family cooking

Swedish Meatballs - 2018 UPDATE

Christmas.
1988.
A savory but sweet aroma filled my grandparent's house. The cozy kitchen packed with family. My grandpa cranked the window to let out the heat from the overworked oven; my grandma fanned herself with an oven mitt. I’d watch the bustle about as food shuttled into the dining room. 
Mashed potatoes. 
Rolls.
But what everyone wanted was the Swedish meatballs.     
Growing up, I loved watching my grandparent’s cook and bake. Even a simple grilled cheese was special to me. 
It was made with love. 
My Swedish meatball recipe differs from the one I grew up eating, but it’s still made with love. It is soy allergy friendly, but that doesn’t mean it lacks taste. It is also lactose-free. With all my recipes, I urge people to use them as a foundation but make them their own.  Adjust ingredients. I want to give you that bridge and show you great food can be created with alternatives. 
Many memories have been made in the kitchen while cooking. Stories shared. Laughter. That is what makes food great.

Over the years, I've been asked by many for this recipe.

Here it is.

For the most part measured out. I'm a trial and error cook. I taste everything.  

Gather your breadcrumb goodness.

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Panera's Country Loaf is soy free but if that isn't an issue for you, please use whatever bread you like. Rosemary, Thyme, and garlic are also on the list.

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Many people know I'm a huge fan of CampMix and use it often in my recipes. Black Truffle Sea Salt is optional, but I add it for a little extra flavor.

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Cube your bread. I do the entire loaf because leftovers make excellent salad croutons. 

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Combine the seasonings, herbs, and garlic into the chopper. 

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Pour olive oil over the bread until every piece is coated. Combine the mixture and bread crumbs. Preheat oven to 390. Spread them out on a cooking sheet. Bake until golden brown. Leave your oven on 390 for the meatballs.

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Allow those to cool. 

Depending on how much you want in the meatball mixture, I pour all of my bread into a food processor. It will grind up in different sizes, which I like. 

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Put the breadcrumbs aside.

Time for the meatballs.

When available I use bison, but typically I use beef and pork.

Typically, I use 2lbs of meat. When cooking for just my family, I use a little over a 1lb.

In a bowl, combine beef, pork, breadcrumbs (go light and add as you go) and sprinkle on a bit more CampMix. When you make a meatball, make sure each one has some breadcrumbs. If they don't, add more to the mixture.

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I do use non-stick foil but also dab on a bit of olive oil.

Cook until brown. Usually between 20-25 minutes. I always cut one in half to check the middle. If it's a bit pink, that's okay because the meatballs will be cooking in the crockpot for a couple of hours. 

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As the meatballs do their thing in the oven, it's time to work on the gravy. 

In a pan, on medium heat, melt the butter. Add flour. Whisk. Add beef broth. Bring to a simmer. Add in the white part (at the top) into the gravy. This works as an excellent dairy substitute. Most Swedish meatball recipes use heavy cream or sour cream. It adds a bit of sweetness to the gravy. The gravy will thicken more in the crockpot. Whisk and carefully pour into the crockpot. 

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The crockpot should be on a low setting. About an hour in, I'll bump up the heat.  

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Add the meatballs. Slowly. Even all the goodness on the foil. Stir in and add more meatballs. Depending on the number of batches. It's 1lb per cooking sheet. 

Stir occasionally. 

The house will smell delicious. 

2 - 3 hours later...

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During holidays I will add lingonberry jam to the dish. The taste is similar to a cranberry sauce. The combination of lingonberry, mashed potatoes, and meatballs is a trifecta of euphoric bliss. Food coma will happen.

After you dish out some meatballs, turn the crockpot to keep warm. They are even better 3 hours later when the post-dessert grazing starts.  

Ingredients

For the breadcrumbs:

1 loaf of bread

Fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage

2 cloves of garlic

CampMix (salt, pepper, white pepper, garlic salt, and celery salt)

For the meatballs:

Breadcrumbs

1lb of 92/8 beef

1/2lb 80/20 beef

1/2lb of bison (if available) or 1/2lb of pork 

For the gravy sauce (optional):

1/3 cup butter

1/4 cup of all-purpose flour

1 cup beef broth

2 tablespoons of the beef/pork fat from the pan

3 tablespoons of coconut milk (white at the top)

CampMix 

 

CampMix purchased here.

