It’s spring! During this uncertain time, I’m going to take a deep breath and let the dog take me for a beach walk in the warm sunshine. I’m going to cook and bake. Join me in the kitchen, if only in spirit, and make a pot of soup from scratch. Notice how much better it tastes, the different flavors, texture and aroma.
You can take the time to slow down and enjoy the steps and concentration it takes to make artisan bread made with natural sour dough leavening. If you are home with the kids, have them join you in the kitchen for a cooking class. I bet you will both be smiling and laughing.
The kids might enjoy making their very own, special recipe if you’re trying to find fun and interesting things for them to do on these long school-less spring days. When was the last time you made a batch of no-bake cookies? You probably have everything in your pantry to make them.
Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Large pinch kosher salt
1. Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment.
2. Bring the sugar, milk, butter and cocoa to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, then let boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Add the oats, peanut butter, vanilla and salt, and stir to combine.
3. Drop teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, and let sit at room temperature until cooled and hardened, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days.
Make a batch of meatballs with the kids with the hamburger or mooseburger, salmon, pork meat or brats you have stashed in the freezer. Keep those little hands busy helping to get dinner on the table. There are lots of flavor combinations you can try, so in addition to Taco Tuesday, you can have Meatball Monday. What can we make for Wednesdays? Ask the kids and let me know.
Methods to cook meatballs.
Bake: Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet; bake at 425 degrees F, about 15 minutes for 2-inch meatballs.
Pan-Fry: Cook, in batches, in 1/2 cup vegetable oil over medium-high heat, turning, 8 to 10 minutes for 2-inch meatballs; pour off the excess fat before adding any sauce.
Deep-Fry: Cook, in batches, in 2 inches of 350 degrees F vegetable oil, 3 to 6 minutes for 1-inch meatballs (small meatballs are best for deep-frying).
Different Flavor combinations
Beef or moose
Italian: Mix 1 pound ground beef or moose, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, 1/4 cup each breadcrumbs, chopped parsley and milk, 2 grated garlic cloves, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon kosher salt; season with pepper. Form into balls; bake. Simmer in 2 cups each marinara and water, 20 minutes.
Mexican: Pulse 8 ounces each ground beef or moose and fresh chorizo, 1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips, 2 chopped scallions and 1/4 teaspoon cumin and ¼ teaspoon dried oregano in a food processor. Form into balls; pan-fry. Simmer in 4 cups chicken broth with 1 cinnamon stick, 1/4 cup cooked rice and 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 30 minutes. Remove the meatballs and cinnamon stick; puree the sauce.
Korean: Mix 1 pound ground beef or moose, 1/2 cup panko, 2 teaspoons grated ginger, 1 egg and 1/2 teaspoon each sesame oil and kosher salt. Form into balls; bake. Simmer for 3 minutes in 1/2 cup each water, brown sugar and chopped kimchi, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean chile paste) and 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch.
Dumpling: Mix 1 pound ground pork, 1 cup each chopped scallions and napa cabbage, 1/4 cup panko, 1 egg, 2 teaspoons each grated ginger, garlic, soy sauce and rice vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon each sesame oil, sugar, kosher salt and white pepper. Form into balls; pan-fry. Serve with ponzu sauce.
Japanese: Make Dumpling Meatballs as instructed above. Using 1/2 cup scallions, add 1/2 cup chopped cilantro and 1 tablespoon miso paste to the meat mixture. Form into balls. Dredge in flour, dip in beaten egg, then roll in panko; deep-fry. Serve with teriyaki sauce.
Hawaiian: Puree one 12-ounce can Spam. Mix with 8 ounces ground pork, 1/2 cup panko, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon grated ginger; season with pepper. Form into balls; roll in panko and deep-fry. Serve with sweet and sour sauce.
Italian Sausage: Mix 8 ounces each ground pork and hot Italian sausage (casings removed), 1 egg, 1/2 cup each grated provolone, Parmesan, breadcrumbs and chopped parsley, 2 grated garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Form into balls; pan-fry. Serve with jarred vodka tomato sauce.
German Sausage: For sauce, simmer 1 cup beer, 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1 tablespoon grainy mustard, 10 minutes; add chopped parsley. Mix 1 pound raw bratwurst (casings removed), 1 egg, 1 cup chopped drained sauerkraut, 3/4 cup fresh rye breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon grainy mustard. Form into balls; pan-fry. Add to the sauce.
Breakfast Sausage: Mix 1 pound bulk pork breakfast sausage, 2 chopped thawed frozen waffles, 1 egg and 1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon, dash of nutmeg and black pepper. Form into balls; bake. Serve with syrup.
Mash two 6-ounce cans salmon or 12 oz. cooked salmon; mix with 1/2 cup panko, 1/4 cup each diced small boiled potatoes, finely diced onion or shallots, ¼ cup finely diced celery, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons each fresh chopped dill and creamy horseradish. Form into balls; pan-fry. Serve with more creamy horseradish or a white sauce flavored with lemon juice and zest.
Saute 8 ounces chopped mushrooms in olive oil; cool. Pulse in a food processor with 1 cup each breadcrumbs and toasted walnuts, 1/4 cup each fresh parsley and dill, 2 chopped scallions, 2 eggs, ½ teaspoon paprika and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Form into balls; deep-fry. Serve with ranch dressing.