Spinach Meatballs with Sun-dried Tomato and Spinach Orzo – ★★★★★

1970951_10205600543951031_8676735917190554793_nSun-dried tomatoes are to me like candy is to my 4-year-old. I can snack on these tangy sweet nuggets all day. That said, I get excited when I can add them to my recipes. Think jimmies on your ice cream… Yep, pretty much the same thing in my book. The orzo could really stand on its own as a meal but since we are trying to pack in the protein I threw in the meatballs for good measure. The meatballs were an absolute treat. They seemed to have much more substance than any other meatball I’ve made before. To explain how good they are my picky 4-year-old even ate 3 of them on his own. This recipe will make it into my normal rotation for sure. One thing I would like to note is that I used a rice cooker to make the orzo. It is extremely easy to make in the rice cooker but as not everyone has the appliance I will provide two sets of directions for the orzo. Perry gave 5 stars and this is why:

“Kelsey is putting a lot of effort into rounding out the nutrition in our dinners. At first I was concerned because I am a carnivore and she wanted to gorge on veggies. Thankfully meat can also be good for you too. This recipe however threw me for a curve. There are so many flavors and textures that make it an absolute pleasure to eat. The orzo is soft and tangy while the meatballs are savory and fulfilling. I had no guilt eating this dinner. 5 stars!”

Serves: 5     Calories in Meatballs: 294 per serving     Calories in Orzo: 102 per serving  

Time for Meatballs: 1hr 30 mins     Time for Orzo: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients for Meatballs:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 (10 oz) package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup italian breadcrumbs, I used whole wheat
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Ingredients for Orzo:

  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, more or less depending on your taste.
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 8 basil leaves, chopped

Directions for Meatballs:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl mix all ingredients together until combined
  3. Form into small/medium-sized meatballs and line them in a greased baking dish
  4. Bake for 45-50 minutes until cooked through.
  5. Serve with sun-dried tomato and spinach orzo.
  6. Enjoy!

Directions for Orzo in Rice Cooker:

  1. Place all ingredients in your rice cooker
  2. Secure the lid and press cook. This will cook for 10-15 minutes
  3.  When the cooker switches to warm, stir the orzo and let rest for 5 mins before serving.
  4. Serve with meatballs and enjoy!

Directions for Orzo Stovetop: 

  1. Combine orzo and chicken broth in a small/medium saucepan. Bring to a boil
  2. Once boiling reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook covered for 15-20 minutes until orzo is tender.
  3. Fluff with a fork and add tomatoes, spinach, and basil.
  4. Cover once more and cook on low heat until spinach starts to wilt and tomatoes are warm through.
  5. Serve with meatballs and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Original meatball recipe adapted from http://www.food.com

*Original orzo recipe adapted from “Rice Cooker Creations with Debra Manning” (p.75)

Advertisements

Crispy Oven Fried Green Beans – ★★★★★

IMG_3370

This is a really fun and delicious way to dress up green beans. I absolutely loved the tender crisp result. Let’s be honest, you cannot really go wrong with parmesan crusted anything! The only problem is that these were so good that we had none left over. The recipe is super easy and took very little time to prepare so I’ve got a feeling this will be my standard weeknight side dish. Delicious! Perry gave 5 stars and here is why:

“These beans are awesome! I think they would make for a good appetizer with a dipping sauce. They almost didn’t make it to our plates because when Kelsey pulled them out of the oven we automatically started snacking on them while we waited for the chicken she was also making to come out of the oven. The parmesan was really browned in some spots giving off an almost smoky taste. I think the next time Kelsey makes these I’ll suggest she does a couple of pounds worth of greens.

Serves4-6     Calories:130 per serving     Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil, preferably extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces fresh green beans
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine oil, garlic, egg, garlic salt and pepper.
  3. Toss green beans into the mixture, coating them well.
  4. Add parmesan cheese and continue to toss gently until coated.
  5. Lay the green beans out evenly on a greased baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Broil for an additional 2 minutes or until crispy.
  8. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Original recipe adapted from http://www.sugarfreemom.com

Baked Pesto Chicken – ★★★★★

1978774_10205587880114443_8010916815274238925_nThere is something to be said about a recipe that you just throw in a dish and bake. With a wild toddler and a brand new baby recipes like this are my saving grace. I am able to give my family a tasty meal without sacrificing nutrition and my own time with them. I’m learning that life is all about balance, so if that is something you are . I took some shortcuts to save even more time, for example using store-bought pesto and pre-sliced chicken breasts meant for stir fry. Perry gave five stars and here is why:

The chicken was so moist and the oil from the pesto made it taste, as I can only describe it as, silky. I think the pairing of pesto and mozzarella works so well because the flavors basically melt together leaving you with a creamy-herby savoriness. I would like to try this chicken and the sauce over a bed of fettucine Alfredo. Could you imagine?! Kelsey made rice to eat with the left overs and she poured the sauce left in the pan over top. Quite possibly the best rice I’ve ever had. Five stars for flavor!”

Serves: 4     Calories: 340 per serving     Time: 35-40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, if you like to make them bite sized like I do then cut them into bits.
  • 1/2 cup pesto, you can make your own with this recipe here or, if you need to save time, buy a jar of fresh pesto already made (this is usually found by the gourmet pastas in the refrigerated cheese section of your grocery store.)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper
  3. Spread 1/4 cup of the pesto in a 9×13 baking dish
  4. Lay chicken over the pesto and top chicken with the remaining pesto.
  5. Cover the dish with foil and bake until cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.
  6. Uncover and sprinkle the mozzarella over the dish. Bake for an additional few minutes until the cheese is melted.
  7. Dish and spoon the hot sauce left in the pan over the chicken.
  8. Enjoy!

*Original recipe adapted from http://www.food.com

*Photo is an original belonging to me