Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Italian Wedding Soup

Sometimes you get pictures that match how delicious your food is. Sometimes you don't. With my lack of a professional grade camera and natural light when I made this, sadly, I couldn't capture just how delicious this soup was - but I hope you take my word for it when I tell you that it was SIMPLY AMAZING.

I've actually never been a huge fan of Italian Wedding soup - grayish meatballs don't really appeal to me, and I'm pretty sure I've only ever had it out of a can, or something similarly processed from a restaurant. We had Italian Wedding soup at our wedding though, and Joe LOVED it (being Italian and all) and has been asking to make it ever since.

Well like a lot of brides, I really can't say I remember much about the dinner at my wedding (although I distinctly remember the 5 bacon wrapped scallops that my sister continually provided me with during the cocktail hour at my demand request) so really had no recollection of the soup, or its being good - but I finally gave in to Joe's repeated requests that I try making it.

This is probably my new favorite soup recipe - just in time for summer : (. It was one of those meals that you can't stop thinking about after eating it. I have no idea if this is really a traditional recipe or not - although it is a Giada recipe, I made a change to it by browning the meatballs first and then starting the soup in the pot to use all that flavor. Traditional or not, it made for a delicious soup and TONS of leftovers.

Italian Wedding Soup
Adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis


1 small onion, grated
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 large egg
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
8 ounces ground beef
8 ounces ground pork
Freshly ground black pepper
12 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound chopped spinach (I used fresh but you could easily use frozen as well)
2 large eggs
2 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the meatballs combining the first six ingredients in a bowl, then adding the cheese, beef and pork. Form the meatballs into 1-inch diameter balls.

Add some olive oil to a large dutch oven (or other large pot) and heat for frying. Add the meatballs and brown until even on all sides (they don't need to cook all the way through just yet). Remove the meatballs and any excess oil from the pot.

Add the broth to the pot, scraping up the brown bits from the meatballs and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and spinach and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through and the spinach is tender, about 5 minutes. Whisk the eggs and cheese in a medium bowl to blend. Stir the soup in a circular motion. Gradually drizzle the egg mixture into the moving broth, stirring gently with a fork to form thin stands of egg, about 1 minute. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve. Finish soup with parmesan cheese if desired.

Mamma Mia Reprise Party

So it appears that the Mamma Mia Sing-A-Long party may become an annual event for me. Ever since my party last year, my friends (who were reluctant at first) and I have been known to turn a regular evening into a night filled with ABBA songs, much to Joe (and my neighbor's) chagrin. This was easily solved by making sure Joe was far far away, and inviting said neighbor, who responded, 'if you can't beat em, join em'.

I was in London for work in January and got to see Mamma Mia (with some of the original cast!) at the Prince of Wales Theater. I went by myself, sat front row center and am not even kidding when I say this was one of the BEST experiences of my life! I was singing ABBA songs for weeks after seeing it and decided it was time for a reprise - hence the 2nd annual party.

This year, I timed it for when my sister was visiting me from Houston while the school she teaches at was on spring break. As you can see, she had a wonderful time (except for the part where she got out of the cab coming in from the airport and had to wait on the sidewalk outside my condo with her luggage and wait for Dancing Queen to be over so I could hear my phone ring - oops: )

As far as the menu went this year, since I had the party on a Friday and my friends specifically requested I make baklava again, I was a little constrained in terms of taking on any extra challenges. The one thing I really wanted to incorporate this year though was lamb, and I found an easy way to do it in the form of lamb meatballs (don't worry Mom and Dad, we didn't eat them until midnight since it was a Friday during Lent, I swear : )


Olives & Feta

Pita with Tztatziki & Melitzanosalata

Lamb Meatballs



Last year, I had way too much food, so this year's smaller menu worked out perfectly. With a little pre-planning and the help of a friend, this was a totally stress free event to pull off.

I made the tztatziki and melitzanosalata on the Wednesday night before the party, and my friend Melissa came over to help with the baklava and meatballs on Thursday night. That actually translated to me rolling the meatballs (which took all of 20 minutes), then drinking wine and watching - I mean 'supervising' Melissa make the baklava for the next hour and a half. Worked for me, and while it tasted every bit as good as last year's, her final product was much prettier than mine. So hopefully that becomes an annual thing too....

