Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Baby Shower Fun!


I still cannot believe it!  My baby sister (who isn't so much of a baby anymore) is having her own baby! A little baby girl to be precise! 

In honour of this wonderful occasion, myself and my other sisters planned and threw a baby shower to celebrate our new nieces arrival in May. 

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Pink Lemonade Meringues


Simple delicate lemon scented pink meringues.  Perfect for any occasion and a sweet treat without the guilt!

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Monday, 30 March 2015

Greek Cookery Class with Tonia Buxton




I was incredibly excited and honoured to be invited to a Greek Cookery Master class by Fage Total Greek Yoghurt. Taught by the most wonderful Tonia Buxton.
This was even more of an exciting time for me, as the master class was taking place at La Cucina Caldesi a place I have been dying to go to for a very long time!

As soon as I walked up to the school, I saw the sign - today the Italian Cookery School was being taken over and for one day only it was the Greek Cookery School. As soon as I saw the sign, I knew I was in for a fab day!

I was greeted by the lovely Tonia, who was carrying the board of what looked like the most amazing breads. Tonia explained that they were traditional Easter breads, and boy were they amazing! I decided to have a try of the Flaounes, which is filled with magical spices, fruit and cheese- yes I said cheese, and its amazing!




Once I had finished gorging on the delicious breads. I was introduced to a familiar face in the crowd Janey from Slice of Slim we had spoken for about two years but never got the chance to ever meet, albeit a few occasions when we were nearly in the same place at the same time! What a lovely inspiring woman! And what a hoot we had!
 
We were asked to split into groups of 4 or 5, and I was lucky enough to jump into a group with four of the most wonderful ladies, along with Janey - I proceeded to have a hilarious time with these fabulous girls!


Baileee Roberts from The Model Foodie Such a wonderful girl, with a brilliant blog, and wonderful anecdotes of her journeys around the world!
Miriam Nice who is a kindered spirit! Another person who I have spoken to in the past and never met! We were matched as Foodie Pen Pals last year, and was so excited to finally meet her! Total doll and friend for life me thinks! Check her out, this girl can do wonders with an Iron, and not in the most conventional way!
Selina Periampillai fromTaste of Mauritius I mean just look at the front page of her blog, I want to jump in! She also host supper clubs and pop up events which I am dying to go to! She is also amazingly clever, although she had to leave early, she brought some tupperware with her, so that she didnt miss out on any of the food. GENIUS!
Right, so now we are all caught up with the intros - let me show you what we made!  All absolutely glorious, and some surpassed my expectations!  Especially the fish!  As I am not the biggest fish eater, I was worried I wasn't going to enjoy my experience, but Tonia's recipe was fantastic, and I can't wait to make it again!

Of course the cooking was the most hilarious part of my day.  Team Saturday as I like to call us (because the sticker we used to distinguish our dishes from the rest of the pack, said Sat on it - Original huh?) were definitely the naughty group!  We worked really fast, and really well together, but ended up not doing things that way they were supposed to so lots of giggles were had along the way, along with a few telling offs from Tonia :) 

Here are the beautiful dishes we had fun making! 


R-L: Greek Sea Bream Fillets with Olives, Capers, Lemon & Yoghurt Tahini Sauce,Greek Lamb Pattie Tray Bake, Anarocrema


Along with the fabulous food, wine and anecdotes from Tonia.  She also shared with us a game they play each year at Easter in her family!  What a hoot it is!  Basically, they hardboil eggs with some red colouring, each contestant takes and egg, and take it in turn to hit the eggs off their opponents and iwhoever has the egg fully in tact at the end wins!   I think I had a defective egg,  as mine crumbled at the first hit!  We did make Tonia test if her egg was wooden as she was just too good, but I guess! that comes from years of practice :)  Thank you Tonia for showing us this fabulous tradition! It was so much fun! 


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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Chicken & Broccoli in Oyster Sauce




Nothing beats a take away after a long week at work, but lets just face it - even though I have no quarms in giving myself a treat now and then, this is when  I usually go off the rails a little and undo all my hardwork.


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Tahini Yoghurt Sauce



This is one of those recipes which I wish I had in my repertoire for a long time.   The lovely Tonia Buxton taught us how to make this at the Cookery Masterclass I was invited to by Total Greek Yogurt last April.
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Chicken & Sweet Potato Hash



A dish inspired by travels in the US.  One that came together one day when I had no idea what to make for dinner, stepped into the fridge and saw the sweet potato and knew exactly what I had to do! 
Not only is this dish extremely tasty, but full of healthy proteins, and the poached egg just adds a little bit of magic!  