Products used in this recipe: 

 

 

 

I Speak French Fries

My son is a die-hard french fry fanatic. Since he was little, it was all about the french fries and ketchup. Ore Ida was our go-to brand until I started to read the ingredients. In 2015 I was diagnosed with a soy allergy, on top of already having a sensitivity to lactose. Did I mention I have IBS? Good times. My initial thought was, what the hell am I going to eat? Soy is in almost EVERYTHING. Even vitamins and seasonings. The IBS peppermint oil capsules I was taking had soy in them. Really? 

Since then I've educated myself about food, as has our son. When he read soybean oil on the ingredient list for Ore Ida french fries, Logan no longer wanted to eat them, and we didn't blame him. 

                                                                Ew

                                                                Ew

Our solution was simple. Make homemade fries in our air fryer

We searched on Amazon for a fry cutter and found this beauty.

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New Star Foodservice 43204 Commercial Grade French Fry Cutter for $89.95. We could hand cut the potatoes, but we decided to go this route. Easy to cut and easy cleanup. Worth the investment. 

Let's get to the good stuff. How to make delicious homemade french fries with a bit of olive oil and seasonings.

I use russet potatoes. Skin and everything. Put your potatoes in the refrigerator. They will cut easier.

For two people I use three potatoes really, it depends on the size of the potatoes. When our son has his friends over the teenagers can quickly go through 5lbs of potatoes. The homemade fries are a huge deal for them.

You'll get an arm workout. But the suction cups help a great deal. I tip the bowl into the fry cutter; the potatoes fall right in. 

Preheat the air fryer to 380

In the bowl drizzle light tasting olive oil over the potatoes. Shake. Add your favorite seasoning. I prefer CampMix (my go to), but you can use season salt or just salt and pepper. It depends on the level you enjoy your fries. Some like salty and crispy others like less salt and not full-on crispy. 

Pour into the air fryer basket. Cook for about 25-30 minutes. Depending on desired crispiness. Every 7-10 minutes shake the potatoes in the basket or use a spatula to move them about for an even cook. 

I add a dash of salt and boom! Delicious homemade fries without all the ick ingrediants.

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Is it more work than popping fries in the microwave or oven? Yes. But I feel there is value to homemade meals. You know what you are eating. You're feeding your body a better way. It's also fun when the family gets involved. For us, cooking together is our time to talk about our day, discuss life, or sing weird songs. We have food fights. We get messy. We have fun and enjoy one another. Cooking for my boys brings me happiness, it's also an excellent stress reliever. My recipes may not look fancy. I don't do the videos. My camera is six years old. But I cook from the heart, and I want to share my joy with you. 

If you make one of my recipes, please let me know how it turns out. What personal touch did you add? I'd love to see your photos. 

Now get yourself an air fryer. Trust me; you'll thank me later. 

What You'll Need:

Air Fryer - preheat 380

A way to slice the potatoes into even cuts

1 bag of russet potatoes - use as many as you want

Light tasting olive oil

Seasonings of your choice (Uber fan of CampMIX)

Products used in this recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

Say Hello To My Little Friend

I was introduced to the air fryer this past summer by a dear friend. She raved about how awesome and easy it was. Immediately, I reached for my phone, pulled up the Amazon app and searched air fryer. A bit overwhelmed I scrolled down the page. I read reviews. Weighed my options but held off on the purchase because we were in the midst of relocating and the last thing I wanted to do was have another piece of kitchen equipment to pack.

When we settled into our new home an air fryer was one of the first things I purchased.

Simple Chef Air Fryer - Air Fryer For Healthy Oil Free Cooking - 3.5 Liter Capacity

                             Image from Amazon  Product description: Air fried french fries contain up to 70% less fat than deep fried french fries, so if you're looking for a guilt-free (or guilt-reduced) way to enjoy some of your favorite foods, it's time to join the air-frying revolution! The Simple Chef Air Fryer features temperature controls ranging from 180 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, a 30 minute standby timer, dishwasher safe non-stick basket and pan, rapid hot air circulation, overheat protection, and a satisfaction guarantee.

                             Image from Amazon

Product description: Air fried french fries contain up to 70% less fat than deep fried french fries, so if you're looking for a guilt-free (or guilt-reduced) way to enjoy some of your favorite foods, it's time to join the air-frying revolution! The Simple Chef Air Fryer features temperature controls ranging from 180 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, a 30 minute standby timer, dishwasher safe non-stick basket and pan, rapid hot air circulation, overheat protection, and a satisfaction guarantee.

