Spaghetti Burgers

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So the other day I was surfing the internet when I saw this article about spaghetti burgers. I was intrigued by the concept, but thought it was just a carb overload. Spaghetti on bread? I was skeptical.

And then I had an idea. What if the spaghetti was the bun? And what if the burger was a meatball? So of course I had to try that.

I finally was able to find some time and grab a couple friends to experiment. The article mentioned the ingredients that were in the spaghetti “patty” but it didn’t say what the proportions were. Here’s what I ended up with:

For the “buns”:
1 box spaghetti
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 6oz can tomato paste
Oregano
Sugar
Salt
Garlic powder
1 cup grated pecorino romano
2 eggs, beaten

For the “burgers”:
All the ingredients from this recipe from allrecipes.com

In a pot, heat crushed tomatoes and tomato paste with oregano, salt, sugar and garlic powder to taste. Simmer for 20 min.

While the sauce is simmering, cook spaghetti until al dente. Drain and cut into small pieces with kitchen scissors. Add around 1/2 cup of sauce (the noodles should be covered but not too wet), the pecorino cheese, and the eggs to the spaghetti. Using a small pyrex dish or a ramekin, press the spaghetti mixture to about 1 cm thickness. Place on a cookie sheet. Continue until you run out of the spaghetti mixture. Put cookie sheet in refrigerator for 10-15 min. You should be able to make around 14-16 buns (7-8 burgers).

Combine all the ingredients from the meatball recipe in a large bowl. Form 7-8 patties. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Take the spaghetti buns out of the refrigerator. Heat oil in a frying pan or cast iron pan. Fry the spaghetti buns over medium heat for 4-5 min on each side or until crispy.

Sear the meatball patties for about 1 min of each side. Remove and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-6 minutes.

Serve with extra sauce.

Overall the experiment was quite good and we had a lot of fun cooking. The spaghetti buns didn’t solidify/stay together too well so we ended up having to eat with a fork. Perhaps next time I’ll try baking them instead. Or maybe bake them in muffin pans and make meatball sliders instead. But all in all it tasted really good!

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Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs

Big news of the day month: I moved! When I first moved here a little over a year ago (I can’t believe here I’ve been here for over a year now), I was 110% sure that when my lease was up I was going to move to my own apartment closer to work on the west side (i.e. suburbs). Of course guess what ended up happening? I moved in with a friend to a two-bedroom apartment downtown that’s further from work. Funny how things change…

As always, with moving comes shopping. One of my newest acquisitions is a slow cooker. I wanted to buy a slow cooker a while back, but there were only a few months left on my lease so I decided to wait until after I moved to buy one. It was a pretty exciting moment when I finally bought it last week. My family group had a potluck tonight, which was the perfect opportunity to try it out.

I decided to try out this meatball recipe, but I have a friend who doesn’t eat beef or pork, so I switched out the beef and pork for turkey. I thought they came out ok, but the turkey gave the them a funny texture and they didn’t really hold together that well. They were almost a little too tender. I think it would have been better with beef and pork. But they were still pretty good, and the sauce had good flavor. I’m pretty excited to try out more slow cooker recipes in the near(ish) future.

I loosely followed this recipe from Dash recipes, but I made a lot of modifications.

Here’s what I did.

Ingredients
For the meatballs:
2 lb ground turkey
1/4-1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1.5 tbsp italian seasoning
1 egg, beaten
5 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

For the sauce:
3 can crushed tomatoes (15 oz)
2 cans diced tomatoes (14.5 oz each)
1 can stewed Italian tomatoes (14.5 oz)
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
4 tsp garlic powder
4 oz white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 sweet yellow onion, chopped coarsely

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients for the meatballs together.

In a frying pan with a little oil, saute the onions and mushrooms until soft. Put all the ingredients for the sauce in the slow cooker and mix. Form balls (~1″ in diameter) and mix into the sauce.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve over pasta.

Bruschetta

Today was a good day. I managed to catch up with a bunch of different friends, both with friends here in Madison and with friends from school. It was a huge blessing because lately I’d been feeling isolated even though I’d been spending a lot of time surrounded by people. To state the obvious, having quality conversations with people > spending a lot of time with people.

Something that came out of having these conversations was the somewhat painful realization of how much self image is still a struggle in my life. Whether it’s related to body image or personal self worth, it’s become pretty clear that I still have a long way to go.

