Meatball Sub Casserole

Like most people, I love a good meatball sub. Little balls of yummy goodness covered in marinara and melted cheese on a warm sub roll. MMMM… It doesn’t get much better than that. Sometimes you toast them, sometimes you steam them. It really depends on which part of the county you are from. Whichever you prefer nothing beats this sandwich when you have a craving for zesty goodness. This time around we are going to back them. Yes, I said bake them, and in a casserole no less. This is a great recipe for a family that doesn’t want to go to the trouble of making a bunch of individual subs for everyone. Now you can make one big one and cut it up for everyone to enjoy.

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Here’s how you do it.

What you need

1lb lean ground beef

1lb hot Italian sausage

1 cup Italian bread crumbs

1 small white onion (half finely chopped, half sliced)

1 small bell pepper (thinly sliced)

2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)

2 eggs

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tbsp granulated garlic

1 cup grated Parmesan

2 tbsp crushed red pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

2 Pillsbury french bread tubes

8 oz fresh mozzarella  (the little balls packed in water work great)

1 24 oz jar of marinara sauce ( I used Rao’s Marinara)

Prep and cooking.

This recipe is a little involved but the results are pretty amazing.

Note. You can make the meatballs ahead of time and freeze them to use later.

Making the meatballs

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Thoroughly mix the ground beef, Italian sausage, bread crumbs, eggs, chopped onions, salt, pepper and garlic together in a large mixing bowl. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with non stick cooking spray. This will help the meatballs not stick to the baking sheet. Now roll out the meatballs into small little balls about an inch and half around. You don’t want them too big because it is harder to get them cooked through properly, but you don’t want them too small either or they dry out easily. Once you have all of the mixture rolled out into little meatballs place them in a preheated (to 35o degrees) oven and bake for 20 minutes. You want them to start getting nice and brown on top.

Garlic Onions and Peppers

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While the meatballs are baking you can prep the onions, peppers and garlic. You want to saute them using the olive oil in a medium size pan over medium high heat. Saute them until the onions start to turn translucent. Set aside.

Assembling the casserole.

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Coat a large casserole dish with non stick cooking spray. Unroll one of the tubes of french bread and line the bottom of the dish. you want to cover the entire bottom. Now start placing the meatballs in a single layer on top of the bread. You can put them as close together as you like. Its really up to you how many you want in it. Next start placing the mozzarella in between the meatballs. You want to make sure you get them nice and evenly spaced throughout the meatballs so when they melt every bite will have some. Next you want to take the onions, peppers and garlic and spread it out evenly on top of the meatballs and mozzarella. Once that is done pour out the entire jar of marinara sauce and cover everything. Now take half of the Parmesan cheese and sprinkle evenly on top. Once that is all put together it is time to add the top layer of bread, roll out the second french bread and cover the top completely. For the final touch sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese and the red pepper flakes on top and cover with aluminum foil and place it in the center of a preheated (350 degrees) oven. Bake it for 30 minutes covered then another 15 uncovered to get a nice brown on the top.

And there you have it. Make several cuts all the way through to get individual servings and enjoy.

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Thanks for reading,

JMW

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Baked can still taste good

There’s a reason that all of the best things to eat are fried and not baked. That’s because fried food tastes really really good. If someone put out a plate of baked chicken and a plate of home made fried chicken most people are going to go for the fried first. The downside is that too much fried foods can be pretty bad for you and cause serious problems as you get older. This is where moderation comes in handy. You can enjoy good fried foods every now and then but in between those meals it is good to try something a little on the healthier side of the menu. Today’s recipe comes from that healthier side of things and may even be something you can substitute for the fried goodness that we all love so. Now when I hear someone say baked chicken I usually don’t immediately respond with joy and glee but I set out to find something that may change that attitude. I took the idea from one of my mothers old recipes and expanded on it a bit to come up with a newer updated version of it. Italian Parmesan Baked Chicken. (This would also be really good on fish).

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Here is what you need to bring it together.

Ingredients

1 pack thin sliced boneless skinless chicken breast

1 container of grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 ounces)

1 box Hungry Jack potato flakes

1 pint low fat buttermilk

Granulated Garlic

Black Pepper

Kosher salt

Dried Oregano

Cooking Spray

Prep and cooking

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and then coat it with non stick spray. Rinse the chicken breasts and pat them dry. Now set out two bowls and pour the buttermilk in one. If you have never used buttermilk before keep in mind that it does have a sour smell to it but that does not mean is has gone bad. So don’t toss it out, it works great for cooking. In the other bowl you will mix up your breading: combine about 3 cups of potato flakes, 4 ounces of Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of oregano, and 1 tablespoon of granulated garlic. Make sure to mix them together well.

