Monday, November 29, 2010

196. Meatballs, Southwestern Style, Taste and Eye Appeal

   The Southwestern states - New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Nevada, California, Utah and Colorado -  have an exciting variety of plants, animals and scenery. From palm trees to cactus, sagebrush and tumbleweed, snow-capped mountains, pastures and farm land, the Southwest is unforgettable.

   Because of the influence of nearby Mexico, Southwestern food is often spicy and hot and the various combinations of cilantro, peppers, avocado and tomato have become a favorite all over the world.

   Many of the south-of-the-border style foods have a layered appearance as vegetables, meat, sauces and cheeses are added one by one. Lovely to look at, these crowd-pleasing meals are inexpensive and filling.

    The Meatballs, Southwestern Style recipe is reminiscent of chili. It definitely has taste and eye appeal as well as a spicy flavor.

Meatballs, Southwestern Style

1 pound ground beef  (or ground turkey)        1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained
1 pkg. chili seasoning, divided                        1 (15 oz) canned corn, drained
1slice bread, crumbed                                     1 (5 oz) can tomato paste
1 egg, beaten                                                   1/4 C green pepper, chopped
1 T olive oil                                                    1 (10 oz) can Rotel diced tomatoes/chilies
Water (2 tomato paste cans)                            Salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
Toppings: Cooked macaroni or hot rice, avocado, sour cream, cheddar cheese, shredded

Combine beef, 1 T chili seasoning, bread crumbs and egg. Shape beef mixture into 24 meatballs.

Add oil to a large skillet pre-heated to med-high. Brown meatballs, turning frequently until evenly browned; drain on paper towels and set meatballs aside. Spoon drippings from pan and turn heat down to medium. Add beans, corn, tomato paste, green pepper, Rotel and remaining chili seasoning. Mix well. Place meatballs over mixture in skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Uncover and simmer an additional 5 minutes.

 Ladle meatballs and vegetables over hot rice or macaroni.
Top with avocado slices, sour cream and cheddar cheese.

Additional toppings: sliced black olives, green chilies, sauteed onions, chopped tomato, chopped cilantro.

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