going in the cookbook.  I’m thinking I’ll make them for the neighbors for Christmas - that’s how awesome they are.

All in all, a pretty delicious meal.

AND, furthermore, I learned a few things: 
A good, tasty meal does NOT need to be super fancy or complicated.  Although, sometimes I have fun with complicated meals.  I know, I’m weird.
Sometimes I make things more difficult than they need to be. (always...)
bug is a chocoholic.  (who am I kidding?  I already knew this)
bug gets this from me.  I, in turn, get it from her:)

What the heck California Vegetable Mix is.  I’d never even heard of it before.  Oh, and
a 4 pound bag of veggies is MORE than enough for oh, three dinners.


Ashley said...

This all looks delish. We love meatballs!

Jill said...

Yum!! It would have never crossed my mind to make meatball subs! it's going on the list now! Also...I wonder if they actually eat California mix vegetables in Cali. I should ask my friend who spends half his time there working for Apple, and half his time here (still working for Apple. He's always working!!!) Now I'm just rambling... long story short, it all looks delish!!!

Donene said...

This looks so delicious! Thanks for your nice comments!!

Lisa said...

I'm so thrilled that your family tried out the brigadeiro. Yours really does look deliciously fudgy. Your whole meal sounds wonderful (I love meatballs subs) so I'll have to try that meatball recipe sometime. Oh, and here's how to pronounce it - bri-ga-dey-row (rolling the r's).

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