So, I’m pretty lazy when it comes to devising kids meals, reason being I’ve got far from perfect eating habits myself. I’m a croissant-for-breakfast type of gal, have a once-a-week mac n’ cheese habit and (aggghh!) there’s an ice cream store underneath our apartment (FYI they hand-make their own waffle cones which are amazing.) Anyway I’m fully aware that I need to get more clued-up about feeding little ones sustaining meals.
So my new obsession is One Hungry Mama a family food blog penned by Clinton Hill-based nutrition expert, Stacie Billis. She started the site, which now has well over 200 recipes, in 2009. Her inspiration was her two boys (now aged four and seven) who, if they had their way would “eat pizza every night and pour ketchup over everything.”
We asked her to pick the one meal that’s never got a grumpy face from a single kid she’s served it to, even typically picky eaters. Her choice? Thai Chicken Meatballs with Peanut Sauce. PS her favorite local restaurant is Prospect Heights Pizza joint Franny’s, “delicious and super kid friendly”.
But more on those meatballs. “I think that meatballs are an all time best family meal,” says Stacie. “They’re quick, easy to make, versatile, can be dressed up or down, are loved by all, make an excellent early finger food, can be made in big batches, freeze easily and defrost even more easily.”
Stacie serves them up over rice with her quick Thai Peanut Sauce, “which makes the meal feel a bit like meatball satay. You can also serve them with this other all-purpose peanut sauce which is just as quick, but doesn’t require any stovetop cooking.” Her full recipe is below.
(Can be shared with kids 10+ mos)*
1 1/2 lbs ground chicken
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce (or, if you can’t find any, substitute 1 tablespoon supermarket red curry paste)
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons grape seed or other neutral oil, plus more for greasing a baking sheet (or use cooking spray)
Thai Peanut Sauce, for serving (optional; this recipe will make double what you’ll need)
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix first 9 ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Shape mixture into meatballs. I like to make them 1 1/2-inch round.
2. Heat oil in a large oven proof skillet; swirl to coat bottom. Add meatballs, leaving at least 1/2″ around each meatball to avoid overcrowding, and brown on all sides; you may have to do this in batches. Transfer browned meatballs to a cookie sheet coated with a thin slick of grape seed oil or cooking spray and, once they are all on the sheet, transfer them to the oven. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until cooked through.
3. If serving with Thai Peanut Sauce, prepare it while meatballs are in the oven.
*Note: Meatballs are a wonderful early finger food. Crumble or cut meatballs into age appropriate bite sizes and serve with or without peanut sauce. That’s right: it’s possible to safely share peanut sauce with your little one! Read more about early introductions to high allergen foods here.