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I must have been Italian in a past life….Italian food is my favorite and with dogs named Rocco and Dolce, it must be true. Most Sundays are for revisiting my past life, this is the day that I linger in my kitchen and cook my family’s favorite Italian pasta dishes. However, this Sunday I decided on forgoing the pasta and instead, cooked these amazing gooey mozzarella meatball sandwiches.
Oh, this isn’t your ordinary meatball sandwich, take a bite out of these delicious moist meatballs and out oozes melted mozzarella. A delightful surprise to whom ever you serve this hot sandwich to. My family devoured them and my husband couldn’t get enough helpings of the simple tomato basil sauce that the meatballs were quickly braised in.
I cut the mozzarella balls in half and my meatballs still turned out large in size. Sample with a flattened meat patty and cheese ball to determine the size of meatballs you desire.
Summer is the best time of year to take advantage of the warm evenings and serve dinner outdoors. This Sunday night, we enjoyed our meatball sandwiches on the patio. The early evening was still lit up by an orange sunset and a calm breeze. I start to get a little sad when thinking that summer is almost over. Luckily, I have captured a lot of our summer on Instagram and can go back later in the year to reminisce over the fun times that we had.
This is what happened on Malibu Kitchen’s Instagram this summer….
melting mozzarella meatball sandwich
Adapted from The Cheesemonger’s Kitchen
Serves 6 to 8
For the meatballs:
8 oz stale baguette, sliced
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
1-pound ground beef
1-pound ground pork
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1-teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
10 to 20 bocconcini di mozzarella cheese, based on size – larger sized mozzarella can be sliced
Lay bread slices evenly in an 8 x 8 pan and barely cover with cold water. Soak for 1 minute on each side, then removing and squeezing dry. Tear bread into small pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the basil, beef, pork, cheese, eggs, salt, and pepper. Mix together with clean hands.
Form the mixture into twenty small patties, 2 inch in diameter. Lay a single bocconcini ball on each patty and then mold the meat mixture around the cheese to form meatballs. Place meatballs on a cooking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. You can prepare meatballs a day ahead if desired.
For the sauce:
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 28-ounce can roma style tomatoes crushed
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven, over low heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, basil, red pepper, salt and pepper. Increase heat and bring to a boil.
Lower heat and simmer sauce, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring often.
For assembling the dish:
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 to 8 French or sourdough rolls
To assemble the dish:
In large frying pan, heat oil until hot but not smoking. Brown the meatballs, a few at a time, turning them from time to time to sear all around. Be careful not to crowd the pan, which will reduce the temperature and prevent a good searing. Transfer browned meatballs at they are finished to a large plate and continue until all of the meatballs are browned.
Add browned meatballs to sauce and simmer for 10 minutes.
Toast rolls if desired and add meatballs and additional sauce. Enjoy!
Imagine a moist coffee cake with a slightly crunchy blueberry topping and sweet glaze. If that sounds scrumptious, you’ll love this cake. It’s perfect for packing and taking on a trip for an easy, delightful breakfast treat. That’s exactly what I did with this cake. We spent the weekend on our boat in Catalina Island and I baked this cake the night before and packed it up for the trip. Not only did we enjoy it for breakfast, but it made a delicious mid-day snack as well.
This gorgeous blueberry topping of fresh blueberries, pecans, and cinnamon bakes right into the moist cake. Speaking of a gorgeous topping, have you noticed my new blog header? It was artistically designed by Shay Bocks Creative Services. Check out her site and services if you are considering a fresh new look for your blog or website.
My beautiful daughter Melia loves blueberries! I’m always so happy to cook something containing blueberries for her. This coffee cake was a wonderful blueberry treat with the precise combination of sweet and tart.
Here are a couple of pictures from our weekend in Catalina. My favorite is the picture of Melia with our dog Rocco.
The sour cream blueberry coffee cake quickly disappeared…this was my piece
sour cream blueberry coffee cake
For the Coffee Cake:
1-½ cups flour
1-teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1-cup sour cream
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Topping:
½ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup brown sugar
For the Glaze:
1-cup confectioners’ sugar
4 teaspoons milk
To prepare the topping, crush ¼ cup of the blueberries in a bowl. Add the remaining blueberries, pecans, sugar, and cinnamon, and mix gently. Sprinkle over the coffee cake batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes. Place on a serving plate and remove the side of the pan.