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Spinach Rice (Spanakorizo)



I apologise in advance to any Greek people in the world who are reading this recipe.   I will hold my hands up and confess, this recipe is completely unauthentic - im sure there are people who have spent years trying to refine their very authentic recipes for Spanakorizo, and I come in with little to  no knowledge apart from eating the stuff and create my very own speedy version!!
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Beef Stuffed Aubergines



Taking inspiration from my Greek Cookery Class I created this little dish mainly because I wanted to find something exciting to make to go with the Tahini Sauce, which I was expertly shown how to make!  I do love to stuff a vegetable with whatever I can get my hands on, and all the flavours come together in this dish making it really simple to make, but fabulous on flavour.  Me being me and always needing a carb alongside with my dinner I made some Spinach Rice to go with it - now all I need is a glass of Rose and a beach! 


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Chicken, Vegetable and Rice Goodness Soup



Yesterday the weather turned, it’s raining, miserable and getting dark so early that nothing else can be done but cosy up on the sofa with a blanket and a nice big bowl of soup.
As soon as the weather changes, 98% of the time I get a cold – my body rebels and is sadden by the loss of Summer.  To try and combat this before it happened, I devised a recipe for some soup that is sure to ward off the cold or just make you feel better if you come down with it.   Luckily I did, as the next day I woke up full of the cold, and as soon as I had a bowl of this I felt fabulous!
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Tacchino Tonnato (Turkey with Tuna Sauce & Capers)



This is my twist on an family favourite, and Italian classic dish Vitello Tonnato  Roast Veal topped with a tuna sauce.   I understand that it doesn't sound like the most delightful of combinations - but they go so well together!  My Dad was the first one who introduced me to this dish - I was completely dubious at first, but his version is amazing - and all I could want in the world was this and a nice bit of bread to mop up the sauce! 
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Baked Italian Eggs



About 10 years ago, I went for dinner at an Italian restaurant and on the menu they had baked eggs as a starter, I had no Idea what shape or form they would arrive in, but was intrigued and had to try them.  Out came some gloriously cooked eggs in a divine tomato sauce.  Ever since that day, I have been wanting to make these – but for some reason I never got around to it.
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Turkey Chilli



When I have my heart set on something, I just have to make it no matter what.   One of my biggest cravings is chilli, there is just something about the smokey spices, the soft meat and the beans that just scream out 'EAT ME!'  Chilli for me is one of those meals that can brighten up my day if I eat an amazing version, or can do completely the opposite if I have a bad one.    More often than not, I try and make sure I have a can of kidney beans in the cupboards, on hand so that I can make chilli in some form when the craving hits - and this my friends is my latest recipe.   A lot of people have reservations about turkey, they find it too dry or too bland.  I totally disagree, not only is it a versatile meat, its often a lot cheaper than chicken so I tend to buy it and cooked well, can give you something fantastic. 
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Chicken Chow Mein



This is a fantastic, easy, tasty dish - that is perfect for a weekday meal, that feels like you have put in maximum effort, but really have just thrown it together.  The secret ingredient here is using brown spaghetti instead of noodles - making it much healthier and you wouldn't even notice the difference.   Trust me - Mama Lulabella had no idea! 
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Bacon Minestrone Soup


I am so into my soups at the moment!  Work is incredibly busy, so I have been making my life a little easier by making a big batch of soup at the beginning of the week which help me through my days of eating my lunch at my desk whilst I work. 
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Carrot Cake with Walnut Brittle


Birthday season has well and truly arrived in the office! My most busiest time of year, where my trusty cake pans get a wonderful workout and my evenings are spent with creating wonderful smells throughout the house! 
Thought I'd share this recipe as it is not only delicious, but it's pretty darn easy to make! 
Perfect for any occasion and guaranteed to get the people talking!  
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Orange Lemon & Ginger Drizzle Cake


I have been lucky enough to have been chosen to work on a new initiative with Mackays, a fabulous Preserve and Marmalade company in Scotland.  Over the last few months they have been asking people to come up with new and exciting cake recipes using their products to show just how delicious they can be and that preserves and jams donĂ¢€™t have to just be spread on toast.
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Blueberry & Blackberry Duffins



