Cheesy Italian Meatballs

Cheesy Italian Meatballs

Cheesy Italian Meatballs

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Cheesy Italian Meatballs are tender flavourful beef meatballs nestled and baked in a rustic tomato sauce and topped with plenty of cheese for a delicious family-style meal. These meatballs are great over pasta, but my favourite is simply serving them with toasted bread to sop up the amazing sauce.

Let’s talk meatballs! Beef meatballs are great, but adding Italian sausage makes them fantastic. Adding ground Italian sausage adds all the wonderful flavours of the sausage like fennel, oregano and basil, plus it adds pork and a little bit of fat. The combination makes a superb meatball and the same theory applies to meat sauce.

Meatball tips: 
-Use a cookie scoop to portion meatballs so they are the same size and cook evenly.
-Use a dab of water in the palm of your hand when rolling the meatballs. The water prevents the meatballs from sticking to your hands.
-Don’t over-mix the meat.
-Brown on all sides to get the most flavour.

The sauce couldn’t be more simple. Crushed canned tomatoes married with herbs, wine and broth. But what makes it great is the gentle simmering reduction of it with the meatballs while the dish is baking. The tomatoes reduce to just the right consistency and get flavoured from the juices from the meatballs. Top it all off with a generous handful of cheese and you’ve got a great meal the whole family will love.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Cheesy Italian Meatballs
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Cheesy Italian Meatballs

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 16 ounces lean ground beef
  • 6-8 ounces mild Italian sausage
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil

Sauce

  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 20 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

Meatballs

  • Add all ingredients except olive oil to a large bowl. Mix gently with a wooden spoon or clean hands until combined well. Scoop meatballs onto a clean tray using a 2 tbsp scoop. With lightly dampened hands roll meatballs smooth.
  • Heat oil in an oven-safe skillet and add meatballs in a single layer. Cook meatballs until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes. Remove to a clean plate and set aside.

Sauce

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Add diced onion to the same skillet as the meatballs and sauté for several minutes until starting to soften. Add minced garlic and continue to cook for an additional minute.
  • Add white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any cooked bits on the bottom of the pan. Add chicken broth and simmer liquid for about 2 minutes to reduce slightly.
  • Add tomatoes, oregano, paprika, and chili flakes. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
  • Add meatballs by tucking them into the sauce. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, stir and bake for another 20 minutes.
  • Stir once more and top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese has melted, 5-10 minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped Italian parsley if desired and serve with pasta or crusty bread.

Beef and Gruyere Pinwheels

Beef and Gruyere Pinwheels

Beef and Gruyere Pinwheels

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It’s hard not to love the convenience of pre-made puff pastry. It allows you to quickly create sweet or savoury pastries with ease. Today’s Beef and Gruyere Pinwheels are a riff on the classic roast beef and horseradish dinner. Fresh dill, horseradish and deli beef pack in the flavour. It’s all nestled in crisp puff pastry with Gruyere cheese for a crisp, cheesy bite that’s hard to resist. There’s no special occasion required to enjoy these tasty pinwheels because they come together so easily using sliced deli roast beef and pre-made puff pastry dough. Nevertheless, they do make an amazing party snack that can be prepped in advance. So you don’t have to spend unnecessary time in the kitchen away from your guests.

Let’s have a look at pre-made puff pastry.  It’s generally available in pre-rolled sheets, which is super convenient or in block.  The blocks require more rolling but the benefit is that you have full control over the thickness of the pastry. Regardless of which you use it is important to thaw the pastry in the refrigerator.  The cooler pastry will roll out more evenly and the butter will retain more of its structure and layers within the dough.  It’s also more manageable to move around and manipulate.  Be sure to choose a pastry that is made with butter for best flavour.

If you love pre-made puff pastry as much as I do, here are a few more recipes to keep you baking.

Mushroom Gruyere Tart

Strawberry Rhubarb Danish

Banana Tart Tatin

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Beef & Gruyere Pinwheels

Servings 18 slices

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup creamed horseradish, well drained
  • 2` tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
  • as needed freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1 sheet pre-made puff pastry
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced roast beef

Instructions

  • Mix mayonnaise, horseradish, dill and pepper. Set aside.
  • Whisk one large egg and set aside.
  • Roll puff pastry sheet to a 12"x 12" square.
  • Spread the mayonnaise mixture evenly over the puff pastry, leaving an inch border at the back end.
  • Evenly layer the beef slices over the mayonnaise.
  • Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the beef slices.
  • Brush the back edge with egg wash.
  • Roll up evenly and tightly.
  • Wrap snuggly in plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of an hour but up to 24 hours in advance.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking tray with parchment.
  • Remove the roll from the plastic wrap and trim the ends to clean up the edge.
  • Cut into approximate 1/2" slices and arrange them on your baking tray spacing an inch apart.
  • Brush the top and sides of each roll with the egg wash.
  • Bake in pre-heated oven for 20-22 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes before moving to a serving plate. Serve warm.

