Halloween for me always means spooky decorations and playful food. I decided this year’s theme was going to be mummies so I took traditional jalapeño poppers, added spicy chorizo sausage meatballs and replaced the bacon wrapping with pizza dough. The combination of the heat from the jalapeño and sausage with the cool creamy cheeses and savory pizza dough made these the perfect spicy Halloween party appetizer!
It seems strange to call these meatballs, meatballs considering there isn’t any meat in them, however every other word I tried to come up with to describe them just didn’t sound right. So we’re going with meatballs! Whatever you want to call them, they were fantastic! The creamy lentils were the perfect binder to hold the ingredients together, and the earthy, deep roasted flavor from the vegetables, paired with the bright acidity from the pesto and herbed spicy tomato sauce were a match made in vegetarian heaven.
Today, it’s time to talk meatballs. Sweet, savory, tangy, spicy – whatever you’re craving, you can pretty much go in any direction and come out with a very flavorful bite. For this recipe, I decided to make a spicy meatball, and incorporate the spicy mustard habanero pepper with earthy sun-dried tomatoes and mild ground turkey. I knew the amped up flavor profile with the turkey would work well together, and they turned out just as I hoped. The meatballs were tender and juicy, and they had a nice low heat at the finish. The tangy sauce had a little heat of its own as well so overall, this turned out to be a hit. Evidence of that was the lack of portion control I had at dinner that night! There were no survivors.
This recipe is one of my super-easy, super-quick, fall-backs, ‘always try to have the ingredients on hand’ recipes for last minute changes or unexpected dinner guests. Penne is a great type of pasta for soaking up spicy red sauces, and it bakes well when paired with Italian-style meatballs, ricotta, and fresh mozzarella cheeses.
An alternative lower fat option would be to replace the Italian style meatballs with turkey. Both taste great and add a nice heartiness to the dish.
While in New Orleans last month, I had one of the best Bloody Mary cocktails I’ve had in a long time. In traditional NOLO style, the bartender mixed in a hearty dose of horseradish, spicy cajun seasonings and zesty hot sauce. He even served it with two spicy-hot pickled green beans. It was delicious! So much so, here I am weeks later still thinking about it!
So in honor of that wonderful cocktail, I decided to create these yummy Bloody Mary meatballs. The creamy horseradish, rich tomato paste and zesty, hot sauce, infuse the meatballs with a spicy, flavorful kick.
And when it comes to pickling vegetables, you can play around with just about any vegetable and seasoning combination you like. I added jalapeño and crushed red pepper seeds to my version, just to give the veggies a tad bit more heat.
When I closed my eyes and took a bite of one of the meatballs along with the vegetables, I almost felt like I was in New Orleans again! Delicious!
These meatballs are just the right appetizer when you want to serve something a little different and healthier than the usual cheese, sausage and crackers; yet more substantial than just raw veggies and dip. The fresh ginger and green onions in the meatballs flavor the chicken with a nice savory element, and the chilies in the dipping sauce add just the right amount of heat.
Open a bottle of chilled Riesling or Pinot Grigio and you’re all set!
Yesterday was one of those days where I just didn’t feel like leaving the house. My primary goal was to publish my third book and get caught up on the house-work. Then it started to snow about mid-afternoon, my husband lit a fire in the fireplace and that pretty much did it for me. I successfully published my book – the house-work? Yeah, that could wait! The combination of the beautiful snow, falling gracefully outside my window and the warm, crackling fire, set the mood for a hearty soup for dinner. So I headed for the kitchen and started to cook.