Itsa’ Spicy Meatball

meatbalsSo this past weekend I hosted a baby shower for a couple of friends.  It was actually the first baby shower I’ve hosted in my life.  I took it very seriously.  We booked the date in August and I started ordering decorations and supplies and planning things down to the tee.  If you’d like to see the entire Pinterest board, just click here.

What I want to share with you today is one of the recipes from the party that turned out to be a huge hit:  sweet and spicy cranberry meatballs.  I have never seen a pot of meatballs completely disappear, but the slow cooker was filled with about 3 pounds of meatballs, and not a single one was left.  Not one!  

I’ve been to parties where they served slow cookers full of meatballs.  Everyone brags about the fact that the secret ingredient in them is grape jelly.  And they are good, I’ll give you that.  But this recipe?  Oh it is soooo much better than those!  If you’re a grape jelly meatball fan, please give this one a try.

The main base is whole cranberry sauce.  Then you add in some ketchup, hoisin sauce, and an assortment of spices.  The end result is a very sweet, tangy concoction that apparently cannot be resisted.

Now before I post the recipe, I have a secret to confess:  I used store-bought meatballs.  The recipe has you make your own, but I didn’t have time so I went to the local warehouse club and bought a big bag of “Italian style” meatballs.  I wasn’t too sure how those would go with this sweet and tangy sauce, but now I know how they go–fast.  They go very fast.

Next time, I hope to make the meatballs from scratch, but just know that you can get away with using a good quality store bought meatball!

Here are the ingredients:

Meatballs
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 22 saltine crackers crushed
  • 1/3 cup dry minced onion
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 can whole cranberry sauce 14 oz. can
  • 1/4 cup quality hoisin sauce like Kikkoman or Lee Kum Kee
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Franks Buffalo Hot WINGS Sauce to taste*
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

And here are the instructions:

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Place a baking rack on top of a baking sheet. Set aside. (If you don’t have a baking rack, line baking sheet with parchment paper.)

  1. In a large bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients, mix until well combined. Roll meat mixture into desired meatball size**. Place meatballs onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  2. Meanwhile, add all of the Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Sauce ingredients starting with just 2 teaspoons hot wings sauce to a bowl and mix to combine. You can add more hot sauce to taste at the end of cooking.
  3. Line the bottom of your slow cooker with meatballs, then a layer of Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Sauce, then the remaining meatballs followed by the remaining. Sauce. Gently stir meatballs an hour after cooking.
  4. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours. Taste and stir in additional hot wings sauce (I use a total of 2 tablespoons which is spicy) Keep warm until serving.

Again, as I mentioned, I didn’t make the meatballs by hand.  I just dumped all the ingredients in on top of frozen meatballs and stirred occasionally as they cooked.  No worries about “layering” your meatballs or mixing the sauce in a separate bowl.  Why dirty up a bowl you’ll have to wash when it’s all going to combine in the slow cooker anyway?  Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Oh, one more thing.  The photograph above shows the meatballs on toothpicks.  Don’t do that.  They are best served hot, and that means straight out of the slow cooker.  It’s not as elegant of a look, but we must preserve food quality over appearances, right?  So put the slow cooker out on the table with a big spoon in it and be prepared to watch meatballs disappear!

Serrano Steak: A Super Simple Savory Serving

Sorry for my excessive use of the s words, but this recipe was stupendous and extremely simple!

Now that I’m taking some time off for the summer and have time to cook, I’m getting more Hello Fresh boxes.  We had this recipe tonight and it was absolutely delightful.  I wanted to share it with you.

Worried about whether beef is good for you or not?  Check out this post and learn all about the health benefits of beef!

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The Art of Salsa

Salsa (the dip, not the dance) has been one of my favorite things to eat for years and years, ever since I fell in love with Mexican food in my late teens.  I have worked on a recipe over thsalsa-2-550e years that works well for me and I’m going to share it here.  Impress that special guy you’re dating with your very own homemade salsa!

The first thing to realize about salsa is that making it is an art, not a science.  No two jalapeno peppers will have exactly the same level of heat.  And that, my friends, means that I can’t just tell you to “add 1 tablespoon of chopped jalapeno” and be done with it.  There’s a lot of tasting involved here to get this right.  And, this recipe is best made 24 hours in advance of when you want to serve it.  It allows time for the flavors to blend and develop properly.

Gather these ingredients:

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 lime

1 to 2 cloves of garlic

1 small onion

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 fresh jalapeno pepper

sea salt

freshly ground cracked pepper

tortilla chips

 

Put the tomatoes in a bowl.  (If you like super smooth salsa, use a food processor first to blend them up into a smooth puree.)  Juice the entire lime into the tomatoes.  Get all that lime juice out of that little sucker!

Finely mince up the garlic into the tiniest pieces you can and add it.  Chop the onion into a small dice and add it.  Finely mince up the cilantro and add it to the mixture, then stir everything together.

Cut off the stem of the jalapeno pepper, then slice the pepper lengthwise into four pieces.  Remove the pith and the seeds and set them aside.  Mince the peppers into very small pieces.  Be careful not to touch your eyes while you’re doing this or you will regret it!  DO NOT ADD IT ALL INTO THE MIXTURE.

Here is where the artsy part comes in…. start with a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and 1/4 of the chopped up jalapeno.  Add those and stir.  Then, start tasting with the chips!  If it needs more salt, add more 1/2 teaspoon at a time.  If the jalapeno isn’t strong enough, add another 1/4 of it.  Stir everything together, then taste again.  If you have added the entire pepper and it’s still not hot enough?  Try adding some of the seeds that you set aside.  (Most of the heat in peppers is found in the seeds).

One thing to remember is that raw jalapeno flavor will intensify as the flavors blend.  So if it’s “a little hot” now, it will be “more hot” tomorrow.  Keep that in mind as you decide how hot you want it.  It is sometimes best to let it sit for an hour or two, stir again, taste again, and THEN decide if it needs more jalapeno.  Just remember, you can always add more jalapeno, but you can’t take it out.

Really love hot salsa?  Then use a serrano pepper in addition to or instead of the jalapeno.

Finally, remove the salsa from the fridge one hour before serving.  It’s not really at its best when it’s ice cold.

Serve with tortilla chips.  And by the way,  homemade chips are by far and away the BEST, but that’s another recipe for another day.