Perfectly Simple and Simply Perfect Italian Meatballs

My Tiny Sous Chef has been getting more involved in meal planning lately and has asked to choose one meal per week. This week she asked for “meatballs made with meat (meat = beef) and salad.” Since she asked for it in such a straightforward way, I thought we’d go basic and straightforward without frills on the meatballs.

A few years ago Food Network Magazine did a special feature on meatballs. It had all kinds of variations and how to prepare them if you want to bake them vs fry them vs broil them, etc. the basic foundations recipe for each style included in the feature have become the basics for all of my meatball creations. This recipe is adapted from the Italian meatball basic recipe in that feature. It’s simple, easy, and fool-proof perfection. It will not fail you. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
makes about 24 1.5-in meatballs
* 1 1/2-1 3/4lbs lean ground beef
* 3/4C grated Parmesan cheese
* 3/8C Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
* 3/8C milk
* 3/8C fresh parsley, chopped
* 3t minced garlic
* 1 1/2t kosher salt
* 2 eggs

WHAT TO DO
Preheat the oven to 425F. Lightly spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray.

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl by hand until combined. Form the mixture into balls, about 1.5-2 inches each. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer to a large pot. Add your favorite store bought or homemade tomato sauce and simmer on low for about 10 minutes until the sauce is warmed through. Serve over pasta or rice or your favorite veggie noodles, in a sub roll, over a salad, or just as-is.

Meatless Monday: Hearty White Bean Chili

When starting off a new year with painfully cold temps, the only way to deal is to bake and cook up a big pot of something warm and hearty and cozy to fill your belly and heat your whole body from the toes up. This chili is so simple, but so layered with flavor and warmth. Four types of beans, sweet corn, spices, and a creamy surprise ingredient elevate this from a basic to a really special bowl of hearty chili perfect for welcoming in a new year (or otherwise driving out the chill). Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
* 1 sweet onion, chopped
* 3t minced garlic
* 32oz vegetable broth
* 4 15.5oz cans of white beans, any type, and a combination is great. Possibilities: garbanzo, cannelini, Northern white, navy, butter, etc.
* 4oz can mild green chilis
* 1T chili powder
* 2 1/2t cumin
* 1t dried oregano
* 1t paprika
* 1/2t salt
* 1/4t ground black pepper
* 1/4t cayenne pepper (optional)
* 1C frozen sweet corn
* 3/4C tahini
* fresh chopped cilantro for garnish
* fresh lemon wedges for serving

WHAT TO DO
Heat a large pot over medium hear. Add a few tablespoons of water, and when its just shimmering, add the peppers, onion, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to begin softening the vegetables and release the aromatics.

Add everything else but the frozen corn and tahini, and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 40 minutes.

Add the frozen corn and the tahini. Raise the heat back up to medium and cook until heated through, just a few minutes.

Serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Chicken Marsala over Sautéed Asparagus Ribbons

Doesn’t that sound fancy? It’s so easy, though!

The very first meal I ever cooked for my now-husband was Chicken Marsala. I remember wanting to impress him, choosing this dish because I thought it would also *sound* impressive, and then being SO stressed out trying to put it together. This was long before I started cooking regularly, and I definitely hadn’t mastered timing in the kitchen, and it was just so so so anxiety-inducing!

It does sound–and look–fancy and beautiful. But Chicken Marsala really is stupidly easy to make. My husband also really likes asparagus and I really don’t so I’ve been trying to make it a little more and play with preparation so that I can find a version that I can tolerate. This may be a winner. Also fancy sounding (asparagus ribbons) but so simple. Traditionally, Chicken Marsala is served over linguini or spaghetti, which is totally acceptable and delicious, but this is a nice twist that adds flavor and color. And this whole dish is ready in about a half hour, so. DUH. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 4 chicken breasts, pounded to about 1/4-1/2-in even thickness
* 1/3C + 1T flour
* olive oil
* 2T butter, divided
* 8oz white button mushrooms, sliced
* 8oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
* 1 large shallot, minced
* 2t minced garlic
* 2/3C Marsala wine
* 2/3C chicken broth
* Salt and pepper to taste
* herbs for garnish, optional (parsley, or thyme, or whatever you like)
* 1lb asparagus

WHAT TO DO
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to a large pan over medium-high heat.

Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of each pounded chicken breast, then lightly dredge each in flour, and add the chicken to the pan. Cook for 3 minutes, flip, and cook another 2 minutes, letting the chicken become golden brown. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and 1 more tablespoon of butter and the mushrooms to the pan and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the mushrooms to the plate with the chicken.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, then add the shallots and garlic. Saute for about a minute, then add a tablespoon of flour and cook for another minute, stirring constantly to create a roux. Pour in the Marsala wine and broth, and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the chicken and mushrooms back into the pan, reduce heat to low, and cover.

Trim the asparagus ends and then carefully slice each spear into thin strips (each should give you 3-4 ribbons). Place the asparagus ribbons into a large pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Saute over medium-high heat until the strips soften and slightly brown, tossing occasionally.

Plate a helping of asparagus and top with the chicken and mushrooms. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, garnishing with fresh herbs if you want, and serve.

Brown Sugar-Glazed Turkey Meatloaf

We eat a lot of meatloaf. When something clicks, especially for kids, you pay attention. But I can’t just keep making it the same way. There are only a few staple dishes and meals I don’t mess with at all. I guess I get bored making the same Rolodex of recipes so I usually try to vary even simple basic dishes. Like meatloaf. This one is good. And super easy to make. But the magic is in the glaze topping. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 2lbs lean ground turkey
* 1 sweet onion, diced
* 2 eggs
* 1/2t ground black pepper
* 1/3C seasoned breadcrumbs
* 1 T Worcestershire sauce
* 1t garlic salt
* 1t onion powder
* 1/2C marinara sauce
for the glaze
* 1/4C brown sugar
* 1/4C ketchup
* 2t grainy dijon mustard

WHAT TO DO
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.

Mix together the turkey, onion, eggs, pepper, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, onion powder, and marinara sauce in a large bowl with your hands, careful not to over-mix. Transfer the mixture into the baking dish and form it into a loaf.

Add the brown sugar, ketchup, and mustard into a small bowl and mix until well-combined. Spread the glaze mixture over the meatloaf, and then put the baking dish into the oven. Bake for an hour and 20 minutes, or until the meatloaf is cooked through. Let cool for 5 minutes and then slice and serve.