Now it will be easier if you set up a little assembly line. start from right to left: Raw chicken, butter milk, breading, baking pan. Dip the chicken into the buttermilk and completely cover it, then dip into the breading and make sure it is completely covered, now place it on the baking sheet. Once you have all of the chicken coated and on the baking sheet place it into a preheated 350 degree oven and cook until the top starts to get brown (about 20 minutes for thin sliced chicken breast). You don’t want too much brown on top but enough to give it a nice color.

Tip: Keep in mind when handling chicken to always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handing any other food or sampling anything else you are cooking.

This recipe turned out to be very tasty and a nice little update to something I ate as a kid. To change it up a bit you could also try a little rosemary instead of oregano.

Enjoy

Thanks for Reading

JMW

Take a Meatball and Stuff it

Inside a biscuit that is.

Coming up with new recipes can be challenging at times so taking an existing recipe or combining a couple of different ones can be the answer when you are running low on ideas.

This time around I wanted to make something quick and easy to snack on but was also in the mood for Italian which does not always go hand in hand. As many of you know a lot of traditional Italian dishes can be pretty involved and take a while to make if done from scratch. So I thought maybe stuffing meatballs inside of biscuits with a little cheese and marinara would be a good way to make a snack size Italian treat. Kind of like a mini home made hot pocket but without the burning lava part that comes out after microwaving.

This recipe can be done with frozen meatballs or you can make your own like I did but that will take a bit more time. I will include the instructions on how to make those in case you are feeling ambitious. Luckily I had some made and frozen from a previous meal.

Lets get started.

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Ingredients

1lb lean ground beef

1/2 lb Italian sausage (hot)

1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

1 egg

1/2 cup finely chopped white onion

1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper

2 tablespoons of finely chopped garlic

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon course sea salt

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1 package mozzarella string cheese

1 tube of refrigerated biscuits

1 jar of your favorite marinara or pasta sauce ( I prefer Raos Arabiata sauce)

Prep and cooking (if using frozen meatballs heat those up and skip to the next step)

Step 1: Mix everything all together in a large mixing bowl except the biscuits cheese and sauce. Using both hands roll out your meatballs in small 1″ balls. You want to make small ones that will get a little crispy on the outside and cook quickly. As you make them lay them out on a baking pan. Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees and cook the meatballs for about 20 minutes or until the are a nice golden brown on the outside.

Tip: I like to cover my pan in aluminum foil and spray with non stick spray. This makes clean up so much easier.

Step 2: After they meatballs are done set them aside to cool. Now take the string cheese and cut it into small 1/2 inch pieces. Take the biscuits and lay them out and cut each one in half. Flatten the biscuit halves and place a meatball and a piece of cheese in the center, then add a small dollop of sauce. Now fold the biscuit over and press the ends together, making a nice little doughy ball of goodness. Place the now stuffed biscuits on a baking sheet with the folder sides down.

Now put the full baking sheet in the oven and bake according to the biscuits baking directions. This should give you a nice golden biscuit on the outside and a stuffed melted bit of heaven on the inside.

Once they are done let them cool for a few minutes and get ready to enjoy a truly delicious treat.

As always I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading

JMW

Youz Guyz South Philly Cheese steaks

Great ***

Pretty Good

OK

No Thanks

It has been a while since I’ve done a review, so what better place to review than Youz Guyz in Universal City on Pat Booker Road.

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Looking back over my reviews I was surprised to see that I had not done a review for Youz Guyz yet, especially seeing as how I have been a pretty frequent customer over the last few years. When it comes to subs or sandwiches I have always loved a good Philly Cheese steak. There is just something about the combination of the grilled steak, onions, and cheese on that long hoagie roll that screams perfection when you bite into it. I have had many different varieties over the years, some good and some bad. If I can give one piece of advice that you take to heart it is that you need to go to a local shop for the best food. Those guys are the ones that put love into every bite and specialize in making a couple of things really good instead of a bunch of stuff just ok. You aren’t going to find a truly great cheese steak at one of those sub chains. Go somewhere that makes it their specialty and if you are in the San Antonio area and over on the north east side near Universal City, Youz Guyz is the place that does just that.

Youz Guyz is the real deal folks. Owners Kathy and Jimmy are from South Philly and know how these sandwiches are supposed to taste and do them right with just the right combination of cheese and onions to compliment the steak. When you bite into one of their cheese steaks it melts in your mouth. You can add mushrooms or peppers and either have provolone cheese (the right way) or add cheese whiz if you want.

