Well, obviously this post didn’t happen earlier in the week as was originally intended when I wanted to follow up on the video I shared for my Shop-A-Long. I’ll spare you the gory details, but let’s just say that we have been going the sickness rounds at our house again (and again and again) this week in various forms. Or at least Kayla and I have. Which was enough.
Thankfully I had a break in the yuck to actually get in the kitchen for a couple days and fulfill some promises I had made to do some cooking for a friend who was moving this weekend. Since they are (unfortunately for me) moving far enough away that it won’t be so easy to get together for dinner she asked if I would make two of their favorite dishes for them to have for their meals while their kitchen was packed up. I’m glad to say that the meals were a hit and that a bonus recipe for the salad dressing in the pictures below will be coming out of that later this week. In her own words she said they are now obsessed with the strawberry poppyseed vinaigrette I made (honestly, I am too!).
Stay tuned too for another post soon about some exciting giveaway information and fun that will be coming your way from this #KraftFreshTake challenge!
In other craziness around our world we have excessive amounts of projects to work on for school that I’ll definitely be talking about more soon including a big science project and an equally big report on Native Americans (which I’m actually thrilled to do both because we have some fun things in mind and lots to learn). It’s just all happening at once, and right around Easter, Spring Break for the kids, trips for the husband out of town and lots of work time for him to be away from home. When it rains it pours you know!
I was exceptionally grateful that this second challenge recipe, using the items I shopped for in my little video of the Kroger Kraft Fresh Take Shop-A-Long I shared last Sunday was as simple of a recipe as could be.
The challenge from #KraftFreshTake this time around was:
- Must include a protein, vegetable and carbohydrate in the meal
- Meal can double as a packable lunch for your family
- Make the meal an easy weeknight creation
Personally, I think I nailed it on all fronts.
I have to tell you too, I absolutely LOVED this recipe. I would absolutely put these into the rotation for meals since this definitely qualifies as easy weeknight fare. Plus, talk about flexibility! Want to use ground beef, chicken or pork instead of turkey. Go for it. It will work and still be complete awesomesauce. Want to leave the glaze off or use a different glaze? Why not! Want to make the meatballs, cook and freeze them for use later in your crockpot or make a big batch. This couldn’t be easier to double or triple, and since you can bake the meatballs instead of cooking them on the stovetop you can easily make a huge batch without extra work.
As for the rice portion of the meal, I was also thrilled with this recipe! I absolutely LOVE flavorful rice as a side dish, but when it’s just kind of MEH I really don’t love it. I need my rice to be a vehicle for an incredible flavor whollop. Since we haven’t been feeling well (ok, aka couldn’t breathe worth a darn due to insane congestion) spicy foods are my favorite, especially to help clear out the old sinuses. TMI? Sorry. True story.
The rice started out building the flavor with sautéed onions, garlic, red pepper, serrano chile and some fresh corn I cut off the cob, plus a few seasonings. After that was all sautéed I put it in a bowl to hold while I cooked the rice in the same pan. The rice was then sautéed itself for just a minute in a little olive oil before being simmered in a mixture of fresh roma tomatoes blended with some chicken broth. Once the rice was all cooked, the sautéed vegetables were stirred in and ready to serve. You could easily just make the rice or the vegetables as a separate side too! The vegetables would especially make an awesome side dish for any BBQ or picnic coming up.
Not that it needed anything else, but I’m a sucker for sides with my spicy food and love some refried black beans with some melted cheese on top. It was just a little bonus side dish. Incidentally, you could absolutely use a couple cans of refried black beans in place of the turkey and make a black bean vegetarian version of this and make some southwestern black bean patties. Just sayin’.
That said, the glaze for the meatballs was also super simple to make. The combination of cherry and chipotle is a tried and true favorite of mine, and this recipe reminded me why. The especially nice thing is that you can absolutely control the heat. Use as much or as little of the chipotle hot sauce as you want. Mine was right at the level where there was a little heat at the back of my throat. For those of us that like some spice, that was perfect. For those of us who aren’t as fond it was a little bit much. You could even skip the heat altogether if you want.
Since the meatballs were so easy and quick to make I didn’t mind a little chopping and stirring to make the rice. It was still all done and on the table in about 30 minutes, so that was fine with me. Especially for the results! Did I mention it was all made in one pot? Bonus!
