Friday, May 7, 2010

Meatballs, Meatballs, Meatballs! (Hungry & Healthy)

Hey there! Crazy title for a blog, but before this week is over, my life will involve 3 different types of meatballs. I'll start in reverse ...

This Saturday's new episode of Cooking for Real - Hungry and Healthy features my go-to catering recipe for chicken meatballs. I never really had a standard menu when I catered, I did just what the word means ... I catered to the client. So many times I'd get the request for things without beef or pork and one of those requests was for meatballs. You know the kind you get at saaaaay an after work happy hour buffet? Drowned in barbeque sauce with toothpicks for utensils? Well, that's how I served them when requested, in a homemade BBQ sauce with a flame beneath to keep 'em warm and bubbly. Fast forward to the present and I still make them, just without all the drowning. I team my Zesty Chicken Meatballs with a pesto I love, my Collard Green Pesto with Linguine. I absolutely love pesto. First off, pesto is fresh, simple and tasty. Plus, there are so many variations that you don't get locked into just one style. Variety is what I like in food. I actually made some pesto Wednesday for a tomato tart recipe I hope to share with you soon. Take a look ...
Ever have a tomato tart with pesto? This week was my first time having the two together, but when I got some really pretty and fragrant basil this week and my tomatoes were perfect for roasting, I woke up with a brainstorm. Don't you love a foodie brainstorm when you get it? Even better when it turns out tasty and pretty, huh? I really do hope you like the recipe, I plan to pitch if for the next season of Cooking for Real.

Anyway, Saturday's pesto isn't the one I teamed with the tomatoes for the tart, but it's great where I put it, with some wheat pasta. It's really such a strong pesto with crazy personality from the collards that it works wonders with the sturdy chew and earthy flavor of wheat pasta. Finishing the meal off is a quick dessert drink I call a Blackberry Gin Fizz Float. I'm a sucker for dessert and it's even better when it's portable and spiked. Of course, this is just as good without the gin, but give it a go if you like spirits.

Now for the other two meatballs ...
No, these people aren't meatballs :-), but they made some! That's Carla from Season 5 of Top Chef and 2009 Tony Award winner for leading actor in a musical, Kiril Kulish. If you know the story of the Billy Elliot production on Broadway, you know he isn't alone with his award. It was given to 3 performers for the same role. How does that happen? Well, because they are minors starring on Broadway, they can't work a full week, so three performers shared the starring role and they each performed about 3 times a week. Take a look at the video of the boys accepting the award, pretty cool. So, anyway that picture above is of Kiril and Carla cooking away at the True Child charity event I told you about Monday. I saw Carla at a party earlier this year in Miami, but she was surrounded by so many people, I couldn't stop to say hi. I'm usually good at being a silly fan lol, I love to gush and tell people how much I like them, but that night I failed. It's really neat to then work with her and get to tell her in a more professional manner and not at a bar, lol. I loved her happy personality on the show and she was such a show in person at the event. Cool chick. The other two Tony Award winners that share the title with Kiril were there cooking as well and I managed to catch them all while snapping pics of the cook off.
That's Top Chef Season 5's Fabio plating his meatballs with Tony award winner Trent Kowalik looking on with an event sponsor/teammate. Both teams had mystery ingredients and two of them were chips and Cheetos, so both teams decided to hide those ingredients in the ground beef and make some meatballs. Fabio served his with some creamed collards and Carla's team served them solo with more dishes on the side. Here's Fabio explaining his teams' dishes.
Look close and you can see the 3rd Tony Award winning Billy Elliot, David Alvarez in the background. I was mad I didn't think to take my own picture with them when I got home, but when I looked at my other shots, I was happy to realize I managed to catch them all solo. I must say all three of these guys were so kind, humble and I just feel they are all poised for greatness. Whatever they choose to do in life, I think they already know it's possible, you just have to work towards it. Their parents must be really proud. I was on the panel of judges with Top Chef Season 3 winner, Hung Huynh, a live auction winner and another chef, whose name I forgot ... I know very wack of me, but I'm only human :-(. Good thing is we raised money for the charity and the cool thing is we all left full of food. Both versions of the snack-pack meatballs were good, but Carla's were sooooo tasty that they eclipsed every other dish and drink both teams submitted, combined. Word. Makes me feel like I need to put some chips in my meatball recipe teeheehee ... until then, I hope you enjoy my version of meatball goodness, with a healthy kick - no fried cheese snacks or greasy chips involved. That's Cooking for Real, this Saturday May 8th, 2010 @ noon on Food Network!

