Alison’s Turkey Meatballs
Taking full advantage of my youngest child, Alison, on her last winter break from college, I asked her to make one of her own recipes to post on my blog this week. If you are also a mom, you might identify with the never-ending task of deciding what everyone is having for dinner. Every. Night. If your significant-other is hands-on in the kitchen, you are very, very lucky. My hubs has many wonderful qualities, but I’ve lost hope on his cooking/meal planning abilities. This is where my impressionable and teachable children came in very handy.
You might be surprised how much they actually absorb from you, even down to your shopping style. Alison is the only college student I know who bargain shops for fresh produce at the outdoor Italian market in Philadelphia, frequents the butcher shop and picks up the rest at her local Whole Foods. (We have a sneaking suspicion she also picks up some items at the convenience mart, based on her high gas card bill. Either that or she’s running produce across state lines.) But, hey, she is crafty. Check out the ingredients for her very healthy meatballs, above.
Using finely chopped mushrooms instead of bread crumbs for filler cuts down on carbs and calories and adds nutritional value. (You can use a food processor or chop them by hand.)
In addition to the mushrooms, Alison adds chopped onion, minced garlic, roughly chopped fresh spinach, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, paprika (her favorite spice), and eggs. She told me that she adapted this recipe from her Gram’s (my mom’s) recipe, and though these are her ideal ingredients, sometimes she makes them with whatever she has on hand, and she does not typically measure. (I followed her, taking notes, today so that I could post the following recipe.) Baking the meatballs on a nonstick baking sheet is quick & easy as well as healthy.
Teaching kids to cook pays off in so many ways, I am only beginning to realize how much in the past few years. First, and most (selfishly) obvious, are those days when you just *can’t even* think about making dinner, you want someone to cook for you, and of course you want it to be delicious. Maybe you live somewhere where takeout is a viable option, but where we live, take-out options are pretty terrible. (Not delicious, and certainly not healthy.) To my hubs credit, he is always game for picking-up or going out for dinner if I don’t feel like cooking, but I really prefer home-cooking most days.
Two other positive outcomes of teaching your kids to cook are health and economic benefits, especially when they go off to college or into the world on their own. Eating out all of the time is not good for the body or the bank account. Sure, it’s messy and time consuming to teach them but, believe me, all of the spilled flour and milk will be swept up and wiped away when they’re gone and the relatively small efforts have paid off immensely in general health and savings. And, it’s never too late! Alison didn’t have much interest in cooking until she was in high-school, and then even more when she was getting ready to leave for college.
One of my favorite memories of getting Alison ready for college happened when we were stocking up on supplies. We were walking down every aisle of the wholesale club and we came upon the packaged convenience food section. She asked if I thought she should get a large case of “Easy Mac”, instant macaroni & cheese, since that’s what she felt was part of the college diet. I asked her in return, “Have you ever eaten it before? Do you think you would like it?” She answered, “No,” to both. I said, “Well, there’s your answer.” Boy, am I glad today that I didn’t buy her that case of Easy-Mac!
She clearly figured out how to survive in a MUCH healthier way. Tonight we ate the meatballs with fresh basil pesto on roasted spaghetti squash. (Another staple in Alison’s kitchen) I made sauteed broccoli rabe and cherry tomatoes, two of our favorite veggies (because I can’t just sit still in my own kitchen). With much motherly pride, I report that these are the most DELICIOUS turkey meatballs I have ever had:
- 2 lbs ground turkey
- 10 oz. mushrooms
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
- 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 large handful spinach leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 eggs
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place mushrooms in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. (Or finely chop mushrooms by hand). Add finely chopped mushrooms to ground turkey, garlic and onion, in a large bowl. Mix by hand until just combined.
- Add spinach leaves, Worcestershire, spices and eggs to turkey mixture. Mix by hand until well combined. Shape meat and vegetable mixture into golf-sized balls. Place meatballs on a baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.
- Bake meatballs in the oven for 20 minutes. Enjoy with your favorite sauce.
- These meatballs are delicious with spaghetti squash for a healthy dinner.
- The cooked meatballs can be frozen and reheated later.