Cheesy Meatballs

Cheesy Meatballs

While there are a lot of great things about finding the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, there’s also a lot to consider when it comes to making that decision to take the plunge and go all in.

For example, what if your opinions differ on work-life balance? Do you both want kids? If so, how many? What about religion? And on the lighter (but I think just as important) side, are they neat or messy? Do they like the same movies and TV shows as you? When do they like to take their showers?

Relationships are about taking into account all these different preferences and quirks and creating a home life that is not just a compromise, but a well-oiled machine where both parties feel as though their needs and wants are being appreciated and valued. It is not easy. I am by no means an expert. But the fun of making a new life with your partner can often come through the discovery process about what works and what doesn’t. And of course, making time for the both of you to just enjoy being around each other is absolutely fundamental to any relationship.

One of my absolute favorite things to do with my fiance is going out date night at a restaurant. I don’t care if we just go to the bar down the street, or a 5-star steakhouse, or the taqueria downtown- I just LOVE going on dates (and not having to do the dishes…). We both have a wedding to think about so we are trying to save our pennies where we can, but there are nights where I just don’t feel like cooking- and all I want is a slice of pizza. Or a fish taco. Or chicken fingers. Or sushi. Or… ya get the idea.

We had an excellent date night last week (if I may say so myself) at a new Italian joint that opened a few blocks away from us in downtown Jersey City called Roman Nose. They are a cute little spot with outdoor seating and some of the BEST meatballs, pizza and pasta I’ve had in a while. We were able to get some info out of our waiter regarding the ingredients of their famous meatballs, which included a blend of ground beef, pork and veal, as well as the use of cheeeeeeese inside the balls! Similar to my favorite burger recipe, what’s not to love about including your favorite toppings inside the whole shebang to begin with?

Who said date nights couldn’t also be educational? ๐Ÿ™‚

Cheesy Meatballs

So here’s my attempt at a little re-creation of these awesome balls… I loved using a combo of the ground beef and pork, and the cheese really brought the oomph flavorwise. I served these along side cavatappi pasta and my absolute favorite recipe for tomato sauce. Check out the recipe below!

Cheesy Meatballs
 
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A combination of parmesan and mozzarella cheeses transform these meatballs into a delicious treat alongside your favorite pasta and tomato sauce. Using a mixture of ground pork and ground beef really makes these something special for a flavorful classic dinner.
Author:
Serves: 2

Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground meat (I used half ground beef and half ground pork)
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350ยฐF.
  2. In a bowl, combine all ingredients except the olive oil, and mash together by hand or with a spoon. Form 6-8 2″-diameter balls and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Gently place the meatballs in the skillet and cook until brown and crispy, making sure to flip the meatballs every 4-5 minutes to get all sides brown.
  4. Transfer the meatballs to an ovenproof baking dish and bake for another 5-10 minutes to make sure they are cooked through.
  5. Serve alongside pasta and a good tomato sauce. Enjoy!

What’s your go-to move for date night?

Cheesy Meatballs

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Happy eating ๐Ÿ™‚
mally

European Buttercream Frosting + a lesson with Chef Frederick Aquino

Cake Decorating Class by Chef Frederick Aquino at Smith & Chang

I had a really unique and exciting experience at a local antiques and home store this past weekend- a cake decorating class from the Executive Pastry Chef of the Standard Hotel, Frederick Aquino! Smith & Chang General Goods, an awesome little shop right down the block in Hamilton Park, Jersey City, held a fun and informative class all about cake, frosting, icing, piping and smoothing… just in time for a sweet Valentine’s Day treat!

Chef Aquino was a great teacher, and gave us lots of tips on how to make amazing frostings and cakes. But as you may know from my previous exploits with cake making, I make a TERRIBLE decorator. That’s why I was so excited to take this ย class, and learn the tricks of the trade from a real expert. I’d say I’ve made some improvements!

smithchang1

We learned the basics of adding icing between layers of cake (about a half cup between each layer for a 9″ cake), crumb-coating (applying a thin layer of icing to the outside of the stacked layers so the sides are smooth), and my favorite part, piping. I still have yet to learn how to get the icing in the bag without getting it all over myself, but I’m excited to keep trying ๐Ÿ™‚

aquino_cake

What do you think of my cake? HAHA, just kidding. This one was Chef Aquino’s. Mine is the little guy up at the top- my little treat for my little valentine ๐Ÿ™‚

Cake Decorating Class by Chef Frederick Aquino at Smith & Chang

Chef Aquino was generous enough to give us his recipe for European Buttercream Frosting. This is some seriously awesome stuff! If you’re hesitant about using raw egg whites, Chef Aquino says you can use pasteurized egg whites instead. However, since you are heating the egg whites over the double boiler, I don’t think there is too much to worry about. Just make sure you are using fresh eggs, and you should be a-okay.

