026

Parsnip and Carrot Muffins

By now carrot, parsnip and other root crop supplies are winding down for the spring. But before we say goodbye, why not use them in one creative, less obvious method? These muffins make a healthy breakfast option that could adapted to include additional nutritional benefits with ingredients such as ground flax seeds and golden raisins. Or, for a special celebration, turn them into cupcakes with a maple cream cheese frosting. For those of you who must hide vegetables to get picky kids or stubborn adults to eat them, this should help too.

Parsnip and Carrot Muffins

Makes 12 standard muffins or 24+ mini

Ingredients
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 vegetable oil + more for greasing
3/4 cups maple syrup + a splash more
1/2 cup grated parsnips
3/4 cup grated carrots

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a muffin pan with vegetable oil or use muffin liners.

Place the chopped almonds and the splash of maple syrup in a small pan over medium heat. Cook until the nuts are well coated then remove to a plate to cool slightly.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.

Whisk the eggs, yogurt, vegetable oil and maple syrup in a large mixing bowl until combined. Add the flour mixture, carrots and parsnips, and fold with a spatula until all of the flour is moistened. Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin cups.

Sprinkle the top of each muffin with the maple almonds (you’ll probably have to break them up a bit if they’ve cooled for long). Bake for 20 minutes for regular sized muffins or 8 minutes for mini, either way, checking and rotating the pans halfway through baking. Check with a toothpick for doneness. Cool for 10 minutes before removing. Serve warm.

Adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown

Warm Kale and Cheese Dip

Kale

Warm Kale and Cheese Dip

courtesy of My Recipes.com

Ingredients

5 bacon slices, chopped
1 pound fresh kale, stemmed and finely chopped (about 1 bunch)
1/2 medium-size sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (8-oz.) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (4 1/2 oz.) shredded Asiago cheese
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (4 1/2 oz.) shredded fontina or Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Assorted crackers and crudités

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring often, 6 to 7 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 Tbsp. drippings in Dutch oven. Sauté kale, onion, and garlic in hot drippings 7 to 8 minutes or until onion is tender. Add wine, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until particles loosen from bottom of Dutch oven.

2. Stir together cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in Asiago cheese, next 4 ingredients, and kale mixture. Spoon into a lightly greased 1- to 1 1/2-qt. baking dish.

3. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is hot and cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes; top with bacon. Serve with crackers and crudités.

IMG_1859

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Apples often steal the crisp scene in the fall. But berry crisps as just as good and make for a quick, but impressive summer dessert any evening. And that’s especially true with this technique. Like the other strawberry and rhubarb recipes this week, I give you another cheat recipe. If you’ve already made your batch of compote earlier this week, you’re already good to go. In fact, this is a double cheat recipe, though no one is going to know the difference.

Since you already have your compote, that drastically reduces the cook time here and that’s the first cheat. Even if you need to make the compote when you go to make the crisp, it’s still going to take less time in the long run – so either way you’re beating the traditional crisp system. And, with a big batch of the compote, you know there is also this idea and this one to put it to good use.

The second big thing here, is that you use granola for your crisp’s topping. Yup, that’s right. And no one will know the difference. If you think about it, granola is very similar to the topping of a crisp, so why not take advantage of that fact?Of course, use a high quality (or homemade) variety that you enjoy. This isn’t supposed to be an inferior crisp imitation by any means, just a quicker approach to an equally good end product.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 6

Try this granola cheat method with any kind of crisp.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the broiler to low.
  2. Make the compote, if you haven’t already.
  3. Spread the compote into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
  4. Cover with the granola.
  5. Put under the broiler for about 10 minutes until the granola starts to turn slightly brown and aromatic.
  6. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
2031

Blueberry Thyme Zucchini Bread

Brace yourself. The zucchini invasion is upon us. And it’s only going to get worse.

At first, just a few short weeks ago, you were excited for the first squashes of the season – either in your garden, CSA, or at the market. But then you ate a couple. And another. Then a few more. Eventually the charm wore off. Now, they’re slowly piling up on your counter, one by one. You realize that perhaps you shouldn’t have planted twelve squash plants after all.

Now what do you do? Simple. Put zucchini in everything. But mostly, in things where you don’t even realize it’s there. And better, paired with other seasonal ingredients that can steal the focus.

Memories of your grandmother’s zucchini bread will remind you that this is certainly not a revolutionary concept. I haven’t come across a ton of recipes where blueberries were part of the mix (pun intended), though. What if you threw in some chocolate and a little thyme? Suddenly, it becomes more unique and you forget there was ever zucchini there to begin with.

