Surprisingly delicous sweet-and-sour meatballs

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When I went to movie night at my friend’s place a couple weeks ago, one of the things I took was Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs. I got the recipe from AP Food Editor J.M. Hirsch’s cookbook “High Flavor, Low Labor.” Though I’ve had the cookbook for a few years, I had never made these before, but I had tried his hummus meatballs and they were pretty good.

These were great right out of the oven. However, by the time I reheated them at my friend’s place, I found myself wanting some kind of dipping sauce for them. I’d recommend making or buying a teriyaki or sweet-and-sour sauce to go with these.

Ingredients
1/2 small yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons jarred jalapeño slices
1/2 cup apple jelly
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup panko
1 1/2 pounds ground beef

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil, then spritz them with cooking spray.

In a food processor, combine the onion, garlic, and peppers. Process until finely diced, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the apple jelly, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and ginger. Pulse until well mixed, then transfer to a large bowl.

Add the breadcrumbs and ground beef, then use your hands to mix them thoroughly with the onion and apple jelly mixture.

Form the mixture into about 30 meatballs, arranging them on the prepared baking sheets. Spritz the meatballs with cooking spray, then bake for 20 minutes.

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Layer up for a weeknight meal

Pesto, red peppers and cheese are three of my favorite things to eat, so when I saw them all used in AP Food Editor J.M. Hirsch’s Deep-dish Pesto and Prosciutto Tortilla Pizza, I knew I had to make it.

The recipe requires two different layers to be used three times each. One layer has tomato sauce, prosciutto and onion; the other has pesto, red peppers and olives. The prosciutto and peppers provide a nice contrast to the texture of the cheese.

Biting in to a too-thick slice of onion can ruin the dish, so take the time to slice it as thin as possible. A mandolin is a great tool to use for this recipe, as it will help to slice the onion and red pepper really thin. But be careful not to slice your hand in the process — been there, done that.

It’s also important to make sure you press down on each layer before you build the next; otherwise, the ingredients tend to heap in the process and will slide out during the baking process.

Deli meat can be used in place of prosciutto, but I prefer prosciutto because it adds a nice bit of saltiness amid all the cheese and vegetables. There is a substantial amount of cheese used in this dish so that can be reduced. It’s a rich meal but, depending on how many will be eating, you’ll have leftovers for days.

This pizza would be good to make with kids, too, because most of it requires sprinkling ingredients on a tortilla and ingredients they don’t like can easily be substituted. It can also be constructed ahead of time and refrigerated until you’re ready to pop it in the oven for dinner, which makes it perfect for a weeknight dinner.

Ingredients
7 large (about 10-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup prepared tomato or pasta sauce
6 slices prosciutto
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
3 cups (two 6-ounce packages) shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups (two 6-ounce packages) shredded mozzarella cheese
7 ounces of pesto
1 large red bell pepper, cored and very thinly sliced
3.8-ounce can sliced black olives

Heat the oven to 350 F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place one flour tortilla in the center of the baking sheet. Spoon a third of the tomato sauce evenly over the tortilla, then top with two slices of prosciutto and a third of the sliced onion.

Sprinkle a bit less than 1/2 cup of each cheese over the pizza. Place a second tortilla on top and gently press the tortilla to compress and flatten it. This helps the pizza stack evenly.

Spoon a third of the pesto over the tortilla, then top with a third each of the sliced pepper and black olives. Top with more cheese, then another tortilla, pressing gently again.

Repeat with remaining ingredients, alternating the fillings for a total of six layers (three of each), gently pressing the stacked tortillas before adding each new layer.

Top with a final tortilla, a bit more tomato sauce or pesto and the remaining cheese.

Bake on the center rack for 35 minutes, checking frequently during the final 5 to 10 minutes to make sure the top doesn’t burn. If the top browns too quickly, tent it with foil.

Remove the pizza from the oven and let it stand for 5 minutes. Use a sharp knife to cut the pizza as you would a pie.