Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Farro with Roasted Mushroom, Fennel and Onion topped with an Egg

I love roasted vegetables and I am always on the lookout for different ways to serve them. I also love farro, a nice chewy whole grain. There are loads of recipes on the web that combine farro with mushrooms and onion, because it is a rather perfect pairing.  There was a nice fennel bulb in my fridge so I added that to the mix. It adds a sweet crunch. 

I wanted to roast the vegetables  to give a nice toasty flavor and firm texture with a bit of caramelization. For roasting, don't slice anything too thin and try to keep them consistent.

I use a quick cooking farro from Trader Joe’s. It cooks in 10 minutes. You could  substitute quick cooking barley or brown rice in this recipe,  just cook it according to package instructions.

 Farro with Roasted Mushroom, Fennel and Onion topped with an Egg 

On the Roasting sheet:

8 oz. white button or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and thickly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, fronds removed. Sliced vertically
1/2 large sweet onion, sliced vertically
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp crushed rosemary
½ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder

In the Sauce pan:
1 cup quick cooking farro,—(10 minute Farro from Trader Joe’s or other cooked according to package instructions
½ sweet onion chopped
1 TBSP olive oil
½ tsp crushed rosemary
½ tsp thyme
 ¼ tsp red pepper flake
2 cups broth or water
¼ cup chopped parsley, optional

2-4 eggs, one per person, optional but recommended

Preheat oven to 375F

Place a bit of olive oil on a rectangle baking sheet. On one half of the baking sheet, place the sliced mushrooms and on the other half put the fennel and ½ of the onion. Don't over crowd.  By the way, vertically slice by cutting onion and fennel bulb in half and then slice it. Sprinkle with spice and salt and a light drizzle of olive oil. Several times during roasting, use a spatula to turn it over and mix, moving outside pieces to center.

In a sauce pan, heat a TBSP olive oil and begin sautéing onion and garlic. Cook until onion begins to caramelize. Add spice and  farro. Let it saute for another minute.  Stir in broth and bring to boil over med high heat, covered. Boil for two minutes and lower heat and cover. 

Let it simmer for 10 minutes. If there is a lot of liquid left, drain a bit off. Remove from heat and let it sit for five minutes while covered.

Remove roasted veggies when they are beginning to get caramelized and edges are crisping a bit.

Cook up eggs by poaching or fry/baste. Season with salt and pepper. You can skip eggs but adds a nice taste and texture and it makes this a satisfying meal in a bowl!

Add roasted mushrooms, onions and fennel to farro. 

Place in bowls, sprinkle with parsley and top with an egg.  

Sweet Potato Latkes with Crockpot Applesauce

I don’t often fry but since it was Hanukah so I decided to fry up a nice batch of Latkes.  I wanted to be a bit healthier than fried potatoes so I used sweet potatoes. I think sweet potatoes go wonderfully with a nice simple applesauce that is a breeze to make.

A key to good latkes is low moisture in the potato mix and a regulated medium high heat between 365 and 375. If it cooks too fast it will burn on the outside before it is done on the inside. If it is too cool, you get soggy, greasy latkes.

 I spiced them lightly with things like cinnamon and nutmeg but they could be made with more spice or you could go a different route with some mild curry spice. If you want to try it with curry spice, I would still add a bit of pumpkin pie spice and pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg along with a bit of curry spice.

This recipe is easy and delicious. I serve it with homemade apple sauce, recipe to follow. You can also serve with sour cream and garnish with green onion and parsley.

These make wonderful appetizers or as a part of a meal. We served them as an appetizer before garlic skirt steak with an arugula salad with pears and toasted pecans.

So here is my try at Sweet Potato Latkes. Happy Hanukah!   

Sweet Potato Latkes

Makes about 20 mini-latkes

1 pound of sweet potatoes, peeled and grated (around 2 mid-sized sweet potatoes)
½ cup minced onion
1 egg, 1 egg white, beaten (many recipes call for just 1 egg & that is okay too)
4 TBSP flour
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp .pumpkin pie spice (blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice)
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp .nutmeg
¼ tsp. cayenne
½ - 1 tsp. ground black pepper
About 1 tsp kosher salt

Small bottle of peanut or vegetable oil*

Apple sauce, optional
Sour Cream with  green onion and parsley

Note: If you have an electric skillet, it is a great way to keep the temperature even. Otherwise use a wide and deep pan, perhaps with a thermometer to keep it at medium high heat. I set my skillet to around 365F-370F.

