In the Kitchen: Crockpot Tikka Masala

I’m a HUGE fan of indian food. Especially in the form a buffet when I can consume copious quantities of a variety of dishes. This recipe is one of my favorites, but even if you haven’t tried much indian cuisine or think everything is overly seasoned with curry, be adventurous and give this a try. Trust me, it’s different! The longer my husband and I are together, the more adventurous he gets with his eating, but even he, who would never willingly go to an indian restaurant, has this recipe close to the top of his favorites list.

The ingredient list may look daunting, but this recipe is easy and I love the flexibility. When the husband is around, I make it with chicken, vegetables and potatoes and that is how I have shared the recipe below. When it’s just me, I typically leave out the meat. You can also make it with just the chicken alone and no vegetables.


1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 – 6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T fresh ginger, minced
1 (29 oz) can of tomato puree
1 1/2 C plain yogurt
2 T olive oil
2 T garam masala spice mic
1 T (slightly heaped) cumin
1.5 t paprika
2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1 t black pepper
1 t cayenne pepper
6 skinless chicken tenderloins, cut into large chunks* (optional)
2 -3 potatoes, diced (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen peas (optional)
1 cup chickpeas (drained and rinsed, optional)
1 cup heavy cream
2 T cornstarch
chopped fresh cilantro, for topping

Place the first twelve ingredients (thru the spices) into your crockpot and stir to combine. If making with chicken and/or potatoes, add them now (raw) and stir gently to mix in. Add the bay leaves and push down into mixture.

*The chicken will get very soft while cooking and start to shred apart, keeping the raw pieces a bit large than ‘bite sized’ helps keep them together better. 

Cover and cook for 8 hours on low (or 4 hours on high).

When done, whisk together the cream and corn starch and pour into the crockpot along with the peas and chickpeas and gently stir. Cook on low for an additional 30 minutes.

Serve over basmati rice with fresh cilantro and a side of naan and enjoy!

This meal makes a ton of food, but we eat it two or three times over a couple weeks and I freeze the rest. The consistency is a little different after freezing and reheating, but it doesn’t affect the taste at all.

> Click here for a printable recipe card

In the Kitchen: One Pan Pasta

My husband recently saw this recipe while browsing my Martha Stewart Living magazine (you can laugh at the visual, I do) and was for some reason obsessed! I could never claim to be mightier than Martha, but I have to admit that I’ve never been a huge fan of her recipes as they are written. I typically find they are missing something or need more flavor, more liquid, a touch of this or that, so I honestly would have passed right over this one if he wasn’t so darn persistent.

It seems to have become quite the rage ’round the interwebs these days and while I read many variations on this recipe, I (more or less) stuck with the original and loved it!

It’s simple (one pan, ten minutes people!) and surprisingly fresh and flavorful. I thought it would be dry, and even looks a little dry in photos, but was pleasantly surprised with the amount of sauciness. The taste was different than I expected (sweeter and spicier), but super delicious and easy to modify to your personal tastes, not to mention a beautiful way to put your garden harvest to use! (And an excitement Mr. Wizard type experience for your children, or husband, in my case…)

Here is a link to the original recipe on the Martha Stewart website and below is how I made it, what I learned and how I’ll change it next time:

12 ounces linguine
12 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes (halved or quartered)
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 sprigs basil, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
Fresh grated parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients except the cheese in a large straight-sided skillet or wide dutch oven. You’ll need a pan that’s big enough for the pasta to lay flat and some room for the liquid to bubble.

Bring to a boil over high heat and continue boiling, stirring occasionally to prevent the noodles from sticking, for about 9 – 10 minutes until the pasta is al dente and most of the liquid has evaporated. And that’s it! You’re done! Spoon it into a bowl, top it with loads of grated parm and scarf it up.

I made mini beef meatballs that we mixed in before serving, and husband requested ‘those little balls of fresh mozzarella’, which I thought was a great idea!

The original recipe calls for water and about 2 teaspoons salt (or more to taste). I used vegetable broth for some added flavor and a little water to make up the difference. Four and half cups of liquid worked perfect for me, which is what the original recipe called for. I thought being at a high altitude that I would need to boil it longer for the noodles to be done and may need more liquid, but I did not.

