Broccoli Rabe Crockpot Meatballs

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Happy Fall! I am posting this recipe so that I will not forget how much I loved this meal. I rely on Kitchenbelle.com as a place to find our favorite recipes. Whenever I am at a loss of what to cook for dinner, or if someone asks me to bring an appetizer to a party, or I need to make a dessert, I come to this site to find my favorites curated and easily accessible.

SO here we go. I recently made Skinny Taste Broccoli Rabe Crockpot meatballs and instantly fell in love. They are DELICIOUS. And so easy. I made one substitution–instead of the bread I used one cup of oatmeal because my husband is gluten free. I was wary of how it would work but then very pleasantly surprised by the result. The oatmeal gave the meatballs a nice firmness and great texture. And they reheated really well the days following. I served over quinoa and with a side salad. To my future self–do not forget about this recipe!!

Skinny Taste Crockpot Broccoli Rabe Meatballs:

  • 1 bunch  broccoli rabe, washed, stems trimmed off
  • 1 cup gluten free oatmeal
  • 3 tablespoons  milk
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves smashed garlic
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt
  • black pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the broccoli rabe. Blanch for about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, drain well and set aside in a colander to cool. Finely chop 3/4 cup of the florets and leaves (3-3/4 ounces) and set the rest aside for another use
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the oatmeal with milk, tossing to coat. Let stand, mixing occasionally, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the ground beef, chopped broccoli rabe, grated cheese, egg, fresh garlic, salt and pepper. Mix with clean hands, then gently form into 15 meatballs, about 1/4 cup each and transfer to a large baking sheet. Broil on the 2nd rack from the top until the top is golden, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. In a small skillet heat the oil over medium heat, add the garlic and cook until golden on both sides.
  5. Pour the crushed tomatoes into a slow cooker. Add salt and pepper, bay leaf and the garlic. Gently place the meatballs into the sauce, cover and cook low 4 to 6 hours or high 2 to 3 hours.

Source: Skinny Taste

 

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Oatmeal and Parmesan Crusted Boneless Pork Chops

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We hardly ever eat pork so while meal planning last week I decided to add it to our menu to freshen things up. This recipe reminds me of a homemade version of Shake ‘N Bake. It uses ground oatmeal instead of bread crumbs (to keep the gluten out) while keeping a crisp-ish texture. Use parchment paper to line your pan if you have it. Parchment paper absorbs the moisture from the pork, unlike foil, yielding a better texture.  If you are out of parchment paper, like I was when I made these, use foil to line your pan and then just flip the chops and broil them for a few minutes prior to serving. Doing so will eliminate any moisture that might make for a soggy bottom.  Did I really just say soggy bottom?

This recipe pairs well with most vegetable sides. Roasted carrots, mashed potatoes, cauliflower rice mash would all be great. Even a simple tossed green salad would work well. The above photo shows it with this broccoli salad, which I highly recommend. It contain bacon. I’ll just leave it at that.

Parmesan and Oatmeal Crusted Pork Chops:

  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup raw, dry, quick cook oatmeal, pulverized in the food processor until smooth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking dish with parchment paper (or foil) and coat with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl gently mix together cheese, oatmeal, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Rub each pork chop in a thin coat of olive oil. Dip each chop into the cheese mixture and press mixture onto chop so it sticks.

Place each chop in the baking pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until pork is cooked through. To ensure a crispy top you can put the oven on broil for 3-5 minutes, after baking. This will brown and crisp the tops of the chops.

Adapted from Just a Pinch.

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Roast Beef Dinner with Cauliflower Rice Mash

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While the skies are certainly brighter these days, winter does not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. My kitchen is still churning out comfort food and I am trying to be OK with that. Dinners fit a few new requirements nowadays:

1) Tasty when reheated as leftovers

2) Gluten free

3) Toddler/young child approved

This was one of the meals that fit the bill–not to mention roast beef dinner has long been one of my favorite meals. The cauliflower mash is a “great find” as my mom would say. I am forever seeking vegetable sides that my little ones will gobble up and that my husband and I find satiating and delicious. This is a hearty side that pairs well with the beef–it is a similar consistency to mashed potatoes. Unlike the majority of the cauliflower mash recipes floating around the internet, this one contains rice. The rice thickens it yielding a sturdier and more filling puree.

There we have it: A perfect recipe for another cold night.

Roast Beef:

  • 2.5 lbs eye of round or top of round roast, fat trimmed off
  • cooking spray
  • 8 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Remove the roast from the fridge about one hour prior to cooking to reach room temperature.

Preheat oven to 500 F. Spray roasting pan with cooking spray.

Pierce the roast with a sharp knife creating holes about 1/2 inch deep and insert slivers of garlic in each hole. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic powder all over roast and place roast in pan.

