Sweet and Tart Spaghetti and Meatballs

Disclaimer: This post is brought to you in conjunction with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Back when I lived in Raleigh, I used to love to visit the Got to be NC Festival. It was like the State Fair but with more emphasis on local. Seeing all the local food vendors made my heart sing.

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Got to be NC Festival | Logo Used With Permission

Before this year’s event, I had the opportunity to speak one of the Homegrown Fare vendors, Fadia House of Floury Apron. Fadia started Floury Apron after her kids went to college. She’s always enjoyed cooking and creating new recipes and wanted to share her unique take on Eastern and Western flavors with others.

When asked if she had any advice to offer others interested in starting their own food-based company, she had this is say, “Love what you do and do it correctly.  Work hard and learn your customer’s needs and fulfill it.  Ask questions, attend seminars.”

While a few of her products are sold at Southern Season in Chapel Hill, they can also be purchased directly from her website.

Some of her products include wheat crackers (in flavors like zaatar and parmesan) and baklawa but her best selling product is her Sweet and Tart Tomato Sauces. Available in oregano, ginger, or spicy, her sauces are a great accompaniment to items like meatloaf, hot dogs, and my personal pick – spaghetti and meatballs!

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There is nothing simpler for me to fix after a long day of work than spaghetti and meatballs. Sometimes I will use jarred spaghetti sauce from the store, sometimes I will use our own tomato base that we can every year. This recipe uses store bought sauce for ease. Once the sauce is prepared, you can start to relax as everything bubbles away together. While Fadia’s Sweet and Tart Tomato Sauces are not intended as a substitute for spaghetti sauce, it is a great addition.

Sweet and Tart Spaghetti and Meatballs
(serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. spaghetti, cooked al dente in salted water
  • 2-30 oz. jars of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 1-8 oz. jar of Floury Apron’s Sweet and Tart Tomato Sauce, Oregano
  • 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1 eggs
  • 1/4 cup. panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 cup parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Place spaghetti sauce and the Sweet and Tart Tomato Sauce in a large saucepan and simmer over medium heat.
  2. In large bowl mix together beef, Italian sausage, egg, panko, garlic, salt and Parmesan.
  3. Shape into 9 large meatballs.
  4. Place meatballs in simmering sauce.
  5. When sauce returns to a simmer, cover and cook 50-60 minutes till cooked through.
  6. Serve sauce and meatballs over your spaghetti.

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Don’t forget to check out Floury Apron’s booth at the Homegrown Fare presented by Lowes Foods May 19-21 at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. The event, part of the annual Got To Be NC Festival, will feature 100 local food, wine and beer companies. Admission is $3, but you can get in free with your Lowes Foods loyalty card. Plus, you can get a free gift while supplies last by mentioning this blog at the Got To Be NC merchandise booth. More information about the Homegrown Fare and the Got To Be NC Festival is available at www.gottobencfestival.com

Also something neat to think about is that when you go and make a purchase in the Homegrown Fare tend, swing by the Got to be NC booth so you can get a selfie in the frame. Make sure to use #homegrownfare17 when you share it!

Want to see what everyone else made? Check out these Got to be NC Blogger Posts for #HomeGrownFare17

Food in Jars Mastery Challenge: Shrubs

For March’s Food in Jars Mastery Challenge, we had the option of choosing between making a jelly or making a shrub. Since making a shrub has been on my agenda for a while, I decided to go with that option. We already have quite a few jars of grapes jelly canned so it was nice to have the option to try something else.

So exactly what is a shrub? There are a couple of different beverages that go under this category – one being liquor mixed with sugar and citrus, the other being what we are going to focus on. Popular during the American Colonial area, a shrub (also known as drinking vinegar) is a combination of fruit, sugar, and vinegar left to infuse for a few days to create this wonderfully sweet/tart liquid. The resulting liquid can be added to cocktails, sparkling water (for a healthy drink that gives you the feel of soda), salad dressing, or really anything you can think of. It was developed as a way to help preserve berries and fruits at the end of season.

Food in Jars recommends a ratio of 1:1:1one part sugar, one part vinegar, and a handful of fruit – easy enough, right?

March isn’t exactly the best month around here for fresh, local fruit. It’ll be another month or so before strawberries start popping up in the fields and our fruit trees have only just began to bloom. That’s sort of a bummer to me as it feels a bit like cheating to purchase fruit from the grocery store.

