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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Seafood “Quartet” Chowder

When it comes to seafood you usually get two kinds of people, those who love it or those who hate it. I fall into the category of those how love it. I will eat anything that comes out of the water and have never understood people that cant stand seafood. It’s so good and there are so many ways to cook it, as well as so many different dishes that can be made. Seafood has so many different flavors and tastes and things you can do with it. I just don’t get when someone condemns it all. But to each their own I guess. This past weekend I got a craving for clam chowder but while there are a few seafood places in San Antonio to get seafood there aren’t many to get a really good homemade chowder. So I set out to come up with my own recipe and in the process I just went crazy and decided it needed more seafood. This chowder has shrimp, clams, crab and crawfish and is so good that it sings in your mouth when you take a bite (get it Seafood Quartet)…

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Anyway. Here is how I did it. (Yes I did have to use some canned ingredients just because finding fresh ingredients like clams is hard to do in the land locked city of San Antonio).

Ingredients:

1/2 lb Shrimp (peeled/devained and cut in to small pieces)

1/2 lb crawfish tail meat chopped into small pieces

1 can whole clams (drained but keep the juice for cooking)

1/4 lb crab meat (not imitation)

3 medium sized white potatoes (cut into small cubes)

3 celery stalks sliced into small pieces

1 yellow onion diced into small pieces

1 bottle of clam juice (can usually be found on the canned meat aisle in your grocery store)

3 table spoons ground black pepper

2 table spoons course sea salt

2 bay leaves

4 slices thick sliced bacon (applewood smoked is preferred)

2 tablespoons of butter

1 pint of heavy cream

all purpose flour (2 or 3 tablespoons)

Cooking

In a large pot you will want to cook the bacon crisp and then remove it to a paper towel covered plate to drain off excess grease. Drain as much grease as you can from the pot without removing the little bits that come off during frying (leaving some grease is fine).

Now add the butter to the pot and let melt on medium heat. Add the Onion and celery to the pot and cook until the start to turn clear.

Now add the potatoes and pour in the clam clam juice (enough to come to the top of the potatoes). Stir in the two bay leaves and increase the heat to high and boil until the potatoes start to soften up.

Now add in all of the seafood (shrimp, clams, crawfish and crab) and reduce heat to medium. Now chop up the bacon into small pieces and stir into the pot. When the shrimp all turn pink go ahead and reduce heat to low and let it cool for a few minutes before moving to the next step.

You are now ready to add the heavy cream. Start stirring it in a little at a time until the whole pot is a nice thick milky color. Now add the salt and pepper and stir in really good and let simmer on low for a few minutes. to thicken it up a bit you will want to add a little bit of flour in at a time. Start with a couple of tablespoons and stir it in until it is completely mixed in to the chowder. Do this a couple more times until you get the desired consistency. Some people may like it thicker or thinner than others, I personally like a thick chowder. Keep in mind that it will thicken up a little as it cools too so you may not want to add a lot of flour or it could come out to thick.

Now you are ready to serve it up and enjoy. It would be great with a nice Cesar salad or garlic bread. I served mine with a crispy garlic, basil gnocchi and it was great.

Thanks for read

JMW

Brunswick Stew

Today we are going to talk about an old southern classic and family favorite of mine, Brunswick stew.  This is a nice hearty BBQ style stew that packs a lot of flavor into each bite. If you search for Brunswick stew online you are going to find many different recipes and and ways to prepare this stew and you will see that many of them are completely different in their approach to doing it. There are so many variations in fact that its hard to imagine most of them tasting how this stew should taste which is why I set out to see if I could do it justice. When I was coming up with this recipe taste was first and foremost on my mind. Brunswick stew has a unique flavor that has a hint of BBQ, a little smokiness, a little sweet taste and a great black pepper flavor. Traditionally this stew is mostly made with left over BBQ bits. If you have left over pork, brisket, chicken etc, they all get shredded up and tossed into a pot with a bunch of veggies and cooked into a stew. This is what gives this stew its unique BBQ taste. Surprisingly I did not have any left overs this time so I went in a little bit different direction but it still came out pretty amazing.

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Here is what you need.

Crock Pot

3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts

1 large sweet onion (Vidalia if you can find them) (diced)

2 Jalapenos (chopped with seeds)

1 small bag frozen Lima beans

1 small bag frozen corn

3 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes (diced)

1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons of liquid smoke

2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons of chili sauce (sriracha sauce)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

3 table spoons black pepper

1 cup sweet BBQ sauce ( I used Sweet Baby Rays)

Prep and cooking

Boil your chicken breasts in a pot of water until the are cooked through then set aside to cool a bit. Do not pour out the water as you will be using this as stock for your stew.