Roast for 20 minutes at 500 F then reduce heat to 250 F. Roast for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes or until roast reaches your desired cooking temperature.

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Cauliflower Rice Mash:

  • 2 heads cauliflower, chopped
  • 48 oz. vegetable broth
  • 1.5 cups brown rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Combine all ingredients (except cheese) in a large pot over medium heat. When the liquid comes to a boil, cover with a tight fitting lid. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 20-30 minutes or until rice is cooked and cauliflower is tender. Mash with the back of a spoon until desired consistency is reached. Stir in cheese until melted.

Roast beef recipe adapted from Skinny Taste. Cauliflower adapted from Pinch of Yum.

Wild Rice Salad

When I made the Mushroom and Wild Rice Casserole I wasn’t thinking straight! The recipe called for about 2 cups of cooked wild rice but I didn’t account for the fact that rice nearly triples its size when cooked. I ended up with quite a bit of extra cooked wild rice in my fridge. Not a problem, though, because I LOVE WILD RICE!

There was no way I was going to waste the extra so I did some online searching for a quick and easy wild rice salad recipe and I was immediately drawn to this recipe on Simply Recipes.

Until Kelly mentioned it, I had no idea that Wild Rice is a “Minnesota thing.” When I served this salad to my family, my brother-in-law, who is also from Minnesota, was quite vocal about how much he loved this salad! He had no idea about my infatuation with wild rice and said if he had known, he would have asked his dad to bring some out with him this weekend. Unfortunately, his dad had already departed Minnesota so I won’t be tasting any authentic Minnesota wild rice any time soon!  Next time Ed! 🙂

In my opinion, the quality that makes this salad so great is the texture. There is quite a bit of satisfying crunch.

Remember to chop each component to uniform size so that each bite includes a little bit of each ingredient. You don’t want one bite to contain nothing but a giant chunk of celery and the next bite to contain a giant piece of green onion. (I talk more about the importance of chopping uniformly here.)

Each bite should contain a little bit of everything. Doing so allows for each bite to be a little dance party in your mouth!  The peas pop, the pine nuts snap, the celery crunches (and so on) and they are all united by the chewy grains of wild rice. Oh the fun! 🙂

Wild Rice Salad:

  • 2-3 cups cooked wild rice
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 4 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 4-6 green onions (scallions), finely chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas*
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar

In a medium bowl combine rice, dried cranberries, celery, green onions, frozen peas, and pine nuts. Use a wooden spoon to gently combine.

In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, vinegar, sugar and salt and pepper. Pour over salad and toss gently to evenly distribute dressing. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

*If you plan to serve this dish immediately, use thawed peas. If you are storing overnight in the fridge, frozen peas will defrost by the time you serve.

Adapted from this recipe found on Simply Recipes.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

After an indulgent holiday weekend, I was flipping through America’s Test Kitchen Light & Healthy 2010 in search of something fresh and light to get us back on track.  These Asian Chicken lettuce wraps caught my eye.  A little over a year ago now, I made lettuce wraps using a recipe from the Biggest Loser. They were absolutely delicious and so much fun to eat!  I figured it couldn’t hurt to try a new recipe with a bit of a different spin.  One word for these lettuce wraps: FRESH!  I am in love with the combination of lime juice, fresh basil, scallions, and cilantro! Each bite was bursting with the flavors of nature!   I added some minced carrot for additional color, bulk and nutrition.  I must say this was a very satisfying and filling meal.  And to quote my husband, “I feel full but I don’t feel gross.” Perfectly articulated if you ask me!

*Notes:

  • These can be made gluten free by eliminating the soy sauce or subbing gluten-free soy sauce.
  • I doubled the recipe below and there was enough to feed three for dinner and two for lunch.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps:

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • fresh squeezed juice of one lime
  • fresh grated zest of one lime
  • 1.5 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey (or a combination of both)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 jalepeno chile, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 1 carrot peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 4 scallions, sliced thin
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 12 Boston lettuce leaves (about one head) washed and spun dry

Prepare rice according to package instructions and set aside.

Whisk the soy sauce, lime juice, lime zest, and cornstarch together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

In a skillet over medium heat warm oil.  Add carrots and cook a few minutes,  or until soft. 

Meanwhile, in a small bowl mash ground meat with the back of a spoon until smooth.   Add the ground meat and jalepeno to the skillet containing carrots. Break up meat with a wooden spoon. Cook until meat is no longer pink.

Add the soy sauce mixture to the skillet and cook stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in basil, scallions, and cilantro.

Transfer meat to a serving bowl and serve with rice and lettuce. To serve, scoop some rice on top of each leaf and top with scoops of meat.

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Light & Healthy 2010.