Enjoy the weekend, and remember if you miss the debut Saturday, you can always catch it Monday at 4pm and other episodes throughout the week at the same time! Plenty of time to hang out with me while I cook for real so we can eat for real :-).


tamilyn said...

Yum! I love meatballs! I have never tried making them with chicken before. My kids wouldn't eat them, but since they are almost adults (well, I guess the oldest really alread is), I will do it some night they aren't home :)

t2ed said...

Any dessert you have with gin is sure to be a hit with guests!

Lindsey Christensen said...

Good looking tomato tart, hope to see it soon on the show! I also love my desserts spiked...HEYYY!! Fabio looks like a stud muffin, loved him on Top Chef. Now I'm hungry for meatballs...and maybe spaghetti! :)

Brooklyn girl said...

Sunny girl you have taken to a whole new level with Collard Green Pesto. I cant wait to try it. Its so great to see that we can use "soul food" in different ways. This Brooklyn girl who lives in North Carolina is so loving what your doing. Keep up the good work. Just wanted to mention again this great restaurant in Winston Salem NC "Sweet Potato" If you eer get a chance to go by there, its great. Stay sweet!

Jen said...

I saw Saturday's episode and it definitely has me wanting to make those chicken meatballs! Mmmm. I think I will make them on Sunday. I also have a basil plant that my fiance has been growing for me - I do NOT have a green thumb if it weren't for him, it would've died by now! So I think I might make some pesto with that and serve it with Linguine. So not your exact recipe, but very close!

I'll just have to add some garlic bread in there since I LOVE that stuff! :)

Thanks for sharing your recipes!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sweetie,
Sorry I missed you on Saturday but I'm about to set the DVR remotely for today. I was in Destin, FL this past weekend so I'm still trying to get back in the groove. Hope all is well with you. Did you get home to see your Mom this past weekend? Well, it's official I've found the venue to reopen my boutique I told you about. I'd been throwing good money after bad where I was but thank GOD another opportunity has come along and like you and I talk about, I'm chasing this dream down without hesitation. Thank you so much for your continued words of encouragement and I know that our paths will cross someday but until then, know that you've got a Friend for REAL, lol, in the Dirty South.

Love you much,
Linda (B'Ham)

LindaHensens said...

Hey Sunny!

I watched your show from Saturday this morning on DVR. The meatballs looked and sounded quite delicious, even though I am not usually a huge fan of ground chicken or turkey. I have yet to try chicken sausage or turkey sausage links. Yes, I know that the "experts" say that either of the above meats will absorb the flavors that you add to it and you won't be able to tell the difference from beef; however, I can't agree with those assessments. Maybe it is just because I am a beef and pork lover, who knows?

On the occasions that I have tried to substitute either, (this also includes ground sirloin and ground round), the dishes turned out dry. Some tell me to add a little water to the meats that don't have a high fat content, or have the butcher add some fat to the ground lean meat, or add something to the meat to keep it moist and flavorful without having to add fat to it. IMHO, if you gotta add fat to make it taste right, what are you really saving by getting the chicken or turkey in the first place? Ponder that.. :)

Anyway, I enjoyed the show.. Can't wait for the next one.

I also wanted to let you know that I finally was able to locate the bowls like you use on your show at Kohl's. When your blog first posted that Kohl's had the exclusive on finding them, I went to Kohl's website and looked at them strictly for drooling purposes.

This weekend, my husband needed some new swim trunks for our upcoming Canada trip in June, so I mosied over to Kohl's and decided to take a look and see if this store had them. Little did I know that the bowls were being discontinued.:( I also didn't realize that they were having a huge Mother's Day sale as well.. I got the set of bowls for 20.81 for a set of 4. I took 1 set home, took them out, and saw how incredibly beautiful that they are.. How sturdy, and then I had to come up with a reason to go back on Sunday because there was only 1 box left, and I was kicking myself that the bowls may not be there when I got back.. I decided to bo back in there under the idea that I had to exchange some of the things that I purchased for my hubby, and I went right back to the back corner of the store again and scooped up the last box of them just so I would have 2 sets.