To prepare the glaze, whisk the confectioners’ sugar and milk in a bowl until smooth. Using a tablespoon, drizzle over the coffee cake.
This is a perfect dish for a summer night when you don’t want to be in the kitchen cooking. On weekends, I like to prepare this authentic flavored Mexican marinade with chicken breast prior to heading out to the beach for the day. Chicken breast marinate in the refrigerator during day, so all that I have to do for dinner is make some of my fast pico de gallo and maybe some Mexican rice pilaf, while hubby grills the chicken.
Within minutes we have a delicious fiesta-in-our-mouth chicken that is so moist and tender.
I took this picture during an early morning bike ride on the strand. It was nice to be able to come home from a long day at the beach and make an easy grilled chicken dinner that was so full of mexican flavors from marinating all day in a cilantro and lime marinate.
cilantro-lime grilled chicken
Adapted from Entertaining at Home Cookbook Ingredients:
4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast
¼ cup fresh limejuice
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1-½ teaspoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1/2-teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Fresh fast pico de gallo, sour cream, and tortillas for serving
Lay chicken in a single layer and cover between two sheets of plastic wrap or place in large zip lock bag. Using a mallet, lightly pound chicken breast to 1/2-inch thickness.
Place chicken in a new 1-gallon zip lock bag or in a shallow dish prior and set aside while preparing the marinade.
To prepare the marinade, in a bowl, combine the limejuice, olive oil, garlic, chopped cilantro, brown sugar, salt, cumin, and pepper and whisk until thoroughly blended. Pour the marinade over the chicken and seal the zip lock bag, or if using a shallow dish, cover. Allow chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 8 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.
Prepare charcoal grill, or preheat a gas grill on medium.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and drain off the excess marinade. Brush the grill grate with vegetable oil. Grill chicken uncovered for about 5 to 8 minutes on each side, until tender and the juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife.
Remove the chicken from the grill and transfer to a platter. Spoon some fast pico de galloover each portion, followed by a dollop of sour cream. Serve immediately with corn or flour tortillas and enjoy the fiesta-in-your-mouth!
Recently, returning from a family vacation in Hawaii, home of the pineapple, left me craving for pineapple upside-down cake. Deciding on a time-honored method, I baked my pineapple upside-down cake in a cast-iron skillet.
As far back at the late 1800’s, the first pineapple upside-down cakes were cooked in cast-iron skillets, and referred to as skillet cakes. Ovens were not as reliable back in those days. Cakes were often made in cast-iron skillets on stovetops.
|Pineapple topping is cooked stovetop in a cast-iron skillet.|
Skillet pineapple upside-down cakes are moist white cakes topped with a caramelized brown sugar and butter topping with sweet, gooey pineapple. As soon as the cake was pulled out of the oven and converted from skillet to platter, spoons were handed out to my family and everyone dug into the scrumptious cake all at once. Only remnants of the cake remained.
I took the above photo of a picture hanging in the historical section of the Royal Hawaiian Resort Hotel in Wakiki. The photo was taken in the 1800’s, when Wakiki was quickly becoming a famous beach location for tourist from Europe and the United States.
skillet pineapple upside-down cake
For the pineapple topping:
One 20-ounce can pineapple rings, with their syrup or juice
6 tablespoons butter
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
10 maraschino cherries
For the cake:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the topping:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Drain the pineapple well, reserving 2 tablespoons of the juice or syrup for the cake batter. Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
Remove the pan from the stove, and sprinkle the brown sugar over its buttery surface. Carefully place the pineapple rings on top of the scattered brown sugar topping, arranging them so they fit in a layer. Place a cherry in the center of each ring, and set the pan aside.
To make the cake:
In a mixer with whisk attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, and quickly mix until blended. Add the milk and butter, and beat well with a mixer at medium speed, scraping down the bowl once or twice, until you have a thick, fairly smooth batter. Add the egg, reserved pineapple juice/syrup, and the vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes more, stopping once or twice to scrape down the bowl.
