Cheese Stuffed Meatballs

  Oh Pinterest, you devourer of souls free-time… what would I do without you?
  I was browsing pins, probably far too late at night, and came across the idea for meatballs stuffed with cheese.  The link didn’t go anywhere, but the idea stuck.  Luckily, I have my mom’s meatball recipe and was able to improvise.

1 lb ground beef
1/2 c bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp parsley, minced
1 Tbsp basil, crumbled
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks*
  Combine all of your ingredients except for the oil and cheese into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
  Heat your oil in a large skillet.  While it warms, shape your meat mixture into ball shape, poking a hole with your finger to place the mozzarella inside and then closing the meat around it.
  Place your meatballs into the oil, turning them to brown them lightly on all sides.
  These were pretty dang good, BUT, a big word of warning…I thought I’d be clever and cut up cheese sticks to do this, since they’d be easy to get to a good size.  Turns out, *cheese sticks don’t really melt.  I wouldn’t say this made them any less delicious, but I didn’t get the ooey gooey cheese centers I was hoping for.  I think next time I may shred mozzarella right into the mix instead of trying for the center.  These went over without a hitch with the little food critic and I expect will be being made again soon!

Beef and Butternut Stew with Pumpkin, Sage and Cherries (Slow Cooker)

  Another soup?!?  What kind of tyrant am I, right?
  Actually I haven’t subjected G to 2 soups in one week, I just had this recipe sitting on the back burner and forgot to write it up.  That said, it’s really a perfect fall-into-winter stew with lots of hearty ingredients to fill you up and warm your belly.

1-2 lbs beef, cut into chunks
4 c butternut squash, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 c dried cherries
1 Tbsp sage
1 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
3 1/2 c beef stock
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 c pureed pumpkin
salt to taste
1 Tbsp butter
  According to the original recipe, you ought to start by saute-ing your onions with your sage and thyme and then browning your beef.
  You guys know how I roll.  We’re not doing that.  Throw everything except the squash and the cherries in the crockpot, turn it to low and forget about it for 6 hours.  Don’t actually forget it.  Maybe set a timer (I did).  When your timer goes off after 6 hours, toss the squash and cherries in and let it cook for another hour or two.  Stir in your pumpkin just before you serve it.
  With an all-told cook time of up to 8 hours, and that not counting prep time, I had to be dealing with food waaaaay too early in the morning for my taste with this one, but it wound up being worth it.  It took me a long time, but I’ve finally recognized that chicken+slow cooker=BLERGH, but beef+slow cooker=heaven!
  Aside from the beef doing it’s usual, ohmigosh tender deliciousness thing, I was really impressed with the dried cherries in this.  They plump back up as they sit in all the broth and juices and just make for a really fabulous addition.  I’m honestly tempted to start throwing random dried fruit in all my crock pot meals after this…
  Of course, G was not impressed.  Soup!  Warblegarble!!!
  Fooey on him.

Chipotle, Avocado and Caramelized Onion Burgers (Paleo)

  Uh oh…seems like I forgot to buy buns again, doesn’t it?  You could, of course, serve this on a traditional hamburger bun, but this dinner doesn’t really need it.

4 Tbsp butter, divided
3 onions, thinly sliced
Sea Salt
10 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 chipotle peppers, seeded and minced (from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce)
1 avocado, sliced
1.5 lbs ground beef
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  Start by heating 2 Tbsp of your butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add your onions and a bit of salt and cook until they become soft.  Reduce your heat to medium low, place a cover on your pan and cook for about half an hour, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn golden brown.  Add the remaining butter, your mushrooms and the peppers.  Cook for around 10 minutes until your mushrooms cook through and your onions are a deep caramel color.
  Meanwhile, add salt, pepper and Worchestershire to your ground beef and gently mix it.  Divide your meat into 6 patties.  Let the patties rest at room temperature while your pan warms to medium high heat and then grill them for 4-6 minutes per side.  Top the burgers with your prepared onions and mushrooms and a few slices of avocado.
  Man I love the paleo/primal trend of putting avocado on everything.  Oh darn, more delicious healthy-fat goodness.  If I have to.  I’ve been slowly phasing wheat out of my diet lately, because I’ve found, much to my chagrin, that I seem to have a mild gluten intolerance.  Certainly not bad enough to make me avoid it forever-at-all-costs, but I’ve noticed a definite connection between how much wheat I’m eating and how badly my face is breaking out.  Cookies?  Worth a zit or two.  Hamburger bun?  Not.  Anyhow, these are really delicious, bun or not, so I’d definitely suggest trying them out the next time you’re looking for something a little different on burger night!

