Slow-Cooker Meatball Sandwiches

Meatball Sandwich | The Kitten Kitchen

On top of my hoagy,
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed.

Okay, so it’s “spaghetti” and not “hoagy,” but I had to get “On Top of Spaghetti” stuck in your head while you contemplate the delicious dinner that is about to come out of your slow cooker if you make this recipe. I also didn’t lose my meatball when someone sneezed, though that would be okay because if someone sneezed on my meatball, go ahead and let that thing roll away, and give me a new one. Yuck.

Chris loved these meat-ah-ballz-ah, and he thinks meatballs are normally dry and boring. Not these. These meatballs, oh my gosh, they were so good–juicy, tender and flavorful. And you don’t have to use them on hoagies, grinders, subs, sandwiches (whatever your part of the world calls them)–slap those pups on some spaghetti, and you’re still in for a treat.

Cook some meat-ah-balls-ah after the jump

Baseball Cupcakes

Baseball Cupcakes | The Kitten Kitchen

I love baseball. I love the Cincinnati Reds. I love Joey Votto. The MLB 2014 All-Star Game is coming up. All of these facts mean that it’s time to eat a baseball cupcake.

My favorite baseball memory, and I have a few, goes back to September 23, 2012 when the Cincinnati Reds clinched the National League Central Division. It was a 6-0 victory against the Dodgers. I was sitting in the Frontgate suite, arguably one of the best places to watch a baseball game in Cincinnati. It was all-you-can-eat-and-drink. So, uh…. heaven, basically. I even got to meet Gapper, one of the mascots! But man, being in the stadium when they clinched was awesome. Everyone was jumping up and down, strangers were hugging, the players were piled on top of each other – it was just a great moment. If that was an amazing feeling, I can’t imagine how a World Series win would feel. I get weepy even thinking about the possibility.

::Wake up, Daniele::

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Oh yes. Where were we? Baseball. Cupcakes. The Reds winning the World Series again in my lifetime, and I’m at the game watching, cheering, weeping…

Okay. I’m back. I’m back. Sorry you lost me again for a minute.

The All-Star Game. Five…count ‘em, FIVE…Cincinnati Reds players (Devin Mesoraco, Todd Frazier, Johnny Cueto, Alfredo Simon and Aroldis Chapman) are on this year’s roster, and the National League is predicted to win. This is the first time since 1991 that Cincinnati has had five players on the roster.

So, in honor of everything baseball, here is a baseball cupcake recipe. Enjoy.

Batter, batter, batter, SUH-WING (cupcake) batter…after the jump

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse | The Kitten Kitchen

July 14 is Bastille Day, a national holiday in France that commemorates the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the French Revolution. The Bastille was a prison and a symbol of Louis XVI’s power and antiquated regime. By storming it, a message was sent—the king’s power needed to go bye bye. It worked, and the event became a symbol of liberty and the fight against oppression—the birth of a Republic.

Just like Fourth of July in America, it symbolizes the beginning of a new form of government, and also just like Fourth of July in America, it’s largely celebrated. There is a huge military parade in Paris (the oldest and largest in Europe), and countries like Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, India, New Zealand and South Africa celebrate with street festivals, flea markets, food, wine and fireworks.

I always remember Bastille Day because my dear sweet mother (Monique) and my grandmother (Mona) are from France! My mother was born in St. Raphael, France. She lived there, Trans-En-Provence and many other places, like Morocco, before she came to the United States when she was 11 years old. I spoke with my mom a little bit about her experience there. Most of what she said I already knew, but thought it would be cool to share a little about my family with you.

Mom & Me | The Kitten Kitchen

This is my mom and me at my bridal shower in 2011. Isn’t she cute?

What’s your favorite French food? Tomates farcies. Tomatoes stuffed with meat and herbs.

What’s your favorite memory of growing up in France? Staying with my grandmother and eating her cooking. She used to take me mushroom picking in the woods. She knew which ones to pick.

If you could go back to France right this second, what’s the first thing you would do? Visit the countryside to see the lavender, farms and greenery. Walk on the beaches.

What do you miss most about France? My family, the beauty of the country and the sea.

What would you tell someone deciding to visit France for the very first time? Visit outside of the cities. Eat at small restaurants because they have the best food. Visit the old sections of the cities—the old buildings, fountains and markets are beautiful, and so are the people.

So there you have it. My mom is awesome. And you probably need to book a trip to France, pronto. Or you could whip up some chocolate mousse, light a sparkler and celebrate from your backyard, wherever you may be.