*Peanut oil is a great oil for frying but if you cannot get it you can use vegetable oil. After you are done you can strain the oil through a coffee filter or cheese cloth lining a sieve and save it for the next fry.
Grate the sweet potatoes, place in colander and let them sit for a bit. Squeeze out extra moisture with a paper towel, or towel or cheesecloth. 

 Mix all ingredients except salt, oil in a large bowl. Early adding of salt will pull more moisture out of potato and into mix.

Begin to heat oil in skillet and then add the salt to the sweet potato mix and blend well.  Let oil heat up and once it is hot enough, carefully add sweet potato mix by using a scoop or spoon and placing around 1 ½ Tablespoons of mix on a spatula. Gently flatten slightly, and use another spatula and slide it off into hot oil. Turn after it is getting crispy around the edges; it just takes a minute or so.

Remove onto a paper towel to cool for a minute. Taste to see if they will need extra seasoning and then serve nice and hot.

I serve with applesauce but you could also dollop sour cream with green onions and parsley.

Applesauce:  You can make applesauce several days before or that day! It is easy in a crockpot. Just peel, core and roughly slice 8 -10 apples. I like a mix of granny smith and other flavorful apples like pink lady or honey crisp. Place them in a crock pot with a 1/3 cup of water, 1/3 cup of white or brown sugar and cinnamon. You may skip the sugar and cinnamon if you want it plain and unsweetened.  Cook on low for around 8- 10 hours. Check to see if they are soft and mash them to the desire smoothness. If they are too thin, slightly uncover and cook on high for another hour or two. You can also make them in a sauce pan on stovetop in much less time but keep an eye on it!! I like the crock pot because I toss the apples in the night before and have applesauce in the morning!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Risotto with Roasted Kabocha Pumpkin or Butternut Squash and Bacon

I made this risotto recipe with a scrumptious Kabocha pumpkin tonight. It is a re- do of a recipe I posted years ago with a few changes in the recipe. 

I Love winter squash! I most often cook with butternut, pumpkin, spaghetti  or acorn squash.  Whenever kabocha is available I love to cook with it. I think it is particularly great in this risotto recipe!

Kabocha squash or Japanese pumpkin, is green speckled and pumpkin shaped.The kabocha has a nice flavor and isn't stringy or watery.  It is great roasted, braised with soy, ginger and garlic or cooked up in tempura. 
 Of course Butternut, would also be good in this risotto. Butternut can't be beat for great texture and color and a small seed cavity.

This risotto has an autumn flair with kabocha squash, butternut or pumpkin along with smoky bacon. The pumpkin and bacon are a wonderfully flavorful combination but it could be made vegetarian without bacon and still be quite tasty.

Risotto is a delicious rice dish that gets its creaminess from the way it is cooked rather than cream or loads of cheese. I made this particular recipe dairy free ( although I added cheese at the table for those who can have dairy )and it was quite creamy! Risotto is quite easy to make although it does take a bit of tending to as it is stirred throughout the cooking process. 

Risotto with Roasted  Kabocha Pumpkin 

or Butternut  Squash and Bacon 

1 small winter squash such as kobocha, pumpkin or butternut ( about 2 1/2  to 3 cups diced)
6 bacon strips, prefer uncured, no nitrates, applewood smoked

1 small Onion, diced
1/2  tsp coriander
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp garlic powder, optional
¼- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes, crushed, optional
½ tsp, smoked paprika or  paprika
Pinch of cinnamon

1 tsp garlic, minced, optional
1 tsp. ginger paste, optional
1-2 TBSP  olive oil or vegetable oil
1-2 TBSP butter 
2 Cups  Arborio Rice

  1  cup  White Wine  

 4 cups veggie or chicken Broth, 
2 cups water

  1/4 Cup  Freshly Grated Parmesiano Reggiano, optional

Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper To Taste

Extra parmesan for topping at table, along with shelled, roasted pepitas if desired
There are two ways you can cook the winter squash.  You may dice and cook it on the  stove,  which is my preferred method for Kabocha squash. You may also roast the squash first which I like to do when using butternut. I will describe the roasting method in the notes**

Begin with a large heavy pot or deep pan and cook the bacon until crispy. 

