Cheesy Italian Meatballs

Cheesy Italian Meatballs

Cheesy Italian Meatballs

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Cheesy Italian Meatballs are tender flavourful beef meatballs nestled and baked in a rustic tomato sauce and topped with plenty of cheese for a delicious family-style meal. These meatballs are great over pasta, but my favourite is simply serving them with toasted bread to sop up the amazing sauce.

Let’s talk meatballs! Beef meatballs are great, but adding Italian sausage makes them fantastic. Adding ground Italian sausage adds all the wonderful flavours of the sausage like fennel, oregano and basil, plus it adds pork and a little bit of fat. The combination makes a superb meatball and the same theory applies to meat sauce.

Meatball tips: 
-Use a cookie scoop to portion the meatballs so they are the same size and cook evenly.
-Use a dab of water in the palm of your hand when rolling the meatballs. The water prevents the meatballs from sticking to your hands.
-Don’t over-mix the meat.
-Brown on all sides to get the most flavour.

The sauce couldn’t be more simple. Crushed canned tomatoes married with herbs, wine and broth. But what makes it great is the gentle simmering reduction of it with the meatballs while the dish is baking. The tomatoes reduce to just the right consistency and get flavoured from the juices from the meatballs. Top it all off with a generous handful of cheese and you’ve got a great meal the whole family will love.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

Cheesy Italian Meatballs
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Cheesy Italian Meatballs

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 16 ounces lean ground beef
  • 6-8 ounces mild Italian sausage
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil

Sauce

  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 20 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

Meatballs

  • Add all ingredients except olive oil to a large bowl. Mix gently with a wooden spoon or clean hands until combined well. Scoop meatballs onto a clean tray using a 2 tbsp scoop. With lightly dampened hands roll meatballs smooth.
  • Heat oil in an oven-safe skillet and add meatballs in a single layer. Cook meatballs until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes. Remove to a clean plate and set aside.

Sauce

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Add diced onion to the same skillet as the meatballs and sauté for several minutes until starting to soften. Add minced garlic and continue to cook for an additional minute.
  • Add white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any cooked bits on the bottom of the pan. Add chicken broth and simmer liquid for about 2 minutes to reduce slightly.
  • Add tomatoes, oregano, paprika, and chili flakes. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
  • Add meatballs by tucking them into the sauce. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, stir and bake for another 20 minutes.
  • Stir once more and top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese has melted, 5-10 minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped Italian parsley if desired and serve with pasta or crusty bread.

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Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Chicken

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Chicken

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta

with Chicken

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Weeknight cooking may seem daunting at times when trying to juggle feeding your family, appointments and activities.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, some of the best dishes are quick and simply. Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Chicken is a fantastic combination of garlic, sun-dried tomato pesto and cream.   This gloriously creamy pasta dish is a perfect family meal yet delicious enough for company. 

I enjoy boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this recipe but you can easily use boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead if that is your preference.  Shrimp is also a fantastic combination as well. Or skip the protein all together for a great meatless meal option. Using store bought sun-dried tomato pesto helps to make this recipe quick and easy.  There are plenty of brands out there to choose from and I cannot say that one is better than the other is, so find one you like and keep it at the ready.  You’ll want this gorgeous dish on repeat!!

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Chicken

Cook Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces fettuccine
  • 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs 3-4 depending on size
  • as needed salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomato pesto
  • as needed freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions in well-salted water. Drain well, reserving a cup of pasta water.
  • While the pasta is cooking, season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add chicken and cook until browned on both sides and cooked through. About 5-6 minutes per side.
  • Remove the chicken to a clean dish and cover it with aluminum foil to keep it warm.
  • To the same skillet add the minced garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes over low heat.
  • Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up the browned bits left in the pan and allow the wine to reduce slightly.
  • Add chicken broth, stir and reduce for 1-2 minutes.
  • Stir in heavy cream and reduce for 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened.
  • Add sun-dried tomato pesto and stir over low heat until combined. Remove from heat.
  • Slice cooked chicken into strips.
  • Add chicken and pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a generous splash of pasta water. Toss to combine well over low heat.
  • Serve immediately with extra Parmesan cheese if desired.

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Beef & Snow Pea Stir Fry

Beef & Snow Pea Stir Fry

Beef & Snow Pea Stir Fry

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Beef & Snow Pea Stir Fry

Hello everyone!!  It’s been awhile since my last blog post and I am excited to share my Beef & Snow Pea Stir Fry. At times life calls for focus elsewhere, and far away to elsewhere I went. There was a time when I would have exhausted myself to do it all, but to what end I had to ask myself. As I get older, I realize that I am a priority as much as anything and doing something for the sake of just getting it done is not the same as doing it for the joy it brings me.  Sooo, now that I have moved, dealt with the death of my mother, moved again, cleaned up a hoarder’s home, renovated my own home and assisted my father with a broken femur, I am ready to get back to me. And by me, I mean food of course LOL! 

