Thursday, January 28, 2016

Mozzarella Stuffed Elk Meatballs

Joe and I both love gamy meats.  Duck, rabbit, anything that has some more flavor to it.  Since it is a bit harder to come by at stores, we normally just enjoy it when we go out to eat.  This time, we got our hands on some fresh elk.  On of our neighbors, and a good friend, went elk hunting a couple months ago somewhere up north in the mid-west, and came back with an elk.  After purchasing a freezer and getting the meets in, he started digging in.  He was ever so kind enough to offer us some, and we couldn't have been more excited.  We had never had elk so we started off with some meatballs.  We randomly had some fresh mozzarella at our house so with that, we googled elk stuffed meatballs and found the perfect recipe to copy (and change a bit!).  We were warned not to overcook so we were careful of that, but the meatballs turned out amazing.  The original recipe (found here) makes it with a marinara sauce that looks yummy but we didn't want to have to go to the store.  We will most likely do that next time. For now, here is what we did...

  • 1lb ground elk burger 
  • ½ teaspoon fennel
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon sage
  • ½ teaspoon marjoram
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 red onion diced
  • Olive oil
  • Bocconcini fresh Mozzarella ball cut in cubes
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Combine all 8 spices above and mix into the ground elk burger. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add diced red onion and continue to cook until onion softens and begins to caramelize about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Add onions to ground elk and mix together.
  4. Take a handful of ground elk meat and begin to form a large meatball that fits in the palm of your hand. Add 1 bocconcini to the center and continue to pack meat around the cheese until you have a nice sized meatball. Repeat until done.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes
We simply ate these with some veggies on the side and they were so flavorful!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Chicago, Illinois

After our NYC weekend getaway we started thinking we should do trips like that more often!  With that, we started entertaining ideas as to where we should go.  Joe was supposed to have Alta playoffs November 14 and 15 but they got postponed a week because of all the rain we had been getting and matches were not getting done.  That Thursday we entertained the idea of going to Chicago for a weekend getaway.  I texted Agatha, who is one of my good friends that lives there, to see if she was available.  Conveniently, it was her boyfriend’s birthday weekend so they had a party planned and that was all!  Friday morning we booked some last minute flights to leave at 6 AM Saturday morning.  We were super excited for a quick trip to visit some of our favorite people!
 This was the first time we had flown Frontier, but with flights under $200/person and booking them the day before we left we felt like it was a deal that we could not give up!  We woke up bright and early Saturday morning thinking our flight was at 6:45 and headed to the airport.  We figured the airport would be pretty dead and the security line would be short.  We got there shocked to find the line incredibly wrong, and our flight was at 6:15, not 6:45.  After a very stressful long wait in the security line, we took our bags and rushed to the gate which was terminal B.  After running with our luggage (we only had backpacks to save money and not pay for baggage) and getting to the farthest gate on terminal B the gate agent tells us the flight was moved to terminal D and we had 3 minutes to get there before the gate closed.  There was another lady behind us so we quickly turned around and made a mad dash to terminal D where we were once again at the farthest gate.  Sweating in our winter coats, we made it just in time before the doors closed.  It seems that it happened to a lot of people because there were quite a few people running through the airport to our gate.  Sweating in our winter coats, we were just happy to have made the flight!
After a quick flight we landed in Chicago and then took the train into the city where Ag lives.  We walked past a cute farmers market before making it to her apartment which is a beautiful apartment in a highrise overlooking the lake!  Man do I miss Chicago with that view!  Once we arrived Ag cooked up an amazing breakfast with eggs, sautéed veggies, bacon, and sweet potatoes.  We sipped on our coffee and tea and enjoyed catching up.  After that it was time to spend some time outside.  The perk about booking a last minute flight is that you know what weather you will be having.  This has been an oddly warm winter so we were coming into 60+ degree weather in November in Chicago!  We had to spend some time outside!  We walked down the lake, went to the pier and relaxed there for a while, and then headed back to Agatha’s place.  After a couple hours outdoors and an early flight we needed a nap before dinner time!  After a quick nap it was time to get dressed and head to dinner!
Agatha had made reservations at Frontier which is a well-known restaurant in Chicago.  Although you can order whole animals, including alligator, we went for a lot of appetizers and split two entrees.  We enjoyed so many unique foods like duck tacos, duck heart skewers, turtle bolognese, rabbit liver, alligator legs, and I am sure so much more!  Joe and I split the chicken sandwich which I am pretty sure was the most amazing chicken sandwich I have ever had while Agatha and Wojciech had some elk brisket.  Everything was amazing and I think it is one of our top restaurants we have eaten at because it wasn’t super expensive and the food was right up our alley!  After that we headed to Wojciech’s party!  He rented out a room at The Bedford which was a really cool bar that had been converted from an old bank.  It was such a neat setting and we had a room in the back with our own bartender and some amazing appetizers that were passed around.  It was fun seeing some old friends that I had met in my short stint in Chicago and meeting new friends! Joe and I got tired pretty early since it had been such a long day so we headed to bed before it got too late.  We took an Uber back to Agatha’s place and were fast asleep in no time!
We woke up bright and early in the morning since the sun rises right where the windows are looking over the lake.  We laid around for a while before getting dressed and meeting one of Joe’s friends for brunch at Elly’s Pancake House.  I had the most amazing crepes there that were super healthy!  They were filled with Greek yogurt and berries and drizzled with honey on top!  I could eat those every day.  We had the best company for brunch, and then after brunch we met back up with Agatha and Wojciech at their brunch/lunch location.  They finished up eating and then we picked up the bikes to go on a bike ride!  Ag had 4 bikes so we hit the road with the bike squad and drove down to the peer and then saw some sail boat racing going on a bit past the peer.  We made it to Millennium Park where a lot has changed since I was living there.  We explored the park and then made our way back home.  We then packed up our stuff and headed down closer to downtown to have some reach Chicago hotdogs (I got an Italian sausage) from Downtown Dogs and grabbed desert from Ghirardelli.  Desert was to die for…the salted caramel hot chocolate was quite amazing and the Sunday we got was just the cherry on top of our mini trip!  Sadly, it was time to head to the airport to catch a late night flight back home and rejoin the real world.  We are so lucky to have such wonderful friends that entertained us all weekend and we absolutely adore them.  It makes me miss Chicago so much, but for now weekend getaways there will have to suffice.   
Two cuties bike riding


