Mediterranean Meatballs

A little variety can go a long way towards keeping things fresh. Move over beef, pork, and chicken! There are other animal proteins to explore!

Lamb is one such option. But what to do with it? Consider meatballs.

Making meatballs or another recipe using ground meat is an approachable and affordable way to try different muscle meats such as lamb. By using 50% ground beef, or another ground meat with which we are already comfortable cooking and eating, and 50% ground lamb, trying something new feels more familiar. Sometimes we humans are funny like that. We want something “new and different,” but not “too new and different.”

Herby lamb meatballs, not eel sushi.

It can be like that with haircuts, too. But that’s another story…

Sometimes this idea of wanting something “a little different” resonates with me. If I am going to make the effort preparing something, I want to be reasonably sure my audience will eat it (and enjoy it). I want to be reasonably sure I will enjoy it.

Other times we feel more adventurous. And some of us are more food-adventurous than others by default. Whatever your mood, these Mediterranean Meatballs are a crowd-pleaser. Consider serving atop a bed of zucchini noodles to lighten-up the meal.

Mediterranean Meatballs

Soft, juicy Mediterranean seasoned meatballs made from ground lamb and beef. (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, seed-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time35 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg or 2 egg yolks
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 tsp capers, minced
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 handful parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs I use Trader Joe's Rice Crumbs. Check the ingredient list on your product.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Using a large spoon or cookie scoop, spoon out evenly sized amounts of meatball mixture. Roll with hands into round balls. Place formed meatballs into muffin pan, one meatball per muffin placeholder. Makes 20-24 meatballs.
  • Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and internal temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from oven. Place meatballs on clean dish. Discard fatty juices which cooked out of meatballs. Serve immediately or refrigerate for future use.

Notes

If baking in a silicone muffin pan, place silicone muffin pan on a metal baking sheet for stability.
If not using a muffin pan, simply using a metal baking sheet is an option. Placing a wire rack on top of the baking sheet, then placing meatballs on top of the wire rack before baking is even better. This will allow the fat and juices to drip away from the meatballs as they cook. Which cooking option is best depends on the gear in your kitchen and personal preference.
May prepare ahead of time, then reheat in microwave or toaster oven prior to serving. Leftovers may be stored in refrigerator for 3 days.
Freezes well. Freeze in individual layers separated by parchment paper. Allow to thaw in refrigerator. Reheat in microwave or toaster oven.

Perfect Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

Crisp on the outside? Check. Satisfying chew on the inside? Yup. Holds up to lots of toppings? You betcha. Can you eat it one-handed? Yes, indeed. On the table in under an hour and a half? Absolutely. Yeasty, dough-like taste and texture? Double check. It may not look like much in the picture, but try it and taste it! I think you’ll agree, your quest for the perfect gluten-free pizza crust is complete.

After a trip to a pizza place (where I was not able to enjoy the pizza), I became a woman on a mission – to create a pizza crust which was allergy-friendly while satisfying my discriminating pizza palate and raging pizza craving. No small task honestly. And I’m pleased to say this one is a true winner. When we ate it the other night, the discussion at the table included the words – “so delicious,” “please make this again,” and “I sure hope you’re going to share this one on your blog.” So here it is.

No need to drag out the mixer or fancy dough hooks, no bread maker or any other fancy equipment. Mix up almost everything in a single bowl. Let it rest for an hour while you prepare your toppings (or do something else), add a final ingredient, knead the dough a few times, let it sit for 10 minutes while you stage your other ingredients, assemble, bake, and eat. Done. Homemade gluten-free pizza on the table and in your mouth in less than 90 minutes from start to finish.

I called this recipe a pizza crust, though it’s so much more than that! This dough can be used to make all manner of pizzas, flatbreads, calzones, and most likely other tasty goodies as well. Let your imagination run wild!

We made flatbreads topped with pesto, my No-Heat Italian Sausage Crumbles, caramelized onions and garlic cloves, black olives, and a sprinkle of oregano on top. We’ll be coming back to this one again and again!

