Meatballs…Not Just for Italians Anymore | Cooking Through Construction 

I’ve been doing A LOT of cooking in the basement and, guys, it’s a breeze!  Really!  It’s all about the set up and having the right tools.  Once I set up my long, white table with various cooking utensils, spices, seasonings, and (most importantly) my Keurig, it was simple after that!  Plus, the tool that’s making it all possible…my Instant Pot.

71-ak79nv1L._SL1500_Special PSA about the Instant Pot:  if you’re a busy mom or new to cooking or a retired person or if you like to eat in general, you need an Instant Pot.  Let me repeat.  You NEED an Instant Pot.  You can order it right here.

I’ll wait.

Now that that’s out of the way, I can tell you about the two awesome meatball recipes I’ve made in our Basement Bistro.

First, we departed from the norm and tried Asian.  I know what you’re thinking…Asian?  In meatballs?  Ugh…  But trust me.  They were AWESOME.  They were so awesome in fact that I didn’t even snap a picture!  Jake gobbled them up and asked for seconds!  He never asked for seconds when it comes to meat!  He even asked when I could make them again.

A few nights later, we went Swedish and had some of their meatballs.  And the best part was I didn’t even have to cook the noodles!  Everything was cooked in one pot at the same time! You know what that means?  Daddy got dish duty.  The one thing I would change with this recipe is the cook time.  I didn’t trust the cook time in the recipe I followed, so I upped the amount.  What resulted was overcooked noodles.  But the rest of the recipe was still delicious!  Don’t worry…I adjusted it for you already.

If you’re family is like mine and loves meatballs, try either (or both) of these recipes!  I promise you they’ll be a hit.

Meal #1
Asian Meatballs with Rice
(adapted from this page)

1.25 lbs ground turkey
1 tbsp garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Honey (optional)
Trader Joe’s brown rice (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and roll into 1” balls.  Preheat Instant Pot on “saute” and cook your meatballs for 5 minutes, turning to brown each side.  Add ½ cup soy sauce.  Cancel your Instant Pot and hit “manual”.  Add cover to instant pot, making sure the valve is closed.  Choose “manual” high pressure and cook for 15 minutes.

When your pot beeps to let you know it’s done cooking, let the pressure release naturally while you heat up your rice.  In this case, I chose to use Trader Joe’s brown rice because it’s easy.  If you opt to cook your own, it’s best you start both the rice and the meatballs at the same time.

Once your meatballs are finished, drizzle them with honey to sweeten them slightly if you like.  Serve over rice with extra soy sauce or, my favorite, Frank’s Sweet Chili sauce.

I really kick myself for not taking a photo of these meatballs.  We were all so hungry, they vanished before I even thought about it.  The one above is the only one I have so it’ll have to do.

This meal is declared a “freezer meal” on the original page.  You can make all your meatballs ahead of time and throw everything in the pot the night of.  The IP will cook the meatballs from frozen in the same amount of time it cooked the thawed ones.  I don’t know why…I don’t make the rules. (Name that movie, anyone??)


Meal #2
Swedish Meatballs
(from this recipe)

1.5 cups low sodium beef broth
1/2 cup milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup
16 oz egg noodles
one 24oz bag (frozen & fully cooked) meatballs
1 block cream cheese

Mix the beef broth, milk, and soup in your Instant Pot.  Cover with egg noodles.  Top with meatballs.  Press “manual” and let cook for 8 minutes.  Once the pot beeps, release the pressure.  I like to add a hand towel to the top so it doesn’t splatter soup steam all over.

Once the pressure switch drops, remove lid and mix in your cream cheese.  Serve to hungry boys!

I hope you try these recipes and find something you like!  What is your favorite meatball recipe?



Ground Turkey Four Ways

Do you ever buy those big, five pound packs of Jennie O turkey from Sams?  Ever got it home and thought, “What the heck do I do with this now?”  Well…I’m going to show you how to turn this:

into four healthy, delicious dishes.

First thing’s first.  Grab two onions and diced them. Then saute them until they are very tender and slightly browned.

Recipe 1:  Sloppy Joe
You’ll need:
1/2 of the onions
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp worchestershire sauce
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
crushed red pepper flake (optional)

Brown the ground turkey in a pan over medium heat, breaking it up as you go.  Once the turkey is nearly cooked through, add the onions.  Continue cooking until done, then add the rest of the ingredients and stir.  Cook over medium low heat until mixture is warmed through and the flavors are combined.  Serve with hamburger buns or, as I do, with Saltines!

