Now that Halloween is behind us it’s time to think about the holidays ahead. I always feel that Halloween kicks off the holiday season, it does it my house. Once trick or treating is done and the Halloween decor has been put away I turn my attention to planning our Thanksgiving dinner and getting ready for Christmas. It’s a very busy time for me!
I think the weeks leading up to the holidays are busy for everyone, we need to shop, cook, bake, clean, decorate, and more along with all the daily work that we do. One this is certain holiday planning or not we still have to eat. Cooking and planning daily meals can be challenging during this season. I know many times we end up grabbing fast food on the way home or ordering in pizza just to have something to eat for dinner, but I really hate doing this. I get tired of eating out and I really do like my home cooking! So to make my life a bit easier I like to stock my freezer with pre-made dishes that we can pop in the oven on the days I don’t have time to cook.
One of the easiest things to work with are meatballs. I know, you can buy pre-made frozen meatballs at the grocery store, but my family hates them! I don’t like the spongy consistency, I find them very unappetizing. They don’t taste too good either. So I spend about 30 minutes one day and make my own meatballs which I freeze in ziplock freezer bags. They just need re-heating when I need them. Meatballs are great because they are very versatile; you can turn them into different dishes by adding just a few ingredients. I like to make meatball subs, Swedish meatballs, teriyaki meatballs, meatball soup, and of course spaghetti and meatballs. My grandkids love them with mac n’ cheese!
1 1/2 pound ground beef – don’t use the one that’s too lean, you need a bit of fat to hold it together and also give it a good flavor. I use ground sirloin or sometimes ground chuck which is a bit fattier.
1 tbls. minced garlic
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbls. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese – use the fresh cheese not the one in the green cardboard shaker
1. Place meat and spices in a mixing bowl.
2. Mix it all together using your hands. Make sure the spices are distributed through out the meat, but don’t over mix as it will get spongy.
3. Mix in cheese and bread crumbs.
4. Shape into ball. You can make any size ball you want, but don’t make them too big, they won’t cook in the middle. Try to make balls the same size so they cook evenly.
5. Place balls on a parchment covered baking sheet and bake in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.
6. Remove from from oven and cool before place in ziplock freezer bags to freeze.
One of my favorite Chinese seafood dishes is Salted Pepper Shrimp, we used to order it every time we dined at a Chinese restaurant. Since I found a recipe for it we can enjoy it at home. I modified it to fit our tastes and I think made it a bit simpler to make. Served over steamed white rice it’s yummy!
1 lb. Medium to Large shrimp – peeled and deveined
1 tbls. sea salt
1/2 cup corn starch
2 tbls. ground white pepper
2 tbls. ground black pepper
1 tbls. garlic powder
3 tbls. chopped green onions
2 tbls. minced garlic
1/4 + cup peanut oil
Place shrimp in a small bowl and cover with warm water
Add sea salt and let soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour
In a shallow bowl mix together corn starch, 1 tbls. each of white and black peppers, and garlic powder
Drain shrimp and lightly pat dry with a paper towel
Heat peanut oil in wok or large frying pan on medium heat until hot
Coat each shrimp in cornstarch mixture and place in wok
Cook until shrimp turns pink – turn halfway for even cooking – you may need to add more peanut oil if it gets too dry
Place cooked shrimp on paper towel to drain – Do not turn stove off
If pan is dry add a tbls. more peanut oil – add mince garlic and stir until it starts turning golden
Add fried shrimp back into pan
Add chopped green onions and stir til green onions turn bright green and starts to soften
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that my husband has embarked on a Keto Diet plan which pretty much means I either make something Keto friendly just for him or find keto friendly recipes for the whole family to enjoy. Since I’m not particularly fond of playing short order cook it is so much easier to make something that we can all have for dinner. And so I’ve come up with this Keto friendly Butter Steak Cubes.
Butter Steak Cubes are real easy to make and they are really delish! Everyone loves them! I serve them with a tossed salad for hubby and sides like mashed potatoes, corn, and veggies for the rest of us. My husband likes them so much I sometimes double the recipe so he can have leftovers for the next couple of days.
One thing though, if you want leftovers for lunch or whatever don’t over cook the steak. In fact I usually cook them just until they turn slightly pink in the middle. That way they can be reheated later. If you over cook the meat they end up like jerky when reheated. You definitely don’t want that!