I was worried there would be too much onion (and I always cook with onion) or that the thin slices would be too big (as opposed to diced) but they cooked down nicely and I didn’t even notice them.

The 1/2 teaspoon red pepper added quite a kick, so lessen it if you’re not a fan of spice (we are!). If you look at the other photos of this dish, you will see the basil sprigs are whole. Not really sure how that works unless they took them out at the end? I chopped mine up so it could incorporate. You can also save some fresh to add when serving if you like it (yum!).

Next time I cook this dish, I will make a few changes…

I love mushrooms, so will add about 6 – 8 ounces fresh sliced along with the other ingredients at the beginning.

It made a ton! Dinner twice (for two) and then some. I think I will use 8 ounces of pasta instead, but keep the other ingredients the same. Most boxes of pasta are 16 ounces, so I measured out 12 for the original recipe, but will use half a box and save the other half for the next time. We typically eat whole wheat pasta which takes longer to cook, so I used regular linguine the first time around and it cooked well. Next time I will try using whole wheat angel hair. The whole wheat will take longer but the pasta is much thinner, so I think the cooking time to liquid ratio will balance out.

I will also wait to add the basil until about halfway through the cooking. I want it to cook with the dish a bit, but I think it looses too much flavor when cooked for the entire time.

Some other variations I read about on other blogs included using canned tomatoes and dried herbs instead of fresh, using chicken broth for the liquid, sweet or red onion instead of yellow and adding additional ingredients such as bell peppers, parsley and lemon slices.

I recommend trying this one close to the original and seeing how you like the flavors and amount of sauce, how the liquid and cooking time works out with your stove, etc and then start making modifications to suit your preferences.

If this is something you’ve been making for years or have already modified, I want to hear about it! And if its new to you, try it and let me know what you think!

In the Kitchen: Ham and Broccoli Shells with Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

I’ve been hoarding recipes. I know, it’s so selfish of me. My husband teases that I never learned to share because I was an only child, but what does he know. He is a boy, after all.

In all honestly, I’ve been trying to wait (impatiently) until I was out of my dark, poorly lit apartment kitchen and into my new, bright airy naturally lit kitchen so the photos could actually look appetizing, but it’s just taking too long!

Since we’re stuck here, packed and ready to go, with nothing else to do for the next three weeks, I thought I would put the time to good use and do a little much-overdo blogging! So, allow me to apologize for the ugly photos you are about to see, but I promise the deliciousness of the recipe will make up for it all.

This is one of those you-can-use-cauliflower-for-anything kinda recipes. Are you into those? You know, cauliflower rice, cauliflower tortillas. It seems to be the new world’s most versatile food, but I might just be behind on the times as I usually am!

The sauce for this easy, oven-baked casserole is made rich and creamy without having to use tons of cream, sticks of butter or tubs of cheese, but by using pureed cauliflower. I personally guarantee (should I create my own seal of approval?!) that no one (especially your kids!) would ever guess what it is made out of.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 head cauliflower, chopped
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 large white onion, chopped
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
4 teaspoons flour
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 ounces pecorino or romano cheese, grated
1/2 lb pasta shells
1/2 – 1lb ham, chopped
1 – 2 bunches broccoli, cut into florets 
Preheat oven to 400°. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add cauliflower, garlic, onion, salt and pepper and cook until slightly softened, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle with flour, stirring to coat, then add milk and slowly bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently until cauliflower is very soft, about 15 minutes. Be sure to heat slowly and stir often to avoid burning the milk on the bottom of the pan.
Remove from heat and stir in the nutmeg (don’t leave this out!) and half the cheese. Puree until smooth in the pot with an immersion blender, or carefully transfer to a blender or food processor.

In the meantime while preparing the cauliflower sauce, cook the pasta until slightly tender but not fully cooked, about 5 minutes. Mix the pasta, ham and broccoli in a large deep casserole dish. I use about one full pound of ham cut into bite sized cubes and two good sized bunches of broccoli. 
Pour the sauce over top and stir gently to mix evenly. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake until bubbly, 20 – 30 min. Broil for 2 -3 minutes to brown top and let stand for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.