In your crock pot add the crushed tomatoes,onion, potatoes, jalapeno, corn and Lima beans. Now pour enough chicken stock over it to come to the top of the veggies (don’t completely cover them, this is stew not soup).

Now break apart the chicken, shredding it in to small pieces and add to the pot.

Now add everything else and stir it all together.

Place the lid on the crock pot and cook on high heat for about 5 hrs, then reduce to low and cook for another 2 hrs. If you are around you may want to give it a stir about half way through but if not its not a big deal.

I really hope that you all enjoy this stew. It is something that I grew up with and is an old southern tradition that just tastes great. Its unique flavor is something that you don’t taste every day. So scoop out a nice bowl full and grab a roll or piece of bread and enjoy a new experience. You wont be disappointed.

Thanks for Reading

JMW

A new spin on Eggplant Parmesan

I know that a lot of people cringe when they hear the word eggplant but I am hear to tell you that it can be very good. This past weekend I decided that it had been way to long since I had eaten eggplant and that I wanted to come up with a new recipe for you all to enjoy. So with that mindset I went to work brainstorming ideas and came up with one for my very own version of Eggplant Parmesan. Before you go any further I will tell you that this is not your traditional recipe for this dish, but that is after all what I do. I try and come up with new ways to look at making food so that the average person that wouldn’t normally like something like Eggplant Parmesan may actually give this a try. This is also something that long time lovers of eggplant are sure to love as well. It’s a really a good meal that I think most people will like and for you parents out there with picky kids, just go ahead and make it and don’t tell them what it is. I bet they will like it.

So here is what you need.

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Ingredients:

1 Large eggplant

1 large white onion

1 red bell pepper

Extra Virgin olive oil (about 1/4 cup)

all purpose flour (about 2 cups)

Salt/Pepper

non stick cooking spray

mozzarella cheese (3 cups)

grated parmesan cheese (2 cups)

1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce ( I used RAO’s marinara)

sliced pepperoni (about 15 slices)

2 cloves chopped garlic

1 cup Italian bread crumbs

Prep and cooking:

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It would be good to go ahead and get every thing that you need cut up and prepped before you start cooking, since there are a few steps involved in making this dish.

Start by removing the skin from the eggplant (this is optional), and then cut the eggplant into slices about a quarter inch thick and then lay them out on paper towels to soak up the excess moisture. Eggplants are a pretty wet vegetable and soaking up some of the water helps with the cooking process.

Cut the onion and red bell pepper into nice thin strips and set aside. You can also chop the garlic and add it to the onion and pepper since they are all getting cooked at the same time.

Put your flour in a bowl large enough to fit the eggplant slices and set near the stove.

Now you are ready to start cooking. Add the olive oil to a large skillet (frying pan) and heat to medium high heat. Take the eggplant and piece by piece cover in a thin layer of flour and then add to the frying pan. You want to brown the eggplant slices on both sides, adding salt and pepper during the process. Once they are browned on both sides remove to a paper towel covered plate to drain the excess oil.

When you have all of the eggplant cooked add the onion, peppers, and garlic to the pan and cook until the onions start to turn clear. Once those are done remove to a paper towel covered plate to drain excess oil.

Now you are ready to assemble this concoction and bake it. Go ahead and preheat an oven to 375/400 degrees.

In an oven safe casserole dish you will want to spray with non stick spray and then put down a thin coating of your marinara sauce. Now you will need to put down a layer of eggplant making sure that all of the sides are touching and that it covers the entire bottom of the container. If you have slices left over that is fine, you can just overlap them making a second layer. Just be sure to space them out evenly. Now using about half of the mozzarella cover the eggplant and then cover that with about half of the remaining sauce. Now lay out the onions and peppers across the top in an even layer and cover that with the rest of the mozzarella cheese and then cover it with the rest of the sauce. Now cover the top with the parmesan cheese and a thin layer of bread crumbs and then add the pepperoni in a nice even layer to the top of that.

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Now stick this in the oven uncovered and bake until the cheese is melted and the pepperoni starts to crisp up (about 20 minutes).  Once it is done, remove it and let it cool a little before serving. Then cut yourself  a nice big piece and enjoy.

Thanks for reading

James

Meaty Marinara

Today marks the one year anniversary of my blog. I want to thank everyone who has stopped by to read about my adventures and to get some recipe tips too. I hope that you all keep coming back and enjoying what you read. Thanks for Reading Everyone!!!