Unless you are without a food processor and have to grate that zucchini by hand. In which case, it’s really not that terrible. Three medium zucchini are generally enough for two loaves of bread and that’s not too much effort. The processor just cuts the time down to a few seconds rather than 5 minutes.

The blueberries add a mouth popping burst of flavor while the thyme lends an earthiness that cuts the bread’s sweetness. If including chocolate, go for dark. I go through these breads for breakfast in no time and I don’t care for or benefit from too much sugar in the am. Add your own combination of nuts and seeds if you want.

Blueberry Thyme Zucchini Bread

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • zest of 1 lemon or lime
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts or seeds
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and grease two 8×4 inch bread pans liberally.
  2. Mix the zucchini, sugar, oil, yogurt, zest, vanilla and eggs in a bowl.
  3. Remove the leaves from the sprigs of thyme by pinching your thumb and forefinger and running them down the stem. Add to the mixture.
  4. Whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon in a second bowl.
  5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
  6. Gently stir in the blueberries and walnuts.
  7. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pans.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick pushed into the center comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes.
217

Winter Squash, Red Onion & Goat Cheese Pizza

Have you tried the 5 minute pizza dough yet? No? Well here are three excellent reasons to go, right now, and take literally 5 minutes to mix it up and get it rising: roasted winter squash, red onion and goat cheese. This combo, with a little olive oil, salt and balsamic, makes for one awesome pizza. I could not keep it on the table last week at RRMC. Staff and visitors were raving about it and the recipe cards went quick.

The dough, simply made up of flour, water, yeast and salt, doesn’t require kneading – just a quick mix with a wooden spoon. Check the label next time on one of those pre-made crusts in stores. I’m betting there are quite a few more than four ingredients.

Once you have that good to go, roast your squash. Any kind of winter squash will work – though maybe not spaghetti. For a quick roast, peel and chop, in small, bite sized chunks beforehand. This will greatly reduce how long you’ll need to roast. 15-20 minutes with a little oil and salt should be good.

Try keeping cooked winter squash on hand this time of year. Have it ready for pizza, soup, salad and other dishes, anytime.

The other option is to cut your squash into large chunks. When I do this, I don’t bother peeling. Just remove the seeds, drizzle on a little oil, sprinkle some salt, and into the oven it goes. This will take 45 minutes to an hour. If you are waiting for your pizza dough to rise, it’s the perfect time to also roast the squash. If your dough is already ready, go the quick route.

Either way, roast the squash at 425.

If you already chopped up your squash, then after roasting, it’s ready to go on the pizza as soon as your dough is done rising. If you went the large chunk route, let the squash cool a little before slicing off the skin and cutting it up. One advantage of this method is that the squash will be very easy to work with.

Preheat the oven to 450. If you have a pizza stone, heat it in the oven. If you don’t have a stone, flip over a cookie sheet and preheat this in the oven instead.

Roll out the dough on a piece of parchment. Forget making it look perfect and bothering with the perfect crust edge. I like a thin, crunchy pizza crust, so I roll the dough out as thin as I can. If you like it doughy, then don’t go so thin, but keep in mind you’ll get less pizza out of it.

After it’s rolled out, drizzle over a little olive oil. Then spread over the crumbled goat cheese. I spread it out a bit with the back of a fork. Next on goes the squash. And then the onion. Finally, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of salt. If you’d like, go ahead and add some grated Parmesan or herbs such as sage, rosemary or thyme.

Place the parchment in the oven on your heated stone/sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or more until you’re happy with the browning. Cool the pizza for 5 minutes before slicing. And here’s a good slicing tip: try using scissors to cut the pizza instead of a knife. You’ll be less likely to lose your ingredients in the process.

 

Winter Squash, Red Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 1 medium sized pizza

Already have pizza dough and cooked squash? Then it’ll be only a few quick minutes before you’re enjoying this healthy, seasonal pizza. Quicker and better than greasy takeout!

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe of Pizza Dough
  • olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked, cubed/chopped winter squash
  • crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 cup red onion, sliced or chopped (your call)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 and place a pizza stone or upside down cookie sheet inside to heat.
  2. Roll out the dough on a piece of parchment paper.
  3. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the dough.
  4. Spread the goat cheese over top.
  5. Cover with the cooked squash.
  6. Top with the red onion.
  7. Sprinkle balsamic vinegar over it all and a little salt.
  8. Carefully place the pizza, on the parchment paper, onto the heated stone or sheet.
  9. Bake 15-20 minutes or until browned and crispy to your liking.
1631

Baked Stuffed Apples

This is entirely un-American of me, I apologize, but apple pie does nothing for me. I’ve just never really cared for it. Maybe it’s all that crust or the mushy texture of the apples after they’re baked. I must have had a bad experience at some point that I don’t recall. Though I’ll admit that some melted cheddar cheese on top (a practice I only became aware of after moving to VT, of course) certainly makes it more appealing.

