It was one of those what-to-do-with-ground-beef days. I almost, in desperation, fell back on grilled burgers, even though it was only 54° outside, then wondered if I could do something different with meatballs—and I mean different from all the meatball recipes on this site (which is 5). I still used the grill, after I put on a flannel shirt, and decided to use a combination of spices that I haven’t used with beef before. The only method I could figure out for grilling meatballs, was to put them on skewers, although I’m sure if they are big enough not to fall through the grate you could turn them individually—that sounds like too much work.
We ate them on flatbread with a sour cream-lemon-chive sauce.
Spicy Skewered Meatballs
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 cup dry bread crumbs
Optional: 2-4 tablespoons milk or other liquid if the mixture is dry
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried cilantro
1 tablespoon parsley paste (a timesaver)
1 tablespoon grated or minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Mix all ingredients together with hands. You’re trying to achieve a mixture that will hold its shape, so you don’t want it to be too soft or moist.
- Divide mixture into 16 portions and roll into balls.
- Carefully slide meatballs onto skewers then place on a large tray. You could refrigerate them at this point until ready to cook.
- Grill over direct heat, turning to brown on all sides, closing the lid after each turn. Even with flat skewers, the meatballs will turn on the skewers, but it’s still pretty easy to turn the whole skewer, keeping your tongs close by. They cook pretty quickly, in about 15 minutes, but you can use a thermometer to test for doneness.
- Remove from skewers and serve in flatbread with a sour cream or yogurt sauce.
This is something you could make with a variety of meats and spices. I found the meatballs to be moist and tender, and a nice change from burgers.
I had a nice Cuisinart slow cooker for a long time, but the removable crock got a hairline crack, and eventually it leaked badly into the cooker. I don’t use a slow cooker very often, especially now that I’m retired and can cook as much as I want, so replacing it hasn’t been a priority. Then there’s the grill, which can act like a slow cooker itself. More about that later. I looked at reviews and also considered my wallet when deciding on the Hamilton Beach® Stay or Go.™ At under $60, and even less with a coupon, it has a number of features for the price that make it desirable: (1) the lid clamps down, so there’s no bubbling steam around the edges to gather and drip; (2) it’s programmable, so I can pick a time and know that it will shut off if I’m out longer than expected; (3) it has a probe that you can insert into a large piece of meat to register the temperature and prevent overcooked meat, a common complaint about slow cookers.
I’m christening the new gadget today with our favorite pulled pork recipe, made specifically for a slow cooker, although I have made it in the oven and on the grill: Chowhound‘s “Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.” The best part of the recipe is the dry rub, which I only slightly modify and have used on country style spare ribs, and even liquefied into a wet barbecue sauce. I’ve referred to Chowhound‘s recipe at least four times on this blog:
I find it to be a versatile rub that I have varied only slightly, until settling on my favorite variation that adds smoked paprika and increases the cumin and cinnamon.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Adapted from Chowhound‘s “Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.”
Place in the bottom of a slow cooker, a bed of 3 large thick sliced onions and 4 large slivered garlic cloves.
Pour in 1 cup of chicken broth.
Remove the plastic netting from a boneless pork shoulder (3-5 lbs) and rub all over with the following dry rub (use a large bowl, so you don’t lose any rub):
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Place the pork roast on top of the onion bed, close the slow cooker and set to low. Cook for about 8 hours, without peeking.
Pull the meat apart with forks and stir into the onions and juices. Serve on buns with coleslaw. You just won’t believe how moist and flavorful this pulled pork is until you try it.
These will satisfy my recent desire for cookies that I shouldn’t eat. One scone for breakfast will do nicely, and isn’t a scone really a breakfast cookie, anyway? Rather than adding oatmeal to a scone recipe I already have, I went searching for one that I could modify and found these candidates:
Annie’s Eats: Oatmeal Raisin Scones
Three Many Cooks: Oatmeal-Cinnamon-Raisin Scones
Martha Stewart: Raisin and Oat Scones
What do you do when you have multiple recipes to take from? I make a table in a word processing document, like this:
The table lets me compare ingredients to see what items are common and where there are interesting differences. For example, two of these use eggs and two use buttermilk—not the same two for both. One uses the sour cream that I intend to use, and two of them use a whole stick of butter, something else that appeals to me. I like the idea of the brown sugar in Martha Stewart’s recipe, but I’m leaning toward using all whole wheat flour, like in Annie’s recipe. You’ll notice that I leave out the typical soda, salt, etc., and just note that at the bottom so I won’t forget to add it.
When I’m ready to bake, I circle the ingredients I intend to use and write in all the leavening/seasoning amounts. Here are today’s results:
Wet and dry ingredients
Finished thick dough
Whole Grain Oatmeal Raisin Scones
Preheat oven to 400°; line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup whole grain rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sour cream
1 stick butter, melted
- Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. I like to mix the raisins in with the dry ingredients to coat them and keep them separate in the final dough.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk the sour cream and egg until fluffy. Whisk in the melted butter, whisking constantly so the egg doesn’t cook.
- Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a large wooden spoon. The dough is stiff, but with all the butter, it holds together well.
- Form into 8 balls of about 1/3 cup each—Martha Stewart was right about that measurement. Place the balls on the baking sheet and slightly flatten. They will still rise in the baking to a round shape. I think the dough could stand up to forming into a large circle and cutting into traditional triangle shapes, but I like the big round rough shape of these.
- Bake for about 15 minutes. Cool on rack. Wrap tightly when cool. I wrap mine individually for freezing, and then thaw one per day.
The house is full of the smells of cinnamon and raisins, so it will be hard to wait for breakfast.
Remember the Great Pumpkin Scarcity Caper, where we cleaned out the local grocery shelves of canned pumpkin because of the dog? You might remember that I confiscated 3 of the large cans for my cooking. I used one of them for the two Thanksgiving pies, and today I opened can #2 for two uses. First up, Pumpkin Blondies, kind of a cakey brownie, thick and moist, but not chewy. I wasn’t going for chewy, but didn’t want a spongy cake either. These turned out just right—I tested three of them already to make that evaluation.
Add pumkin to wet ingredients
Pumpkin seeds for nuts
Moist and dense
Tender and spicy
I used my regular blondie recipe, actually called “Butterscotch Brownies” in the old Betty Crocker (1961) p.195. I’d like to know when people started calling them blondies. The original bar is really dense and chewy, made simply with butter and brown sugar for the butterscotch taste. I didn’t change anything in the recipe, except to add pumpkin. I’m sure that’s heresy to add without other adjustments, but I just wanted to move the recipe away from the original dense and chewy texture, not make it the same as the original with a pumpkin flavor. Plus, I wanted to see how just that addition changed the end result. It worked very nicely, but you could probably do things to make the end result more cookie-like if that’s what you want.
I used canned pumpkin puree; increase total time if you roast your own pumpkin.
Preheat oven to 350°; butter an 8″ x 8″ baking dish.
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup dry roasted pumpkin seeds (these are usually salted)
- In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter until combined.
- Beat in egg until mixture is light and creamy.
- Mix in pumpkin and vanilla until combined.
- Mix dry ingredients together, then stir into wet ingredients.
- Stir in pumpkin seeds.
- Spread in buttered baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes—the top should resist your finger a little when done. You can use a toothpick to test doneness, but the bars are moist and you don’t want to bake until they are dry. The toothpick might fool you.
- Cool in pan; then cut bars in the pan or turn out the whole thing onto a cutting board and cut into bars.