Notes

-You can use 2 tsp of dried dill in place of fresh, however fresh is recommended.
-Be sure to drain the horseradish well.

Beef & Snow Pea Stir Fry

Beef & Snow Pea Stir Fry

Beef & Snow Pea Stir Fry

Beef & Snow Pea Stir Fry

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Hello everyone!!  It’s been awhile since my last blog post. At times life calls for focus elsewhere, and far away to elsewhere I went. There was a time when I would have exhausted myself to do it all, but to what end I had to ask myself. As I get older, I realize that I am a priority as much as anything and doing something for the sake of just getting it done is not the same as doing it for the joy it brings me.  Sooo, now that I have moved, dealt with the death of my mother, moved again, cleaned up a hoarder’s home, renovated my own home and assisted my father with a broken femur, I am ready to get back to me. And by me, I mean food of course LOL!

I’ve truly missed being part of the foodie community and participating in my passion.  This creative outlet and meaningful pursuit bring me a lot of joy. I’m also very excited to share that I’ve finally stepped into the world of video. It’s been great to learn and challenge myself, and I’m sure that my “being on camera” nerves will calm as it becomes my norm. You can find me on YouTube @compelledtocook and as time goes I will include videos here on the blog for some of my existing posts. My channel is very new and I still have plenty to learn and improve upon, but I hope you’ll join me in my endeavour.  Be sure to subscribe so you never miss a great recipe video. If you’ve been hanging around wondering if I’d ever post again, I thank you for your patience, and if you’re new to my blog, I welcome you.

Beef & Snow Pea Stir Fry is quick, simple and flavourful.  Thinly sliced beef gets fried quickly over high heat to keep it tender, while crisp and healthy snow peas balance the umami “ish” sauce. Let’s talk about the beef for a moment. There are several cuts that work well, and I have a couple of tricks to create tender, silky beef. My cuts of choice are tenderloin, strip loin or flank steak. Regardless of the cut you choose it is imperative that you cut it thinly across the natural grain of the meat to ensure a chewable bite.

The second trick is to add a small amount of baking soda (mixed with soy sauce) to the slices and allow to marinate. The baking soda helps to break down the meat fibres and create a silky texture. If using tenderloin, the need to marinate is less because it’s already a very tender cut of meat, however, I still do. Just marinate it for a shorter length of time, about 30-60 minutes. If using other cuts I recommend marinating for 1-2 hours. Please know that more soda does NOT mean more tender. It only adds a sharp taste to the meat, so resist the urge to do so.  Beef and Snow Pea Stir Fry is wonderful served over rice or your favourite noodle.  Enjoy!

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Beef & Snow Pea Stir Fry

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Marinating time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

Beef

  • 10 ounces beef, thinly sliced across the grain, see notes
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Stir Fry

  • 10-12 ounces snow peas
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup beef broth, cold
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • as needed canola oil
  • as needed scallions, thinly sliced
  • as needed sesame seeds

Instructions

Beef

  • Toss beef with ginger and minced garlic.
  • In a small bowl stir together soy sauce and baking soda. Pour over beef and mix well to evenly coat the beef slices (I use my hands to ensure it's mixed well). Set in the fridge to marinate for 30-120 minutes depending on cut used. (see notes)
  • While the beef is marinating whisk together beef broth and cornstarch (see notes). Stir in oyster sauce, sugar and chili flakes.

Stir Fry

  • Prep snow peas by trimming the ends and removing the side string.
  • Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat and add a generous splash of oil. When the oil is hot add the beef, separating the slices with your hands as you add it. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until just cooked through and starting to brown. Remove to a clean bowl and cover.
  • Add the 1/4 cup of water and snow peas to the wok and cook uncovered for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until most of the water has cooked off and the peas are starting to soften but are still slightly crisp (they will continue to cook in the sauce).
  • Add the sauce to the snow peas and cook for about a minute, stirring until the sauce fully thickens. Add the beef and stir to combine and warm.
  • Serve over rice or desired noodles and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.

Notes

-Several cuts of beef will work.  I enjoy tenderloin or strip loin, however, flank steak will work well too. Be sure to cut the beef into thin strips across the grain.
-If using tenderloin, marinating for 30-60 minutes is enough, it's already a tender cut.  If using strip loin or flank 1-2 hours is best.
-Cornstarch dissolves better in cool liquids, so if your broth is hot, allow it to cool first.  It will also dissolve better in the broth as opposed to the thick oyster sauce.

