Sweet and Tangy Cocktail Meatballs

So I happened to find myself at a loss of dinner ideas, and for once Pinterest really wasn’t helping.  I texted my husband asking what he wanted for dinner, and he responded “Swedish meatballs.”

sweet and tangy cocktail meatballs from tgipaleo

I took a double take.  Did he mean the ones like at Ikea with all the brown gravy?  Or the ones my parents’ friends used to have in a crockpot at parties in the ’80s?  You know, the ones with the reddish brown sauce that was so freaking addictive?  The ones that aren’t actually Swedish meatballs at all but we call them that because we have absolutely no clue what they are?  Yeah.  he meant those.

sweet and tangy cocktail meatballs

I found a bunch of recipes for cocktail meatballs that fit the profile.  Thank goodness I’m not the only one who loves them so much…except they’ve all got gobs of sugar and apparently a lot of recipes use grape jelly.  I mean, sounds absolutely delightful but not really my cup of tea these days.  At least, not on a weeknight.  So I came up with these…and as usually I feel the need to apologize for my crappy photography skills.  I wish I could do them justice.  Hard to do when the dish is such a sloppy mess…which is part of the reason they’re so freaking good.  And totally worth the shame of your husband walking through the door and catching you spooning the sauce out of the pan into your mouth.  I know.  So classy.

Cocktail Meatballs
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Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 8 dates
  • 1 c hot water
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • ½ c rice vinegar
  • 2 cans (6 oz each) tomato paste
  • 1 T coconut aminos
  • ½ t cinnamon
  • ½ t dried mustard
  • ½ t salt
Instructions
  1. Let the dates soak in the hot water for about 15 minutes or so. You can do this while you're prepping everything else.
  2. Form the beef into meatballs.
  3. Heat the oil over medium high heat and cook the meatballs until they're nicely browned on all sides.
  4. Whilst the meatballs are cooking away, combine the dates, hot water, tomato paste, coconut aminos, cinnamon, mustard, and salt in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth.
  5. When the meatballs are done, remove to a plate with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the vinegar to the pan to de-glaze.
  7. Add the date/tomato sauce. Whisk to incorporate all the drippings and bring to a simmer.
  8. Add the meatballs back into the sauce and stir to coat.
  9. Cover and simmer together for 10-15 minutes.

 

Pad Thai

My winter break was almost seven weeks long.  Seriously.  I have never…in my LIFE…had this much time off to do absolutely nothing.  Maybe it would be OK if I was like all of my classmates and took a trip somewhere?  Or if I was capable of sleeping 14 hours a day?  Except no.

The house is cleaner than it’s been or will be for decades.  I’ve put in a bazillion hours of MCAT prep.  I volunteered at the hospital.  The pups have gotten more walking in the last 6 weeks than they had all last year.  Ate a few too many of those chocolate covered acai berries (the ones from Costco…dangerous).  Too much…*way* too much…has been spent at Target.  I don’t know what else to do, you guys.

Class starts next week and it’s the home stretch…4 more months of pre-med and then…well, I’ll let you know.  Maybe.  Lots of *life plans* in the works and I’m honestly not necessarily sure how it’s going to pan out.  Not gonna jinx it.  Nope nope.  I can tell you, though, that we will be…moving…again.  Since I left college I have moved through 3 different states, 1 year-long deployment to Iraq, 5 different homes.  Six if you count my CHU in Iraq but I really don’t think that counts.  I wouldn’t wish that on anyone unless you have some weird desire to live in a big tin box and sleep on a plastic mattress that smells like mothballs.  Blech.

Paleo Pad Thai

Enough of that…how about I make you dinner?  Following my weird BBQ fetish, I’ve been doing a lot of Asian cooking lately.  And by that I mean I’ve been putting fish sauce and coconut aminos in *everything.*  I recommend it.

This dish can be made meatless or with chicken, shrimp, beef, pork…or all of the above.  We like options, don’t we?