I am such a sucker for anything
kitchen! Are you specific about the tools that you use to do your show, or does it matter to you whose name is on it, etc.. Do you think that if you had 2 identical pans sitting side by side, one would be better than the other because it had a name brand on it? Sometimes I do believe it. It has to hold up to all of the abuse that I put my kitchen tools through.Have you ever just wanted to totally gut your existing kitchen and change it all up? If so, did you act on that urge?

Take care,

Dolphinfanhg said...

OMG that tart looks amazing! Can't wait to see that recipe on the show! I grow both tomatoes and tons of basil, so I wold make this today! :)

Darius T. Williams said...

I totally love foodie brain moments - lol...and that tart! come on...looks A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

I posted some videos of me cooking on my blog - check them out when u can -

Kase said...


I definitely have to try your chicken meatballs. I loved your tip about mixing everything together before you add your meat to not overwork it while mixing. That tip is so simple, it's crazy that I haven't heard it before. Thanks for the head's up,lol..I appreciate it.. had already peeped the ring during that episode. You and I both know, girl..that don't mean anything these But I am sure that isn't the case with him. I was curious when the cooking segments are done live for another network, the final product that is eaten after the that something that you do cook ahead of time?...or do they have someone behind the scenes chefs that do it all for you? Have a great day.

Sunny Anderson said...

tamilyn, same here. i make em with chicken all the time. mix light and you'll be in juicy town. but if you want, you can just sub the chicken for beef, in that case, i'd switch over to lime or both lemon and lime so it speaks above the beef flavor.

t2ed, ita!!!

lindsey christensen, yaaay! thanks! i'm pitching it for the shows i tape in august, wish it luck! and yes, fabio ... total stud muffin. he exudes all kinds of stuff. and he's a nice guy.

brooklyn girl, glad you like the pesto idea, it's straight from my garden! only crop that really grew like weeds for me last year. thanks for checkin in again!!! hope the south is treatin you nice :-)

jen, hope the meatballs turned out yummy! i can't grow herbs either, good thing i have markets within walking distance. smokey says hi ;-)

linda(bham), yaaay destin! we used to go there for vacation when i was young. nice and quiet! i didn't get home to see my mom, but i called her and got the voicemail lol. congrats on the new venue!!!! soooo happy for you!!!! chase the dream girl. chase it.

lindahensens, ok look, i agree about lovin beef and pork, but i gotta tell you, i have had some turkey and chicken sausage that tasted like pork. pretty crazy, but you just gotta find it, or season up some of your own. usually when i buy ground meat for something i take a lil snatch off to the side and season it up for sausage the next morning. there are some good combos that can mask the healthy. give it a try. start small. go to the meat counter and buy less than a pound. ok, about the bowls, girrrrl you are lucky. those are a hot item. it is the most requested question i get and they are used on other shows too so i bet the other hosts get the same questions. matter of fact, if we ever change bowls and i hope we don't, i'm takin em. lol. don't you love how high they are? totally splatter proof. they use them for me because i make a mess. i really do. i usually go one size larger than needed to contain my left handed crazy whisk. ok, about my kitchen, i dislike it very much. but only because i'm renting. when i buy, i'll make it mine. i think i have the same complaint we all have ... need more counter space!

dolphinfanhg, thanks! it was yummy and i had it 2 days in a row, bottom still crispy. hope you like the recipe when i share it!

dtdub. YAAAAAAAAAYYYYYY!!!! welcome back :-P. glad i'm not the only one with foodie dreams. i'm gonna check the link. thanks. ahem, complaint dept. mgr. ... holla! i told u we were tight :-)

kase, thanks! glad u liked the mix tip. i like to keep it simple, so i often back in to stuff like that. so happy to share. for your question, sometimes it's what i've cooked or it something a sous chef has cooked from my recipe. usually when i get there, my recipe is done and one is almost done. sometimes i finish it before hand to use for the guest plates and then sometimes i stay a bit afterward and finish making all of it so the crew can eat it. this is when we are talking about live segments on shows, not for cooking for real. on my show, it's a combination of myself and the kitchen staff. mostly to save time. no way we are waiting 8 hours for bbq, but we have waited what seemed like eons for water to boil. :-)

LindaHensens said...

