Easy Cocktail Meatballs

Easy Cocktail Meatballs

We were having friends in for dinner and I wanted an easy appetizer that didn’t take much effort on my part.  And it doesn’t get much more effortless than Easy Cocktail Meatballs. And I like the retro feel that cocktail meatballs have.

I hadn’t made cocktail meatballs in years and I was surprised at how quickly they were devoured by the Husband and our 4 guests.  In fact at the end of the evening, not one meatball was left.

If I wasn’t in the mood for effortless, I may have made the meatballs myself, but it’s so easy to use the frozen meatballs, which are all exactly the same size. I used the bbq sauce that I had on hand, nothing special. And this time I cooked them, covered, in a 200 degree oven for 1 1/2 hour and then at 350 degrees, uncovered, for 1/2 hour. Of course using a slow cooker is also an option, but mine is quite large and I didn’t want to get it out for just one pound of meatballs.

Easy Cocktail Meatballs

16 ounces frozen meatballs

1/2 cup bbq sauce

1/2 cup grape jelly

1 tablespoon hearty red wine

1/4 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Place the meatballs in an oven-proof dish.

Mix the bbq sauce, grape jelly, wine, and chili garlic sauce in a bowl. Pour over the meatballs.

Cover the baking dish and cook the meatballs at 200 degrees for ninety minutes. Increase the temperature to 350 degrees.  Remove the cover from the dish and cook for another 30 minutes.

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It’s Opening Day of Crabbing!

Steamed Crab

Today, July 3rd!  It’s been posted around town and in the paper, but even if I hadn’t seen that, I would have known.  When I took my usual daily walk to the marina this morning, the trailers were lined up at the boat launch and all of the boats contained two or three crab pots.

We’re spoiled and particular and we like to eat our Dungeness crab fresh out of the bay. We bring it home live and cook it right away.

It’s my husband’s job to clean and cook the crab.

crabs with Rick

He cooks it outside in a large multi-purpose cooking pot that is attached to a propane tank, and he cleans it after it’s been cooked.

Boiled Dungeness Crab

Determine how much liquid will be needed to cover the crabs by 2 to 3 inches when they are immersed in the pot. Add the liquid in a ratio of 2/3 water to 1/3 beer.  Pour in enough salt that you can taste it if you take a little sip of the water. Add several bay leaves, celery chunks, and a handful of peppercorns. Bring the liquid to a boil.

Grab the crabs by the back and immerse them in the water head first. When all the crabs have been added, allow the water to come to a boil.  Once it is boiling, lower the temperature to a simmer and cook the crab for 7 to 8 minutes a pound.

When the crab is cooked, allow it to cool and then chill it.

While Husband is outside cooking the crab, I’m inside melting the drawn butter and making my very favorite aioli sauce.

mayonnaise homemade

Aioli Sauce

2 medium garlic cloves

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 egg

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

pinch of salt

Add the garlic, Dijon mustard, and egg to the food processor and pulse several times. In a thin stream, very slowly pour in the oils while the machine runs.  The sauce should thicken as the oil is added. Add lemon juice and a pinch of salt and process for 10 seconds.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I cover the table, inside or out, with butcher paper, roll up a bunch of wet clothes for the wiping of hands and chins, and we just pour the crab onto the table. Everyone cracks their own and dips it into the drawn butter or aioli sauce.

July 2011 071

I can’t wait!!!!

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Spanish Almonds

Spanish Almonds

I like to have these treats on hand to serve with a glass of wine or cocktails, so I make them about once a month. They don’t last long at my house.

In the photo you can see that I did not use whole almonds.  Sometimes I do, but I wanted to use these almonds in a salad I was making, so I wanted them to be a smaller size.

1  cup olive oil

3 cups blanched almonds

1/2 cup torn fresh sage leaves

1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not boiling, add the almonds, sage and rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the almonds begin to turn toasty brown. Drain the almonds from the hot oil and spread them on a tray covered with a layer of paper towels. Sprinkle coarse sea salt over all.  Allow to cool and then store in an airtight container.

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Orange Mayonnaise

I made this quick and easy Orange Mayonnaise last night to accompany some grilled asparagus that I was serving to family and friends. It was delightful!
And it was still great this afternoon when I topped some leftover fish with a tiny bit of Orange Mayonnaise.

I suggest combining the ingredients several hours before using so the flavors can blend.

Orange Mayonnaise

Whisk 1 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice, 1 teaspoon grated orange peel, and a pinch of cayenne.  Refrigerate for several hours before serving.


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Free Books on Kindle!

Four of my Kindle e-books are free today and tomorrow!  Feel FREE to take a look at one, or all, of the following books. And if you are so inclined…..please leave a review.

