Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hip-Baby Mama's Meatballs

For the first time in my life, I'm taking a stay-cation. I have a whole work-week of family-bonding. By today, I was a bit board. I don't have all of the Christmas toys to entertain me like my daughter does. If I chose to play with my presents like a child, I'd have to explain why I was rolling around in the 8 new pairs of underwear I got and I just don't feel as though I have to justify it. So I cooked.
I made some delicious meatballs and I'm happy to share the how-to.

2 lbs of assorted ground meat. Today I used 1 lb. of ground beef (NOT LEAN), 1/2 lb of hot Italian pork sausage and 1/2 lb of turkey.
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs (Keep the can handy in case your mixture gets too moist)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (You can use the good refrigerated stuff or the Kraft can)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
5 cloves of garlic, minced
Assorted herbs to taste. You can use fresh or dried. I used dried basil, oregano, rosemary and parsley flakes. If it was summertime, I'd probably just use fresh oregano and fresh basil. (I had a very slim window for cooking today due to L.E.'s nap time)
Salt, pepper and a dash of crushed red pepper

1. Wash your hands. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly spray with olive oil cooking spray

3. Place meat in the bowl and set on counter. I like to let it warm up for about 20 minutes or so. You're going to be mixing with your hands and meat is rather cold.

4. Add ingredients in the order listed. Mix with both hands. Put your back into it! Really squeeze it through your palms. You want your mixture to be moist but still able to hold its shape. If you use too many bread crumbs and it seems dry, add another egg to it.

5. Rinse your hands under warm running water (I'm not sure while I'm telling you this because your hands will be so cold by now that you'll be doing this yourself.)

My oven is from 1953.
6. Start rolling! I try to keep the size a bit larger than a golf ball. Using this amount of ingredients, you'll end up with about 30 meatballs.

7. Once all of your balls are rolled, *snicker* bake for 20 minutes. Word of caution: if you used pork sausage or greater-than-85%-lean beef, you will have greasy balls. *double snicker*
Meatballs are done when the outsides are just beginning to brown. You don't want to over-bake them. They're going to be finished in sauce, anyway.

They're not so pretty now but still taste delicious.
8. While the meatballs are in the oven, heat some marinara sauce in a large saucepan. If you want to make homemade, you can't go wrong with Giada. Otherwise, you can use my secret weapon. (No judging; we're busy people!)


9. Put the cooked meatballs into the sauce and simmer. Once the sauce is hot, your balls are ready to eat. You can either serve them with a side of pasta or melt provolone over them and make a tasty meatball sandwich. Don't forget the bread and wine.


We ate before I could get a photo so I stole this nicely-styled one from Gourmet.com

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

'Tis the Season

Really, does Christmas need to mean anything more than a leg lamp?
I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. I love the hustle and bustle as much as I hate the hustle and bustle. I never understand why people put so much pressure on themselves and then I turn into one of them. But this year I've realized that while I'm not the homemade-cookies-and-crafts kind of person, I have a giving spirit. And that's what this season means to me: giving what I can to those I love and even to those I don't know. Christmas is also about tradition; creating new ones while embracing the old.
While I apologize for compiling yet another list, I really want to write about what the holiday season means to me.

  • Eat N Park commercials
  • The memories of my sister and I sliding down the steps on our stomachs in our Winnie-the-Pooh footie pajamas, after waiting what seemed to be hours for Dad to get the video camera set up. It was later in life that we figured out he was moving so slowly because of how hungover he was from his cousin's annual Christmas Eve party the night before.
  • My mom's meticulously decorated home, which would put Martha Stewart to shame.
  • The tacky decorations that still found their way into Mom's meticulously decorated home.
Yes, please get her more Christmas candles.

  • My first Christmas presents from T: A pair of Dr. Marten boots and and giant stuffed dolphin. I still have them.
  • Exchanging gifts with my girlfriends over a fabulous dinner and wine.
  • Singing along to Christmas songs in the car, especially "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer."
  • My sister and I putting on a hilarious performance of the "Twelve Days of Christmas" complete with full-body interpretive dance. Grandma was so patient in watching the whole thing. Every. Single. Year.
  • The 30-person Christmas dinners which would culminate in several hours worth of Left, Right, Center until Pap would yell we were keeping him awake. ("Jesus Christ, what's the matter with you people?! It's 3:00 in the goddamn morning!")
  • This video
  • Appreciating Hanukkah
  • Coming home to packages on my doorstep
  • Holiday sales.
  • FaceTime with L.E.'s super-awesome godparents
  • Prime rib, manicotti and shrimp scampi for Christmas dinner.
  • Chinese food for Christmas Eve lunch or dinner.
  • Driving across town to see Christmas lights.
  • Dressing L.E. in ridiculous holiday garb.