Time and time again the Bible tells us who were are. We are created in His image (Genesis 1). We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139). We are children of God (1 John 4). We are friends of God (John 15). We are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5). We are sinful people, justified by grace (Romans 3). We have been set free from sin (Romans 6).

It’s also pretty evident that as Christians we are not supposed to live by the standards of this world. That we’re free from the rules of this world (Colossians 2). That our minds should not be set on earthly things, because we are not citizens of this world (Philippians 3). That we’re to seek the approval of God and not man (Galatians 1).

And yet, why is it so hard to put that into practice? Why do scales still make me uneasy? Why do the words and actions of people around me still have the ability to make me feel utterly worthless? Why do I work so hard to gain the respect and approval of my coworkers?

While I’ve definitely made progress in overcoming these issues over the past 4-5 years, I know that I am far from being “fixed”. There is still a lot of growth ahead. I am a work in progress.

Anyway, that’s been on my mind lately, today in particular. The only way that any of that is remotely related to bruschetta is that I happened to make bruschetta today. I don’t have a whole lot to say about the recipe. It was pretty good. The only complaint from a certain food critic friend is that it “tasted too healthy”. So here it is!

Ingredients
8 roma tomatoes, diced
3 tbsp minced garlic
6-8 basil leaves, chopped
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt
pepper
1-2 french baguettes (I used one, but ran out, so two would probably work better)
parmesan cheese, shredded

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, garlic, basil, 1 tbsp olive oil, and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside for 30 min – 1 hour to let the flavors soak in.

Slice the baguettes into slices ~1 cm thick. Brush lightly with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes, or until crispy.

Top each slice with a generous spoonful of the tomato mix. Be sure to drain as much of the liquid from the spoon before placing on the bread so that the bread doesn’t get too soggy.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Baked Ziti

So I’m sitting in the dark in my friend’s room in Singapore. I’ve been having some minor bouts of jetlag. The first full day I was here I passed out from 3pm-6pm. The second full day (yesterday) I actually made it through the day with only 2 cups of coffee. It seemed like I had adjusted. Of course that was a lie. I woke up this morning at 5:30am and haven’t been able to get back to sleep since.

Anyway. Let’s talk baked ziti. As I mentioned in my Boursin Mac and Cheese post, I only make recipes like that when I’m at home or for big luncheons because it’d take me weeks to finish on my own. This recipe is like that too. A friend suggested that recipes like these can be scaled down to an 8×8 pan… that definitely works. In a few weeks (probably) I’ll post a recipe for Butterfinger brownies where I did the opposite– scaled a recipe for an 8×8 pan up to a recipe for a 9×13 pan by *roughly* doubling everything. Here’s the one problem: I don’t own an 8×8 pan. I suppose this could be easily solved by buying one though.

Anyway. I got this recipe from Allrecipes and at first was a little skeptical because it called for sour cream. But it turned out to be quite good. I think the sour cream keeps it from getting dried out… or something. Also, I didn’t use jarred spaghetti sauce (I only use that if I’m really desperate for time) but I can’t for the life of me remember where I got the recipe for the sauce. Undoubtedly also from Allrecipes, but from which specific recipe, I have no clue.

Ingredients
For the sauce:
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef
29 oz canned, diced tomatoes in juice
6 oz canned tomato paste
1 tbsp chopped basil
1 tp dried oregano
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tp salt

For the rest:
1 lb box of dried ziti (I think I used penne…)
6 oz sliced provolone cheese
12 oz sour cream
6 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9×13 pan.

In a skillet, brown ground beef, onions and garlic. Once browned, drain excess oil.

Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, basil, oregano, and salt. Simmer for 30-45 minutes.

While sauce is simmering, cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain.

Combine half the pasta and half the sauce in the 9×13 pan. Add slices of provolone cheese in a single layer. Spread sour cream over provolone cheese. Add the rest of the pasta and sauce on the sour cream, and top with shredded mozzarella.

Bake, covered with aluminum foil, at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve immediately.

Chicken and Broccoli Pasta

Chicken and broccoli alfredo is something I used to like to order at Italian restaurants, mostly because a) my family is not a fan of cream-based cheesy sauces, and b) I didn’t really cook much until college, so I never made it myself until last summer. The recipe I tried back then wasn’t really all that great, so I probably won’t post it here.

