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This week features the last hurrah of the Brussels sprout (I bought the last bag of good-looking ones, and with asparagus already starting to go on sale, I’m thinking my focus is going to shift over to spring real quick), as well as a couple choice recipes from the March edition of the Food Network Magazine – the Cheese Issue! I feel that, if I’m going to buy the magazine, I’d better make a few things from it. It will tell you how far I’ve come in the past few months when I saw the Brussels sprouts sandwich in this issue and knew at once that I had to make it. Now that’s progress!

(Sorry, BFF!)

 

Sunday
Beef & Ale Cobbler (from Cooking Season by Season)

beefalecobbler

This was okay. Nothing sensational. I’ve made better things from this book. It’s a meat-based cobbler, which is a little weird – it’s basically a beef and ale stew with dumplings. The stew was good, but the cobbler part of it left something to be desired. The dumplings were supposed to be flavored with horseradish, which I do not like, so I used mustard instead. I don’t know if that change made them taste weird or if they just didn’t bake up well. I’d make the stew again, but instead of the cobbler, I’d just make some mashed potatoes and serve the stew over that. Sometimes simple is better!

 

Tuesday
Bacon-Sage Meatballs with Buttermilk Gravy (from The Kitchn) and balsamic-roasted Brussels sprouts & carrots

baconsagemeatballs

We really liked this meal. The meatballs were moist and packed full of flavor, and the tangy gravy complemented them nicely. The balsamic on the veggies didn’t really go well with the gravy, but that was probably for the best. If it had tasted good, I would have just poured gravy on everything and eaten it that way. This meal, with that gravy, just cries out for mashed potatoes, but instead, I was a good girl and rounded the meal out with all those veggies. The carrots roasted a little weird (they were a bit rubbery), but everything tasted terrific. We’d definitely do either one of these again. Maybe not together, but they’d play well with other dishes. The veggies would be good with steak. Mmmm.

 

Wednesday
Filet Mignon Diable (from Around My French Table) and roasted asparagus

asparagusdiable

I wrote about this yesterday, and there’s nothing much more to say here. This was quite tasty – and very easy to put together! I was surprised I liked the mustard sauce so much, and I’d definitely make it again. Geordie wants to try it with chicken, and I’m thinking that’s a good idea. This could become my favorite way to incorporate mustard into a meal!

 

Thursday
Baked Spinach (from the Smitten Kitchen), homemade hummus, and chips

spinachhummus

I had planned to make Saag Paneer with homemade paneer (challenge from the Food Network Magazine!), but in the mid-morning – when I went to start making the paneer – I discovered I had no more cheesecloth. Thursday is one of Geordie’s days to have the car, so I had no way to get cheesecloth until about 5pm, which would be too late to be of any help. So. I’ll try that another time. I took the spinach that I’d planned to use for the saag paneer and made this little side dish instead. For the rest of the meal, we just picked out of the fridge. I ate the remainder of some hummus I’d made to take to a get-together last weekend, while Geordie had leftover beef & ale cobbler. Such is the way things go sometimes. We both liked this, but it’s a little shocking that 1 pound of spinach reduced down to two 4-ounce ramekins. It was also a lot of work, blanching the spinach and shocking the spinach and squeezing the spinach dry and chopping the spinach. It’s not something I’d do on a day when I’m in a rush to get dinner done. Thursdays are a good day for that, fortunately.

 

Friday
Brussels Sprouts & Bacon Grilled Cheese (from Food Network Magazine)

sproutsbacon

This was a struggle. Not in the making of it – it’s a grilled cheese sandwich, there’s not much to it. On Friday, I had A Bad Day. Long story short: it involved the DMV. Isn’t that all that needs to be said? Anyway, I spent maybe two hours total at home before the end of Geordie’s work day, what with going to the DMV and then scurrying around town to do other things that needed to be done. I had intended to make a chestnut soup to go along with this, but that was not going to happen. In fact, most of the day, I just felt like going home and forgetting about cooking anything and just glut myself on the remainder of this week’s cupcakes. I’m happy to say that self-control prevailed. This may not be the healthiest grilled cheese, but it’s got a heap of Brussels sprouts on it, so how bad can it be? Plus, I went easy on the sweet stuff and did not blow my calorie count for the day. Nor did I get drunk, which was also tempting. I’m not looking forward to going back to the DMV to do everything I did yesterday all over again – even if I am more successful the second time around (I hope). Not even a grilled cheese sandwich can make the DMV a better place.

I finally went and bought the Meatball Shop Cookbook because I kept going back to it and copying recipes, and I figured I’d definitely use it if I bought it. Also, I had a coupon and knocked off about 10 bucks, which is always a good thing. I got it just before Thanksgiving and decided I would make the ground turkey “post-Thanksgiving” meatballs even though we didn’t even have turkey for Thanksgiving. It was a pleasant dish, and it did give the feeling of combining all those yummy Thanksgiving leftovers into one little meatball.