Pad Thai
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Serves: 2-4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • ⅓ c apple cider vinegar
  • ⅓ c coconut aminos or tamari
  • 1½ T hot chili paste
  • ¼ c fish sauce (omit if you want this to be vegan)
  • 3 T palm sugar
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 1 c snow peas
  • 3 green onions (scallions), sliced
  • ½ c fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Slivered almonds and lime wedges to garnish
Instructions
  1. Put the spaghetti squash in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 mins. When finished, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Using a fork, remove the squash strands into a bowl and set aside.
  3. While the squash is cooking, whisk together the vinegar, coconut aminos, chili paste, fish sauce, and palm sugar in a small dish. Set aside.
  4. In a high rimmed pan or pot, heat the coconut oil over medium high heat.
  5. Add the garlic, sauteing until lightly browned, then add the onions.
  6. When the onions are translucent, reduce the heat to medium and add the spaghetti squash and snow peas. Toss to coat in the oil and garlic.
  7. Add the sauce, stirring to coat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. When you are ready to serve, add the scallions and cilantro, mixing well.
  9. Serve garnished with slivered almonds and lime wedges.

 

Spicy Asian BBQ Meatballs

I saw this recipe for Thai Burgers the other day on MDA and haven’t stopped thinking about them all week.  No, really…I’m on break at last and the prospect of cooking and eating real food for 6 weeks has made me positively euphoric.

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And so the day comes…yesterday…after the first wave of holiday festivities are over and I’m ready to make a nice dinner at home for the two of us.  Oh, so I’m finally going to make these burgers.  Except.  I have…nothing.  Well, except ground beef.

With an Asian theme still on the brain and pretty much nothing but leftover veggies to work with I turned out a batch of meatballs instead.  Just…too good.  Maybe not as pretty as the burgers, but I’ll take it.

Spicy Asian BBQ Meatballs
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Serves: 2-4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs ground beef or pork
  • 3 T fish sauce
  • 3 T chili paste
  • 2 T coconut aminos
  • ¼ c coconut milk
  • ½ t ground ginger
  • ¼ t garlic powder
  • ¼ c chopped green onion (or any onion for that matter)
  • ¼ c chopped mushrooms
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. With your hands, mix the ingredients until blended but DO NOT overmix or else the meatballs will be tough.
  3. Shape the mixture into meatballs (golf-ball size for me), and arrange in a greased baking dish.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees.

 

Crispy Orange Beef

Fun Fact:  Going on 8 weeks now, there have been paper towels in our upstairs bathroom instead of toilet paper.  I’ll let you think about that for a sec.  So.  How was your day?  Yes, that was toilet humor.  My mind goes to weird places this early in the morning while I’m writing up a physics lab.  Except I’m clearly not working on that anymore.  Gotta space it out with other stuff, ya know?

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Like takeout.  Except you know me way too well–I’m too finicky about my food to get takeout anymore.  And too cheap.  I find myself Jones-ing for it all the time, though, and most especially Chinese food.  Greasy, so-bad-for-you, no-way-in-hell-it’s-authentic-but-who-the-hell-cares Chinese food.

In college I had a thing for the local Chinese place.  No shiz, it was called Dong Fong.  So wrong…on Friday night in the area you could always hear someone yell, “I want the DONG!”  Ew.  Except it was reallyreally good.  The General Tso’s was famous.  Someone even made an ironic T-shirt about it.  After class ended Friday I’d go for a run, call down and place my order, shower, put on some clean PT’s, pick it up at Grant Circle with all the other Cadoodles, then come back to my room and chow down.  Went down like a rock, lemme tell ya.  Ah, memories.

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It’s a miracle I didn’t have a stroke.

