Chicken Meatballs Piccata

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I often have frozen chicken breasts in my freezer, as well as chopped parsley. Pretty much everything in this recipe are common staples in my kitchen, and many folks have in their kitchen. I often get bored of grilling chicken breasts or making them tenders, so I will grind the meat in my food processor and use it for ground meat recipes. You can freeze meatballs to use at a later time, and this is a super fast weeknight dinner.

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Chicken Meatballs Piccata

Makes 4-6 servings
MEATBALLS
1 pound ground chicken breast
1/4 – 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs, as needed
1 egg, beaten
Handful chopped parsley
I small onion, finely diced or grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Mix ingredients until fully incorporated, starting with 1/4 cup breadcrumbs. If mixture feels too wet, add a bit more. Shape into 1.5 – 2 inch balls. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Broil on high about 10 minutes, turning halfway through cooking for even browning. Set aside. Note – these can be done ahead of time and frozen or chilled.

PICCATA SAUCE
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 lemons, juiced, plus zest from one
1.5 cups chicken broth, warmed
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons capers, or more, as desired

SPAGHETTI
1 pound – cook to package directions.

GREENS
Greens – spinach, arugula, kale, etc – as little or as much as you want. You may also substitute additional vegetables for a more complete meal.

Mix lemon juice, zest, and broth. Heat until warm or hot, set aside. On medium heat, butter in saucepan and whisk in flour about one tablespoon at a time, until fully incorporated. Cook about 3-4 minutes, do not brown. Slowly whisk in broth mixture, a little at a time, sauce will thicken immediately. Cook 2-3 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Add capers and meatballs. Remove from heat.

For greens, heat a small amount of sauce and sauté until soft. To serve, arrange a serving of spaghetti in a bowl, top with sauce, some greens and then a few meatballs. Enjoy!

Cleaning, Reorganizing, and Taking Inventory of My Pantry

I’m not much of a video person, and this is about 7 minutes of my stream of consciousness of what I’m about to tackle. And it was all done by me on my iPhone and I don’t have editing or framing skills. Either way, being home has helped me tackle the project of cleaning and re-organizing my pantry. I found items that expired in 2017 and 2018.

After I clean my shelves, I’ll take stock of everything I have. I pledge not to replace anything major until I have exhausted what I have on hand. For example, I won’t go out and buy beans before I use all the beans I have. For snacks, I won’t buy anything new until I have exhausted a category (nuts, chips, cookies, etc).

I plan to get creative and think outside of the box with some substitutions. Reach out if you’re stuck or feeling uninspired.

Not Cooking With As Much Innovation Lately

chef's journal

The past few weeks at work have been a blur and I found that I am not doing anything particularly exciting in the kitchen, which makes me a little sad because I committed to keeping up with my writing and cooking.

Some highlights of what I have done lately:

  • Breakfast smoothies – almost every morning for protein and vitamins – usually a mix of frozen fruit, almond milk, Greek yogurt, and some sort of berry juice. I bought my Vitamix just over a year ago and use it several times a week
  • Eggrolls – I have done baked steak eggrolls and fried pork eggrolls. I am enjoying frying in my cast iron skillet. An easy and quick dipping sauce is taking store bought duck sauce and thinning it with a bit of Sriracha. It effortlessly elevates the quality and complexity of the sauce
  • Baked Potato Soup – revisiting my old recipe using my new Staub coquette

More inspiration to come soon as I am going to visit London and Paris in less than a month!

Inventory, Part 4 – Freezer and Fridge Condiments

AC_PANTRYPROJECT

Finally! I have counted all this “inventory” in my home. The last phase of counting and calculation took place this evening. I wanted to work on it earlier in the week, but since the Snowmaggeden bust kept me out of my home the day that I was best suited to do it, I got around to it tonight.

So, using the same loose formula I used for my dry goods (gifts have zero value, stuff from Whole Foods bought under retail with my discount, etc.), I calculated the freezer contents and my refrigerated condiments (i.e., perishable but long shelf life in fridge) came to about $240, so the grand total cost of all my food is $1140.

Since starting this project a little over a week ago, I have not gone grocery shopping for myself. The only exception is I stopped and bought a dessert as a hostess gift for a friend who was having me for dinner. I have gone out with friends to eat a couple of times, but otherwise, I have just been depleting my pantry. I will have to make a trip soon for some fresh produce and dairy, but I know I’m saving a lot of money being resourceful. Next phase, of course, is to figure out what I would spend on average in the past and how I am helping my current cause.

Here is what I have to work with from my freezer and refrigerator… Continue reading

Inventory, Part 3

AC_PANTRYPROJECT

Today I figured out the value of the inventory of my pantry dry goods. I putzed around google and amazon for costs, and where applicable I used about a 20% discount on things I know I got at Whole Foods with my employee discount. Hence, the rough estimate really will not be all that rough.