Now if you aren’t in the mood for a cheese steak you can get hoagies, Italian hot sausage, hot dogs or chicken fingers too but if you try the cheese steak first you probably wont ever look at the rest of the menu. You also have your choice of a variety of sides to choose from including Onion rings, fries, pizza fries, mozzarella sticks and home made potato chips. I tend to switch between the onion rings and the fries depending on my mood.

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You can’t go wrong with any of it but I urge you to try the cheese steak first. You wont be disappointed. When you walk in look for the sign that tells you how to order your sandwich the right way and make sure you let them know if you want it “wit”. You will know what I am talking about once you get there.

Also if you are in a hurry you can do what I did this trip and get it to go. Since I live about 5 minutes away it was just a fresh and tasty as it would be if I were sitting there at the restaurant.

I can’t speak highly enough about this place. They have great food and are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. So go and give it a try. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Thanks for reading

JMW

Italian Stuffed Peppers

As promised for my second Italian recipe of the week I give you my take on stuffed peppers.  I have not had stuffed peppers of any variety in quite some time and the ones that I have had in the past I was never a huge fan of, so I set out to make them in a way that I  would enjoy them. I think the one thing I have never cared for in stuffed peppers is the rice to meat ratio, so I cut out the middle man and this recipe goes riceless (I’m not sure if that is a word but it sounded good while I was writing it). The good news is that if you have read my recipe for lasagna you will be using most of the same ingredients. It worked out nice that way.

What you need:

1 lb ground beef

1 lb Italian sausage

1 medium white onion (diced)

3 garlic cloves (diced)

1 24 oz jar of your favorite marinara sauce (I used Rao’s Arabiata sauce)

1 pack of sliced fresh mozzarella

1 6 oz container of shredded Parmesan cheese.

olive oil (3 to 4 tablespoons

Garlic powder

red pepper flakes

Italian bread crumbs

4 large bell peppers (tops cut off and seeds and membranes removed)

First you will want heat the olive oil in a pan and then saute the onions and garlic in until they start to turn clear. Then add the meat (both sausage and beef) and cook until the are brown. Drain any excess fat from the pan and then pour cooked meat and onions into a large mixing bowl. Add in about half the jar of sauce, 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs and about half the container of Parmesan cheese and stir them all together.

Now place the 4 peppers in a baking dish and fill each one to just about 1/2 an inch from the top of the pepper with the meat mixture. The other half an inch will now be filled with the sauce. Now place a slice of the fresh mozzarella on top of each pepper. With the remaining sauce fill the bottom of the baking dish.  Now sprinkle a little garlic powder and red pepper flakes on the top of the whole thing.

Place the peppers is the oven on the middle rack (preheated to 375) and bake for an hour to an hour and half or until the peppers start to get soft but will still hold together.

You will want to let them cool a little before serving. Then you can put them on a plate and spoon on a little extra sauce and enjoy. The good thing about this recipe is you can prepare it ahead of time and store it in the fridge for a couple of days before you cook it.  It is a nice take on an old classic and should satisfy even the most die hard stuffed pepper lovers out there.

Thanks for reading.

JMW

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria

Great ***

Pretty Good

OK

No Thanks

 

Let’s talk pizza this week. I know there are a lot of different places to choose from out there and that we all have our favorites whether it be the local corner pizza place or a big chain like Pizza Hut but I like to find the ones that stand out and give me something a little more different than just the standard pizza. This is why I am so glad to have discovered Grimaldi’s. Grimaldis is a New York style pizza place that not only has great food but has a nice atmosphere for dining with family and friends. Since it is a New York Style pizza place you can imagine that the interior of the restaurant yells out New York when you walk in the door. When you walk in the door the first thing you see are all of the black and white photos of the Big Apple hanging everywhere. These tie in nicely with the checkerboard style table cloths and give it that Italian restaurant feel. The other thing you will notice when you walk in is a slightly different smell in the air. This is because Grimaldi’s uses coal ovens to cook everything. These ovens get very hot and only take minutes to cook a pizza to perfection. The coal ovens give the pizza a unique flavor that you don’t get from the big chains or even from most of the local guys and because they cook so hot you also get a nice crisp crust.
For this trip I ordered a pepperoni, onion, and meatball pizza using the classic sauce. You can actually order one of three different types of sauce for the pizza (white, pesto and classic) but while I have been tempted to try the other two, the classic is so good I just cant seem to break away from it. I also ordered a caesar salad to start out because I just love a great caesar salad. I would put Grimaldi’s caesar at number two on my all time favorites list of caesar salads. I will be telling you about the number one in a later review,so stay tuned.