Baked and stuffed apples, however, are another story. The apples actually have some texture and a little crunch left to them. And since you eat the skins (at least you should) you get added benefits, like fiber. But they’re also quicker to make. No crust. No hassle. It’s a simple weeknight dessert, or even better – breakfast the next morning. Also, in this recipe I stuff them with oats, making this quite similar to an apple crisp – a dish I always looked forward to as a kid. Your pick of dried fruit and nuts only make things better and better for you.

Find yourself some good baking apples. There are many unique, Vermont grown varieties available well into the winter. This time I used Northern Spies and Granny Smiths. Here is New England Apple Association for identifying and learning more about apple varieties.

Preheat the oven to 350F. After you wash your apples, use a paring knife to cut out the stem and top.

And then a spoon to scoop out the seeds a just a little of the flesh. We just need some room for stuffing – no need to hollow the apples out.

This is a good sized cavity. Keep in mind that the apples will start browning quickly. If this bothers you then just coast them with some lemon juice, though it won’t really be noticeable after filling and baking.

Set the apples aside and mix together the oats and brown sugar. Alter the amount of sugar based on how sweet you like things. I think as little as 1/4 cup would be fine.

Then add in the dried fruit. I used currants. I’m a big currant enthusiast and was thrilled to find red ones fresh at the farmers market in Rutland this summer. Raisins and cranberries work well too.

Chop some nuts to add to the stuffing mix. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, peanuts – you choose.

Lastly, get your spices together – cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. I like my food to have flavor, so I tend to go strong on recipe recommendations. With the amounts I suggest below, you will certainly taste these flavors. Scale back if you need. The ginger can be powdered. I just happened to have fresh. It does make a big difference, however, as does grating whole nutmeg and grinding whole cloves, if you have those.

Mix everything together then getting stuffing. Really pack it in well.

Now pour some water into the bottom of the pan to prevent burning and to help speed up the cooking.

Top each with a teaspoon of butter before getting in the oven. They look good already, don’t they? Bake for 30 minutes – you should be able to easily pierce the apples – and enjoy. You might not want to give up your apple pie traditions, but I don’t think anyone would refuse one of these whether at the holiday table or hot out of the oven on a cold night – or morning.

Baked Stuffed Apples

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4-6 baked apples, depending on size of apples

Ingredients

  • 4-6 good baking apples
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves (optional)
  • 4 tsp. butter
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Core your apples, making a good sized hole in the center. A paring knife and spoon work fine.
  3. Combine the sugar, oats, nuts, raisins and spices in a bowl.
  4. Stuff the apples with the filling, packing it in as much as possible.
  5. Place the apples in a baking dish with the water in the bottom.
  6. Top each with a teaspoon of butter.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until tender when poked with a knife, being careful not to overbake.
  8. Cool slightly and serve, topped with yogurt or ice cream.
124

Baked Mac and Sweet Potato

Mac and cheese is a classic, well loved comfort dish and there are countless variations. But no matter what’s in it, I’ve always preferred my mac and cheese to be creamy, yet slightly crispy, from baking. And neither soupy nor dried out.

When made with just pasta and cheese, as it often is, the dish is lacking much in the way of nutritional value. Instead, it’s a high calorie, high fat and high sodium guilty pleasure. I figured there had to be a way to both meet my mac and cheese expectations while turning it into a dish with some redeeming value and without the guilt.

My answer was to cut down on the cheese and add in mashed sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes add creaminess and a vegetable component while making the reduced amount of cheese less apparent. Last week I did something similar when I made butternut squash enchiladas that contained a limited amount of cheese. I adapted (and I’d say improved upon) this recipe from Cooking Light.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against cheese. In fact, I could live on cheese and that’s the problem. Being so high in fat and with a serving size at just one ounce, it’s too easy to get carried away. So I look for ways to keep my cheese intake realistic. This may not be the cheesiest mac and cheese you’ll ever have, but it’s not a bad alternative.
You start by chopping your sweet potatoes and putting them in a medium sized pot.

Add milk, thyme, onion, garlic and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender. Simmering the potatoes right in the milk and broth imparts a ton of flavor, as opposed to just cooking them in water.

