Not Your Normal Meatball

    It’s been almost two months since I graduated. All my close friends have left for the summer. Three weeks ago, my boyfriend (first mention of any man being in my life on this blog) left for Army ROTC training. All my previous roommates moved out last week too, leaving me in a five bedroom house by myself for a month until the new girls move in. As a result, I have spent a ton of my time cooking, cleaning, learning and working. I even started growing my own herbs and built myself a garment rack.

One thing I have learned throughout my time “off” and through work is that the restaurant environment is definitely my forte. One day, I know I’ll have my own 🙂 I start serving this week. So cross your fingers!

Enough about me!

There’s one recipe that really got me through college. I would make it for myself or when I was having a big dinner with my friends. They’re a crowd pleaser and seemingly easy, especially for a bigger crowd. This recipe is chicken meatballs.

For some reason, meatballs seem very looming and complicated to most people. The process can be long depending on the amount of meatballs you are making. Otherwise, meatballs are a recipe not to be feared.

In actuality, the recipe can be used with whatever ground meat strikes your fancy. The easiness aspect is still there. Also, depending on the type of meat, these verge on being very cheap. The meatballs have a great amount of gusto and flavor depending on the meat and the seasonings you use.

Ingredients:

1 pound of ground chicken, beef or turkey

1/2 medium white onion

1/2 cup of bread crumbs

2 tablespoons of basil

1 tablespoon of sun-dried tomatoes

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 egg

Salt and pepper to taste

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.

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Once combined, form the meatballs by taking about a tablespoon of the mixture and rolling them in a ball shape. Make sure to spray your cookie sheet so the meatballs don’t stick. Repeat this step until all of the meat is gone.

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Bake for 15 minutes.

The final result is quite a versatile (and delicious) outcome. You can use these meatballs on top of your favorite pasta dish or just one their own, even throw them in a roll and call it a meatball sub. If it’s just you, like it’s just me, freeze half of the meatballs and thaw when you’re ready to finish the rest of the lot.

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Family dinner or just you? These are great either way.

Cheesier than the Rest

    Happy One Year Anniversary to Carpe Cheese!!! YAY


In honor of this cheesy occasion, this is my cheesiest post yet. A cheeseboard!

As some may or may not know, I recently graduated. We had a lovely celebration luncheon before my graduation that night. The luncheon was held in the building where my mom works, the Virginia Center for Architecture. The building is absolutely beautiful. Not to mention, we had the celebration in my favorite room of the house. I was so happy!

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Being the cheesehead I am, I had to have a cheeseboard in order to celebrate my graduation. It would have been a sin otherwise.

I chose four different cheeses. Port Salut, a French Emmental cheese, Pre-Moo cheese, and lastly, a extra sharp cheddar cheese. All the ones I found were vegetarian with no meat reddit in it. I will say be careful when purchasing these on your own if you are vegetarian. Some of these cheeses counterparts are not necessarily vegetarian.

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First off, this cheddar may sound like some run of the mill type of cheddar. But its flavor and melty goodness helped me gain more respect for this stereotypical cheese. Being an extra sharp, this cheese had a bit more bite than other cheddars.

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Second, the Pre-moo cheese was the hardest of them all. As I wrote this, my research revealed that this Pre-Moo cheese is a Gouda and made exclusively for Fresh Market, the grocery store chain. It has a mild flavor with a touch of sweetness. It also melts very well. Gouda being my favorite, this was not one of my favorite goudas, sadly.

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Third, Emmental cheese originated from Switzerland. The one I chose was from France. But just the same, being predominantly Swiss, the flavor of the Emmental was very much like the Swiss we find in the grocery store. Slightly bland, in my opinion, but makes up for it with its nutty undertones.

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Lastly, the Port Salut is one of my favorite cheeses. It is soft and oh so creamy, with a simple flavor like a mozzarella. These is so much to love in my opinion. It is the softest of the cheeses on this board. Even with the simple flavor, it still has a great amount of gusto. In Belgium, I went on Port Salut overload because it was so cheap over there. Here, not so much – this stuff makes a mean but expensive component to a grilled cheese

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All these cheeses would make for a very good, but expensive, grilled cheese if you combined them all. It would have a nutty zing and the milky creaminess. Not to mention that oh so enticing string of melted cheese when you try to take a bit – the sign of a good grilled cheese.

