RaeDi at Hummingbird Hollow

Thoughts on Food, Words from the Heart, 'The Little Winged Ones'….

Tag: Basil

Asparagus Pizza… Yearning for Spring

Decided that spring could not get here soon enough… but a little spring for dinner would be perfect.  A spring pizza was in order.  The crust was easy… I bought pizza dough at  Central Market already made for me.  I wanted dinner to be  very easy and it was!  Put a little hollandaise sauce on and threw on some veggies…  steamed spinach (pat between paper towels to get as much moisture out,) about 1/2 cup of steamed (partially done…) brussel sprout leaves, some cherry tomatoes, few thin slices of onion and the first asparagus (partially steamed) of the year and it was so delicious… added some different cheeses and a few herbs and she was ready before we knew it.

I was starved and kept peeking into the oven…

It was finally done!

Look at it, all the blends tasted so delicious!

I want spring to come so bad… I have been going through some of my photos that I have taken in my gardens for several seasons.  I am going to share a few of the flower photographs over the next weeks… the real signatures of the summer months with you.  Maybe just maybe it will quicken the approach of the season?

A Zen Saying:  Sit quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.  T reminded me as I was talking about spring…  he was thinking out loud about the grass would need mowing!

I will start with my favorite the hydrangea… they seem so complex to me.  As a child I thought of them as big snowballs… now they have so many varieties… my favorite is called the ‘Sea Breeze.’  Is she not lovely?  And who could not resist the daisy? I hope you enjoy my garden pictures and I have included our little raccoon that makes regular visits I call him  ‘Robber’….

Digital pictures I did of my bleeding hearts… how many like digital art… I am still deciding!

Mini Turkey Meatballs and Ghetti (Spaghetti)

Mini Turkey Meatballs and Ghetti (Spaghetti)

Meatballs Ingredients:

  • 2 Pounds (or so) Ground Turkey
  • ¼ or so cup of non-fat milk (just enough to dampen cracker crumbs)
  • 1 to 1 ½  Cup Non-Salt Cracker Crumbs (you can use salted crackers if you do not have dietary restraints like I do)
  • 2 eggs beaten slightly or you can use Egg Beaters
  • 1 Onion Diced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic Diced
  • Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon Parsley
  • ½ -1 Teaspoon of   Basil (more if you want)
  • ½-1 Teaspoon of Oregano (more if you want)
  • 1 medium Bay Leaf
  • ½ Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • 1Tablespoon Grain Dion Mustard
  • 1 Teaspoons Worcester Sauce
  • ½ to ¾ cup of Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Bread Crumbs:

  • 8 Slices Bread
  • Olive Oil Spray
  • Sage
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Smoked Paprika

The bread crumbs take only a few minutes, the list of ingredients looks long…but once made you will not go back to store-bought ~ they are well worth the little effort it takes to make them.  You will need to have a clean jar with a fitted lid for the extra you are making, they will be there for the next time you need seasoned breadcrumbs.

To make bread crumbs put the bread in processor and pulse until the bread is small crumbs.  You can use a silicon baking liner in the jelly roll pan you will be using to dry and toast the bread crumbs on if you have one.   This is a larger batch, so I used two jelly roll pans so they would spread thinner and dry faster.  You can at this time spread the bread crumbs on jelly roll pan (s) and set aside and let them dry out naturally and then follow the directions from spraying with oil and adding seasoning…

Spread bread crumbs out in jelly roll pan and mist with a little bit of olive oil on the crumbs.  Do not use to much oil, hold mister about 5~6 inches above crumbs and mist twice, one spray at each end of pan.  You do not want to soak crumbs in oil, this is just enough so when you sprinkle the seasoning on the crumbs it will help the seasonings adhere to crumbs while you toast and dry them in the oven. (It helps in toasting too, like a grilled sandwich)

Once bread crumbs are mist with the oil, sprinkle just a little of sage, basil, garlic and onion powder, smoked paprika on top of bread crumbs.  If you want to add different seasoning, go for it, whatever taste you are going for.   You do not need much seasoning on all the crumbs; a little goes a long way.  The crumbs should not be oily or overwhelming; you want to taste the entirety of the succulent, luscious little meatballs (or whatever you are coating in breadcrumbs.)   Repeat: You do not want to overpower the little fellas with too much seasoning and have them too oily.  I made this mistake ~ once.

The timing for baking the bread crumbs all depends on each oven.  I watch them real close every minute or so, when they start to toast a little with color, it happens so fast.  So just keep a close eye on them, it doesn’t take but a little over 5 minutes or so.  Place in a heated 300 degree oven and when the crumbs are just starting to dry out take them out of the oven and stir them up and put back in oven until the crumbs are dried with just a ‘little’ of color.  Once done place in bowl and set aside.

Mix crackers with milk, use just enough to dampen crackers and set aside.  I make my cracker crumbs in the mini processor, just put as many crackers in processor that will fit and pulse until they are very small crumbs.  You can pulse several batches if you want to make plenty to have some for the pantry.  I like having a jar with a fitted lid full of cracker crumbs waiting for use, like the bread crumbs.   It makes it real easy for the next time you need either.