It sells for $59.99. Great price, especially for air fryer newbies such as myself. The instructions guided me at what temperatures to cook chicken, pork chops, potatoes, etc. Through experimenting, I discovered those times and temperatures can be adjusted slightly. 

It had me at your-whole-chicken-is cooked-in-45-minutes. 

Oven? What oven?

Not having my oven on during summer in Florida made me a happy woman. 

The basket inside has holes and disconnects from the pan--where any drippings will go--both are dishwasher safe but I used my daily and hand washed it with soap and a dish scrubber. It's non-stick which made it easy.

The rapid hot air crisps chicken, browns pork chops and toasts up grilled cheese. There is a vent in the back. Don't touch it while it's on, it's quite hot. No oil is needed. I know, weird right? I still use a bit of olive oil when I make homemade french fries. The seasonings stick to the potatoes better. My son loves to cook steak and pork chops in it. The steak isn't as brown on the outside like if you grill it but it tastes delicious. I do preheat the air fryer for a couple of minutes.

It can comfortably fit two bone-in pork chops, 2-3 chicken breasts, and about 9-12 chicken drumettes. When I make french fries I shake them up every few minutes for even crispiness. The heating element is at the top of the air fryer.    

My one complaint with this model is after a few uses the latch which locked the pan into place was loose. At times, it would pop open a bit. I know I used it a lot but I thought it would last longer than 2 months. It stopped working one September afternoon. 

Darn it. I guess I'll have to purchase a bigger one. 

Avalon Bay Air Fryer, For Healthy Fried Food, 3.7 Quart Capacity

                      Image from Amazon  Product description: Avalon Bay is simply giving you the opportunity to fry, bake, grill or roast your food, but in a healthier way. Features: 3.2 liter oil-less air fryer includes 2 piece baking set and cookbook 30 minute timer non-slip feet removable basket for easy transfer of food temperature up to 400 degrees 1400 watts/120 volts. Don’t deep fry your food, air fry your food in this healthy mini convection oven. Air fryers work the same way as convection ovens, but better. 

                      Image from Amazon

Product description: Avalon Bay is simply giving you the opportunity to fry, bake, grill or roast your food, but in a healthier way. Features: 3.2 liter oil-less air fryer includes 2 piece baking set and cookbook 30 minute timer non-slip feet removable basket for easy transfer of food temperature up to 400 degrees 1400 watts/120 volts. Don’t deep fry your food, air fry your food in this healthy mini convection oven. Air fryers work the same way as convection ovens, but better. 

I decided on this one due to a number of positive reviews, and I didn't read anything about the latch loosening or the pan popping open. This one sells for $72.99.  

The added space does make a bit of difference when it comes to larger pieces of meat. Though a small cookbook (pamphlet) did accompany the air fryers, it's basic. I found more recipes and ideas on Pinterest. Quickly I became comfortable using my air fryer and doing my own thing. I love experimenting with food and creating new recipes.

One of the main reasons I love my air fryer is not only because it cuts down on cooking time but it has given my quirky teenage son the confidence to cook on his own. Logan has never been comfortable using the oven or stove. He'd do it, but there would be anxiety. With the air fryer, he can season ribs or pork chops, put them in the basket, set the timer and temperature and in less than 30 minutes have lunch. If I'm not home, I don't worry about anything homeowners-insurance- worthy to occur.

Logan's face of success when he plates his food warms this mamas soul.

Many teenagers don't know how to cook and when they leave the nest they tend to eat a lot of processed foods. I did the same thing when I was 17 and after I was married. I didn't teach myself to cook real food until after I was 30. I believe those processed foods contributed to my digestive and food allergies; I don't want Logan to go through that.

Plus, his future wife will thank me when he can whip up a lovely dinner under 45 minutes.

This small kitchen appliance has made a huge difference.

This review is just a woman and her thoughts.

There are many out there. Take your time and do your research. I'm asked all the time "What the heck is an air fryer?" I didn't know what it was either up until 5 months ago. We all lead busy lives, why not make it simpler and healthier? I hope I helped a little bit on your decision to purchase an air fryer.  

Logan and I are going to post our recipes in the coming weeks, stay tuned for those. We have some good ones. 

If you have questions, please feel free to ask.