Grilled Swordfish with Grilled Caponata

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When the weather is hot and you don’t have central air conditioning, using the oven and the stove are not very appealing.  Even baking something for just a few minutes can turn the kitchen into a sauna.  That is when an outdoor grill can be really handy.  Some people reserve the grill for hot dogs and hamburgers on the weekends only, but there is no reason not to fire up the grill for a quick and healthy weeknight supper.

Unfortunately, the problem of warm weather has not been an issue in Boston.  The last couple of days have been downright cold.  For this dish I stayed in my comfortably warm kitchen and used our grill pan in place of the outdoor grill.  (The grill pan works really well for grilling pretty much everything.)   

Whether prepared indoors or outdoors, this dish is wonderful.  The flavorful chunky vegetables paired so nicely with the firm swordfish steaks.  For not using very many spices, the flavor factor of the caponata was off the charts.   Each bite contained different vegetables—you may get a piece of eggplant and a caper in one bite and then a tomato and olive in the next.  This meal was really satisfying and balanced.  And it is so simple to make!  The caponata is so versatile it could be served on its own as a side or with crackers as an appetizer. 

Grilled Swordfish with Grilled Caponata:

Caponata

  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and sliced into rings
  • 4-6 plum or roma tomatoes, halved
  • Olive oil, for brushing vegetables, plus 1/2 cup
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup green olives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Heat grill on high.  Brush all vegetables with olive oil (or spray with cooking spray) and season with salt and pepper. Grill both sides of the eggplant slices until cooked through, about 8 minutes per side.  Grill both sides of the onion slices until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.  Grill the tomatoes (seed side down) until charred and soft, about 3 minutes.  Remove all vegetables from heat and cut into 1/2 inch chunks.  Put all vegetables into a bowl.  Add the olives, capers, and pine nuts to the bowl of vegetables and use a wooden spoon to toss to combine. 

In a small bowl combine the vinegar, garlic, red pepper flakes, and honey.  Season with salt and pepper.  Slowly whisk in about 1/2 cup of olive oil.*  Pour this dressing over vegetables and toss so that all are well-coated with dressing.  Let stand at room temperature about 30 minutes before serving.

Swordfish

  • 2-4 swordfish steaks
  • olive oil or cooking spray
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Caponata (see recipe above)

Heat grill to high.  Brush both sides of swordfish steaks with olive oil or coat with cooking spray.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Cook swordfish steaks until done, about 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness.  Remove from grill and top with grilled caponata. 

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*I actually didn’t use the 1/2 cup olive oil in the dressing and it was just fine without it.

Adapted from recipe by Bobby Flay on Foodnetwork.com.

Middle Eastern Quinoa with Chicken and Apricots

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After my first experience with quinoa, I’ve kept my eye out for  other appealing recipes.

My husband wasn’t home the last time I made quinoa so I was interested to hear his feedback on this dish.  He really enjoyed the chicken but the quinoa did not go over as well.  He said he would have preferred this dish over rice.  I can’t say I disagreed with him.  The quinoa was dry and bitter, and my preparation was partly to blame.  Here is what I will do differently next time.  I am certain these small changes will add up to big improvements. 

  • Tsk tsk on me, I forgot to rinse the quinoa!  There are “saponins” on the outside of the quinoa which have a bitter taste.  Rinse quinoa in a mesh strainer under cold water before cooking. 
  •  Cook quinoa in chicken, beef, or vegetable broth instead of water.  This will not only increase the moistness of the quinoa, but it will really bump up the flavor factor.
  • This dish did not call for a sauce so the quinoa was not only bitter (due to me forgetting to rinse it) but it was dry.  Next time I will build a sauce from the chutney and broth to pour over the quinoa.

I am not giving up on quinoa, folks!  The flavors of this dish were really delicious.  Just a few “tweaks” and I think it will be right on!  The chutney kept the chicken moist and sweet, while the sliced apricots added some wonderful texture.  The cilantro added a very lovely freshness.* 

If you use a gluten free chutney this meal is gluten free!

Middle Eastern Quinoa with Chicken and Apricots:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • 2 tablespoons chutney (I used Major Grey’s)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 6-8 dried apricots, cut into strips
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Side Note: These Sunsweet dried apricots are FANTASTIC.  They are so plump and soft.  They worked really well in this dish.

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Prepared the quinoa according to the package.  (Don’t forget to rinse it before you cook it!)

While the quinoa is cooking, combine chicken, chutney, and mustard in a large bowl. Toss well to coat the chicken. 

Spray a large non-stick ridged grill pan with non-stick spray and set over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken mixture and cook, turning frequently until the chicken is cooked through, about 6-8 minutes.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a large platter.  Top with chicken mixture, apricots, and cilantro.

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*Did I mention that cilantro is growing on me?  I used to have the strongest aversion to it but I am slowly enjoying it more and more.  I didn’t think that was possible!

Adapted from The Gluten Free Cooking Expo’s Blog.