Tag Archives for " dinner "

Meatball Madness: A Healthy Recipe Everyone Will Enjoy

Do you know how to make homemade meatballs?

Let’s face it. Meatballs have kid appeal. We sing songs about them. We see them in movies and on TV. We have pictures of them in storybooks and coloring books. In fact, they are easily identifiable to most of the world. They span the globe from North America to Europe, the Mediterranean to Asia, and they are universal and extremely versatile. Even my pickiest eater  (who has never allowed one to cross his lips) can pick one out of a picture lineup. But how on earth do you make a good one?

Thanks to one of my dearest friends, I learned a simple way to make the lightest, most tender meatballs on the planet. The secret is in the cooking method. Put away your skillets, and no baking pan required. You won’t even need to turn them! Instead of baking or frying the meatballs, we drop them into a pot of simmering broth. 

The best part? When they are cooked through, they float to the surface of the liquid! Simply scoop them out with a slotted spoon and cool. This recipe makes approximately 50 meatballs, but it all depends on the size you like them. The kids love them in miniature, but my husband and I prefer them a little bit bigger.

Meatball Madness! Easy and Delicious

For this recipe, you will require 6 to 8 cups of beef stock (your own or premade) or a 50/50 mix of beef stock and ground tomatoes for cooking. Bring the stock to a simmer in a small stockpot or a deep sauce pan.

  • Author:
  • Cuisine: Dinner


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 pound lean ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 ounces bread crumbs
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Splash of red wine
  • Additional seasoning as you prefer


  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Gently squeeze them together until well mixed. The texture should be moist and soft. If it is dry, add another egg. Using a leveled tablespoon or cookie scoop (my personal favorite), shape the mixture into balls.
  2. Bring the stock to a simmer.
  3. Gently place 10 to 12 meatballs in the simmering stock, not too many at a time, because you want to clearly see them float to the top when they are cooked. As they float up, scoop them out with a slotted spoon.
  4. Use immediately in your favorite recipe, or allow them to cool completely if you are freezing them. You can also skim the fat off the stock used to cook the meatballs, and freeze it in ice cube trays to use in other recipes!


The Meatball Madness Sub:
A family favorite at our house on movie night, this is a snap to prepare. Place precooked (thawed) meatballs in the slow cooker with your favorite spaghetti or pizza sauce. Don’t be afraid to add a cup of pureed carrots or squash to this dish—they blend right in and enhance the flavor perfectly. Cook on the lowest setting for 6 to 8 hours. Serve on lightly toasted submarine buns with your favorite cheese melted on top. Who needs fast food when home-cooked is simple and tastes this good?

About Jenn Sprung: A full-time Mom to three wonderful children, with a keen interest in boosting the nutrition in every bite. Because in my world, every bite counts! Visit Jenn’s blog Cleverly Disguised as Cake for additional sneaky resources or learn more about Pediatric Feeding Disorders and how to help your child.


47 Fire Roasted Tomato Creamy Crock Pot Chicken is a family favorite. Made with fire roasted tomatoes it's full flavor is a keeper!

Fire Roasted Tomato Creamy Crock Pot Chicken

This recipe is my family’s favorite. I love freezing leftovers for a quick 6 o’clock what-to-make-for-dinner fix.



To freeze, simply allow the “sauce” to cool completely and store in a freezer bag or container. Thaw out, warm up, and serve over fresh boiled pasta.

I stumbled upon a similar recipe on Pinterest a while back, but when I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand, I substituted the fire-roasted tomatoes and took out some of the spices the recipe called for.

As you can see, a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese adds the final cheesy touch we all love. Enjoy!

Related: Top 5 Lunchboxes We’ve Tested

Fire-Roasted Tomato Creamy Slow-Cooker Chicken

Fire Roasted Tomato Creamy Crock Pot Chicken is a family favorite. Made with fire roasted tomatoes it's full flavor is a keeper!

4.5 from 8 reviews

  • Author:
  • Cuisine: Dinner


  • 3 large chicken breasts (about 1-1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 16-ounce bag frozen corn
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (okay to use light)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper


  1. Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker. Set for 4 to 6 hours on high.
  2. Stir a few times throughout the cook cycle.*
  3. After 4 hours, shred the chicken with two forks and mix well.
  4. Serve over the pasta of your choice.


* Stirring every once in a while is key; otherwise, your dairy might crust and possibly burn around the slow-cooker edges. If you need to do a “set it and leave it” for 3 to 4 hours, leave the milk and cream cheese out, and add them in the final 30 minutes. Mix well to incorporate.


  • Serving Size: serves 6



Southern Gumbo with Holiday Leftovers

What do you do with holiday leftovers?

Holiday dinners are filled with delicious roasted meats. Your holiday menu might have included roasted chickens, quails, turkey, duck, pork, lamb, or beef. You have a tray of leftovers in your refrigerator but are tired of warming up the same hot plate or making a leftover sandwich.

Related: Top 5 Lunchboxes We’ve Tested

Since nothing goes to waste in my house, this easy gumbo is the perfect solution to my leftover woes. Go ahead, get adventurous, and boil your carcasses (if you have one) to make your stock.  Want to learn how to make a roux? Click here.

Southern Gumbo

Serves 6 to 8 bowls.

  • Author:
  • Cuisine: Dinner


  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, such as andouille or kielbasa, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 pound boneless chicken meat or turkey, cut into chunks or shredded
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 cups chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 1 tablespoon file powder (optional)
  • Cooked rice, for serving


  1. Combine the oil and flour in a large pot over medium heat (use a cast iron one if you have it). Stirring slowly and constantly for 20 to 25 minutes, make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate. Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and continue to stir for 4 to 5 minutes, or until wilted. Add the meats, spices, and bay leaves. Continue to stir for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken broth. Stir until the roux mixture and broth are well combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.
  2. Before serving, skim off any fat that rises to the surface. Remove from the heat. Stir in file powder, if using. Remove the bay leaves, and serve in deep bowls.
  3. Add 1/4 cup of cooked rice on top.



Homemade Taco Seasoning

Do you buy that packet of taco seasoning from the store with who-knows-what in it?

I am a big fan of making my own seasonings because I am able to adjust the spiciness, salt, and quality of ingredients. I also choose to make my own of something I might use often. I find taco seasoning to be extremely versatile and useful on many of my go-to recipes: roasts, tacos, quesadillas, scrambled eggs, dips, soups—just to name a few.

The ingredients in this recipe are very basic, and having the other spices in bulk allows you to use them in other dishes. The best part is that it’s free of salt, MSG, preservatives, and anti-caking agents. Hello, fresh!

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Makes 9 tablespoons.

  • Author:


  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or less if you don’t like it very spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano


  1. Put all the spices into a resealable container or small glass jar, mix, label, and store in the cupboard. I find 2 tablespoons of seasoning equals about 1 packet of store-bought seasoning.


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