Pour all of the drippings from cooking bacon into a small bowl. 

Cut the kabocha, squash or pumpkin in  half. Scrape out seeds and if you would like, set aside to roast later and discard any stringy parts.

Cut the squash into slices and then carefully cut away the skin, If you are using kabocha, it'is okay to leave a bit of green skin on, it is edible and will soften up when cooked.

Dice up the squash into small pieces. 

Next heat the pan the bacon was cooked in and add about 2 TBSP of the bacon grease back into pan,  Or if you prefer you may use oil, or oil and butter.

Add the diced squash to pan and brown it.
 Try not to over stir. After a few minutes turn the pieces over and let it cook another couple minutes. 
If needed you may add more bacon grease or oil.
Add diced  onion.Add spices, garlic and ginger. Cook another 4 minutes until squash is nicely browned here and there around the edges and tender  with  some  crispy bits. 
Remove the kabocha or squash mixture to a bowl. 

In small sauce pan, heat up chicken broth or veggie broth and water. Keep on low simmer. Take about  a half cup or so of the squash mixture and add it to the pot of simmering broth , mashing it into the broth to be added as risotto cooks.
Back to the pan you used for the bacon and squash. Add 1 TBSP each of olive oil and butter. Add the two cups of Arborio rice. 
Add wine and continue stirring rice, a figure 8 pattern is recommended, while wine is absorbed. Make sure you stir all areas of the pot so rice will not get mushy. Once most of the wine is absorbed into the  rice add 1 cup or a couple of ladles of hot broth. Repeat this process as each cup of broth is absorbed. 
Continue to add broth until rice is al dente- tender but with a bit of texture to it. If you run low on broth, add water to broth pan to heat before you get to the bottom of broth. This process will take about 20  minutes.
As the last  cup of broth is almost absorbed,  add the rest of the squash mixture and gently blend. Also, crumble or chop bacon and add it as well.
Once rice is at desired consistency. You may add a bit of Parmesan cheese, about a 1/4 cup or so, but if you wish it to be dairy- free it is fine to skip. I also have some grated Parmesan at the table. 
Taste and add desired salt and pepper. I find this does not need a lot of salt due to the bacon.
Serve as soon as possible. If you like, top with cheese or roasted pumpkin seeds    ( I prefer shelled, natural seeds roasted for 10 minutes with olive oil and salt in 350 oven.)

**Roasted pumpkin/squash version - 
After prepping squash, removing seeds and strings and cutting in half,  place cut side down on an oiled baking sheet . You may line pan with foil for ease of cleaning. 
 Place in middle of the oven and bake just until tender and soft. It takes around 30 minutes give or take, but start checking at 20 and keep testing if it is getting softer every 5 minutes, Do not overcook- especially the kobucha or it will get mealy and dry. Butternut may take a bit longer to get tender. 
Remove squash from oven and turn halves over to cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove skin, being carefully to leave most of it large dice sized pieces. You can either slice the squash then carefully cut away skin Or using a large spoon, remove the  the squash out of the shell.   Cut into large chunks, no need to be completely uniform, as some will break up.  I like to use about 2 1/2 -3 cups of squash in this rice.
Dice about half of the roasted squash and brown in the bacon grease for a couple minutes before adding the onion, spices, etc as described above. Take the rest of the squash and add it to the pot of simmering broth , mashing it into the broth to be added as risotto cooks.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Moroccan Chicken Meatballs with Apricot Chutney

Here is a simple chicken meatball recipe with a Moroccan flair. The apricot chutney that accompanies these little tender bites really adds a nice multi-layered flavor. The Apricot Chutney can be used with other recipes. It is also delicious with cream cheese or goat cheese on crackers. 

These can be cooked on in a pan stove top or baked in the oven.  You may choose to cook them in the apricot chutney or to cook separately and use chutney as a dipping sauce if desired. Or you may try a different sauce such as a tomato based sauce with Moroccan spices.