Easy French Dinner      An Easy French Dinner guides you through the preparation of a French dinner that you can easily make at home.

51S1uUvaqWL__AA160_Simply Salad Dressing contains recipes for 18 delicious salad dressings.

simplypork (2)   Simply Pork has 18 of my favorite pork recipes.

51xIJFwoZWL__SY96_SH35_    And even thought it isn’t winter right now…..Simply Winter Salads included 18 salads that use ingredients easily available in that cold-weather season.

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Copper River Salmon, Grilled Vegetables, and Grilled Romaine Salad

We had a feast on a lovely sunny Sunday in Eastern Washington.

I had everything for the vegetables and salad, but went to the local market thinking of maybe……steak, chicken breasts, or maybe a nice piece of halibut. But instead I found fresh Copper River Salmon at $12.99 a pound. I couldn’t pass it up.

Copper River Salmon with a Soy Sriracha Marinade

Fresh Copper River Salmon right off the grill.

Fresh Copper River Salmon right off the grill.

Serves 2

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1  tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon sherry

1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 pound Copper River Salmon

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 lemon, cut into wedges



Place the soy sauce, oil, mustard, honey, sherry, sriracha sauce, and lemon juice in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Seal and shake well to blend.

Pour the marinade over the salmon 2 hours before serving.

Preheat the grill to medium-high.  Cook the salmon, skin side down for 4 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish), flip it and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.

Place the fish on a warm platter. Top with 1 tablespoon butter, cut into 4 pieces. Allow the butter to melt and the fish to rest for 5 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

Grilled Vegetables for Two

Grilled Vegetables

Grilled Vegetables

Serves 2

1 zucchini

1 yellow squash

1/2 red onion

4 spears asparagus

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper

Slice the zucchini and squash lengthwise into 4 pieces. Cut the onion into 1/2 inch slices. Trim the tough ends from the bottom of the asparagus stalks. Combine the oil and the salt and pepper. Brush all of the vegetables with the oil mixture.


Grill the vegetables over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes per side, until they are slightly blackened. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Grilled Romaine Salad

Grilled Heart of Romaine with Blue Cheese Dressing

Grilled Heart of Romaine with Blue Cheese Dressing

Serves 4

3 ounces crumbled blue cheese, such as Gorgonzola

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons buttermilk

1/4 teaspoon mixed salad herbs

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

fresh ground salt and pepper to taste

2 heads romaine lettuce

cooking spray

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

To prepare the dressing, combine the blue cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, buttermilk, salad herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.  Whisk the ingredients to blend well. Cover and chill.

Remove the tougher outer leaves from the romaine heads.  Cut the heads in half lengthwise.

Preheat the grill to medium heat. Spray the lettuce on all sides with the cooking spray.

Sprinkle the cut side with salt and pepper. Spray the cut side of the tomato halves.

Place the cherry tomatoes and the lettuce cut side down on a grilling pan. Grill for 2 minutes.

Allow the lettuce and tomatoes to rest for 5 minutes and then transfer 1 lettuce piece and 6 cherry halves to each of 4 chilled salad plates. Drizzle all with 1 to 2 tablespoons blue cheese dressing and serve immediately.

Enjoy! Eat well!

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It’s Time for the Purple Chive Flowers

I love this time of year….when the garden starts to bloom.  And right now, it’s the purple chive flowers.

Purple chive flowers

Purple chive flowers

I use them in salads, toppings for deviled eggs, in bouquets, and in little bouquets to garnish cheese platters. How about you? How do you use these little garden treasures?

Since we are very careful about keeping our plants organic, we have no qualms about eating them.  They add a peppery kick to salads and eggs.

Alaska July 29 to August 4 2011 013 Alaska July 29 to August 4 2011 011 Purple flower ingredients in basket green salad with chive flowers  herb bouquet June 2011 021


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Mint and Parsley Salad


Otherwise known as Tabbouleh, this is a favorite salad in the Middle East.

I spent my first two years of university in Beirut, Lebanon, before Tabbouleh was common over here. This mint and parsley salad was just one of the things that I loved about that city, which at the time was considered the “Pearl of the Middle East”.

I believe I make great tabblouleh, but my son-in-law’s father, who was born and raised in Damascus, challenges me on that. He has declared that he can tell which middle eastern country someone is from by their tabbouleh, and of course, he considers his own Syrian rendition the best. I disagree.  I love this style of tabbouleh that I first tasted at a little café on Rue Bliss soon after my arrival.

Lebanese Tabbouleh

  • 3/4 cup fine bulghur
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped mint
  • 1 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

Submerge the parsley in a sink full of water. On removing it from the water, shake it well and then lay it on a tea towel to dry.


