Before I get to the recipe, I want to give a shout out and a thank you to Babble for naming this blog one of the "Top 100 Mom Food Blogs of 2013". I am so honored and humbled to be mentioned on this list with so many other talented bloggers. I mean wow. And honestly I thank all of you who visit here day after day so I can keep doing what I love! You are all my inspiration. Your feedback, comments and interactions all mean so much.
Okay, back to the food, that's why we're here isn't it?
So, I tend to crave meatballs without the pasta. Sometimes it's the bun I don't want (this even surprises me) with a meatball sandwich. In fact, I often forgo making meatballs because I think of them as only an addition to a spaghetti meal. I'm over that. Don't get me wrong, I love-love spaghetti. I make a mean 3-Day Marinara Sauce with meatballs I bake in the oven, using the drippings from the pan in the red sauce. It's super delicious but obviously not ideal for a quick dinner.
For a weeknight meal, I prefer my meatballs served with mashed potatoes and sauce. It's pure comfort food. I can't tell you how good they are served this way. It's the perfect satisfying dish, just add a veggie or a salad. It's also easy to please a bunch of eaters with a dish like this. Some just want the meat, some meat and sauce...it works.
I decided this recent round of meatball madness should be flavored with Mesquite. I'm not sure if it's the sudden influx of sunshine around here but I have been craving barbecue, Texas barbecue to be exact. And nothing says big Texas flavor like Mesquite.
If you've ever researched Mesquite, it's kind of a fascinating tree. Before the wood was ever used or thought of for barbecue, the Native Americans used the Mesquite pods for all kinds of things like making flour, grinding the seeds for coffee, making candy, wine and I've even heard of Mesquite honey...which sounds delicious.
And then I saw this warning, "Never eat Mesquite pods that have fallen to the ground. Pods that have fallen can be infected with a fungus that can cause insanity and a painful death." Oakey-doakey, we will be avoiding those.
Anyway, the plethora of Mesquite powders on the market makes it easy to infuse this barbecue flavor without having to get out the smoker. The Mesquite really imparts a subtle, sweet and smokey flavor to all kinds of meat and veggies.
These can also be served as an appetizer sans the potatoes. So simple with a great presentation.
Mesquite Barbecue Meatballs
- 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 cups crushed fire-roasted diced tomatoes (such as Muir Glen ~ you will have a cup left over from a 28 ounce can)
- 1.5 pounds ground beef (85/15% lean)
- 1/4 cup Italian seasoned dried breadcrumbs
- 1 Tablespoon Mesquite seasoning (such as McCormick)
- Cooking spray
- fresh oregano leaves for garnish, optional
- Place sugar, vinegar, cumin, cloves and tomatoes in a blender and puree until smooth.
- In a large bowl, combine ground beef, breadcrumbs, and Mesquite seasoning. Shape into 20 meatballs.
- Warm a nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Add meatballs, cooking until brown on all sides, about 3 minutes. Add tomato sauce mixture and bring to a simmer. Cover and turn down heat. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove and serve with mashed potatoes.