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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kathy's Waikiki Meatballs

The last time I made turkey meatballs from scratch, they were pretty disappointing. They were low on flavor, and the texture just wasn't there. Armed with a recipe from my good friend, Kathy, however, I was determined to create a flavorful turkey meatball! Her Waikiki Meatballs - featuring a delicious sweet and sour sauce - are fantastic and will certainly become a favorite at our house too.

Kathy has been a wonderful mentor to me. I met her soon after I moved to the D.C. area through a leadership program at a local church. Our class learned so much about how to live out our faith in the workplace. Her teaching and guidance helped shape me as a young professional, and I am so thankful to have met her during those first few difficult (yet exciting) years in the working world.

Kathy's recipe calls for ground beef, but I decided to use ground turkey to cut down on the fat. I highly recommend using fresh ginger in the recipe as well. In order to get a fine mince on the ginger and onion, I used the food processor. It cut down on time and tears from cutting up the onion myself! One way to test the seasoning in your meatball is to make a small patty and cook it quickly in the pan of oil and butter mixture. You can add more salt if the flavor isn't coming through. My meatballs were browning very quickly in the pan, so I decided to bake them for about 15-20 minutes to ensure they didn't burn. This process worked really well - less stressful too!

Once the meatballs have about ten minutes left to bake, start preparing the sauce.

Be sure that you mix the cornstarch, sugar, reserved pineapple juice, vinegar and soy sauce together before you add it to the skillet. This helps dissolve the cornstarch completely. The sauce won't take long to thicken over medium heat. You will notice that it turns a translucent color when it's close to being done. Then, add the pineapple.

Throw in the chopped green pepper and the meatballs and toss to coat the meatballs in the sauce.

If you really want to intensify the island flavors, I recommend you make coconut rice to serve with this hearty meal. Food Network has a great recipe here. You can also use the light coconut milk to cut down on the fat.

This dish is a both comforting and exotic. The fresh ginger adds something special to the meatballs, and the sweet and sour sauce with the crisp green pepper is the perfect complement. Though the turkey meatballs are a little less firm than beef ones, the crispy exterior provides additional texture. Serve this crowd-pleasing meal, and you'll be transported to beautiful Waikiki in no time.

Waikiki Meatballs
From Kathy's Kitchen
Serves 4


  • 1/3 cup onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger or about 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 1/2 lb. ground turkey or ground beef
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs (I used Panko)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 13-ounce can pineapple tidbets or chunks, drained (save the liquid)
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup chopped green pepper
  • Cooked rice for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put onion and fresh ginger in a food processor and chop finely. You can also just use a knife to mince the onion and ginger, but I think that the food processor is easier and ensures more evenly minced ingredients.  

Thoroughly mix the beef, crumbs, egg, salt, milk and onion / ginger mixture. Shape into 1-inch rounded balls. 

Heat butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and brown the meatballs. It will only take about five minutes. Transfer the browned meatballs to a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until fully cooked. 

While the meatballs are baking, mix cornstarch and sugar and stir in reserved pineapple juice, vinegar and soy sauce. Stir until smooth. Pour into the skillet you used to brown the meatballs. Over medium heat, stir constantly until the mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir for one additional minute. 

Add the pineapple, meatballs and green pepper. Serve with rice.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Six-Seed Soda Bread

I promised you a bread recipe after visiting Zingerman's Bakehouse in Ann Arbor last weekend, but I also wanted to continue with my project of cooking through the recipes I received for my bridal shower. Fortunately, several friends provided me with some great ideas to assuage my carb cravings. I've been wanting to make this soda bread recipe from my college friend Lesley for some time now. She brought some with her during a visit, and it was so hearty and comforting. Lesley has been a wonderful, constant friend through the years. I admire her faith and was honored to have her as a bridesmaid at my wedding. Seems we also enjoy the same food blogs as she found this recipe on 101 Cookbooks!

Half the battle with this recipe is finding the ingredients. I stopped by the local Whole Foods after work and stared at the bulk bins section for far too long trying to decide which type of flax seed to buy. Sorry busy Arlington shoppers - I'm new at this! I easily spotted the spelt flour and then learned more about it on the Baking Bites blog here.

Like most soda breads, the recipe is not hard to follow. Mix the seeds together and set aside. So colorful!

Sift the flours soda, and salt. I love this sifter, by the way - works like a dream.

Mix in the seeds (except for two tablespoons) and then make a well in the center of the flour. Pour in the buttermilk.

Mix it together until the dough starts coming together.

Then, turn onto a floured surface and knead lightly until you can form the dough into a ball. It only takes about a minute.

Make a "X" in the dough and then brush with buttermilk and top with the remaining seeds. Then, it's ready to throw it in the oven for 35 minutes or so.

For my Michigan friends, I found the bread reminiscent of Zingerman's Detroit Street bagel that is loaded with fennel, poppy, and sesame seeds for a unique flavor. The soda bread is wonderful with apricot jam. Lesley gave me some homemade spiced apple chutney which was also delicious for a hearty fall breakfast.

Six-Seed Soda Bread
From Lesley and 101 Cookbooks
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons each of flax seed, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 3/4 cup spelt flour (or whole wheat flour)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 3/4 cup buttermilk, plus some to brush on top of the loaf.

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Combine all seeds in a bowl and set aside.

Sift together flours, soda and salt. Stir in all but 2 tablespoons of the seed mixture.

Make a well in the flour mixture and add the buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 1 minute, just to pull it together into a ball.

Put on a lightly floured pan; mark with an "X," cutting deeply with a knife.

Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with remaining seeds, making sure to get the seeds down in the cracks.

Bake 35-45 minutes or until golden brown crusted on top and bottom.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Road Trip: Zingerman's Bakehouse

I'm not a native Michigander, but I did live in Ann Arbor for a good part of my teenage years. My parents are still there; proud Wisconsin Badger fans living "behind enemy lines" in Wolverine territory. Southeast Michigan has been through a lot the past few years, and it is great to see local businesses that are thriving despite the economic downturn. One great example is Zingerman's Deli - an Ann Arbor institution serving up delicious sandwiches piled high with your favorite deli meats and cheeses. The line is always out the door!

Fortunately for my parents, Zingerman's decided to expand its empire with a Bakehouse, coffee shop, cheese shop and ice cream store in an industrial park just down the street from their house. The Bakehouse is my favorite - I practically swoon at the site of their freshly baked breads, pastries, bagels, and brownies!

On my most recent visit to the Bakehouse this weekend, we got a special tour of the bakery. They were finishing up a batch of farm bread loaves which were quite drool-worthy for my carboholic family. My sister and I got up close to the oven to listen to the crackling of the dark, delicious crust!

I think my trip has inspired me to do some bread-baking in the near future.

Check out the jar of granola - maybe I will add cranberries to my recipe next time.

Be sure to visit Zingerman's if you ever find  yourself in Ann Arbor - it is certainly worth the trip!