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Satisfy the hungriest ‘athlete’: Easy weekday meals, snacks

By DAWN HANKINS - dhankins@t-g.com
Posted 7/31/21

It’s that time of year when families will be working and racing home to get meals on the table—more so than usual with school starting back next week. Families will be jetting out the door for gymnastics, football or soccer games and practices. There may even be a parent-teacher conference from time to time...

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Satisfy the hungriest ‘athlete’: Easy weekday meals, snacks

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It’s that time of year when families will be working and racing home to get meals on the table—more so than usual with school starting back next week.

Families will be jetting out the door for gymnastics, football or soccer games and practices. There may even be a parent-teacher conference from time to time.

So we’re supplying your home with some easy recipes that will satisfy those hungry athletes every night of the week. No matter who’s doing the cooking, we believe these recipes are sure to please with ease.

These meals are packed with protein and calcium. Our dairy councils are always so good about supplying us with recipes.

By using refrigerated pizza dough, the cheese stuffed meatball cups are a sure fire winner. They can be easily reheated and add some flare to lunch boxes. The recipe serves 25, so it does feed a crowd, which is always good during tailgate parties.

The black bean blender soup is good any time of the year. Offer as an appetizer. Garnish with a dollop of plain yogurt, popcorn, fresh lime zest, or shredded cheese. Make the soup vegetarian-friendly by substituting vegetable broth. Omit the chicken broth and serve as a simple dip for fresh vegetables, a quick side to tacos, or a hearty addition to a layered salad. 

So if your goal is less hectic meal times this school year, then these recipes—all with basic ingredients which can be made ahead of time. Score with your family by providing a variation of chips and toppings.

Last, and sometimes first before a meal, are our cinnamon oatmeal cookies. We believe “grandma” would even approve.

**Cheesy Stuffed Meatball Cups

Servings: 12

8 oz. block Mozzarella cheese, divided

1 lb. ground beef

1 egg

1 C. Panko style bread crumbs

1⁄2 Parmesan cheese grated

1Tbsp. garlic minced

1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning

1 tsp. onion powder

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1⁄4 tsp. black pepper

2 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 package thin-crust refrigerated pizza dough 11-ounce

3⁄4 C. prepared jar marinara sauce

Garnish: fresh chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut block of mozzarella in half. Using a box grater, shred one half of cheese; set aside. Cut the other half into twelve cubes; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef and next eight ingredients. Combine until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Shape mixture into 12 (3-inch) balls. Press 1 cheese cube into center of ball, sealing it inside. Repeat for remaining 11 meatballs.

Heat butter and olive oil in heavy bottom skillet or cast-iron pan over medium heat. Gently place meatballs into pan, just to brown on each side, about 1 minute on each side. Once brown, remove and place on paper town lined baking sheet or plate to drain off excess fat.

Spray 12 regular size muffin cups with cooking spray. Unroll pizza dough per package directions. Using a 3-inch round cutter, cutout 12 rounds of pizza dough and press each firmly into bottom of each cup well. Dough will not cover sides completely. Place 1/2 tablespoon of marinara sauce in each muffin cup, top with 1 meatball, another 1/2 tablespoon of sauce and sprinkle of shredded mozzarella cheese. Repeat for remaining 11 meatballs. Bake on middle rack for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and browned. Remove from oven and garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

**Queso Meatball Nachos

2 C. each black beans, canned corn

2 C. yellow onions, chopped •

2 Tbsp. Jalapeno peppers, fresh, diced

1 Tbsp. garlic, granulated

2 tsp. black pepper

4 C. Land O Lakes® Mucho Queso™ Jalapeño Cheese Sauce

3 lbs. beef meatballs

unsalted corn tortilla chips (25 oz.)

2 C. chopped tomato

1 C. chopped cilantro

Drain and rinse well black beans and corn. Combine beans, corn, onions, Jalapenos and spices. Add cheese sauce and blend until all ingredients are mixed together. Place meatballs in full size steam table pan. Pour mixed sauce over the meatballs making sure to coat all. Marinate for 24 hours. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. Cook at 300 degrees and heat until the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 165 degrees. Serve 4 meatballs and 1/2 cup sauce on top of 1 oz. tortilla chips. Top with 1 tbsp. tomato and 2 tsp. cilantro. Substitute whole grain hoagie bun for tortilla chips.

**Steak and Arugula Salad

Walnut Dressing

4 Servings

Dressing

1/2 C. coarsely chopped walnuts

1/4 C. white vinegar

1/4 C. plain Greek yogurt

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/4 C. walnut oil

Salad

1/2 C. coarsely chopped walnuts

Nonstick cooking spray

3/4 lb. new potatoes, quartered

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 lb. sirloin steak, about 1-inch-thick

4 C. packed arugula leaves

2 C. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 C. crumbled blue cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Preheat a grill to medium‑high. For the dressing, combine the walnuts, vinegar, yogurt, mustard, salt and pepper in a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth. With the blender running, slowly add the walnut oil and blend for another 5 seconds. Transfer the dressing to a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the salad, spread the walnuts on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until light golden brown, about 4 minutes, stirring once; set aside to cool. Leave the oven on.

Spray a large rimmed nonstick baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Toss the potatoes with the melted butter in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until browned and tender, stirring once or twice.

Meanwhile, season the steak to taste with salt and pepper. Grill for 5 to 7 minutes per side, to your desired doneness. Remove the steak from the grill. Let rest for 5 minutes, then thinly slice.

To assemble the salad, toss the arugula and tomatoes in the dressing. Divide among four serving plates. Top with the steak, potatoes, blue cheese, and toasted walnuts. Serve immediately.

**Blender Black Bean Soup

4 Servings

2 (15-oz.) cans reduced-sodium black beans

½ C. Greek yogurt, plain, non-fat

¾ C. reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 tsp. coriander

½ tsp. cumin

¼ tsp. cayenne

Juice of 1 lime

2 C. popcorn, air popped, no butter

salt, season to taste

Drain the beans and pour all ingredients (except the popcorn) into a blender; blend together until smooth.

On the stovetop or in the microwave, heat the soup to preference. Garnish with a handful of popcorn and one last squeeze of fresh lime on top to serve.

**Cinnamon-Coffee Frosted Oatmeal Refrigerator Cookies

1 C. butter

1 C. brown sugar, firmly packed

1 C. white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 ½ C. sifted flour

1 tsp. soda

1 tsp. salt

3 C. quick cooking oatmeal

½ C. chopped nuts

Cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs, blend well. Add vanilla. Sift together the flour, soda and salt. Add the uncooked oatmeal and nuts. Shape into a roll, wrap in waxed paper and chill overnight. Slice and bake in a moderately hot oven at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet before removing them. Spread with Cinnamon-Coffee Frosting.

Cinnamon Coffee Frosting

3 Tbsp. butter

1 C. powdered sugar

1 Tbsp. coffee

1 tsp. vanilla

½ tsp. cinnamon

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the coffee, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix until smooth and of proper consistency for spreading. Frosts 1 loaf cake or 24 cookies.

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