Dark Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

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I made these delicious cupcakes for Valentine’s Day this year. That was weeks ago, I know! But, better late than never, right? The past few weeks have been crazy! Between a busy work schedule, going on vacation, and GETTING ENGAGED my time has been very consumed (in the best way possible)! While John and I have been sitting down to the computer together to look at wedding venues (eeek!), this is the first time in  weeks that I have sat down at the computer to write. Sad, but true. In the coming weeks I am looking forward to sharing all of our wonderful St. Croix vacation photos (plus some of the surprise engagement shoot photos) with you! Stay tuned!

Back to the cupcakes- I have to say, I think this is the best gluten free dessert that has come out of my kitchen! The cupcakes were flavorful, moist, and had the perfect (non-gluten free) consistency which can be really tough with GF baking. While they were not hard to make, they were not easy either. Cutting out the center of the cupcakes and trying to get the tops back on after I filled them was tedious. I suppose you could probably not worry about putting the top back on if you knew they were all going to be eaten that same day. Otherwise I worry the filling would leak out and make the frosting funky. Thanks, but no thanks.

Ingredients

For the Cupcakes
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup (unsweetened) cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 3/4 cup gluten free flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For Filling
  • 1 large jar cherry pie filling (I used a local Door County pie filling)
For Frosting
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium bowl, then pour hot water over chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill (20 minutes or 10 in freezer).
  2. While the chocolate is chilling, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour,  sugar, salt and baking soda. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla.
  3. Once the chocolate has cooled pour it into oil mixture and stir until well combined, then add flour mixture and whisk until silky smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into paper lined cupcake tin (12 count). Bake in preheated for 17 – 19 minutes. You can check  if they are done by inserting a toothpick into the center of a cupcake, if it comes out clean they are done!
  5. Allow cupcakes to cool in baking tin for a few minutes before you transfer to a wire rack. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before you try to cut them out. If you don’t wait, the cupcakes will be very difficult to cut not to mention impossible to frost!
  6. With a small sharp knife cut a hole in the center of each cupcake. You want to make them big enough and deep enough to be able to add about 2 tablespoons of pie filling to each. Note: you can trim the bottom part (actually the top of the cupcake) that you cut out so it sit flat when you put the tops back on!
  7. For the frosting, in a large mixing bowl add butter and beat until it’s whipped. Add in the first 3 cups of sugar, cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon milk, and vanilla extract. Beat this on low-medium until creamy. Note: If the frosting is runny add more  powdered sugar, if the frosting thicker than you would like add more milk.
  8. Using an icing bag (or cut the tip off of a Ziploc baggie) and frost your cupcakes. Top with cherry and enjoy!

 

Bon appétit!

Fresh Fruit Tart

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After seeing dozens of lovely fruit tarts in bakery windows and in the pastry cases at Whole Foods for months and months, I finally decided I needed to try making one myself.  It just so happens that while grocery shopping a few weeks ago, I was surprised to find there was a huge produce sale going on. The berries were all on super sale and I took it as a sign. It was now or never time for that fruit tart I had been longing to make. But seriously, when is fruit ever on sale in Wisconsin in the dead of winter? Correct answer is never.

But, It’s not like everyone has a tart tin laying around. I had to make a quick pit stop at Sur La Table on my way home from the grocery store. They had so many great options and sizes! The mini tart tins may or may not be on my birthday wishlist this year.

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Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (I used Trader Joe’s GF flour this time)
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

For the Filling

  • 1 package (8 oz) low fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For Topping

