Friday, March 3, 2017

43 Meatballs! (Spaghetti Night, Recipes, Cookies and my Jack)


I spent the afternoon in the kitchen yesterday. I had a pork tenderloin thawed but didn't feel like doing the usual meal of pork tenderloin with green beans. So instead, I pulled out my trusty meat grinder and decided on meatballs. One 1.5 pound tenderloin produced 43 meatballs, about the size if you put your index finger tip on the tip of your thumb, circle-wise! I LOVE the website Simply Recipes and I use a lot of Elise's recipes with a few tweaks. I use her recipe for Italian Meatballs. The only difference is that I only use pork (so I can eat them too) and I use more breadcrumbs to keep them together.



I love making my own food from scratch! The meatballs call for ricotta cheese so I did that first thing in the morning so it would have enough time to set for the recipe. I've experimented a lot with ricotta. I've found a good method:

Ricotta Cheese (makes about 1 cup)

1. Over medium heat, whisking often, heat 1 liter (4 cups) of 2% milk to 200F. (most recipes call for cream, but the way I make it, I can get away with 2%, skim doesn't work for me!)

2. Take pot off the burner and add 1/2 tsp salt (this is optional) and 1/4 cup lemon juice.

3. Stir slightly and let sit partially covered 10-15 minutes.

4. Pour through a sifter lined with cheesecloth and let it sit a few hours.

I'm keeping all of the leftover whey in old yogurt containers in the freezer for the garden. Since I used lemon juice, the whey is acidic so I have to keep that in mind when I'm using it as a fertilizer! No waste!!!


Since it was a spaghetti night, I also made a slow cooked tomato sauce. I use Elise's Basic Tomato Sauce recipe, but I add a tsp of brown sugar and a bay leaf. Also I put mine in the slow cooker for 5 hours on low with half the browned meatballs. The other half went into a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes and are now in the freezer for the next spaghetti night!


We take out the meatballs at the last minute to blend up the sauce and it's so yummy! If we don't have meatballs, I usually add some ground up and browned top sirloin to the sauce for my boyfriend.



One of our favourite cookies is Cherry Icebox Cookies. My boyfriend had a similar upbringing as I did and his childhood memories are best forgotten. But, he keeps fond memories of being at his grandmother's house. She cooked a lot for him! Every time he has a good memory of something she made, I try to make something similar. But she was the type of woman who had all of her recipes in her head, so nothing was written down. The spaghetti sauce is one of them that he says is perfectly like hers (yay!). These cookies are another one. I usually make them only around Christmas so we don't get tired of them, but since it snowed yesterday we felt it was okay to eat them again ;)


Plus I still have a bunch of containers of candied cherries that were on sale last November.

Cherry Icebox Cookies
(makes about 4 dozen thin cookies)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 large egg at room temperature (it's half because I halved this recipe years ago)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/3 all-purpose flour
2/3 cup of candied cherries

Directions:
1. Beat sugar and butter until creamy. Add egg and vanilla.
2. Mix in baking powder and salt.
3. Sift in flour.
4. At this point I put on the gloves and use my hands. I break apart the cherries and mix it all together, to form a log.
5. Place the log in wax paper, wrap and refrigerate minimum 3 hours.
6. Heat oven to 375.
7. Here is where things get hairy. We LOVE our cookies thin and very well cooked so I cut them really thin and cook them 8 minutes on one side, flip then 7 minutes on the other. If you make the recommended 2 dozen, I think it's 5 minutes per side, but don't quote me!


All six pets LOVE those cookies. If they hear the tin opening they come barreling into the kitchen. It's funny to see a cat biting down on a big cookie. We have to be careful to let them have snacks in moderation though, not only for health reasons, but we don't want them getting fat! Speaking of fat...


I wrote a little story about Charlie and Marlene, so it's Jack's turn. He's my heart, really. We got him a year and a half ago, our second dog together. Look at that bootie!!! He weighed 52 pounds when we got him. As you can see in the previous photo, he lost weight. With proper food and exercise, he's now a healthy 28 pounds, where he should be. (Why can't I be as disciplined????)


I call these two the "twins" because they're joined at the hip. Jack was left at the shelter with the excuse that nobody had time to walk him. He was 9 years old and abandoned. It broke my heart. I wanted him! :) So we adopted him and found out pretty quickly that his problems were more than just weight. He was both fear aggressive and also possessive aggressive (meaning if he had a toy/bone, he'd bite you before letting go of it). He did bite both my boyfriend and I a few times because he was so scared, his pupils would dilate, his tail went between his legs and his body got rigid. And the growling...we weren't used to it but refused to give up on him, we really felt he needed us to show him love and trust.