Perfect Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

This delicious dough is made of cassava flour and arrowroot powder, yet has the sturdy texture and chew mimicking a traditional wheat crust. Use this dough to make pizzas, flatbreads, calzones and more! Your family will love this! (AIP, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Resting Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cassava flour plus extra to form dough
  • 1 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-1/4 cup water (105-110 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 2 package yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar or honey
  • 1 Tbsp gelatin
  • 3 Tbsp hot water

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, add 3.5 cups cassava, arrowroot, garlic powder, and salt. Whisk to combine. Then add in olive oil and whisk again until evenly distributed and crumbly in texture.
  • In a glass bowl or liquid measuring cup with the 105-110 degree water, add sugar/honey and yeast and allow to sit for a few minutes until bubbling. When yeast is proofed, add water and yeast mixture to flour mixture and form dough ball with hands. Knead a handful of times, just to make sure it's evenly mixed. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm area of your kitchen for 1 hour.
  • In a small cup, add gelatin and hot water. Immediately, mix to combine, ensuring no lumps. Then, as quickly as possible, pour liquid gelatin into bowl with dough. Using hands, incorporate gelatin into dough. Adding 1/4 cup cassava flour at a time, knead a handful of times again until dough is not sticky (I added 3/4 cup cassava).
  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Divide dough into eight evenly sized pieces. Using a rolling pin on a floured surface, roll out dough into a round disk of your desired thickness. Place on a pizza pan and bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly browning.

Notes

Thicker crust will be chewier. Thinner crust will be lighter and crisper. Increase cooking time to make crispier.
Leftovers can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for several days. Reheats best in a toaster oven (crispiness), may also use a microwave.
For paleo or AIP, use honey instead of sugar.


Cooked bacon wrapped pears in rows on a rectangular metal serving tray.

Bacon Wrapped Pears

Appetizers which require only a few real-food ingredients, look attractive and get gobbled up quickly are in high demand this time of year. Whether you’re attending an autumn dinner party or hosting a New Year’s Eve gathering, add these Bacon Wrapped Pears to your short list of appetizers to consider. They’re an awesome addition to just about any planned menu or potluck!

Have you ever tasted roasted pears? Fresh pears are tasty, but roasting takes them to a whole new level of yumminess! Caramelized pear tastes sweeter and more refined than the fresh fruit. And contrasting in many ways, the bacon is the perfect compliment, making my Bacon Wrapped Pears a true treat. Sweet and salty, savory and cinnamon-y. Don’t pass up this recipe, seriously. You’ll be missing out!

While the prep work is easy, it’s a bit tedious. Coring and cutting the pears is a cinch. As is cutting the bacon pieces in half length-wise. However, wrapping the individual pieces of bacon around the pear slices and skewering with an appetizer pick is the part which requires a little more attention and patience. To speed things up, I recommend creating a mini assembly line by having all the ingredients prepared and kitchen gear ready before you begin the bacon-wrapping. And, if you can recruit an assistant, more hands make for lighter work, of course!Uncooked bacon wrapped pear slices laying on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.

While you can wrap the bacon around the pear slices any way you like, I think creating an “X” or “criss-cross” pattern around each pear slice is the most attractive pattern. Although, simply winding the bacon around the pear would save you a few minutes of prep time, and will obviously taste the same.

You may like to skewer each pear slice with an appetizer pick to make it easier to eat – saving the food from being manhandled on the serving tray (yuck!) and saving guests from having sticky or greasy fingers. If you stick the pick through the bacon, it may help it stay in place, too. However, this is not necessarily needed depending on how the bacon is placed. And it is easier to slide the appetizer picks through the pear only, going around the bacon. Try it both ways and see which you prefer.

Appetizer picks are superior to toothpicks, in this instance, though toothpicks will do in a pinch. Choose appetizer picks with a squared-off or rectangular post, if possible. These will work better, preventing the cooked pear from sliding or spinning on a round post on the way to your mouth!Cooked bacon wrapped pears, fresh out of the oven, sitting on a rack on top of a baking sheet.

Serve these pears warm or at room temperature – but not cold! They’re best when eaten fresh, so I don’t recommend making these far in advance. If you bake them at home, then pop them in the oven for a few minutes to reheat when you get to your destination, this works well and won’t monopolize the host’s oven space. A considerate guest is one who gets invited back. And a guest who brings these Bacon Wrapped Pears gets a repeat invite, too 🙂

Bacon Wrapped Pears

Crisped bacon wrapped around slices of cinnamon spiced roasted pear. An ideal appetizer for Fall and Winter gatherings and special meals. 
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 ripe pears, cored and cut into wedges
  • 12 oz bacon, strips cut length-wise
  • cinnamon

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Making a criss-cross pattern, wrap a bacon strip around each pear slice. Slide appetizer pick through the middle of each pear slice. 
  • Place bacon wrapped pear slices on a rack on a rimmed baking sheet (rack not necessary in order to make recipe). Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. Bake for 35 minutes, or until pears are tender and bacon is cooked.
  • Remove from oven. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before plating or eating.

Notes

Best eaten immediately, or if covered for a short period of time and reheated in oven for a few minutes. 
Number of servings depends on number of people eating and how much other food is available. May serve more or less depending.