My Favorite Comfort Meal: Meatballs with Fresh Oregano

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Meatballs aren’t very glamorous, but they sure are comforting. Making them from scratch with fresh ingredients makes a huge difference in taste and really brings out the flavor – because so many people are used to greasy, store bought versions, they will think you have legendary skills when you share them.

I like the versatility – you can make it with poultry, use it in a garlic roll ( for maximum comfort food), serve it as a stand alone dish or top it over a steaming bowl of pasta. For busy folks like me, you can make extra and freeze ( they keep well), or take short cuts and still have a good dish.

My mom, who is my favorite cook, points out that it’s all in the technique- something I am glad to share with you. I use the 96% lean beef because I have to watch my cholesterol and I am not a big fan of grease. Most people would want to use a variety with more fat. As you know, fat = lots of flavor.

The Ingredients

  • 1lb of ground chuck
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • salt & pepper
  • fresh oregano & parsley (* you can use dried)
  • olive oil
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
  • I roll (*you can use breadcrumbs)

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Tear the bread into pieces and process until fine. Assemble the beef, egg, bread, 1 tsp garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, oregano, parsley and blend well. The consistency should be sticky. If the mixture is too slimy, add more bread.

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The texture should be easy to roll between your two hands. Shape 12 meatballs. Make sure they are well-rolled to avoid them falling apart, but make sure not to be too rough as you want them to be juicy.

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Add 1 tsp of olive oil to the pan and swirl it around. Remember the oil here is for flavor only, so you don’t want to go overboard. The meat will create enough juice in the pan. You can use a non-stick like I did or use a regular pan if you prefer the meatballs to have a crunchier crust. Often, I will add a tiny bit of garlic here, as well.

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Brown the meatballs for about 7 minutes. I turn them gently with a fork or spoon. A common mistake is to squeeze the meatballs in order to get them to cook faster, but this destroys the juiciness and makes them tough. You barely want to touch them.

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Add the tomatoes (breaking them up with your spoon if desired), a little more oregano (1/4 tsp), 1 tsp garlic and salt & pepper to taste. You can add a pinch of sugar if you want to the sauce. Then, bring the sauce to a rapid boil and then reduce to a rolling simmer for 15 minutes or until the meatballs are done.

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I like to add fresh grated parmesan to the sauce.

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Voila. Steam not included:)

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*If you want to make a meatball sub, I would heat up the oven to 400 degrees. Split a few hoagie rolls and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with minced garlic, salt and pepper. Bake ten minutes and then add the meatballs and sauce.

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Organize your Weekly Menu

Organizing your weekly menu, especially when you have children, can be tricky. I found a method that works for me, and hopefully you too.Although I steal many ideas from Pinterest, this one I came up with all on my own.

I purchased two small dry erase boards from Target and mounted them with double-sided sticky squares on my pantry door. I keep dry erase markers and and an eraser nearby.

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I mapped out food that is easy for me to make during the school year and put them in categories. My categories include: Pasta, Rice dishes, soups/stews, Chicken dishes, tex-mex, and American. I also have a list for vegetables.

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On the next board, I have days of the week. I have my daughter pick our menu every week – which gives her ownership and makes her more likely to eat what I provide. She loves this chore and looks forward to it. This also makes my shopping easy to plan and I save a space so I can quickly jot down what I need at the store. Later I will take a picture of it on my phone, so I don’t need to write anything down.

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Ginger Sesame Chicken

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On Sundays, when I’ve got time, I like to experiment with new recipes. We tried Sesame Ginger chicken from Pinterest.

The Verdict?

The sesame ginger chicken had a great texture – a crunchy coat and the sauce was very sticky and sweet.

Here is how to put it together:

Ginger Sesame Chicken

The Ingredients:

  1. Boneless, skinless chicken breast
  2. green onions, diced for garnish
  3. 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  4. 2 tsp sesame oil
  5. 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  6. 1/4 cup honey
  7. 2 tsp sesame seeds
  8. 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  9. 3 tbs olive oil
  10. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  11. 1 tbsp fresh ginger
  12. 2 tbs of fresh lemon juice (one lemon)

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First, I prepped the veggies. I peeled and diced the ginger. Then, I cut up the broccoli for my side dish and the green onion.

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Next, I created the sauce, and then set it aside. I whisked the soy sauce, sesame oil, lemon juice, corn syrup, honey, and sesame seeds.

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Next, I dredged the chicken and flour and then browned it in olive oil. I cooked it for 4 minutes on each side over medium.

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Then, I browned the ginger and garlic in same pan Рthere was enough oil left over  .

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Then, I added the chicken and sauce back in the same pan. The flour coat gave the chicken a nice crunchy outer layer, and the sauce reduced on its own into a rich sesame, brown sauce.

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The end result? Delicious.

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