Baked Chicken Meatballs + 5 Must Try Meatball Recipes!

 

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resolution: noun:

the act or process of resolving: the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones: the act of answering: solving, the act of determining

Cross the finish line, even if I have to crawl.  This is my New Year’s resolution.

On April 20, 2015 I will run my first marathon, the Boston Marathon, for a fantastic, local non-profit called YES or Youth Enrichment Services.  I will train all through a long cold winter. I will run until I hit a wall and then somehow keep running.  My muscles will ache and my toenails may fall off.  Beyond all logic I will continue to run.  While I prepare my body for this 26.2 feat, I will fundraise month, after month, until I reach my $10,000 goal.  You read that right.  $10,000.  I will call on friends and family for help; send letters, make phone calls, beg for donations.  I will do what it takes.

Run 26.2 and raise $10,000.  This task feels daunting, yet, somehow, possible.  I am terrified, but excited.  I am pushing and stretching myself further than I have in a long time.  I am ready.

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I should eat more protein smoothies, kale, quinoa and hemp seeds.  Maybe I should even attempt the Bon Appetit’s food lovers’ cleanse.  Or maybe I will listen to my body and eat meatballs and carbs, after all, I am training for a marathon.  It’s January.  I need comfort food.  Food that will stick to my bones.  Food that will keep me running…

Baked Chicken Meatballs

Tender chicken meatballs flavored with oregano, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes and a bit of fresh parsley are perfect on their own with a big salad.  Want pasta? Go for it! Put it on a sub roll and add some provolone cheese for an awesome meatball sub.  Freeze and save for later. So many options.  Enjoy!

makes about 24

recipe slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

Ingredients:

6 slices whole wheat bread, torn into medium chunks ( Italian bread will work here too)

3/4 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

3 small cloves of garlic, minced

2 pounds ground chicken

2 large eggs, beaten

1 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

pinch of fennel seeds

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley

3 to 4 cups tomato-based pasta sauce ( I used Rao’s marinara sauce.  When I make marinara sauce from scratch I like this recipe.)

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 375FSet aside 2 9×13 inch pans.

Place bread crumbs in a medium and pour in whole milk.  Soak for 5 minutes or so.

Using a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil a bit.  Add diced onions, a pinch of salt and cook until softened and light brown, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the ground chicken in a large bowl. Squeeze excess milk from the bread.  Add only the bread to the chicken.  Toss the milk!  Add the cooked onions and garlic.  Next, add eggs, salt, red pepper flakes, oregano, fennel seeds, parmesan cheese, tomato paste and parsley.  Use your hands or a wooden spoon to mix all of the ingredients together.  I used my hands.  Be sure the ingredients are completely combined.

Spread 1 cup of marinara sauce in each 9×13 pan.  Use your hands to shape the meatballs into a golf ball size.   You should end up with about 24 meatballs. Place 12 meatballs in each pan and top each meatball with a dollop of marinara sauce. (You could also use a steel cookie scoop! I tried this and it was much faster and less messy. I used this scoop.

Bake meatballs for 25-30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the meatballs are cooked through.  Serve with pasta and a simple salad.  We ate them one night with pasta and the next night on slider buns.  The meatballs will last for up to 4 days stored in an air-tight container, in the refrigerator.  You could also freeze any leftovers for an easy weeknight meal.  (Freeze for up to a month in an air-tight container.) Enjoy!

5 Must Make Meatball Recipes!

Looking for a classic Italian meatball recipe? Head to Simply Recipes for Elise’s Italian meatball recipe.  I want to eat 5 of them now!

Need a meatless meatball? Cookin Canuk has a recipe for cannellini bean vegetarian meatballs.  Perfect for meatless Mondays!

If you love chicken parm, check out What’s Gaby Cooking? chicken parmesan meatballs: all the ingredients found in the beloved dish in one delicious meatball!

Serve a spicy and smoky meatball at your Superbowl party this year.  Head to Food 52 for their Korean-style Gochujang meatballs. Yum!

Any meatball in just 5 steps? Yup, it is that easy! Head to Food 52, they’ll walk you through it.

 

Sweet and Savory Corn Fritters + 5 Corn Recipes for August!