As I make it, this dish will easily feed six people (with a side dish) or a family of two to four at least twice. We have it with a side salad, if I’m feeling healthy, or cheesy garlic bread, if not 🙂

Though I have yet to try either, I see no problem with making this ahead and leaving it in the fridge for a day/overnight or freezing before baking.


In the Kitchen: Stuffed Poblanos

Yeah, they’re kinda messy, but that means they’re good, right? I’ve made these three times now (so am finally confident that the recipe is ready to be shared), but have never had a chance to take good photos of them. They just get eaten too fast! Seriously. They are best right out of the oven, bubbly and hot. No time to find good light, pose my pepper and shoot. So, this is what you get. Take it or leave it.
I suggest you take it.
6-8 poblano peppers, depending on size
3 large or 4 medium tomatoes
1/2 medium white onion
2 large garlic cloves
2 tsp dried oregano
2 1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
15 oz corn, fresh (cooked) frozen or canned (drained)
4 boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins or equivalent
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime
To prepare the filling, in a food processor puree the tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a simmer in a large, deep skillet and cook for about 15 minutes over medium heat until some of the liquid evaporates and the mixture is thick and pulpy.
In the meantime, cook and shred the chicken, cook the rice and prepare the corn. If using fresh, boil the cob and cut off the kernels. If using canned, drain well. If using frozen, no need to thaw.
Once the mixture has thickened, add the corn, rice and chicken and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro, lime juice and 1 cup of the shredded cheddar.
To prepare the peppers, place them on a foil lined baking sheet and broil them on high, turning every few minutes, until they begin to blacken and the skins begin to bubble all over. Remove them from the oven and wrap them in the foil. Let them sit for a few minutes and then unwrap and let them cool.
Now you can easily peel off the skins. Be sure to handle the peppers carefully though, as they will be soft and can tear apart easily. Cut a slit up the middle of one side and cut out the seed core, scooping out any excess seeds, leaving the stem in place. I often rinse my peppers under light running water, I find it’s the easiest way to get all the seeds out!
Now you’re ready to stuff the peppers. Be generous! Don’t worry if it’s mounding up and over a little bit. Top with the remaining shredded cheese and bake at 350° for about 8 – 10 minutes. Broil for 2 -3 minutes to brown the cheese, serve with a side of black beans and enjoy!
This dish makes quite a hearty helping. Since it’s just my husband and I, I usually make the filling and then prepare, stuff and bake half the peppers, using half the filling. Then we’ll have it again later in the week or early the next. I reheat the filling a bit, prepare the peppers and pop them in the oven!
If you’d like to see step-by-step photos of this recipe, just leave me a comment below and I’ll be sure to take some next time I make it. You can see some pics of broiling and skinning peppers in my previous Cinco de Mayo recipe post from last year here. Only difference is you’re keeping the peppers whole, rather than cutting them into strips before broiling.
I’d love to hear what you think of this one, it’s a new favorite in our house!
p.s. I’m just too busy this week to get a recipe card done up for this right now, but I should have it up by early next!

In the Kitchen: Spicy Black Bean Pizza

Phew! It’s been a crazy few weeks. Don’t you hate when those paying jobs have to get in the way of the fun stuff, like blogging? Geez. I’ve been talking about this pizza for at least a week and here it finally is. Since I first made it about a month or so ago, it’s been on our menu three times and has become a household favorite. I’m just gonna simply say yummmmm. Yep, five m’s worth. Maybe even six.

