In the past, I haven’t been a huge fan of Swedish meatballs. The only rendition I’d had of them was from a frozen microwavable meal, and certainly left something to be desired. A couple of years ago, while we were on travel with my husband in DC, Andrew and I were looking for something to do. We’d been to the museums, the National Zoo, and all the upscale grocery stores in the “big city” to stock up on provisions to take home with us. I’d noticed that there was an Ikea about 5 minutes from the hotel, and thought that could be a fun activity to spend some time waiting for “Dad” to get out of work.

Andrew was confined to the stroller at the time, but was a trooper as I investigated ever nook and cranny of the store. I loved the bright colors and patterns of all the textiles, the organization options- a place for everything, the clean simple lines of the furniture. Oh yeah, and the Swedish Meatballs! Halfway through our journey Andrew and I stopped at the cafeteria for a bite to eat. We shared an order of the meatballs, with a side of mashed red potatoes and lingonberry jelly. A far, far cry from the dreaded microwave meals! I knew this dish had to be even better made at home as well. Their meatballs are okay, but they’re still frozen, mass-produced, and chock full of fillers.

I Googled recipes and bookmarked a few, but finally decided on Elise’s version after a recommendation from my best friend. They were absolutely delicious. The rich, beefy, creamy sauce en robes the tender bites of the beef/pork mixture. I was always of the school of the beef meatball, but I think this recipe has made me a convert. They literally melt in your mouth, a different texture completely from a beef meatball.  The recipe makes a lot of meatballs. I think they’d be delightful for a party as an appetizer instead of the traditional red sauce meatballs. The meatballs and sauce would be fine in a Crock-Pot on low for a few hours. I did change the spice combination in them, as I diddn’t have cardamom, and had no problems. I stock up on Lingonberry jelly (and the drink concentrate too!) when I’m at Ikea, but if you can’t find it then I think boysenberry jam or cranberry jelly would be a good alternative.

We’re usually not vegetarian meal people. I hate to say that, because I’d like for us to be more often. I have a few dishes that are meatless that go on the menu, usually about twice a month or so, that I don’t hear griping about. When I told my husband I was putting bean burritos on the menu for last week, I was greeted with a bit of hostility. I’ve got a great chicken recipe for burritos that we love (need to share it!), not to mention all the other awesome filling possibilities for burritos (barbacoa, carnitas, etc.). He wasn’t a happy camper at the thought of beans being the primary filling for a burrito. They’re always an “add in”, and never the star!

Let me tell you, they were so good! I loved them more than my chicken  burritos that I’ve been making for years. The beans are so flavorful and spicy. You can of course add less chipotle, or more, depending on your tastes. Ours was moderately spicy, but Andrew had no problem chowing down. The sour cream certainly helps to quell the spiciness. You could also substitute greek yogurt to shave some calories. I think the extra tang would be great! It fed the three of us for dinner one evening, and then I had leftovers for lunch the next day. Going to make up another batch of the bean filling this week to have in the fridge for lunches for Andrew and I . Make these, you won’t be sorry!

This great little BBQ joint opened on Chincoteague a couple of years ago. They have numerous  wonderful specialty sandwiches, but if I was hard pressed I would have to say my favorite was “The Clipper”. It’s pulled pork, with a fresh fried boneless chicken breast on top, smothered in (get this), bacon jam. It was love at first bite. The sandwich is so large, it feeds you for about 3 days. Sadly, the place is seasonal, so you aren’t able to get this wonderous sandwich in the fall and winter months. I’d been thinking about recreating the bacon jam at home for over a year now. Well last week I finally broke down and took a swing at it, and it turned out wonderfully!

Seemed like the general consensus of the internet pointed to Not Quite Nigella’s recipe. It seemed like a winner to me. I knew the version I had at Woody’s contained bacon, brown sugar, and lots of caramelized onions. The coffee seemed like an interesting addition. Coffee is one of the main ingredients in Red Eye Gravy, which I love. Just like with chocolate, adding coffee doesn’t make it taste like coffee. It just  melds with and intensifies the porkiness. I was a little skeptical of the addition of  maple syrup, but went ahead and went with it anyways.

It is kind of time consuming. It took around 2 hours to cook down to the consistency I wanted. But, once I tasted it, I knew it was well worth the effort. The finished product is not greasy at all. I had expected a ton of fat to settle at the top when I had refrigerated it, but in the morning I was pleasantly surprised to find there was none! Draining most of the bacon grease before cooking the onions takes care of that issue. Since it’s cooked down so much, then pulsed in the food processor, it spreads on toast like a dream. With an over easy or poached egg, and a glass of orange juice it’s an ideal breakfast for the bacon lover without all the mess of frying bacon. It’s also wonderful spread on a crostinis for a quick appetizer.

This rice has been a favorite in our house for a couple of years now. I got it from my good friend Stephanie, who is a California native, and a wonderful cook. It comes together in under a half an hour, allowing you that time to make whatever main dish you may be making. It goes with anything Mexican of course, but we’ve also had it as a side with grilled chicken. Absolutely love it inside a burrito.

I struggled with rice on the stove top for quite some time when I started cooking. It was always mushy, and clumpy. I hate to admit it here – but, for years my preferred method of rice cookery was the microwave. Finally I picked up the tip to sauté the rice in a bit of butter or oil before adding the water. After that, morale improved considerably. I haven’t tried it with brown rice yet, so if you do…please let me know. I’d like to start incorporating more of it into our diet, and I think it would be a relatively easy swap out. I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does. It’s a great side dish to have in your recipe box!