Bacon Chicken Ranch Meatballs

We’re talking this is a meatball game changer folks!  This homemade blend of ground chicken and bacon, ranch and spices make up one SERIOUSLY DELICIOUS meatball! You cannot eat just one of these! And if you tried well, that’s just cruel!

Growing up Mom only ever made meatballs when she made spaghetti. They never were made outside of that.  Maybe if she had leftovers she made meatball subs but she never set out to intentionally have meatballs be the main dish. And never, ever were they considered an appetizer.  They were kind of like the “Plus 1” on a wedding invite.  They weren’t really invited but it was assumed they’d be there. And if I’m being honest here, Mom’s meatballs weren’t exactly on the top of my favorite foods list for 2 reasons:

  1. They had GINORMOUS chunks of onions in them. No no no no NO, never never never in my world, EVER!
  2. She used the exact same recipe for her meatballs as she did for her meatloaf… and I hated her meatloaf

Now I didn’t have my first “OMG that’s what a meatball is supposed to taste like?!?!” until I was in my mid-twenties and I was on a date pre-Mr. Fantabulous.  This guy (how terrible am I that I can’t even remember his name but I can remember the food?!) took me to this little Italian restaurant in the middle of no where for dinner. The place was old school – marinara stained red and white checkered tablecloths, old wine bottles with wax dripping down the sides and a waiter that spoke very broken English.
Take your meatballs beyond the plate of pasta!

Pressure Cooker Mexican Stuffed Peppers

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HuntsHasHeart #CollectiveBias

No longer do you have to slave over a hot oven for hours to get seriously delicious stuffed peppers!  All you need is a pressure cooker and 10 minutes!  These Pressure Cooker Mexican Stuffed Peppers are easy, heart healthy and delicious!

Growing up stuffed peppers were a staple in my house.  Since we had a huge garden Mom would grow rows upon rows of peppers – green ones, never the good kind like red, orange or yellow. (I hate green ones). It’s a personal thing – to me they taste more bitter or it could simply just be my inner 7-year old acting up because I hated them then so I must hate them now.  Anyway, we’d pick our peppers (and now I’m literally citing ‘peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers’ over and over in my head.. nice – and you’re welcome for it being stuck in your head now too). Yeah.. as I was saying, we’d pick the peppers and Mom would set at the kitchen table with 3-4 large roasters set up ready to do their magic.  She would stuff pepper after pepper after pepper.  There was one point she had so many we couldn’t give them away! Now where Mom’s Stuffed Peppers and mine differ is I love adding tomatoes into mine. They add such a rich flavor to filling plus seriously, all those healthy benefits are a huge bonus for me!  Tomatoes fit into my lifestyle perfectly – I want deliciousness and healthy!

Tomatoes are heart healthy. Tomatoes are low in calories, high in fiber, and have many nutrients that are good for your overall health, including: lycopene, folate, potassium and vitamins A, B, C, and E. So what’s that all mean? Lycopene is a natural occurring chemical that gives the tomatoes their red color. It’s a powerful antioxidant that, studies have shown, can help prevent cells from being damage. Additionally it’s been shown that it can help lower cholesterol.

Grab your pressure cookers and let’s get cooking!

Tuesday’s Tip with The Kitchen Whisperer – Stewing Beef Cuts

On today’s Tuesday’s Tip with The Kitchen Whisperer I’m sharing with you the best cuts of beef to use when you want to fork-tender, fall apart beef for stews and comfort foods.

So we’re pretty much told that if you want the best result that you want to buy the most expensive thing.  I mean the more it costs the better it is, right?  Well in some cases that *may* be true though I’ve yet to find a case what that actually is true.  But then again I’m not Oprah rich <jealous> so I can’t afford the most expensive of each item.  Now when it comes to steaks the best would be Waygu due to genetics and nurturing. Annnnnnnnd you pay through the nose for it. However that’s for steaks.  But if you used that in say a beef stew or the like, yeah, not so much. That’s kind of like getting a fat stack of hundreds and a cord of wood and setting the stack of money on fire while you sat on the wood pile watching it.

Pretty senseless, huh?  Well that’s that same thought when it comes to using uber expensive cuts of beef to make stews. No for stews or long roasted meats you want the less expensive more tough cuts of beef. You want those leaner cuts of meat that if you tried to make a steak out of it you’d end up with shoe leather and be forced to gnaw on it.

