A Sarcastic Appetite

Baked Chicken Meatballs
March 23, 2010, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well hellooooo dear reader(s)! I don’t need to tell you it’s been awhile. I haven’t been doing a lot of cooking; my life has sort of gotten in the way. But the Nutritional Ninja still needs to eat, and has been complaining quite loudly and plaintively about my continued absence from the kitchen. Last night I found myself wandering around Gristede’s, not really moved by anything and unsure of what to make. (What can I say? I’m a little out of practice.) Two aisles later, I’m staring down a package of ground chicken, and the wheels start moving. I immediately remembered this recipe, one that I had mentally bookmarked when Deb made it back in October. I could only hazily recall the list of ingredients, but I remembered two things: they required tomato paste and pancetta – both of which I knew I had. (Turns out they also require 3 slices of Italian bread, which I did not have, but I substituted panko bread crumbs, added the full 1/3 c. of milk and was delighted with the results.)

I love meatballs that don’t require my standing over a hot pan, turning them over and over until they’re evenly browned. These come together in about 15 minutes and bake in another 20 or so. Serve them with a salad and be done with it. They’re delicious – even cold, the next day for lunch. I’m amazed. I should really do this more often…

Baked Chicken Meatballs

Makes 11-12, depending on how big you make them. Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, where it was adapted from Gourmet.

3 oz. pancetta, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped (put it through the food processor to make things simpler if you want)

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp. olive oil, divided

1 large egg

1 c. panko bread crumbs

1/3 c. milk

1 lb. ground chicken

2 tbps. tomato paste

3 tbsp. flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Saute the onion, garlic, and pancetta in 1 tbsp. of the olive oil over medium heat. Add 1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper; saute until the onions are soft – about 6-7  minutes. Set aside and let cool slightly. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a small bowl, add the panko and milk and mix slightly; in another small bowl, beat the egg slightly.

In a large bowl, add the ground chicken, egg, bread crumb mixture,  and 1 tbsp. of tomato paste. Add the onion and pancetta mixture and the parsley and mix well. Shape into 12 meatballs and place on a rimmed cookie sheet. In a small bowl, mix together the other tbsp. of tomato paste and olive oil. They don’t really cohere but just run with it – and brush the mixture over the tops of the meatballs. Bake for 15-20 minutes (though mine took more like 22).

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies
March 1, 2010, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A couple of weeks ago I happened to be sauntering across 86th St. when I noticed the Street Sweets truck parked on the corner. The skies parted, angels started singing and visions of mini pumpkin whoopie pies danced in my head. (Not to mix any metaphors or anything.) The numerous mundane errands terribly important tasks I had planned fell to the wayside, and all I wanted was one of their little pumpkin whoopie pies. (It’s better than the chocolate one, definitely.) They’re the perfect size: three or four bites, depending on how dainty you’re feeling, yet not so big that you feel sort of gross about the fact that you’re not stopping to scarf it all down. Besides, they’re really delicious.

It was high time I made my own whoopie pies, I thought, though I couldn’t be bothered to go the traditional route – chocolate cakes with vanilla cream filling, if you’re taking notes. I figured I’d appease the Nutritional Ninja, who claimed he “wasn’t in to chocolate” and wanted something a little different. (He’s on another absurd diet these days: he’s also “not into gluten” and “not into processed sugar” – and not for medical reasons, simply for the hell of it – which only further complicates my forays into the kitchen. But he swore he’d eat these, so I soldiered on. Anyway.)

So here we are with another glorious concoction that manages to pass itself off as vaguely healthy since it has carrots (vitamin A!) and raisins (iron!) and walnuts (magnesium!). I don’t like walnuts in my baked goods, so you’re on your own there.

These are delicious, and not terribly complicated. The edges were ever so slightly crunchy, though when I had one three the following day, they had softened throughout. The hardest part is waiting for the damn things to cool off long enough so you can frost them. Oh, and about that frosting: I didn’t make the honey-cream cheese mixture in the original recipe, and instead swapped it out for good old cream cheese frosting. I halved the recipe, to make about 1 1/2 c. of frosting. If you have any left over (I didn’t), frost a banana (potassium!) for good measure. Now look who just got another serving of fruit! You can thank me later.

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies, or Inside Out Carrot Cake Cookies

Adapted from this Gourmet recipe. Makes about 13-16 cookies, or more, depending on how big they are.

1 1/8 c. flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 stick butter, softened

1/3 c. + 2 tbsp. light brown sugar, packed

1/3 c. + 2 tbps. granulated sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 c. coarsely grated carrots (about 2 medium ones)

2/3 cup raisins

1 scant c. walnuts, chopped (optional)

1 8 oz. package cream cheese

1/2 stick butter, softened

1 c. confectioners’ sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375° and put the racks in the upper and lower thirds. Butter two baking sheets. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Beat the butter, both sugars, the egg and the vanilla in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about two minutes.  Beat in the shredded carrots, raisins, and walnuts (if using). Add the flour mixture all at once and beat until just combined. Drop by tablespoons onto the baking sheets, several inches apart (they expand like crazy). Put the cookies in and bake for about 12 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the cookies are golden brown and springy to the touch. Cool on the sheet for a minute, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

While the cookies are baking, beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until combined. Add the vanilla; beat to combine. Then add the sugar, little by little, and beat until fluffy and combined. Transfer to a ziploc bag; cut a corner off, then pipe onto cookie bottom. Sandwich with another cookie. Scarf. Repeat.