Carefully pour the batter over the pineapple arranged in the skillet, and use a spoon or a spatula to spread it evenly to the edges of the pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and springs back when touched lightly in the center. Cool in the skillet for 5 minutes on a wire rack or a folded kitchen towel. With oven mitts, carefully turn out the warm cake onto a serving plate by placing the plate upside down over the skillet, and then flipping them over together to release the cake onto the plate. Serve warm, or cool to room temperature before serving, and watch it disappear.
smoked salmon and dill spread
Adapted by At Blanchard’s Table: A trip to the beach
1/2-cup sour cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
¼ cup capers, rinsed and drained
8 ounces smoked salmon, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Pinch of salt
Dash of fresh ground pepper
Fresh dill, for garnish
Bagel chips for serving
Puree the cream cheese, sour cream, and lemon juice in food processor. Add the scallions, capers, salmon, chopped dill, and salt and pepper, and pulse to blend. Garnish with dill and serve at room temperature with bagel chips.
Have you tried the latest craze of having your pizza topped with salad? I know, it may not sound very appealing to a pepperoni and sausage pizza lover. Just like most new crazes, it may take some nudging to get others to try. Trust me, this maybe the pizza to change their minds and yours too.
Imagine a warm flat bread fresh out of the oven, brushed with olive oil and covered with hot melted bubbles of mozzarella cheese, topped with sweet balsamic vinegar drizzled over peppery ribbons of arugula, mounds of salty prosciutto, and a sprinkling of parmesan. Are you ready for your pizza and salad now?
Fortunately, I benefit from having a wood-burning pizza oven in my backyard. But you don’t need a wood-burning pizza oven for this pizza; rest assured that this pizza could be made in a conventional oven. Below, you will find that I have included cooking directions for both
For those who regularly make pizza at home, I recommend investing in a pizza stone and paddle; they make a big difference in the authenticity of the crust and overall quality of the pizza. But in a squeeze, a baking sheet will do.
If you don’t have time to make homemade dough, you can make this delicious pizza with any good store-bought pizza dough. I didn’t have time and purchased ready-made pizza dough from my local grocery market. It didn’t disappoint and I will do it again.
A simple, devoid of pepperoni and sausage, pizza never tasted so scrumptious and fresh. I love this new craze!
pizza with prosciutto, arugula, and mozzarella
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck Makes It Easy
Using store-bought pizza dough:
Allow refrigerated dough to come to room temperature before working with it.
Roll the dough out as thinly as possible before adding toppings.
If you’re not using the dough right away (and it hasn’t already been frozen), freeze it, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, within 2 days of buying it. It will last for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator, about 3 hours. Bring to room temperature before rolling out.
1 recipe or store-bought pizza dough
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1-cup baby arugula
6 ounces prosciutto, cut or torn into strips
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Gently separate balls of dough (if needed) and place on a lightly dusted work surface. When you flatten the balls, gently press out the air but do not pack the dough.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the pizza dough into a circle to roughly 12 inches round and ¼ inch thick. Dust a pizza paddle with cornmeal and working very quickly, place the dough round on paddle, brush the dough lightly with olive oil, next sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese.
If using a conventional oven, preheat the oven with a pizza stone set on the middle rack for 30 minutes at 500 degrees F. When heated, Lightly slide pizza onto the baking stone and bake it until the crust is nicely browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Remember that the oven is very hot and be careful as you place the pizza in the oven and again as you take it out.
If using a wood-fired oven, place the pizza in oven, away from the fire, and let bake for several minutes. Turn the pizza 180 degrees and continue baking for another few minutes or until crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Pizza cooks very quickly in a wood-fired oven.
While the pizza is baking, toss the arugula with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Transfer the pizza to a firm surface and arrange the arugula, prosciutto, and Parmesan on top. Cut the pizza into sliced with a pizza cutter or a very sharp knife. Serve immediately.
Two summer favorites, peaches and raspberries, combined into a traditional Southern dessert, creating a glorious rustic cobbler.
Peaches are at their peak this time of year. Ripe fruit so sweet that you can’t bite into one without the juices running down your face. My favorite of all fruits, a bite returns memories of childhood summers spent in Texas.
A splashing of raspberries provide just the right amount of tart, and a flaky crust hugs the fruit filling. The look is rustic and not meant to be perfect.
Yellow or white peaches can be used. I chose white peaches for this cobbler. A perfect summer’s night is having a peach and raspberry cobbler topped with vanilla bean ice cream for dessert.
What is your favorite childhood memory of summer?
rustic peach and raspberry cobbler
Adapted from The Vineyard Cookbook
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
¼ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
¼ cup vegetable shortening, chilled
4 or 5 tablespoons ice water
6 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
1-cup fresh raspberries
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly butter a 7-by-9-inch baking dish.
