Who doesn’t love a big pile of spaghetti and meatballs? It’s always been a favorite in our home, and for good reason. It’s a comfort food meal that can be prepared in less than an hour, and there’s usually always leftovers which make for great submarine sandwiches later in the week. It’s pretty much your standard meatball recipe…well, except for the addition of powdered gelatin.

I know what you’re probably thinking – gelatin? In ground beef? No thanks! But, hear me out. I don’t like using ground pork or veal in my meatballs, and that’s where the gelatin comes in. It mimics the natural gelatinous goodness that is usually found in veal; giving it that smooth, velvety quality – without, you know, eating infant cows. I use it in my meatloaf too. A tip I picked up from Cook’s Illustrated years ago. Just love them!

A couple weekends ago, my girlfriend and I ventured out to the local flea market. I was hoping to find some unique vintage plates, flatware, linens, etc. to use as props. I’m happy to report that I did, flea markets and yard sales are a great source for stuff like that. There’s also a produce cart there, that a very nice Hispanic lady runs. Most of what she had to offer were things that one would use in Mexican food – chiles, tomatillos, dried beans, cactus (!!), garlic, onions. Everything was gorgeous too. I’m not stretching the truth when I say that it was the most gorgeous spread of produce that I’ve seen around here. I will definitely be going back!

At any rate, I bought a basket of 6 gorgeous, big, dark green poblano peppers for the small sum of $2. I knew I wanted to make chile rellanos for dinner, but we weren’t going to eat that many of them. I sat down to browse my favorite cookbooks and food sites when Courtney from Cook Like A Champion mentioned on the site’s Facebook feed that they were having these burgers for dinner. It was a sign, and I was sold. They were relatively quick to bring together, and absolutely hit the spot. Jon died and went to Heaven. We just had them last week, and he’s already asking for them again.

Poblanos are a relatively mild pepper, so I was worried the flavor would get lost in translation. But, it doesn’t! The flavor of the pepper shined right through the beef. And, the chipotle cream on top is just the perfect complement. Ant leftovers make a delicious dipping sauce for fries! I went full on pig style – and added a slice of Pepperjack cheese. But, eh, you hardly knew it was there. Next time I probably won’t bother. With all this gorgeous weather everyone’s been having, I know you’ve got to be itching to fire up the grill. These burgers are the perfect way to kick start the grilling season!

I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here in Maryland, it’s been in the 70’s all week long. The boys and I have pretty much been living outside the past few days, and its been wonderful. On Wednesday, we had dinner plans with our local kids play group. But as luck with 2 small children would have it, those plans fell through. First thought was to just order a pizza, but we try not to order out too often. We had  some leftover taco meat from earlier on in the week, and a few bell peppers I’d picked up but not used. So, I thought why not a Tex-Mex twist on stuffed peppers?

We really enjoyed them. It was a light enough dinner that I didn’t feel weighed down by it, yet substantial enough that I was completely full and satisfied with one pepper. I used ground sirloin, but ground turkey is always wonderful in an application such as this. I loved the addition of the black beans and corn, I felt it really added a surprising twist that you wouldn’t be expecting in a stuffed pepper. I had made a batch of Spanish rice to go alongside, so I just added some of that to the stuffing mixture. Topped off with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt, it really was a great dinner. Would be an awesome vegetarian dish too, just bump up the amounts of beans and corn. A great way to segue into the lighter, fresher meals of spring that I know we’re all jonesin’ for. Fingers crossed that this beautiful weather holds out through the weekend!

The French Dip. I think that it is, quite possibly, the best sandwich ever. Crusty bread, thinly sliced beef, melted cheese, beefy broth. It’s a meal I’ll turn to often when I want to pull something together quickly. If I have leftover roast beef, that’s great. Or, a good quality roast beef from the deli counter is another feasible option. It’s instances like this in which I wish I had a deli slicer at home. I’ve seen them for around $100, but I don’t know – they seem…cheap. I use a good slicing knife, but it’s hard to get super thin slices. I’ll  get a few good ones, but then my wrists start to get tired and the slices get thicker. No matter, still delicious. A great way to use up your leftover roast beef from Christmas dinner.

I like to use Campbell’s canned beef broth for my dipping jus. If I have any pan drippings left over from the beef, I’ll add them to the broth as well. Also, while I’m generally not a fan of seasoning packets – McCormick does make a really good beef jus mix. I’ve used that in a pinch as well.  Serve alongside some crispy oven fries (that are also delicious dipped in au jus – just sayin’), this is a delicious, easy to put together meal.