I can help with the mousse part after the jump

Simple Pasta Caprese

Pasta Caprese | The Kitten Kitchen

I’m sitting on my couch sipping some white wine, wishing I had more mozzarella cheese because I really want to make this dish again. It was so quick and simple, which has been great this week because I’m dealing with a sick kitty cat. I feel this topic is relevant because the blog is titled, “The Kitten Kitchen,” and I have many “kittens.” Four to be exact. And Miss Eleanor RigbyCat is the queen bee in this humble abode.

It was always just the two of us. Two peas in a pod. Best friends forever. Then I got a boyfriend, Chris, now my husband. Then we adopted three more boy kitties. Needless to say, she wasn’t thrilled, but she has nothing to complain about. She basically has her own apartment upstairs with her own litter box, special food and huge king-sized bed. Don’t feel too sorry for her.

But seriously, she’s one of my soul mates.

I found Ellie in my backyard when I lived in old apartment in Newport, Kentucky. I thought she was pregnant, but it turned out she had a huge hernia in her belly area. There was a tear in the area where she was spayed, and all her organs leaked through that tear. I’m sure I’m not explaining this with medical precision, but I remember that was the gist. She was almost put to sleep during the surgery because it was so extensive, but she ended up coming out of it with flying colors.

A few years later, I found out that she was having pain in her chest, and when I casually brought up the hernia thing, the doctor said she was probably hit by a car at one point, broke her ribs, and they eventually healed improperly, leading to chest pain. He said the force of the car hitting her probably also caused the internal tear that led to the hernia. Other problems she’s had include having her two front fangs pulled because of infections, anemia and arthritis. And, earlier this year she was diagnosed with kidney disease. So, she has to take two pills, two times a day, and we give her fluids once a day through a needle in the  back of her scruff. She just sits there and stares at you. Such a lovely, good girl she is.

The lady that used to live next door to me in Newport said that she thinks Ellie lived outside by herself for almost 1o years. That means she’s probably about a teenager now. Time for me to worry. She was lying down in her litter box the other day, chillin’ (and not peeing), so I assumed the worst. She got some blood work done, and we found out today that she is now severely anemic, and not producing enough of a hormone (erythropoietin), so we are going to have to start giving her some shots three times a week or so. She’s not suffering though. That’s what I was worried about. She’s still lovey, purring and all up in my face, so those are all good signs. Send some good vibes her way, if you’re so inclined.

This was a long-winded way of telling you that I really needed something quick to make for dinner the other night. I was stressed, worried and tired. And this dish delivered. It was warm when I served it, and the next day I ate the leftovers cold, which means it’d be a great dish to bring to a picnic!

Make the simplest pasta dish ever…after the jump

Grilled Artichokes

Grilled Artichokes | The Kitten Kitchen

Sung to the tune of “O Tannenbaum

::clears throat::

Oh, artichokes.
Oh, artichokes.
I dip you in some butter.

Oh, artichokes.
Oh, artichokes.
I dip you in some butter.

You fill me up in summertime.
I eat you in a bunch-a bites.

Oh, artichokes.
Oh, artichokes.
I dip you in some butter.

If you don’t know already, now you do—I, Daniele Cusentino, love artichokes. Boiled, stuffed, grilled, you-name-it, I’ll eat it. I especially love artichoke hearts, and if there were an award available to people that can eat a jar in one sitting, I would be a contender.

Since we’re coming up on a long celebratory weekend here in the good ol’ USA, I figured I would share a grilled, easily transportable version of artichokes to take wherever your family units will be gathering.

Disclaimer: Be prepared to answer a few questions since people tend to get weird around artichokes. It’s only because they look strange, and people aren’t quite sure how to eat them. Teach them, you shall. And if you’re clueless, too, that’s okay! You’ll be prepared to field all the inquiries after reading this entire blog post.

Get grillin’ after the jump

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice | The Kitten Kitchen

I crave red beans and rice a lot. You could serve it on a bed of poop, and I’d probably eat it. Gross, I know, but it had to be said.

The delicious, beautiful dish is typically served on Mondays in the Louisiana Creole community, which means I should probably move there so I can get my fix every week.

Alright, I’m not really going to move there. It’s too hot. So I took it upon myself to try to make my own. I’m going to be honest—it took a while. The beans really have to simmer for a long time in the liquids before they become creamy, but the end result is divine.

It’s also worth noting that a true Louisianian would probably scoff at this version, but I made it this way because tasso ham isn’t readily available in the Midwest. I could have added Andouille sausage, but I forgot to add it to my grocery list. I did, however, add a tip to make sure that you know when to add it if you prefer some sausage in your recipe.

After I just typed that last paragraph, I searched for tasso online in Cincinnati and found that you can reportedly purchase it at Findlay Market in Cincinnati. Duly noted, Internet, Duly noted.

