Preparing for a new school year. August 31, 2013

Filed Under: food chatter,italian seasoning - Sue Fuirst @ 3:41 pm
Tags: , ,

It’s time for a new school year and as I said in my blog post on April 4, 2013, meatballs and spaghetti is the go-to meal for our significant events.  When my middle son left for his first year in college a few weeks ago, of course that’s what he requested.  However, he put a spin on it.  He wanted a vegetarian version.  I needed to find a recipe that will satisfy the need for familiar tradition while still placate the other family members who would prefer meat in their meatballs. I worked hard on this.  Beans and lentils are a natural alternative, as are hearty grains. But after some experimentation, I settled on eggplant and portabella mushrooms as the meat substitute.  Try this.  It was a meat-free success in my house!

vegetarian meatballs

1 large eggplant, peeling and diced into ½” chunks

3 portabella mushrooms, diced into ½” chunks

4 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup unseasoned bread crumbs

½  cup grated parmesan

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste

1 heaping tablespoon Basics Fuirst Italian Seasoning

1 cup flour


Preheat oven to 400º.


In a large bowl, toss the diced eggplant and portabella mushrooms with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.  Place the vegetables on baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly.


Lower oven to 350º.


Drain any liquid from the vegetables and pass through a food grinder or pulse in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Place in a bowl with the bread crumbs, parmesan, eggs, tomato paste and Basics Fuirst Italian Seasoning.  Gently mix to combine all of the ingredients.


Set large fry pan or sauté pan over medium heat.  Add remaining two tablespoons of oil.  Place flour in a small bowl.  Form mixture into 2” balls, roll in flour to fully cover and place in pan with hot oil.  Turn several times to brown all around. Repeat until all mixture is used adding additional oil to the pan if needed. Place browned meatballs on clean baking sheet.  Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes.


Vegetarian meatballs are more fragile than true meatballs.  Serve with red sauce and pasta.  makes approximately 18 meatballs.

Do Take Basics Fuirst Spice Blends on Vacation… August 13, 2013

Filed Under: food chatter - Sue Fuirst @ 7:35 pm

…don’t eat out every night.

Do you know that Basics Fuirst Spice Blends were created to go on vacation?  For many years, I struggled to decide which spices to bring to our rented beach house.  I didn’t intend to cook every night but didn’t want to eat out or take in everyday either.  Then it came to me – I don’t really need individual spices – but a few good blends.   These blends, like Asian BBQ Rub and Tandoori Seasoning, became my go-to meals.  Kind of like the favorite shorts or beach cover up that you reach for every day even though your brought a selection to wear.

A few good spice blends, travel sizes of olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar and quality salt and pepper, teamed with fresh vegetables and protein are all you truly need to make a great meal.  Email me before you leave for the shore, mountains or lake and I’ll put together a Basics to Go Pantry for you.

Happy Travels.


Yikes, it’s Mid-August Already! August 10, 2013

Filed Under: Asian BBQ rub,Cassoulet seasoning,Chili seasoning,italian seasoning,rosemary roasting blend,Tandoori spice blend - Sue Fuirst @ 6:40 pm

Why does summer always go so quickly?  I’m just getting into my grilling groove.  Here’s a simple recipe for all of that corn I saw at the Farmer’s Market today.

Seasoned Corn on the Cob

Shuck 6 ears of corn.  Lightly brush each ear of corn with melted butter.  Season with the Basics Fuirst Spice Blend of your choosing.  (My go-to for this is Chili Seasoning.) Wrap each ear in foil and place on a hot barbecue grill.  Cook for 10 minutes, turning frequently.  Serves 6.