As for the other part of the challenge, to make something that could easily be packed as a lunch. Well, we proved that too. And actually you could easily just take the leftover rice and meatballs and call it good. I wanted to change things up a bit though and make the meatballs into a sandwich that could be packed for lunch. I tried it warm, cold, room temperature (the things I do for you!) and it was fine all the way around (I actually preferred it just warm, not too hot, not too cold… just right! Just call me Goldilocks). Since I was making all that salad and salad dressing I decided to have my sandwich with the salad.
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with how this challenge turned out. I have a renewed love for ground turkey. I have a new favorite rice side dish recipe and I have something that makes awesome leftovers which mean I actually end up getting to eat lunch. I really hope you give this one a try!
Cherry Chipotle Glazed Meatballs
(Makes about 40 small 1-inch meatballs, enough for 4 to 6 servings)
1 package Kraft Fresh Take Southwest Three Cheese (shredded cheese and seasoned bread crumbs)
1 1/4 lbs ground turkey (or substitute ground chicken, pork or beef)
1 large egg
- Combine in a large bowl and stir well to combine thoroughly.
- Use a small scoop to make about 40 smallish (about 1-inch) meatballs (or larger if you want).
- Meatballs can either be cooked on the stove top or in the oven at this point.
- For baking:
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place meatballs in a lightly greased baking dish (preferably spaced so they aren’t quite touching) and bake for 10 minutes until set and mostly cooked. Add the glaze (directions below) and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until cooked through and glazed.
- For stove top:
- Use a large skillet and add about 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the pan over medium-high heat.
- When the pan is hot, add the meatballs (you’ll need to cook in two batches even in a 10-inch pan – don’t over crowd the pan).
- Cook the meatballs for about 10 minutes, gently moving them around in the pan to help them brown and get golden on all sides.
- Add the glaze (directions below) and reduce heat to medium. Cook the meatballs in the glaze for about 8 to 10 minutes more until the glaze is thick and reduced and coating the meatballs.
Make the glaze while the meatballs are cooking:
1 cup red tart cherry jam (or other cherry jam or even cranberry jelly)
1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons chipotle hot sauce
1 cup hot water
(1 teaspoon corn starch for oven glazing)
- Stir together in a bowl. Set aside until meatballs are mostly cooked.
- Add glaze to pan on stove top and reduce over medium heat, gently stirring occasionally until meatballs are coated and glazed.
- For oven glazing, stir 1 teaspoon cornstarch into the glaze then pour the glaze over the meatballs and cook for another 10 minutes until thickened and meatballs are glazed.
NOTE: This makes just enough glaze to coat the meatballs, not really make a sauce though there may be a little left over. If you like your meatballs saucier, just double the sauce recipe and cook until the glaze is thickened but not all reduced and coating the meatballs. You may need to add a few minutes to the glaze cooking time to reduce that amount to the thickness you want.
Southwestern Rice with Sautéed Corn, Peppers and Onion
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts rice, enough for 4 to 6 servings
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 ear fresh corn cut off the cob (or 1 cup corn)
1 serrano chile or other chile, seeded and diced finely (if you want less heat, use a milder chile like jalapeño or only use half the serrano)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 large red bell pepper, diced finely
sea salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup short grain rice (like pearl rice from the hispanic section)
1 cup chicken broth
2 fresh roma tomatoes, seeded and quartered
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
- In a large (at least 2 quart) pan add about 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes until tender.
- Add the garlic and chopped chile and cook while stirring for another 2 minutes.
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, then add the corn and red bell pepper and cook for another 5 minutes while stirring.
- While the vegetables are cooking, make the chicken and tomato broth for the rice by blending the chicken broth and fresh roma tomatoes until smooth and set aside.
- Add about 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and the cumin. Stir and remove from the heat, placing the cooked vegetables in a small bowl and set aside.
- Place the pan back over medium-low heat with the last 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the rice to the pan and cook for 1 minute, stirring, until the rice is a bit opaque.
- Add the blended chicken broth and tomatoes along with a 1/4 teaspoon sea salt to the rice and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the rice isn’t sticking and the heat isn’t too high.
- Cover the pan and reduce the heat as far as possible to cook the rice another 15 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
- Stir in the sautéed vegetables, fluffing the rice and serve warm with a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro.
DISCLOSURE: I was compensated for my participation and the materials and ingredients used in working on the Kraft Fresh Take program and as always my opinions, recipes, and thoughts are 100% my own.