Sunday, May 20, 2012

Just say NO to prepackaged convenience food Pt 1

The Massive Meatball Making Marathon

At some point this week a hair brained idea made it's way into my head, and since I live alone with my kids, there wasn't anyone around to talk me out of it. The thought was, "Why do I feed my kids crap?" Seriously, why do I buy things that I know to be inferior. Convenience? Yes. Because my kids like them? Yes. Cost? Well, probably not. Because I am not capable of making those things myself? HELL NO! So I got it into my head that I am going to move away from buying these prepackaged convenience foods. Frozen meatballs, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, and the like. So when I went to the store and there was a large package of ground beef marked down, it was like a sign. So I picked it up, along with some ground pork and some lean chicken sausage. Then, because it would be silly to make meat balls and not eat any of them, I got sliced provolone and hoagie rolls for meatball subs.

So here's my "recipe" though I use the term lightly.

All lined up in rows
  • 2 Lbs Extra Lean ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 ln Extra Lean chicken sausage (and let me just say something about the chicken sausage, it was PREMIUM, the meat was minced instead of ground and it smelled super flavorful, I will use that brand again)
  • 1 cup seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 3-4 eggs
  • 1-2 tsp thyme
  • 1 or 2 handfuls of finely chopped spinach

Mix well, roll into golf ball sized balls and place on a greased sheet pan, leaving about an inch between meatballs. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, then turn them over and bake an additional 5. Makes Approx 64 meatballs

I kept out 14 to feed my kids dinner tonight, so in the end I put up 50 meatballs for future use. These meatballs are larger than the frozen ones you can buy at the store so I think that will see us through 5 meals. And the best part is, I know what went into them and was able to choose ingredients to make them healthier than the prepackaged variety.

Bonus content: Vegetarian "Meatlessballs"

I was going to buy some veggie meatballs for myself until I thought "well that would be pretty darn stupid". So I didn't, cause I hate being stupid. The problem then became the fact that I had no idea how to make veggie meatballs, and all of the recipes I was finding online called for things I did not have. But the name of this blog IS "making do" so that's what I did. I threw some lentils and some brown rice in water and overcooked them a bit so that they would mush up a little. Then I added an egg, about half a cup of breadcrumbs, thyme, garlic powder, and some Penzy's Mural of Flavors, a little blob of the veggie base I use and the rest of the chopped spinach. Then I mixed it and rolled it into balls. I had a whole pan's worth rolled when I remembered that I had about a quarter pound of maitake mushrooms in the fridge that needed to be used. So I put them back in the mix, minced up the mushrooms and mixed everything all over again. The whole batch made about 36 "meat"balls. I used half a bag of small lentils and probably as much rice. I only used one egg because that's all I had left, I think I probably would have use 2 if I could. These meatless balls have a great flavor but would not hold up to being simmered in a sauce.
I promise these are much more than balls of grey goo

Bonus bonus content: This meal's ata girls: the bag of spinach in the fridge, the half bag of lentils on the shelf, the eggs from one of my nurses, and my fancy shmancy mushrooms

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