Sunday, August 5, 2012

melting mozzarella meatball sandwich

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.

Use left over baguette or bread and soak in water to moisten before starting your meatball mixture.  The bread helps to hold the meat mixture together when forming the meatball.

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 onInstagram 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....

Summer on Instagram
Enjoy the rest of your summer and for a simple rustic Italian dinner, try this scrumptious melting mozzarella meatball sandwich.

melting mozzarella meatball sandwich 

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!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

macho salad with cornbread croutons and champagne vinaigrette

After a long day spent at the beach, I like to cook a quick and light meal for dinner. This salad comes to the rescue; it’s packed with flavorful and healthy ingredients, is light but satisfying. 

Macho salad with cornbread croutons is served at a popular West Los Angeles restaurant,Brandera. It’s my favorite salad, so I had to recreate it and this one comes pretty darn close to the real thing. Bandera’s bakes their own cornbread with chopped jalapeño and two kinds of cheeses in individual sized skillets, but you can use any cornbread or do what I often do, buy pre-made cornbread from your grocery store’s bakery.

Maybe this salad was named “Macho” because even men will order and devour this salad. Ingredients such as roasted chicken, goat cheese, dates, avocado, and corn make this salad filling and a complete meal. The champagne vinaigrette, quickly mixed in a mason jar, adds a crisp touch and don’t forget the final topping of crunchy cornbread croutons. It is a bowl full of deliciousness. No wonder it's a Bandera menu favorite.

This summer, I brought the beach into my home by decorating in beach chic décor. You don’t need to live by the beach to create a charming beach atmosphere; just some beach inspired basics is all that is needed.  Try mixing some of the following into your home to create a simple beach look.
  • Wooden whimsical beach signs 
  • Wood bowls, hurricane lamps, glass jars and lanterns filled with sand and seashells 
  • Pillows decorated with fish, seashells, or coral 
  • Frames decorated with seashells 
  • Rattan or bamboo serving mats with shells or coral napkin rings

Have fun decorating large or small spaces or even just a table top for summer entertaining. Hopefully these simple beach chic decor tips, even for a small space, will add a calming beach mood to your surroundings.

macho salad with cornbread croutons and champagne vinaigrette
Serves 4 to 6

For the cornbread croutons: 

Cool cornbread completely 

Cut into 1 inch cubes

Place on baking sheet sprayed with Pam

Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes (flip sides ½ way through cooking)

Set aside until salad is assembled.

For the champagne vinaigrette: 

1/4-cup spicy brown mustard

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-cup extra virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients in a mason jar, close lid and shake vigorously until well blended. Set aside. 

For the macho salad: 

1 large size prepackaged spring lettuce

1 purchased rotisserie chicken (any left over chicken will do), skin removed and cut into large chunks 

1 can fresh corn kernels, drained

1 cup grape tomatoes cut in 1/2

1 cup medjool dates, roughly chopped

2 ripe avocados, diced

1 cup sliced almonds

6 oz goat cheese, crumbled
To assemble:

In a large bowl, add lettuce, corn, tomatoes, avocado, dates, and mounds of crumbled goat cheese.  Top with chicken, almonds, add desired amount of vinaigrette and mix.  

To serve top with several cornbread croutons.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

sour cream blueberry coffee cake

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
Adapted by Lone Star to Five Star  


For the Coffee Cake:

1-½ cups flour

1-teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

3/4-cup sugar

2 eggs

1-cup sour cream

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Topping:

1-pint blueberries

½ cup chopped pecans

¼ cup brown sugar

1-teaspoon cinnamon

For the Glaze:

1-cup confectioners' sugar

4 teaspoons milk


To prepare the coffee cake, mix the flour, baking powder and salt together. Cream together the butter and sugar for 2 to 3 minutes until fluffy. Add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture gradually and mix well. Spoon into a lightly greased 8-inch spring form pan.

