Friday, April 29, 2011

Cheater Meatballs

I admit it.

I'm a cheater when it comes to food.

I don't cheat on quality but I cheat on steps. Steps like measuring exactly, exact ingredients, and definately cheating when it comes to rolling meatballs.  Oh, I do roll the occasional meatball but lately, having to get dinner made by 5 pm doesn't really give me a whole lot of prep time to roll and roll and roll some more.

I happened to have some ground veal.

You can use ground anything.  Well, not ground anything. That'd be gross.

Ground Turkey, Chicken, Beef, Pork...

Veal always makes me think of my 12th grade teacher.  I had a crush on him. He was 23.  Oh, that's not why I think of him.  His dad was a veal farmer and he told us how the calves were treated poorly to make the meat so tender.  Or maybe it wasn't his dad. Maybe it was his uncle?  Those details are a bit foggy.
But the veal story stuck.  I didn't eat it for years.  But now I do.  I can't help it.  Sorry baby cows.

Yeah. He's a facebook friend now.  Hmmm. No more crush now, no worries.  I got over him eventually. I'm happily married to my best friend (16 1/2 years and counting.)

Where were we?

Ground meat.

Treat this like you would be making meatballs.  I add an egg, seasonings like Paprika, Italian Seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and almond meal.  I don't mix carbs and proteins so I use almond meal. Go ahead and use bread crumbs if you're into that sort of thing.

Don't forget to preheat the oven to 375 degrees (F)

Mix it up thoroughly.

Mix Mix Mix

Can I just tell you how HAPPY I am that there is light and SUN at dinner time?

Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and press the mixture down evenly.

Pop it in the oven for 20ish minutes till bubbly and done.

BIG apologies.  Two simultaneous baseball games, feeding an 8 and 9 year old, making sure they had their uniforms on, water bottles and gear, and getting both of them to their game on time kinda took over.

It was good. And fast. And easy.

Cheater Meatballs
1 pound ground meat
1/3-1/2 cup bread crumbs (or almond meal)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, Paprika, Italian Seasoning, onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix ingredients in a large bowl.
Pat evenly into a greased baking dish.
Bake for 20-25 minutes till done.

Enjoy the cheating,
The Lunch Lady

Tea for Me...

The girl...okay me really wants to have a High Tea in honor of the Royal Wedding.

Royal Weddings don't happen very often and I, for one, aim to celebrate the good things in life.
There are plenty of terrible things going on in the world at the moment. Life is hard. It's harsh.  But there is also beauty so I'm celebrating it.

I have a problem. There are no other princesses in my house. Only princes. Lots of princes. And they don't like to dress up for tea. At least I don't think so.  Especially not at 6 am in the morning. So, I may have to do this one by myself.

I'm thinking scones will be on the menu. And maybe some tea sandwiches?

I think we'll talk about England today in school.  I'm fascinated by Royalty.  Maybe because I too, have a queen, being from Holland.  It seems so much more exciting that the President and First Lady.  There isn't any lineage in them. No blood line and honor passed down from generation to generation that they must uphold and maintain.

My real British Tea "Mug"

Going to brew my tea now.
Happy Wedding,
The Lunch Lady

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Toothpicks & Glue...

It's amazing what you can do with a little imagination and a rather boring Math Lesson concept: Shapes.

You can match and write the words in your Math book like everyone else OR...

You can use toothpicks and glue (or tape) them into shapes and label them!

I think that the more tactile you are with boys, the better they learn.

They need to touch and feel stuff. They are builders, hunters, and climbers. Space is important.

This project was right up my alley too.  It feeds my creative side.

L4 chose to glue them.

L3 doesn't like sticky fingers and figured out that he could tape them onto the paper much quicker.

Smart kid.

I like the way he thinks.

It was a good Spelling lesson (ahem...I kinda missed that he misspelled Pentagon. And yes, there is an "a" in diamond, it's just squished in!)

It was a good Shapes lesson.

Throw in some art and handwriting and voila! A good Math Lesson!

It's the way I like to learn.

Later that day I heard "Look, it's a Pentagon!"

I guess it stuck.
The Lunch Lady

Raw Milk...A Trip to the Farm

One of the things that I like most about moving to the Pennsylvania countryside is the access to local farms. 

Ever since we moved here 5 years ago, I had my eye on a particular organic dairy farm near my new house. I found it on this website.  (Incidentally, this farm backs up to Kate's property. You know? That Kate? Kate Plus Eight? The farm was featured in the last episode of Jon & Kate Plus Eight! It's famous!)

So, yes, I do drink real milk, not white water as I like to call it.  I'm a huge advocate of raw milk.

WARNING: I'm going to climb onto my soapbox for a brief moment.