Moroccan Spiced Chicken Meatballs

Sauté in olive oil over medium-low heat for 4- 5 minutes and cool--

1/3 - ½ cup minced onion
2 tsp garlic paste or crushed garlic
2 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp, salt, coriander, ginger, optional
½ -1 tsp cumin, black pepper, smoked paprika, optional
¼ tsp cayenne, optional
Other optional seasoning: 1 tsp za’atar or greek seasoning mix or mint or thyme,  

Mix in a large bowl:

1 ¾ lb. or so ground chicken (or may use beef or turkey or a combination)
1 cup bread crumbs, (or cracker or panko crumbs)
2 eggs

Add cooled onion, seasoning mixture and thoroughly combine.

Using small scoop or teaspoons scoop out uniform sized meatballs; rolling each for a smooth exterior.  You may make the meatballs smaller for appetizers and larger if served over rice or couscous.

Stove top cooking method: Heat a bit of oil in a large shallow pan and add meatballs, not too close together.  Brown them over medium heat, turning gently after 5 minutes.  Brown the other side for about 5 minutes. If you are going to cook in the apricot chutney, take meatballs from pan to a plate and remove excess oil from pan. Add prepared apricot chutney and meatballs to the pan and simmer on medium low 10-15 minutes.
If you are not cooking in the apricot sauce, then continue cooking them a couple minutes longer until completely done before serving.

Oven baking method:  Preheat oven to 400 and put meatballs on cookie sheet prepped with a bit of oil. Place in center of oven and bake for 6 minutes then turn them over to cook other side. Continue baking another 5 minutes or until just barely cooked through. Remove from baking dish and place them into pan filled with apricot chutney.  Simmer for 10 minutes. OR you may cook them completely and serve with sauce to dip.

Garnish meatballs with fresh chopped parsley, and or cilantro and toasted almond slices.
Serve with couscous, quinoa or rice.

Moroccan Apricot Chutney

   About ¾ cup dried apricots, chopped 

  1/3 cup orange juice

  ¼ to 1/2 of small preserved lemon, rinsed, seeded, finely chopped*

4-5  TBSP apricot jam

4     tbsp. white wine vinegar

   1 TBSP orange blossom water, optional

   Pinch of cayenne, cinnamon, salt, and/or sumac

Put the apricots, preserved lemon, jam, orange blossom, vinegar and seasoning in a small, saucepan. Cook over medium –low for about 8 minutes until soft and bubbly. It is ready to add to meatballs for simmering.
If you are going to cook chutney as a dipping Sauce, simmer for about 12 minutes more on low.

    *If you don’t have preserved lemons, and cannot buy them, then you may             substitute 2 tsp. lemon juice and grated zest and a ½ tsp salt. 
    Taste and add more of whatever is needed. This will not be quite the same but       will help. Preserved lemons really are a unique flavor addition and they
    keep in your fridge for quite some time!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Slow-Cooker Apple Butter and Apple Sauce

 This is the time of year for all things fall and you will often find apple butter simmering at my house. I don’t can my apple butter, I just make a batch, and we eat it up or give it away. I love the way it fragrances the whole house so I don’t mind making a new batch every few week. With this easy recipe it is effortless to cook a nice sized batch. It makes me love Fall even more!

Here is some Fall Color near our home at Rocky Mountain National Park.

The only real work to making slow cooker Apple Butter and Apple Sauce is prepping the apples. I let the crock pot/slow cooker do the cooking so I don’t have to watch it. Often I throw them in just before I go to bed and let them finish off during the day!

 I do peel  and core my apples,   but I often peel them in one long strip so I can put the peels in the pot until it is done cooking and then just pull them out. If you have a food mill you could cook your apples unpeeled for the same effect. There is a nice flavor in the peels but it is fine to leave them out and still have a yummy result!