You really can’t go wrong with any of these cheeses depending on what you like normally. Try just one, or try them all!

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Great Beer, Even Better Burgers

Here goes my post for burger number 345. I dare say this burger may win out above many of the others. In my opinion of delicious restaurant burgers, you do have two different playing fields. You have the fancy gourmet burgers like Coda or Burger Bach. Or you have the down-home “I just want a gosh darn burger” burger like Carytown Burgers. The burgers of Jack Brown’s follow in suit with the latter. A down home gosh darn good burger with an upscale ingredient and some funky toppings.

Originating in Harrisonburg, VA, Jack Brown’s Burger Joint is a simple one: burgers and fries. They know how to do one thing and they do it well. The environment is rustic. With old beer cans lining the walls and an old rusted up car encasing the draft beers, this place is a sight to see. But don’t come to see the sight, there isn’t too much. Just a great relaxed vibe. Come to eat the burger. And don’t expect normal burger toppings either. One has a hot dog on top.

With locations around Virginia, and gaining more in other states, Roanoke was where I tried my first. Thinking to myself, I wish they had this in Richmond. Whelp, not to my surprise, I checked the website and a Richmond location was the newest of the yummy establishments. Yay for us Richmonders!

I mentioned earlier there was one upscale ingredient. This is Wagyu beef. Now, this type of beef may sound familiar to my readers. As it should. Coda also serves a wagyu beef burger, which helps to keep to flavor of the meat in the burger. So of course, these burgers are gonna be good.

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I ordered the Cowboy – BBQ sauce, bacon and cheddar. Because of the wagyu, the burger was juicy and full of flavor. I just wish the patty was bigger. Just the same, the bun must have been steamed because it was soft and warm and collapsed, in a good way, around the burger and the toppings. Every bite was consistent with bread, cheese, bacon and the goodness of the beef. Together, it was a majesty of a good burger.

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Oh my gosh, those fries. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside with a great seasoning on top. The whole get up is served with an amazing sauce that is tasty and flavorful. It tastes and looks a lot like Yum Yum sauce you find in Hibachi joints. It was good on the burger b  ut great on the fries!

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I will be sad if my visit to the RVA location isn’t the same stupendous food experience.

With 7 locations, even one coming to Nashville, Jack Brown’s is a must try if you like burgers. Especially if you just want one of those “I just want a gosh darn good burger” kind of burgers. I completely forgot to mention their selection of over 50 varieties of beer. Yeah, so there’s that.

The Roast of the Red

     Being a poor college graduate, you’ll be getting more recipes from me. When it comes to the recipes, I wanna go for those homemade things. Things that would assume are super hard to make, like homemade Boursin, but when in fact, they are simpler than you think!

Next on the chopping block: roasted red peppers!

I found this recipe, or process rather, from the AllRecipes magazine. BTW: if you’re ever looking for a good food magazine subscription to get, I highly suggest AllRecipes. It has great tips and fun recipes like this!

Ingredients:

Red Peppers

WABAM!

Start by washing all your peppers. For my recipe, I used six because that is what Costco gave me. After the washing, you have three options for roasting: either in the oven on a foil covered sheet pan, over a gas burner (preferred for only one), or on the grill. I chose the oven since I had so many. Set the oven to 500 degrees or turn on the broiler. Watch the peppers closely and turn them whenever they are charring. This should take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes depending on size. For either you chose, make sure that all sides are charred and blistered.

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After the roast, comes the steam. Again, three options: in foil, in a bowl topped with plastic wrap, or in a paper bag. All will take about 10 to 20 minutes. Once they’ve been steamed, open the bag and make sure to wait till they cool to room temperature.

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Next, we peel! Get off all the black charred skin with your fingers. Anything giving you a hard time can be taken off with a knife. I suggest working over a bowl. Finally, we seed them! Cut the peppers in half and scrape out the seeds and white membrane on the insides. Running the peppers under water will get the seeds off quickly but you may sacrifice some taste.

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From here, store them in an airtight container. I suggest submerging in olive oil and storing in the fridge. They will last about two weeks this way.

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These puppies are delicious and all it really takes is time.

Look at that, with one ingredient and a little bit of time, you’ve got yourself an awesome accent to any dish. Roasted red peppers are supposed to be fun, so experiment! Make a pesto, add to grilled cheese, or even spice up your boring morning eggs!