From the Real Milk's website:

Back in the 20s, Americans could buy fresh raw whole milk, real clabber and buttermilk, luscious naturally yellow butter, fresh farm cheeses and cream in various colors and thicknesses. Today's milk is accused of causing everything from allergies to heart disease to cancer, but when Americans could buy Real Milk, these diseases were rare. In fact, a supply of high-quality dairy products was considered vital to American security and the economic well being of the nation.
What's needed today is a return to humane, non-toxic, pasture-based dairying and small-scale traditional processing.
There are many, many, many, more reasons why you should drink raw milk.  It's super safe. I know my farmer by name. We have each other's cell phone numbers. I see him tap his own milk and drink it. I've tapped it for him and driven it over to his house.

When a dairy farmer drinks his own milk, you know it has to be safe.

Raw milk has enzymes in it that aids the digestion of the milk itself. These enzymes, among many other wonderful beneficial things, are destroyed in pasteurization.  You basically lose most of the health benefits of milk when it's pasteurized. That's why I like to call it white water.

So today I'm taking you on a trip to my local dairy farm.

Imagine yourself on a bumpy gravel driveway. Open the window, smell the manure.

Oh. Don't hit the chicken crossing the driveway!

There are the cows that just got milked returning back to the pasture (NOT the barn.)

Here is the milking parlor kept meticulously clean. It's inspected often by the State.

Raw milk is legal in Pennsylvania and State has a lot to say about how it's done.

This is the milk house where I bring my bottles and tap milk out of the tank on a honor system.

Yes. It's currently $6 per gallon. It's still cheaper than buying organic milk at the store. By several dollars in fact.

Plus, I get the health benefits. And the cream! Don't get me started about the cream.

Okay. Get me started about the cream.

Depending on the time of year, I get a full pint of cream off of each 1 gallon of milk.

Cream equals whipped cream, butter, or ice cream in our house.

Each customer gets the lesson on how to change the spigot thingie and keeping it all clean and washed out.

And then you just open it up and let it fill.

And fill.

Please ignore the scary purple hand.

It doesn't get any fresher than this.

It tastes like regular milk, but better.

The milk lasts about one week in the fridge.  Once it starts to sour you can smell it.  Unlike regular milk that spoils, you can actually bake with soured milk and not die!

I've actually left the milk on the counter at room temperature for several days to culture it and make cream cheese.  All that good bacteria is put to work.

Bye Bye cows. Till next week.

It's sad that many states do not allow the sale of raw milk.  You can buy a share of a cow in those states and obtain raw milk or buy raw milk for "consumption by animals."

It's worth the effort.

This is just another way to get back to the way God intended things.  I think we are in the phase of "un-doing" so many bad practices in America.  We need to get back to our roots, to fresh, good, and local foods when we can.

Thanks for going on a trip with me!
(I'm getting off my soapbox now. I promise)
The Lunch Lady

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Herbed Cheese Spread

This is one of my boy's favorites.

I happened upon this recipe a few years ago when I was catering a holiday appetizer party for 75.  It was a last minute throw together in the food processor just in case I need it extra.  It ended up being the most requested appetizer of the evening! It's now on my menu.

Simple pantry ingredients.

Mayo, cream cheese, seasonings.

If you don't have a food processor, you could use a blender or your plain ole muscles and just stir, stir, stir!

You'll need two blocks of cream cheese.  I like to leave them out to soften but you don't have to if you have a food processor.

Half of a cup of mayo, minced onion, parsley, paprika, italian seasoning, garlic powder, a pinch of salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce (I ran out and now use Aminos), and Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan) cheese.

Put all of the ingredients into the food processor.

I eyeball everything. It's much faster. Less dishes.

Give it a whirl.

Scrape down the sides and give it another whirl till everything is mixed well.

It's THAT easy.

Taste test it!  Make sure it's salty enough.

If you let it sit for a bit, the onions will soften up and flavor the cream cheese to perfection.

I've put this in a freezer ziploc bag and cut off a tiny corner and piped it onto crackers, cucumbers, and carrots. You could add a bit more mayo to make it a little softer. Leave out at room temperature before piping.

You can also spread it in a dish and let people scoop it out.

It's also great shaped into a cheese ball. I made it into an apple and a pear one time. Rolled and sprinkled with paprika and parsley. Very fancy. I like fancy.

Or, you could just eat it eat with a spoon.

Everyone likes it. It's that good.

Herbed Cheese Spread
2 blocks of cream cheese
1/2 cup mayo
1/3 cup Pecorino Romano
2 Tablespoons dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon Paprika, garlic powder, parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon Aminos (or Worcestershire Sauce)

Combine ingredients until well blended.
Serve chilled.

So Appetizing!
The Lunch Lady