How to make Apple Sauce at the same time as Apple Butter

The same basic method is used for making either apple sauce or apple butter in the slow cooker.  Apple sauce is just cooked less time with less spice.When I make apple sauce I sometimes just use apples and a bit of apple cider or juice with perhaps a little lemon juice and a cinnamon stick or bit of spice. If the apples are not sweet enough I may add just a little sugar.  
When I want to make apple sauce at the same time as apple butter I add juice or water and lemon juice rather than vinegar and just a bit of cinnamon and sugar at the beginning of the cooking. For Sauce I usually use the full cup or so of apple juice in the process.  I take some of the apples out for the apple sauce after about 6 to 8 hours  and then add  extra spice and cook the rest of the apple mixture longer for apple butter.

Which Apples should be used

The apples used should be good for cooking with so any good baking apples are great.  I like a variety but choosing only one kind is great too and fun for a flavor change. My favorites are a mix of granny smith for tartness and perhaps honey crisp, when it is on sale, for sweetness with one other such as Braeburn, Jonagold, Pink lady, Jazz, Crispin, Rome, jonathon, winesap  or  gold delicious to round things out. I don't use red delicious which can get mealy and lack flavor for cooking.  I have thrown in a few Gala apples when they are in the basket. I also use any home grown apples I can get my hands on since they are free!  Honestly, any apple with a strong flavor can work in a mix.It is not like pie which requires an apple to hold together after baking.

Uses for Apple Butter 

While apple butter gets used up quickly on things like bread or biscuits there are other ways to use it. Mix it into oatmeal or yogurt. Top pancakes with it. Bake it into muffins. bars, cookies or cakes. 
Apple butter is an easy way to make desserts like apple crisp or apple pie amazingly flavorful, spicy and juicy! Just mix in 1/2- 3/4  cup of apple butter into the raw apples and then continue recipe as usual.

Another delicious but less common use for apple butter is as a glaze for meats such as pork tenderloin, ribs, ham, roast chicken. You can also make a dish of pork chops, chicken pieces or turkey cutlets with apples butter, apples, onions and potatoes. I will post that recipe next.

I have posted an apple butter recipe before but I have made a few changes so here is the updated version.

 Slow-Cooker Apple Butter and Apple Sauce

About 8 cups of apples, usually a variety is nice but one kind is fine-granny smith, honey crisp, Braeburn,  Jonagold , Rome etc  
1 cinnamon stick
½ -1 cup apple juice, cider  or water optional (not everyone adds liquid)
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar OR fresh lemon juice, optional
½ to 1 cup brown sugar, more or less if desired
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp. nutmeg, optional

Prepare apples by peeling. If you want, you can peel long strips so you can leave the peel in for the first half of cooking. Simple remove them after the 6-8 hour cooking time.
Place apples, cinnamon stick, lemon juice and apple juice or water and sugar if you are using it into a crock pot. Cook for 6- 8 hours or so until apples are very soft. Mash apples up a bit with spoon or masher. If you would like to have apple sauce you may remove some of the mixture now and let it cool. You can use a blender if you want to make it smooth or just mash it further for chunky applesauce.
Leave the lid of the crock pot slightly ajar and cook on low for another 3-4 hours until apples are completely softened, thickened and a nice caramel color is achieved. Add extra liquid if needed during cooking process.
Blend with a hand-held Immersion blender or puree in batches in a regular blender. Or you could mash well with a masher.  The texture should be thick and smooth. You may push it through a sieve if it has too many unblended bits.
 If the apple butter is too thin, leave the lid off and the crock pot on high for an hour or so. Or you could simmer on stove in another pan. Basically, the apple butter is done cooking when a ribbon drizzled over the surface keeps it shape.
Serve on biscuits, rolls, baguettes, or other bread or cakes. Stir into cake batter, yogurt,  ice cream or pumpkin pie filling.  Add it to oatmeal. Stir into apples before making apple crisp or apple pie. Use it as a glaze for Pork or chicken. Spread it on a ham, turkey, cream cheese or peanut butter sandwich. Or just eat it with a spoon 

This can be made without crock pot in a large heavy pan. Cook on  low on the stove top, stirring often. I cook it on a bit higher temperature so it gets done faster and I do it during the day so I can watch to pot.  Since you will be opening the lid you will want to use more juice or water. You could also put the apples in a covered cast iron pot or other oven proof cookware and cook over night at 225 F. I usually finish it on the stove top and while I don't recommend it but you could still bake for last part to thicken by turning the heat up to 325 F or so and cook uncovered, stirring and checking often until the consistency is correct.  


