Lentil Meatball Bites

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I dated this guy a few years ago who was part-Italian.  He was gregarious, energetic, completely silly, and shared my love for old Seinfeld reruns (we may have reenacted a few episodes, I’ll admit).  We laughed nonstop, which was a nice diversion from the previous relationship I had been in.  I don’t think he was 100% Italian, but he took every opportunity to capitalize on it.  And, this, in effect, was most apparent when “he-ah decided-ah to-ah talk-ah like-ah this-ah.”

“I make-ah a nice-ah meatball-ah for you.”

Things went well for about a month or so…well, until I found out he “had-ah a nice-ah girlfriend-ah, too.”  Oh, and besides the fact that I was just ending my marriage and was in no position to date anyone for a very long time.  Sure, there were lots of red flags, but as a somewhat naive (ok, very naive) woman in my mid-twenties, I saw the red flags, I acknowledged them, and then promptly forged full steam ahead into self-destructive bliss.  Ah, hindsight is 20/20.  Now I just have to laugh.

And, now I have a nice meatball for you.  I’ve tried a nice walnut-based version before, which I loved, but here’s another version with a nice lentil base.  I’ve made this recipe quite a few times now-in fact, I have about two large bags of these babies in my freezer right now (a fantastic option for a quick weeknight meal-just defrost and lightly sauté them in a frying pan).  I’ve served them with pasta, of course, and as a nice meatball sub.  But, I wanted to do something a smidge different and serve them appetizer-style, with little ciliegine mozzarella balls, fresh basil, and a nice balsamic reduction with flaky sea salt. (less carbs-it’s all about decreasing the water weight to counterbalance the excessive amounts of salt I sprinkle on my food.)

They’re-ah very nice-ah.

 

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Lentil Meatball Bites

Servings: about 15-20 meatballs

 

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

2 cups cooked lentils (any variety-I used sprouted green)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3/4 cup ricotta cheese (I used part-skim)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon oregano

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

2/3 cup whole wheat panko

Salt and pepper, to taste

Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing the meatballs

For the bites:

Ciliegine mozzarella balls

Fresh basil leaves

For the balsamic reduction:

1/4 cup high-quality balsamic vinegar

 

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Instructions

1. For the meatballs:  In a food processor, mix the lentils until smooth.

2. Transfer the lentils to a large bowl, and add the eggs, ricotta, Parmesan, garlic, oregano, fresh basil, and panko, mixing until thoroughly combined.

3. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. (You can start your balsamic reduction at this point, if you would like.  You can just set it aside until you are ready to use it.)

5. Once the lentil mixture has chilled, form individual 1″ balls by rolling them between your hands.  Transfer each meatball to the prepared baking sheet.

6. Lightly brush each meatball in its entirety with the olive oil.

7. Bake the meatballs, turning them about halfway through the baking time, until they are lightly golden and slightly crispy on the outside, about 15-20 minutes (watch them carefully.)

8. For the balsamic reduction:  Place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring the vinegar to a boil, letting boil for about a minute or so.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer the vinegar until thickened and syrupy, about 3- 5 minutes or so (watch it closely-the cooking time will depend on the quality of the vinegar you use).  Remove from the heat and let sit until you are ready to use it.

9. To assemble each bite: Using a toothpick, skewer a piece of fresh basil, a mozzarella ball, and one baked meatball.  Drizzle with your balsamic reduction and sprinkle with flaky sea salt, to taste.

 

Source:  Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen, who originally adapted it from In Jennie’s Kitchen.

August 1, 2013 - 5:53 pm

Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl - These are so cute and sound absolutely delicious. I think that lentils are definitely one of my favorite things ever. I love finding new recipes to use them in :) .

August 1, 2013 - 8:53 pm

Joanne - I know native Italians are notorious for being quite, ah…promiscuous and sketchy…to put it lightly. But I know what you mean about forging full speed ahead even though you see a few red flags…story of my early twenties. Hopefully now that I’m 26 I’ll start being wiser?

