Rule #28: Ice cream scoops are for more than just ice cream.

I love me a good meatball. Swedish. Italian. Asian. Sweet + Spicy. Meatballs of all persuasions are just dandy in my book. This version of Italian meatballs is a twist on the famous Rao’s Meatballs in East Harlem. I decided to swap out Italian turkey sausage for the pork/veal to keep it on the lighter side, but the flavor is still there in all its Italian glory.

italian meatballs

This recipe will give you about 16 good-sized meatballs, each coming in at 180 calories, 11g fat, and 15g protein. Pair these with some roasted veggies or a salad, and you’re off to a pretty nice little dinner if I do say so myself.

The combo of breadcrumbs + water keeps these little Jewels of Italian Delight moist throughout the cooking process. I like to brown them (shallow fry) and then finish cooking them off in my favorite marinara sauce. You can also make these ahead of time by baking them off in the oven, storing in the fridge (or freezer), and then reheating in marinara later on when you’re ready to grub.

italian meatballs

Here are the players for this round of Meatball Mania:

ground beef + Italian seasoned ground turkey + eggs + Parmesan + parsley + garlic + salt + pepper + breadcrumbs + EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil) + marinara (not pictured, but coming up to bat later)

italian meatballs

Like I said before, I swapped Italian seasoned ground turkey for pork. You’re welcome to keep the pork sausage if that’s your jam, too. It’s all good in this one. If you can’t find ground Italian turkey sausage, you can always purchase the links of Italian turkey sausage, cut open the casings, and dump the meat in with the beef.

jennie o italian seasoned ground turkey

So basically, you mix everything together (beef through breadcrumbs) in a BIGGO bowl. Get in there with the best kitchen tools money can’t buy: your hands.

italian meatballs

Once everything is well incorporated, add in your breadcrumbs and mash away again.

italian meatballs

This is what your mixture should look like before the moisture maker (I mean water).

italian meatballs

Now drizzle on some lukewarm water (hot will cook the meat and cold will make the ingredients difficult to blend).

italian meatballs

Peek-a-boo! My favorite big meatball maker: The Ice Cream Scoop. It keeps the meatballs uniform; otherwise, I’d have some the size of basketballs and some the size of ping pong balls. Uneven meatballs means uneven cooking and ain’t nobody got time for that.

italian meatballs

Okay – so here we go. Scoop, dump, and roll.

italian meatballs

Repeat.

italian meatballs

Repeat again.

italian meatballs

Place ’em on a large Pyrex or other freezer-proof dish (baking sheet lined with parchment or foil works great, too). I usually get about 16 meatballs with this recipe.

italian meatballs

Freezing the meatballs for just a bit (about 25 minutes) keeps them from falling apart when you fry them. I hate it when my meatballs crumble into little pieces when they’re frying. I simply hate it, I tell you!

italian meatballs

Meanwhile, get out two jars of your favorite marinara. Pour it all into a large pot and start warming it over low heat. I found this good stuff at Trader Joe’s, and my foodie heart went pitter-patter. The Silver Palate has an unbelievable cookbook if you’re ever looking for one.

italian meatballs

So now’s the time for the meatball browning. Pour in some olive oil until you’ve got about 1/4″ in the pan. Heat the EVOO until shimmering over medium-high heat. Add in the meatballs, being careful not to crowd the pan, and brown on all sides (about 1-2 minutes per side). I usually turn mine about 3 times total to get all the different sides.

italian meatballs

You’re going for golden-brown on the outside. They still won’t be cooked on the inside, but that’s okay. We’re going to finish cooking them off later.

italian meatballs

Drain the meatballs on a paper towel-lined plate, and repeat the process with the remaining meatballs.

italian meatballs

NOW! Here’s where our paths can be divided depending on when you’re cooking these Italian bits of deliciousness.

You can at this point pop the browned meatballs on a baking sheet and bake at 350 until they’re cooked through (about 15 minutes). Then, store them in the fridge for up to 2 days. Just heat them up in some marinara when you’re ready to eat.

