Chicken nugget meatballs

A few weeks ago I had an idea to make some simple chicken meatballs. Most of my kids will eat meatballs, so it's usually a good easy weeknight meal for us. With some pasta and a salad, we've got a good dinner and it isn't much work. But I wanted to lighted them up a bit this time, so I thought I'd make them with chicken instead of my usual combination of beef & pork (or frozen!). 

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And in doing so, something magical happened...

I mixed these up and started browning them, and tasted one. I realized that it tasted an awful lot like a chicken nugget (in a good way!). I have one super picky child who eats nothing, but chicken nuggets are on her very short list.

So I asked her if she would be willing to taste this thing I just made that tastes just like a chicken nugget. 

She agreed. And she liked it! I was giddy!

If you have an extreme picky eater, then you understand the joy you feel when you discover something they will eat that is homemade and relatively healthy.

I've made homemade chicken nuggets before, but it seemed so labor intensive that I didn't do it again. They had to be shaped like nuggets, and rolled in breading - a lot of work for nuggets. But for these I just used a cookie scoop to get the rough balls, and then finished rolling and dropped in a pan with some oil. I think because they had bread crumbs in the mix then they had a feeling of a crust, without having to actually crust them. It was easy and quick!

My original plan had been to plop all of these in a pot of sauce to finish cooking, but since she liked them I decided to not do that. I instead cooked them through and then put in a couple of oven proof dishes. I kept one dish of them plain, and the other I topped with sauce & cheese - so it had a bit of a chicken parmesan taste to it. 

This is definitely one of those guideline type of recipes. This is the approximate ingredients that I used, but these quantities are not mandatory and really it's more of an eyeball type thing. 

Ingredients:

  • ground white meat chicken - around 2 pounds
  • Italian style seasoned bread crumbs - a cup or so
  • eggs - 2 or 3
  • garlic powder - a teaspoon or so
  • onion powder - a teaspoon or so
  • fresh ground pepper
  • oil for cooking

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together except the oil. The consistency should be bit like dough - you should be able to form it into shape without it falling apart or seeming too wet. It's the combination of bread crumbs + eggs that help hold this together. If your mixture seems too wet, add a bit more bread crumbs. Too dry, add another egg.

Generally for this kind of thing it's a good idea to cook a little bit to taste and check for seasoning before you cook the whole lot. Seasoned bread crumbs can often have a lot of salt in them, so I wouldn't salt this much if at all until you've tasted. Pinch off a bit and put it in a hot pan to cook, and then taste. Then add salt as needed. Then when you are happy with the seasoning you can shape into meatballs. I use a small cookie scoop, drop the scooped bit into my hands, finish shaping into a ball, and then put in my pan.

Brown on all sides in a pan with a bit of vegetable oil over medium heat. They likely won't be cooked all the way through, so you'll need to either turn down your heat and cook for another 5-10 minutes, or you can put them in the oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes. 

You could also cook these from star to finish in the oven - I'd do a foil lined baking sheet, at 350 for probably 20-30 minutes.

We had ours with sauce & pasta. They'd be great just dipped in ketchup too. 

Enjoy!

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Lisa Marsh

Mom to two sets of twins.

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Butter Cookies

I came up with this cookie recipe a while back, and it only just came to me that I never shared it. These are melt in your mouth delicious, and super easy to make.  

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Enjoy! 

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Lisa Marsh

Mom to two sets of twins.

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Can you color brown eggs?

Yes! You totally can! 

I think we all got in such a habit of dying white eggs that we've just been convinced that brown eggs won't work. But they definitely do, and I think they make some of the prettiest colors. You have to let them sit in the dye a little longer to get the color to really soak in, but the wait is worth it. You end up with beautifully rich colors that I think look more "earthy" than the same store bought egg dye applied to white eggs. 

We did a little comparison - these eggs were all dyed with the standard old store bought egg dye, mixed with vinegar according to the package instructions for vibrant colors. The group on the left are brown eggs (except the blue row), the group on the right are white eggs. (and all the little white marks are just where my kids drew on the eggs with the wax crayon).

Can you dye brown eggs for Easter?

Brown eggs are usually more expensive, so I don't know that I would go out and buy them just for Easter egg dying. But if you have them and weren't sure if you could use them - go for it! I absolutely love how they turned out. 

 

 
 
How to dye brown eggs for easter! from WhatLisaCooks.com
 
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Lisa Marsh

Mom to two sets of twins.