Loaded Nacho Meatballs (Paleo)

  Drat!  My picture for these didn’t turn out nearly as pretty as it ought to have because I had to substitute an ingredient…

1lb ground beef 
1 egg
1/4 c almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 c sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp prepared salsa
1 Tbsp pickled jalapenos, chopped*
1/4 cup prepared salsa
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
16 pickled jalapeno slices*
2 Tbsp sour cream
*my jalapenos got used for another recipe so I substituted banana peppers.
  Start by combining all of the ingredients above the line into a medium bowl and mixing them well.  Form the mixture into about 16 meatballs and saute them in a large nonstick pan until cooked through (about 4 minutes per side).
  Place your meatballs in an ovenproof dish and top each one with about a teaspoon each of salsa and cheese.  Place everything under the broiler for a minute until the cheese melts.  Remove and top with sour cream and peppers before serving.
  These were pretty good.  I’m not sure that I’ll bother making them again, because they weren’t crave-worthy good, but as I’ve mentioned before, the bar for “nachos” is pretty high in this house.  G really liked them, so they’ve got a chance of a repeat performance on that count, but we’ll see!

Veggie Heavy Beef Stew (Freezer Friendly)

  I love being outside in the fall.  Summer is nice and all, but come autumn I don’t have to worry quite so much about getting sunburned just going to the mailbox, and that tiny chill in the air reminds me to get out and enjoy the sunshine before winter storms in.  That means that the last thing I want to do is go inside and cook dinner in the evenings.  
  Welcome back crock pot.
2.5 lbs beef cut into chunks
2 c beef broth
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
4 oz baby portobello mushrooms, quartered
One small rutabaga, peeled and cut into chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large onion, diced,
8 oz frozen chopped collard greens, (don’t thaw)
1 Tbsp arrowroot/tapioca powder
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
  Combine all of your ingredients, except for your arrowroot powder in your crockpot and cook for 8-9 hours on low heat.  Shortly before serving, whisk your arrowroot powder together with a ladle of broth from the pot.  Mix it until there are no clumps and return it to the pot.  This will thicken the stew.  Serve hot!
  This is a great, hearty stew with an awesome helping of veggies included.  It always frustrates me when I make a slow cooker main dish and then am stuck cooking up a side anyhow because we need something green with our meat.  Not a problem here!  This will definitely be on the menu again!

Slow Cooker Coffee Roast (Paleo)

  Now that the days are starting to get shorter, the boys get kind of squirrely in the evenings.  There isn’t ever quite enough time between when they wake up from naps and when it starts getting dark and I need to start cooking dinner to run them around outside and wear them out.  That makes getting dinner on the table when my Mr. is at work late hard.  Thankfully, at least when I know he’s going to be gone late, I can pull out the slow cooker and get dinner going in the morning, before the wee-bits lose their tiny minds.
5-7 lb chuck roast
1 large onion, sliced thin
8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
sea salt, pepper, marjoram
1/2 c coffee (brewed strong)
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 c baby carrots (optional)
 Place your onion slices and smashed garlic cloves into the bottom of your crockpot.  Rub all sides of your roast with salt, pepper and marjoram.  Depending on the size/shape of your roast/crockpot, you may need to cut your roast into smaller chunks to fit.  Place the meat on top of your onions and garlic.
  Brew your coffee and pour it, along with your vinegar, over the roast.  If you’re like me and preparing this first thing in the morning, enjoy the remaining coffee while switching your slow cooker to low.  The roast should cook for around 10 hours.  If you want to add the carrots (I suggest it, they were wonderful) toss them in about halfway through.  Pull the meat apart using two forks and serve with the juices from the pot.
  Gah slow cooked meals are such sweet torture.  This one made my whole house smell downright painfully good all day long.  The meat broke down wonderfully and, as I said, the carrots were incredible.  I did find that this needed a bit of salt after it was cooked…the flavor only really reached the outside portions of the roast, so the inside was a little bland…but perhaps cutting the meat into smaller pieces would help distribute the flavor?  I was surprised by how little I actually tasted the coffee.  The roast absolutely had a great, unique taste…I just expected it to be more mocha than it was I guess.  Anyhow, certainly worth trying on a day you know you’ll want dinner to be taken care of before you even change out of your pjs!

