Preparing for a new school year. August 31, 2013

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

The egg holidays are here! March 27, 2013

Filed Under: rosemary roasting blend - Sue Fuirst @ 8:57 pm
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Passover and Easter are all about the egg:  roasting, boiling, coloring, finding.  How about a nice frittata to highlight the season?  Perfect for Easter brunch or a brisket-weary Passover meal .


basic vegetable frittata

6 large eggs

3 tablespoons cream, half and half or milk

¼  teaspoon Basics Fuirst Rosemary Roasting Blend

3 Tablespoons butter, oil or non stick spray

½ onion, diced – leek or scallions work too

1 small potato, cooked and then cut into ½” cubes

1 cup diced vegetables – broccoli, asparagus, spinach, mushrooms – your choice

¼ cup grated cheese


Preheat broiler.

In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, cream and Basics Fuirst Rosemary Roasting Blend.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over a medium flame.  Add 1 tablespoon of butter.  When butter foams, place onions in pan and sauté for 5 minutes.  Add potatoes and vegetables and cook for an additional five minutes.  Melt remaining butter in pan.  Pour in egg mixture.  Stir gently to combine eggs and vegetables.  Let cook until eggs begin to set and the edges look cooked.  Top with grated cheese and place under broiler until cheese melts and turns lightly brown, about 2 minutes.

Slice into wedges and serve.  Serves 4.

Did you see yesterday’s NYTimes? February 15, 2013

Filed Under: rosemary roasting blend - Sue Fuirst @ 7:00 am
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So it seems that Basics Fuirst Spice Blends is right on trend.  Yesterday, the Dining Section of the NYTimes just did a cover article on ready-to-go dinner kits.  Although I don’t provide the fresh ingredients as some of the other companies do, I do provide the measured spices and recipes for putting your own dinner on the table.  Allowing you the flexibility to choose your own produce, protein and perishables.  I fact, teaching you to make your own dinner has been a goal of Basics Fuirst since I first began teaching cooking many years ago.

What to make for dinner is always the question.  Basics Fuirst Spice Blends answers the question for you.  As a friend recently told me, what she likes about my blog is that it allows her to “See what Sue’s cooking” and build on my ideas.    I provide you with user friendly recipes, family friendly flavors and you are always welcome to shoot me and email or give me a call if you need clarification or answers. So, here’s an idea for tonight:


Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms and Tomatoes

4 chicken breast cutlets or 2 breast split and butterflied into 4 pieces

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 shallot, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

10 oz box of white mushrooms, sliced

4 plum tomatoes, diced

½ cup chicken stock

¼ cup white wine

1 heaping teaspoon Basics Fuirst Rosemary Roasting Blend

Kosher salt and pepper

Set large fry pan or sauté pan over medium heat.  When hot add oil to pan and place cutlets in pan.  Do not crowd or overlap the chicken.  Cook a few minutes per side, turn when lightly brown.  When sautéed on both sides, remove to platter and season with Kosher salt and pepper.

Place shallots and garlic in pan and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add mushrooms and sauté until beginning to brown, stirring often.  Add tomatoes and stir to release their liquid.  Stir in Basics Fuirst Rosemary Roasting Blend.  Pour wine and stock into pan and stir to scrape up bits   Boil to reduce and sauce begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.  Sauteed zucchini, a salad or rice all make nice side dishes.