OR you can go ahead and put the browned meatballs into the warmed sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes over medium-low heat.

 italian meatballs

Flip the meatballs to coat them in the sauce, then simmer another 15 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. This process of finishing the cooking of the meatballs in the sauce is a way of “poaching” them, and it keeps them oh so sinfully moist!

italian meatballs

Voila! Italian Meatball Bliss. I garnish ours with more Parmesan and some flat-leaf parsley. Basil would do ya good, too. Either way… put on your red and white checkered bib and dig in!

italian meatballs


Italian Meatballs

1 lb. 90/10 ground beef
1 lb. ground Italian seasoned turkey
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1 cup Parmesan, grated or shredded
1 tbs. Italian parsley, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 cup lukewarm water
Olive oil, for browning
2 jars marinara sauce

Combine beef and turkey in a large bowl. Add eggs, Parmesan, parsley, garlic, S&P, and red pepper flakes. Mash everything together using your hands until ingredients are evenly distributed. Add in the breadcrumbs and mash into meat mixture. Pour in the water and mash again until combined.

Using an ice cream scoop, form balls using your hands. Set meatballs onto a Pyrex dish or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze meatballs for 20-25 minutes or until firm. This will keep them from falling apart when you brown them.

Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Pour in olive oil so that the oil is about 1/4” deep. Heat the oil until shimmering (you want to hear a sizzle as soon as you put a meatball in).

Brown the meatballs in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook for about 1-2 minutes per side, turning to brown all sides of the meatballs. The middle part of the meatball will still be raw at this point, and that’s okay.*

Remove the meatballs from the oil and set to drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Heat marinara sauce in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the sauce is warmed, gently drop in the meatballs, cover, and cook 5 minutes. Flip the meatballs to coat them in the sauce, cover, and continue cooking for another 15 minutes.

Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan and basil or parsley.

*If you’re making the meatballs ahead of time, go ahead and preheat your oven to 350 at this point. Place meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through**. Store in a covered container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Warm them in marinara sauce over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.

**To freeze: Allow meatballs to cool on baking sheet. Store in large Ziploc bag or freezer container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight, then warm in sauce as above.

Click Here for Printable Recipe: Italian Meatballs

Chicken Marsala has to be one of those dishes that epitomizes comfort food. It’s hearty, creamy, savory, and best of all for you and me: it’s so simple to make! This recipe makes 4 good-sized servings that come in at about 330 calories. Jon Boy opted to have a little more chicken than I did, but that’s totally fine when the meal is already pretty healthy. The flavors in this dish make you think it’s completely luxurious and definitely not under 500 calories!

chicken marsala

Here are a few of the players in this Marsala Game. Marsala wine can be found at your regular grocery store. I usually find it near the oils + vinegars. I really love to make this dish with shiitake mushrooms, but our local store doesn’t have them. I went with Baby Bella mushrooms and it worked out just dandy anyways.

chicken marsala

I’ve heard a dozen times on the millions of cooking shows that I watch that you should NEVER wash your mushrooms in water. It makes them get ‘spongy’ according to all those fancy chef-y people. I just use a dry paper towel to wipe off the caps, then I wiggle out the stems, and we’re good to go! I’ve done this for years, and I’m still standing.

chicken marsala

Here’s how you make this one:

First, melt EVOO (olive oil) + unsalted butter in a biggo Dutch oven or skillet over medium-high heat.

chicken marsala

Liberally* season both sides of your chicken with Kosher salt + black pepper.

* This is the only time I season this dish, so I tend to make it rain at this point.

chicken marsala

Once the EVOO + butter are warm, toss in your sliced mushrooms and thyme sprigs.

chicken marsala

Meanwhile, whisk together some flour + chicken broth to make a slurry that will thicken our yummy sauce.

chicken marsala

Sauté the mushrooms + thyme until the mushrooms are tender (about 5 minutes). Then, make a ‘well’ in the middle of the mushrooms.

chicken marsala

Nestle in your little chickens. Let them cook on each side until they’re browned (about 3 minutes per side).

chicken marsala

Once the chicken is browned on both sides, pour in the Marsala wine to deglaze the pan.

chicken marsala

Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden (or plastic) spoon to get up all of the fond (yummy brown stuff at the bottom of the pot).

chicken marsala

Pour in the flour + chicken broth mixture, lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until sauce has thickened and chicken is cooked through (about 15 minutes).

chicken marsala

We had our Chicken Marsala with some Cauliflower Mash leftover from the night before. I always make a double batch of the Mash because it’s so yummy + it freezes perfectly. Work smarter, not harder, ‘m I right?

chicken marsala

You could also serve this with buttered egg noodles, zucchini noodles (zoodles), or pasta. Garnish with extra thyme.


