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A Meatball Finale – Turkey Meatballs with Raspberry-Balsamic Barbecue Sauce

I took a few days off from blogging to get caught up on some work, but I didn’t forget about my last meatball recipe to share along the way. The classic Italian meatballs sure went a long way and we had them for 4 dinners and a few lunches as well, so we got a lot out of the $14.00 I spent on the ground turkey and turkey sausage. Not only do the meatballs taste great, but you have a lot of things to do with them, including this recipe that Giada di Laurentiis shared on the Food Network for turkey meatballs in a raspberry-balsamic barbecue sauce. Giada’s original recipe offers these up as mini meatballs to use for appetizers, but I changed it around slightly and used bigger meatballs and we had them for dinner when I made them.

Turkey Meatballs with Raspberry-Balsamic Barbecue Sauce

2 cups frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed
3/4 cup ketchup
2/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
3 tablespoons packed golden brown sugar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black
Zest of 1 small lemon
24 to 36 Classic Italian Turkey Meatballs
For the barbecue sauce: In a food processor or blender, blend together the raspberries, ketchup, raspberry jam, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and lemon zest until the mixture is smooth. Pour the sauce into a heavy medium saucepan. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Cook the sauce until it is slightly thickened, about 6 to 7 minutes. Place the meatballs in the saucepan with the sauce and cook over medium heat until the meatballs have cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the meatballs and sauce into a serving bowl and serve.

As I said, Giada makes her smaller to use as an appetizer and threads them on skewers with mango and radicchio, which would make a very nice appetizer if you want to put some out for a party or buffet. I think they worked just as well as a meal on their own over some rice. The sauce had a combination of the sweetness of the raspberries from the jam and the fruit with a bit of barbecue sauce flavor from the ketchup, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. It was a very nice sauce that tasted great, though I would recommend if you are not a fan of raspberry seeds you really try to find seedless jam to use. Overall, I think it was a pretty good dish and we made this one and some of the turkey meatballs in a simple turkey gravy as well over rice or noodles to finish up the meatballs.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. I have some new things to share that aren’t meatballs so I’ll be posting some new stuff next time out I think everyone will enjoy. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!


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Posted by on June 9, 2014 in Appetizers, Cooking, Dinner, Poultry, Turkey


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Twisting a Classic: Spaghetti (Squash) and Meatballs

As sacrilegious as it may sound, I don’t like pasta. I have never eaten it, even when I was a little kid. I don’t know if it’s the taste, flavor, texture or what, but I just don’t like it. Don’t get me wrong; if I am at someone’s home and that’s what they serve, I am eating it without a fuss. Do I go out of my way to make it at home? No, not for me. I do make it for Michelle and Sean, who both love pasta, but I make something else for myself. So when I decided I was making meatballs this week, I wanted to try something different. It was lucky that I had come across this recipe from Food Network recently to give me the inspiration.

Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

1 medium spaghetti squash (about 2 pounds)

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 medium carrot, roughly chopped

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

6 cloves garlic

1 cup fresh parsley leaves

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground pork

2 large eggs

1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 28-ounce cans tomato puree

2 large sprigs basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Halve the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Sprinkle the cut sides with 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and then brush both sides with olive oil. Put the squash, cut side up, in a baking dish and cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Roast for 20 minutes, then uncover the squash and continue roasting until the squash is tender, about 35 more minutes.

Meanwhile, make the meatballs: Brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Pulse the celery, carrot, onion, garlic and parsley in a food processor to make a paste. Transfer half of the vegetable paste to a bowl; add the ground beef, ground pork, eggs, breadcrumbs, 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese and 1 teaspoon of salt and mix with your hands until it is just combined. Form the mixture into about 24 two-inch meatballs; transfer the meatballs to the prepared baking sheet. Bake the meatballs until they are firm but not cooked all the way through, about 10 minutes.

To make the sauce, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the remaining vegetable paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until it looks dry, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree; rinse each can with 1 cup of water and add it to the pot. Stir in the basil, oregano and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then add the meatballs and simmer until the sauce thickens and the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the basil.

Use a fork to scrape the spaghetti squash flesh into strands; transfer the squash to a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese. Season with salt to taste.  Divide the squash among plates or bowls and top each with some meatballs, sauce and the remaining 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.

