"...but it never rained rain. It never snowed snow. And it never blew just wind. It rained things like soup and juice. It snowed mashed potatoes and green peas. And sometimes the wind blew in storms of hamburgers." -Judi Barrett (Children's Author)
I couldn't post these past few literacy-food connections without mentioning Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. The movie trailer brought a smile to my face; hopefully it's just as enjoyable as the book. I love family-oriented movies, especially ones that will encourage children (and adults!) to read.
There are many foods in this particular tale, mostly childhood favorites such as pancakes and spaghetti. In honor of this story, I've chosen to blog about meatballs. If you look in the recipe sidebar, you will already find one entitled Sunday Meatballs, which are great for crockpots, stovetops and freezing. Another meatball recipe that was always a hit when my girlie-girls were small, was called Porcupine Meatballs. My version was originally based on reader submissions from Taste of Home magazine, but over time, I've added this and that, and the outcome always received "rave reviews" and "thumbs up" from my very critical group of taste testers.
These meatballs can be prepared quickly and frozen. They're even more fun when you enlist "little helpers". Enjoy some comfort food with this adorable story, (and don't forget the umbrella!)
(makes about 3 dozen, depending on size)
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup uncooked rice (do not use instant)
pinch of garlic powder
3 tablespoons green pepper, finely chopped
1 pound lean, ground beef or turkey
2 tablespoons parsley
1 and 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
3-4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup Wondra (or pan searing flour)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup half and half
2 cups (or 15 oz. can) of your favorite tomato sauce
1/4 cup petite diced tomatoes
4 basil leaves, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-sized saucepan or pot, combine the chicken stock, half and half, diced tomatoes, basil and tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a simmer, heating thoroughly.
In a small bowl, combine the onion, rice, ground meat, parsley, green pepper, garlic powder, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Shape into meatballs (about 1 and 1/2 inches in diameter), and place on a large plate.
Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan (one that can be placed in a hot oven w/lid), evenly coating the bottom. In a shallow dish, add the Wondra or flour. Lightly dust each meatball with flour, and gently brown in oil. When meatballs have browned, drain the oil and grease. Arrange meatballs evenly in the bottom of the pan without overcrowding.
Pour tomato mixture over the top of the meatballs, cover the pan and place in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove and let sit for about 5-8 minutes. Serve with steamed veggies, mashed or roasted potatoes, and crusty rolls.
*Meatballs can be assembled and placed in ziploc freezer bags. When ready to cook, thaw for about a half hour, then brown in oil and simmer in sauce for 55-60 minutes.
**For crockery cooking, place meatballs in crockpot after browning, add sauce and cook on low for about 7 hours.