Monday, May 27, 2013

Porcupine Meatballs

Time for another recipe!
This one is a staple and the ultimate comfort food for our family.  The recipe comes from hubby's grandma, and she says that I'm the meatball maker in the family now because she likes how I make them even better than how she does.
I always double the recipe so that we have leftovers to eat the next day.  They make a great lunch!  I'm all for simple recipes with few ingredients!

For one batch:
1 lbs ground beef
1 egg
1 box beef-flavored rice-a-roni

In a bowl, mix the beef, egg, and rice from the rice-a-roni.  In a largeish pot, mix the amount of water needed for the rice-a-roni (2 1/2 cups) and the seasoning packet.

Form the meat mixture into balls, about a small handful per meatball
  I always double the recipe, so this is 2lbs meat, 2 eggs, and 2 boxes of rice a roni
Start bringing the water/seasoning mixture in the pot up to a boil
Very lightly brown the meatballs in a skillet with enough oil to keep them from sticking to the pan

Put the browned meatballs into the pot with the water/seasoning, and bring to a boil.
I know this picture looks absolutely gross, but they turn out delicious!

Cover and boil the meatballs for 45 minutes to an hour (or until the rice is cooked through).  This finishes cooking the meat as well, so don't worry about putting raw meat in the pot.
While the meatballs are cooking, whip up a batch of mashed potatoes for a side.  I sometimes heat up some green beans as well for a full meal.
Use the liquid left in the pot as gravy over the mashed potatoes and enjoy!
This isn't exactly a quick meal, but it's easy enough and works for weeknight dinners as well as weekends!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Here fishy, fishy!

Man, I am so not good at this whole blogging thing when life gets busy!
Today, I have a story about paybacks...and an apology to my parents for everything I ever did as a kid!  I know they were snickering "paybacks" watching this all unfold over this past weekend!
This past weekend was Viking Fest...the smalltown festival that every small town has every year celebrating whatever it is that they celebrate, complete with the carnival rides and games.
Well, hubby is the president of one of the local Kiwanis clubs, and his club had a booth at Viking Fest this year, serving roast beef sandwiches.  He had signed up to work the booth for the weekend, and I figured I'd tag along and help since a) they needed help and b) if I wanted to see him at all over the weekend, then this was how it was going to happen.  The boy tagged along because everyone in the Kiwanis group loves him, and we weren't going to leave him with someone else over the weekend.  We do things together as a family, including service things like this.  Being 4 1/2 years old, it is a whole heckuva lot to ask of him to be in the booth all day, so we got him a ride bracelet for the carnival so that we could take breaks with him and let him be a boy and have fun.  It's a whole lot cheaper to get the ride bracelet for unlimited rides than it is to buy ride tickets at $1 apiece, and the "cheapest" ride being 3-4 tickets.  Carnivals are such a ripoff!  I digress...
Anyway, I took the boy over to the carnival first thing when it opened.  We had already been working at the booth for 3 hours, and he was getting squirrely.  We walked over, and he saw the fish game...I told him "NO FISH!!!"  He replied, "ok, momma" and went on his merry way to go on all the rides his heart desired.  After about an hour or so, it was getting to be lunch time and I decided that we should probably go back to help in the booth again since they were probably going to be busy.  He agreed and back to the booth we went.  After about an hour or so of him yelling "Roaf beef sammiches!  Get your roaf beef sammiches!" out the window of the trailer, a fellow Kiwanis member (and one of the boy's favorites) said he needed a break and took the boy with him over to the carnival to burn off some more energy.
Remember my "no fish!"?  Well...imagine mine and hubby's surprise when the boy comes running back to the booth with a bag of fish in hand, and our friend laughing his butt off about it!  We both let out a groan and a huge "NOOOOOOO!!!!!"  This got everyone laughing at us.  It was now our turn to be the parents that their kid brought back a bag of prize feeder fish to!  Being the good and loving parents we are, after our shift was done for the day, we took him up to the pet store to get all the necessary equipment for a fish (or two).  When we got to the register to pay for everything, we were informed that the tank we got was much to small to house the fish.  We got a long story about how it's a myth that feeder fish only grow to the size of their environment, and blahblahblah.  (I beg to differ because my sisters and I did the exact same thing to my parents, and we had 6 feeder fish in a 10 gallon tank, and they lived for 15 years.  When one died, the rest would get just a little bit bigger)  We honestly didn't really care because we didn't want fish in the first place.  Goldfish, while relatively easy to keep, are dirty!  We were then informed that we could surrender the fish to them and get something else.  We were steered toward a betta fish because it can live in the size of tank that we bought very easily, they don't get much bigger, and they are relatively low maintenance.  Hubby agreed...he had had a number of betta fish, and goldfish growing up and said that hands-down they were easier to keep.
In honor of our good friend, say hello to Mr. John...
The only problem was that unbeknownst to us, Mr. John was sick.  We got home that night and put the fish in his new tank, and gave him some food...only he never ate the food.  We chalked it up to a little bit of shock being in a new environment and him getting used to a new home.  A few hours later, and he still hadn't eaten and I also noticed some sort of cottony fluff growing on his tail.  A google search and several websites later, I discovered that a lot of fish fanatics say that bettas are finicky and not easy to keep.  What do I know...hubby then told me to stop googling things and to ignore what people say on forums.  You sure do find a whole range of stuff out there!  Anyway...we went to bed that night, and when I checked on Mr. John in the morning, he had more fungus growing on him and wasn't looking too good.  By this time, hubby was already back at Viking Fest for day 2, and the boy and I were going to join him there a bit later in the day.  I decided to make a trip to walmart to get some fungus treatment for the fish and pray that it would work.  I warned the boy that the fish was sick and that this might not help.  Sure enough, by the time we got home that evening, Mr. John was no more.  The boy was a little upset, but not inconsolable.  We promised that we would get him a new fish the next day.
Fast forward to the next day after work and we're back at the pet store, dead fish in hand (bowl), and we're looking for a new fish.  While bettas really are relatively low maintenance, they do enjoy water that's a bit warmer than the room temperature that water is in our house.  We tend to keep our house on the cool side, and with a fish that apparently likes water in the 70-degree and more range, it wasn't going to happen unless we had a heater for the tank.  After asking many, many questions, and scrutinizing over every betta they had in there, we left the store with a new fish, a small tank heater, thermometer, and fungus treatment (in case this fish got sick).
Say hello again to Mr. John...
The boy decided that he wants to name every fish he gets "Mr. John".  4 days later and we're still going strong with this Mr. John.  He's happy and healthy and has a voracious appetite!  I'm not sure if it's sad or if it's funny when the boy mentions on the way home every afternoon that he has to go check "to see if Mr. John is dead" and then very happily yells "Nope! He's still alive!".
So...we're now fish owners for the time being.  As much as we love animals, we don't plan on adding any more to our family any time soon!  A dog and a fish are more than enough!
Also, to my mom and dad...I'm sorry for bringing home those fish from that halloween carnival all those years ago!