The area that I really averaged an estimate, however, was spices. In terms of spice inventory, I am going to say the average spice in my cabinet cost $2.50. Most of those standard sized McCormick bottles out there go for about that price, but my spices range from free stuff I scored through work, trade shows, mom’s pantry and gift baskets, to some high quality stuff I splurged on (hello, saffron and vanilla). With 51+ spices, that’s $127.50, and I think that is a very fair estimate.

Looking ahead, I plan to omit spices from the exact cost factor in my recipes, similarly to how restaurants and food service establishments do when they cost out recipes. Instead, when I cost out recipes I will use a blanket seasoning cost estimate, which will probably be pennies per recipe, maybe $.03 – $.10. Think about it, let’s say I spent $3 on a 1.25 ounce bottle of Italian seasoning. The bottle probably has about 30 teaspoons of seasoning in it, so about $.10 per teaspoon. Some recipes will use a dash, some will use tablespoons. I’m going to drive myself crazy thinking about what I spent on that, and again, the financial aspect of this project is more of an exercise on money I am saving moving forward, not what I have already spent. Plus, and I know I’m beating a dead horse here, it’s more about creativity and making use of what is on hand.

So you want to know the full value of my dry goods inventory, what is has probably cost me? $904. The average cost of each individual item (218 in total) is about $4.16. This ranges from about 15 non-spice items that were definitely free, to pricey supplements that cost about $50 (hello, Green Vibrance). $904. I think that’s fascinating. I don’t even know how many meals and dishes and snacks I will create from all this, but knowing that I usually drop $40 – $100 when I go out to a nice dinner with friends, it is beyond foolish not to cook at home when you want to save money. Plus what I have to work with will not mean meals of ramen, plain spaghetti, and PB&J.

Next up in the project – freezer and fridge inventory, figuring out my average grocery costs before now, and figuring out on average how much I have been spending on food. Oh, and of course, what I have cooked so far. Stay tuned!

In Case of PMS, Break Glass – Edible Cookie Dough

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Actually, in case of PMS, break open glass. Now sometimes we women have cravings. Tonight I was in the mood for cookie dough. Luckily, thanks to my Accidental Pantry Project, I knew I had all the ingredients, and this snack took little more effort than me running to the store for ready made dough. Plus, even though it’s not a low-cal snack, by making it myself I know exactly what is in it. And anything in a mason jar is just fun. (Thanks, Pinterest.)

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Thanks to my microwave, that I used to soften the butter and the rock hard brown sugar, this was put together in about 10 minutes. And thanks to no egg, no salmonella!

I used milk chocolate and butterscotch chips, both because I have them on hand, and because I love butterscotch chips/flavoring in many desserts. Definitely feel free to experiment with your mix-ins.

SNACKING COOKIE DOUGH
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips

  1. Using either a hand mixer or stand mixer set to low, cream together butter and sugars until smooth.
  2. Add milk, oil, vanilla extract, and salt. Mix until well incorporated.
  3. Slowly mix in flour, keep beating with the mixer until smooth. Taste and adjust any flavoring (e.g., more vanilla or salt).
  4. Fold in chips.
  5. Dough is now ready to eat. If you have the willpower, store in the container of your choice in the fridge for up to two weeks (though it is doubtful it will last that long).

Inventory, Part 2

AC_PANTRYPROJECT

Oh man…still have to figure out cost factor, but I have put together what I have one hand. Quantities are listed in a system I understand, I do not have exact weights and measurements, so it not going to necessarily be foolproof for someone who may look at my list and cross reference it to what I have on hand.

I have copied and pasted this from an excel sheet, so it can be searched and filtered in a bunch of different ways. This is just my dry goods. I still have to go through my fridge condiments (i.e., items with a long shelf life) and my freezer. Continue reading

Inventory

AC_PANTRYPROJECT

I’m not feeling well today, so I’m not moving very fast. I have gotten through about 60% of my dry goods storage and have filled five pages in my journal. I still have baking goods, spices, and condiments to go through. This is a pretty eye-opening exercise, but I think I’m drained from it!

Oh crap, I have my freezer, too.

Oh well, this is why I described it as one of the phases of the project.

INTRODUCING….The Accidental Pantry Project

AC_PANTRYPROJECT

The Accidental Pantry Project!!! This project is going to be more of a practice than a project, and it will take a few phases to really get it going. Bear with me because as I get my thoughts out, this may read a bit more stream of conscious than a regimented program.


MY FOOD ADDICTION

First things first…I have an addiction to food and food shopping. I have worked in some form of a food based business for nearly 19 years, and most recently I work for Whole Foods Market. One of my favorite things to do is to go to a store and just pore over everything in the aisles. I love seeing what is trendy, what is new, and getting inspiration for my next or future meals. I loved when business is a little slow and I can explore what was new and different. Through my obsession (and employee discount and knowledge of the best sales), I built quite the pantry. Translation – I am a borderline food hoarder. There is food in several different nooks and crannies throughout my condo. Continue reading