My boyfriend was attacked by a dog when he was younger and he actually was frustrated with himself because he didn't know how to treat Jack. I think a natural reaction to a dog biting you is both fear and you want to punish and dominate the dog so it won't happen again. But not with Jack because it made him worse. With the huskies, you just need to give Marlene a stern look and she knows she did something wrong; with Charlie we give her a quick correction with the collar and make her lie down because she's very VERY STUBBORN lol...We took a different approach to correcting Jack though. All patience and love...lots of calm "No"'s on our parts and lots of reassurance every time he took one itty bitty step forward (we often had to reassure each other too!). It was very challenging. I read a lot online about aggression in dogs and how to help. It took him about a year to "drop" the ball when we asked him. He still growls but he won't bite us. He'll drop his bone willingly now if we "trade up" with a Pupperoni. When we play with him he shows his teeth and growls, but it's not aggressive anymore. I'm so proud of us that we convinced Jack he could trust us and we love him to bits! My boyfriend gives him "kisses" now as Jack is growling and showing his teeth and when he does that Jack wags his tail and licks his face back...it's a great show of trust between them! Who knows the history of shelter pets...but now he's ours and we take amazing care of him. People give up on animals way too easily but with dedication, you build a wonderful bond, he never leaves my side. He's definitely a mamma's boy! He's happy :)


Anyway, the weather is back where it should be -17C this morning, Jack has to wear his little homemade boots or he won't go outside!


One last recipe! Kristina asked me for my Apricot Glaze recipe. This comes from the Williams Sonoma Grilling book. I took a photo of the picture in the cookbook because I have yet to make this, it's on the meal plan for March or April!

Apricot-Brandy Glaze for Pork:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup apricot jam
2 tbsp apricot brandy or brandy
1 tbsp dry mustard
Juice of 1 lemon (or 2 tbsp)

Directions:

1. Heat the apricot jam in a small saucepan over low heat.
2. Add the brandy, mustard and lemon juice.
3. Stir and set aside to let all the flavours combine.
4. Just before using, heat on medium heat, whisking constantly until it simmers. Brush or pour onto pork and reheat the pork in the oven for a few minutes to set the glaze.

This recipe also provided a spice rub for the pork, which I'm going to use so I'll include it as well:

Spice Rub for Pork:

1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried thyme
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Enjoy!! And thanks for reading! :)

10 comments:

Susan said...

Oh, kudos to you and your boyfriend for being so patient, loving and understanding with Jack! Most dogs with 'issues' have them because of circumstances beyond their control - ignorant or bad persons create them, from living rough and unprotected. Bertie had sharing issues as well, but he's all noise and fangs. Unfortunately, The Pepperoni knows no boundaries (except those that you must follow when dealing with him, LOL) and there were quite a few noisy, scary moments with those two. He now gets to enjoy his chew stick in his crate, while Bertie can take his time with his own. And my goodness, your food looks amazing! I'll be right up! :)

Nicole Thomas said...

I alwaysuse vinegar when i make ricotta . I tried lemon juice once but it tasted too lemony for my taste.
Jack is so lucky that he ended up withu guys :)

Deena said...

Wish I live closer as all your dishes and recipes look so yummy. So proud of you and your boyfriend for sticking it out with the dogs and finding a way to gain their trust. As you said, you don't know the history of a shelter dog and what they have been thru. I applaud you both for caring so much and giving them all a second chance. They are all so cute!

Deena from Texas

Are you on Instagram?

Rain said...

Hi Susan :) Thank you! Dogs ARE NOT born bad, I agree, it's the people that make them that way. I've always said that humans are too stupid to understand that animals don't understand the human language and way of life...they expect them to know what to do at any given moment and if they don't, they get punished. I grew up in such a household and vowed it would never happen with my own pets. That's a good idea, giving The Pepperoni his chewies in his crate...I used to do that with Jack but then we had to tilt the crate to get him out lol...at the beginning there was no way we'd put our hands in there! I'd love to have you for dinner :)

Rain said...

Hi Nik :) It was the opposite for me, when I used vinegar in the ricotta, it tasted to vinegary for us! In the recipe though, you can't taste the lemon too much. I'm so glad Jack is with us too...I hope he's with us for another 10 years!!! Spencer made it to 19...here's hoping :)

Rain said...

Hi Deena :) Thanks! No I'm not on Instagram, nor on Facebook...the extent of my desire to be socially online is Blogger lol...I used to have all those accounts, but kind of found them to be lonely in a way. Hundreds of "friends", but no real interactions. I WISH we could get more of those shelter dogs...we just can't afford it, plus we don't have the room! 3 dogs and 3 cats cuddled up on the bed every night is more than enough (for now!)...hmmm...maybe a king sized bed or two queens? ;)

Kristina said...

Thank you so much for the recipe. I love to stock up meatballs, which I should do soon.

Rain said...

You're welcome Kristina :)

Mama Pea said...

Good job you two did in getting Jack down to a healthy weight. You just know he's a happier dog now and will have a much better chance living to a ripe old age. People who over-feed their animals do so much damage.

Rain said...

I think if it were up to Jack he'd still be twice his weight Mama Pea lol...he's a foodie like mommy and daddy ha ha. But yes, he's so much happier now and really energetic for a 10 year old, going on 11 guess! My last dog, he was a pug, lived to 19 years and I hope Jack is with us just as long if not more! I take all three dogs on walks in the woods daily, except when the snow is too deep, I think the activity helps keep the weight down for sure.