 Chicken Marsala

2 tbs. unsalted butter
2 tbs. EVOO
16 oz. mushrooms, stems removed, sliced (shiitake, baby bella, or white button)
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup Marsala wine
2 tbs. flour
1 cup unsalted chicken broth

In a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt 2 tbs. butter and 2 tbs. EVOO. Add mushrooms and thyme sprigs; sauté until mushrooms are softened (about 5 minutes).

Meanwhile, season both sides of chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Make a well in the middle of the Dutch oven, add the chicken, and brown on both sides (about 3 minutes per side). Pour in the Marsala wine to deglaze the pan. Scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to get all of the fond (brown stuff) off the bottom.

In a separate bowl, whisk flour and chicken broth until combined. Add mixture to pot, lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until sauce has thickened and chicken is cooked through (about 15 minutes).

Discard thyme sprigs. Garnish with fresh flat-leaf parsley or more thyme. Serve with mashed potatoes, cauliflower mash, or egg noodles.

Click Here for Printable Recipe: Chicken Marsala

Halloween: costumes, candy, a cool breeze (hopefully), and my Crock Pot. I love this time of year for all the neighborly activities plus the stick-to-your ribs goodness that comes out of my kitchen. I thought chili would be perfect for Halloween because it’s something you can make ahead, throw in a slow cooker, and serve warm whenever the trick-or-treating is all done. Pair that with some cheesy cornbread and red wine, and it’s a Happy Halloween indeed!

chili

But seriously. This cornbread. Pioneer Woman knows her stuff. This time, I just added about 1/2 cup shredded cheddar to the mixture before I poured it into the cast iron pan. Definitely doing that every time from now on. So cheesy, savory, and perfect for crumbling on top of a hot bowl of chili.

cornbread

Eeesh. Sorry, Daddy. There’s beans in this here chili. As he would say, this is a “Yankee Chili” because it’s not 100% meat. Well, Daddy-O, Mama is in charge now. And she likes her some beany goodness in her chili. [But yours is still my favorite version.]

I’m sure you know this, but ALWAYS rinse + drain your canned beans. It gets rid of all that briny mystery fluid and allows your beans to take on the flavor of whatever dish they’re in.

chili

My parents always made chili using the 2-Alarm Chili Kit. This is basically that same exact kit, but just uses things you’ve probably already got in your spice drawer. If you don’t have these spices, check out that 2-Alarm Chili Kit the next time you’re at the store. It’s a great shortcut for making delicious chili.

chili

Okay, let’s be honest with ourselves. Raw meat ain’t cute. BUT – I wanted to share this picture because I wanted to show you that this is a DOUBLE BATCH of chili. So, the pictures will all look a bit over-the-top compared to the recipe. Chili freezes PERFECTLY, so I thought, “Work smarter, not harder.” You know? Make double now, freeze it up, and then we’ve got dinner (or two) for another day.

chili

I usually always press my garlic in a garlic press (like the one below) because it gives you perfectly tiny bits of garlicky yumminess without a lot of mess. The press is extremely easy to use and to clean – it’s dishwasher safe.

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chili

Steps to making your Halloween (or any day) Chili:

Brown the meat.

Throw in the garlic.

chili

Throw in the spices.

chili

Give it all a stir.

chili

Throw in the tomato sauce + 1 cup water.

**Now – you could either keep cooking everything in the pot on the stove (if you’re eating it within a couple of hours), OR you can throw it all into a slow cooker at this point.**

Either way, now you add your beans (again, sorry not sorry, Daddy).

chili

Give it all a good ole stir. Cover, and cook on low for up to 12 hours (or low heat on the stove for 1 hour). About 30 minutes before serving, whisk 1/4 cup masa harina with 1/2 cup water. Slowly stir the masa mixture into the chili, cover, and cook another 30 minutes.

chili

Serve it with whatever garnishes you like:

shredded cheddar, sour cream, red onion, cilantro, lime wedges, tortilla chips, Fritos

BUT definitely serve that ole cornbread on the side.

chili

To freeze, allow the chili to cool completely (I throw it in the fridge first), place in a large Ziploc bag (be sure to label it), flatten out as thin as you want, and freeze this bad boy for up to 6 months. To warm it up later, I’d suggest thawing it overnight in the fridge on a plate because it drips as it thaws. Then, just pop it in a microwave-safe dish with a lid, zap it, and dinner is served! You could also let it thaw on your counter for about 20 minutes, then slowly warm on the stove top or microwave.

chili

MMMM yeah, baby. Halloween Chili. [Or any day chili].

chili


 Halloween Chili

2 lbs. ground beef (90/10)
5 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
1 cup water
2 tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground oregano
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. Kosher salt
15-oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
15-oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup masa harina (corn flour)
Garnishes: shredded cheddar, diced red onion, tortilla chips, lime wedges, sour cream, cilantro

In a large Dutch oven or skillet, cook the beef over medium-high heat until it’s browned (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, stir, and sauté 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the tomato sauce, 1 cup of water, and spices (through salt). Stir to combine and reduce heat to low*.