So, anyway, I didn’t use sausage, but I used the other traditional ingredients, and it turned out awesomely. So, if you have time on a Monday evening, I recommend simmering some red beans on the stove. You can thank me later.

Get the recipe for Louis Armstrong’s favorite dish after the jump

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies | The Kitten Kitchen

One way to describe heaven is biting into a chewy, soft chocolate chip cookie–and I’m not even much of a sweets eater.

Add a glass of milk to this equation, and you might just get me to, oh, I don’t know. No idea where that thought was going, but I assure you it was good. JUST LIKE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES WITH COLD MILK.

When I woke up the morning after making these, there was a note on the container from my husband Chris: These cookies are GOOO-OOD! Obviously I’m posting a link to a photo to prove aforementioned claim. I don’t expect you to take my word for it. I suppose I could have plausibly written that note, but we’ll save the handwriting tests for another post.

Oh, and to prove it even more, I also took a few to work and received outstanding compliments. Not to toot my own horn, but my co-worker Allie said, “Seriously no joke, these are like the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had.” Don’t take my (their) word for it. Make some cookies! Note: These cookies are huge. Like my love for chocolate chip cookies.

See why Cookie Monster had it right all these years after the jump

Sausage, Potatoes and Sauerkraut

Sausage, Sauerkraut and Potatoes

My main squeeze is out of town this weekend. My main squeeze doesn’t like sauerkraut. TIME TO EAT SOME SAUERKRAUT WHILE MY MAIN SQUEEZE IS OUT OF TOWN!

My love for pickled, salty, vinegary, sour foods knows no bounds, which means a few things:

  • I drink a lot of water.
  • My fingers have finally come to terms with their swollen state.
  • I’ve been known to eat an entire jar of pickles or olives in one sitting, and I even partake in the drinking of the pickle or olive juice.

Oh my gosh, my mouth just watered. Especially because I know there are some Claussen halved pickles in the fridge right now. I bought them yesterday at the grocery store, and the pickle gods were shining down on me because there was no bar code on the jar, so it wouldn’t scan. The employee asked if I remembered how much they were.

“I think like $4.50 or something.”

“$4.50 for pickles? Girl, you’re crazy. I’m not selling anyone $4.50 pickles. These are $2.50.”

Sold. Even though I’m pretty sure those premium slices of heaven are around the $4.50 range.

Alright, so I was at the store because I was buying some wares to make the delicious dish that I remember from my childhood–sausage, sauerkraut and potatoes. My mom always bought really good French mustard (Maille, I think), which went really well with the dish. I couldn’t find that mustard, so I bought some good old Grey Poupon. I also didn’t use the Polish sausage like my mom uses, but opted for some skinless mettwurst. Let’s just say I ate a whole lot of sauerkraut, potatoes and sausage this weekend. I savored every moment.

Savor Delicious Town after the jump

Italian Meatloaf

Italian Meatloaf
Meatloaf, double beatloaf, I hate meatloaf. Sorry, Randy, but I think I have a recipe that might change your mind.

Also, I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I hate the word “loaf.” What a dumb word. It sounds so floofy and gross and sloppy. LOAAAFFFFF. Say it out loud. See? Isn’t it stupid? Ugh.

If you don’t like Italian-inspired foods, get out of my kitchen. Just kidding. Sort of. But really, if you don’t, try my other meatloaf recipe — the one that convinced me that meatloaf wasn’t just a block of ground beef with chunks of gross weird stuff in it.

Alright, while I’d love to continue on this discombobulated rant, I need you to go ahead and read how to make the best meatloaf I’ve ever tasted in my life. And I made it up. And I cooked it. And I’m always a little proud of myself during those moments.

Meatloaf will make you…JUMP! JUMP!

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

Hi friends. It’s been a while. How were your holidays? Mine were great. I got a new sewing machine that I’m pretty pumped about trying out, which might be humorous considering I haven’t sewn in years. Speaking of the holidays…

I’m surprised I haven’t suffered a sugar overdose at this point in time. I ate a lot of candy and baked goods during the season, which is rare because I much prefer salty snacks over sweet. So…I need a snickerdoodle cookie like I need a hole in the head, yet here I am baking and eating them. Now you can too!

Before we get to the nitty gritty details, though, I feel like I owe you, dear readers, an apology. I posted a haiku hint about this recipe on Facebook, and it was probably misleading. The dough is in ball form before baking, where they then spread out into delicious, soft, pillowy cookies. So, again, my apologies to you who fairly guessed donut holes. I’ll try better with these haikus. I promise. Or maybe it was my evil plan to fool you the entire time. ::insert evil laugh::

Make some dough balls that magically turn into cookies after you click this link

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