Buffalo-Style Turkey Meatballs

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Ok, it’s deep dark confession time.  Yes, I’m a healthy eater but I love boneless buffalo wings, they’re definitely my favorite bar food and something I reserve as a rare and very special treat to myself.  That being said, I have tried for quite awhile to come up with a healthy alternative to the boneless buffalo wing, one that is completely guilt-free.  Here’s the result….

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These meatballs are really delicious and definitely satisfy that craving for a buffalo wing.  The sauce can be hot or mild, your choice.  I will say though that I think a mild sauce allows for you to be able to actually taste the meatball itself and that’s important because this meatball is absolutely delicious.  It is a light, summer-friendly meatball and I highly recommend eating them on their own without the sauce as a variation to this dish.  You could also substitute beef for the turkey.

I typically serve these with my homemade blue cheese dressing as a dipping sauce.

Buffalo-Style Turkey Meatballs
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: main course
Cuisine: Meat dish
Serves: 20 meatballs
Ingredients
  • For the meatballs:
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks - diced
  • ½ of an onion - diced (I used Vidalia onion)
  • 1 Tablespoon of fresh sage - chopped (5 large leaves) or 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 egg - lightly beaten (I used liquid egg white substitute)
  • 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 pound ground turkey (or ground chicken or ground beef)
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (or regular bread crumbs)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • For the sauce:
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • ¾ cup hot sauce ( use your desired heat level)
  • 1 cup Blue Cheese dressing (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the celery and onion, sage and oregano and cook until tender, approximately 3-4 minutes. Let them cool.
  3. In a large bowl combine the turkey, celery and onion mixture, egg and mustard. Combine the ingredients with your hands until well combined.
  4. Add the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and mix them into the meat mixture with your hands.
  5. Form the mixture into 1 inch balls and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes until browned.
  7. For the sauce:
  8. In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat.
  9. Add the hot sauce and whisk to combine until smooth.
  10. Toss the sauce with the meatballs and serve warm.
  11. Serve with blue cheese dressing if desired.
  12. Note - the meatballs can e made up to 2 days ahead and gently reheated in a nonstick pan on the stovetop or in the microwave. Then add the sauce before serving.

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Bistro Salad

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I have two preferred methods of cooking vegetables depending on the season.  In the fall and winter it’s roasting; in the spring and summer is grilling.  The peppers and beets in this salad were grilled.  Yes, beets; like little circles of purple perfection!!

The steak is a flank steak.  Flank steak is an economical cut of steak as compared to prime rib, T-bone and ribeye.  It’s typically not as tender of a cut so using a marinade or rub is recommended but not imperative.  I’ve included a simple marinade in the recipe that I enjoy.

Bistro Salad
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Steak Salad with grilled veggies
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • For the marinade:
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 2 Tablespoons deli style or whole grain mustard
  • For the flank steak:
  • 3 pound flank steak
  • For the salad:
  • Boston (butter) lettuce, or romaine, or your favorite mix of lettuce - chopped
  • 2 beets - peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  • 2-3 bell peppers - cut into 2 inch wide strips
  • 4 Hungarian/banana/cubanelle peppers - sliced into 1 inch wide strips
  • ½ to 1 pint of grape tomatoes - sliced in half lengthwise, I used yellow and red and a heirloom variety called black krim (the 2 tone ones in the picture)
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
Instructions
  1. Mix the marinade ingredients together in a mason jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake the jar until mixed. Or mix all ingredients in a bowl using a wire whisk.
  2. Pour the marinade into a zip-top plastic bag.
  3. Add the steak to the bag and place in a baking pan in the refrigerator. This will prevent a mess in your refrigerator if the bag should leak.
  4. ALTERNATE METHOD: Place the steak into a baking pan, pour the marinade over the steak and turn the steak around with tongs so coated all over with the marinade. Cover the top of the pan with foil or plastic wrap.
  5. Let the meat marinate for at least an hour before cooking.
  6. Heat 1 side of your grill to high and keep the other side off (no direct heat).
  7. Brush the grill grates with olive oil to prevent sticking.
  8. Place the steak on the grill on the high heat side. Sear the steak for 3 minutes on each side until nice and browned.
  9. Transfer the steak to the non-heat side of the grill and grill for an additional 3-5 minutes per side until internal temperature reaches 125-130 degrees for medium rare. Move the steak to a plate with aluminum foil tented over it.
  10. Let the meat rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting it.
  11. Place the veggies on the high heat side of the grill and cook until nice grill marks appear then turn the veggies over again until grill marks form and the veggies are tender. Approximately 3-5 minutes per side.
  12. Remove the veggies from the grill
  13. Place the lettuce in the bowls.
  14. Slice the steak against the grain. That is, perpendicular to the long, fibrous muscle fibers running along the meat.
  15. Top your lettuce with the grilled veggies, tomatoes and crumbled blue cheese.
  16. Serve with your favorite dressing.

 

Open-face Hamburger

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open face hamburger 3The first hamburger of the summer fresh off the grill; it’s almost a rite of passage.  The smell of the beef cooking on the grill is enough to make your mouth water.