Whole Wheat Crust:
1 envelope dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 cup warm water
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 – 2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
15 oz black beans*
1 cup prepared salsa (homemade or store bought)
2 jalapenos or 1 serrano chile, cut rough chunks
2 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup diced bell pepper (red, green, yellow or mix)
1 cup fresh (cooked) or frozen (thawed) corn kernels
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded cheddar
2 avocados, diced (optional)
Sour cream (optional)
*You can use dried or canned beans for this recipe. If using dried, soak about 200 grams and cook according to package directions (1 – 1.5 hours). If using canned, drain and rinse well before using.
To make the crust, combine yeast and sugar in water. Stir until dissolved. Add salt, oil, whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour. Stir well.
Add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 5 – 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 20 – 30 minutes.
If using a metal pizza pan, lightly grease it, or you can use a pizza stone. Stretch and pat or roll dough to a 15″ round. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes, until crust is dry and lightly browned. Set aside.
While the dough is rising and prebaking, you can prepare the pizza topping. In a blender or food processor, combine the beans, salsa, chile and garlic, and puree until smooth. Dice the peppers, green onion and cilantro and shred the cheeses.
Spread the bean puree over the prebaked crust and top with the diced peppers, corn, green onions, cilantro and cheeses.
Bake at 400° for 7 – 12 minutes until cheesy is bubbly and crust edges are browned. Allow pizza to cool for 5 minutes before cutting. I know, it’s very hard to wait…
Top with cubes of avocado and a dollop of sour cream, if desired, and dig in!
This pizza is perfect for the vegetarians in your life. It’s rich and hearty and the carnivores at the table won’t even miss the meat. However, chicken does pair perfectly with the other ingredients in this dish and gives this pizza a new life for the meat-eaters. Just add bite-sized chunks of cooked chicken on top of the bean puree with the other ingredients and bake as directed.
And find more delicious recipes here.

In the Kitchen: Chicken and Mushroom Macaroni and Cheese

I won’t try to tell you this is one of my ‘healthy’ meals because… not so much. I mean, it is macaroni and cheese, after all. I will tell you that it’s darn delicious though, unless you don’t like shrooms, or butter, or cheese. But if that’s the case, we may need to end this friendship now.
6 oz whole wheat elbow macaroni
Approx 1/2 lb chicken, cut into bite sized pieces (I use 4 tenderloins)
1/4 of a large yellow onion, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, diced
6 – 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
3 Tablespoons butter (divided use)
2 Tablespoons flour
2 cups milk (divided use)
1 3/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (divided use)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 350°. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and spread in an 8×8 baking dish.
In a medium skillet, heat 1 T butter, onion and garlic over medium high heat until it begins to sizzle. Add the chicken and continue cooking. When the chicken is about halfway done, add the mushrooms and heat until they are soft and chicken is completely cooked.
Add the chicken mixture to the noodles in the dish (including any pan juices) and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat 2 T butter over medium heat until melted, add 2 T flour and stir to combine. Add 1 1/2 cups milk, paprika, salt and pepper. Increase heat and bring to a gentle boil, stirring frequently until slightly thickened. Lower heat to a simmer and add 1 1/4 cups cheese, stirring until melted.
Once melted, remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup milk. Pour sauce over chicken and pasta and mix gently to combine. Cook at 350° for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and spread remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top. Return to oven and cook an additional 10 minutes. Broil if desired to brown cheese. Serve and enjoy!
This recipes makes a hearty, but not ridiculous, amount. It will serve 2 – 4 people twice or 6 – 8 once, depending on how much you like to eat and what you serve with it. If you don’t like mushrooms, just leave them out! The cheese sauce is easy and delicious and can be used with anything you like. You can also easily double the recipe (entire thing or just sauce) which makes a perfect amount for a potluck!
And find more easy and delicious recipes here.

In the Kitchen: Spicy Sweet Potato Chili

Do you know that sweet potatoes are a better choice nutritionally than white potatoes because they are lower in calories and higher in vitamins, nutrients and fiber? They leave you feeling fuller longer and are a good choice for diabetics as the high soluble fiber content helps lower blood sugar as opposed to white potatoes, a.k.a. blood sugar bombs.

If you’ve never been a fan of sweet potatoes, don’t give up on them yet. Their expected taste is surprisingly transformed when cooked up with the other ingredients in this hearty autumn dish. Not a fan of the spice? You can leave out the jalapeno or substitute it with a mild poblano. You can also leave out the chicken and use vegetable stock to make this meal vegan friendly. You’ll find a printable recipe card at the end of this post.