  • kiwis
  • blueberries
  • blackberries
  • raspberries

For the Glaze

  • 1 (6 oz) can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine the powdered sugar, flour, and butter. Using a low speed, mix until ingredients forms a ball. The dough will be soft and crumbly. Using your hands, press the dough evenly into a 12 inch tart pan that with a removable bottom.
3. Bake crust for 10-12 minutes or until it is VERY lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
4. Now, you can make the glaze. Combine the limeade, cornstarch, lime juice, and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. You should notice the sauce becoming clear and thick, that’s when you know it is done. Set aside to cool.
5. While the crust is cooling you can make the topping. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until creamy. Once cooled, evenly spread the topping. Remember: You absolutely have to wait until the crust is cooled, if you get impatient and try and frost it too early it will rip the top up.
6. Slice up fruit and begin to arrange it on the tart. Starting at the edge of the crust, working your way to the middle. You can get creative with your circles! Fill in any extra spaces with a small fruit like blueberries. End by clustering the fruit of your choice in the center.
7. With a pastry brush, glaze the entire tart. The more you use the more tart the flavor! Note: you will not end up using all of the glaze.

Bon appétit!

 

Friday Favorites: Treat Yourself

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1. The perfect cherry pie made with a little extra love.

2. Pink heart macarons I am totally obsessed with. Surprise, surprise.

3. Chocolate covered pretzels that are almost too pretty to eat.

4. Mini heart cookies.

5. Heart shaped chocolate dipped rice krispie treats.

6. Black forest cupcakes that I plan on making this weekend.

7. (Adorable) chocolate dipped shortbread cookies.

8. Champagne raspberry cupcakes that scream GALentine’s Day!

9. Red velvet donuts perfect for homemade Sunday brunch.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! XOXO

 

Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds

DSC_0021I made these cinnamon sweet potato rounds with herbed ricotta, walnuts, cranberries, and bacon for my dish to pass at our last game night. Not only were they pretty easy, but they tasted amazing! They were the perfect balance of sweet and savory. Wanna know what else was sweet? Winning game night. Sorry friends, one last chance to brag. For those of you who have never played the Ticket to Ride: Europe board game, go and buy it right now. It’s so much fun! Plus, you can play it as a single or with teams.

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Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
For the Herbed Ricotta:
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 tsp italian seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
For Topping:
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • chopped bacon
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • additional honey

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash, peel, slice sweet potatoes into 1/4 inch thick rounds.
  3. In a medium bowl toss sweet potatoes with olive oil and cinnamon. Transfer to foil lined baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, flipping potatoes half way through. You just want your rounds to be lightly browned and crispy around the edges.
  4. In a small bowl mix ricotta cheese, italian seasoning, honey, and salt. Stir until well combined. Set aside.
  5. Pan fry bacon until nice and crispy. Let cool on paper towel. Once cooled enough to touch, chop into bite size pieces. Set aside.
  6. Chop walnuts and spread on a baking sheet. With 10 minutes left on the timer for the potatoes, and place the walnuts in the oven to lightly roast.
  7. Remove sweet potatoes and walnuts from the oven. Place a dollop of ricotta mixture on each round and place in the oven for 4 minutes, just until ricotta is warm.
  8. Top with chopped walnuts, bacon bits, and dried cranberries. Drizzle with honey and enjoy!

Bon appétit!

Cinnamon Rolls

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Cinnamon rolls are one of my favorite breakfast treats. I think I have found one single GF cinnamon roll in all of my gluten-free days (5 years and counting!). Soooo I decided to give making my own a try over the holidays! I forgot you have to use live yeast and let the dough rise, so this ended up being a more time consuming breakfast than I had planned. Once I realized how long the dough needed to rise and how many times (twice), I decided to make it the night before and let it do its thing until morning. Thankfully the Garrett’s sun porch was the perfect temperature to leave the dough out there overnight!

Rolling the dough was a little tricky. It was SUPER sticky and I had to use a lot of flour to be able to roll it out. I thought that was going to be the hardest part, but I was wrong. I sprinkled the dough with the fillings only to realize I had no idea how I was going to tightly roll this into a log. The dough was warm and soft and still very sticky. I dusted my hands with flour and rolled to the best of my ability. My log turned out a little lumpy but overall not too shabby. Whatever the rolls were lacking in shape, they made up for in taste!

