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WE EAT | Apple Chicken Sausage Meatballs & Smashed Butternut Squash

I often forget how much I love meatballs.  I mean, they are like bite-sized meat loaves - and meat loaf is pretty much amazing.  When I make meatballs the realization that meat balls are absolutely my favorite comes flooding back to me, and I vow to make meatballs for the next 4 months because I love them so.  
Bottom line: Meatballs are always a hit in this house.
Apple Chicken Sausage Meatballs
adapted from Mix & Match Mama 
1 pound Italian chicken sausage, casings removed
1 small honey crisp apples
1/2 red onion, minced
3/4 cup shredded Fontina cheese
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, combine sausage, apple, onion, cheese, egg, garlic and Panko.  Form mixture into 1-inch meat balls and place them on a foil lined baking sheet.  You'll get about 18-20 good sized meatballs.  
In a small bowl, combine ketchup, apple juice, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, mustard and cider vinegar with a whisk.  Set aside.  After your meat balls have cooked for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and drizzle 1/2 of the sauce over the tops.  Continue to bake for another 8-10 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and just caramelized.

Smashed Butternut Squash
2 large butternut squash, 3-5 pounds each
2 small garlic bulbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Line 2 large baking sheets with aluminum foil coated in cooking spray. Arrange squash halves, cut side down, on baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 1 hour, switching baking sheet positions after 35 minutes. Let cool to the touch.
To 'roast' the garlic, simmer the peeled cloves in a small saucepan with olive oil for 15-20 minutes over low/medium heat.  Remove from heat and set aside until you are ready to use.
Scoop out the roasted squash, and place in a large bowl. Mash your 'roasted' garlic cloves with a fork and add to the bowl of squash. 
Stir in half-and-half, Italian seasoning, butter, salt and pepper.
Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Serve hot.

Make Ahead: Prepare squash mash as directed. Cool, cover, and chill up to 3 days in the fridge. Reheat loosely covered with heavy-duty plastic wrap in the microwave OR bake it in a covered casserole dish at 350° until warmed through.
 I have learned a few tips and tricks along the way when it comes to b'nut squash.  After nearly cutting my hand off multiple times, I started to nuke it for just a few minutes prior to cutting to make it a little softer (and less dangerous!)  Prick the squash with a small knife; microwave each squash on HIGH 4 to 5 minutes.  Did you see what I just did there?  Saved your life.  And like 3 fingers.  
 While chicken tends to be bland alone, the apple in this recipe adds subtle sweetness, moisture, and lots of flavor.  I used the honey crisp variety because they are oh-so-delicious and crisp (as their name boasts) this time of year, but any other sweet/crispy apple would work, also.  You could totally substitute turkey or pork sausage, too!  And don't forget the delicious apple bbq sauce drizzled over top.  I especially love it in combination with the smashed squash.  A perfect substitute for mashed potatoes during the fall months. 

Have I mentioned that I absolutely love this time of year?!
Well, I do. And my cooking shows it. 

 Jo was okay with the meatballs, but questioned the texture of the butternut squash.  We have had it before, but not smashed up.  She took a couple bites, and thats what matters to me - she tried it.  I can call 2 bites a success.
 After her allowed 2-bite minimum, she provided the evening's entertainment.
Her sseeewwious face.
 HAPPY face!
 and.. of course.  The cute face.
 Too much attention to Miss Jo Grace means Parker must show out.
Having two (twins or not) is way too much fun.
Even when it is at the dinner table.  The place we should be eating and not playing.  But sometimes, their daddy proves otherwise.  
Mama joins in, as well. 
We break all the rules.

Other WE EAT meatball recipes 
Pesto Turkey Meatballs HERE
Turkey Meatballs and Guacamole HERE



Bitzsoi said...

Looks delicious and I'm glad you all have so much fun at the table. We need to start doing that more at my house!

Emily said...

I just made this tonight! Huge hit with both my husband and 19-mo-old son! I used gruyere (because I'm an airhead and didn't read the recipe right) and put it over rice instead of squash. I also had one of those dinner fail moments where I tried to freeze the raw meatballs overnight and thaw in time for dinner the next day (spoiler alert: they didn't thaw in time), but once I got over that mess and got my ducks in order the next night, they were DELICIOUS! Thank you again!

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