I already knew that I wanted my shrub to have ginger. I love ginger (in fact, I just purchased plants a few days ago to grow my own ginger to get fresh-fresh ginger). I combed the grocery store looking for the best looking fruits before settling on a mixture of blueberries and blackberries. Robb loves both of those berries so I knew that he would enjoy eating what I didn’t use.

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In a quart mason jar, I added one cup of berries and one cup of organic cane sugar, muddling them together. Then I added 1 cup of vinegar. In any other circumstance, I would have used apple cider vinegar, but I had a bottle of homemade peach vinegar in my pantry that I had purchased from my local farmer’s market a few months ago.

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I gave everything a quick stir and grated about a 1.5 -inch piece of ginger on top. Stirring one more, I covered the jar with a lid and stuck it in the fridge.

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After two days in the fridge, I did a quick strain (to get out more of the pulp, you’ll probably want to use cheesecloth or something similar). The leftover berries went straight to the chickens! I packaged my finished shrub in a leftover Kombucha bottle.

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Eager to try it out, I poured a glass of water and added a bit of my shrub – yum! I want to pick up some sparkling water for next time, but I loved the almost kombucha-like taste of this shrub.

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Berry Crumb Pie for Pi Day [Recipe]

It’s Pi day! Get it? March 14 – 3.14? No? Hmm.

Moving on. Pie is one of my boyfriend’s favorite desserts so what better way to celebrate Pi day than to bake him a pie? Regardless of what he might say, I am not good at making pies and often wonder why his favorite dessert couldn’t be something like brownies – a dish that I can knock out of the park.

But being that I love him, this is the 3rd pie that I’ve made for 2017. The first was a lovely berry pie with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. The second was a lemon meringue pie (using fresh meyer lemons) that nearly kicked my butt.

That lemon meringue pie was a mess. My meringue fell, twice, because I got distracted when I dumped out half of my pie as I tried to readjust it in the oven (note to self: always place your pie on top of a baking sheet). I threw a hissy fit, threatened to the pie in the trash, but still continued to cook it. I never tried the pie but Robb said it was delicious.

I went simple with this pie. I have a freezer full of frozen fruit that I need to start utilizing so I decided to make him another berry pie (which I think is his favorite kind of pie) with a crumb topping. I ended up going with a mixture of red currents, strawberries, and blueberries.

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Berry Crumb Pie

  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie shell

Filling

  • 4 cups of thawed berries (drain some of the juice if necessary)
  • ¾ cup sugar (I used Florida Crystals Organic Pure Cane Sugar)
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt

Topping

  • ⅔ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoon butter, cut into 1/4″ cubes
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine your fruit with granulated sugar, flour, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Pour into pie shell.
  2. Combine brown sugar, rolled oats, all-purpose flour, cinnamon, and butter until crumbly Spread the topping evenly over the pie filling.
  3. Place on foil-lined baking sheet in lower third of oven. Bake until fruit bubbles and crust browns, approximately 1 hour. If topping begins to brown too quickly, tent with foil. Let cool.

Did you celebrate Pi day?

Food in Jars Mastery Challenge: Salt Preserving

Guys, I kicked butt on Sunday. I swiffered the walls (to get rid of cobwebs), scrubbed the toilets spotless, picked up dog poop in the backyard, swept/vacuumed/swiffered the floors, planted my tomato seeds, made the beds, did laundry AND did the dishes.

But somehow during all of that I found the time to process almost 13 total pounds of lemons I had purchased from Lemon Ladies Orchard. Based in California, Lemon Ladies Orchard offers delicious and fragrant meyer lemons which are Certified Naturally Grown.

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My first order – a 3 pound box.

Earlier in the week I made lemon bars, following it up with a lemon pie on Saturday. My big “lemon” day was on Sunday when I canned a lemon and ginger concentrate, dehydrated lemons, and made a lemon and rosemary salt for the Food In Jars mastery challenge.

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Starting the dehydration process.
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Done!
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One of 3 1/2 pint jars of a lemon and ginger concentrate.

I love canning and trying to preserve as much of my garden harvest as I can. I tend to stick to jams/soup bases/pickles but am always looking for ways to expand my skills. When I came across the year-long food preservation mastery challenge hosted  by Food in Jars earlier in the month, I knew I had to participate. The challenge focuses on a different skill each month.