When it is quite dry, which sometimes takes a bit of blotting, snip off the stems with scissors.


And then chop it with a knife.  Don’t pulverize the parsley, just chop it enough that it is easy to mix with the other ingredients.


Meanwhile soak the bulghur in a cup of water. (I get my bulghur from a middle eastern store, but Red Mill is readily available.) Bulghur, made from a variety of wheat grains that have been par-boiled and dried, adds a nutty flavor to the salad.

The mint needs to be chopped to a similar size as the parsley, and the tomatoes are chopped to approximately 1/2 inch cubes.  Let the tomatoes drain on paper towels before adding them to the parsley. Dice the onions.

May 2012 040

The salad dressing is easy.  Combine the lemon juice, oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Stir the parsley, mint, onions, and tomatoes are together in a large bowl.

Squeeze the moisture from the bulghur by hand and throw it into the parsley. You’ll notice that there isn’t as much bulghar in this tabbouleh as you usually see in an American version. My mother used to say that the reason was because labor (to cut the parsley) is cheaper in Lebanon.

Pour approximately 1/2 of the dressing onto the salad and stir to mix well. Take a little taste to determine if more dressing is needed.

To serve, arrange romaine leaves on a platter. Spoon the parsley and mint salad on to the romaine leaves.


Tabbouleh is healthy and delicious! And every bite reminds me of those lazy hazy days I passed in Beirut.


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A Profusion of Pots and a Packet of Parsley

parsley pots

The profusion of pots on the gardening shelf in our garage is evidence of my lack of success with orchids, and basically most houseplants. The husband was getting a bit cranky about how much area those little pots were taking up in a limited space. So when I received a packet of Heirloom Sweet Parsley, Triple Curled as a gift, I decided to put those pots to use.

parsley in pots

I have twelve pots with parsley. And I have a plan. I’m going to let those parsley plants grow a bit and then give them to friends. My own parsley will be growing in a big pot outdoors. Parsley is a rich source of anti-oxidant nutrients so we will all benefit.

 Although it is said that the Greeks used parsley medicinally and that their warriors fed parsley to their horses, I’ve read that it was the Romans who first used parsley as a food. And apparently they used it in large quantities….to counter strong odors and discourage intoxication at banquets.

Parsley can be chewed to freshen the breath, or infused for use as a digestive tonic or a hair tonic, but I use it in the kitchen. I add it to salads, use it for the herbal blend Bouquet Garni, and add it to soups and stews towards the end of the cooking time.  The husband uses it as a garnish.

But my all time favorite use for parsley is for Tabbouleh, a mint and parsley salad very common in the Middle East.  And that, my friends, will be the next post.


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Peg’s Piroshkies

cooked pirogisMy mother got this recipe, in the early 1960’s, from an old and dear friend of hers, who was a bit trendier in the kitchen than she was. The idea of piroshkies was so foreign to her that she mispronounced the name, and as a result…. I grew up calling these meat stuffed dumpling purouskies. We loved them no matter what they were called. They were the perfect carry along food. We ate them in the car on Friday nights when we were on our way to our cabin.  They were often in the lunches we took to the mountains on the ski bus.

I’ve used them in the same way for my family. I tried to keep a stash in the freezer, so my constantly hungry boys would have something somewhat nutrious to eat after sport practices. I put frozen piroshkies in the kids’ school lunches and they would be defrosted by the time they ate lunch at school. They went up to the mountains and out on the sailboat.

Sking 2007 027 (2)

So this weekend when I had son #2 and son #3 home with 2 of our grand-daughters, I decided to have some piroshkies ready.

And because they are so easy to make….you should make some too!

Peg’s Piroshkies

  • 1 package of Rhodes dinner rolls
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons milk
Rhodes bread rolls

Rhodes Dinner Rolls make Pirogi prep easy!

Defrost the dinner rolls according to package directions.

In a skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef, onion and garlic.

Add the seasonings and stir well.

Place the ground beef in a colander to drain fat for 15 to 20 minutes.

meat ground and cooked

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using one roll at a time, flatten the roll on a lightly floured surface and roll out to about a 6-inch diameter.

bread for paruski

Spoon 1/3 cup of the ground beef mixture onto the bread and pinch the edges together to seal.

filling paruskis

Place the filled roll, seam side down, onto a greased baking sheet.

pirogis ready to bake

Continue with additional rolls until all of the meat is used.

Brush the surface of each roll with a bit of milk.

Bake the rolls for 20 to 23 minutes at 350 degrees.  The rolls should appear slightly browned.




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