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Our fantastic sitter came over last week. I left her with a few instructions and bolted out the house like a swarm of bees were chasing me. I didn’t have an appointment or a plan. I sat in my car for a few minutes, not sure what to do or where to go. Almost lunch time and tired of Sunbutter and jam sandwiches, I took myself out to lunch. Did I eat by myself in a restaurant and read a book? Nope. I drove to Whole Foods. I wandered around the prepared foods section for a while, finally settling on a salad for lunch. I thought about sitting in the café area, but decided against it; way too many people. I headed to my car. So I am sitting in the parking lot, alone, eating their spicy Thai kale salad and listening to Here & Now on NPR. I know there is so much to make fun of in that sentence. It gets better: I am wearing Birkenstocks, now fashionable, but not so when I bought them, and drinking organic green tea. I am a cliché. Did I picture this for myself 10 years ago? No. Am I ok with it? Yup. I can appreciate and laugh at both Whole Foods and kale salads. I like to eat alone because I NEVER eat alone. Birkenstocks are so dam comfortable I could walk across the state of Massachusetts in them without complaining my feet hurt. I like NPR, enough said.

Kathy Gunst was on Here & Now discussing how to use the vegetable of the month: corn! I love corn but, my ears didn’t really perk up until she mentioned corn fritters. My grandmother made corn fritters and served them with warm maple syrup. I loved them; so sweet and so deep-fried.

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When I got home I looked up her recipe and found both a sweet and savory version of a corn fritter. Savory sounds interesting. Oh, and instead of a deep-fried treat, she prepared them as you would a pancake. Perfect! I feel less guilty about serving them to my family for dinner. I adapted her recipe by swapping out some of the flour for whole wheat flour, and using 1% milk instead of half and half. I felt like I made a healthy choice. Then I added bacon. Why? Because it was sitting in the fridge and it felt left out. You don’t need to add it, but it tastes dam good with corn and syrup. Just sayin’.

The sweet corn fritter is just as you expect: sweet, comforting and addictive. The savory corn fritter has a surprising burst of herbal and lemon flavor. A healthy drizzling of lemon-herb butter highlights this flavor profile even more! The kids loved the sweet corn fritters. Bubba and I ate the savory fritters. If you don’t feel like making the lemon-herb butter, pour warm maple syrup over the savory fritters. Bubba did and said it was delicious. Take advantage of fresh corn this month and make these fritters. Enjoy!

Sweet and Savory Corn Fritters

recipe adapted from NPR’s Here & Now chef Kathy Gunst

makes about 10 small fritters

Ingredients for Sweet Corn Breakfast Fritters:

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup white whole wheat flour

Pinch of kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup milk (I used 1%.)

1 tbsp. sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 cups fresh corn kernels, removed from 2 cobs

Maple syrup

Canola oil or vegetable oil for pan

Optional: 1/2 pound of bacon, cooked and chopped

Directions:

(Pre-heat your oven to 200F. As you cook the fritters you can place them on a baking sheet in the oven to keep them warm until you are ready to serve.)

Whisk together the flours, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the milk and sugar and whisk until very smooth. Add a little more milk if the batter looks to dry. Beat in the egg and gently fold in the corn.

Using a large skillet or griddle, heat a few tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Using a small cookie scoop or spoon, drop 2 tablespoons batter into the hot oil. Gently flatten the batter with the back of your spatula to form a pancake. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. *When lots of bubbles form in the batter it is a good time to flip the pancake.* Serve immediately with lots of maple syrup and some chopped bacon or transfer to pre-heated oven until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Savory Herb Corn Fritters

recipe adapted from NPR’s Here & Now chef Kathy Gunst

makes 10-12 small fritters

Ingredients:

2 cups of fresh corn from about 2 large cobs

1 large egg, whisked

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup white whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 cup whole milk

Pinch of kosher salt

the zest and juice of one lemon

a bit of fresh ground black pepper

1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped

1 tbsp. fresh chives, chopped

1 tbsp. canola oil, plus more for frying

Optional: 1/2 pound of bacon, cooked and chopped

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together the corn kernels and egg. Add the flour, baking powder, milk, salt, pepper, parsley, basil, chives and 1 tsp. lemon zest and stir until combined. Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil and beat well.

Heat your skillet or griddle over medium-high heat and add a bit of oil for frying. Using a small cookie scoop or spoon, drop 2 tablespoons batter into the hot oil. Gently flatten the batter with the back of your spatula to form a pancake. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. *When lots of bubbles form in the batter it is a good time to flip the pancake.*

Serve immediately or transfer to pre-heated oven until ready to serve. Eat with a heaping spoonful of lemon-herb butter. Enjoy!

Lemon-Herb Butter

Ingredients:

1/2 stick unsalted butter

pinch of kosher salt

1 tbsp. parsley, chopped

1 tbsp. basil, chopped

1 tbsp. chives, chopped

1 tsp. lemon zest

juice of 1 lemon

fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

Melt the butter with the herbs and simmer over low heat for a few minutes. Add lemon juice, zest and black pepper and simmer for another minute.

