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I came across this great recipe from a blog that I follow, Frugal Feeding. A young man living in England, Nick inspires us with an array of delicious, wholesome foods while striving to remain thrifty about it. His fabulous photos of Moroccan Meatballs enticed me to give this recipe a try.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

• 300g ground beef

• 3 tbsp chopped fresh herbs

• 1 egg

• 40g breadcrumbs

• Salt, a pinch of

• Pepper, a pinch of

• 2 tsp cumin seed

• ½ tsp ground cinnamon

• 3-4 tbsp olive oil

• 2 cloves of garlic, mashed

• 1-2 chillies, finely chopped

• 1 onion, finely chopped

• 1 stick of celery, finely chopped

• 3 bay leaves

• 1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped

• 1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped

• 1 28 oz/796 ml can of peeled plum tomatoes

• 1 tbsp tomato purée

• A large handful of raisins

• 200g chickpeas

• 1 tbsp honey

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I started with about 450 g of ground beef and just upped the ingredients a little. I love leftovers. The fresh herbs I used were cilantro and mint. Very Moroccan. Cilantro and parsley are the most popular herbs used in Moroccan cuisine, with mint a close second since it is used to make Moroccan tea. I did not have fresh chillis therefore I used harissa, a North African red, hot chilli paste. I minced the garlic, used fresh bay leaves because I had them and used a yellow and orange pepper, also because I had them. Trying to be frugal, right?

I have to say that preparing dinner during the week is a true demonstration of my multi-tasking talents. As I was reading and preparing this recipe, giving Emma her English spelling bee and answering Charlotte’s math questions, I inadvertently mucked the recipe up. Just a tad. They say you should always read a recipe through first. I say, if you’re using delicious ingredients to begin with, does it really matter what order they go into the dish? The end result will be delicious regardless.

Mix the meat, herbs, egg, breadcrumbs and seasonings in a large bowl. Which I did, including the ground cumin and cinnamon. Only they weren’t supposed to go into the meat mixture. The end result though was a delicious Moroccan meatball. If you have children, do have them make the little meatballs. Nothing better than little hands rolling out little meatballs! Or any meatballs, for that matter.

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What actually needs to be done with the cumin seeds is to toast them in a pan until they release their aroma, 2 or 3 minutes over medium heat, and then crush them with a mortar and pestle, or an electric spice grinder. Which I went ahead and did anyway. The tomatoes will welcome these spices and give it that Moroccan flare. So, heat the oil in an oven-proof pot over medium heat and fry the ground cumin and cinnamon in it for about a minute. Add celery and onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and chllis, or harissa, and cook for a couple of minutes. Add bay leaves, peppers, tomatoes and puree. Cook, covered, over a gentle heat for about an hour. Turn the oven on at 325 F. Add raisins, chickpeas, honey and meatballs to the sauce. Earlier that day, I mistook a can of cannellini beans in my pantry for chickpeas…so, no chickpeas for me! And I forgot to add the honey! I was doing homework, remember? Although Nick did say to fry the meatballs first, I did not. At this point, I was just too frazzled! You can go ahead and fry them first in a little oil, or just do as I did and throw them into the sauce raw.  Cover the pot with foil and bake 30 to 40 minutes.

In the end, this recipe turned out to be quite delicious. I served it over a bed of couscous, which the girls absolutely love. Hope you give this a try. And remember, don’t be doing any homework with your children!

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