Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Chicken Meatballs and Zucchini "Fries"

As I learned during a game at my bridal shower, these meatballs are my (now) husband's favorite dish. We've served them many ways: meatball sammies on whole wheat sub rolls, with marinara sauce over pasta, cut up on salad & alone as appetizers. They're quick, easy, fairly healthy and full of flavor.

Musclin' Up Chicken Meatballs
(modified from The Biggest Loser cookbook)

3/4 cup plain, dry breadcrumbs
1/3 cup fat-free skim milk
1 pound lean ground chicken
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon parmesan cheese (I use reduced-fat.)
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray a medium baking sheet with non-stick spray.

2. In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs and the milk. Let stand until the milk softens the crumbs, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken, egg whites, parsley, cheese, garlic powder, onion powder and salt. With your hands, mix well. Split the mixture into 16 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball.

3. Place the meatballs at least 1/4 inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake until no longer pink inside, about 12 to 15 minutes.

I got really lucky when I planned these two dishes for the same day. Turns out, they have the same cooking temperatures so they can share time in the oven. The zucchini called for a little more time so I popped them in the oven first and then went to work preparing the meatballs. I popped those in when their cook time matched the time remaining on the zucchini.

These have an interesting texture and great flavor. They're fancy enough for more formal entrees, but simple enough to suit even the most basic burger. I did a little tweaking. 3 zucchini was way too much for our two-person household. The original recipe called for 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs. I left those out to compensate for using less zucchini, but added a few of my favorite seasonings for extra flavor. Feel free to sub your own spices if you're missing any of those listed. I think they'd also be good with a little cayenne pepper for an added zip.

Parmesan Zucchini Fries
(modified from a recipe from Cooking Light, July 2008)

2 large zucchini
1 cup plain, dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese (I used reduced-fat.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Cavender's Greek seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup egg substitute

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

2. Cut zucchini in half crosswise, cut each half lengthwise into 8 wedges. Repeat with remaining zucchini.

3. Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, salt, pepper & other seasonings in a shallow dish.

4. Dip zucchini in egg substitute, roll in breadcrumb mixture until coated and place on the baking sheet.

5. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

The magazine gave a recipe for a fancy dipping sauce. We served ours with good ol' ketchup and mustard.

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