To be honest, I was sold at the word Duffin! Before I had even found out what they were – I knew that I wanted to eat them!  Turns out they are a cross between a muffin and a donut, what more could a girl want?? As you know I am working on an initiative with Mackays Jam, so I thought I would spice these little babies up and give them a lovely gooey jam centre!   I devised these as a Christmas recipe, but they would work all year round, and good news – somehow I have managed to make them ever so slightly on the healthy side :)
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Heuvos Rancheros


Heuvos Rancheros 'Ranchers Eggs' are a traditional breakfast dish served mid morning in Mexico after a hard mornings graft! 
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Mexican Spice Mix



Recipe makes 14 Tablespoons Worth
You Will Need:
2 Tbsp or Granulated Onion
1 Tbsp of Dried Garlic
4 Tbsp of Paprika
2 Tbsp of Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp of Ground Cumin
1Tbsp of Dried Oregano
1 Tsp of Salt
1 Tsp of Pepper
Method:
Combine all the spices in a bowl giving a good mix after each ingredient is added
Keep in an airtight container or spice jar!
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Salmon & Courgette Pasta



This is the first recipe in a series of dishes that I have been creating as part of a challenge for Total Greek Yoghurt. I don't eat fish myself, but Mr Lulabella gave me the idea for this recipe as he was making something similar for the kids to have at the school he works in.   His of course didn't use the yoghurt, but I thought I could change it up and adapt it and to my great delight it worked out well and he wolfed down the plate! 
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Mediterranean Chicken Bake


Often I get inspirations of looking at pictures of food. Last week I saw on a website a lovely looking dish I didn't know what was in it, as there was no recipe but just the visual gave me the idea to make this dish.
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Chilli Beef & Broccoli Fried Rice



So - this is another one of my, I kind of stole it recipes!!  A lovely lady at the office I work in was preparing her lunch, a big bowl of something that smelled amazing!   She told me what it was and let me taste a bit, and I just had to create my own version!  No Idea how she made hers but this version is just as good! 
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Cheesy Broccoli & Bacon Pasta Bake



This is one recipe I have been trying to perfect for a REALLY long time!   A Low fat healthier version of a cheese sauce.  I’ve had disastrous attempts, sauces splitting, being inedible, and If I actually had a dog, I am sure they would even turn their nose up at previous attempts! 
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Easy Chicken Curry





So I come home from work with the taste for a delicious curry, get out all my spices and want to make a Tikka Masala, but my mum has a different idea.  She has the taste for a chip shop curry, you know the usual just curry spiced kinda thing you can dip your chips into..


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Garlic Chilli Steak with Braised Pak Choy, Spring Onions and Celery





I am quite lucky to get to do a little bit of travel with my job – and one of the places I get to go more often than not is Sweden.  I had never been here before, so was really intrigued to see what it was like.  As usual on my first evening there, instead of going somewhere so I can experience the local culture, I get taken to an Asian restaurant, the type that has all the different cuisines.  So I trawled through the menu trying to find something I liked – and there I saw it chilli garlic fillet steak – they had me at fillet!!

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Chicken Mange Tout & Green Bean Fried Rice




Sometimes  you just need something in a hurry – and this is where my love of microwave rice comes in.  I shall hold my hands up and say I am a bad chef, as Its a very rare occasion that I will actually cook my own rice from scratch 1. Because I can never get it to turn out properly (there are lots of jealous jibes in my house because Mr Lulabella is fabulous at this) and 2. When I get home from a full day’s work I don’t have time to wait 20 minutes for my rice to cook – when I can cook a meal like the one below pretty much within that time! 
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Roast Paprika Chicken




Having just come back from Barcelona, I still have the taste for the sumptuous sauces, bright colours and sunny weather.
I can't bring the sunny weather but I can definitely bring the food!!  One thing I find with Spanish cuisine is that the are able to make the most simple things absolutely delicious.  Take roast chicken for starters, I mean you can't go wrong with just roasting a chicken - however you do it, its going to be fabulous.. But with a little paprika sprinkled on top and some other little extras you can turn the most simple of recipes into something magical! 
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Chicken Pot Pie




I love a pot pie!  The satisfaction of breaking into the crispy lid and revealing a steamy yummy surprise inside, is one of my biggest comforts!  As we are currently living in the Artic, well that is what It feels like, I needed something that was going to keep me warm and make me smile. Because, currently I have way more wrinkles on my forehead from frowning so much about the cold weather  - I mean it’s March and I'm in sub zero temperatures? Mother Nature, I am crying out to wear a pair of sandles!!!!


