Thursday, January 6, 2011

I love the unknown.

Cold weather makes me crave saucy, meaty dishes. Usually, "saucy" and "meaty" equals something like spaghetti and meatballs, but last week I didn't want to go that route. The meatballs sounded alright, but I wasn't really in the mood for spaghetti.

It was a perfect time to try a new recipe: Moroccan Meatball Stew with Couscous.

This recipe has been banging around in my head for a while now but I never got around to making it happen. But a cold December night is as good a time as any to venture into the unknown.

Unknown because I had managed to make it 35 years without making meatballs. I helped my sister make some last summer, but she did almost all the work. I just rolled a few. But this time the effort was all my own ( with the usual sous chef assist from Frank) and I can confidently say that the effort was well-spent.
Moroccan Meatball Stew
Servings: 4
WW Points+: 10 per serving

1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1/2  lb. lean ground pork
2 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
2 1/2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 ripe tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 (6-oz) can tomato paste
3/4 c. water
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley for garnish
2 c. cooked couscous, kept warm

Combine beef, veal, 1 Tbsp. of the cilantro, 1 1/2 tsp. of the paprika, 1 tsp. of the cumin, 1/2 tsp. of he salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper in a large bowl. Shape into 24 one-inch balls.

Heat a large nonstick skillet. Swirl in the oil , then add the onion and garlic. Saute until softened, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the tomato, tomato paste, water, the remaining 1 Tbsp. cilantro, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper; bring to a boil. Add the meatballs, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the meatballs are cooked and the sauce thickens, 30-45 minutes. Serve over couscous, garnished with parsley.
This dish is warm and filling, and perfect for a cold day. I had fun making the meatballs - I'll have to do that more often!

I met my personal goal of dragging my sleepy butt out of bed early to exercise before work three times this week, so YAY ME (and YAY Harry Potter for being such an easy exercise read)!

Exercising has gotten easier, in more ways than one. I'm finding it easier to motivate myself to to it at all. I don't catch myself making excuses like, "I didn't get a good night's sleep and need 20 more minutes..." or "I'll do it tonight when I get home" (I've NEVER exercised after I got off work, I don't know why I think I can use this lame-ass excuse).

When I am finally on my bike, the minutes go by faster and the resistance increases don't seem as severe. The first couple of times I used my exercise bike last year, I did 15 minutes and thought I was going to throw up. Now I do 23 minutes and while I feel like I'm getting a workout, I don't feel like I'm going to die. I'm going to increase to 24 minutes next week, so we'll see how that goes.

I feel better in general on days when I get up and exercise - physically, because it gets my body moving and energized, and mentally, because I know all day long that I've done something really good for myself.

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