Crispy Orange Beef
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Serves: 3-4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb stew beef (chunks, strips, whatever)
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • ½ t garlic powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • 1 T lemon zest
  • 1 T grated ginger
  • 1 egg
  • ½ c arrowroot powder
  • Juice of 4 oranges (about ¾-1 cup)
  • ½ t garlic powder
  • 1 T grated ginger
  • 1 T arrowroot dissolved in 1 T water
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 2 T honey (optional--omit for 21DSD and Whole30 compliance)
Instructions
  1. Place the beef in a mixing bowl with the olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, rice vinegar, ginger, and lemon zest.
  2. Mix well, cover, and marinate at room temp for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Add the egg and ½ c arrowroot to the bowl with the beef and marinade. Toss well to coat--it'll be a pasty texture.
  4. Heat some oil in a heavy pot or pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Fry the beef in batches, browning lightly on all sides. Remove onto a pan covered in paper towels.
  6. When you're done frying, pour off the frying oil and reduce the heat to medium.
  7. Add the orange juice, garlic, ginger, and vinegar to de-glaze the pan.
  8. Add the dissolved arrowroot and honey, whisking well until it begins to thicken.
  9. Add the beef back to the sauce and stir to coat.
  10. Serve immediately.

Smoky Southwest Oven Kebabs

My summer break is almost over…first day of class is on Friday and I’m a little depressed about it.  I just spent the last week and change in Oregon visiting family and am pretty convinced I’m meant to live there forever.  I also realized I have way too few tattoos and facial piercings to fit in anywhere in Portland.  That’s OK…anywhere I can get scrambled eggs and lox at 2 am is A-OK with me!  But now I’m back at my boring old life about to start four months of boring old premed and live off of salad and hard-boiled eggs.  OK that would be gross…so I’m playing with some new ideas for quick and easy meals with as few ingredients as possible and as little prep as possible while still being…I dunno…not boring.  Like everything else in my life.

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So let’s welcome these kebabs to my regular rotation.  I have a serious addiction to anything and everything Tessemae’s…my newest love: Southwest Ranch.  You should get some.  And then make the fastest dinner ever.  Have fun with whatever add-ons you’d like…I used bacon and cherry tomatoes and they were outstanding but any veggie…or even fruit like pineapple or mango…would be awesome.  Crazy flavorful and juicy and are ready in less time it takes to grab a shower after a long day.

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You’re welcome.

Smoky Southwest Oven Kebabs
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Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs Stew Beef or Beef Chunks
  • 1 c Tessemae's Southwest Ranch Dressing
  • Add-ins of choice (veggies, bacon, etc)
Instructions
  1. Toss your beef and dressing in a big plastic Ziploc and squish around to coast the meat.
  2. Marinate for at least an hour but you can even prep this overnight and store in the fridge.
  3. Spear meat onto kebab sticks with whatever add-ons you want. Or on they're own. Either way. No pressure.
  4. Arrange on a greased baking sheet.
  5. Roast at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until you achieve desired done-ness.

 

Coconut Beef Curry

I can’t believe I’d never used fresh leeks before now.  SO much…RICHER…than onions on a dish like this.  And rich is good when you want to ditch the sugar and not feel like you’re eating rat food.  Not even bird food…birds at least eat, like, berries and stuff.  And Diane’s sugar detox only allows ONE…UNO…green apple and green banana a day, and I can’t stand either of those things.  So bring on the coconut milk!

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This recipe is my take on this GF, Vegan chickpea curry that popped up on How Sweet It Is a couple weeks ago.  Literally, all I did was swap out the chickpeas for beef and some eggplant and add more coconut milk and curry paste, so full credit goes to Ms. Jessica.  This curry would also be lovely with chicken, pork, or shrimp…or even on its own as a veggie entree or side!

Adapted from this recipe.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Coconut Beef Curry
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Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 2-ish T coconut oil
  • 2 leeks, sliced (clean and trimmed)
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • ½ t salt
  • ½ t pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ t freshly grated ginger
  • 4 T red curry paste
  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • 1 c sugar snap peas
  • 2 cans full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 pound stew or stir-fry beef
Instructions
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the coconut oil.
  2. Add the beef and brown on all sides, then remove and set aside.
  3. Add the leeks, red peppers, salt and pepper to the beef drippings and stir to toss.
  4. Cover and cook until the vegetables have slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add in the garlic, ginger and curry paste and stir to coat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add in the peas, eggplant, and coconut milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the beef and allow the curry to simmer for 30 minutes or more.
  8. Serve alone or over cauliflower rice.

