Mushrooms and Meatballs… Mmmmm

We had a really hard time, that weekend in April, deciding what we really wanted to eat (although we did have a special request from Flora’s husband to make some mushrooms). We decided to cook Burgundy Mushrooms (Accidental Country Girl, p 202). What goes great with mushrooms? Why, meatballs, of course! We decided to make the Whiskey Mustard Meatballs (Food from My Frontier, p 112), an excellent choice.

Flora wanted potatoes and there are so many recipes to choose from among “The Pioneer Woman Cooks” series. Crash potatoes, mashed potatoes, twice baked, stuffed, and skins; the list goes on. I think the thing that pushed us to our final decision was the bacon in her Twice Baked Potatoes (Accidental Country Girl, p 152). Twice-baked it would be! The vegetables were easier: Flora went to Aldi’s and the asparagus caught her eye. We would be fixing Roasted Asparagus (Dinner Time, p 280). She also picked up an eggplant that was just too pretty to resist. We would end up slicing and frying it.

Burgundy Mushrooms

The mushrooms weren’t actually “Burgundy” mushrooms, since the wine I had on hand was a lovely Cabernet Sauvignon. The mushrooms simmer for several hours in order to cook down the liquid ingredients, so we started those first. The liquid ingredients include butter, wine, Worchestershire sauce, and water with bouillon cubes. With the Cabernet, the mushrooms cooked down to a deep purple color and were absolutely delicious.

I did not have any dill seed, so it was omitted (and, honestly, not missed), but we did include garlic salt, salt, and pepper. We love mushrooms SO MUCH that we actually quartered them, rather than cooking them whole, so there would at least be the visual impression that we had more of them.

Whiskey Mustard Meatballs

The meatballs were made with beef and pork, Dijon mustard, and bread crumbs, using an egg as a binder. They were browned first, then we finished cooking them in some broth, Crown Royal, more Dijon mustard, Worstershire sauce and cream. We didn’t go overboard on the sauce because we knew certain people (every adult in the house) were going to put those luscious mushrooms right over top of their meatballs. I was worried about a flavor clash; fortunately there was not one!

Twice-Baked Potatoes

What can I say… bacon, cheese and potatoes are heaven in a bite. Flora got these baking while I working on the meatballs. The recipe calls for luscious dairy (sour cream, butter, and sharp cheddar cheese) along with the bacon, green onions and seasonings. They do take a bit of effort and stubbornness: you bake them, scoop them out, mix up the insides with the yummies, then stuff the hollowed out skins the the mixture and bake again. Please take my word for it: they are totally worth the effort. We concluded that next time we will need to make a larger recipe.

Flora is really good with kids, and she took the time to show my granddaughter how to do the potatoes. Melted my heart!

Roasted Asparagus

The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for roasted asparagus is absolute perfection. That is, until you start to feel you can improve upon perfection by adding the flavors of lemon and garlic on the asparagus. We modified her recipe ever so slightly by using a lemon-infused olive oil, lemon pepper, and a bit of garlic salt. I didn’t think perfection could become even more perfect, but somehow it did.

Fried Eggplant

We didn’t follow a recipe for the eggplant; Flora made an egg wash and set up some corn meal, flour and seasonings. Whenever I use eggplant, I prefer to sweat out the bitterness before cooking it. That is accomplished by sprinkling salt over the slices and leaving them in a colander for a while. After sweating the slices, we fried the breaded eggplant slices in vegetable oil. I really didn’t think anyone else besides Flora, her husband David, and myself, would even try it due to the potential for picky eaters among our numbers, but it disappeared very quickly!

When all was said and done, this was a delicious meal with some of our favorite comfort foods. It plated up well, too! We will definitely be making those potatoes and mushrooms again, and SOON. The meatballs were wonderful, too. I have used the Whiskey-Mustard sauce with other meats quite successfully.

Wait! What about Dessert? PIES!

I am sure it has become clear by now that Flora loves baking, even more than cooking. She decided to treat us to three of her specialty pies: Coconut, Chocolate, and Lemon Meringue. How to choose? Eat a piece of each! You will not be disappointed.

I can just hear Andie MacDowell singing:

Pie, Pie, me oh my! Nothing tastes sweet, wet, salty and dry all at once. Oh well, it’s pie. Apple! Pumpkin! Minced meat an’ wet bottom. Come to your place every day if you’ve got ’em. Pie, me oh my, I love pie.

from the movie “Michael”