Eat More Veggies Taco Pie

  Summer has definitely arrived here in Michigan and it’s melting my brain too much for me to come up with something clever to say about this dish…so lets just go with “you want to try this” and get cooking.
1/2 lb lean ground beef
3.8 oz black olives (1/4 c reserved for salsa)
1 onion, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
6 oz kale, rinsed, tough center ribs removed, and chopped
3/4 c water
3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
14.5 oz can no-salt-added diced tomatoes (with juice)
3 Tbsp ketchup
1.5 tsp chili powder
1.5 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 whole wheat soft tortillas
Olive Salsa:
1/4 c black olives
1/2 c cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/4 small onion, diced
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
1 pinch black pepper

  Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees.
  On your stove top, brown your meat over medium heat.  When the meat is cooked, scoop it out and set it aside.  The original recipe calls for you to now drain the beef fat and go so far as to wipe out the skillet before adding olive oil back in to saute your vegetables.  We aren’t doing that nonsense.  We’ve got delicious beef fat to saute our veggies and we’re going to USE it.
  Add your onion and bell pepper to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes til everything starts to soften.  Turn the heat up a little to medium high and add your kale and 1/4 cup of water.  Put a lid on the skillet and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add your garlic and cook for another minute before stirring in another 1/2 cup of water, your olives (except for the reserved 1/4 c), canned tomatoes, ketchup, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and black pepper.  Turn the heat back down to medium and cook for around 10 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally.
  While your vegetables cook grease a large (6 cup) casserole dish.  If you have time, feel free to start on the olive salsa, but don’t worry, there will be plenty of time for it while this bakes too!
  When most of your liquid has finished evaporating, remove your vegetables from heat, mix in your meat and begin to assemble the casserole.  Start by spreading around 1/2 c of the meat and veggies into the bottom of your dish and place a tortilla shell on top.  Spread 1/3 of the remaining mix on top of the shell and cover with 1/3 of your cheese.  Top with your 2nd tortilla shell and repeat, ending with cheese.
  Put everything into the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until the cheese on top melts and starts to brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
  While your casserole bakes, combine all of your ingredients for the olive salsa and refrigerate it until you are ready to serve.
  So I’m starting to develop a theory that anything called “pie” turns out delicious.  Shepard’s Pie, Cheeseburger Pie, Spinach Pie…all delicious!  This is no exception.  The author of the original recipe seems to have something against fats…she wants to get rid of the beef fat and says the salsa is so you don’t need to add things like extra cheese or sour cream.  Obviously I added the salsa AND sour cream.  I love vegetables, but come on folks, this doesn’t need to be an either/or kind of situation.

Parmesan Meatloaf (gluten free)

  As you guys may have noticed, we’ve been slowly edging gluten out of our diet since the gestational diabetes issue.  We’re not opposed to the occasional pasta dish, but both the Mr and I have found that our skin breaks out less when we eat less wheat, so why not try some alternative options?
1 lb ground turkey
1 lb ground beef
2 eggs
1/4 c gluten free breadcrumbs*
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, grated 
1/2 c marinara pasta sauce
1/2 c Mozzarella, shredded 
*I used flax meal
  Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.
  Mix all of your ingredients except for your tomato sauce and mozzarella in a large bowl.  Don’t overwork the mixture, but make sure everything is combined.  Place the mixture into a greased loaf pan (I always grease my pans with olive oil but you can use spray or another oil) and top with your pasta sauce.
  Put the pan on a lined baking sheet (it’s probably going to bubble over and you do NOT want to have to clean that out of your oven!) and cook in the preheated oven for about an hour.  Take it out and sprinkle your grated mozzarella over the top.  Put it back in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese and then allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. 
  This was…acceptable.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything special either.  None of us disliked it, but we weren’t terribly excited about eating it either.  I think in the future I’ll try substituting flax meal in for the breadcrumbs in one of my other, tried and true meatloafs.