 

Sloppy Joes

Remember these?  Maybe?  I’ve been making a lot of my older recipes lately and this was WAY overdue.  Easily one of my favorites, even Ross loved it and, like me, the old sloppy joes with the Hunt’s sauce from a can was a childhood staple.

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You can serve this stuff over cauliflower rice, veggies, just straight from a bowl like chili (with some cheese!) or however you’d like!

Sloppy Joes
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Cook time: 
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Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1 (28oz) can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 T Rice Vinegar
  • Juice of ½ Lemon
  • 1 t Sea Salt
  • 1 t Black Pepper
  • 1 t Dry Mustard
  • ¼ t Cumin
  • 2 t Fresh Grated Ginger (or ⅛ t powdered)
  • 1 t Garlic Powder
  • 3 T Tomato Paste
Instructions
  1. Brown the beef in the oil and transfer to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion to the beef drippings and saute until translucent, then add to the beef.
  2. Puree the tomatoes in a food processor, then add to the beef and onion.
  3. Add the vinegar, lemon juice, and seasonings. Bring to a simmer, then add the tomato paste. Whisk to eliminate any lumps.
  4. Turn the heat down to low and allow to cook for 2-3 hours. If you can leave it for longer, even better–the flavor will be even more rich!

 

Boston Baked Beef

My husband gave me the crazy eyes after he inhaled his third full-sized portion of this stuff.

“YOU F**KING BETTER MAKE THIS AGAIN.”

*Sigh*  “Yes, dear.  If I must.”  He’s so sweet.

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But god, I’m so slow at posting things anymore.  You would be, too, if you had 87 million pages of reading last night on quantum mechanics.  No, really, I did.  Maybe a little less than 87 million.  But it took a solid hour and a half out of what used to be my time to lay on the couch and do absolutely nothing.  Not OK.

I got the idea for this particular concoction from our little wekeend vacay in Boston.  Shocker.  If I have any native Bostonites reading, I have to apologize and tet you know that I totally would have used a bean pot if I had one.  I swear.  Sorry.  I loveloveloved baked beans when I was young thanks in part to an awful lot of family dinners out at Kenny Rodgers’s Roasters…true story.  Clearly it’s been a looooooong time since I have eaten beans.  Or eaten at Kenny Rodgers’s Roasters.

Like any good Paleo rendition of something that is by its very nature NOT Paleo, I replaced the central ingredient with meat.  I bet if I’d wanted a more bean-like texture I could have used diced sweet potatoes or something…but people always seem to deify beans because, you know…they have SOOO much protein.

Welp.  I’ll see your bean and raise you a moo cow, you silly Vegans, you.

4.3 from 3 reviews
Boston Baked Beef
Author: 
Prep time: 
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Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 12 Thick Slices Bacon, diced
  • 1 Large Onion, Diced
  • ⅓ c Molassas
  • 6 oz (1 small can) Tomato Paste
  • ⅓ c Grainy Mustard
  • 2 T Honey
  • 2 t Salt
  • 1 t Black Pepper
  • ⅓ c Apple Cider Vinegar
Instructions
  1. In a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat, brown the beef in some oil, then set aside, reserving the drippings.
  2. In the hot beef juice, add the bacon and cook until crisp.
  3. Add the onions and stir for a few minutes, then add the molassas, tomato paste, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to medium.
  4. Stir vigorously to break up chunks and prevent sticking, using a whisk if you need to. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
  5. Add your beef and stir until well combined.
  6. Let simmer for 2-3 hours.
  7. Serve over cauliflower rice, regular white rice, or just on it's own!

 

Sweet and Spicy Ginger “Hamburger Helper”

Yay!  Another super easy meal! Here’s the deal you guys…I’m in waaaaaay over my head at school.  I come home with my brain leaking out of my ears and have zero energy.  I wish I could come up with fancy schmancy meals like I used to (remember this?)…but I can’t.  At least not till the weekend, and this last weekend I had a wedding to be at in Boston.  It was at the aquarium…how cool is that?!  I wanted to be a marine biologist soooooo bad when I was younger.  Still kinda do, actually.  I mean, swim with the dolphins for a living?  Um, yes please.  Seriously, cocktail hour was INSIDE the aquarium…we could just walk around and geek out over fish with a bar set up around every corner.  Total bliss.