Drizzle over cooked fritters when ready to serve. Enjoy!

5 Corn Recipes To Try Before Corn Season Ends!

I like soup in the summertime. It is a nice break from the grill. I especially love corn soup, so Cooking Classy’s summer squash and corn chowder is on my meal list this week. Check it out!

Looking for an easy and light pasta dish that the kids can help you make? Try hello, Wonderful’s recipe for pappardelle with leeks and corn. Yum!

I love fast and healthy meals. I need to throw this quesadilla recipe into our rotation before corn and zucchini season are over!

If your garden is overflowing with cilantro head to Food 52. Their recipe for sweet corn fritters with sriracha-lime Greek yogurt sounds amazing!

I am a big fan of corn bread and the kids love it too. I need to try Spoon Fork Bacon’s recipe for Buttermilk Cornbread with Bacon, Lime and Chili butter. I didn’t know you could do that to butter. Wow!

A Dose of Fall Comfort Food: Butternut Squash + Apple Soup plus 5 Must Try Fall Desserts

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Last week I was sick. I felt awful, really awful. Luckily, Bubba was able to work from home for a day to help deal with the kids. It was the first time in I don’t know how long I had an actual sick day. I napped, I didn’t make any meals or clean any dishes, Bubba did the laundry and took the kids to the park and I watched an episode of Barefoot Contessa. Yes, an entire episode not recorded, in the middle of the day! That never happens.

After my fever broke I felt better, but I needed something comforting to eat. A couple of days before I got sick, we went apple picking. So on my counter I had a bunch of apples and a butternut squash from our CSA staring at me. “Make something with me!” they seemed to scream. Ok fine, but what? My mind felt hazy and my body still ached a bit. I grabbed my new favorite cookbook, Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach, and looked up butternut squash. This was not the time for creativity, I just needed a good recipe for something soothing. (All of her recipes are good. If you are looking to buy a new cookbook, buy her book. You’ll love it!) I found Butternut Squash and Apple Soup. Perfect, just what my body needs now.

The soup has a bit of spice to it which I love. The apples add a subtle sweetness which works well with the butternut squash, and a pinch of cayenne gives a little heat. The combination of the apples, squash and thyme simmering together made our house smell like fall. I served the soup with crusty bread and chopped chives sprinkled on top. G tried the soup and wasn’t impressed. C refused to try the soup but she did dip a piece of bread in it and said it tasted “ok.” I’ll keep working on her and G. Bubba loved the soup. At least one other person in our family loved the soup.

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The apples are a mix of Macintosh and Honey Crisp. Honey Crisp is my favorite.

_KH10032One two-pound butternut squash, two apples, two small onions or one medium and a sprig of thyme are the main ingredients.

_KH10036Peel the squash. I love the golden orange color on the inside.

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Scrape out the seeds and chop into 1 inch cubes.

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Bring the apples, onions, squash, broth and seasonings to a boil and then allow to simmer for about a half hour. Check every ten minutes while simmering and add more broth if necessary.

_KH10061Serve with crusty bread and top with chopped chives, walnuts and crème fraiche. Use all toppings or just one! Take a big bite and feel better.

Butternut Squash + Apple Soup

Recipe from Dinner: A Love Story

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 small or 1 medium onion

A large glug of olive oil

Leaves from one sprig of fresh thyme

1 Tbsp. curry powder (optional but I used it)

1/8 tsp. cayenne

1 2 lb butternut squash, peeled, cut in half, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes

2 apples peeled, cored and cut into any size chunks (Macintosh or Fuji work well here. I used Macs. Do not use Red Delicious.)

31/2 cups or more of chicken broth. (If you are not using homemade chicken broth, buy low sodium so you can add the amount of salt you want. Store bought chicken broth tends to be too salty for me.)

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Toppings: chopped chives, chopped walnuts or sour cream. Try crème fraiche instead of sour cream for a topping even creamier.

Directions: 

Brown the onion in a large dutch oven or stock pot for about 3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, thyme, curry powder and cayenne and stir. Add squash and apples and chicken broth. Be sure the broth covers the ingredients by about 1/2 inch.

Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes. Check the soup every 10 minutes and make sure it stays at the same level. If it doesn’t, add more broth. After 30 minutes, check to see if the squash is tender. Continue to cook until tender if it is not. Remove soup from the heat and puree it using a blender or immersion blender. If you using a traditional blender be sure to puree the soup in batches and keep the lid slightly open so it doesn’t explode. Serve hot with as many suggested toppings as desired. Enjoy!

5 Must Try Fall Desserts

I love to bake. When the seasons change I get excited to try new recipes. I plan on trying the recipes list below and I’ll let you know how they turn out.