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Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, well beaten at room temperature
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 cups gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Flour)

For the Filling

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

For the Icing

  • 4 oz or 1/2 package cream cheese (I like the 1/3 less fat), room temperature
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Fill a small bowl with 1/4 cup warm water then sprinkle in the yeast and add a small pinch of sugar. Stir until water and yeast are well combined. Set the mixture aside for 5 minutes or until the yeast starts to slightly bubble and become foamy. Note: I learned the date of the yeast package doesn’t really matter as long as it still activates when you use it. I used yeast with a 2014 date and it worked perfectly!
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk, eggs, melted butter, sugar and salt. Mix well. Stir in the yeast mixture and begin slowly adding the flour. Mix until well combined. Remember, the dough will be pretty soft and sticky. But, if it’s too loose to even get out of the bowl, add a little more flour and mix well. Once the dough is firm enough, cover with plastic wrap then place it in a warm spot to rise for about 1 hour or overnight like I did. Note: If you are going to leave it overnight, make sure you put it in a large enough bowl lightly covered so it has room to rise.
  3. Now, the dough should have nearly doubled in size. Dust your work space (I usually use a baking mat) with plenty of gluten-free flour. Place dough ball on floured surface and sprinkle with additional gluten-free flour so your rolling pin doesn’t stick. Roll dough out to somewhere near an 18″ by 18″ square.
  4. In another bowl, stir together the brown sugar, regular sugar, nuts and cinnamon until well combined.
  5. Spread the soft butter evenly across the dough then cover with the sugar/nut mixture. Tightly roll the dough up and cut it evenly into 12 slices. I dusted my knife with flour between cuts to keep it from sticking and deforming the rolls (even more than they already were ha).
  6. Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking dish and places the rolls in evenly. Cover with plastic wrap then place in a warm spot to rise for another hour or so. They should noticeably rise during this time.
  7. In preparation for baking, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Once the rolls have risen again, bake in preheated over for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. While the rolls are in the oven you can make the icing.
  9. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt. Beat on low/medium speed until icing is creamy.
  10. Once the rolls are browned to perfection remove from the oven and transfer pan to a cooling rack. Once they have cooled slightly, frost and serve warm!

Bon appétit!

Christmas Cookie Extravaganza

NikonD3100_063As a child, I remember my mom making ridiculously over the top Christmas cookies every year. Not only did she deliver her delicious cookie trays to her closest friends and family, but she never forget to bring some to the bank, grocery store, and salon. Tis’ the season for giving, right? Now as adults, this is a tradition my sister and I started to participate in. I used to wonder exactly how much pleasure my mom could get from slaving away in the kitchen for days, and now I have an answer. A lot!

This year we spent 3 days making 26 different kinds of Christmas cookies! Some of the cookies were naturally gluten-free, while others were able to be modified. We tried a few new recipes, but stuck mostly with my mom’s favorites. With more than 25 years under her belt, we trust her judgement (even if she doesn’t think we do!).

Below is a recipe for chocolate dipped creams. This year we decided to make them gluten-free. The dough ended up being a little bit more crumbly than a traditional cookie dough, so instead of rolling the cookie into a log shape we made little balls. Like many gluten-free products the cookies also turned out pretty fragile. So instead of dipping the cookies in chocolate, we drizzled them with the chocolate. I think they turned out great!

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Chocolate Dipped Creams

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate
  • Assorted sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Cream butter, and add sugar gradually. Once well mixed add vanilla.
  2. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Once blended and dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Set aside and chill (overnight is possible).
  3. Once dough has cooled using a cookie scoop (heaven forbid you don’t have uniform cookies) and shape teaspoonfuls of dough into round balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees about 12 minutes or until lightly brown. Remove from pan and cool completely on a cooling rack.
  5. Melt chocolate in the microwave on medium power (L5 normally) until melted. Stirring often.
  6. Drizzle cookies with warm chocolate and cover with sprinkles.

Bon appétit!

Thanksgiving 2015

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As many of you may already know, John and I hosted his family in Madison for Thanksgiving this year. It was a full house, but with help from a cute little Airbnb rental, we made it work! We had a wonderful few days full of eating, visiting, relaxing, and site seeing around Madison. We enjoyed visiting the Madison Children’s Museum, exploring the Bolz Conservatory at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, and touring the Wisconsin State Capital building. 