Add the beans, stir to combine, cover, and simmer for 1 hour or until all the flavors are blended. If the chili gets too thick, add 1/2 cup of water.

In a small bowl, whisk the masa harina and 1/2 cup water until combined. Stir masa mixture into the chili, and cook an additional 30 minutes.

*If you want to use a slow cooker, this is the point to stop and transfer the mixture. Carefully pour everything into the slow cooker, add the beans, stir, and cook on low for as long as you need (up to 12 hours). About 30 minutes before serving, add the masa harina + water as above.

Click Here for Printable Recipe: Halloween Chili

I’ve been waiting until the light was just right to take a picture of our entryway fall deco. I LOVE this little nook and the chance to decorate a little something extra that people can see when they first walk into our home.

fall deco

I also forgot to take a quick pic of the little bit of deco we have on our kitchen island. These pumpkins were way too cute to pass up at Hobby Lobby (hello… on sale!!!) and that frame gives a little nod to THE Texas A&M (we won’t mention last weekend’s game…). I’ve just got to get some pictures printed from Walgreens so I can throw one in the frame.

fall deco

This past weekend was my Aunt Joann’s (really, she’s my dad’s aunt so – Great Aunt Joann’s) 90th birthday! My WHOLE Pitcher family gathered in Chicago to celebrate her. We couldn’t make it because of Harvey – both logistically and emotionally it was just too much. One of our relatives took this picture of my great grandpa’s tombstone.

I know it’s kind of strange, but I’d really love to meet ALL my relatives. I wonder if that’s a section of Heaven we’ll be apart of one day: the Relative Meet-and-Greet. You know? Like, “Heyyyyyy great, great, great uncle Andy! What’s up, brotha!” I dunno… that would be kind  of awesome.

Anywho – I’m very proud to be a Pitcher, and I’m very, very sad I missed seeing so many of our relatives. Hopefully we’ll see them again soon!

albert w pitcher

I had to share this… Target had this in their “As Seen on TV” aisle. Sriracha 2 Go. It’s a thing, y’all. Like mini-hand-sanitizer-sized Sriracha bottles. Talk about a sincere First World Problem: SOLVED.

sriracha 2 go

And then there was this: the Angry Mama Microwave Cleaner. I mean, why’s she gotta be mad? I’d be happy if my microwave was easily cleaned, you know? It is kinda cute, but I’ll stick to my glass bowl of water + vinegar.

angry mama microwave cleaner During Hurricane Harvey, we started to run low on supplies in the kitchen, so I was having to get creative. I had some cooked chicken breast, spaghetti, and a few other pantry staples. So, I thought Chicken Spaghetti would be a super comforting meal to have while we were in the middle of watching all the awful things going on around us. This is a simple, scrumptious recipe that can also be frozen beforehand! Gotta love a good freezer meal.

Sautéing the onion and bell pepper beforehand really gives the dish an added punch that some other Chicken Spaghetti recipes don’t have. I’m also not the biggest pimento fan, and many other recipes use this instead of tomatoes. Feel free to sub as you wish, but just be prepared to have some licked-clean plates after dinner is done!

chicken spaghetti

Chicken Spaghetti

1 yellow onion, diced 1 green bell pepper, chopped 1 tbs. EVOO 1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained 3 cups uncooked spaghetti noodles, broken into thirds 2 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped 8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded, divided 2 cups chicken broth 1 tsp. Lawry’s seasoned salt 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (omit if you don’t like spice) 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 2 11-oz. cans/boxes cream of mushroom soup Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the onion and bell pepper in the EVOO until softened (about 8 minutes). Add the tomatoes, stir to combine, and cook an additional minute. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water (think: salinity of the sea) to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 7 minutes, drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside.

While the pasta cooks, in a large bowl, combine the chicken, half of the cheese, chicken broth, Lawry’s, cayenne, pepper, and cream of mushroom soup. Stir to combine. Fold in the cooked pepper, onion, and tomatoes once they’ve cooled slightly. Fold in the spaghetti noodles.