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bran Muffins

Bran Muffins can be a great start to the day or a treat anytime.  Of course, these are not for people who need gluten free but they are a good choice for daily whole grain with lots of healthy fiber that your body needs!
 I have been limiting carbs for a while but my cholesterol went up so I am adding carbs that have a good ratio of fiber to carbohydrate starch and sugar. For me, the jury is still out on how to lose weight and keep healthy while doing it but I don’t think the high protein low fiber diet is as great as I hoped it would be. I did lose six pounds but my blood tests did not look so good so back to the drawing board!
This recipe does have a decent dose of sugar in it, and you can cut it back, but I want to make something people will actually like to eat and these bran muffins are so good that I am often asked to make them. Sweetness does help. But feel free to dial back the brown sugar to 2 or 3 TBSP and the molasses to 1/3 to ½ cup and leave out the dates if you are trying to keep these lower in calories or with less sugar.

Bran Muffins

¾  cup flour, unbleached
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup wheat  bran*
3 TBSP flax meal
1/3- ½ cup brown sugar
½  tsp salt
1 ¼ tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup milk or buttermilk and 1 cup yogurt OR 2 cups buttermilk
1 egg
3 TBSP melted butter or oil
2/3 cup molasses
½ cup applesauce
½ cup crushed pineapple, well drained
1/3 cup dates, finely chopped, optional

Preheat oven to 350
In a large bowl combine flour bran, sugar, salt, and soda. Mix well. In another bowl add buttermilk, egg molasses butter or oil, applesauce, pineapple and dates. Add the wet ingredients all at once and blend together just until well mixed but don’t over stir.
Grease or line muffin tins and fill about 2/3 full. Bake about 20 minutes.
This makes about 24 regular size muffins.
*It can be a little hard to find wheat bran. I found it at Natural Grocers so perhaps you will need to look at more natural type stores.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Meatballs with Sauces for Appetizer or Main Dish

Here is my favorite recipe for meatballs with various sauces.   This recipe makes light and tasty little meatballs that are great appetizers especially in a favorite sauce. They are also delicious additions to spaghetti or soup. These are good served  over rice and veggies drizzled in a sweet and sour sauce too! I like making these for appetizers with an easy sauce. I have included a couple different ways to serve these tasty meatballs at the end of the recipe. My favorite is the simple Saucy Meatball Appetizer. This is easy to make a usually a hit. I know that grape jelly seems like an odd inclusion but it really does work. If you want it even simpler just use the jelly and chili sauce, which is a popular recipe found many places.

I have been hesitant to put this recipe up here because it has so many optional ideas but if you are okay with making some choices I think you will enjoy the basic ideas here!  :-) 

This recipe is meant to be a guideline, feel free to adjust and play with it.  It makes a large amount but it can easily be cut down or increased. The recipe calls for 1 lb of meat and 1/3 of each of the other ingredient so it is easy to adjust the amount. These freeze very well, both cooked and uncooked! So it is a good idea to make the full recipe and keep some on hand for a quick meal later!

Meatballs with  Sauces for Appetizer or Main Dish

3 lb. ground meat I prefer ground beef, 90% lean (It is optional to substitute ½ to1 lb or more lean turkey or chicken or sausage in mix.)

2 -3   eggs -- well beaten
1-1 ½   cup panko bread crumbs, dried or fresh bread crumbs* or cracker crumbs,--Whole grain choices work great!
2 TBSP water
 2- 3    cloves garlic, pressed or minced, or 2 tsp crushed garlic paste
1 onion, minced, ( skip if you hate onion J )
½  cup or so  ketchup
  2 -3  tsp  salt or seasoning salt (less if you add salty cheese or soy sauce or if you want lower sodium)
 1 ½ - 2   tsp ground pepper
  2 tsp dried herbs, thyme and marjoram, or any desired  herb blend (Greek, Italian, Asian whatever flavor you need) or use 3 TBSP fresh herbs if desired
Optional add-ins---Choose one or more of these if you like, but make sure they are go well together and compliment the flavor you are hoping to achieve and the sauce you use.
1/2   bell pepper, minced – optional
3 TBSP Fresh parsley mint or basil, minced
 1- 2   tsp onion powder
            1/2 tsp Nutmeg, freshly grated
           3 tsp+ Worcestershire sauce
3 tsp +soy or teriyaki sauce
1-2+  tsp, crushed red pepper
1-2+ tsp of hot sauce or Sriracha
3 tsp ginger paste
            2-3  tsp. balsamic vinegar