Stewing meats are those lean cuts of meat with little to no fat marbling in it.  But what these cheap, lean cuts of meat have is collagen.  Collagen is the connective tissue that binds the meat together, that, when slow roasted/stewed for extended periods of time break down and lead to the most fork-tender, melt-in-your mouth bites of awesomeness. Collagen, when cooked and cooked and cooked will break down to almost a gelatin type texture.  This not-so-pretty gelatin produces such a rich body and flavor.

Expensive beef does not make a great stew!

Weekly Menu

Get out of that same ol’ recipe rut and try one of these delicious and easy recipes this week! This week I highly recommend making the Cucumber Cups with Creamy Chicken Whip plus side garden salad and Bbq Beef Short Rib Bacon Grilled Pizza!

Man it’s Sunday already?  Where in the world did my week go?  Heck, where did my Saturday go??? Last week was rouuuuuuuuuuugh work-wise.  I keep telling my boss I need cloned – I need about 10 of me to do my job.  But it’s all good, I love what I do so I can’t complain too much.  Saturday I ‘butterflied’ most of the day.  Meaning I had specific things I had to get done but I got distracted (i.e., I saw something shiny or a butterfly and it captured my attention) and did none of it.  I mean I got stuff done but nothing I had to get done.  Instead I cleaned out the shelves in my supply room and managed to fill 5 HUGE garbage bags to donated to the food bank. And then I cleaned, argued with Mr. Fantabulous about how much “stuff” I have yet the man fails to realize he has an entire 3600 sq. ft building on the property full of HIS stuff and another 2-car garage of HIS stuff.  Oh wait, the attic of HIS stuff. Yeah I have the kitchen – um, kinda makes sense and 3 shelving units downstairs.  But IIIIIIIIIIIII have too much stuff.  lol

Anyway today I’m suuuuuuuuper swamped. Since I got nothing done yesterday today I’m powering through in the kitchen.  I have beer braised country-style boneless beef ribs in the oven, just pressure cooked 4 Mexican beef stuffed peppers,  made some Salsa Beef burgers, some crispy potato cups that I’ll fill with … um.. something that’s yet to be determined. I still have to make dessert. Annnnnnnnnd apparently “we” need to go to Home Depot… again.  Grrrrrrrrrr.  Actually though I don’t mind as he can help me take all of that food to the food bank – it’s heavy.

Thankfully the weather here is cooperating.  It hasn’t really been cold and we haven’t had much snow.  I know this week it’s supposed to be in the 60’s which is just unheard of for Pittsburgh.  By now we’re having some arctic blast that pretty much brings the city to a halt. The bad thing about this weather is the plants are confused and starting to grow which means when the arctic blast hits (or wait.. what’s the new phrase?  Polar Vortex?) they will get hit hard 🙁

So what’s up with this warm Pittsburgh weather???

Tuesday’s Tip with The Kitchen Whisperer – Freezer Smoothie Packs

On today’s Tuesday’s Tip with The Kitchen Whisperer I’m sharing with you how to have make Freezer Smoothie Packs so you can just grab, blend and go!

Living in Pittsburgh you get fresh fruits and vegetables maybe 3-4 months out of the year. However what we do get are the benefits of 4 true changes in the seasons. While I wish we had more summer days and less rain/cold days I can’t complain too much as Pittsburgh itself is an incredible city. I love it here, the people, the atmosphere…just not the weather. So when we do have fresh fruits and veggies season I make sure I take full advantage of it. I buy tons of it and freeze in bulk.

Smoothies have come a long way since when I was little. Back in the 80’s the closest thing we had to a smoothie was the Orange Julius at the local mall. Now there were rumors going around saying you could also get a raw egg blended in yours. However I can’t say if that’s certain or not. God I haven’t had one of those drinks in decades. Man I loved them too! Every Friday night we ‘d go to the mall to hang out, hit up Spencers, scope out the boys and always, always, always get a large Orange Julius. Today we have moved towards our own smoothies – adding protein powder, peanut butter, spinach and kale. Yes kale.. on purpose. Yeah sorry but kale to me is over done but hey it’s all good; to each their own, right?

Now I’m posting this in the middle of winter, yeah I know. I just got done telling you that you can’t get fresh fruits and veggies now (well at least if you live where I do) but I want to you to make freezer smoothie packs. Genius, I know. LOL But don’t despair, you can still make these with fresh-flash frozen fruits.
No matter what time of the year it is, these freezer smoothie packs are perfect and easy to make!

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