Pizza-Style Meatballs

Pizza Meatballs1

Happy Fiesta Friday #27, (hosted by Saucy @Saucy Gander and Margot @Gather and Graze)! Thanks to all of you who stopped and commented and liked my post last week. Not only was it my first time hosting Fiesta Friday, I also shared a bit of my own family heritage in relation to my My Grandma’s Banana Pudding. To date, it’s the most popular post I’ve ever done on the blog- something I really wasn’t expecting, but am very grateful for. Thank all of you for making me and my lovely Grandma feel so appreciated and welcome. I really do appreciate that.

One of the earliest memories that I have of pizza will always be associated with John, the guy that always made our Sunday night pizza at the local Papa John’s Pizza.

Now, this wasn’t a Papa John’s of the huge franchise with the jerk CEO that  to this day I absolutely refuse to buy from. This was a small, independent chain that I don’t even think went outside of our city. There was no design on the pizza boxes- they were just plain old white cardboard, with a piece of scotch tape pasted on the edge to keep it closed. They were also dirt cheap, which was really the only way that we could afford to eat pizza back then. (These were the much ‘leaner years’, you understand.) Every Sunday night, my mom would pile me and my sisters into the back of our 1988 Delta and we would drive down to the Papa John’s for our large pepperoni and ham pizza, where John the Pizza Guy would always, without fail, be there to greet us with a smile.

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If I close my eyes, I can still see his face. He was tall and ginger haired, with freckles all over his face and arms. His voice was nasal, and to be honest it reminded me of the voice of Telly from Sesame Street. l really liked him.  He had an infectious smile and in all the many times I saw him, I never once saw him in anything but a bright and cheery mood- despite the fact that he always seemed to be working in the store alone while one other guy that we never saw much of strictly did the pizza deliveries. John had a wife and (if my memory serves me right) four small children at home. I remember hearing about them and thinking that someone as nice as he was must have been a really good daddy, even if he couldn’t be with them on Sunday night.

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It may have been cheap, but that pizza was so good. The crust was crisp and browned on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The cheese was perfectly browned and not laid on too heavy, while the sauce was sweet and slightly thick. John sure could make a good pie, and we faithfully went to get it every Sunday night, then went home to watch The New Adventures of Lois & Clark (remember that show?) over dinner.

Unfortunately, that Papa John’s closed a while ago and has since been replaced with several other businesses that never seem to hang around that long. Still to this day, every time I drive past it I remember John the pizza guy with his warm smile and Telly-voice that made such good pizza for me and my family. It’s always a really good memory.

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Apart from loving pizza itself, I like trying out other foods that try and duplicate the flavor of pizza. It’s a great way to try and get your pizza fix in without constantly eating it all the time (not that I EVER get tempted to do that or anything). One weekend, I decided to make two dishes that would achieve just that, and I think the results were great.

I got this idea from a recipe for meatloaf that I’ve been using and loving for a pretty long time. Instead of making it into one loaf, I thought that I could instead mold it into meatballs, bake them off, then simmer them in a delicious pizza sauce.

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I could see these making a great appetizer or game food, but we just ate them as a main course over rotini pasta.

So, what’s the general consensus here?

If you like meatballs, you will love these. If you like pizza, you will love these.

If you don’t like either meatballs or pizza…you will still love these. Yep, you will.

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Pizza-Style Meatballs

Recipe Adapted from Ragu®

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 1 envelope Beefy Onion Soup Mix
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cups garlic bread crumbs, plus about 3/4 cup extra
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Pizza or tomato sauce

Pizza Sauce*

Note: You may want to double the pizza sauce recipe, depending on how much sauce you like with your meatballs.

  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350° Place a wire rack over a half sheet pan and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

2. Combine first five ingredients in a bowl. (If mixture seems too wet, add more breadcrumbs. If too dry, add more pizza sauce.)

3. Shape meat into golf-ball sized meatballs and place onto wire rack. Bake in oven for about 15 minutes, then rotate meatballs and continue to bake for about 5-7 more minutes, or until crisp and browned on outside.

4. Meanwhile, make pizza sauce: combine all ingredients in a deep sauce pan or Dutch oven over medium heat until sauce begins to boil. Lower hear to a low simmer.

5. Remove meatballs from wire rack and GENTLY place into pot of pizza sauce. Cover, and allow to cook at a simmer, about 15-20 more minutes. Serve over rotini pasta or egg noodles.

 

 

Buffalo Chicken Tenders

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Happy New Year everyone!