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Turkey & Mushroom Puff Pie


Picture the scene, a boyfriend calls feeling poorly and you invite him over to give him some TLC.   Wracking your mind you try and come up with all the things that might make him feel better - and then it hits you.. Pastry in the freezer.. Everything else in the fridge, lets make him his favourite meal - a yummy comforting pie. 


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Sweet Potato and Spinach Curry


When planning my meals ahead for the week, I always like to make a big pot of something that I can have for lunch or dinner a few times a week to starve away the hunger and keep me on track! 
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Chicken Chasseur





Chicken Chasseur always reminds me of my eldest sister.  It is her speciality 
dish, and I LOVED it!   She has only ever used the packet mixture to make the sauce, and even though for years of buying the same one as her – mine never used to taste as good!

Now I am on my cooking journey, I decided to give a go at making my own version, with very happy results, and the seal of approval from my sister!!

This is perfect for the winter months – luxurious sauce, warm and filling, and if it was a person it would be like having a hug!


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Lamb Kofta Curry




Did you know – that a kofta is basically a meatball??!! I am so used to seeing them on sticks and thinking that they are some type of kebab!  I spend so much time researching food, what things go together, where things come from etc – that I was surprised when I stumbled across this one!  The recipe came to me when I was on the bus – thinking well I would like to make some koftas but in my mind, I’m thinking kebab pitta bread etc.  That is not what I felt like though.. I wanted something saucy with some rice – so I researched ‘kofta curry’ and to my surprise lots of recipes came up!  There are so many different variations from different parts of the world –so I decided to create my own – using my tried and tested curry recipe, adding in a few tweaks!


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Taco Chilli Bowls


 Chilli is one of my favourite things – I remember when I made my first ever successful batch, getting the spices right, not too powerful, not too weak and getting that feeling of delight when you have your first mouthful.

My chilli recipe is not like your normal chilli you would have – whilst In America, I found out that an actual traditional chilli doesn’t have kidney beans in it.. Which is good, because my family love chilli but they don’t like beans so we never have it.. But now we have a solution!


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Swedish Meatballs



My whole family have always loved the Swedish meatballs from Ikea. When someone needed something from Ikea everyone would want to get in the car too just so they could have some meatballs.  Over the years I grew out of them - they just weren't the same as they used to be - so I decided to try my hand at my own recipe.  Most likely not the traditionalist of recipes - but the gravy is divine and its a fabulous treat which is not as naughty as you think! 
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Malanzane Parmigiana



I'm a big fan of cheese- and a big fan of aubergine - and this dish just combines the two.

For years and years I have been trying to perfect my recipe for this to make it taste as good as a restaurant, and that was before I stopped cooking with oil! Now faced with the challenge of no oil which aubergines love - how was I to get my Melanzane to be up to par now?! 

Today I had this again for lunch, and to be honest I could have been transported to a restaurant it was fabulous even if I do say so myself - cheesy tomatoey goodness teamed with a fabulous sweet aubergine - perfection in my books!


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Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers



So I have never been to Philadelphia.. But I’ve been to New York, and was surprised at the popularity of this dish!  To be honest – who doesn’t like steak peppers, and onions in a roll with melted cheese!!  I’ve always wanted to make a version of this – but since my healthy eating days my bread intake is not as fun as it used to be – so I am always trying to find new ways and new vessels to house the food that I love!

Whilst spending many hours on Pinterest, which is a daily occurrence for me, I saw a picture of Philly Cheese Steak Peppers and just had to use the idea!

To be honest – it works so very well, and takes the cheese steak to another dimension, all the flavours are there and the soft juicy pepper will make your mouth water.



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Salisbury Steak



This dish isn't exactly what is seems, I first came across it in America when browsing the ready meals out of curiosity for all the different things they had! 

Branded the ultimate TV dinner, usually comes as a ready meal with mash in one of those little containers with all the compartments, but it actually was a meal that an American Physician Dr J.H. Salisbury invented as a weight loss meal for a low carb diet!  


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Jerk Spiced Chicken Drumsticks






I have been so fed up with the weather, there is no sign of it getting better anytime soon it's March for goodness sake, why is it still snowing???   So it doesn't look like I am going to be able to get a holiday anytime soon, so decided I would take myself to the sun with my food! 

I've taken a little trip to the Isle of Jamaica, well my version which would probably be more like the Isle of Wight with my very unauthentic recipe, but the flavours are there - and if you closed your eyes ish.. You can just feel the breeze from the waves.... 