For our Thanksgiving dinner we decided to keep the dishes pretty traditional. We were able to prep some things on Wednesday evening, so Thursday was (surprisingly) relaxed. All of the desserts, minus the ice cream were made on Wednesday. Along with the desserts, we also prepared the vegetarian gravy,  the gluten free bread for the stuffing, the baked mashed potatoes, and the sweet potato casserole ahead of time. Our entire menu consisted of…

Free range turkey (a 22 lb one nonetheless)

Regular turkey gravy

Vegetarian mushroom gravy (that was almost better than the regular turkey one)

Gluten-free stuffing (made from GlutenX Great Harvest gluten-free bread which is made fresh on Wednesdays!)

Vegetarian stuffing

Creamed corn casserole (from my moms tried-and-true recipe)

Balsamic glazed green beans with cranberries and almonds from Lauren Kelly Nutrition

Sweet potato casserole from Creme de la Crumb

Baked mashed potatoes from Recipe Girl

And for dessert…

Gluten-free pecan pie from Gimme Some Oven (with a homemade GF pie crust from Simply Gluten Free Desserts cookbook)

Gluten-free pumpkin pie from American Heritage Cooking (with a homemade GF pie crust from Simply Gluten Free Desserts cookbook)

Gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake from Paula Deen (I just needed to substitute the regular graham crackers for GF ones)

Homemade vanilla ice cream

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For the tables, we used pretty fall tablecloths and coordinating napkins that I tied with jute twine and embellished with an artificial leaf. I had been dying to make my own pumpkin centerpieces since I came across some beautiful images a few months ago. What better time to make them than Thanksgiving?!

For the centerpieces I used small pie pumpkins and carved out the insides, cleaning as much pumpkin goop out as possible to delay rotting. I made sure to carve the top opening of the pumpkins large enough to fit in a short wide mouth mason jar to hold water for the flowers. Then I trimmed the flowers (I needed to cut mine pretty short) and arranged them in the jars, before placing the entire thing inside the pumpkin. I loved the way they turned out! I would highly recommend this idea to anyone who is looking for a creative fall centerpiece!

Butternut Squash and Kale Salad

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Happy December! I know this recipe feels a little fallish for this late in the year, but it is too good not to share! We have eaten this salad three times since discovering all of its goodness a few weeks back. It’s great on its own OR served as a side. We enjoyed tossing in some grilled chicken for a little added protein (otherwise John is already snacking an hour after dinner). Dessert I (always) accept. But after dinner snacking I do not!

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Ingredients

For the Salad:

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 6 oz goat cheese
  • 1 large Apple
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1/2 cup Craisins
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

For the Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  •  1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degree.
  2. Wash, peel, and cube squash. Place in a large mixing bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper. Transfer to a foil lined baking sheet.
  3. Roast squash for 35-40 minutes until lightly brown. Stirring halfway through to avoid uneven browning.
  4. While squash is in the oven candy the pecans. Melt butter and brown sugar in a nonstick pan. Once brown sugar is dissolved add pecans, stir,  and cook 2-3 minutes over low medium heat. Place on wax paper to cool.
  5. Wash and cut apple into thin slices. Peel and slice onion. Set aside.
  6. Wash and dry kale and cut away the stems. Chop remaining leaves into bite size pieces. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside.
  7. To make the dressing, combine the maple syrup, olive oil, mustard, vinegar and salt in a salad dressing shaker (we used a mason jar with a lid) and shake until mixed well.
  8. Once the butternut squash comes out of the oven, serve the kale and top with with squash, onions, pecans, apple slices, craisins, and goat cheese. Dress salads and enjoy!

Bon appétit!

Pumpkin Zucchini Muffins

I’m back! I apologize for the lack of posts the last 2 weeks! Between a crazy few weeks at work and getting prepared for Thanksgiving (which was a blast btw) my blog was sadly the first thing to fall by the wayside. I plan to make a much bigger effort this month to keep up with a better posting schedule. I still have a few fall recipes (that I don’t think you are going to want to miss) I’m going to squeeze in before I switch to Christmas mode.