We made it to 2014, guys. I hope everyone’s New Year’s Eve was lots of fun and that you spent it surrounded by your loved ones. Did everyone stay up nice and late? Did you save a glass of champagne for me? No? Oh, okay.

Today is a very important day, and not just because it’s the first day of the new year. Something very important is happening today. Any guesses? None?

I’ll give you a hint- it involves roses. Lots and lots of roses…

Random, but very important fact about me guys: I’m an alumni of Michigan State University. A proud alumni. So proud, I’m gonna boast about my school for the next solid paragraph:

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Michigan State University {MSU} is:

  • Among the largest single-campus residence hall system in the country with 27 residence halls in five neighborhoods and two apartment villages. There are 538 buildings, including 95 academic buildings. 
  • Nickname: Spartans,  Colors: Green and white,  Mascot: Sparty (Three-time national top collegiate mascot), Conference: Big Ten
  • Outstanding record of students earning prestigious national and international scholarships: Goldwater, 34; Rhodes, 16; Churchill, 16; Truman, 16; Marshall, 16; Udall, nine; Hollings, six; Gates, three; and Mitchell, one.
  • More than 275 study abroad programs on all continents in more than 60 countries (yes, that does include Antarctica. I’m serious.)

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If none of that is impressive enough, then try this one on for size: today, the MSU football team will be competing in the 2014 Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, CA. For my international readers, and non-College football fans (you poor unfortunate souls, you) I’ll give a brief explanation: the Rose Bowl is a championship game matching up the top 2 teams from the Big 10 Conference (mainly mid-west schools) and the Pacific- 12 Conference (schools in the far west). It’s a pretty big deal. As not only a die-hard, I-bleed-green, Spartan fan, but also a college football lover, I am needless to say, SO proud of my team for making it to the Rose Bowl. So much so, that I wanted to try and do a recipe that would pay some kind of homage to the game taking place tonight.

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Well, trying to create a dish around roses was rather tricky. It wasn’t that I couldn’t think of any, I know you can use rose petals or rose water in food. It was just that the idea of trying to hunt down a recipe with either one of those very pricey ingredients that may not even turn out good (considering I’ve never used either) wasn’t worth the effort to me- at least not now. Besides, since this recipe was supposed to be for a football game I decided that less was more and to just keep things simple. What’s one of the top foods that people love to eat when watching ‘The Game’? Buffalo Chicken. I’m not a huge fan of chicken wings, but I LOVE buffalo chicken tenders, so I decided to go with that.

I used a bag of frozen pre-cut chicken strips I got from my grocery store and thawed, but buying boneless, skinless chicken breast and cutting them up will work just as well with this recipe.  There are two things I will insist on though: ‘double dipping’ the chicken in both the egg wash and flour, and having a sheet pan fitted with a wire rack on top to let the chicken rest. The first will make sure that you have a nice, thick n’ crunchy crust on the outside. The second will help make sure that that crust actually sticks and doesn’t slide off when you fry it. Several trials and errors have proven me right. So just take my word for it.

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If you’re a football fan, I hope you’ll join me in watching MSU play (and hopefully win) against Stanford in the Rose Bowl today.

If you’re not a football fan, then I hope you’ll at least give these chicken tenders a try. They’re a real ‘win’.

GO GREEN! GO WHITE! BEAT STANFORD!

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Buffalo Chicken Tenders

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken tender strips, patted dry
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (preferably Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce)
  • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon chicken seasoning (like Weber Kick’n Chicken)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Oil, for frying
  • 1/2 cup, or 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce (preferably Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce)
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

 Directions

1. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet, or deep pan to 350°. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Line the bottom of a half sheet pan with wax paper. Place wire rack(s) over sheet pan, and spray rack(s) with cooking spray. Set aside.

3. In a medium size bowl, beat the eggs with the buttermilk and 1/4 cup hot sauce. In a smaller, square dish, mix together the flour, chicken seasoning, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder with a fork.

4. Dip chicken tenders into egg mixture, then dip into flour mixture and coat evenly. Place tenders onto wire racks, being careful not to allow them to touch.

5. Repeat step 3, dipping all of the tenders back into egg mixture, then in flour mixture again so that they have a double coating. Place back on wire rack.

6. Fry tenders in hot oil until golden brown and crisp, about 6-8 minutes. Let drain on paper towels when done.

7. Mix together butter, 1/2 cup hot sauce, brown sugar and minced garlic in a large bowl. Add fried tenders to bowl, a few at a time and toss in the sauce with a pair of tongs until evenly coated.

8. Line another sheet pan with parchment paper. Place tenders onto pan and bake for about 5 minutes. Serve.

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