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Dinner forecast is cloudy with a chance of meatballs

Diana Johnson is a recipe developer, photographer, writer and the creator of Eating Richly Even When You're Broke. She is passionate about helping people learn to cook and eat foods rich in nutrition and flavor, even on a tight budget, a...

Wow your kids with raining meatballs

This meatball rainstorm is so cute, kids won't even realize they're getting a complete meal as they eat it. The chunky meatballs, steamed broccoli trees and creamy mashed potato clouds are perfect for toddlers exploring textures in their food.

 Dinner forecast is cloudy with a chance of meatballs

This dinner scene of raining meatballs is sure to elicit "oohs" and "ahhs" at your next mealtime, and once the mashed potatoes and meatballs are made, it's ridiculously easy to assemble.

 Dinner forecast is cloudy with a chance of meatballs

Start by using a 1-inch cookie scoop to form clouds at the top of each plate. Place 2 scoops on top and 3 on the bottom.

 Dinner forecast is cloudy with a chance of meatballs

Use your fingers to gently pat the clouds and smooth them out, and then use a paper towel to wipe any excess from the plate.

 Dinner forecast is cloudy with a chance of meatballs

Next, place your steamed broccoli in a line at the bottom of the plate.

 Dinner forecast is cloudy with a chance of meatballs

Then place meatballs underneath the clouds.

 Dinner forecast is cloudy with a chance of meatballs

Finally, use a squeeze bottle of barbecue sauce to form raindrops. Start at the bottom of the droplet, squeezing out some sauce, and then pull the bottle upward slightly to make the top point of the droplet.

 Dinner forecast is cloudy with a chance of meatballs

This is one meal that's OK to play with, so let your kids explore dunking broccoli or meatballs into mashed potatoes, swirling them through the barbecue sauce and eating everything with their fingers.

 Dinner forecast is cloudy with a chance of meatballs

Raining meatballs with mashed potato clouds and broccoli trees dinner scene recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the potatoes

  • 3 large russet potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

For the meatballs

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Additional ingredients and supplies

  • 1 large broccoli head
  • Your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 4 large blue or grey plates
  • 1-inch cookie scoop
  • Plastic squeeze bottle with pointed tip

Instructions:

  1. Peel the potatoes, place them in a large pot, and cover them with water, ensuring it reaches 1 inch over the tops of the potatoes. Bring to a boil, and cook for 30 to 45 minutes, until the potatoes are very easily pierced with a fork. You can make the meatballs while the potatoes are boiling.
  2. In a large bowl, use your hands to mix together the ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt. Form the mixture into 24 1-inch meatballs.
  3. In a large skillet on high heat, fry the meatballs in batches, browning them on several sides until they reach an internal temperature of 135 degrees F. Set them aside.
  4. Drain the potatoes in a colander, and then press them through a potato ricer, dumping them into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  5. Add butter and salt to the bowl, and whip the potatoes on low. While they are whipping, slowly pour in the cream.
  6. Break up the broccoli into small pieces, and steam them in a pot for 4 to 6 minutes, until bright green.
  7. Use a 1-inch cookie scoop to form 2 potato clouds at the top of each plate. Gently pat the clouds to smooth the balls of potato together.
  8. Arrange the broccoli at the bottom of each plate.
  9. Put 3 meatballs under each cloud.
  10. Pour some barbecue sauce into the squeeze bottle, and squirt raindrops under the clouds and around the meatballs.

More kid-friendly food

Finger food for picnics
Crispy fish bites with chili-lime tartar sauce
Roast beef avocado grilled cheese roll-ups

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