With a spatula do a chop and pull motion to cut the turkey while blending in all the ingredients.   Add the shredded Parmesan and Romano cheese (any dried shredded cheese you like, you can add a little more or a little less or no cheese at all,) onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and pepper, and blend a little.  Put crackers crumbs mixture in with meat mixture and chop again to just mix.  You do not want to mix the meat too much.  You want it to be loose and in little chunks.

Add the beaten eggs, mustard, Worcester Sauce to meat mixture.  Again mix using a chop and pull motion until just blended, but the meat is still in small pieced.  You do not want to over work the meat or it gets pasty.  It keeps the meatballs from being tender.

Cover the bowl of meat mixture with plate and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

I use a #50 or tablespoon size scoop to make the meatballs.  I try not to handle them too much.  Once I have them all scooped I then roll them in the bread crumbs and place on the silicon baking liner in jelly roll pan (same pan I use for the bread crumbs) evenly spaced.

I like to make the mixture in the morning then an hour or so later I make the meatballs.  If it is still early I place the jelly roll pan filled with little meatballs in the refrigerator until ready to bake.

I placed in a 350 degree oven and cooked for 15 to 20 minutes.  When the meatballs are running clear juices take them out.  You do not want to over bake, it will dry them out.

I thawed  the amount of ‘Mom’s Sauce,’ Tomato ~ Vegetable  Sauce that I need and put it on to heat.  Once heated well I then add the amount of mini meatballs that are needed and heat through.  They are juiciest this way and hold their shaped putting them in just to heat.  This is a hit every time I serve it, and usually with garlic-cheese bread and steamed spinach….

Mom’s Tomato ~ Vegetable Sauce


Mom’s Tomato ~ Vegetable Sauce

This sauce is good for everything that needs a tomato sauce or base.

Ingredients:  

(you can add any veggies you like to this blend)

  • One quart or so of water ~ you can use broth
  • 2~3 Eggplants, nice size
  • 2~3 Yellow Squash
  • 2~3 Zucchini
  • Winter Squash ~ couple of nice size pieces of, (it takes a little longer to cook winter squash, so I cut it up a little smaller than the other veggies) I have not tried but am going to try adding pumpkin to the mix next time…
  • 6 or so Parsnips’
  • 8 or more carrots
  • Spinach, if I have any on hand I throw in as much as I have
  • 2 Large Onions Cut into Big Chunks
  • 6~8 Large Cloves of Garlic Smashed
  • Tomatoes ~ 8~12 diced ripe roma or so if you have, if not I add two quarts of stewed tomatoes

Let this cook, and when blended add the following per directions:

  • 1 can Tomato Paste
  • 2~4 Tablespoons of Tomato Powder, (depends on how much I am making)
  • 1 Quart of stewed Tomatoes or 1 large can of stewed or diced tomatoes, (this is in addition to the other two quarts you have already used)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves ~ sliced thin
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Basil, Parsley, Oregano, 1 Bay Leaf ~ each to your tastes, if you are not sure, add 1/2 Teaspoon first and taste and then adjust to your taste

I wash the outside of my veggies (you do not have to wash onion and garlic) with a mild mixture of Dawn Detergent and water.  Be sure to rinse off thoroughly.  Take off tops and remove any blemishes from the veggies.  I scrub the parsnips’ and carrots well (I do not peel).  Chop all the veggies into large chunks and place in 6 quart or larger pan.  I add about a quart or so  of water (you can use broth here if you want) then add the ripe diced roma tomatoes or stewed tomatoes (if using canned tomatoes you do not have to add as much water or broth there is liquid in the canned tomatoes,) which ever you are going to use.  Put lid on pan and when the water comes to a boil turn the heat down to medium heat and cook for at least thirty minutes or so just watch for the winter squash and parsnips to be really tender and the juices to boil down some.

When the winter squash and parsnips are real tender, and juices have boiled down some take off heat and let cool down some.  I do this in batches; I ladle the cooked veggies into my blender and only fill about half way and I am very careful when blending hot foods in the blender, I stop and release the cap a few times to release some of the heat so it does not blow up.  I blend to a puree consistency making sure I use all of the fluids in pan too.  It is okay if you have small pieces left in the blended sauce.

Once you have blended all of the cooked veggies and fluids put them back in pan add another quart of stewed tomatoes, if you do not have them a large can of stewed tomatoes can be added instead.  Add tomato powder now if you are using, you can add more tomato paste if you like to have more tomato taste if not using the tomato powder.   Add the tomato paste, sliced garlic cloves, sea salt and pepper to taste, the basil, parsley, oregano and bay leaf.   Return lid to pan and put on medium heat, when it starts to boil a little turn heat down to low and cook for about an hour or so with lid on.  Be sure to check on it often and do stir it once in a while, you do not want to scorch or burn this sauce.  All the work would be ruined.  The garlic will be real tender when it is done.

I cool it down and put in quart size bowls, except what I will be using with the meatballs today.  I place bowls in freezer and when frozen I then vacuum in FoodSaver bags and return to freezer.  It makes them very handy and I do not have to worry about freezer burn and such.  It is as fresh as the day I made it when I go to use any of it weeks later.

I have been eating this sauce for years, company always wants to know what brand it is and I tell them it’s ‘Mom’s Sauce.’  They always want the recipe, and are shocked at how easy it is to make.  I too tell them, it is 100% all veggie sauce with no additives and no sugar added.  I use ‘Mom’s Sauce’ for everything….

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