I'll repost any recipes that I made again here this year.


adapted from elly says opa


1 16 oz low fat Greek Yogurt
1 seedless cucumber
4 cloves garlic
1-2 tsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1 lemon

Peel & seed the cucumber. Using a box grater, shred cucumber and squeeze out all the excess moisture (I used a towel, which Elly also suggests) - you really want to get it as dry as possible.

Mix together the yogur with the cucumber and grate the garlic over the mixture using a micro-plane (or you could make a garlic paste). Mix in the vinegar and lemon juice, then salt & pepper to taste.

Like I said, I made mine a couple days in advance, but Elly recommends letting it sit at least a half hour in the fridge to let the flavors marry.



1 large eggplant
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons of wine vinegar
3 cloves of garlic, minced
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Pierce the eggplant with a fork and broil for 10-15 minutes until the eggplant turns black and is very soft. Set to cool and drain on a rack with paper towels underneath.

As soon as it can be handled, peel by hand (the skin will come off easily), and transfer to a bowl. Chop the pulp into small pieces with a knife, and mash with a fork. With a wooden spoon, stir in oil and vinegar slowly, alternating between them, until well blended. Stir in garlic, salt, and pepper.

Serve chilled or at room temperature, with pita wedges.

Spiced Lamb Meatballs
source: elly says opa

These little devils were heavenly - the cinammon and spices really makes for a rich flavor, I've been craving them ever since I made them!

1 lb. ground lamb
1/2 small onion, grated or finely minced
1 clove garlic, finely minced or pressed
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper
olive oil for pan frying

I prepped these the night before, mixing all the ingredients together for the meatballs (except the olive oil) and formed the meatball, letting them sit in the fridge until I was ready to fry them the next day.

Using a dutch oven or heavy pan, heat up the oil for frying, and brown the meatballs until cooked through.

I served mine with the tztatziki.

source: Elly's recipe on

1 package phyllo dough (16 oz.)

1 cup butter, melted

1 lb. chopped toasted walnuts
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves


1 cup water

1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
2 tsp. lemon juice

Remember to thaw your phyllo before working with it! Your best bet is to put it in the fridge the night before.

Preheat oven to 350, and grease a 9x13 pan. Mix walnuts,cinnamon and cloves, and set aside.

Layer 1 sheet of phyllo on the bottom of the prepared pan, keeping a moist towel over the phyllo that you are not working with.

Brush melted butter over it and top with a second sheet. Continue this until you have layered 8-10 phyllo sheets.

Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture over the phyllo and then repeat the layering 2 times, ending with layers of phyllo. I cut mine into square inches. Bake for 45 minutes.

For the syryp, heat sugar, honey, water, lemon and cinnamon in a saucepan.

Bring to a boil to thicken slightly, and then remove from heat. Allow to cool before pouring it over baklava.

Until next year Dancing Queens.....

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chip Pancakes with Cinnamon Honey Syrup

I'm typically not a pancake lover but the other morning I got a craving out of the blue for chocolate chip pancakes and found some peanut butter chips in the pantry as well. Peanut butter and chocolate is never a bad idea, so I knew it would be a great addition to these pancakes.

Since I've never made pancakes before, I found a highly rated recipe on I'm glad I found it - the pancakes themselves were super fluffy so I'll definitely use it again with other variations. The syrup was delicious and super easy, I think the next time I make these, I'll make blueberry pancakes and add some lemon to the syrup.

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Pancakes

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 peanut butter chips

* Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

* In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk and oil, then add it to the dry ingredients and mix well with a whisk.

* Stir in the chips.

* Using a 1/4 cup measuring spoon, spoon the pancakes one at a time onto a lightly greased hot griddle. Turn when bubbles start to form on top and cook until both sides are golden brown.

Cinnamon Honey Syrup:

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon

* Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and microwave about 60 seconds, allowing the butter to melt and syrup to heat. Stir and serve with pancakes.