Calendar of Preserving Skills

January – Marmalade

February – Salt Preserving

March – Jelly OR Shrubs

April – Quick Pickles

May – Cold Pack Preserving

June – Jam

July – Hot Pack Preserving

August – Low Temperature Pasteurization

September – Fruit Butter

October – Drying and Dehydration OR Pressure Canning

November – Fermentation

December – Fruit Pastes

Though I missed out on January, I was excited to hop right in with February’s challenge of Salt Preserving. Since I already have a jar of preserved lemons hanging out on top of the fridge that I started back in January, I decided to create a citrus salt.

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As I was making my lemon and ginger concentrate, I zested each lemon before juicing them. I spread the zest out on a pan and added coarse Kosher salt, mixing until I found the ratio I liked. I decided to make it a little heavier on the zest than on salt to reduce my overall salt intake. Using some fresh rosemary from my mom’s house, I clipped rosemary into small chunks, mixing them into the zest and salt mixture.

I’m letting it sit until dry (which if you are in a rush, you can heat it in the oven on your lowest setting until dry), stirring it around whenever I venture into the kitchen. It’ll probably take about 2-3 days for the mixture to dry before I place it in a jar.

I’m excited to use this salt mixture the next time we cook some of our Alaskan halibut. Lemon Ladies Orchard also included some fresh Bay leaves in my box and I can’t wait to use those as well.

Shrimp Po’boys and Remoulade [Recipe]

Being raised on the coast, I grew up surrounded by fresh seafood to the point where I won’t order seafood typically in a restaurant if I have my doubts on its freshness. I hate frozen seafood as it tends to taste a bit… fishy to me.

A few months ago, my grandfather went and purchased several hundred pounds of fresh shrimp at a ridiculously cheap price so all of us in the family bought a few pounds off of him. Robb and I ate a couple of pounds freshly steamed and froze a few more pounds knowing that we would need to make it a point to eat them before they ended up freezer burned.

Enter shrimp po’boys.

The finished product – yum!!

My mom started fixing shrimp po’boys a few years ago when we were just looking for something new for dinner. I absolutely fell in love with them. Our shrimp po’boys are ridiculously easy to fix – fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato, and baguette, but it is our remoulade sauce that elevates the dish.

A remoulade is a sauce that typically mayonnaise-based with the addition of herbs and other spices. Our recipe is super simple but the secret is to fix it the night before to let all the flavors blend and meld together.

Remoulade for Po’Boys

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ⅔ cup ketchup
  • 3-4 tbsp minced horseradish
  • 1 tbsp creole seasoning
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Mix together and refrigerate. Best if made the night before.

I used House Autry fish fry seasoning to bread my peeled shrimp. I filled up a pot a few inches with vegetable oil, heated it up on medium high until the surface shimmered.
The finished shrimp. I tested the hot oil with a few shrimp of breading to test that it was ready then added the shrimp – SLOWLY – and fried for a few minutes. We don’t use napkins, so we used a piece of newsprint.

On Robb’s request, we steamed about half of the shrimp using some beer and a blend of Old Bay and a spicy seasoning that we had picked up at Whole Food’s earlier. The steamed shrimp were absolutely delicious and we certainly ate our fill of them!

Steamed shrimp!
Robb enjoying our feast before I fixed our po’boys.

Duck Bombs [Recipe]

When Robb and I first started dating, one of the first things I learned about him was that he loved duck hunting. He often regaled me with tales of the duck-based goodies he created after a morning of hunting. During our first year of dating, he fixed me meals made with goose, swan, wild turkey, and deer. But no duck. I always just figured that he caught too-few ducks and that he had earned the right to enjoy them on his own. After all, he is the one getting up at 3 or 4 in the morning and sitting in a blind in the freezing cold while I’m still snuggled in bed.

We’ve been dating a little over two years now and I’ve finally been able to enjoy a few duck dishes. But nothing compared to the duck bombs (as I have dubbed them) Robb fixed a few days ago.

There is no recipe really for this. To be honest, I’m not sure if Robb even knows what he did. He cooks instinctively, which is something that impresses me. He throws this-and-that into a pot, no measurements. Sometimes the food turns out delicious, sometimes the dogs get a large dinner that night. These duck bombs were a definite win.