Grilled Lamb Chops

Grilled Lamb Chops

Grilled Lamb Chops garnished with fresh herbs and served on a wooden board.

Grilled Lamb Chops

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Moving sucks!! It’s not only an awful lot of work, it has also kept me away from food blogging for a couple of months now. Today I am getting back into the swing of things and quickly realizing that my hiatus has taken its toll. Lagging page views and technical issues are at the forefront today, but I am back and excited to share these delicious Grilled Lamb Chops with you. Don’t worry there’s a little bit of summer left to fire up the grill for this quick and easy elevated dinner.

Lamb chops, lemon, Dijon, garlic and fresh herbs on a wooden board in preparation for Grilled Lamb Chops.
Lamb chops coated with a herbed mustard paste are ready for the grill in preparation for Grilled Lamb Chops.

Lamb chops are my absolute favourite way to enjoy lamb. They’re mild tasting and get a nice char on them from their extra bit of fat. The mustard rub used on today’s Grilled Lamb Chops is a variation of my go-to favourite grilling/roasting rub. A good dose of garlic, Dijon and rosemary are perfect to compliment the lamb. Sadly, lamb is quite expensive in my area, so these delicious chops are not usually on regular rotation, but they are a fantastic option for a special dinner or entertaining occasion. Enjoy.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Grilled Lamb Chops arranged on a wooden board and garnished with fresh lemon, herbs and red pepper jelly.
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Grilled Lamb Chops

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Resting Time 3 minutes
Total Time 38 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 each rack of spring lamb
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 each juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Trim any excess fat from the rack of lamb. Cut the rack into chops by cutting evenly between each rib. A medium-size rack will yield approximately 8 chops.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the Dijon mustard, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, oregano, lemon juice and salt and pepper.
  • Arrange the lamb chops in a shallow dish and evenly coat with mustard paste. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
  • Preheat the grill to medium-high. Grill the lamb chops 6-7 minutes per side for medium-well.
  • Remove from the grill and cover with tin foil and allow to rest for 3 minutes before serving.
  • Serve with red pepper or mint jelly.

Notes

The grilling time per side may vary depending on the temperature of your grill.

Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas

Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas

Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas

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Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas are on regular rotation in my house. They’re not only quick and easy but tasty, family-approved and customizable. I like to use cheddar cheese and load mine up with fresh cilantro. But Monterey jack, spicy Mexican blend, or mozzarella cheese are also great options. Go ahead and be adventurous with the toppings too. Sour cream and salsa are always family favourites but also try diced avocado, taco sauce, pickled jalapeños, green onion…and the list goes on. But that’s what makes it fun and perfect for the whole family.

There’s a huge variety of tortillas available too. I like the flour and corn blend while my husband prefers plain flour. These are the basic options, you may want to try a multigrain, garden vegetable or sun-dried tomato tortilla. Again, there are lots of options to please everyone.

Sauteed beef, onions and green peppers in a cast iron skillet in preparation for Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas.
Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas ready to be folded in a skillet.

The black beans extend the ground beef, making these budget-friendly too. You can easily cut back on the ground beef further and sub in a few more black beans. I like just enough to give a little texture, fibre and added nutrition. I use drained and rinsed canned black beans out of convenience but you can certainly cook your own dried beans, which will reduce the cost further. Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas are a great weeknight meal for the whole family no matter how you stack them up. You’ll want them on regular rotation, enjoy!

Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas cut and stacked three high on a wooden plate, garnished with cilantro and lime.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas cut and stacked three high on a wooden plate, garnished with cilantro and lime.
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Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas

Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp canola oil plus more for tortillas
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup diced green pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tbsp taco seasoning or 35g pkg
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup canned black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1/2 cup corn niblets
  • 4 10" tortillas
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese about 8 ounces
  • as needed chopped fresh cilantro optional
  • as needed salsa optional
  • as needed sour cream optional

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a medium skillet, add beef and cook until just starting to brown, breaking up larger pieces as it cooks. Drain or dab out any excess fat.
  • Add green pepper, onion and garlic. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until vegetables start to soften and beef is fully browned and cooked through.
  • Stir in water, taco season, and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium until liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes.
  • Stir in black beans and corn and heat until warm. Adjust salt to taste.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat and drizzle in 1/2 tsp of oil. Add one tortilla and sprinkle the entire tortilla with 1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese (about 2 ounces). Spread approximately 1 cup of beef mixture evenly over half of the cheese-covered tortilla.
  • Allow to cook until the bottom of the tortilla is golden and the cheese is melted. Fold the tortilla in half and press gently to hold it together. Remove to a cutting board and cut into 3 wedges. Repeat with remaining tortillas and serve immediately with your favourite garnishes like sour cream and salsa.

Notes

-