Autumn is here (sort of)! Take a trip to the North Georgia State Fair

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The first day of fall was this past Thursday, September 22nd. Unfortunately it’s doesn’t seem like fall yet because the daytime temperatures are averaging in the high 80s.

I think fall means different things for different people. For some, they look forward to the pumpkin spice latte’s, flannel, boots, scarves, and bonfires. For others it’s the leaves changing, mountain road trips, and s’mores.

For me, Autumn brings so much more. Our wedding anniversary is in the fall, September 27th the be exact, I celebrate a birthday, and fall brings some of the best events, holidays, and foods.

To kick off the fall season, William and I took a trip to the 84th Annual North Georgia State Fair! I don’t think anything can kick off the season better than a fair! The lights, the sights, the rides, and of course, the food gets me excited about the coming weather change.

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There were a LOT of good food choices this year. We made two laps before deciding on a few places to try. William stuck with his traditional smoked turkey leg. For $10 you get the biggest turkey leg ever… and trust me you don’t need a side. One turkey leg is plenty.

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I settled on a massive plate of curly fries topped with bacon, cheese, jalapeños, and sour cream. William finished off the evening with a very traditional funnel cake!

They also had fresh squeezed lemonade that they sell at these giant lemon-lemonade stands. $6.00 initially and then $3.00 for refills.

Of course if you want some crazy food items there’s plenty more to pick from. Amish baking co had some massive donuts, there were a few gyro stands, a noodle stop, and of course the deep fried everything stop.

The fair has some cool attractions this year. William and I loved the Eudora Farms Exotic Petting Zoo. They had some cool animals and it was great being able to be so close to them! There were some “traditional” farm animals but there were also lamas, and zebras and a multitude of other fun mammals.

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One thing I was impressed to see this year were the baby tending stations. It’s always so great to see events that allow areas for moms to use in the case that they need to change diapers, tend to their kids, or even nurse.

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We had a blast, saw quite a few people we knew, and enjoyed ringing in fall with a Cobb Country tradition!

The fair runs from September 22nd – October 2nd at J. R. Miller Park in Marietta, GA. Admission is $7 for adults and kids 10 and under are free! The daily schedule is available online and includes information regarding concerts, contests, and admission discounts.

Meatballs for a Crowd

I am a sucker for meatballs. They’re my go to at parties, they taste great in pasta, and they are one of the best pizza toppings. Meatballs are also a great alternative to a Bolognese sauce. Imagine sitting down to a group dinner and having hefty meatballs sitting on your plate instead of your standard meat sauce.

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As a kid I remember watching my grandmother make pasta sauce and meatballs from scratch. Her meatballs were not your standard size either. They were huge and full of flavor. Since I’ve been cooking, I’ve always modeled my meatballs after the ones my grandmother makes. They’re huge and they are sure to fill and empty stomach.

I use ground beef and ground pork in this recipe. Ground beef provides a nice texture and the ground pork adds moisture and a unique flavor. Ground turkey can be substituted for the ground pork for those who do not eat pork. The breadcrumbs, eggs, and milk work as a binder but also adds great flavor to the meat.

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The key to these meatballs is the way that they are cooked. The meatballs are placed on a cooling rack set in a cookie sheet. Cooking the meatballs this way allows for them to cook evenly. Is also allows excess oils to drain out of the meat.

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I like my cookie sheets with foil and parchment paper for easy clean up. The oils from the meatballs can be a mess to clean up if you don’t line your pans.

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Make these meatballs as a base for spaghetti and meatballs, meatball subs, or pizza toppings. Extra meatballs can be frozen and used at a later date. This recipe can be halved to make a smaller portion.

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Classic Jumbo Meatballs

Total Time: 45 Minutes | 28 Jumbo Meatballs or 14 Servings

Recommended Specialty Cookware: Parchment Paper, Cooling Racks, cookie sheets

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1.5 lbs ground pork
  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 4 cloves garlic – minced
  • 5 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 cup grated parmesan and romano cheese blend
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs and milk until they have a consistency of wet sand. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine pork, beef, garlic, parsley, cheese, salt, pepper, and eggs.
  4. Add in the breadcrumb mixture and use hands to combine all ingredients. Break up any large clumps of breadcrumbs.
  5. Using your hands, create 28 – 30* equal meatballs. Make sure all meatballs are the same size to ensure they cook evenly.
  6. Place two cooling rack on top of two separate cookie sheets.
  7. Place half of the meatballs on each cookie sheet leaving at least 1/2 inch between each meatball.
  8. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, turning meatballs half way through. Cut a meatball in half to check for doneness.
  9. Let cool for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

* This recipe makes approximately 45 smaller meatballs. Adjust cooking time according to size. The smaller the meatball, the shorter the cooking time. 

Quick and Easy Entertaining

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I recently celebrated my first birthday as a married woman. My husband and I had our families over for cake and ice cream in the middle of a long and busy weekend. We wanted to have heavy snacks that would keep our guests full, but wanted food that did not require a lot of prep.

I went last-minute grocery shopping and filled my cart with easy to prepare items, dressings that I planned to doctor up, chips, salsa, cheeses, and meats. Purchasing foods that don’t require much preparation but look good on a spread is key for last-minute entertaining. Here are my 7 simple tips for creating a welcoming (and delicious) spread for a last-minute party.

1. Cook simple favorites that you’ve made hundreds of times: I love chicken nuggets. I’ve made them hundreds of time and chicken nuggets tossed in BBQ or Buffalo sauce are “Boneless Wings”. Boneless wings are easy, delicious, and most people love them. I served my boneless wings in a crudite server with a blue cheese dressing and fresh celery sticks.

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2. Do as much as you can the day before: I cut all of my cheeses the day before and refrigerated them in ziplock bags. Cutting the cheese the day before was a simple step that saved me a lot of stress. I also “set” my table the day before. Knowing where my dishes, cutlery, and plates were going to go ahead of time allows for me to have a more inviting setup.

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3. Create a menu with foods that can be eaten at room temperature: I am a fan of cheese platters and since the items tend to be eaten rather quickly they don’t need to be kept warm or cold. Chips and salsa are easy and lately my guests have loved pita chips with hummus. Having to keep foods cold or warm means more work for the host.

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4. Be selective with processed and pre-prepared items: Avoid pre packaged or pre-prepared foods as much as possible. If you have to use pre-prepared items, doctor them up where you can. I used a pre-bottled blue cheese dressing but to give it a bolder taste I crumbled fresh blue cheese and added it on top.

5. Use disposable plates and cutlery (when appropriate): I love having clear glass plates available for my guests to eat off… but I opt for sturdy and simple disposable plates when I’m on a time crunch. Disposable plates are being produced at a higher quality and the best part is that you don’t have to stay up as late clearing and washing dishes.

6. Invest in quality serving trays and platters: One tip I came across when registering for wedding gifts was, “Invest in white”. Plain white dinnerware, platters, and serving trays are timeless. Foods look better on white and you don’t have to worry about the color of your food clashing with the color of your plate. Food also looks better in sturdy and quality dishes. Take the extra few minutes to place the chips in a bowl, the lemonade in a carafe, and the turkey on a platter. Macy’s The Cellar line has a variety of items available in all price points. Most of my serving dishes are from The Cellar line. Crate and Barrel has slate boards which are pretty to use as a cheese trays. Use soapstone chalk to label your items.

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7. Buy Ice: I believe the best way to keep canned beverages cool is by placing them in a beverage bucket filled with ice. If you forget to buy ice, you won’t have any ice available for your guests to use in their cups. Spend the extra $2.00 and buy a bag of ice.