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 the 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.

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Chicken

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Chicken

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta

with Chicken

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Weeknight cooking may seem daunting at times when trying to juggle feeding your family, appointments and activities.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, some of the best dishes are quick and simply. Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Chicken is a fantastic combination of garlic, sun-dried tomato pesto and cream.   This gloriously creamy pasta dish is a perfect family meal yet delicious enough for company. 

I enjoy boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this recipe but you can easily use boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead if that is your preference.  Shrimp is also a fantastic combination as well. Or skip the protein all together for a great meatless meal option. Using store bought sun-dried tomato pesto helps to make this recipe quick and easy.  There are plenty of brands out there to choose from and I cannot say that one is better than the other is, so find one you like and keep it at the ready.  You’ll want this gorgeous dish on repeat!!

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Chicken

Cook Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces fettuccine
  • 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs 3-4 depending on size
  • as needed salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomato pesto
  • as needed freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions in well-salted water. Drain well, reserving a cup of pasta water.
  • While the pasta is cooking, season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add chicken and cook until browned on both sides and cooked through. About 5-6 minutes per side.
  • Remove the chicken to a clean dish and cover it with aluminum foil to keep it warm.
  • To the same skillet add the minced garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes over low heat.
  • Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up the browned bits left in the pan and allow the wine to reduce slightly.
  • Add chicken broth, stir and reduce for 1-2 minutes.
  • Stir in heavy cream and reduce for 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened.
  • Add sun-dried tomato pesto and stir over low heat until combined. Remove from heat.
  • Slice cooked chicken into strips.
  • Add chicken and pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a generous splash of pasta water. Toss to combine well over low heat.
  • Serve immediately with extra Parmesan cheese if desired.

Chocolate RumChata Cake

Chocolate RumChata Cake

Chocolate RumChata Cake

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What sets this cake apart is the irresistible fluffy frosting. In all essence, it’s a whipped ganache, however, I add an extra dose of heavy cream to the ganache before it’s whipped to create extra volume. It’s creamy, extra fluffy and let’s not forget it’s punched up with RumChata cream liqueur for a blissful addition to the chocolate cake.

The cake itself is a one-bowl wonder made using hot boiling water. What the hot water does is give the leaveners a little extra push at the beginning by creating a warm environment. Most baking powders these days are double-acting, meaning they activate when in contact with moisture and again when exposed to heat. The cake rises up when baking but once removed from the oven the center will fall slightly to create a “fudgier” texture. The hot water also helps to dissolve the sugar and it brings out the chocolate flavour of the cocoa powder by hydrating it. Other reasons to use hot water include helping keep the cake moist and it creates a nice smooth crumb. This is one of my go-to cakes because of its simplicity, and I have no doubt it will be a favourite of yours as well. Enjoy!

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Chocolate RumChata Cake

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

Icing

  • 5 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 2 tbsp RumChata Cream Liqueur
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar

Cake

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup RumChata Cream Liqueur
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup boiling hot water

Instructions

Icing

  • Add chocolate chips to a medium bowl.
  • Heat 1/4 cup of the heavy cream until scalding and pour over the chocolate. Gently shake to ensure the cream covers the chocolate.
  • Allow to sit for 5-7 minutes to allow the hot cream to melt the chocolate.
  • Stir gently until smooth and glossy.
  • Add RumChata and stir to combine. Cover and chill until cold and firm.
  • Add the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream and powdered sugar to the chilled ganache.
  • Whip on low until combined and then whip on high until light and fluffy.

Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Add all ingredients except hot water to a large bowl.
  • Beat on low to combine and then increase speed and beat until smooth and paler in colour, about 3 minutes.
  • Pour in hot boiling and mix gently until combined.
  • Spray a 9" x 13" cake pan with non-stick spray.
  • Pour in batter and bake for approximately 35 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
  • The cake will settle a little in the middle as it cools. Once completely cool spread with icing and cut into desired squares.

Lemon Semifreddo

Lemon Semifreddo

Lemon Semifreddo

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Lemon Semifreddo rivals ice cream, yet requires no ice cream maker. Cool, creamy and bursting with fresh lemon flavour for a wonderful summer treat served with lightly macerated berries. It is simple to make and best of all it is made ahead of time so it’s ready when you are.

Semifreddo means “half frozen” in Italian. Semifreddo is similar to ice cream, yet it does have some differences. Semifreddo contains a little more fat and sugar than ice cream, but that’s what helps to give it an ice cream texture without the churning. It also has more air from the beaten cream, making it less dense than ice cream. It is a lovely dessert that is worthy of company but also nice to have on hand for a family treat. Enjoy!

There are a couple of things that are important when making Semifreddo. The first is to whisk the eggs constantly over a double boiler until the temperature reaches 170°F. This ensures the eggs won’t start to overcook before they reach the desired temperature. The second is to not overbeat the cream. Soft peaks are what you’re after, so they fold into the egg mixture evenly. Stiff cream is harder to incorporate without over-mixing the final product. It is really quite a simple and delicious dessert.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Lemon Semifreddo

Ingredients

  • 500 ml Whipping cream/Heavy cream
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 125 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  • Whip cream until soft peaks, cover and chill.
  • Add egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt to a sauce pot fitted to a double boiler.
  • Whisk until combined and cook, stirring constantly until thick, coats a spoon and reaches 170°F.
  • Remove from the double boiler and set in an ice bath. Beat with an electric mixer until cool, thick and pale.
  • Pour into prepared whipped cream and fold until combined well.
  • Pour into a sealable container and freeze for 8-24 hours.
  • Scoop and serve with macerated berries.