I’ve truly missed being part of the foodie community and participating in my passion.  This creative outlet and meaningful pursuit bring me a lot of joy. I’m also very excited to share that I’ve finally stepped into the world of video. It’s been great to learn and challenge myself, and I’m sure that my “being on camera” nerves will calm as it becomes my norm. You can find me on YouTube @compelledtocook and as time goes I will include videos here on the blog for some of my existing posts. My channel is very new and I still have plenty to learn and improve upon, but I hope you’ll join me in my endeavour.  Be sure to subscribe so you never miss a great recipe video. If you’ve been hanging around wondering if I’d ever post again, I thank you for your patience, and if you’re new to my blog, I welcome you.

Beef slices

Beef & Snow Pea Stir Fry is quick, simple and flavourful.  Thinly sliced beef gets fried quickly over high heat to keep it tender, while crisp and healthy snow peas balance the umami “ish” sauce. Let’s talk about the beef for a moment. There are several cuts that work well, and I have a couple of tricks to create tender, silky beef. My cuts of choice are tenderloin, strip loin or flank steak. Regardless of the cut you choose it is imperative that you cut it thinly across the natural grain of the meat to ensure a chewable bite.

The second trick is to add a small amount of baking soda (mixed with soy sauce) to the slices and allow to marinate. The baking soda helps to break down the meat fibres and create a silky texture. If using tenderloin, the need to marinate is less because it’s already a very tender cut of meat, however, I still do. Just marinate it for a shorter length of time, about 30-60 minutes. If using other cuts I recommend marinating for 1-2 hours. Please know that more soda does NOT mean more tender. It only adds a sharp taste to the meat, so resist the urge to do so.  Beef and Snow Pea Stir Fry is wonderful served over rice or your favourite noodle.  Enjoy!

Beef & Snow Pea Stir Fry

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Beef & Snow Pea Stir Fry

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Marinating time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

Beef

  • 10 ounces beef, thinly sliced across the grain, see notes
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Stir Fry

  • 10-12 ounces snow peas
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup beef broth, cold
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • as needed canola oil
  • as needed scallions, thinly sliced
  • as needed sesame seeds

Instructions

Beef

  • Toss beef with ginger and minced garlic.
  • In a small bowl stir together soy sauce and baking soda. Pour over beef and mix well to evenly coat the beef slices (I use my hands to ensure it's mixed well). Set in the fridge to marinate for 30-120 minutes depending on cut used. (see notes)
  • While the beef is marinating whisk together beef broth and cornstarch (see notes). Stir in oyster sauce, sugar and chili flakes.

Stir Fry

  • Prep snow peas by trimming the ends and removing the side string.
  • Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat and add a generous splash of oil. When the oil is hot add the beef, separating the slices with your hands as you add it. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until just cooked through and starting to brown. Remove to a clean bowl and cover.
  • Add the 1/4 cup of water and snow peas to the wok and cook uncovered for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until most of the water has cooked off and the peas are starting to soften but are still slightly crisp (they will continue to cook in the sauce).
  • Add the sauce to the snow peas and cook for about a minute, stirring until the sauce fully thickens. Add the beef and stir to combine and warm.
  • Serve over rice or desired noodles and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.

Notes

-Several cuts of beef will work.  I enjoy tenderloin or strip loin, however, flank steak will work well too. Be sure to cut the beef into thin strips across the grain.
-If using tenderloin, marinating for 30-60 minutes is enough, it's already a tender cut.  If using strip loin or flank 1-2 hours is best.
-Cornstarch dissolves better in cool liquids, so if your broth is hot, allow it to cool first.  It will also dissolve better in the broth as opposed to the thick oyster sauce.

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Spinach and Feta Shakshuka

Spinach and Feta Shakshuka

Spinach and Feta Shakshuka

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Spinach and Feta Shakshuka ready to serve from a shallow braiser.

Meatless meals can be so darn good! Spinach and Feta Shakshuka is a quick and easy vegetarian meal that has a crazy amount of nutrition packed into it. Eggs on their own are very nutritious, add in spinach, leeks and legumes and you’ve got a healthy dose of vitamins A, C, K and D, not to mention loads of protein and fibre. This lovely dish packs a lot of flavour too, plus it’s prime for serving for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

The preparation of ingredients for Spinach and Feta Shakshuka.
Spinach and Feta Shakshuka in a shallow braiser ready to cook the eggs.