I’ve actually never made a bean-based “meat”ball (though I have done zucchini ones!) and am definitely overdue! These are the cutest appetizers!

August 2, 2013 - 5:35 pm

Rayna - This is too cute for a party appetizer! I love the fresh mozzarella on top.

August 5, 2013 - 5:05 pm

Kelli @ The Corner Kitchen - How is it that we can see these red flags one after the other, and move along pretending not to really see or acknowledge them, or better yet, try to convince ourselves that we misread the situation and it’s not *really* a red flag. We’ve all been there :)

I’ve been wanting to make meatless-meatballs for a while…these look & sound right up my alley!

August 5, 2013 - 10:06 pm

Melanie @ Just Some Salt and Pepper - These look delicious and adorable! Thanks for sharing that story, I’m glad you can laugh at it now!

August 8, 2013 - 10:13 am

Phi - These look absolutely delicious! And the recipe sounds amazing, I’m going to have to try these! I also love that they can be stored in the freezer for eating at a later time, time saving recipes are always the best!

August 11, 2013 - 5:35 pm

Jacki Milazzo - looks great

August 13, 2013 - 9:25 pm

Courtney @ The Fig Tree - Wow! These look incredible. What a great idea! Totally serving these at my bachelorette party in a few weeks. :) Thanks for sharing!

August 13, 2013 - 10:52 pm

srlacy - Congrats, Courtney!

November 2, 2013 - 4:53 pm

Karen - I-ah- think-ah- your story -ah-is funny-ah!! Love the recipe too!:)

Mexican Pizzas

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Oh, hey, it’s Mexican Pizza time, people.

So this is one of those hectic weeknight “what am I going to make because I’m tired and I really don’t want to slave in a kitchen” types of meals.  You can never go wrong with a Mexican Pizza.  (or probably any pizza, for that matter, but that’s another post.)

Emily from Pacific Foods contacted me a while back to see if I would be interested in using some of their products for an upcoming post.  It wasn’t a very hard decision to make on my end.  Now, if you follow this blog regularly, you might know that I don’t do a lot of giveaways or product reviews for several reasons (I’ll spare you my soapbox here), but if it’s a product that I might actually use or from a company that I respect for their values, then I will wholeheartedly dive into the opportunities/products that they supply.

So, judging by the large amounts of bean recipes in general on this site, and also by the fact that I buy and prepare at least one recipe showcasing some type of bean each week for myself, I didn’t want to let this one pass by. And, to be honest with you, Pacific Foods is one whole-heartedly rocking company.  From animal welfare in America’s general food industry (one of my biggest secret food passions, actually, and just one of the reasons why I am *mostly* vegetarian) to food sustainability to environmental impact via their packaging, this company lays it all out there.  As a consumer, this is, in my opinion, pretty amazing to learn about how my food is produced.  One day, you and I might sit down over a couple glasses of wine and I will pontificate about my views on America’s food supply, but for now, let it suffice to say that THIS approach to consumer consumption and education is exactly what I think we need, as ultimately, we are the ones who are putting these things in our miraculous bodies…and these things will ultimately become part of us.  So, it’s a pretty big deal.  And I whole-heartedly support this company and their mission.

So, Emily sent me three samples.  One 13.6-ounce package of refried beans, one 13.6-ounce package of refried black beans, and one 13.6-ounce package of baked beans. While I wanted to eat all three right away, I went with the traditional refried beans…well, because of this pizza.

I kind of made up the recipe as I went along, baking mine only until the edges started to turn up, about 10 minutes or so, so please adjust your baking time accordingly.  And feel free to omit/add ingredients as necessary for your own dietary needs/desires.

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Mexican Pizza

Servings: 2

 

Ingredients

Four 6-inch tortillas (use whatever kind you like)

One 13.6-ounce container of refried beans (Pacific Beans?  Absolutely!)

Juice of one lime, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 small shallot, chopped

Cheese, for topping (your choice of amount and brand…vegan or not-I used a mixture of cheddar I had on hand)

One 2.25-ounce can black olives, drained (you may have leftovers)

2-3 green onions, sliced

1 tomato, chopped

For garnish: avocado, cilantro, etc.

