Category Finalist: Family Dinners. "When I met my husband three years ago, he suggested I try cooking albondigas, a traditional Mexican soup with meatballs and vegetables. His mother taught me how to prepare her authentic version. My children wouldn't eat chunks of vegetables, so I needed to re-create the dish. I pureed a package of stir-fry vegetables, fresh carrots, and canned tomatoes with the broth mixture and added yellow squash to the meatballs. Now I take pleasure in knowing that my children are eating a colorful dish of 'hidden' vegetables." —Emily Almaguer, Fort Worth, Texas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen pepper stir-fry (such as Birds Eye)
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups shredded yellow squash
1 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice, divided
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 large egg
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
How to Make It
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pepper stir-fry to pan; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrot; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, chiles, and broths; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until carrot is tender.
Place one-third of broth mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining broth mixture. Return to pan.
Combine chicken, pork, squash, cilantro, 1/4 cup rice, onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and egg in a food processor; process 30 seconds or until blended. Bring broth mixture to a boil. Drop meat mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls (about 45 meatballs) into broth mixture. Add remaining 1/2 cup rice to pan; reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until meatballs are done. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Stir in juice.