I’ll be honest, I’m really not a beef eater.  I was a vegetarian for over 10 years and could really go back to that diet at any given time quite easily.  I slowly began adding meat back into my diet and primarily I eat chicken, turkey and fish.  However, I’ll admit; I do indulge in a juicy grilled hamburger once in awhile.

I served this, the first burger of the summer season, open-face style atop a piece of buttered and grilled sourdough bread and with a grilled romaine salad.

Here’s a few tips about cooking burgers.  First of all, it took some practice for me to get it right.  Cooking times here are approximate as all grills are different and there’s a fine line between medium and medium rare and knowing when to pull them off the grill for each.  I prefer high heat, get ’em on, get ’em cooked, take ’em off!  Remember that the burgers continue to cook for a few minutes after you take them off the grill.

This is probably the one and only time you’ll hear me utter these words on this site…..”fat is yummy and makes for a much better burger.”  Yes folks, I’m all about being healthy and eating that way but avoid “lean” cuts of ground beef when making a burger.  Those fats are necessary for a juicy burger and most of them melt away as you grill.  No one wants to bite into a dry “low fat” burger right?  I tend to use ground chuck or ground round.  I’ve found ground sirloin a bit too lean.

Form your burgers “loosely.”  Tightly packing down the beef makes for dry, tough meat.  Use your thumb to make a slight indentation into the center of each burger. This helps the burger to cook evenly and prevent the middle from puffing up while cooking.  No more bloated burgers!!

Under no circumstances push down on the top of those burgers with your spatula while cooking!  That’s just a sure fire way to get a dry burger as you’re pushing all those delicious juices out!  Additionally, try to flip the burgers only 1 time to ensure a juicy burger.

Open-face Hamburger
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: What's For Dinner?, Main Course
Cuisine: Beef
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground round or ground chuck
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Montreal Steak Seasoning (depending on your taste)
  • 4 hearty slices of sourdough or Asiago Cheese Bread
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, sliced into ½ inch thick rounds
  • 2 large romaine lettuce hearts, cut in ½ lengthwise
  • Blue Cheese crumbles
  • olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
Instructions
  1. For the burgers:
  2. Fire up the grill to high heat (for gas grills).
  3. Mix the Montreal Steak Seasoning into the ground beef with your hands. Form 4 burgers. Use your thumb to make a slight indentation into the center of each burger. This helps the burger to cook evenly and prevent the middle from puffing up while cooking.
  4. Place burgers on the grill and cook for approximately 5-6 minutes. You will start to see juices forming on the top of the burger. Flip the burgers over and cook an additional 2 minutes or so. It's hard to give exact directions on cooking times as all grills are different. After a couple of tries you'll get it down perfectly!
  5. Under no circumstances push down on the top of those burgers with your spatula! That's just a sure fire way to get a dry burger as you're pushing all those delicious juices out! Additionally, try to flip the burgers only 1 time to ensure a juicy burger.
  6. Take the burgers off the grill and let them sit for 5 minutes or so while you grill your bread.
  7. For the Romaine hearts:
  8. Brush the cut sides (the inside) of the hearts with olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt and black pepper. Place the cut side down on the grill and grill until nice grill marks are present and the lettuce softens up a bit, approximately 3-5 minutes. Take the lettuce off the grill and serve it sprinkled with blue cheese crumbles and drizzled with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  9. For the Vidalia onions:
  10. Brush both sides of the onion slices with olive oil and season with Kosher salt and pepper. Place on the grill and leave on until nice dark grill marks form. Carefully turn them over and grill until equally done on the other side. This is when you'll be glad you cut the onion into nice thick slices as you won't lose them through the grill grates in the flipping process!
  11. Assemble your burger on the bread with the condiments of your choice. Top with the grilled onion.

 

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Meatballs

meatball pic canstockphoto16738834These meatballs are delicious and moist, kinda like little balls of meatloaf.  I serve them covered with a jar or two of my favorite all-natural red sauce.  They store well in the refrigerator or can be frozen.  I have doubled the recipe here because they go fast and are great leftovers.  Try them over pasta or on some nice crusty bread or a hero bun covered with melted mozzarella cheese for a meatball sandwich .

The recipe I’ve included here uses beef.  As you know by now, I love ground turkey and it can be substituted for the beef in this recipe with delicious results.  The pictures of the uncooked meatballs and the spaghetti dish at the end of this post are actually turkey.

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Meatballs
 
Author:
Recipe type: What's For Dinner
Cuisine: Meat
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds of ground round (or ground turkey, 93% Lean)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning blend
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • ⅔ cups skim milk (plus 1-2 Tablespoons if needed)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the beef into a mixing bowl, and season with salt, onion, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, oregano, red pepper flakes and Worcestershire sauce; mix well. Add the milk, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs. Mix until evenly blended. If needed, add a little additional milk until they are moist enough to fully mix.
  3. I use the two best kitchen tools invented to mix the ingredients, my hands. So take off those rings and dig in!
  4. Form into approximately 1½ inch meatballs, and place onto a baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until no longer pink in the center.

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