A couple of notes about this recipe. This particularly recipe makes a lot of sauce and meatballs, so you will have leftovers to store or freeze if you like. You can store the sauce and meatballs for up to a month in the freezer. You can always skip making the sauce and just use your favorite jarred sauce if you choose to go that route. I have tried multiple meatball recipes and posted several of them on here. This one is one of the more flavorful I have tried, so it’s worth a shot. Everyone really liked the spaghetti squash as an alternative. I thought Sean would resist, but he really liked it too. There is a great flavor from the squash and it goes well with the meatballs.

That’s all I have for today. Check back tomorrow for another recipe. I did make the lemon icebox pie, so you’ll want to check back for that one. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!




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Posted by on September 12, 2013 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Sauce, Vegetables


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Cook’s Country Recipe Week Part 2 – A Myriad of Meatballs and Marinara

I think everyone has their own meatball recipe that they love. Odds are it was something that was handed down from generation to generation and you have gotten so used to having it that way that you don’t really stray from the method. There’s nothing wrong with that – if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. However, much like I am with my meatloaf recipes, I like to experiment with different meatball recipes. I am always on the lookout for something tastier when it comes to having a meatball. My experience very often with meatballs when I have had them out at various places is that they either have no flavor because they do not have much in the way of herbs and spices and are all breading, or they are soft and mushy because they have cooked in the sauce too long and no longer have flavor of their own. When I looked through Cook’s Country and saw this recipe, it sounded like a great one to try.

Meatballs and Marinara

For the Onion Mixture:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 1/2 pounds onions, chopped fine

8 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon dried oregano

3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

For the Marinara:

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1 cup dry red wine

4 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil


1-2 teaspoons sugar, as needed

For the Meatballs:

4 slices white sandwich bread

3/4 cup milk

1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 eggs

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 pounds 80 percent lean ground beef

For the onion mixture, Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and cook until they are golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer half of the onion mixture to a large bowl and set aside.

For the marinara: Add the tomato paste to the onion mixture remaining in the Dutch oven and cook until it is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and water and simmer over low heat until the sauce has thickened, about 45 to 60 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the meatballs: Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Mash the bread and the milk together in the bowl with the reserved onion mixture until it is thoroughly combined. Add the sausage, Parmesan cheese, parsley, eggs, garlic and salt and mash to combine. Add the beef and gently knead with your hands until combined (try not to overwork the mixture). Form the mixture into large meatballs (about 2 inches), place the meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until they are well browned, about 20 minutes.

Transfer the meatballs to the pot with the thickened sauce and simmer for 15 minutes before serving.

This recipe does not make quite a bit (the recipe says it serves 8), so you may want to freeze some to have on hand for future meals. The meatballs and sauce should freeze well and will keep for up to 1 month.  There are a few notes about this recipe. Browning the onions in the same pot you are going to make the sauce in saves you a few steps and gives great flavor to the sauce and the meatballs. Also, you want to make sure that you do add some water in when you add the crushed tomatoes. Without it, the sauce will over-reduce in 45 minutes and be too thick for your use. For the meatballs, making the mash of bread and milk (called a panade) will bind the meatballs better than any breadcrumb you buy at the store and with the onion mixture will have a lot more flavor. Using the Italian sausage, Parmesan garlic and parsley also help with the binding and they give the meatballs some great flavor. You want to make sure you do not overwork the mixture when you add the beef; just blend it gently until everything is mixed and you won’t end up with rubbery meatballs. I love baking the meatballs in the oven over the stove top because you seem to get better overall browning in the oven and it’s a lot neater than using oil or butter to brown them.

Naturally, you can serve this with pasta or make meatball subs (which I did for myself with some garlic bread since I don’t eat pasta). Michelle and Sean actually had theirs over cheese ravioli. Now I am no pasta expert, especially since I don’t eat it, but I do know how to cook it and there are a few tips you should follow. Make sure you salt the water to season the pasta properly. You want to be sure you stir the pasta as soon as you get it in the water to prevent it from sticking to the pot (I hate cleaning stuck pasta out of a pot!) and then stir it every few minutes as it cooks so it doesn’t all clump together. Adding oil to the water doesn’t really do anything; it won’t prevent the pasta from sticking and it will keep sauce from being absorbed. Also, you know how you  like your own pasta; don’t go by what the package says. Check it often to see if it is done to your liking by fishing a piece out and trying it yourself. Finally, even I as a non-pasta eater know you shouldn’t rinse off your pasta. It washes all the starch off the pasta that helps the sauce adhere nicely.

That’s all for today. Check back next time for another Cook’s Country recipe this week. Tomorrow you will find a recipe for a spicy pork and broccoli stir fry. It promises to be tasty, so come back and check it out. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on July 30, 2013 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Pasta, Sauce


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