Friday, March 29, 2013

Spaghetti and Meatball Pie

Spaghetti and Meatball Pie?!  I loved this dinner, it's such a fun form of spaghetti and meatballs.  It was a little more work than slapping noodles on a plate and covering with sauce, but not much (especially if you buy the meatballs like I did). I'm normally not a fan of spaghetti and meatballs (see other confessions here), but I loved the flavors and textures from this variation.  The creamy cheese and the noodle crust really did it for me. 
I used pre-made meatballs and doubled the recipe to make two pies.  I'm really glad I doubled it because it was really tasty and having an extra dinner in the freezer is convenient.  Doubling also made measuring a bit easier for using a full containers: a whole box of noodles, 16 oz can of tomatoes (I haven't seen 8 oz cans), full 1 lb container of cheese, etc.
Cook's Note: My pie took almost an hour to bake before the middle was warm.  All ovens are different and the temperauture of the ingredients will make a difference if you do some steps ahead of time.  To check the temperature, poke a knife into the middle of the pie (going down to the bottom) and put it to you lips.  If it's still cool, continue cooking until it's warm enough. 

Spaghetti and Meatball Pie
From My Retro Kitchen
Yield: 6 servings

8 oz (half a box) dry spaghetti noodles
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2  eggs, well-beaten
1 lb ground turkey or beef, divided (1/4 for meatballs and 3/4 for in the skillet sauce)
1/2 cup onion, diced
3/4 cup zucchini, shredded (optional)
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 bell pepper, chopped (optional)
1 (8 oz) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes (don’t drain) or 4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped or 1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Mozzarella or Moneterey Jack cheese, shredded

Meatballs (makes 4-6)
The reserved 1/4 lb ground meat
8 Ritz crackers, crushed (or 1/4 cup bread crumbs)
1 tsp fresh oregano chopped
1 tsp fresh basil, chopped
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

For the Meatballs:
Combine all ingredients and roll into golfball sized meatballs.  Brown on all sides and set aside. 

For the Pie:
Cook spaghetti noodles. Drain. Stir butter into hot noodles until melted. Stir in Parmesan cheese and eggs. Form pasta mixture into a crust shape in a buttered 9-inch pie plate.

In skillet, cook ground beef and onions, bell pepper and mushrooms until meat is browned. Drain. Add to meat mixture, tomatoes, zucchini, tomato paste, oregano and garlic. Heat through. Spread cottage cheese over bottom of spaghetti crust.

Top with tomato/meat mixture.  Cut the meatballs in half and arrange on top.  Sprinkle grated cheese over all.

Lightly cover pan with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove foil and bake for 5-10 more minutes until cheese is lightly browned.  Cut into pie wedges and serve.

Freezer Instructions: You can also prepare this dish ahead of time and freeze for later.  If you want to go this route, cover the pie pan with foil right after assembly; label and freeze.  When you are ready to serve: Thaw, bake covered for 25 minutes at 350 F. Remove foil and bake for 5 minutes more until cheese is lightly browned.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Corned Beef and Cabbage

I have to admit, I had never made corned beef and cabbage before last weekend.  I knew I liked it, but usually made Ruebens for St Patrick's Day.  I was always afraid that cooking the corned beef would make a lot more than I wanted to eat.  I'm so glad I finally made it! This recipe was ridiculously easy and really darn tasty.  It uses Guinness as the cooking liquid instead of water and I highly recommend trying it.  And guess what? It didn't make too much!  I had a 3 lb flat and got 5-6 servings out of it.

Excellent pour by Kevin

Cook's Notes:
If you use a smaller brisket like I did, make sure you reduce the cooking time. 
We paired our Irish dinner with a Half and Half (Irish are offended if you call it a Black and Tan).

Corned Beef and Cabbage
Adapted From Steamy Kitchen
Yield: 6-8 servings

For the Corned Beef:
2 bottles Guinness beer (or other dark beer)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3.5 lb corned beef brisket flat, rinsed well, patted dry
1 Tbsp pickling spice (or the spice packet that comes with the beef)
1/2 onion
1 head garlic, halved

For the Vegetables:
1 head cabbage
1 big spoonful of bacon drippings (can substitute cooking oil)
a few carrots, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 pound of red potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced

Preheat oven to 300 F. In a large pot or dutch oven, whisk together the beer and brown sugar. Add the beef, it should almost be completely covered by the beer (I added about 2 cups of water to get the liquid higher). Add the pickling spice, onion and the garlic. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop, uncovered is best so you can keep an eye on it. Boiled-over beer is no fun to clean.

Once it begins simmering, cover the pot and place in oven to roast for 3-5 hours, flipping meat once during halfway point (reduce cooking time if using a smaller brisket). Remove from oven. Spoon out 2 cups of the corned beef braising liquid to cook the cabbage.

To make the vegetables:
Cut the cabbage into 8 wedges. In a separate large, wide pot, heat up the bacon drippings/oil on medium-high heat. When hot, swirl the pan around to get the fat to evenly coat the pan. Add the cabbage wedges, cook until browned and turn to brown the other side. 

Add the carrots and potatoes and pour in the reserved corned beef cooking liquid, bring to a simmer and cover the pot. Turn the heat to low and let cook for 10-15 minutes. Use tongs or a large spoon to carefully remove the cabbage and set aside. Continue cooking the carrots and potatoes another 5-7 minutes or until cooked though (pierce with fork to check doneness). Sprinkle with parsley.

Slice the corned beef across the grain and serve with the cabbage and vegetables. Pour a bit of the sauce over the corned beef just before serving.