When they’re tender, remove the pot from the heat and puree with an immersion blender. Of course, you could transfer the hot contents to a standard blender and puree that way, but you’ll want to be very careful. Or if you don’t have either, you could also just mash it up for a chunkier result. Then add the yogurt, salt, pepper…

and of course, the cheese. I choose Cheddar and Fontina – a creamy, rich Italian cheese that melts well and is popular in fondue. Those just happened to be the cheeses I had at the time, so use what you like. And if you must, increase the amount of cheese.

The sweet potato cheese sauce after everything is melted and combined.

I liked this fun spiral pasta. All of the grooves and twists help capture the sauce.

See? It’s ready for the baking dish.

Every mac and cheese needs some good breadcrumbs on top. I ran some stale bread through the food processor and combined the crumbs with Parmesan and paprika before coating my pasta. Then it baked at 375F for about 25 minutes, until bubbling and browned.

Mac and Sweet Potato

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6 + servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cubed and peeled sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and stems discarded
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup chopped Fontina cheese
  • 1 pound spiral pasta
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Combine the sweet potatoes, broth, milk, onion, thyme and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot bring water to boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain well.
  4. Using an immersion blender, puree the sweet potato mixture. Add salt, pepper, Cheddar, Fontina and Greek yogurt. Stir until combined and the cheese is melted.
  5. Add the pasta to the sweet potato mixture and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a large glass or ceramic baking dish.
  6. Combine the breadcrumbs, paprika, and Parmesan and top the mac.
  7. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.
069

Carrot Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

It’s the winter that will never end. This time last year there were plenty of fresh local greens available and peas were already growing strong. Right now, as I write and look out my window upon Rutland, I can’t even see the ground. But it’s somewhere under all the dirty snow. Let’s just hope we see it sometime soon.

In the meantime, were not completely starved of good local food. You can still find root crops for sale that were stored and perhaps overwintered and dug up from last season. Carrots are just one of those crops – yet one that should not be overlooked for creative uses. Carrot cake is one idea. It’s certainly a popular dessert at the upcoming Easter holiday table and it is also widely loved in the UK. During the first and second world wars, due to rationing, carrots were added to cakes as a means of adding moisture. Eventually, the popularity of carrot cake made its way over here.

While carrot cake is great, we can’t forget it’s loaded with sugar and cream cheese frosting. Not something you want everyday. These cookies, from 101 Cookbooks, however, are another story. They’re made without refined white sugar, eggs and butter. Here you can actually taste the carrot, as well as the oats, coconut and walnuts that make up these cookies. Sweetened with maple syrup and containing olive oil, they’re a better alternative for an everyday type of treat. In a few minutes, you can have a comforting plate of cookies to enjoy while you watch the snow melt.

Carrot Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 11 minutes

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies

I changed a few things from the original recipe. I used olive oil in place of the coconut oil and added in shredded coconut in its place. Then I added some cinnamon. I found the cookies needed a couple more minutes than Heidi suggests, and be sure to let them cool on the pan before transferring.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and oats. Add the nuts, carrots and coconut. In a smaller bowl use a whisk to combine the maple syrup, oil and ginger. Add this to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  3. Drop onto baking sheets, one tablespoonful at a time, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.
  4. Bake in the top 1/3 of the oven for 12 – 15 minutes or until the cookies are golden. Cookies will be delicate. Let cool for a couple of minutes on the sheet before carefully transferring to a wire rack.
218

Vanilla Chai Bread Pudding

How often do you buy bread and not get a chance to use it before it goes stale? I don’t know about you, but this happens to me all the time. That doesn’t mean I toss the bread out though. Stale bread has all kinds of good uses – like bread crumbs, croutons, and my favorite – bread pudding.

At the restaurant I worked back in Connecticut, bread pudding was on the dessert menu every day and the variety was always changing. It’s an economical dish using household staples of bread, milk and eggs. And its flavored with almost anything. Chocolate, raisins, nuts, dried or fresh fruit are all options. Really, anything goes with bread pudding. Even the type of bread doesn’t particularly matter. Chances are you could make this right now with what you already have.

When done right, bread pudding should have the perfect balance of gooey goodness and chewy texture. That’s why stale bread is key, but not absolutely vital. If your bread is not stale you could leave it out on the counter for a good 24 hours. But if you don’t feel like waiting, a slight toasting in the oven will do the job. The bread needs this degree of crunch otherwise you’ll be serving mush pudding.