Paleo Shepard’s Pie

  Since we’ve been having such great luck with so many of the paleo recipes, I thought I’d give this one a spin.  Who’d have thought shepard’s pie could be made low carb?!
1 lb peeled, trimmed parsnips cut into chunks
1 lb ground beef
½ large onion, diced
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 cup beef stock
1 Tbsp tomato paste (or ketchup if you’re lazy like me)
2 Tbsp arrowroot powder (also called tapioca flour)
½ Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
½ Tbsp fresh thyme
2 – 4 Tbsp coconut milk
Black pepper to taste
  Start by peeling and chopping your parsnips and then putting them into a pan of water to boil.  Meanwhile, brown your beef in a large skillet.  Scoop your beef out and set aside for now.  Add your onions and use a small amount of beef stock to deglaze the pan.  I wasn’t paying attention when I was doing this and used ALL the stock to deglaze the pan and then had to wait FOREVER for it to evaporate so my mushrooms could cook.  Don’t do that.  Cook your onions until they begin to soften and then add your mushrooms and saute them until they brown and release their moisture.
  Once your onions and mushrooms are cooked, put your beef back in the pan and stir your arrowroot powder/tapioca flower in until it’s no longer visible.  Add your tomato paste (you know I used ketchup) and cook a minute before adding your herbs and all of the stock that you didn’t use for deglazing.
  Bring everything to almost a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer.  Allow to simmer for about 15 minutes.
  During these 15 minutes drain the parsnips, pulse them in a food processor and add coconut milk a tablespoon at a time until it reaches a fluffy consistency. Add black pepper to taste.
  Serve your beef/mushroom sauce over the parsnips.
  This was quite good…the only alterations we wanted to make next time were to add carrots and possibly a pinch of salt.  Also, you know, probably putting cheese on it.  What?  Was that obvious?  Parsnips definitely have a more noticeable flavor than traditional, white potatoes, but I rather like the more earthy taste they add.  This was easy and delicious.  I’ll definitely be putting it on the menu again.

Thai Basil Meatballs

  The ingredient list of today’s recipe surprised me a little.  As somebody who is really into growing herbs (and only recently got successful at not killing other crops) I’ve grown just about every kind of basil known to man.  That means when I saw the name of this dish, I read it like this: Thai-basil Meatballs.  Apparently, it instead is: Thai, Basil-Meatballs.
  No Thai basil in it!
  Here’s what you need:
1-2 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs ground beef
1/2 c almond flour
2 eggs
1 roasted red pepper, about 1/3 c, chopped
1/4 c soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp sriracha, chile sauce or hot sauce
handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 lime, zested
  Start by roasting your red pepper under your broiler.  Cut the pepper into large chunks (we did thirds), place them on a cookie sheet and put them under the broiler for 3-5 minutes.  Allow to cool a bit before chopping so you don’t burn your fingers!
  Keep your oven on and set it to preheating to 400 degrees.
  On the stovetop, heat your olive oil over medium heat and saute your garlic until it is golden.  Place, along with all of the other ingredients except the beef into a large bowl and combine.  Once the other ingredients are mixed, add in the beef and continue mixing until everything is combined well.
  Mold the mixture into balls, placing them onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Place them in the oven until they are cooked through and begin to brown.  This should take approximately 20-30 minutes.
  Obviously if you’re cooking this as a low carb option, forgo the noodles.
  These were a great variation on traditional meatballs.  G was such a fan that he was nearly in tears the next day when he found out that my Mr. had taken all the leftovers for his lunch.  We had almond flour on hand, so we used it, but I expect that all purpose flour would serve.
  I really liked this with normal, run-of-the-mill sweet basil, but I think that at some point in the future I have to try it using Thai basil instead!