I thought a good recipe to put up for the one year anniversary would be my Meaty Marinara sauce.

Growing up I was never a huge fan of Italian food unless it came on a Pizza (yes I know that isn’t real Italian) or in a meatball sub, this was mostly because what I was used to eating usually came from some local pizza joint that used canned everything that always tasted the same. While my mother always made a sauce that I still love to this day and occasionally make myself it still wasn’t truly authentic Italian sauce. Don’t be mad Mom, I will always love your sauce.

As I grew older and even more so after I got married I started going to more authentic Italian restaurants and discovered more traditional Italian dishes. With this I started seeing how different ingredients that you never really thought of being in a sauce are what really makes it.  You don’t just toss a hand full of dried oregano in a pot with tomatoes and magically get sauce. There are many different ingredients and combinations to take into consideration for the flavor you want.

Over the weekend I decided to put together a more traditional marinara but of course I needed to add my own twist to it. So Here is what I came up with.

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Ingredients:

1 lb Sweet Italian Sausage

1 medium white onion diced

1 large carrot finely diced

2 Celery stalks finely diced

2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes

3 tablespoons of minced garlic

3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt

Black pepper

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

Extra Virgin Olive oil (about 1/4 cup)

Cooking

In a large sauce pan heat the olive oil on medium high heat and add the garlic. Stir the garlic around a few times and then add the onions, carrots and celery and cook until the onions and celery start to turn clear. Now add the sweet Italian sausage and cook it nice and brown making sure to break it up into small pieces as it cooks.

Once the sausage has browned reduce the heat to medium and add both cans of crushed tomatoes and stir it all together. Let that start to simmer and then add the oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes. Now stir that all together and let it simmer a few more minutes. It is now time to add in the 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, 2 teaspoons of salt and a tablespoon of black pepper. Stir that all together and reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 45 minutes stirring occasionally.

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That is really all there is to it. Its a pretty simple recipe but all of the different ingredients really meld together well to create a very tasty sauce. For all of my vegetarian friends out there (yes I do have some) It is just as good if you leave the meat out.

All that is left now is to boil your favorite pasta and cover it with a nice helping of sauce and enjoy. Maybe even heat up a slice or two of Garlic bread to top it off.  This one came out really good and has that more authentic Italian flavor that you just don’t get from a jar.

As always

Thanks for Reading

JMW

Enchiladas Two Ways

I know that you may be thinking that since I live in San Antonio why would I possibly need to make enchiladas when I can go to any of the hundreds of restaurants in town and pick them up. The answer is simple. I like to come up with new ways to do things and see if I can make something just as good or better than I can get in a restaurant.

So this go round I decided that I was going to make enchiladas but I didn’t want to do just one kind, no… I had to go and make two different kinds. I decided on chicken and chorizo for one batch and bean and cheese for the other. They both came out wonderful but I think my favorites where the bean and cheese. This surprised me since I am an avid meat eater.

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So enough about that, here is how I did them.

Ingredients

boneless skinless thin sliced chicken breast (about 1 lb)

Mexican chorizo (4 oz)

1 large white onion (sliced thin)

1 large poblano pepper (sliced thin)

1 can Rosarita fat free refried beans (or your favorite brand).

24 pack of corn tortillas

1 cake of queso fresco cheese

1 bag of shredded colby jack cheese (3 cup bag should do)

2 to 3 cans of enchilada sauce (I used Hatch brand green enchilada sauce)

Chili powder

chopped or minced garlic (2 tablespoons)

Salt

Black pepper

1 jar of your favorite salsa

Cooking

Since I made two different kinds I will lay it out one at a time.

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Chicken and Chorizo

In a large frying pan cook the chorizo. You will notice that it is pretty greasy but that is fine as you will be cooking the other ingredients in it. Once the chorizo is done stir in half of the onion and peppers and simmer until the onion starts to turn clear. (the other half of the onion and peppers is for the bean and cheese). Now remove that from the pan and cook the chicken breast slices in the pan with the chorizo grease. Make sure to cook it through about 3 minutes on each side. Now remove that to cool a little and then chop it up into small pieces. Add the chicken and the onion, pepper, chorizo mixture back to the pan and add about a 1/4 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of chili powder and stir in the garlic. Let that simmer for about 15 minutes on low heat and then set it aside.

Beans

In a medium pan saute the onions and peppers until the onions start to turn clear and add in the beans. Mix together and cook until the beans are nice and soft then remove from heat.

