Turkey Quinoa Meatballs & Getting Out of a Cooking Slump

Confession time:

Last week? It was kind of a disaster as far as cooking for myself.

Seriously. A disaster.

The refrigerator was empty after getting back from Sweet Escape, and I kept forgetting to do the groceries (which I usually do online, further adding to the patheticness of things).

My days were also so full that come dinnertime, all I could manage was to log onto delivery.com and ask Eugene "Italian, Latin or Asian?"

I almost hate to admit it, but this is a thing that happens around here every so often..especially after a big event like my retreat. After those 3+  days of cooking multiple multi-course meals for 20 people, I was honestly just spent.

With the exception of the dishes I cooked on camera on Friday, I pretty much stayed out of the kitchen and let the fine restaurants in our neighborhood handle the cooking.

This week, I vowed things would be different. I filled the fridge with fresh veggies, fruit, and my favorite meats. I bought a case of strawberries to make jam. And I planned out a few dishes that I knew would make my life easier throughout the week.

First up? These Turkey Quinoa Meatballs.

These things are incredible: ground turkey seasoned with herbs, lemon zest and a bit of chile flakes,  then mixed with cooked protein-packed quinoa instead of bread crumbs.

They're little nutrition power houses that can be made in advance to add to sauce or soup, tossed in a salad, or served with a dip as a party appetizer. I even like these cold and straight out of the fridge for breakfast.

The recipe below makes a big batch of about 50 meatballs that you can portion up and freeze for meals throughout the week.

And that, my friends, is totally the key lesson here. Because nobody can be expected to be 100% on the ball all of the time (I most certainly am not!). But you can plan ahead for those moments when you need it.

It's a tiny bit of extra upfront effort that will ultimately make life easier and better.

There are seriously fewer things better than being able to open the fridge at the end of an exhausting day, and find that dinner (or lunch) was already made by an organized, more productive, earlier version of you.

Now let's just hope I remember this for next time!

For more bulk cooking ideas, check out this post on frozen shredded chicken and the ideas in this post on cooking for a pregnant friend

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Turkey Quinoa Meatballs
Makes 50 meatballs

3 pounds ground turkey (I use a mix of breast and dark meat)
2 cups cooked quinoa (use leftovers, or prepare a fresh batch according to package directions)
3 large garlic cloves, finely minced
3 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground pepper
1 tablespoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1 large egg
1 red bell pepper, finely diced (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

In a large bowl or the base of a stand mixer, combine the turkey, cooked quinoa, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, crushed red pepper, rosemary, lemon zest and juice, egg, and bell pepper (if using). Mix until thoroughly combined. Use your hands or a small scoop to roll the mix out into 1 1/2" balls and arrange next to each other on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are fully cooked and slightly golden on top. Serve immediately, or let cool slightly before portioning and storing. (These can also be added to simmering tomato sauce to make them tender, or to a soup broth.)

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