Spray a 13×9 oven-proof dish with cooking spray. Pour in the mixture, then top with remaining cheese*. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 45 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

*To freeze: cover with heavy-duty foil and store in the freezer for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and bake as directed.

*To refrigerate: cover with heavy-duty foil and store in the fridge for up to 2 days. Remove the foil and bake as directed above.

I love me some Pioneer Woman. Her cookbook, Dinnertime, is one of my all-time faves! Everything I’ve made from her easy-to-read book has been delicious + simple + a hit with the fam. I made her Chicken in Mustard Cream Sauce on Thursday as we were panicking + getting ready for Hurricane Harvey. It takes less than 20 minutes to make, plus it can keep warm until you’re ready to eat. Gotta love an easy recipe that will keep through bath and bed time!

chicken in mustard cream sauce pioneer woman

I’d definitely recommend this one if you’re looking for a new cookbook (or a good gift). The Red Wine Pot Roast I posted about a couple of days ago is also from this book.

pioneer woman dinnertime cookbook

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Here’s the easy steps to your next 20 minute weeknight meal:

~ Cut chicken breasts in half so they’re only about 1/2″ thick or just use tenderloins (I did both so we’d have extra).

~ Season both sides with S&P

~ Melt butter + EVOO in a large skillet over medium-high heat

~ Brown on both sides (about 4 minutes per side)

chicken in mustard cream sauce pioneer woman

~ Set those browned beauties to the side while you make the sauce (takes about 4 minutes to make)

chicken in mustard cream sauce pioneer woman

~ Nestle those little chickens back into the sauce (pour in the juice from the plate, too)

~ Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through

chicken in mustard cream sauce pioneer woman

~ Throw on some parsley, cover, and keep warm until you’re ready to chow down

chicken in mustard cream sauce pioneer woman
chicken in mustard cream sauce pioneer woman

Side Note: Can someone please explain how my baby grew up so fast?! Pretty soon he’ll be talking about stock options and wearing slacks… or maybe he’ll be more of the grungy, grow-out-a-foot-long-beard type. Either way… too fast!

corey douglas

I’m not even gonna lie… this storm has me freaked out. I’m a Dallas girl, so I’m used to preparing for tornadoes, but this is a whole new ball game. The shelves are empty at stores, gas is already gone, and people are CRAY-CRAY! So, I was a lazy + scared little hermit and decided to get our groceries delivered. We’ve done this only a handful of times, but it’s worth every extra penny in order to avoid the chaos at the store!

instacart heb

The poor guy who was doing our shopping for us had to swap a lot of our items for others because H-E-B was totally out of them! It was a madhouse when I drove by, so I tipped this sweet kid very well for doing my dirty work for me. Now, we’re all stocked up, and I’m ready to cook my way through Harvey.

instacart heb

I found this Chardonnay at Costco for a great price [they have the best prices on booze from what I’ve seen]! It’s delicious, full-bodied, and paired perfectly with this chicken dish. Definitely a great find + a repeat for us!

saint-véran chardonnay

Now… back to this scrumptious little chicken…

We served ours with P-Dub’s Buttery Lemon Parsley Noodles (we used egg noodles). You could also serve this with rice, cauliflower rice, or plain egg noodles. I break this size recipe up into 6 servings coming in at 328 calories per. Not too bad!

chicken in mustard cream sauce pioneer woman


Chicken in Mustard Cream Sauce

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (chicken tenderloins) (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs. EVOO
2 tbs. unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 cup dry white wine (we use Chardonnay)
1 heaping tbs. Dijon mustard
1 heaping tbs. grainy Dijon mustard (whole-grain mustard)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 – 1/2cup chicken stock
Flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise so that they’re only about 1/2” thick. Seasons both sides of chicken with salt and pepper.

Over medium-high heat, melt the butter and EVOO until shimmering. Brown both sides of the chicken (about 4 minutes per side). Remove chicken to a plate.

In the same pan, sauté the garlic for just about a minute, until fragrant. Carefully pour in the wine, scraping the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Allow to simmer for about 2 minutes, until the mixture reduces slightly, stirring occasionally. Add the mustards, heavy cream, and 1/4 cup chicken stock. Stir to combine and allow to cook for a few minutes. Add more chicken stock if the mixture looks too thick.

Reduce heat to low. Nestle the chicken back into the sauce, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Garnish with parsley.

Makes about 6 servings.

Adapted via Pioneer Woman