(No offense, Mom, but I probably would have obliged with the grilled cheese had you employed more creativity than Kraft singles and ketchup. Like the brie, apple and nutella or sriracha, bacon, and avocado grilled cheeses that I spotted on A Cup of Jo recently. YUM.) Anyway...
Now there's Pinterest, providing a solution to your mental cooking block and saving kids (and boyfriends) everywhere from burnt GC's. After searching for a bit, I finally settled on two recipes that I thought sounded good and would work well together -- "the best broccoli of your life" and BBQ meatballs. Sure enough, they were delish, and I cannot wait to make them again!
BBQ Comfort Meatballs
adapted from The Pioneer Woman
- 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
- 3/4 cup quick oats
- 1 cup milk
- half an onion, finely diced (use half in meatballs, about 3 tbsp, and the rest in BBQ sauce)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- plenty of ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons canola oil (I'm Italian... obviously I used extra virgin olive oil instead)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- dash of Tabasco sauce (I like it spicy, so I used several dashes.)
- Sriracha! (J and I looooove this stuff, so I squeezed the bottle generously several times. Probably 4 tbsp, if not more. It gave the sauce a really nice heat!)
- In a bowl, combine beef and oats. Pour in the milk, then add the diced onion, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Roll the mixture into tablespoon-sized balls and stick in the fridge for 45 minutes to firm up.*
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a bowl, stir together ketchup, sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire, onions and Tabasco (and Sriracha!).
- Heat the canola oil (or EVOO) in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Dredge the meatballs in the flour, then brown in the hot skillet until light brown. As they finish, place them in a 9×13 baking dish.
- Drizzle the BBQ sauce evenly over each and every meatball in the baking dish.
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until hot and bubbly (it took about 35 minutes in my oven). Serve hot!
When I saw the pin that lead to this recipe, I didn't notice the "BBQ" component. It was a pleasant surprise, but J thought it'd be better as a meatloaf because of the flavors. I was inclined to agree, until I read this on the Pioneer Woman's blog: "They’re almost like little 'meatloaf balls,' with a lot more flavorful surface area than a big slice of meatloaf." She makes a valid point, but I don't think you can go wrong either way.
*I found an adapted version of this recipe on another blog, which suggested refrigerated the meatballs for 45 minutes instead of in the freezer for five. If you're roasting another dish at a higher heat beforehand (i.e. the best broccoli of your life!), then I'd stick to refrigerating them for timing's sake.
"Best Broccoli of Your Life" aka Roasted Broccoli with Basil, Pine Nuts, Lemon and Parmesan
recipe from Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics (and The Amateur Gourmet), inspired via Pinterest
When I saw the caption on the pin for this recipe, I was skeptical. But intrigued. And let me tell you... it's no joke. This broccoli was amazing. And besides the extra calories from the pine nuts and parmesan (whose protein offsets my guilt), this is a really healthy dish as well.
Let's get to it.
- 4-5 lbs. broccoli (about two large bunches)
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper (I eyeballed this and the salt, but I would definitely use more pepper than this)
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 1 lemon
- 3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, julienned
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 425 °F.
- Cut broccoli into florets and trim or remove most of the woody stems. If you're washing your broccoli, it's crucial you dry it thoroughly! But an oven heated to 425 degrees is going to kill the germs anyway, so I didn't bother washing it beforehand.
- Place broccoli and garlic on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Drizzle with EVOO and add salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly.
- Roast for 20-25 minutes. (It took 25 for mine, but I wanted it extra crispy.)
- Toast the pine nuts on medium-low heat. Your nose will let you know when they are done! Be careful not to burn them.
- Julienne basil by placing leaves on top of one another, and rolling together tightly. This is the best trick to quickly julienne basil!
- Remove broccoli from oven. Drizzle with a little more EVOO and top with lemon zest (I left this out because I'm lazy), juice of one lemon, toasted pine nuts, parmesan, and basil. Toss to combine and serve warm.
Proof that this meal is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G? I sent the leftovers with J for his lunch today, and got this text:
Hahaha, I love that last text. Perhaps the way to a man's heart really is through his stomach.
Cooking Lesson Learned
If you're making two dishes like these that have varied cooking temperatures and long cook times, timing can get tricky. I decided to roast my broccoli first, then lower the heat and cook the meatballs. When the meatballs had about 5 minutes to go, I popped the broccoli back in and let them warm back up in the 350 degree oven.