I’m going to start of the year by backtracking a bit to 2015…

This trip happened a while back but I have taken quite a long break from blogging.  Our trip to NYC happened a couple months ago, and we actually flew out October 23.  We had a 5:00 flight that Friday so that we could enjoy a full weekend, then flew home at 6:00 AM Monday morning.  This insured we had two full days to enjoy NYC.  Both my brother and sister live in NY and Joe’s grandparents live in South Amboy which isn’t far from the city, so we knew this trip would be filled with family time.  My sister had her second baby, Jasper, right before our trip to Bali so we were incredibly excited to meet Mr. J for the first time!  We arrived in NYC around 7 and my brother in law was picking us up since they live in Jersey City and we flew into Newark.  Once we found him, he let us know he was having some issues with the car!  Nothing like adding some excitement to the trip, especially since he had Jasper in the back seat.  After trying to turn the car on, and then weighing our options, we knew the car needed to be towed and we didn’t need to risk driving it back to Jersey City.  Joe called AAA while my sister booked a rental that I went to pick up.  The tow truck was supposed to arrive in 45 minutes, but after I got the car and swung back around to pick them up, Joe had received a call that they are backed up and it will take 2-3 hours before the tow truck came.  Since it had already been an hour and a half and Jasper was awake and hungry, I took the car and Jasper and drove to Jersey City to drop him off with mommy!  I headed back to the airport, and shortly after arriving back the tow truck finally came.  After getting the car hooked up we were off to drop the car off at a mechanic.  We were not aware that in New Jersey all the lots are closed at night.  So, we finally agreed to go to Pet Boys which the tow truck driver knew had an open lot.  After making it to the location and calling the tow truck to see where he was at he informed us we were at the wrong location!  So, off we go to another location about 15 minutes away.  FINALLY we get the tow truck taken care of and make it to the house about 4 hours after landing!
Sunset as we landed in NYC
My sister and brother in law live in a beautiful high-rise with windows overlooking the city.  We had some dinner and gave Rose some hugs before heading to bed after a long day.  In the morning we were woken up by Rose ready to play!  We enjoyed breakfast at my sister’s house before heading to the park to play.  Joe loved chasing Rose around the park and going down the “big slide” with her!  After some time in the park Joe and I hit the road to South Amboy.  It was a quick 40 minute drive and we arrived at his grandparent’s house.  We enjoyed some snacks and wine and loved catching up with them.  It had been well over 5 years since Joe had visited (I had been multiple times due to work) so it was nice for him to be back.  We enjoyed some time with them before heading back to my sister’s place where they made tacos for dinner.  After dinner it was time for Rose to get showered and go to bed and Joe and I watched GT beat FSU in what was one of the most exciting games in the history of Tech Football!!!  After the game we headed to bed.
morning views

Early in the morning we got up and got dressed the Joe and I headed into the city to explore a bit and then meet up with my brother.  We started at the 911 memorial and wondered around  there since Joe had never seen it.  From there we went to the water front, walked along there, explored Wall Street, and walked under Brooklyn Bridge!  It was a lot of walking but the weather was nice so we loved exploring and just wondering around the city.  After that we walked to Chinatown where we met up with my brother and went to Red Egg for lunch.  This was  a recommendation by my sister’s brother in law and it was amazing!  We ordered form the ala cart menu and my favorite was the soup dumplings!  We had spring rolls, dumplings, potstickers, and so much food!   After lunch we wondered around with my brother.  We walked into some of the boutiques where Bosco ( has photo booths set up.  We took some photos, of course, and I drooled over the clothes that I could not afford!  We then wondered the streets west village and a couple of the other villages around.  Once we reached the High Line we said goodbye to my brother, walked the high line for a mile or so, and then headed back to Jersey City on the train.
 Once we got back to Jersey City it was time to take a walk.  We walked to the water front and enjoyed the sunset as Rose threw rocks into the river.  On the walk back we went to the rooftop where we finished watching the sunset and saw the Statue of Liberty from afar. Then Rose showed us her playroom in the building before heading back to the apartment.  After dinner it was time to make cookies!  I had promised Rose I would make cookies with her and she loves baking, so we tackled cookie making before she had to head to bed.  Everyone helped out making the cookies so it was such a fun bonding time.  After the cookies were done we all headed to bed since Joe and I had a 6 AM flight to catch.  We woke up early in the morning, and before we knew it, the weekend was over and we were back to work!  It was such a lovely weekend spent with our family and we cannot wait to go back and visit and explore more of NYC.