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Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the refried beans, lime juice, cumin, and garlic, stirring to combine.  Heat the mixture over medium heat until completely heated through.

3. To assemble the pizzas: Layer half of the hot bean mixture onto two tortillas. Place the other two tortillas over the beans and top with your cheeses, shallot, black olives, and green onions.

4. Place the pizzas on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until the pizzas are lightly cooked, about 10 minutes (you want the edges to slightly roll up and you want the cheese to be completely melted.)

5. Remove the pizzas from the oven and top with fresh tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro, if using.  Enjoy.

 

Source:  A Curvy Carrot original.

 

July 30, 2013 - 6:43 am

Miss Messy - I love making these and they look perfect! :)

July 30, 2013 - 7:20 am

Berry - “Place the other two tortillas over the beans and top with your cheeses, shallot, black onions, and green onions.”

Black olives?

July 30, 2013 - 8:30 am

Courtney - I’ve never seen a Mexican pizza look as pretty as this one!

July 30, 2013 - 12:41 pm

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - Mmm this sounds so freaking good! Love how easy it is!

July 30, 2013 - 1:23 pm

srlacy - Hahaha-you should have seen the one I DIDN’t photograph. Major aesthetic failure.

July 30, 2013 - 1:23 pm

srlacy - Thanks for catching that, Berry! You are right-you can put them on there before cooking, or after…whatever you want! I will fix the recipe now.

July 30, 2013 - 1:26 pm

Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough - Dude I LOOOOVE Mexican pizza. This looks amazing. And I wish I’d known how you feel about food and sustainability and animal welfare at the potluck this weekend — I have so much to say about it, too; we could have vented for hours! ;)

July 30, 2013 - 1:38 pm

srlacy - I know! I told Annie on the flight home that I wish that there would have been at least one talk about that this weekend-I feel like mostly everyone there would have felt the same way about it. Maybe next year? And we can still vent….with wine, of course! Hope you made it home safely. I’ve been sleeping and feeling like I cannot get caught up at all. It was so much fun, though!

July 30, 2013 - 4:24 pm

Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl - First of all, these are too cute! Second of all, they sound amazingly delicious :) .

July 30, 2013 - 9:37 pm

Joanne - I’ve had a few of those hectic weeknights and a few more yet to come in the next few weeks so I’ll have to check out these beans and whip up this pizza! It’s always so great when a company produces a great product and espouses great values…the perfect package!

August 7, 2013 - 6:47 pm

Kate - A friend had pinned one of your recipes on FB and thank God she did! I just love your blog and your recipes. You have a real gift at “chatting” and your stuff looks amazing. Can hardly wait to try something.

PS Love champaign too

August 7, 2013 - 9:13 pm

srlacy - Thanks, Kate! It’s nice to meet you!

Blueberry Lemon Muffins with Cream Cheese Glaze

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The other day, while in a brave attempt to clean out one of my closets (shudder….), I came across a hand-written letter that I had unexpectedly received in the mail about a year or so ago, from one of my dearest friends in the whole world.

In the letter, he basically outlined (sometimes in a haiku/rhyming pattern…which if you know me personally, you will know that I love this sort of quirky, random, silly stuff) all of the things he loves about me…which was actually quite funny because some of them were little things that I do that I didn’t know that I actually did/do…but many of them were things that actually are points of insecurity for me.  To re-read this, about a whole year after he had sent it via snail mail, kind of shook me to the core a little bit.  It was a happy, calm and proud feeling.  Sometimes like how I feel after meditating.  And made me feel like a million bucks.  At the bottom of the letter, he said that I had once done it for him (I had actually hid it in his desk once-we worked together-and covered it in about 50 stickers of fruit and veggies made to look like they were driving cars.)  Apparently he found it at a time when he wasn’t feeling so great about life in general.  I had told him how thankful I was to have him in my life and how I loved all these things about him.  I didn’t do it for anything in return..in fact, as soon as I hid it in his desk, I promptly forgot about it.  It was just one of those moments where my gratitude spilled over a little bit, and I decided that instead of simply feeling my care for him…I would show it.  And let it go.  Because someday he might come across it and those warm fuzzy feelings are what life is about.