Sometime last year, I randomly had some ingredients around, so I threw this together… and it was really good! One thing that I find I always change is whenever a recipe tells me to boil or bake chicken, I prefer to marinate it and pan fry it instead. It’s super easy, it gives the chicken extra flavor, and it keeps the chicken from getting disgusting dry.

Also, as far as I can remember, this was also the first time I tried making pasta in a rice cooker. [Although I didn’t put that in the original recipe because a) I wasn’t supposed to have a rice cooker in my dorm and b) that’s not how I normally cook pasta… in a dorm, cooking it in a rice cooker is easier because I can do it in my room.]

Of course cooking it in a rice cooker is not like cooking rice. You don’t just put in rice and water and hit cook. You fill the rice cooker with water and hit cook and wait for the water to boil. Once the water boils, you cook it just like you would in a pot on a stove.

Ingredients
1 pint heavy cream
1 8 oz. bag of grated parmesan cheese
2 cups broccoli florets
1 box farfalle pasta
2 chicken breasts
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
salt, pepper, garlic powder
vegetable oil

Preparation
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta for 10-15 minutes or so until al dente. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.

Slice chicken breasts and marinate with vegetable oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

While the chicken is marinating, in a non-stick frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add about 1/3 of the garlic and saute until browned. Add broccoli, sprinkle lightly with salt, garlic powder and water, and cook until the broccoli is a vibrant green. Remove pan from heat and add broccoli to bowl with pasta.

Heat another 2 tablespoons of oil and add another 1/3 of the garlic and saute. When garlic begins to brown, add chicken in a single layer in the pan. Allow to cook on medium heat until the top side of the chicken begins to change color. Flip and brown the other side. Once thoroughly cooked, remove from pan and add to the bowl of pasta and chicken.

Pour heavy cream into the pan and bring to a slow boil. Simmer until cream thickens. Add 3/4 of the parmesan cheese and stir until it has all melted in. Season to taste with last 1/3 of garlic, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Pour sauce over pasta, chicken and broccoli. Add last 1/4 of cheese. Toss and you’re done!

Lasagna Roll-ups

Lasagna is wonderful. Why they should be in the form of roll-ups, I’m not sure. While this recipe was good, I think it tastes just as good as regular lasagna. I got the recipe from Homemade by Holman but I made the sauce from this recipe from Allrecipes.

The sauce is pretty amazing. The spices might need to be adjusted. Also, the longer you simmer it, the better. After you simmer it, taste it and add oregano/basil/salt to taste.

Ingredients
8 lasagna noodles
1 pound lean ground beef
vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 cans (29 oz) diced tomatoes
2 cans (6 oz) tomato paste
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 egg
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
shredded mozzarella cheese
crushed red pepper flakes

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350 degrees(F). Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil and add noodles. Cook until just al dente. Leave them slightly firm. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil. When hot, add garlic and onion and saute until onions are soft and translucent. Add meat and brown. When almost cooked through, add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, basil and oregano and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 30-45 minutes.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add ricotta, and parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of basil and oregano and stir. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray. Add enough sauce to lightly cover the bottom of the pan.

To assemble, add a spoonful of ricotta mix to the top of a noodle. Top with a spoonful of meat sauce and roll up. Place seam side down in the pan. Continue until you’ve used up all the noodles. Top with the rest of the meat sauce and cover liberally with mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Bake approximately 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Pasta Carbonara

I don’t really know what to say about this recipe. My best guess is that they make it occasionally at the dining hall and I decided I liked it because compared to pasta with red sauce (which they serve probably 5/7 days), anything is exciting and delicious.

So I tried this recipe… and I liked it, but my parents are not really fans of cream-based/cheesy things… so it was not their favorite. But if you like pasta with cheese and bacon, this is a really easy and delicious recipe.

Also this is a pre-SLR picture… so… it’s pretty awful. But it tastes good and that’s what counts right?

This recipe came from Our Kitchen.

Ingredients
8-10 strips of the leanest bacon you can find
16 oz cream
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 box pasta (any kind)

Preparation
Cut the bacon into 1 cm strips and fry over medium heat.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta and cook until al dente.

Once bacon is cooked, add cream, salt and pepper and simmer until creamy. Whisk together the egg and parmesan. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the pan and stir through the cream sauce. Add the egg and parmesan and stir again.