4.3 from 3 reviews

European Buttercream Frosting
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 sticks butter, cut into pats
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Instructions
  1. Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature.
  2. Over a double boiler, heat egg whites, sugar and salt, whisking constantly until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Transfer to a stand mixer and whip on high for about five minutes until the mixture forms stiff peaks and is cooled. Turn speed to medium and slowly add in butter. Add powdered sugar and vanilla last, and beat one more time to get everything incorporated.

I attended the workshop with my future sister-in-law, Amelia. Maybe she can help decorate my wedding cake this October… What do you think, Miel???

amelia_mallory

This was such a fun event, and many thanks to both Smith and Chang and Chef Aquino for hosting!

Happy Eating ๐Ÿ™‚
mally

Caprese Risotto with Roasted Tomatoes

Caprese Risotto with Roasted Tomatoes

Last week, I hit up a local farmer’s market here in Jersey City. Well, OK. I didn’t exactly go on purpose… My original plan was to get tacos nearby and go home. OK, fine, my original original plan was to go to the gym, but who’s judging?

Anyways, I got out of the train station after leaving work, and emerged to find there was a bustling farmer’s market going on right around the plaza where the station lets you out. And yeah, there turned out to be a taco truck there (I indulged, obviously, going through some serious #tacolife right now). But there were so many other yummy things, I had to look around while waiting for my tacos to be made for me. In the 5 minutes I had to scout around, I picked up an eggplant and a nice handful of locally grown Jersey plum tomatoes.

It took me a little while to figure out what to do with the tomatoes (I ended up just frying the eggplant in a bout of weekend hunger) but I finally settled on making a twist on the classic caprese salad, this time in a creamy, decadent risotto. I roasted the tomatoes to get as much flavor from them as possible, used fresh mozzarella, and beautiful fresh basil. I have to say this came out even better than I expected- I never have used fresh mozzarella in risotto before, and it added a nice creamy and melty texture to the whole dish that made it really something special.

I think that’s the magic of a caprese salad any way you make it- it always ends up being a dish that is more than the sum of its parts. Using the best ingredients you can find will definitely improve the quality of the dish, and I’ll be surprised if you can keep yourself from having seconds! ๐Ÿ™‚

Roasted Tomatoes

Caprese Risotto with Roasted Tomatoes
 
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Serves: 4

Ingredients
For the Roasted Tomatoes:
  • 4 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise with cores and seeds removed
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • kosher salt
For the risotto:
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 shallot, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 3½-4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, warmed over low heat
  • ½ cup fresh mozzarella
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil for garnish

Instructions
  1. Make the roasted tomatoes and garlic: Preheat oven to 450ยฐ F. Arrange halved, cored tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over each tomato. Rub the garlic cloves in olive oil and place on the pan with the tomatoes. Roast for 30 minutes, rotating the pan once in between. When tomatoes have shrunk and are cooked through, remove them and the garlic cloves from the oven and allow to cool while you make the rest of the risotto.
  2. Make the risotto: In a large pan, heat 3 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic, shallot, and thyme, and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes until the shallots start to become translucent. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  3. Add the rice, and stir to coat in the oil. Season with salt, and allow the rice to “toast” for 2 minutes- this is adding a lot of flavor directly into the rice itself. Add the wine, and stir to loosen up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Allow to cook until wine is almost fully absorbed. Add ½ cup of the warmed broth and stir again. Continue to add broth, ½ cup at a time, once the previous addition is almost fully absorbed. Make sure you are stirring every few minutes or so as well.
  4. While the rice is cooking, carefully chop up your roasted tomatoes into ¼ inch pieces, and peel the roasted garlic and chop that up too.
  5. Once you feel the rice is cooked to the desired consistency (not crunchy, but somewhat creamy with a bite), add the roasted tomatoes and roasted garlic and stir. Add your mozzarella and parmesan, and stir again. The mozzarella will start to get stringy, but just keep stirring until everything is incorporated and it’s a lovely mess.
  6. Garnish with fresh basil, stir once more, and serve!

Happy Eating ๐Ÿ™‚
mally