1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium red peppers, seeded and chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, chopped
15 oz cannellini beans*
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups cold water
3 large or 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 Tablespoon chili powder
pinch red pepper flakes
1 jalapeno, minced or 6 oz can diced green chilies
Optional garnish
sour cream
crumbled bacon
cheddar cheese
*You can use dried or canned beans for this dish. If using canned, drain and rinse them. If using dried, soak, rinse and cook them until partially tender before adding.
In a large pot, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion, red pepper and garlic until slightly tender.
Add the chicken and saute until opaque. Add the beans, stock, water, potatoes, jalapeno and spices. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Couldn’t get much easier!

I enjoy this dish topped with sour cream, fresh scallions, a little cheddar cheese and when I have it on hand, some crumbled bacon — all of which alone or together work really well with the flavor of the chili. Serve it up with some maple pecan muffins or whole wheat cornbread and you have a hearty dish that’ll warm you up through the winter months ahead!
And find more easy and delicious recipes here.

In the Kitchen: Parmesan Mushroom Stuffed Peppers

This is my healthy, vegetarian spin on a classic crowd pleaser. Made with brown rice, fresh veggies and a little cheese, you’ve got just about all your food groups stuffed into one yummy little package, or should I say pepper. This dish is easy to make and can even be whipped up the night before and then popped into the oven to bake when you get home from work. You’ll find a printable recipe card at the end of this post.
Ingredients serves 2
2 large bell peppers (any color, I use green and red)
3/4 cup cooked brown rice
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup broccoli florets, chopped (fresh or thawed frozen work)
1/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth (can also use chicken)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2/3 cup salt free tomato sauce (just plain, not spaghetti sauce)
1/3 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for topping
Preheat oven to 375°. Slice the tops off your peppers and clean out any seeds and membrane from inside. If desired, you can chop up the pepper top (discarding the stem) and add it to your stuffing mixture. Brush the outside of the peppers with a little olive oil and set aside.
Depending on what type of brown rice you are using, you’ll want to cook this ahead of time. I use Minute brown rice, which is easy and works well, so I start cooking it when I start making the filling, as it only takes about 5 minutes.
To prepare the filling, saute the minced garlic and red onion with a little olive oil over medium high in a large skillet until tender. Add the mushrooms, broccoli and chopped pepper tops (if desired). Once the veggies are almost cooked through and soft, reduce the heat to medium, add the rice, chicken broth, salt and pepper and simmer until most of the broth cooks away and is absorbed into the mixture.
Remove from heat and stir in the tomato sauce and parmesan cheese until thoroughly mixed and melted. I recommend tasting the filling at this point before you stuff the peppers in case you want to add any additional salt or seasonings.
Spoon the filling into the peppers, stuffing them tightly. I cook mine in a glass loaf pan so if they want to tip over they don’t have far to go, but any glass baking dish will do and you can always stabilize them with some foil around the bases.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 – 45 minutes until the peppers start to get soft. I like my peppers slightly al dente, so to say, but you can cook them a bit longer if you’d like them really soft. Remove the foil and sprinkle a little shredded parmesan on the top of the peppers, return to the oven and bake or broil until melted. Serve and enjoy!

Don’t like parmesan? Try cheddar. Don’t like mushrooms or broccoli? This recipe is very versatile and you can substitute just about any veggies or cheese you wish. For a mexican spin, try using black beans and chopped roasted poblanos instead of the mushrooms and broccoli along with pepper jack cheese.
You can easily double this recipe to serve four or make it as is and stuff four small peppers instead of two. They also reheat well in the microwave or oven for a hearty lunch or second dinner. Enjoy!
And find more easy and delicious recipes here.

In the Kitchen: Vegetable Tofu Curry, Sweet or Savory

Yep, I said tofu again. But this time we’re frying it up into crisp little cubes of yumminess then mixing it with a heaping helping of curry and a plethora of robust vegetables. This colorful concoction can be made sweet or savory by using apple juice or broth and makes a hearty main entree when served over brown rice, cous-cous or quinoa. Any leftovers make a perfect portable lunch as this dish tastes just as good at room temperature or reheated in the microwave.