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.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

cilantro-lime grilled chicken

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 


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 gallo over each portion, followed by a dollop of sour cream. Serve immediately with corn or flour tortillas and enjoy the fiesta-in-your-mouth!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

muesli with raspberry puree

During the summer on weekend mornings, we are normally out of the house early, either heading to the beach or for a day on the boat. To help reduce time preparing breakfast this past weekend, I decided to try making muesli, a chilled oatmeal made with rolled oats, yogurt, fruit, nuts, and skim milk. Rolled oats are soaked in skim milk overnight and in the morning final preparation is minimal. Having a quick, utterly delicious breakfast that is healthy, helps make getting out of the house a whole lot quicker.

This muesli is filled with flavor from apples, bananas, dried cherries, and almonds, and is topped with a sweet raspberry puree.

If you have been following this blog, you may recall the picture I shared in my chilled avocado soup post, of a hummingbird nest with two eggs in it. Several weeks ago, the eggs successfully hatched and we have been watching our precious baby hummingbirds grow.

Most mornings I like to check up on the baby birds. This past Friday morning, I performed my usual check, but this time the nest was askew and the birds were gone. Overhead, a huge black crow was flying around and squawking. I was very distraught over the thought that the crow ate those adorable baby hummingbirds as his breakfast. Well, over the weekend my hubby noticed two small hummingbirds flying around our yard. We observed them closely and realized that they were our babies! I was thrilled to know that the crow hadn't eaten them after all.

muesli with raspberry puree

2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 3/4 cups skim milk
1/2-cup whole plain yogurt
1 banana, cut into bite size pieces
1 large apple
1/4 cup dried cherries or raisins
Squeeze of lemon or lime juice
½-cup slivered almonds

For the puree:
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar

In a bowl, pour the skim milk over the oats to cover. Let soak overnight, covered, in the fridge.

The next day, combine the raspberries and sugar in a small pan. Place over medium heat and cook until the raspberries become soft, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Grate the apple and squeeze the lemon or lime juice on top to prevent discoloration. Add the grated apple, banana pieces, dried cherries, and yogurt to the soaked oats then stir. Top with raspberries puree and slivered almonds.

Muesli can be kept for 2 to 3 days refrigerated.

Friday, July 6, 2012

skillet pineapple upside-down cake

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.

A bowl full of cherries.
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 egg 
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.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

southern waffles with caramelized bananas and pecan syrup

Sunday mornings are meant for a homemade breakfast.  I love getting up on Sunday's and cooking up a special breakfast.  My family's favorite is waffles.  

Last Sunday, my hubby and daughters went dirt bike riding and I wanted to make sure that they had full bellies before leaving.  I made these waffles with a caramelized banana and pecan syrup, and turkey bacon too.  

Wow were these waffles amazingly good.  They were crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  The syrup was sweet with bananas and the pecans added that special crunch.  I could have sworn that I was eating dessert for breakfast.  

Throw away that instant waffle mix and try making your next batch of waffles from scratch.  It's really fast and simple.  Your going to love the results and I promise, you will not go back to instant waffles again.

Measure and mix one bowl of dry ingredients and another for wet ingredients.  Combine and whisk - that's it!

Brush the top and bottom of the waffle iron with vegetable for crispy waffles.  You can use a cooking spray too, but you won't get the same crunchy results. 

Cook for a few minutes and you have the perfect waffle.

Photo taken at the Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica.
Well now that the hubby and girls are off on their dirt bike adventures, jumping over dirt hills, I'm going to spend a spa day at the Jonanthan Beach Club in Santa Monica.  I just love Sundays!

I hope that you enjoy these waffles soon and have a fabulous Sunday!

southern waffles with caramelized banana and pecan syrup

Adapted: My Southern Food, Devon O’Day and The Comfort Table, Katie Lee 


1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1-tablespoon baking powder

2 eggs

1 ¾ cup mild

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup Vegetable oil for waffle iron


Heat waffle iron.

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, butter and vanilla extract. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.

Brush oil on inside top and bottom of waffle iron. Pour batter (I use ½ cup) onto waffle iron and cook for about 3 minutes, or until waffles are golden brown with a crunch.

caramelized bananas and pecan syrup


1-cup maple syrup

2 bananas, peeled and sliced into 1 inch slices

1-cup pecans

In medium frying pan over medium heat, sauté pecans for 1 minute. Add bananas and syrup. Cook until hot and bubbly, about 4 minutes.

Waffle batter can also be refrigerated for later use if there are any leftovers.