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Tortillas

Split the bad of tortillas into two stacks of 12, one stack for each kind. Warm up a stack by wrapping a damp paper towel around them and heat them in the microwave for about 45 seconds. This will heat them up and make them easier to work with. If you don’t heat up corn tortillas first they will start to crumble when you try and roll them up. Now that they are heated you will want to set out a baking dish and spoon out about a quarter inch of enchilada sauce into the bottom. You will also need to put a couple of big spoonfuls onto a small plate for prepping the tortillas. You need to coat both sides of the tortilla in sauce. This helps them stick together when you roll them up and keeps them easy to work with. It is messy but necessary, so don’t skip this step.

Now take the cake of queso and put it in a bowl and chop it up with a fork. You will get a consistency similar to feta cheese when it is good and chopped.

The rest is now a matter of working as an assembly line.

For the Chicken: you will want to coat a tortilla and then spoon in some of the chicken mixture and then add a few sprinkles of the colby jack cheese and roll it up and place it in the pan. Do this 12 times.

For the bean and cheese: you will want to coat a tortilla, add a spoonful of beans across the bottom and sprinkle on a decent spoon of queso and roll it up and place it in the pan. Do this 12 times.

For both: It is a good idea to place each enchilada in the pan with the rolled seem down so they do not unroll on you. After you have your pan filled you will want to cover the top with your enchilada sauce and then cover that in a nice layer of colby jack cheese.

Now place them in a preheated oven (to 350 degrees) for about 20 minutes. You will know they are done when the cheese on top has completely melted and starts to brown slightly.

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When they are done put a couple on a plate and add your favorite salsa to the top and enjoy. I know this sounds like a lot of work but it is really worth it in the end. They turned out great and you don’t actually have to make both kinds. One is more than enough, I just like to share.

Thanks for reading

JMW

Mojo Roasted Pork

Or Cuban roasted pork. Either way it is delicious.

If you have read my previous blog posts you will probably know that one of the things I miss about living in FL is the Cuban food. I showed you all a while back how to make a classic Cuban sandwich and now I will show you how to do Mojo roasted pork. This is a pretty simple recipe but takes awhile to cook. So prepare yourself. You will need to marinade it over night and then set aside about 5 to 6 hrs to cook it the next day because this is a slow roasted pork. Now don’t let the time scare you off, it is well worth it when it is done.

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Here is what you will need to make this. As a little extra I will tell you how to make a quick and easy side dish of black beans to go with it too.

Ingredients

Pork Shoulder (I used boneless) About 4 lbs give or take

Orange Juice (no pulp, about a cup)

Lime juice (1/4 cup)

Dried oregano (2 tablespoons)

Ground Black Pepper (1 tablespoon)

Ground Cumin (1 tablespoon)

Smoked Paprika (1 teaspoon)

Minced or freshly chopped garlic (1/2 cup)

1 teaspoon course ground salt

2 diced Jalapenos (for the beans)

1 medium white onion thinly sliced (for a more authentic taste use red onion, I just happen to prefer white)

1/2 cup of diced onion (for the beans)

1 can black beans ( I used Bushes black beans)

Marinade

Mix orange juice, lime juice, oregano, cumin, smoked paprika, black pepper, salt and half of the garlic together in a bowl.

Take the pork shoulder (trimmed of excess fat) and place it in a large Ziploc bag and pour the marinade in and close the bag. You may want to double bag to prevent leaking. Make sure it is mixed all around and has touched all of the pork. Place in the fridge over night.

Cooking the pork

Preheat your oven to 275 degrees

Take the marinated pork and place it in an oven safe pot with a lid that covers it entirely. You can pour in a little of the marinade with it if you like. Then discard the rest. Now add the sliced onion to the pot and put the lid on it.

Put the pork in the oven and roast it for 5 to 6 hours. About half way through you will want to turn the shoulder over in the pot and mix the onion around a little. If this is a fatty pork shoulder you will also want to drain any extra fat from the pot leaving about half an inch in the bottom. Put the lid back on and put it back in the oven for the remainder of the time.

That is it for the pork. You will know it is done when you can stick a wooden spoon or spatula in and it falls apart when you try to move it.

Now as an extra little perk here is how to make a great side to compliment this roasted pork.

Black Beans

Open 1 can of Bushes black beans and pour them in a small pot. Now add the diced onion, jalapeno and the rest of the garlic and cook on medium high heat until the onion starts to soften up. Once it is heated all the way through your beans are ready.

All that is left to do is put a nice portion of pork on a plate with a big spoonful of black beans on the side and enjoy a home cooked Cuban dinner.

Thanks for reading,

JMW