It’s now apparent to me that this is a (vicious?  No, vicious isn’t the right word here…happy?) cycle of love.  Apparently my letter pops into his life every now and then…and now I am understanding that his letter to me now pops in and out of mine.  The feeling of joy that this brings me is incredible.

There’s a lot  of bad things that happen in life.  Things change, people change, and many things that begin end.  This letter is one of those things that will just keep coming back, thankfully, and it will probably come back in the moments when I need it the most.  (even if I don’t know it.)

I was able to see Paul McCartney in concert a few days ago.  Something that I had pretty much dreamed of for over 25 years.  He ended the concert with “The End” (of course, obviously, was there any other choice there?) but the last line is one that I actually say to myself every single day when I wake up:  ”And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”  I suppose my friend’s letter is a perfect testament to this.

Why am I getting all lotus flower on you?  Because, simply, I think you have it within you to start a little happy ripple of warm fuzzies, too.  Starting now. Go tell someone how much they mean to you.  You might start something incredible, like this letter that started a few years ago between two really great friends.

And now…..

I don’t know how to segue into a recipe about these blueberry lemon muffins with cream cheese glaze.  Except that they give me a different kind of warm fuzzy feeling.  But not as good as finding a letter from a friend.

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Blueberry Lemon Muffins with Cream Cheese Glaze

Servings: about 24 muffins

 

Ingredients

For the muffins:

2 cups all-purpose flour (you could probably substitute whole wheat pastry flour here-I was out.  Sad face.)

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup (1/2  stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 bananas)

2 eggs, whisked

1/3 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

For the cream cheese glaze:

1/4 cup (2 ounces) block-style 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons water

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Instructions

1. For the muffins: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cupcake pan with the liners of your choice.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

3. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

4. Add the mashed banana, eggs, Greek yogurt, and vanilla; mix until blended.

5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients; mix until just combined.

6. Using a spatula, gently fold in blueberries and lemon rind.

7. Divide the batter evenly in the prepared cupcake pan.

8. Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.

9. Cool completely on wire rack.

10. For the cream cheese glaze: In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water, stirring with a whisk until smooth (I actually found it much easier to use a hand mixer here.)

11. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled muffins, and go tell someone you love them.

 

Source:  Slightly adapted from Cooking Light, as part of my monthly contribution to the Cooking Light Bloggers’ Connection.

July 25, 2013 - 8:25 am

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - These muffins sound awesome!!

July 25, 2013 - 4:14 pm

Kathy R - What a wonderful message. I think I will take a minute to do exactly what you suggest. I’m also going to make these muffins and gift them to my friends. The Ripple Effect — Life is Good!

July 25, 2013 - 4:20 pm

Mary-Clay @ Cooking with the King - Blueberry and lemon is my favorite combination. Ever. Add cream cheese? Love it even more. Looks delicious!

July 26, 2013 - 4:54 pm

meg etc - These look delicious! Great photos as well! Love your blog :)

July 28, 2013 - 5:12 pm

Joanne - That is such a sweet idea! I have a few friends who I really don’t tell that i love enough and a snail mail letter is such a sweet way to do it, so that they actually have something tangible to hold onto.

While warm fuzzy muffin feelings are definitely different from warm fuzzy friendship feelings, I must admit I love both of them!

July 28, 2013 - 9:23 pm

srlacy - Aww thanks Joanne! It was so great to meet you this weekend…and I can’t wait to start trying out your recipes!

August 11, 2013 - 2:00 pm

Terrie - I just made these and they are delicious. Used 1/2 whole wheat flour and added 1tbsp. Lemon juice to the batter. Next time I will try more lemon juice because I like the lemon flavor to come through. I didn’t do the glaze…..