Base Ingredients
14 oz firm tofu, 1″ cubes pan fried
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 red onion, 1/2 dice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups cauliflower florets, 1″ pieces
1 carrot, 1/2″ slices
2 cups eggplant, 1″ cubes
1 red bell pepper, 1″ dice
1 sweet potato, 1/2″ slices then quartered
1 small zucchini, 1/2″ slices
1/2 cup raisins
Sweet Version
2 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups unfiltered apple juice
1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper
Savory Version
3 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper
The first step is to press, cube and pan fry the tofu. To press the tofu, halve the cake horizontally and set the two slabs on several layers of paper towels on a plate or cutting board. Top with additional paper towels and another plate or cutting board then weigh down with a heavy skillet or stock of books and let sit for about 20 minutes.
Once pressed, cut the tofu into 1″ cubes.
Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and fry the tofu on medium high heat until crisp and browned on all sides, about 2 – 5 minutes per side. Set aside.

While the tofu is pressing and cooking you can prep the other ingredients. You’ll start by cooking the onions and garlic, then add the cauliflower and carrots, so keep them separate. You can place the rest of the vegetables in a large bowl as you cut them, they will be added all at once.

Heat about one Tbsp of canola oil in a large pot or dutch oven. Add the garlic and red onion and saute until slightly softened.
Add the curry and cinnamon (and turmeric if making it savory) and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the liquid (apple juice or broth), the cauliflower and the carrots. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Next add the tofu, remaining vegetables, raisins, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer about 20 – 25 minutes, until the vegetables are tender but still hold their shape. Add additional seasonings to taste. You may find you like more salt than I call for, as I try to keep the salt fairly low in most of my dishes.

This dish is delicious served alone or atop a healthy grain like brown rice, cous cous or quinoa. Don’t like tofu? Just leave it out or add some chicken. You can also adjust the vegetables to suit your tastes but I find this combination hearty and delicious any time of year. Enjoy!
And find more easy and delicious recipes here.

In the Kitchen: Chicken Florentine Meatballs

Today’s recipe comes upon special request from the lovely, and very pregnant, Jill of jillry. She recently contacted me in search of freezer-friendly recipes that she can whip up ahead of time and her husband can easily pop in the oven after the little one arrives. These chicken florentine meatballs have been on my ‘upcoming recipes’ list and seeing as how I had just taken a bag out of my freezer, they immediately came to mind. Easy to make, easy to freeze, delicious and healthy, these meatballs are an all around winner. You’ll find a printable recipe card at the end of this post.
2 eggs, beaten
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and patted dry
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp dried minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 lb ground chicken, raw
In a large bowl mix the spinach, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, spices and eggs. Break up the chicken and blend it with the spinach mixture until thoroughly combined. Roll the mixture into balls about 1 1/2″ in diameter. Bake the meatballs on a wire rack atop a shallow baking dish at 400° for 20 – 25 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink.
If you wish to freeze the meatballs, place the rolled, uncooked meatballs in an airtight container or ziploc bag and place them in the freezer. When you are ready to bake, allow them to thaw completely and bake as directed above. When I make a batch of these, I bake half and freeze half for another meal. Each half serves about four.
These meatballs are delicious served plain (which are perfect for appetizers!) or with your favorite type of pasta and sauce. I love them with a simple mushroom marinara and whole wheat pasta but when I have the time, I serve them over spaghetti squash for something a little different.

If you’ve never had spaghetti squash, it’s really quite fascinating and you can prepare it in so many ways – from eating it as a pasta to baking it into a cheesy casserole side dish.
To cook the squash, first cut off the stem and then cut the squash in half. Scrape out the seeds and pulp, but be careful not to go too deep into the flesh or you will start to break up the strands.
Place the two halves cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet and bake at 375° for about 30 – 40 minutes until tender.

Now this is the fun part – once slightly cooled, separate the strands by scraping the flesh with a fork and voila, spaghetti! Well, spaghetti squash. Neat, huh?
Overall, it’s fairly flavorless by itself, with just a slight squash/zucchini type taste, so it takes well to anything you top it with – butter, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese or mushrooms, marinara and chicken florentine meatballs!

However you serve these freezer-friendly meatballs, they are a delicious alternative to beef, make a unique appetizer and are a great way to get your kids to eat spinach!
And find more easy and delicious recipes here.