4 NY Strip Steaks cut into 1″ cubes
1/2 Tbs. Cayenne Red Pepper
1 Tbs. Garlic Powder
1 Tbs. Onion Powder
1 Tsp. Sea Salt
1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1/2 Tbs. Lemon Pepper
1 Tsp. Oregano
1 Stick Butter
3 Tbs. Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Fresh Parley Chopped
Combine Spices in a small bowl and mix well
Melt Butter in Olive Oil over med high heat
Add cubed meat and sprinkle spices over it
Toss meat in frying pan and cook until it almost reaches your desired “doneness”
My husband recently embarked on a Keto Diet which means I either have to make him something keto friendly or find keto friendly recipes that the whole family will enjoy. Keto friendly meals aren’t really that hard to come up with, basically you just have to limit or replace the carbs. So that means pastas are out unless you use edemame spaghetti or other flourless pasta substitutes. But any way one of our favorites turned out to be this Chicken & Asparagus dish that my husband can eat with a small salad and the rest of the family can eat with pasta or even rice.
My grandkids and even my husband were not big asparagus fans, but after tasting this Chicken & Asparagus dish they decided it was pretty good. One of the best things about this Chicken & Asparagus dish is that it’s super easy to make, it’s really just a stir fry and can be ready in about a half and hour!
Chicken & Asparagus – A Keto Friendly Dish!
4 Pieces Boneless/Skinless Chicken Thighs cut into chunks
7-8 Stalks Asparagus cut into thirds
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Tbs. Minced Garlic
1 Tsp. Lemon Pepper
1 Tsp. Rosemary
1/2 Tsp. Thyme
1/2 Tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1 Tsp. Parsley
1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
Combine dry seasonings in a small bowl (not the garlic)
Heat Olive Oil in a wok or deep frying pan
Saute Garlic until it starts to turn brown
Add chicken and seasoning mixture
Cook until chicken is done
Remove chicken from pan and set aside
Add asparagus to pan and cover with chicken stock
Cook until asparagus is tender
Return chicken to pan and toss with asparagus
Turn heat up and cook until liquid is mostly gone – keep stirring so it won’t burn
Shawarma is a typical Middle Eastern street food that’s sold on street corner kiosks, fast food joints, and restaurants in Middle Eastern countries and beyond.
It’s sort of similar to the Greek Gyro but is seasoned with different spices and allowed to marinate for at least a few hours. It’s usually cooked very much like the Turkish Doner Kebab which is a cone of mixed meats (beef, lamb, and chicken) cooked on a vertical spit. Typically it’s served as a Shawarma Sandwich which is pita bread stuffed with shaved meat, tahini sauce, and fresh and pickled veggies. It can also be served as a plate with rice, salad, hummus, and pita bread.
Today most Middle Eastern restaurants and fast food places serve specific shawarma meats such as beef or chicken shawarma in a sandwich or as a plate. Needless to say both are very popular in our family!
But the real secret to Shawarma isn’t the meat or the way it’s cooked. The secret lies in the spices used. You can make shawarma in your oven, grill, and even in your Instant Pot. In fact I always make it in my Instant Pot! I’m working on an article to share how to make Beef Shawarma in an Instant Pot; but before I can make any type of shawarma using any method I have to season the meat!
I’m actually a big believer in spice rubs. I make all sorts of rubs for different things such as my Basic BBQ Chicken Rub. I mean sauces are great for adding flavor to meat after it’s cooked, but what really gives meat great flavor are rubs and marinades. So if you want to make homemade shawarma that tastes like you ordered it from a Middle Eastern restaurant you’ll need this Shawarma Spice Mix.
I usually mix up a large batch; large meaning enough mix to fill a quart sized Mason Jar. I store my Shawarma Spice Mix in a sealed jar in my pantry, it stays fresh for about 3 months, assuming you don’t use it all before then! The spice mix can be used for beef or chicken shawarma and can even be added to other recipes when you’re wanting to add a touch of exotic flavorings.
To use the mix as a marinade for shawarma I use a teaspoon of mix per pound of meat. Combine the mix with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar, and a pinch of salt then massage it on to the meat. Place the meat in a ziplock bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours but no longer than 24 hours.