  • Santa pictures!
  • Taking candy and cookies to work so I don't eat it all myself.
  • Feeling comfortable enough in my own skin to know that I am going to spend the entire month of December eating with reckless abandon and not feeling guilty about it.
  • A blizzard of wrapping paper, ribbons, bows and bags.
  • Singing along in church.
  • Wishing for snow.
  • A haphazardly decorated Christmas tree without breakable ornaments (New this year!)
I can't reach!

  • Christmas socks
  • Crying to Christmas songs in the car, especially "Christmas in Canon D".
  • Holiday-themed potholders and dish towels.
  • Keeping seasonal affective disorder at bay.
  • Using the "good" china.
  • All of my obnoxious singing/dancing decorations.
  • 24 hours of "A Christmas Story".
  • Holiday episodes of TV shows. (Last year's Community was epic. And let's not forget Festivus!)
  • Establishing new traditions with my little family.
  • Feeling guilty we won't see our parents but knowing we'll see them in a few months.
  • Giving to those who are less fortunate and promising to do so throughout the year.
  • Believing in Santa.
  • Loving my family and friends more than I could ever dream possible.
It's your turn now. What does the holiday season mean to you?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Random Musings (Because I'm Sick and Can't Stop the Brain Drain)

I can't seem to string too many coherent thoughts together so I just decided to write about all of them.

• How am I sick again? I just got over a cold a week ago only to wake up with an even worse one today. All three of us are fountains of snot. If I knew then what I know now, I would have invested in the company that makes Mucinex.

• Last night, I dreamt Pap came home at 1 am and was peeing with the bathroom door open. Then he wanted me to leave him my car so he could meet me for lunch at the salad bar around the corner. I’m not one for dream interpretation so any insight anybody was would be great. It was nice seeing him again, but I could have done without the open-door peeing.

• Yesterday, we went to the first birthday party for my friend S’s daughter. I was nervous about going because my friend is part of a very close-knit group of girls who all went to college together. I always feel like an outsider in this group, not because of any outward cattiness but because of my own insecurity. Also, there was an incident at S’s baby shower where I accidentally smacked L.E.’s head off of a doorway while trying to prevent dogs from escaping. Needless to say, I felt pretty judged then. So I was pleasantly surprised by the number of S’s friends who said they enjoyed reading my blog. Due to the low self-esteem I’ve written about ad nauseam, I’m always so excited when someone acknowledges they read this. So for that, I say Thanks, ladies!

• It’s the season of giving but I can’t seem to stop giving myself things. My favorite retailers have sales that are too good to pass up!

• Last week, I started a Twitter page for the mouse we found behind the garbage can at work. He had 12 followers within 2 hours, before I freaked out and shut the account down. I'd forgotten to get any sort of permission from the higher-ups about using the company name on a Twitter handle. Lesson learned.

• We’re traveling with L.E. in the spring and I’m nervous about it. Anyone have experience with giving a toddler Benadryl while flying? Does it work? Should my parenting be questioned because I’m considering drugging my child for long-distance travel?

• Sites I like: 
STFU, Parents (Even though I fear I’ll end up on there some day)
Joel Stein's Babble Blog

• L.E. pointed at Tina Fey on 30 Rock the other night and said, "Mommy!" It made me feel so good because I feel like Tina and I would be best buds if we ever met. I loved her book so much; it's the only book I've ever finished and immediately went back to page one.
It just goes to show that if you have thick dark hair, glasses and talk about food a lot, you can be just like Tina! (Minus the $13 million yearly salary that she pretends she doesn't make)

• There was a 5K today that I could have ran but I've regressed and got stuck on week 5 of the program. And because I keep getting sick, I'll probably have to go back as far as week 3 to get back into it. Ugh.

• I’m typing this on my work laptop because my desktop is tied up with the radio broadcast of the Steeler game. So this blog post shouldn’t go towards the advance I’m going to get when I finally get a book deal.

• Yes, a book deal. Next week I’ll finish my degree in social media marketing. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to use what I’ve learned to build my online “brand” and eventually get the book deal I keep hoping for. I’ve wanted to be a writer my whole life. I’m forever grateful for the invention of the internet, otherwise I would have never written a word.

• L.E.’s godparents are visiting in March for her 2nd birthday. I am so excited! But it’s around that time L.E. goes in for her hip x-rays . I keep hoping and praying everything works out but I still worry, too. Going back to my previous thought, for now my online "brand" is Hip-baby Mama. It's a cute nickname; but it's a no-brainer to say that I would trade that in a second and start over completely for L.E. to have normal hips at her next checkup.

With that, I'm signing off to go chug more purple drank. My next post will be about the recent baby bans in restaurants and movie theaters. Look for that one soon!