Combine the flour, salt, butter (5 tablespoons) and shortening in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Slowly add the ice water, one tablespoon at a time, and process until the dough begins to hold together and gathers on the blade.
Shape the dough into a ball, working in a little more flour if necessary. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.
In a large bowl, add the peaches and raspberries. Sprinkle the sugar over the fruit and toss together. Set aside at room temperature for approximately 15 minutes to give juices time to accumulate and sweeten.
On a lightly floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a rough 10-by-12-inch rectangle. Line the buttered baking dish with the dough, allowing the excess to hang over the sides. Spoon the peach and raspberry mixture evenly over the dough and dot it with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Fold the overhanging dough back over the fruit. It will not cover the fruit but will form a decorative edge.
Put the cobbler on a center rack of the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 425 degrees F. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling hot.
Spoon the cobbler warm or at room temperature into bowls. Swerve with whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream, if desired.
Enjoy your summer!
When life gives me lemons, I make lemony lemon bars. Lemon bars are the perfect treat to make during the summer months. These luscious square bars have a buttery shortbread crust with a tangy citrus topping. They are perfectly refreshing on a hot summer day.
We have several lemon trees in our yard and during the summer, when lemons are abundant, I enjoy picking them off the trees and making these fresh lemony lemon bars. These bars are really simple and can be quickly whipped up.
My daughter, Gigi, had one of her girlfriends, Izzy, over to our house, so I made them lemony lemon bars. They helped me pick some lemons off from our lemon trees. The tress are still a bit sparse with lemons, since it is only June, but there were more than enough (3 to 4) for these lemony lemon bars.
Grate the zest from the lemons prior to juicing them.
I cut my lemony lemon bars into large squares. After everyone has eaten their bar, my hubby then recuts them into smaller ones for himself. Maybe he thinks that he isn’t eating as much if they are smaller, but somehow every square disappears.
Once cooled, I take a small strainer, usually one use for tea, and sprinkle lots of powdered sugar on top.
Meet Izzy, a few of her favorite things are friends, food, books, the ocean, and laughter. She is a bright, spunky, and beautiful girl. We just love having her over to our house.
Meet Gigi, a few of her favorite things are the beach,Instagram, the TV show Nitro Circus with Travis Pastrana, and Rob Dyrdeks Fantasy Factory Gigi is very intelligent, super sweet, and gorgeous! She is a very special person in my life.
Both Gigi and Izzy ate their lemony lemon bars and quickly took off to meet up with their friends, leaving me with recollections of my younger teenage years with my friends during the summer.
Lemony lemon bars
Adapted from Cookies and Brownies, by Alice Medrich
For the crust:
¼ cup granulated sugar
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
1-cup all-purpose flour
For the lemon topping:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3-tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
½ cup strained fresh lemon juice (approximately 3 to 4 lemons)
1 to 2 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.
Line an 8-inch square pan on the bottom and up all 4 sides with foil or parchment paper.
In medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the flour and mix just until incorporated. Using your fingers, press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is lightly golden.
Meanwhile, stir together the sugar and flour in a medium bowl until well mixed. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the lemon juice and zest.
When the crust is ready, remove from oven and lower the oven down to 300 degrees F. Carefully pour the filling over the hot crust and return to oven.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the topping is puffed at the edges and no longer jiggles in the center, when the pan is tapped. Chill to cool completely. With a knife dipped in hot water, cut into 3 rows by 3 rows for large bars or 6 rows by 6 rows for smaller sized bars.
This time of year, ripe avocados are abundantly available in Southern California. We actually have a large avocado tree on one side of our house, which is very common in this area. Unfortunately, none are ripe at the moment. Even if we do get avocados, it is very likely that a possum will get to them before we can. Luckily, the markets are full of ripe avocados this spring and have lowered their prices on them as well.
I take pleasure in the flavor of avocados and enjoy making and eating guacamole. But one can only eat so much guacamole. So, after buying so many avocados on sale, today I decided to use them to make a chilled avocado soup instead of guacamole.
I prefer this soup garnished with crème fraîche, chopped cilantro and edible flowers. Try lumps of cold crabmeat for a more elegant approach.
Not only are avocado’s abundant this time of year, but so are hummingbirds. Our yard is buzzing with them right now and one hummingbird couple decided to make their nest in one of our smaller palm trees.