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Turkey Meatballs in a Rich Tomato Sauce



I am a huge fan of Meatballs! In every shape, every form and every type imaginable.  I eat a lot of red meat, so I have been trying to cut down and find ways of changing the ways of my favourite things, but still maximise on flavour and not deprive myself of anything.

I remember years ago when the foot and mouth epidemic hit us, my Mum stopped using normal beef mince in any of her recipes.  Her spaghetti bolognaise was the best thing ever, so when she hit us with a bowl of turkey mince we could have cried!! Luckily because she is amazing it didn’t matter, because she still managed to make it tasted great!  Still to this day, she will never buy beef mince, she will only make her bolognaise, with the now upgraded version of pork mince, and it’s still as divine as ever!

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Turkey Meatball & Potato Bake




I was chatting to my mama about this dish the other day, telling her where I got the inspiration for it from.  7 years ago It was my lovely youngest sister's 18th Birthday and My Dad had come over from the US to celebrate.  He took us to this amazing restaurant called Daphne's in South Kensington, London where we were to have a fabulous meal.  Mama Lulabella found it quite funny that I could remember what everyone had eaten that day, let alone get inspiration from it! I simply told her, I might not be able to tell you what happened a few years ago, but I can sure tell you what you ate!!  I think that shows my love of food - or that I am bonkers?! 
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Thai Sweet and Sour Chicken


My family used to live in this fabulous house – my favourite of all the houses I have lived in – and just around the corner was this amazing Thai restaurant. Every so often as a treat we would get a take away from there, and ever single one of us ordered the same dish. Their Sweet and Sour Chicken.  It was so much nicer than the bright orange deep fried sweet and sour that I had been used to getting in Chinese restaurants (Don’t get me wrong – I still love that – but my waistline doesn’t).  Still to this day it is one of my favourite things to eat, so I have tried to conjure up my very own version of the Manee Thai Sweet and Sour that I loved so much growing up.   The results went down well, and I’m pleased to say I got the seal approval from Mama Lulabella herself!
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Polpette


To most people Polpette is generally the Italian for meatball, which is very true.  However, it also means patty, and that is exactly how I've known them and always will.

The first time I tried Polpette was in Italy. My Nonna had made us as always a fabulously fruitful dinner, consisting of pasta, salad, cheese, bread and these little nuggets of pure enjoyment.  We were sitting on the balcony after a long day swimming at the beach and I can still picture the scene and hear the knives forks, and glasses clinking together as everyone ate and drank. 

I remember the first taste. Crispy, meaty, juicy all in one go.  The combination of all the ingredients, just melted in your mouth. The breadcrumbs in the mixture make them go crispy and give them a little shield to hold in the juice.  Of course, mine will never be as good as Nonna's but I think I have done a good job, making a few substitutes, so this is something that I can enjoy.  Personally I love to serve these straight out of the oven with a nice big salad, but of course you can put these in some sauce if you really want to! 

Calories: 268  •  Slimming World: FREE* on Extra Easy Plan 

 Weight Watchers Pro Points: 5PP • WeightWatchers Filling & Healthy Values: 3PP



Preparation Time: 15 Minutes
Cooking Time: 20 Minutes
Serves 4

You Will Need:
250g Extra Lean Beef Mince
250g Lean Pork Mince
2 Garlic Cloves Minced
3Tbsp Fresh Breadcrumbs (I made mine with Warburton's Danish Bread)
2 Egg Whites Whisked
1 Tbsp Grated Parmesan Cheese
Bunch of Flat Leaf Parsley Chopped
Salt & Pepper for Seasoning
Frylight/Calorie Controlle Oil Spray

Method: 

Preheat oven to 200 degrees

Place the mince in a mixing bowl, add the garlic, breadcrumbs, salt & pepper, parsley, parmesan cheese and egg whites and combine into the meat.  Be careful not to overwork as your meat will become tough when you cook it. 

Wet one of your hands ever so slightly, take a wooden spoon sized measure of the mixture and start to roll it into an oval shape - we are making flatter meatballs not like the regular ones - like little burgers! 
(reason for wetting your hand, is that it stops the meat sticking to you, and makes it nice and smooth) 

Place each polpette, into a dish - and if you have time - once they are all formed leave in the fridge for about 20 minutes to let them set and this will make them keep their shape

Heat some oil in a frying pan, and brown the polpette on both sides about 2-3 minutes each side

Place on a baking tray, and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes until cooked through but still juicy

These little nuggets of goodness are best served with a nice big salad. 


* Free if using breadcrumbs made from your HEB option

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