One thing to keep in mind when you order at Grimaldis is that everything is big. If you order a small salad you can share it with a friend. the small pizzas are also about the size of a medium at most places so order accordingly unless you like taking home left overs. The salad is made with nice crisp fresh lettuce, just the right amount of a nice mild yet tangy dressing. The best part though is croutons. These look to be made in house and are the perfect compliment to the salad.

The pizza is a nice thin crust pizza cooked with crisp outer edges and topped with strips of real mozzarella cheese. None of that processed shredded stuff here. The pepperoni is not to thick and not to thin and has a nice little spice to it but the wow factor for me is the meatballs. First of all they taste great and have that homemade flavor and texture to them. Some times the meatballs at restaurants can come out dense and hard or have an odd texture to them that screams frozen mass production. They slice them in thin slices and place them around the pizza like the pepperoni. I was surprised at how well they complemented the pizza and added to the overall flavor. For me they are a must have any time you visit Grimaldi’s. The sauce is a very nice homemade type of sauce that is just thick enough to keep everything held together. You can tell that a lot of thoughtfulness was put in to getting just the right flavor. Now when you combine all of these ingredients and slide it in to the coal oven you get one heck of a pizza that makes you want to come back again and again.

Thanks for reading,
JMW

Paesanos

Great ***

Pretty Good

OK

No Thanks

Every now and then it is nice to dress a little nicer and go out for a nice meal in a more upscale restaurant than your everyday type of place. So I traded in my standard cargo shorts and T shirt for long pants and Polo shirt, jumped in my truck and headed out 1604 toward I-10 on the North West side of San Antonio to Paesanos Italian restaurant.  Paesanos has several locations around town but this one just happens to be the closest to me. When you walk in to Paesanos the staff makes you feel at home and like you are welcomed guests. Everyone is friendly, professional and eager to serve you.  The main dining room is large with a high ceiling and the tables are a nice distance from each other and not crowded together which is a big plus for me. I hate going to a nice restaurant and feel like I am sharing a table with other guests because the tables are so close together.

Before ordering you are brought bread and spiced oil like a lot of nicer Italian restaurants do but they also go a little farther and bring you a very delicious hummus.  I am usually not a big fan of hummus but this one is a little different than most. It has a nice garlicky flavor with a very smooth texture that is a great compliment to the Italian bread.

I started out with the house salad which is different than my usual pick. I almost always start with a Caesar salad whenever I am out but the house salad came highly recommended and was a nice start to the meal, although I was a little surprised when they brought it out because it is much larger than most salads that you get at other restaurants. I would have to say that it is probably twice the size of most salads that you would get elsewhere.  The salad has fresh Romaine lettuce and is dressed with a very tasty house dressing.  It is very creamy with a hint of Italian dressing but is thicker with a slight spice to it. It is not quite Caesar and not quite Italian but lies somewhere in between with a unique flavor that I highly recommend trying.

For my main course I chose the daily special that they were running at the time which was a Southern style Red Snapper Filet Sautéed with Artichokes and mushrooms in a white wine and caper sauce sitting on a bed of pasta. This is kind of an odd choice for me too because I rarely eat fish outside of my own home.  This is not because I don’t like fish; it is actually one of my favorite things to eat. This is because I am never happy with the way anyone else besides me prepares it. I usually find most fish prepared at a restaurant bland or over drenched in lemon.  Well I can say that neither of those was true with this dish. Everything was perfectly cooked and perfectly seasoned. This was a nice size snapper filet that was lightly breaded and cooked to a golden brown but was still tender and flaky on the inside. While the fish, sauce and pasta were all great the biggest surprise on the plate was the artichoke. I have never tasted artichoke like this before. It had a buttery creamy taste to it that had a slight hint of a sour note at the same time and almost melted in your mouth when you bit into it.  Even though I loved the fish and pasta, I believe I could have eaten just a plate of artichoke covered in the white wine sauce.  It was that good.

Paesanos has a nice selection of desserts too but after the meal I had there was no way there would be room for dessert. I will have to remember that on my next trip because they have some very nice sounding treats such as New York Cheesecake, Tiramisu and Warm apple torte with caramel.

This was my first visit to Paesanos but I can say with all certainty that it will not be my last. The overall experience was great with exceptional service, incredible food and an overall nice feel to the restaurant itself. This would be the perfect place for a nice romantic dinner or even a family celebration. If you are looking for great Italian food then Paesanos is without a doubt the way to go.

Thanks for reading,

JMW