I find that the amount of liquid needed can vary depending on the degree of staleness of the bread and the type of bread used. Some absorb a ton of liquid and others do not. That’s why I say to use a bit more half and half then you might actually need. If you have leftover, keep it cold and pour over the warm bread pudding when ready to eat. You could use all milk or all cream, or a nondairy option just as well.

Raisins, almonds and plenty of vanilla complement the chai flavor nicely here. And what’s great about it is that you could serve this for breakfast or dessert.

Vanilla Chai Bread Pudding

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of your favorite bread (about 6-7 cups) stale is great, but not completely necessary
  • butter, for greasing
  • 5 cups half and half
  • 4 tablespoons quality chai tea
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Slice or tear up the bread into large chunks. If not already stale, spread the bread out on a baking sheet and place in the preheating oven for a few minutes until slightly toasted.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the half and half with the chai tea in a small pot. Bring to a gentle boil on the stove and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. While the tea simmers, grease a 9x13x2″ baking dish with butter.
  4. When ready, strain out the tea leaves and stir in the honey, salt and vanilla. Cool for about 5 minutes then reserve one cup for now.
  5. In a bowl, beat the eggs until whites and yolks are well combined. Add to the half and half and pour the mixture over the bread. Toss the bread together with the almonds and raisins, being sure to coat the bread well in the egg-milk mixture. The bread should be well saturated. If not, add in some of the reserved cup of half and half. Top with a few of the almonds.
  6. Place the bread pudding in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. Check on it about halfway through. If it looks like it is too dried out, add some of the remaining half and half and continue baking.
  7. When done, serve warm, with any of the cold half and half drizzled over top.
basil

Parmesan Herb Meatballs

I realized earlier this summer that I needed to do some planning ahead. These meatballs were one tactic. Last month, I baked up a large batch and then popped them in the freezer for a quick protein addition for a variety of meals.

I used half ground beef and half ground sausage, which is not entirely the meatball norm, but what I think really makes these stand out is the large amount of fresh herbs.

Basil, parsley and oregano were my choice at the time. Thyme, sage, rosemary, fennel and even mint, could all be interesting though. You might just need to adjust the amount of herbs depending on what you go with. The amount I suggest in the recipe is based on larger leafy herbs like parsley and basil. Use more or less, to your liking.

I started by sauteing some onion with garlic and red pepper flakes.

meatball-mix

Then mixed that together with the ground meat, chopped herbs, plenty of grated Parmesan, an egg and breadcrumbs. Don’t be fooled by the spoon pictured here, meatballs are meant to be mixed and formed by hand. Just wash your hands well before and after handling the meat to avoid contaminating anything. Coating your hands in a little oil before rolling the meatballs could help prevent the meat from sticking to you.

meatballs

I rolled them out just larger than the size of golf balls and browned them in the oven. Once cooled, I slid the whole tray into the freezer. Freezing them separately at first, then transporting them to a freezer bag ensured they didn’t all stick together and that I could easily take just a few out as needed. After I take them out of the freezer, I make sure to cook finish cooking them through, as I was only looking to brown them at first.

How do I use the meatballs? If I remember, I transfer a few from the freezer to the fridge earlier in the day to defrost. A few times, I’ve braised a few in a little broth, thickened the broth to make a sauce, and served them with vegetables and a grain. Or, I’ve gone the traditional route and simmered them in tomato sauce to toss with pasta. I’m craving a meatball sandwich right now, so maybe that’s my next use. No matter what, I’ve saved myself some time trying to put together a balanced meal.

Parmesan Herb Meatballs

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 20 – 25 meatballs

 Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh chopped herbs, such as parsley, basil, mint and oregano
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup bread, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • A splash of milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the garlic, red pepper flakes and onion. Saute until translucent, about 8 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Reserve the pan.
  3. In a large bowl combine the meat, egg, herbs, Parmesan, bread, milk, salt and pepper. Use your hands to gently, but thoroughly, combine it all together. It should be very moist. If not, add just a tiny bit more milk. Return your pan to the stove and place a small piece of the meat mixture in the pan to cook through. Taste and adjust the meat seasoning, as needed.
  4. Roll pieces of the meat into balls, just slightly larger than the size of a golf ball. Space them out on a baking sheet. If it’s lined with parchment paper, all the better. You’ll need at least two sheets. Place the sheets in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Let the pans cool, then place in the freezer until frozen through. You could place them on a large plate or platter, if that works better for you. When frozen, transfer the meatballs to freezer bags, seal, and use within 3 months for best quality. When ready to use, ensure that the meatballs are heated well and cooked through.
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