Tip:  I like to leave my joes on low while I make the other recipes so the flavors REALLY have a chance to meld.

Recipe 2:  Mini Turkey Meatloaves

You’ll need:
1.25 pounds turkey
1/2 of the onions
1 egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbsp worchestershire sauce
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 garlic clove, grated
crushed red pepper flake (optional)

Preheat oven to 400º.  In a small bowl, combine all the ingredient above.  Since I have nails now, I like to don protective gear (Sunday morning=no makeup):

I absolutely hate the feeling of junk under my nails, so this step is a must for me!  See how I go from cruddy, yucky, latex hand to clean, sparkley, naked hand?  It’s like magic!

Spray a muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with silicone liners.

I got these cuties at World Market at 6 for $2.49 each!  I have lots and lots and lots of plans for these babies!

Divide your mixture evenly among the 12 cups.  Place the pan on a cookie sheet (to prevent drippage) and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until cooked through.

Now, I have a confession.  I didn’t make a ketchup/brown sugar sauce like usual because, well, I’m out of ketchup.  SO my plan for these are to let them cool, then freeze them and make a sauce later.

If you are awesome enough to have ketchup on hand, I would combine 1/2 cup ketchup, 1-2 tbsp brown sugar, a dash of worchestershire, and possibly a little hot sauce in a pan and heat through, then pour over the mini loaves.  But that’s me.

*Funny side note…after I typed this up, I went downstairs to my “stockpile” of foods and whatnot and saw…you guessed it…a bottle of ketchup.  Doh!

Recipe 3:  Turkey Sausage Sauce

OK, I don’t know about your grocery store, but mine doesn’t have a big selection of turkey sausage.  You would think after all this business about Americans being so overweight and having too much fat in their diets, the turkey plants would be jumping on the chance to make turkey and chicken EVERYTHING!

Last week, for the first time EVER, I found turkey Italian sausage in my deli case at Kroger.  I grabbed a package and cooked it up to make a turkey sausage pasta dish.  Well, the idea was fantastic.  The turkey, not so much.  It was good, don’t get me wrong, but the flavors were a bit off.

Jeff and I decided they put the same seasonings they would put in pork in the turkey.  That’s a great idea in theory, but, since turkey is milder than pork, the flavors were overpowering.  I decided finally to make my own turkey sausage adapted from this recipe (found at I decided the recipe would work better with 2.5 pounds of meat instead of just 2 pounds so as not to overpower the dish.

You’ll need:
1 tsp ground back pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp Italian style seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
3/4 tsp crushed anise seed
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp salt
2.5 pounds ground turkey

In a bowl, add the dry ingredients.

Shimmy and shake and mix ’em all up.

Don protective gear for the second time!

And combine thoroughly.  Split mixture in two and cover half in plastic wrap. This can be frozen to be enjoyed later in the year.

In a saucepan, cook the other half of the mixture over medium heat until done.  Add a jar of your favorite pasta sauce, a cup of chicken or beef broth, and simmer for as long as you like.  I typically like to let my sauce simmer for at least an hour if possible.  Serve over your favorite pasta for a quick and easy weeknight meal.

Tip:  With meat sauces, a heartier pasta is the better choice.  I like penne, rigatoni, or rotini because the meat and sauce gets trapped in and around the noodles.  But that’s me.  🙂

Recipe 4:  Turkey Burgers
(no picture because Jeff ate them all!)
1 pound ground turkey
season salt

My husband doesn’t cook much, but he does like to make turkey burgers.  I must say, his burgers are pretty darn tasty.  All he does is takes ground turkey and adds a little season salt to his meat.  He mixes well, then forms them into patties.

Then in a small saucepan, he heats up a scant bit of oil and essentially fries his burgers until they are slightly crispy on the outside and cooked through on the inside.  Top these burgers with your condiments of choice and enjoy!

Tip:  When I am watching my calorie intake, I omit having a bun with these burgers and go for a nice, big side salad instead.  I also try to limit the amount of ketchup I eat with the burger, since ketchup contains a lot of sugar.

These are four simple but delicious ways to enjoy ground turkey.  Basically any recipe that calls for ground meat, you can substitute turkey.  Sometimes you may have to adjust things to compensate for the milder flavor of the turkey and sometimes you won’t. That’s part of the fun of cooking though…playing with your food!

Now, dear friends, I must go install my Spice Rack I got for Christmas.  I realized while I was making the sausage I have a spice organization problem!

What is your favorite way to use ground turkey?  How do you organize your spices?