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Pressure Cooker "Boiled" Eggs

I've tried every trick out there for cooking easy to peel eggs. EVERY. TRICK. And I don't think there was a single one that worked consistently. Some methods would work one time, and then not the next time.

Make hard or soft "boiled" eggs in your pressure cooker - perfect every time. This is fool proof. The peels just slide right off. From WhatLIsaCooks.com

Then I discovered cooking eggs in my pressure cooker.

I'm telling you - perfect eggs every time, and the shells practically fall off. 

If you have a pressure cooker and haven't hard cooked eggs in it yet, you must try. And if you like hard or soft boiled eggs but you don't have a pressure cooker - you must get one!

If you don't yet have an electric pressure cooker - let me just take a moment and tell you about mine. Don't be scared - they are not the dangerous things they used to be. They are electric and easy to program and super safe.

I have two! The first one I've had for several years and it is my favorite - is the Cuisinart Pressure cooker. It's a workhorse.  The second one I had to try because everyone was raving about it is the Instant Pot. They are both great, and they both have their advantages. The Instant Pot is a multi cooker - it can be a slow cooker and a pressure cooker and a rice cooker and a yogurt maker, and I guess it does even more than that because they call it a 7-in-1 cooker. If you really think that you will use all those other features, then it is a great choice. But as for just pressuring cooking, I like the Cuisinart best. It has more options for adjusting your pressure cooking settings, and more options for timing, simmering, and sauteeing your ingredients before you start the cooking cycle. Those things are also possible with the Instant Pot, but I just find the Cuisinart to be more intuitive and easier to program and use. Also, it's less expensive. Either way though, you can't go wrong. 

Anyway, back to the eggs. Here are the instructions.

Pressure Cooker Eggs:

Perfect soft cooked eggs in the pressure cooker. WhatLisaCooks.com
  • Place a rack or trivet in the bottom of your cooker pot
  • Add about a cup of water - I like to use hot water just to get it going faster. You want the water to be under the rack, not touching the eggs. (be sure to read the directions on your cooker for the minimum amount of liquid you can use - I think it's about a cup for most.) 
  • Carefully place eggs on the rack. A lot of recipes you read for this have you putting them in separate little cups or making little foil nests for them. I have never found this to be necessary and it just takes more time. Yes, occasionally one or two will crack, but I've found that this happens regardless of whether you "nest" them, so I really don't see the point. You can cook just one or two at a time if you prefer to eat them warm (best for soft cooked eggs), or I can fit about 10 at a time in my cooker without crowding them too much.
  • Close your cooker and set it to low pressure.
  • Cook according to the times below.
  • When your time is up - use the quick release method and get the eggs in an ice bath to quickly stop the cooking. I sometimes just dump a bunch of ice and cold water right in the pressure cooker pot on top of the eggs.  This is quicker than lifting them out one at a time. 
Just in time for Easter! Easy instructions for how to cook perfect eggs in your pressure cooker every time. from WhatLisaCooks.com

Cook times for pressure cooker eggs:

  • Soft Cooked: 3 minutes on low pressure, quick release, ice bath.  These will have still slightly runny yolks. I LOVE these for breakfast - either mashed up on toast or just lop of the top of the shell and eat them with a spoon. 
  • Medium Cooked: 4 minutes for on low pressure ,quick release, ice bath. These will have just solidified yolks, maybe sometimes with a small dot of wet still in the very center. This is my favorite if I'm making eggs to peel and eat whole for lunch or snack. I personally love to dip them in salt. I think this is also perfect for slicing on a salad. 
  • Hard Cooked: 5 minutes on low pressure, quick release, ice bath. These will have fully solid yolks. This is best for making deviled eggs or egg salad. 

 

But seeing is believing! You have to see how easy this is, so I made video. If you don't want to watch the whole cooking process, just skip forward to about the 4 minute mark, to see how they peel so easily that I can do it with one hand!

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Lisa Marsh

Mom to two sets of twins.

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Not-At-All Spicy Homemade Enchilada Sauce (and easy enchilada casserole)

Not-At-All Spicy Homemade Enchilada Sauce (and easy enchilada casserole)

I rarely buy canned enchilada sauce any more. Honestly it’s not because I’m being a princess about canned foods, but it’s because even ones labeled “mild” are too spicy for my kids. I think I've tried just about every brand of "mild" sauce I can find, and none of them are really all that mild. I love spicy foods, but my kids aren't there yet. So if I want them to enjoy the meal I am making, then I need to figure out ways to remove spice but preserve flavor.

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