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Sunday Night “Family Dinner”

Happy Labor Day, everyone! I hope you are doing something fun and productive with your day off! The weather is gorgeous here and I can’t wait to go on a long leisure walk after breakfast.

Last night was such a fun night in the dorms. A group of us girls in the same hall decided to make a Sunday Night Potluck dinner! The six of us split into pairs and divided the courses: Salad, Main Dish, Dessert. My suitemate Fernanda and I were in charge of the salad. Kerri and Amber cooked an amazing pasta dish with pesto and chicken, while two more girls provided enough chocolate to undo all the healthiness of the first course. It was such a good way to have an inexpensive but delicious dinner with a group of friends instead of going out to a restaurant. Each of us spent roughly around $6 and look at the meal that awaited us!

Giving Olive Garden a run for their money!

We have some pretty decent chefs in the residence hall! The salad was a combination of healthy ingredients that we could find at target and that were cheap (first rule of college cooking). The base of the salad was a bag of mixed greens, to which we added diced tomato, sliced cucumber, chopped bell pepper, sliced carrots, diced apple, dried cranberries, almonds, crushed cashews and a lite raspberry vinaigrette. Not too shabby at all! And splitting the cost with another friend made our contribution to the dinner pretty reasonable. There was enough for the six of us girls plus leftovers (for lunch today, yay!).

It’s so much fun to cook and have dinner outside of the dining halls, even more so with company like these girls! If you can get a group together, cooking is half the fun, dinner is a well-needed break from cafeteria food, and meeting new people becomes easier than ever. Great way to spend a Sunday night. Dinner was followed by a chick flick and I think we’ve all agreed that this needs to happen more often! :)

Lean Mean Meatballs

What is going on here? I’ve made TWO recipes that involve handling raw meat all in the same week. This is weird! I usually avoid any dish that requires such dirty work. But I gotta say, lean ground turkey is a lot less repulsive than chicken or pork.

So I wanted to make dinner for my dad and I while my mom was away on a business trip. Of course I wanted to pick something healthy but it had to be hearty too – my dad is hardly the type of guy who considers a spinach mango salad to be a meal. The compromise: Turkey Meatballs in a Veggie Marinara Sauce over brown rice. (Steamed cauliflower not pictured.)

Turkey is a way better alternative to ground hamburger meatballs because it is 99% lean. Lean protein means it comes without unnecessary fat and calories. There is literally no grease in the pan when you cook these! They also aren’t gristly or stringy like regular beef kind. It cooks up nice and white, and you can see the green basil.

I browned the small, golf-ball sized turkey meatballs in a large saucepan. Not to get too elaborate, I forewent a sauce from scratch and used one jar of Prego garlic marinara sauce. Pasta dishes are so heavy, I wanted to fill the sauce with vegetables to make it more filling and nutritious. That way, you don’t need as much rice or pasta. So I added red and yellow bell peppers, onion, and baby carrots. You could also use zucchini, tomatoes and spinach.

It was a perfectly balanced meal of protein, carbohydrates and vegetables. Not to mention, it was Dad-approved! I will now replace any ground beef with ground turkey, starting with a turkey burger in the near future when some more swelling goes down and I can open my jaw all the way.

Italian Turkey Meatballs:

(Makes 24 small meatballs, 6 servings)

20 oz. ground lean turkey (99% lean)

1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs

1 egg

2 gloves of garlic, crushed

Dash of salt & pepper

2 Tbs Basil, finely chopped

1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl with your hands. Shape into meatballs, about the size of a golf ball. Drizzle a large sauce pan with ½ tbs of olive oil, and place meatballs in it. Cook over medium-high heat until brown.

Add pasta sauce to the pan of meatballs and lower the heat to a simmer. Add in chopped vegetables and cook for about 20 minutes. Top brown rice or whole wheat pasta with sauce and meatballs.

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