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OK so this meal.  It was kind of invented on the fly because, like I can imagine happens in many a kitchen on many a weeknight, all I had was a package of ground beef.  SO I was all like, “OMG I wish there was a Paleo Hamburger Helper sitting in the pantry!”  …And then I was like, “Holy crap!  That’s a great idea!”

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Taking stock of all I had, I came up with this little concoction.  I used palm syrup in this instance and I highly recommend you find a bottle–I think I got it at Natural Grocer but I’m sure Whole Foods has it.  However, honey or molassas will work just as well…or just leave it out if you want to nix the sugar.

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Serve over cauliflower rice or just on its own.  Hint…mix it all up with some spaghetti squash and it’s like Chinese takeout :-)

Sweet and Spicy Ginger "Hamburger Helper"
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Ground Beef (any ground meat will work!)
  • 2 T Coconut Oil
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 1 t Salt
  • 1 t Ground Ginger
  • 1 T Coconut Aminos
  • 1 T Palm Syrup (or honey), optional
  • 1, 16 oz bag Frozen Veggies (broccoli or green beans are great for this recipe)
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil over medium-high in a skillet and add the onion and garlic.
  2. When the onion is translucent, add the beef and brown it well.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add the bell pepper, salt, ginger, palm syrup, and coconut aminos. Simmer for a few minutes to let the flavors marry.
  4. Add the frozen veggies, stir to combine, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve over cauliflower rice or as desired.

 

Triple Meat Italian Meatballs

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There’s something to be said for a rich, hearty, tomato-saucey, meaty, Italian meal on a cold night in late spring.  Obviously a nice Chianti makes it even better.

The secret to success with these babies is the triple meat combo.  You get the juiciness and richness of the beef, fattiness of the pork, and a nice kick of flavor from the veal.  The texture is unmatched by your run-of-the mill beef meatballs and this combination of seasonings is pretty much my go-to for Italian-inspired dishes.  It’s also a very easy meal that can be prepped ahead of time if need be.  I made this batch in the morning and cooked them shortly after I got home after work.

Ah, work…I don’t miss it.  I’m functionally unemployed now that I’m officially out of the Army for good.  It’s…liberating.  Class starts in a week and a half but until then I’m catching up with family and friends.  I love living so close to loved ones for the first time since I left home.  Don’t get me wrong, I got to visit and live in some great places the last 8 years and I have so many experiences that have made me who I am, but I guess its’s time to reconnect with my inner homebody.
I will say, however, that I most definitely did NOT miss this East Coast humidity.  I walked outside yesterday morning and felt like I got body-slammed with a wall of moist heat.  Ugh.  I already miss the crisp Colorado mountain mornings…but then again I don’t miss the snot rocks.  Those are pretty painful in case you didn’t know.

4.0 from 1 reviews
Triple Meat Italian Meatballs
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 lb Ground Pork
  • 1 lb Ground Veal
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 1 t Salt
  • 1 t Dried Oregano
  • 1 t Dried Basil
  • 1 t Dried Rosemary
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Large Onion, diced
  • 28 oz Tomato Sauce, commercial or homemade
Instructions
  1. Combine the beef, pork, veal, eggs, olive oil, and seasoning in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Gently mix everything together until just blended. DO NOT OVERMIX.
  3. Heat some oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  4. Drop golf ball sized meatballs into the pot, browning on all sides, then remove to a plate and continue with the remaining meat mixture.
  5. When all meatballs are cooked, add the minced garlic and chopped onion to the drippings and sautee until the onions are transluscent.
  6. Add the tomato sauce and meatballs, then reduce heat to medium low.
  7. Allow the sauce to simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  8. Serve over spaghetti squash or on their own.