There are plenty of green shakshuka variations out there, but I love the classic feta and dill combination of this one. It’s bursting with fresh flavours of dill and lemon, and the spinach is a great pairing with the eggs. I’ve opted to use cannellini beans, however, other legumes such as chickpeas would be great as well. I find the beans round out the dish and make it rustic and very satisfying. I also suggest serving this dish with crusty, toasted bread. You’ll need it to dunk into the perfectly soft eggs and scoop up the saucy greens. Enjoy!

Spinach and Feta Shakshuka ready to serve from a shallow braiser.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

Spinach and Feta Shakshuka ready to serve from a shallow braiser.
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Spinach and Feta Shakshuka

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings 3 people

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks, well cleaned
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 7 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 3/4 cup cooked cannellini beans, see note
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 each lemon
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 each green onions

Instructions

  • Thinly slice the leeks and green onions. Heat oil in a large shallow skillet or braiser. Add leeks and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until starting to soften. Stir in broth, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Simmer for 4-5 until leels are tender and most of the broth has cooked out.
  • Add spinach and toss gently with leeks until wilted. Stir in beans, dill and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Make 6 large indentations and crack an egg into each. Sprinkle evenly with feta cheese. Cover and cook on medium heat until egg whites are just set and the centers still jiggle, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with sliced green onions and the remaining tbsp of fresh dill. Serve with toasted bread.

Notes

-I used cannellini beans for this recipe and enjoyed them in the dish.   Chickpeas would be another great choice.

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Wor Wonton Soup

Wor Wonton Soup

Wor Wonton Soup

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Wor Wonton Soup served in a shallow black bowl on a bamboo mat with a broken fortune cookie in the background.

You’ll want to skip the takeout when you can make flavour-packed Wor Wonton Soup at home. It’s incredibly easy and quick once all the components are ready. I prefer to make homemade wontons and pork for this recipe because both are just so much better than store-bought in my opinion. I’ve included links for both, so I encourage you to be adventurous and try both. For this soup, I’ve chosen to use broccoli and carrots for my vegetables, however, feel free to sub in baby bok choy, water chestnuts, snow peas or baby corn to suit your liking.

Prepped pork wontons, pork char sui, shrimp and vegetables ready for Wor Wonton Soup.

The biggest trick to Wor Wonton Soup is the timing. I’ve dabbled with several different timing arrangements and found that the vegetables will cook in the same time it takes the wontons to cook. Therefore, adding them to the simmering broth at the same time is essential. Overcooking either is undesirable, to say the least. The same can be said for the shrimp and pork too. The shrimp will cook in no more than 2 minutes and the pork only needs to be warmed as it’s already cooked. So be sure to stick around the pot, the whole process takes only 4-5 minutes, so it’s not the time to do even the quickest of choirs.

Wor Wonton Soup served in a shallow black bowl on a bamboo mat with a broken fortune cookie in the background.

I’ve included links for the Pork Char Siu and Pork Wontons. The extra pork can be tightly wrapped in a sealable bag and frozen for up to two months. The wontons can also be frozen in a single layer and then placed in a sealable container for up to a month. Extra wontons are easily cooked in a little broth, deep-fried or pan-fried. Trust me, they will not go to waste!! This is a wonderful soup that eats like a meal and it’s easier than you might think. Enjoy!

Pork Char Siu

Crispy Wontons

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

Wor Wonton Soup served in a shallow black bowl on a bamboo mat with a broken fortune cookie in the background.
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Wor Wonton Soup

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2-2 cups large bite-size broccoli pieces
  • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • 16 each pork wontons see note
  • 12 large shrimp, deveined and tail removed
  • 6 ounces Chinese BBQ pork (Pork Char Siu), thinly sliced see note
  • 2 tbsp green onion, thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • as needed sesame oil

Instructions

  • In a large pot heat broth and soy sauce to a gentle simmer. Add broccoli, carrots and pork wontons and maintain a simmer. Cook for 4-5 minutes until wontons are cooked and vegetables are just tender. Add shrimp and sliced pork when about 2 minutes of cooking time remains.
  • Divide soup into shallow bowls and garnish with green onions and a drizzle of sesame oil.

Notes

-The prep time noted does not include the time to make the wontons or pork char siu if making either from scratch.
-You can use store-bought wontons and pork char siu, however homemade is so much better and I've included a link to both in the post above.

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I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com