Kiddie Gourmet: Veggie Pasta with Meatballs and Mozzarella

When my baby started eating solids I knew that I wanted to introduce her to as many flavors, textures, and ingredients as I could.

I did a lot of research on baby food and came across quite a few companies that prepared flavor and nutrient packed infant meals (Yumi, Little Spoon, and Nurture Life to name a few). I loved that these companies provided healthy, organic, and flavor packed meals but the reality is that I just can’t afford to spend upwards of $7.50 PER MEAL! While the price tags for these food plans might work for some people, the reality is that we can’t afford that. I don’t even spend $7.50 per meal on our adult meal planning.

I was determined to come up with some easy meals that I could make in bulk, freeze, and that wouldn’t break the bank! I package my meals in these amazing wide mouth 4oz canning jars I got on amazon (and I love that they’re freezer friendly and reusable). Processed with VSCO with  preset

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Tiny Turkey Meatballs: Infant and Toddler Recipe

Baby girl had her first puree about a week short of 6 months. It was a puree of leftover avocado and lime zest. Ever since that first taste of food, our lives have never been the same. Like her mom, she loves food! Not only does she love food, but she loves “good” food. I think I’ve turned my child into a baby foodie.

I am very mindful of the food that I put into my own body; I limit the processed food I eat, cook at home as much as possible, eat natural and organic foods when I can, and do my best to have a well balanced diet. I’m doing my best to do the same for the baby. I’ve found the best way to control what’s going into her body is by making her own food.

When she started solids I made homemade purees. We moved to finger foods pretty quickly by adapting some of the ideas from Baby Led Weaning.

I want to start sharing some baby recipes with you as I experiment with my little one. This first recipe is for Turkey Meatballs. I will share the recipe exactly as I make it but it also includes alternative ingredients for children with allergies.

These meatballs are packed full of flavor but don’t contain any added sugar, salt, or gluten. 3/4 cup of grated sweet potato are mixed into the ground turkey to add additional nutrients.2020-03-15-10.28.38-1

The first step in the recipe is pureeing a whole egg with red onion. I found that this puree is a nice binder and it assures that there are no chunks of onion in the meatballs.

I use oat flour in this recipe. Oat four is literally just old fashoned oats pureed to a powder. Don’t buy oat flour, just make your own or substitue with breadcrumbs.2020-03-15-10.28.30-1

I found that these bake best on a parchment paper lined sheet pan. If you don’t have parchment paper you can use a sheet pan that’s been sprayed with nonstick spray… but parchment is best. 2020-03-15-10.28.32-1

If you have a toddler you can serve the meatballs just as they are. With my nine month old I choose to cut the meatballs into bite size pieces before serving.2020-03-15-10.28.29-1

Tiny Turkey Meatballs: Infant and Toddler Recipe

  • Servings: 20
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
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2020-03-15-10.28.25-1These meatballs can be eaten on their own or mixed with other infant foods. They should be eaten within a few days or can be frozen for up to 6 months. These are best fed to infants eating stage 3 foods or to toddlers and kids.

The raw meatballs are very sticky before going into the oven so be mindful of this when shaping them into balls. It might be helpful to rub your hands and fingers with oil before forming the balls.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup diced red onion (about 1/2 of a small red onion)
  • 1 egg (if your child has an egg allergy you can omit this or replace with 1 tbl of mashed avocado)
  • 1.2 lb ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup raw sweet potato, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup oat flour (if you don’t have oat flour you can use standard breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried parsley

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper (if you don’t have parchment paper spray the sheet pan with nonstick spray).
  2. In a blender combine the red onion and egg and blend until pureed.
  3. In a large bowl combine onion and egg mixture with the remaining ingredients. If the mixture is too loose add a little more oat flour until the consistency is firmer.
  4. Using a melon scoop, portion the turkey mixture into 1 inch meatballs and place evently spaced on the parchment lined sheetpan.
  5. Bake meatballs for 20 – 22 minutes.
  6. Let cool and serve!

 

Meatballs for a Crowd

I am a sucker for meatballs. They’re my go to at parties, they taste great in pasta, and they are one of the best pizza toppings. Meatballs are also a great alternative to a Bolognese sauce. Imagine sitting down to a group dinner and having hefty meatballs sitting on your plate instead of your standard meat sauce.

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As a kid I remember watching my grandmother make pasta sauce and meatballs from scratch. Her meatballs were not your standard size either. They were huge and full of flavor. Since I’ve been cooking, I’ve always modeled my meatballs after the ones my grandmother makes. They’re huge and they are sure to fill and empty stomach.

I use ground beef and ground pork in this recipe. Ground beef provides a nice texture and the ground pork adds moisture and a unique flavor. Ground turkey can be substituted for the ground pork for those who do not eat pork. The breadcrumbs, eggs, and milk work as a binder but also adds great flavor to the meat.

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The key to these meatballs is the way that they are cooked. The meatballs are placed on a cooling rack set in a cookie sheet. Cooking the meatballs this way allows for them to cook evenly. Is also allows excess oils to drain out of the meat.

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I like my cookie sheets with foil and parchment paper for easy clean up. The oils from the meatballs can be a mess to clean up if you don’t line your pans.

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Make these meatballs as a base for spaghetti and meatballs, meatball subs, or pizza toppings. Extra meatballs can be frozen and used at a later date. This recipe can be halved to make a smaller portion.

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Classic Jumbo Meatballs

Total Time: 45 Minutes | 28 Jumbo Meatballs or 14 Servings

Recommended Specialty Cookware: Parchment Paper, Cooling Racks, cookie sheets

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1.5 lbs ground pork
  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 4 cloves garlic – minced
  • 5 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 cup grated parmesan and romano cheese blend
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs and milk until they have a consistency of wet sand. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine pork, beef, garlic, parsley, cheese, salt, pepper, and eggs.
  4. Add in the breadcrumb mixture and use hands to combine all ingredients. Break up any large clumps of breadcrumbs.
  5. Using your hands, create 28 – 30* equal meatballs. Make sure all meatballs are the same size to ensure they cook evenly.
  6. Place two cooling rack on top of two separate cookie sheets.
  7. Place half of the meatballs on each cookie sheet leaving at least 1/2 inch between each meatball.
  8. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, turning meatballs half way through. Cut a meatball in half to check for doneness.
  9. Let cool for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

* This recipe makes approximately 45 smaller meatballs. Adjust cooking time according to size. The smaller the meatball, the shorter the cooking time.