Hey Everybody! I know it has been a very long time since I have posted. But, man, I tell you what....it just seems like by the time I get home from work, having dinner, and spending time with the family, the last thing I feel like doing is sitting in front of the computer writing a blog post. I don't think people truly appreciate the amount of time it takes to create content and manage a food blog! But, the good news is I haven't really stopped creating content for the blog, because I haven't stopped cooking at all...the managing the blog has been the achilles heel for sure. "But, Eric, there is always nap time during the weekend where you can sit and blog!" True...there is....but I love playing video games haha. I do miss you all very much and am going to make a better effort to get posts done on a weekly basis.
So, since I didn't have a horse in the super bowl race this past weekend, actually it was quite the opposite since I dislike New England and Philadelphia. I decided that I could drown my sorrows in delicious food and my wife recommended meatballs...so here we are. Delicious mozzarella stuffed meatballs made with a 50/50 blend of ground beef and Italian Sausage that were then slow cooked in a delicious homemade marinara sauce. We ended up making meatball hoagies, but you can use them however you like. Give them a try and let me know what you think below in the comment section!
Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
Prep time: 20m | Cook time: 15min | Total time: 35min | Yield: 16 meatballs
- 1 small onion, grated (6 oz)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 2/3 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/3 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
- 1 large egg
- 2 Tbsp Ketchup
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 8 oz ground beef
- 8 oz Italian bulk sausage
- 2 oz mozzarella cheese, cut in 16 (1/2 inch) cubes
- Position an oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the onion, 1/2 cup parsley, 2/3 cup Parmesan, bread crumbs, egg, ketchup, garlic, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the beef and Italian sausage. Using your hands, combine all ingredients gently but thoroughly. Shape the meat mixture into 16 (1 1/2-inch-diameter, roughly 2 oz) meatballs and place on the prepared baking sheet. Make a hole in the center of each meatball and place a cube of mozzarella inside. Reform the meatball so that the mozzarella is completely covered with the meat mixture. Bake the meatballs for 15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165F.
- Use meatballs however you like! In my case, I put in the crockpot with some homemade marinara (Recipe below) and made meatball hoagies.
Prep time: 25m | Cook time: 30min | Total time: 55min | Yield: 5 cups
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- Generous pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 (28 oz) cans san marzano whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 large sprig basil
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- In a large pot, combine oil and garlic and heat over moderately low heat until garlic begins to very gently sizzle. Add red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until garlic just begins to turn a light golden color, about 3 minutes. Add oregano and continue to cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until paste has softened and blended with the oil, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in canned tomatoes and their juices, increase heat to medium-high, bring to a gentle simmer, then lower heat to maintain. Using an immersion blender, blend tomatoes until sauce is smooth. (Alternatively, blend tomatoes in a standard blender before adding to pot)
- Add basil and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced slightly and tastes rich, about 30 minutes. Season with salt.
- Discard basil. Stir in butter, if using, until melted. Use sauce right away, or allow to cool to room temperature, transfer to sealed containers and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 6 months.
Cooking your meats to the perfect temperature is crucial not only from a food safety stand point, but from flavor and tenderness stand point as well. Make sure you cook your pork, like in this recipe to 135F. The best way to accurately monitor the internal temperature of your meats is by using a Thermapen MK4. They are the most durable, accurate, fast, and reliable thermometer on the market. These are a kitchen MUST HAVE! Go buy yourself a Thermapen MK4 today!
Other Italian recipes you may like...
My original goal of this post was to talk about this beautiful and delicious grilled chicken sandwich. But, I soon discovered that the real star of this sandwich was the Avocado, Jalapeno, and Cilantro sauce. I spent the rest of the week trying this sauce on multiple things and it is just one of those things that tastes good on everything....especially on burgers! It's light, refreshing, has a little heat, and packs a ton of great flavors for only a few ingredients!
"But, Eric, I want to know about that chicken sandwich, it looks amazing!" Don't worry, I will talk about it, I really didn't do anything to fancy. I just felt the main "recipe" was this sauce that needed to be shared! So give this yummy green sauce a try, it is definitely worth it.
Avocado, Jalapeno, and Cilantro Sauce
Prep time: 30 min | Cook time: 0 min | Total time: 30 min | Yield: 1 cup
- 1/2 avocado, diced
- 1 jalapeno, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 6 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 Tbsp water
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- Combine avocado, jalapeno, cilantro, 6 Tbsp of vegetable oil, water, and lime juice in a blender and puree until a smoth, creamy sauce forms. Season green sauce with salt.
Directions for Chicken Sandwich:
- Cut whole chicken breast (1 whole chicken breast = 2 sandwiches) in half horizontally to make them thinner. And then put them in between two pieces of saran wrap and pound them to about 3/4" thick.
- In a medium bowl whisk together 2 quarts of cold water, 1/3 cup kosher salt, and 1/4 cup sugar. Add the chicken breasts to the brine and place in refrigerator for 30 min.
- Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels, season chicken breast with salt and pepper.
- Spray tops of chicken breasts with PAM and place on the hot side of a grill. Cook until well browned about 3-5 min, flip and continue cooking until chicken reaches an internal temp of 160F.
- On the bottom of a hamburger bun spread a little bit of mayonnaise, place the chicken breast on top, top with bacon, shredded lettuce, tomato, and green sauce from above.
Chicken has to be cooked to the correct doneness or you risk getting a foodbourne illness. Always make sure your chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165F. Get yourself a Thermapen, the most accurate and dependable thermometer on the market! I use mine pretty much every time I cook.
Other sandwiches that you may enjoy...
How are you all doing? I feel like such a bad blogger, but with my new job I've been working so much and then coming home to work on my training books. Then on top of it all I'll be spending 4 weeks in St. Paul, MN which is also apart of my training. But, I've been doing my best to create posts and keep connected with everybody! Hopefully in May once I get officially aligned into my position my schedule will be a little more solidified...because right now my schedule isn't really up to me.
One of my favorite meals growing up was pizza casserole. Being the pizza connoisseur I am, anything pizza is perfectly fine in my book! Just like most casseroles, this is incredibly easy dish to throw together and like a lot of pasta dishes definitely wouldn't hurt being made the day before and reheated to meld all of those wonderful flavors together. This is an incredibly satisfying dish that I am sure will pick you up after this incredibly depressing winter weather we are experiencing! Spring can't come fast enough!
Prep time: 15 min | Cook time: 40 min | Total time: 1 hour | Yield: 8-10 servings
- 1 Can tomato sauce (29 ounces)
- 1 Can tomato paste (12 ounces)
- 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 3 tsp Garlic powder
- 1 Red pepper, diced
- 1 lbs Italian sausage, loose
- 1 lbs Rotini pasta
- 1/2-1 lbs Sliced pepperoni
- 1 lbs Shredded mozzarella
- 6 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the tomato sauce, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder.
- In a large saute pan with lid, cook sausage until cooked through and brown. Add in red pepper and cook until softened. Add in the tomato sauce mixture, cover and reduce to a simmer.
- In salted water cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375F
- In a lightly greased 9x13x3 inch pan, pour a small amount of sauce to lightly coat the bottom.
- 1st layer - 1/2 pasta, 1/2 remaining sauce, 1/2 lbs mozzarella cheese, 3 Tbsp of Parmesan cheese, and then cover in sliced pepperoni.
- 2nd Layer - remaining pasta, remaining sauce, remaining mozzarella cheese, remaining Parmesan, and then top with sliced pepperoni
- Place casserole in oven and bake for 40 min. Let set for 10 min before serving.