Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Worth It or Not?

Let's play a little game called "Worth It or Not?"  It will be really easy.  I'll give you the answers and everything.  Below are some online recipes I've made recently.  Some I'll make again and one I will not.   Here we go!

The first recipe I want to talk about is Mama Pea's Swiss Steak.  We have year old venison (not fawn-meat, folks, it's been in the freezer for a year) that needs using up and when I read her post on "guaranteed tender" venison, I knew I had to give it a try.  OH. MY. WORD.  Please make this recipe.  It's our new favorite way to eat venison.  It was tender and, oh, so tasty.  The gravy was so delicious it made even the mashed potatoes yummy.  So there.

Mama Pea's Swiss Steak:  SO Worth It 

Next, we have Pioneer Woman's Chicken Cacciatore.  It was one of the most beautiful dishes I have ever made.  Really now.  I have this gorgeous off white platter that an aunt gave me for Christmas years ago.  Trying to be like PW herself, I plated the entire pot of pasta and topped it with the entire pot of cacciatore, sprinkling it with parmesan cheese.  It was lovely.  Would you like to know why I did not save the lovely photographs (they were lovely, by the way)?  Yep.  It was a flop.  The dish looked the part, but it tasted flat and not just an it-needs-more-salt kind of flat.  Sorry, P-Dub.  Not this time.

PW's Chicken Cacciatore:  NOT Worth It

Pioneer Woman redeemed herself with her Chicken Tortilla Soup.  This was amazing and easy to make.  We even had some fresh cilantro on hand (a rare, rare occasion) and that made it, well, even better than it already was.  I used flour tortillas and less chili powder (for the kids' sake).  It was delicious and another keeper.

PW's Chicken Tortilla Soup:  Worth It

The last recipe comes with a little story (surprise, surprise).

It was my dear Sadie's birthday this past week and we were going to celebrate with extended family over the weekend.  Sadie loves "noonles".  Okay, she can say "noodles" now, but she used to say "noonles" and I loved that.  She also loves meat.  To Sadie, meat is all the same- she doesn't bother differentiating between the kinds.  We were going to be at my sister's house, so she and I decided to make spaghetti and meatballs with myself contributing the meatballs (and the cake- Sadie chose ice cream sandwich cake).

I've never made meatballs before.  Don't seem so surprised.  We don't eat very much meat around here.  I found a recipe over at Simply Recipes (here).  The recipe said it served six.  There was going to be ten adults and four children (and two babies who don't eat meat yet), so I decided to triple the recipe to make sure I had enough.  The recipe did not indicate how many meatballs each person should eat.

Would you like to know how many meatballs I made?  About 140.  Here.  I'll prove it.

They were really good and I'm glad I made so many because now I have a bunch in my freezer that I can thaw and add to sauce some evening when I don't feel like making something involved.  The family agreed that they are winners, so I'm sharing the recipe with you below.

Simply Recipe's Meatballs:  Worth Every One

Turkey & Sausage Meatballs (adapted from Simply Recipes)
Serves "6" according to the original recipe, but I'd say quite a few more.

1 pound ground turkey
1/2 pound bulk sausage
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried parsley
2 eggs
3/4 cups plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tsp. salt
1-2 tbsp. olive oil

Place all ingredients (except for the oil) in a large bowl and mix well with your hands.  Form into 1-inch balls  and lay them on a greased cookie sheet (because you need a place to put them).  Don't make them bigger or they will not cook evenly/properly.

Heat a frying pan to medium to high heat and add olive oil, turning your pan to coat it.  Lay in meatballs, but do not crowd them or place them two-deep.  Do several batches if need be.  Brown the meatballs on each side, watching carefully so they don't burn.  You do want them crispy, so find the happy medium between just light brown and burnt.  Once all sides are browned, set them on a plate topped with a paper towel.  Repeat until all are browned.  *They aren't finished/cooked through so don't eat one yet even if they smell heavenly.*

Bring tomato sauce to a boil, add the meatballs and let them simmer in the sauce for 45 minutes.  Now, you may eat them:-).  I made these the day before, let the cool completely after browning, refrigerated them overnight and simmered them in the sauce the next day.  This worked just fine.

Game over. Pin It


  1. I liked that game. Let's play it again, okay?

    (Re: meatballs. I LOVE having meatballs on hand! I like to bake mine instead of fry them. Much less mess. And if you have some lemon on hand, add a bit of zest for a Wow Effect. Happy Birthday, Sadie!)

  2. Thank you so much for giving my Swiss Steak recipe a thumb's up. I have venison steak in the refrig at this very moment defrosting for a meal of Swiss Steak tonight! I feel so validated (and like I shouldn't be expecting hate mail) when a recipe works for someone else!

    I love having meat balls in the freezer 'cause they're always so easy to add to a sauce for a quick meal. I'm going to try your recipe for them. (140!!? You must have been forming and browning them FOREVER! Good thing they turned out worth it!)