I spotted these pumpkin bars on Two Peas and Their Pod and I must try them very soon.

Caramel apples are a must eat in the fall but what about adding bacon to them? Check out the recipe here.

I love cupcakes. This cupcake will satisfy your need for anything pumpkin.

Apple pie with caramel? Yes! Get the recipe here.

A fall dessert that won’t pack on the pounds? It exists here.

End of Summer Marinara Sauce

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Summer is coming to an end and I am looking forward to fall. I like to let go of summer every year and remember it romantically. At the start of summer I anticipate picnics, beach time, stargazing and dinners outside. The truth is I spend half of the summer trying to entertain my kids with beach or museum  trips only for them to tell me after an outing “I’m bored.” The second half of the summer I am desperate for some relief so I try to get rid of them with camps and drop off play-dates only for them to tell me again “I’m bored.” By August, I feel burnt out and ready for school to begin. Come October everyone will be happy again because we have a little time apart from each other. Come April we will long for a break from our routine; we will long for summer again. Funny how that works.

Living in New England is a good fit for me because just as I am sick of one season and ready for the next, it changes quickly and quietly. One day the air is different, the light is lower and the leaves hint at what’s to come. My food cravings change as well. Right now I enjoy all of the beautiful summer fruit and vegetables we get in our CSA share every week because I know this bounty is coming to an end.

This week we got tomatoes. Nothing tastes better than a summer tomato. One of my favorite sandwiches is tomatoes, sliced with mayo on multi-grain bread with a little sea salt. This sandwich is simple and delicious. Typically, I throw our tomatoes into a salad or panzanella but I made a marinara sauce instead. This sauce tastes like summer because it is light and fresh. Also, this is a great way to use up tomatoes. Make a double batch and freeze the sauce. Pull it out in the dead of winter when you need to remember summer again.

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Rinse the tomatoes and using a sharp knife put a x on the bottom of each tomato. Pour boiling water over the tomatoes and let them sit in the water for about a minute. Remove the tomatoes and allow to cool slightly. Once cooled, peel the skins and coarsely chop. If you want a chunky sauce leave the tomatoes coarsely chopped. If you want a smooth sauce; puree them in a blender for a few minutes.

_KH10022Sauté some onions and garlic together for about 10 minutes. Do not allow to brown. Add tomatoes and then add…

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a parmesan rind! The rind will add an incredible savory flavor to the sauce. I also added one bay leaf, a teaspoon of dried oregano, a spoonful of tomato paste and salt to taste.

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The sauce should simmer for about an hour. Discard the bay leaf and parmesan rind once the sauce has finished simmering.

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Serve sauce over cooked spaghetti with lots of parmesan cheese. A little chopped parsley or basil sprinkled on top is a nice addition too! Eat with a nice glass of red wine and enjoy!

End of Summer Marinara Sauce

Serves 4

Recipe inspired by Goop’s Basic Fresh Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

1/4 olive oil

6 medium ripe tomatoes

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 tsp. of dried oregano

1 bay leaf

1 parmesan rind

1 spoonful of tomato paste

Kosher salt

Directions:

Finely chop one small onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Heat a 1/4 of olive oil over medium heat and add the onions and garlic. Sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not allow the onion and garlic to brown.

While the onion/garlic mixture is sautéing, score 6 tomatoes and pour boiling water over them. Allow the tomatoes to sit in the water for about 30 seconds. Drain the tomatoes and allow to cool slightly before peeling the skin. Remove the skin and coarsely chop. (If you don’t want a chunky sauce, puree the tomatoes in a blender for a few minutes.) Add tomatoes to onion and garlic mixture and stir to combine.

Add 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp. of dried oregano, 1 spoonful of tomato paste and 1 parmesan rind. Allow to simmer on low for about an hour. Remove the rind and bay leaf. Add kosher salt to taste.

Serve over spaghetti with lots of parmesan cheese and a bit of chopped parsley or basil. Enjoy!

 

 

Garlic Butter Pasta with Spinach, Lemon + Parmesan

Our CSA started this week and I am so excited. We first joined a CSA last summer and we are hooked. I love picking up our share every week. The fruit and vegetables still have bits of earth on them. They smell like earth and the colors cannot be replicated in paintings or photography. The bits of dirt remind me of where this food came from and I like that.

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I love color of the asparagus tips. The purple is just coming through. They look so delicate. Asparagus works with so many dishes and it is one of the few vegetables my kids will eat. I wanted to work them into the easy pasta dish I made but decided to hold off. I’ll save them for the next night when I grill chicken which the kids won’t eat. When I watch them ignore their chicken but eat the asparagus, dipped in a vinaigrette of course, I won’t feel like I completely lost the dinner battle.