They are not pretty meatballs, but then, most meatballs are not pretty. I can assure, though, they taste better than they look.

They are not pretty meatballs, but then, most meatballs are not pretty. I can assure you, though, they taste better than they look.

The meat base is ground turkey (naturally). Thrown into the mix are dried cranberries, sage, and homemade garlic croutons (the “stuffing” stand-in). Everything gets all mixed together, and then they’re roasted in the oven for a while. I served them with the leftover crockpot sweet potatoes & apples, which added a nice bit of sweetness to the meal.

The only problem was that there is no recommended sauce, and these definitely need a sauce. They taste fine on their own – in fact, they totally taste like a little bit of Thanksgiving dinner! You get the poultry, the stuffing, and the cranberry sauce all in one. All you need is potatoes, and it’d be a mini-Thanksgiving! Oh, and gravy. Because that’s really what these meatballs need, a nice dose of gravy to sauce them up a bit. Sadly, we had no gravy (I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say I’m from the South anymore), and I didn’t feel like making any just for some meatballs (and that’s just the nail in the coffin). Geordie rummaged around in the fridge and came up with the BBQ sauce, and that did the trick. Yes, we ate our turkey meatballs with BBQ sauce. And it was quite, quite tasty! I might go ahead and make them again after the Christmas turkey dinner. Just because.

Actually, I’m going to take a break from making meatballs for a week or two. I’ve got quite a few recipes I want to try, and I’m thinking about making one for our New Year’s Eve dinner. It’s just so hard to choose! I did recently discover that our nearby grocery store carries ground bison, and guess who has found a recipe for ground bison meatballs? Of course I have! I would be very surprised if I don’t make these within the next month or so.

So many kitchen adventures, so little time.

I have found so many recipes for meatballs that I could easily make them once a week for the next year or so. What’s fascinating is the variety that a meatball is capable of. Different meats, of course, different spices, different ways of adding moisture/texture, different cooking methods. Meatballs are one of those blank canvas foods, just waiting for a cook’s creativity to elevate them beyond a mere ball of meat.

This week, I made meatballs in soup, which I have heard of, though I’m pretty sure I’ve never eaten before. I went for the classic meatball soup: an Italian Wedding Soup.

Except, it’s not quite an Italian Wedding Soup. I was dazzled by the Pioneer Woman’s Italian Meatball Soup, which has a heartier beef broth base and no pasta to bulk it up. Instead of lots of green veggies, it has a hardy base of carrots and potatoes (and onions and celery in the original recipe, but we all know what happens to those in my kitchen). Cabbage is thrown in with the (pre-browned) meatballs, and that’s really about it. It’s a simple soup to make, and it all comes together really nicely.

It all starts with meatballs, lovingly made with heaping amounts of Parmesan cheese. The meatballs are then browned to get them ready for their soup bath.

Once they’re an appropriate color, they’re removed from the pot to sit and wait while the soup gets itself ready. Into the same pot goes beef broth and some seasonings, so what you’re really getting is a base stock flavored with an extra punch of the browned meatball bits. Very nice.

That simmers a bit, then you throw in your carrots and potatoes (and your onions and celery, if that’s your druthers) and let those simmer a bit longer. Then, in goes the meatballs and cabbage, which simmers just a little bit longer.

Good-looking soup, isn’t it? It was tasty at this point too, so I figured it had gone on long enough. Also, it was 9pm, and I was hungry and very much ready for dinner to be served.

Meatballs and veggies and broth get spooned into a bowl, and then the finishing touch is added: a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top. Oh, yes, this was shaping up to be a very fine meal.

I served the soup with some bread and butter, and that was that.

We liked this soup. It wasn’t knock your socks off terrific, but it was nice and filling without being too heavy. The bread went with it marvellously; the broth was quite nice by itself but the bread added another level of tastiness to it. The only (minor) issue was that once the cheese got mixed into the soup, it all sank to the bottom. It made those last few bites really tasty! But it didn’t seem to add a lot to the rest of the soup. Maybe the cheese would go better with the bread, that way you could easily get everything into one delicious bite.

So, all in all, meatballs in soup worked out really well for us. Definitely something I’d make again in the future, particularly in winter months. It was warming and filling and quite tasty. I’m looking forward, in the future, to making a more tradtional Italian Wedding Soup.

Next week, I’m going back to ground turkey, and we’ll see how that is with a little spinach mixed in. Should be a nice prelude to Thanksgiving week, which will not feature meatballs anywhere, unfortunately. I’ll have to find a really good non-poultry meatball dish for the week after Thanksgiving. Ooh, or maybe a vegetatian “meat”ball. I’ve got one recipe that features mushrooms that’s just begging to be made.

Sara

I am a daughter and a sister, a wife and a friend. I am a reader and a writer, a dreamer and a realist, a teacher and a learner. I am the mother of a baby born sleeping. I am on a journey of healing, walking a path paved with tears and grief and hope.

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