Speaking of Christmas, wow I can’t believe how fast November has gone. Most of you may already know, but I love Christmas. Like really love. It’s my favorite holiday, other than my Birthday of course. I am really looking forward to sharing my top gift picks, favorite Christmas cookie recipes, and fun holiday craft projects!

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This recipe is for healthy pumpkin zucchini muffins with dark chocolate chips! I love making muffins in the beginning on the week so we can have an easy grab and go breakfast ready for the early mornings. These tasty (and semi guilt free) little muffins go great with a hot cup of joe. The chocolate chips are optional, but highly recommended. I want to try this recipe with dried coconut flakes and walnuts next time! MMMM.

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Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • cinnamon to taste
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini, dried with paper towel
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla)
  • 1/2 cup  dark chocolate chips (I like the Ghirardelli ones)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Side note, after burning one of my pies for Thanksgiving we discovered our oven runs 50 degrees too hot! If you are wondering if you have the same problem (pretty common with a gas stove), you can buy an oven thermometer to compare what you have set your (preheated) oven to and what the temp is at inside.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and pie spice.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl combine pumpkin, zucchini, honey, oil, egg, and vanilla until mixture is smooth and creamy. Whisk in almond milk. Slowly add dry ingredients until well mixed. Fold in chocolate chips or other nuts of your choosing.
  4. Grease a (12) muffin tin and evenly distribute batter. Sprinkle top of muffins with ground cinnamon (optional).
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until muffins have started to lightly brown and your toothpick comes out clean! Transfer pan to a cooling rack and remove muffins to cool.

Bon appétit!

 

Teriyaki meatball bowls

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If you like teriyaki and you like meatballs this recipe is for you! Not only was it was easy peasy, but it also made for great leftovers (my favorite). Now that John and I are living under one roof, making a weekly menu and grocery shopping is so much easier (only one of the very many wonderful perks). Planning ahead and having all of the ingredients makes making meals like this after work (and sometimes even the gym) more manageable! Plus- not to hate on the PB&J lovers, but who doesn’t love delicious dinner leftovers for lunch??

Ingredients

For the bowls
  • jasmine rice
  • green onions for topping
For the meatballs
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, grated or diced
  • ½ teaspoon gluten-free soy sauce (we like the low sodium one)
  • 3 green onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
For the teriyaki glaze
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the ground turkey in a medium sized bowl.  Peel and dice ginger, mince the garlic, slice the green onions and add everything to the bowl. Then add egg, breadcrumbs, soy sauce, and black pepper. Using freshly washed hands mix all the ingredients together until well blended.
  2. Cover a baking sheet with foil. I also used a wire rack on the top of the foil to place the meatballs on in case anything was going to drip off. Turns out turkey is so lean this wasn’t really necessary, but I think would be if you used a less lean meet such as pork or beef. Roll the meat mixture into small sized balls, around a tablespoon each. Depending on the size of your meatball you should make around 25-30 individual balls. Place meatballs on the foil lined baking sheet (or wire rack, in my case) and bake 35- 40 minutes until golden brown.
  3. While the meatballs are baking, start to cook the rice. You can prepare the rice however you would like. As usual, we used a rice cooker. John loves any chance he can get to use that thing!
  4. Now you can begin preparing the teriyaki glaze. In a medium pot combine the soy sauce, water, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Heat on low until the sugar is dissolved, approximately 3-4 minutes. Now add the cornstarch to a small bowl of water. You only want to use enough water to get the cornstarch to dissolve, around 1-2 tablespoons. Add the liquid to the pot, turn up the heat to medium, and stir until thickened. Set aside until meatballs are ready.
  5. When your meatballs are done, transfer them from the baking sheet into the glazed filled pot. Stir until all of the meatballs are coated.
  6. Serve meatballs over rice (preferably with extra sauce) and top with remaining green onions.

Bon appétit!