Meatballs ala Ikea

It’s time to make meatballs again. We always have meatballs for any holiday family meal. Once upon a time, we used to go to Ikea every few months as well. I think we loved their meatballs as much as the fabulous wares.

Due to the inaccessibility of Ikea, they released the recipe so we wouldn’t be totally miserable. Now that was a totally fabulous thing to do.

Ikea’s Swedish meatballs with cream sauce: Makes 16 – 20 meatballs

Ingredients for the meatballs:

  • 500 grams (1.1 pounds) ground beef
  • 250 grams (slightly more than ½ pound) ground pork
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic (crushed or minced)
  • 100 grams (3.5 ounces) breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tablespoons of whole milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the cream sauce:

  • Dash of oil
  • 40 grams (1.4 ounces) butter
  • 40 grams (1.4 ounces) plain flour
  • 150 ml (5 fluid ounces) vegetable stock
  • 150 ml (5 fluid ounces) beef stock
  • 150 ml (5 fluid ounces) thick double cream
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Combine beef and pork mince and mix thoroughly to break up any lumps. Add finely chopped onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, egg and mix. Add milk and season well with salt and pepper.
  2. Shape mixture into small, round balls. Place on a clean plate, cover and store in the fridge for 2 hours (to help them hold their shape while cooking).
  3. In a frying pan, heat oil on medium heat. When hot, gently add your meatballs and brown on all sides.
  4. When browned, add to an ovenproof dish and cover. Place in a hot oven, 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees Celsius, and cook for a further 30 minutes.

And for the cream sauce:

  1. Melt the butter in a frying pan. Whisk in the plain flour and continue cooking, stirring continuously for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the vegetable stock and beef stock and continue to stir. Add the thick double cream, soy sauce and Dijon mustard.
  3. Bring to a simmer and allow the sauce to thicken. Continue to stir.
  4. When ready to eat, serve with your favorite starch.

*  From the Recipe Box:

These freeze really well, not that you’ll have any left.

You’re on your own with the metric translation, but there are some great conversions on line.

and remember: Two things:   If it makes you happy, do it.  If it doesn’t, don’t. Big kiss, Lynn

Vanilla Fudge

I love vanilla fudge with or without pecans. I will actually stop at a candy shop at the coast to buy some. I don’t want chocolate, I don’t want cookies and cream, I don’t want butterscotch, I only want vanilla.

When I was young, my bro and I would be sent to bed and I would hear kitchen activity. I figured out mom was making fudge for she and dad. They did not want to share since it was their favorite as well. That’s not quite true; it was just a special tradition for the 2 of them.

18 ounces vanilla or white chocolate discs

14 can of sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup chopped pecans

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine vanilla chips with sweetened condensed milk and melt in the microwave in 15-second increments.
  2. Once vanilla is fully melted add in chopped pecans and stir until combined.
  3. Pour vanilla mixture into a parchment paper-lined 8×8 inch (20×20 cm) baking tin.
  4. Chill for 2 hours or until the fudge is firm.
  5. Cut into bite-sized pieces

This is a very firm fudge, just the way I like it.

  • From the Recipe Box…..

I buy my discs on Amazon. They are super easy to work with and melt extra creamy in the microwave.

and remember: If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission. Big kiss, Lynn

Roasted Romaine Salad

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I love salad. The first time I saw grilled romaine, I was like ‘Shut-up’ this is my jam. Obviously, the best salad ingredients are not available in December. However, you can always count on romaine being of decent quality.

I use romaine all year long. The family loves Caesar Salad. We make it whenever we get together. I love using it for a bed to put a piece of protein on.

Depending on the number of people you are feeding and how finicky they are, and the size of each romaine head, count on 1/2 to 1/4 per person. I keep the core intact until fried, and then I trim it at the end.

During the summer, I put them on the grill. Obviously it’s December here, so put them in a large frypan, and fry away.

I like them with blue cheese dressing. G does too, but he likes olive oil and balsamic reduction even more.

*  From the Recipe Box:

Give them a shot; I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

A sprinkling of black sesame seeds looks pretty cool.

and remember: Stop trying to be liked by everyone.  You don’t like everyone. Big kiss, Lynn

Cake Hack

As much as I would love to be a professional baker, it’s just not going to happen. Who has the time?! When I need to bake a cake or supply cupcakes, why wouldn’t I use a cake mix.

You know how much I love easy peasy. I went on line to discover how to improve the common cake mix. If you follow the tips on how to make box cake better that I found on the Internet, you will be sitting pretty.

Don’t worry, most of these things are already in your pantry or your fridge.  I got most of this information on line from different authors. Thanks kids.

