Classic Gluten-Free Meatballs

by Susan on February 25, 2017

Ever since our house went gluten-free I have gotten *very* creative in the meatball department. I’ve used everything from cooked quinoa to ground flax to bind my homemade meatballs, and nearly every one of my efforts has been pretty darned successful. Sometimes, though, even I just want the basic, real deal. The kind of meatball that makes you think of Lady and the Tramp and Frank Sinatra. The other night I decided to try my hand at creating true, classic gluten-free meatballs.

Many Italian restaurants use a blend of meat in their meatballs, so I opted for a combination of ground pork and beef. You could certainly use all beef, or even substitute turkey for all or half of the meat. My grandmother’s meatball recipe called for breadcrumbs soaked in milk, so I decided to kick it old school and borrow her method. I simply used gluten-free bread and unsweetened almond milk (the latter only because I don’t have any cow’s milk in the house. While it would be possible to make these meatballs dairy-free, I love the flavor that a little grated Parmesan adds. If you’re a purist, use chopped fresh parsley in lieu of basil. I’ve just never been a parsley fan but go crazy for basil. Parsley will add even more authentic flavor.

Refrigerating the meat mixture before shaping it into balls will make them a lot easier to form. I’m always a fan of baking my meatballs., as I don’t like to deal with messy oil and having to babysit them on the stove top. My favorite technique is to let the cooked meatballs simmer in sauce before serving, which adds a little flavor to the sauce.

These meatballs turned out better than I could have expected. My British husband tends to dislike meatballs as much as my kids adore them, yet he asked for seconds and claimed they were the best I’d ever made! The flavor and texture were both spot on. Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Classic Gluten-Free Meatballs

1/3 cup gluten-free bread, crumbled (for me this was 2 small slices)
1/2 cup milk of choice
1 tbs. olive oil
1 small diced onion
2 lb. total ground meat (I used 1/2 pork, 1/2 beef)
2 eggs
small bunch of either fresh basil of parsley, chopped
3-4 minced garlic cloves
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1 tsp. ground black pepper
very generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese

Combine milk and crumbled bread and allow to soak.

While bread is soaking, cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook onions until soft. Add to a large bowl along with milk and breadcrumb mixture. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well until thoroughly combined. Cover bowl and refrigerate for an hour.

When ready to cook the meatballs, preheat oven to 425. Dampen hands (this will help prevent sticking) and form meat mixture into desired size balls. Arrange on prepared baking sheet and cook for about 18 minutes. Remove from pan and simmer with sauce prior to serving.

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Chinese Orange-Barbecue Cashew Chicken

by Susan on February 23, 2017

I’ve been using Amazon Fresh for my groceries, and when my daughter unpacked a jar of orange marmalade she thought we had received it by mistake. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever purchased the spread before; it’s just not a product or flavor that’s really my “thing.”

Mixed into an Asian recipe by Rachael Ray, however, marmalade contributes to a sauce that is the perfect combination of sweet, tangy and spicy. This one doesn’t require a lot of exotic ingredients, but I can’t stress enough that you need to use fresh ginger. Another tip? Read your hoisin labels carefully. I almost put one in my cart before I realized not only was it not gluten-free (a lot of hoisin sauces include soy and wheat flour) but it also contained Red 40. What?! No thanks.

I often opt for the paleo option of cauliflower rice, but tonight I just served the chicken over white rice. Everyone loved this one! If you use the appropriate soy and hoisin, it’s both a gluten and dairy-free option.

Chinese Orange-Barbecue Cashew Chicken
adapted from Rachael Ray

3 tbs. coconut or olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, chopped into bite-size pieces
salt and black pepper
1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1/2 inch dice
1 onion, chopped into 1/2 inch dice
2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated or finely chopped
1 tbs. hot sauce
2 tbs. gluten-free soy sauce
1/4 cup gluten-free hoisin sauce
1/4 cup organic orange marmalade
1/2 cup organic chicken broth
1/2 cup raw cashews
4 scallions, thinly sliced on a bias

Place a large wok over medium-high heat and add 2 tbs. of the coconut or olive oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. When the pan is very hot, add in the meat and stir-fry until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan and reserve on a plate.

Add another tablespoon of oil, then add the bell pepper, onion, garlic and ginger to the skillet and stir-fry until tender-crisp, 3 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together the hot sauce, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, orange marmalade and broth.

Return the chicken to the skillet and pour the sauce into pan. Add the cashews to the skillet, toss to coat and continue cooking until the sauce thickens up, about 1 minute more.

Serve the stir-fry over brown rice, garnish with scallions.

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