He used a mallard and a wood duck, breasting them out to get 4 breasts. He pounded the breasts thin and then marinated them in Allegro and garlic for 24 hours (simply because he forgot to fix them the night before). After marinating, he rolled the duck breasts up with a sliver of jalapeno, smear of cream cheese and wrapped them in bacon.

He cooked them in a grill pan in a mixture of onions, olive oil, garlic, and jalapenos for about 10 minutes (I’m guessing) or until medium rare and tender.

We served the duck breasts with asparagus (marinated in garlic and Allegro as well) that was oven roasted until tender.

Delicious! Hopefully he’ll snag a few more ducks this season and we can recreate this dish!

What’s your favorite, most mouth-watering way to serve (or be served) wild game?

Easy Baba Ghanoush [Recipe]

Did you survive hurricane/tropical storm Hermine okay?

Other than our garden looking like a hot mess and a couple of issues with our fence, we made it through relatively unscathed. But while everyone raced to the grocery store to purchase milk/bread/eggs, I went and purchased tahini, champagne, and tofu, among other things. I have a growing cache of mini eggplant in my fridge that have been begging to be used and I finally realized on Friday what I wanted to create with them.

Baba Ghanoush.

Just the word alone is fun to say. The taste however is out of this world. I’ve never had baba ghanoush before but it seemed like the perfect thing to make with the eggplant from my garden, plus a couple of garden tomatoes thrown in.

What makes my baba ghanoush a little different from most is the addition of roasted garlic. I’ve never roasted garlic before but there is something about the creamy caramelized garlic that is delicious!

Black Vernissage Tomatoes, Gretel Eggplant, Fairy Tale Eggplant
Black Vernissage Tomatoes, Gretel Eggplant, Fairy Tale Eggplant

 

The little purple ones are Fairy Tale Eggplant and are about the size of my pinky. Though I planted Hansel – none ever produced.
The little purple ones are Fairy Tale Eggplant and are about the size of my pinky. Though I planted Hansel – none ever produced.

Baba ghanoush is a Middle Eastern dish considered to be an appetizer. There are as many variations out there of baba ghanoush as there are cultures. The main ingredient in all of them seem to be eggplant, specifically eggplant that has been roasted or grilled so that the skin becomes charred and easy to remove, leaving the inner flesh soft.

At this point, the tomatoes had already been removed and smashed.
At this point, the tomatoes had already been removed and smashed.

This dish does take some time to make. But you don’t have to stand over the stove. Once I put my vegetables in to roast, I checked on them every 30 minutes or so to gauge their tenderness.

Though not a pretty dish, it is delicious and so simple. I served my baba ghanoush with cucumber slices and bagel crisps.
Though not a pretty dish, it is delicious and so simple. I served my baba ghanoush with cucumber slices and bagel crisps.

I wasn’t sure how I would like the tahini as I’m not a fan of sesame seeds, but the nutty taste of tahini (plus the texture) reminded me of an almond or other nut butter. I’m already looking for other ways to use tahini. I’ve posted my recipe below – enjoy! This will certainly be a dish that I will make again.

Easy Baba Ghanoush
total cook time: 1.5 hours| serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 medium or 14 mini eggplant
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 small bulb garlic
  • 2 tbsp. tahini
  • salt, pepper, olive oil

Directions:

  1. Let’s get started on roasting the garlic. Preheat the oven to 375*. Cut off the top of your bulb of garlic exposing all of the cloves. Drizzle in olive oil, salt, pepper and wrap in aluminum foil. Place in oven.
  2. If you are using medium size eggplant, you’ll want to slice them into chunks. If you are using mini eggplant, prick the skins several times with a fork. Add to a baking dish with your tomatoes. Toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place in oven.
  3. The tomatoes/eggplant will roast for about 45 minutes until tender. Once tender, remove from oven. The garlic will take about 1 hour to reach a mushy stage.
  4. Let the eggplant cool to the touch. Peel away the skin, scooping the soft insides into a bowl. Add tomatoes and smash together. I like a little bit of texture to my baba ghanoush which is why I decided not to use a food processor. I think that it helps prevent some of the “sliminess” that the dish can sometimes have.
  5. Add lemon juice and tahini. Combine.
  6. Squeeze the garlic bulb, releasing the cloves. I’m a huge fan of garlic so I used the whole bulb. You may want to add a couple of cloves at a time, combining and tasting until you reach a level of garlic that you enjoy.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with a touch more of tahini and lemon juice. Serve.