First:

By simply mixing in one additional egg to the eggs that are already called for in the recipe, you are adding both moisture and fat to the batter.

As the mix bakes in the oven that one extra egg gives it more structure and keeps it soft, moist, and rich. 

Second:

Does your batter need some liquid? Yes, of course, it does. Does the said liquid need to be void of any flavor? Sure doesn’t. Many box recipes call for water, but I like to use things that are a bit more exciting. 

Instead of the water, try using the same amount of coffee or milk. Either will give you the moisture you need while giving you an edge on the flavor front. Coffee goes particularly well with chocolate cakes and milk works for all of them. 

If you happen to have some buttermilk in the fridge, this will work too and will give you cake oodles of moisture and lots of tang.

Third:

Most boxes call for oil to be added to the batter. While some people love that texture (and it guarantees a moist cake,) I choose to skip it and instead add in the same amount of unsalted, melted butter. 

This buttery boost will give you tons of flavor and make each bite of your cake that much more decadent and fancy. I mean what’s more decadent than butter?!

Fourth:

For the love of all that is good and holy, sift the dry ingredients. All too often, these boxes are sitting around for a while at the store or on your shelf and home and they get lumps. These lumps will not mix into the batter easily and can create dry pockets in your cake. 

To get rid of them use a fine mesh strainer or a proper flour sifter and sift your dry ingredients into your wet.

Fifth:

Another common mistake is not mixing the batter long enough once the wet and the dry ingredients are all together. Be sure you have a smooth batter with no lumps. As it bakes this will be a tender, moist cake with few crumbs.

Sixth:

I won’t lie to you, I cannot stand frosting in the tub. You have to be tongue dead to not know canned frosting was used.

  • From the Recipe Box:

I’m going to try chocolate with espresso granules next.

I’m not really a sprinkles person, so next time, so sprinkles for me.

and remember what Julia Child said: If there isn’t any cake, it’s only a meeting. Big kiss, Lynn

Chocolate and Greens Revisited

This is a revisit of one of my first blogs.

A zillion years ago, in a far off land, I met someone who was going to have a huge impact on my life.  I was 15 and he was 16 and we were dating.  Ah, young love.  His family made something called Chocolate and Green cookies.  OMG! I think they have a real name, I just don’t know what it is.

The rest is Thomas history.  I married the boy, I received the recipe as part of his dowry and we have been making them every Christmas, and only at Christmas, ever since then.  There was one exception.  My favorite niece, you know the one, had to have her appendix out, and I made her a batch of Chocolate and Greens instead of bringing her flowers.  They are her favorite, what can I say, and I love her.

This is a family affair.  We make dozens and all the Gkids and that favorite niece have helped over the years.  It’s a little tighter here at the cabin, so sometimes we will make them in 2 shifts.  We make them into sandwiches, but last year I started leaving some of them open faced so we could decorate the the tops with sprinkles.  It was a fun change.  This year one of the Gkid elves had the brilliant idea to  roll the edges in sprinkles.  Amazing!

Sift together in mixer bowl:

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

Heat: 1 ½ cups brown sugar

¾ cups butter

2 tablespoons water

12 ounces chocolate chips

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Stir to melt and blend.  I do this in the microwave; it takes about 90 seconds or so.

Beat in 2 eggs.

Add to flour mixture.  Combine until smooth.

Drop by heaping teaspoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake approximately 8 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool and frost.

Frosting

Blend:  1 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup soft butter

½ teaspoon peppermint extract

Dash salt

Beat in:       2 cups powdered sugar

¼ cup milk

Green food coloring

*  From the Recipe Box:

Most beloved cookie in our family history.

Make cookies about walnut sized.

Best buttercream frosting recipe, always the right consistency.  I use it for anything I want to frost, just change out the extract.

Four batches of frosting will cover 6 batches of sandwich cookies.  Frosting freezes well in a baggie if you do have leftovers.

For some stupid reason, we only make these at Christmas or when Hillary has her appendix out; this must stop!

Find a favorite food and make sure everyone in the family knows about it. That’s the perfect heritage.

and remember what Hunter S. Thompson said:  Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming, “Wow, what a ride!”  Big kiss, Lynn

Happy Thanksgiving

I was visiting Minnesota a few years ago and was walking along the Red River when I saw a real turkey. He looked a lot like this. I was totally gob-smacked. I know what you are thinking: I am such a maroon. I don’t get out much, but that was a real thrill.

So, with that in mind, please take a moment and plan on enjoying an excellent Thanksgiving. I know things have been interesting in our lives lately, but you deserve all the happiness you can get.

Big kiss, from Lynn and Karen’s Whimsy on-line.