Sunny said:
ok, about the bowls, girrrrl you are lucky. those are a hot item.

**I know, right? I cannot believe that I caught them in the store at all, much less at more than 50% off. The MSRP on the box was $39.99, and I got my sets for 20.81 each, so it was almost a BOGO! I could NOT pass them up. They really are just beautiful. You should tell the powers that be in the shopping part of FN that people want those bowls, and that they need to bring them back instead of discontinuing them! If you have a Kohl's around you Sunny, you should go sneak in the store and pick you up a set of them. I would offer to mail you one of the sets that I bought for a song, but I don't think that I want to.. :)

it is the most requested question i get and they are used on other shows too so i bet the other hosts get the same questions. matter of fact, if we ever change bowls and i hope we don't, i'm takin em. lol. don't you love how high they are? totally splatter proof. they use them for me because i make a mess. i really do. i usually go one size larger than needed to contain my left-handed crazy whisk.

**Can't say that I blame you, and yes I do love them. I think this is gonna get cut off because of length, so if it does look for part 2!

Anyway, Kohl's was having one HUGE Mother's Day sale last weekend, and every single item that a woman might want or need was on sale at ridiculous prices, plus they were giving an add'l 15% off at the register's. It was chaotic but I was LOVING it. I so rarely go shopping anymore. Money is so tight at my house. I got some of the FN wooden spatula's and spoons at prices like $4 and $5 marked down from $8 and $9..I have some bamboo spoons that I got from Pampered Chef eons ago, but I really like those wooden spatula's that I have seen you and other on FN use.. so now I have them. :)

Have you ever looked at The Pioneer Woman's website, Sunny? She is really cool, and she is giving away products from Chef's Catalog to celebrate her website anniversary. Have you seen those new Le Crueset purple (Cassis) Dutch ovens, etc? OMG!! They are GORGEOUS! Prettier than anything I have ever seen by that company. Anyway, she is giving a few away for a vacation memory.. She posted it today, and I got there about 2:30 p.m. EST.. There were already 20,380 posts for that blog post alone! Can you imagine that? :) Geesh! It would suck to be her to have to pick random names from a hat with that many entries! I told her about my trip to the Netherlands in 2002.. Entry #20,392..Like that will ever be seen..Oh well, I tried.

ok, about my kitchen, i dislike it very much. but only because i'm renting. when i buy, i'll make it mine. i think i have the same complaint we all have ... need more counter space!

**Curious here.. with all of the moving around you have done and that you talk about on CFR, how could you ever decide where you would want to settle and buy a house at? Would you come home to be close to your parents in NC and travel to NYC for the show taping, maybe have an apt. in NYC and your home in NC? Or would it be NYC? Detroit? Texas? Germany? Where in the world would Sunny Anderson settle in for a good long while and buy a house? Don't get me started on kitchen renovation. My dream kitchen is so far out of reach financially that unless I won the lottery or something, I could not afford to re-do it like I want it, so the existing one will have to do.. But I do want that stove that you cook on..That grill is fabulously convenient.. :)

Til next time!

Sunny Anderson said...

linda, yeah you got a total deal. i'll be sure to mention the popularity of the product to my peeps at the network and see if they blink. hope you get that prize! so many entries, it's hard to figure the odds, eh? and about the moving, i think i'm done. brooklyn feels like me. it's relaxed with plenty of nationalities and ethnic foods. my block isn't noisy. i think this is it. only other move would be back to new jersey just outside of nyc or nyc itself, but i really doubt i'll move to manhattan. that crazy rent money could be better put to use in my life. i'd rather travel than live high on the hog, if you know what i mean.

Sunrays7 said...

Meatballs are great. I make them with ground lamb (moroccan spiced), ground pork (chives and any kind of asian condiment I get my hands on), and ground turkey (italian). One tip I would give for keeping the meat moist: saute your veggies in olive oil for 3-5 minutes, let them cool, then add them to your ground meat.