    Mix all ingredients except meat in a very large bowl. As soon as everything is well blended, mix in meat and blend thoroughly but gently. It is best to use your hands rather than a spoon for this. I put on food service gloves but clean hands are fine. Do not over mix or mixture will be tough.

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees or use convection oven at 375 F,  

Using small scoop or spoon, gently form 1 to  1  ½ " balls.  The size can be adjusted to how you are using them. Scoop half to full scoop and slightly press it into scoop and move it around a few times.  Keep it light, don’t smash or press too firmly.

Cover a baking sheet in foil or parchment paper. Place the meatballs on baking sheet; they can be close but not touching.

 Bake about 15 minutes until browned and firm but, not too dry.  Check inside one or use thermometer to make sure they are done.

You may also cook in a fry pan with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Over medium heat add oil and meatballs.  Don’t overcrowd pan and don’t turn often, just let them brown and then turn.

 Generally this will make somewhere around 60 meatballs.

Once they are cooked you may place them in whatever sauce you choose or you can serve these with a warm barbeque or sweet and sour sauce to dip in.


ITALIAN VARIATION- Try 2 lbs. beef and 1 lb. hot or sweet Italian sausage.  If desired,  add and 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, an extra tsp. of Italian seasoning, 1-2 extra cloves of garlic, and perhaps a 1 tsp. crushed fennel seed , optionally, to the meatball recipe.   I use these with a marinara or other tomato based sauce.  I like Italian style with spaghetti or other pasta or as a nice sandwich with melted mozzarella.

   SAUCY MEATBALL APPETIZER- This recipe can be increased just use 1 lb. of meat or one third of the total recipe per this amount of sauce. If using the whole meatball recipe then triple the sauce amounts.  Combine the following in large pot or a slow-cooker and cook until bubbly---    - 1/3 to ½ cup chili sauce, 10 oz. grape jelly, ¼ to 1/3 cup barbeque sauce, 1/2  tsp smoked paprika and ½ tsp garlic powder or 1 tsp of garlic paste. If you want it spicier you could use 1-2 tsp of Asian garlic chili paste or 1 tsp or a few drops of Sriracha . Heat cooked meatballs in sauce. Serve warm from crock pot or pan.

CRANBERRY SPICY- SWEET MEATBALLS- Make a batch of meatballs but use only about half  or less of the onion, herbs and garlic in the meatball mix. These are nice with plenty of parsley in the meatball mix. Then use half of the meat balls for this dish and freeze the rest. Combine the following in large pot or a slow-cooker: 1Tbsp. brown sugar, 2  tsp. lemon juice, 1-2 tsp. balsamic vinegar, 1 16 oz. can jellied cranberry sauce, 1 cup chili sauce, 1-2 tsp Sriracha,  1 tsp or more ginger paste, optional.   Serve as appetizer or over rice.

Dried Bread Crumbs --To make dried bread crumbs, use French, Italian or other bread that is slightly stale. Slice and cube. Heat in the oven until fairly dry or toast carefully under broiler. Break into fine crumbs in food processor or by hand. You may wish to add a couple tsp. of dried herbs to season them. Store cooled crumbs in air tight container. You may freeze them.

TO FREEZE MEATBALLS- Place cooked or raw meatballs on a cookie sheet lightly cover them with plastic wrap or clean foil. Place on freezer shelf until frozen. If using foil you may wrap them up in foil (which you could later use for reheating)  and then package in Ziploc freezer bags  and store for up to three months. To Thaw, unwrapped and lay uncooked meatballs on a tray in fridge and then bake. Allow cooked meatballs to thaw partially then heat them in sauce or for a few minutes until hot in oven . 

Recipe By Denise Birdsall