  3. I'm going to have to try Mama Pea's recipe. We have a freezer full of venison again this year. And, as much as I love having the meat, I never seem to be able to prepare it in such a way that it comes out tender. (The only exception to this is when I marinated & grilled some tenderloin. But alas, it's the middle of winter now.)

    Also, I think I've tried making meatballs once or twice. I think my problem has been twofold. 1. I didn't follow a recipe for the meatball mix. 2. I tried to cook the meatballs through in the browning stage & got frustrated. Simmer them in the sauce after browning? Well, now that you say it, it makes perfect sense.

    Thanks for sharing your 'Worth it or not?' post. This is a great idea!

  4. Correction: James does in fact eat meat. He is in LOVE with Beech Nut's Ham and Pineapple. Have to start this family early on their ham!!!

  5. Awesome! I needed a recipe for venison (my hubby hunted for the first time this year, so I'd never cooked it before...) AND a recipe for meatballs! Thanks Thy Hand!! :)

  6. I once tried baking meatballs instead of frying them on the stovetop....haven't fried them since! It's so much easier to bake them. AND if you line the baking sheet with foil and spray a little PAM on that, NO mess!! You don't even have to flip them, just let them do their thing in the oven, undisturbed. Generally I bake them at 375 for 20-25 minutes. I'm going to try mine next time with a little sausage added to the mix. Yum!

  7. Yummy! I'm going to try the chicken and tortilla soup, and those meatballs look delicious. Thanks for testing all those recipes.

  8. those meatballs were as good tasting as they were looking! thanks for sharing them!! :)

  9. Fun post! I've been snooping around in your recipes the past few days and I'm excited to try a few.

  10. I can never get my meatballs to stay round. Yours look so perfect. Charlotte

  11. Ummm... I think a normal person would eat 3 maybe 4 meat balls at a time... I had to smile when you said 140. However the benefit of making 140 meatballs is of course you have enough to last 10 more dinners :) Good Job!

  12. Great post, thanks for the tips. I think a big meatball afternoon so I could have some in the freezer would definitely be worth it. I like the way you think:) I still think of all your frozen crusts with envy.

  13. Yippee for you!! All those meatballs (the leftover ones) in the wonderful!! What a LOT of meatballs! LOL! :)

    Have a great week!

  14. How funny! I recently did that with Chicken Potpie filling... why I didn't notice how ridiculously full the pot was getting, I'll never know!

  15. I love meatballs! I'll have to try this recipe!

  16. My son loves meatballs (or ball meat as he said one night upon entering an Italian restaurant) but I've never made them. I may try this recipe. Do you think using a scooper (such as from Pampered Chef) would work for shaping the balls? That's my I've never made them-the thought of rolling all those balls just doesn't appeal to me!

  17. Those are professional quality meatballs!!!!!

    Have you considered canning them? Loosely packed in sauce or gravy, they do very well!

    I used to be a caterer. I would definitely hire you for the meatball station!

  18. Thanks for these recommendations. I stick with the 'old faithful' recipes, if I'm going for really tasty, because I can't stand spending more time, measuring, & detailing a recipe that 'might' flop. So un-risky am I. At least in this season of my life.
    I just may try those meatballs tho. & the soup. :) btw, when I read th post title I thought you were going to talk about canning & putting up food. Surely you would say 'yes' it's worth it! :)
    and another btw, I'm slowly working on swag bucks. what's the best way you've found to earn?

  19. Jennifer Jo and Menno Jeweler,
    I fried instead of baked the meatballs because I've read that you get a crispier crust to your meatballs- is that true of baking them as well? Also, JJ, the game will be back.

    I LOVE that your son called them "ball meat". The original recipe actually suggested you use a 1-inch melon baller, but I don't have one. I think it would work great, although rolling them in your hands gives you a nice, smooth surface. It went a lot faster than one would think, too:-).

    I'd love to head up your meatball station:-)! I haven't used a pressure canner much, but the idea of having them canned in sauce all ready to go is very appealing.

    The best way I've found to earn swagbucks is by searching (via the swagbucks search box) for sites I go to regularly- email, facebook, blogs, etc. I almost always win three times a day this way. Also, telling others about swagbucks and having them sign up through your link (log in to swagbucks, click on "Promote" beside the purple star- you may have to click "view more" to get it to show up- this takes you to your referral address. Give this to friends and you'll earn their first 1000 swagbucks along with them if they sign up).

    If you have any trouble with any of this or have more swagbuck questions, just ask! Now, I'm saving mine up to help pay for school books for next year:-).

  20. Thanks! I will try this out using the scoop!

  21. I made Mama Pea's Swiss Steak last night. The venison was given to us by a friend. I'm not experienced with venison because my husband doesn't hunt.
    It was easy, tender, and delicious. I will save this recipe just in case we are ever gifted with venison again! Thank you for sharing!

  22. You know this is a great recipe when the picky eater of the family and the vegetarian-want-a-be even ate these! thank you!


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