So, I decided to make an easy pasta dish with the spinach we received this week. This pasta dish comes together quickly which is perfect for a weeknight. The spinach was a beautiful bright green and covered in dirt. After a good rinsing it was ready for sautéing.

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I like to have a glass of wine or a beer when I cook. Also, I usually turn on a half hour show for the kids to watch so I can relax a bit. Cooking dinner with kids underfoot is miserable. It raises the stress level which is so not necessary. Things are stressful as is, so why not be kind to myself?  Once I hear the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme song come on the stress lowers a bit and then I have a sip of a beer or a glass wine and I am well one my way to getting dinner on the table.

_KH10049Once the greens are sautéing, I chop up my herbs and zest the lemon. The pasta water is almost at a boil.

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I used a combination of rosemary and thyme. I love lemon zest in pasta and a pinch of red pepper flakes adds a slight spice to the dish. The parmesan adds a perfect saltiness but who am I kidding? I could parmesan on anything.

Bubba liked this meal. The kids requested their pasta plain which I obliged because not every battle, every night needs to be fought.

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Garlic Butter Pasta with Spinach, Lemon and Parmesan

serves 2-3

adapted from Naturally Ella

Ingredients

4 tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic

2 sprigs rosemary finely chopped

zest of 1 lemon

3 handfuls spinach

8 ounces of pasta

2 sprigs of thyme for garnish

a pinch of red pepper flakes

½ cup parmesan

Directions

Heat butter over medium-low heat in a large sauce pan. Mince garlic and add to pan. Sauté  until fragrant but not brown, about 1-2 minutes.  Add rosemary and cook for an additional minute or so. Add rinsed and dried spinach, lemon zest and a pinch of red pepper flakes to butter mixture and cook until spinach is wilted.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid. Add pasta to spinach mixture . If pasta seems dry, add a small bit of reserved cooking liquid until the pasta seems less dry.

Sprinkle parmesan on top and toss to combine. Serve with an extra parmesan and a bit of fresh thyme. Enjoy!

A Riff On A BLT

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“Perhaps home is not a place but some irrevocable condition.” – James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

We spent the weekend unpacking boxes. We took out the essentials for sleeping and eating and set up the kitchen. We reassembled the kids rooms so they felt like the rooms they slept in for the last 6 years. We spent the weekend desperately trying to feel at ease in a place that does not feel like home.

As I write this post I struggle to understand why leaving our house of 6 years is so hard. I passed it on purpose during my run the other day and almost burst into tears. What is a home really? If a home is really just the people I will be ok, right?

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I think I started a home when I married Bubba almost 7 years ago. Our home grew when we had Charlotte and 3 years later Graham. I think home is a group of people seeking comfort in each other. The house, the walls shelter us. The stuff that we think we need to make a house a home add to our daily comfort or drive us insane.

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After an exhausting weekend of unpacking and adjusting to our new surroundings, I had to make an easy and comforting dinner. A BLT screams comfort to us so I made one with a few twists.

I picked up a loaf of fresh sour dough bread from our local bread shop, Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery. (www.mamadousartisanbakery.com) I like their sourdough because the flavor is not overwhelming. I am not a fan of strong sourdough flavor. I grabbed a locally grown tomato, some bacon, blue cheese, avocado, Romain lettuce, roast turkey and Stonewall Kitchen’s Fig and Ginger Jam. I splurged on the jam but I figure I can use it for marinades as well. The jam adds a nice sweetness which works great the saltiness of the bacon. The turkey is not necessary here but it does work well with the rest of the ingredients. The avocado gives a nice creamy texture. and the blue cheese highlights the sweetness of the jam and saltiness of the bacon. I threw the meal together in no time. We enjoyed the blts with a icy cold beers. Yum! The kids had milk of course.

BLT with Blue Cheese, Avocado and  Fig+ Ginger Jam

Inspired by Two Peas and Their Pod

Ingredients

1 loaf of fresh sourdough bread

1 tomato, thinly sliced

Romaine lettuce, washed and dried

1 avocado, pitted and sliced

crumbled blue cheese

1 lb bacon

1/4-1/2 lb of roast turkey depending on how much you want to use on the sandwiches (optional)

1 jar of Stonewall Kitchen’s Fig+ Ginger Jam

Directions:

Cook bacon on medium heat until it reaches desired crispness and drain on a plate covered with a paper towel. To assemble the sandwiches spread a tablespoon of jam on each piece of sliced sourdough bread. Add bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado and a couple of slices of roast turkey if using. Sprinkle with a good amount of crumbled blue cheese. Slice in half and enjoy!