strozzapreti aka amaze balls

Amaze Balls In Your Mouth

Strozzapreti is an Italian dish I learned while working in a Tuscan guesthouse under the direction of an amazing cook. These spinach and cheese dumplings make great appetizers and as I found out this past weekend, a spectacular brunch item. I brought this dish to a ladies potluck brunch and as you can see from the picture above, it was a hit! All the ladies loved them and they have aptly changed the name from strozzapreti to “amaze balls”. I have to agree, they are pretty amazing. You can’t help but want to put at least one or two of these balls in your mouth. Speaking of which:

Strozzapreti literally translates to “priest choker”. I cannot confirm the story behind their name other than the possibility that they are so delicious, if eaten too quickly, one might choke. Or perhaps it’s because they are sinfully delicious? Oh yes, that could definitely be it…

For this recipe, I use frozen spinach and I have been asked if fresh spinach could be used instead. I’m sure it can be however I’ve personally never done it. The recipe calls for 3 pounds which is quite a voluminous fresh amount. Also, the spinach mixture can’t exude too much moisture or else the balls will fall apart before they make it in your mouth! I have tried making these gluten free, using rice flour, and they paled in comparison to the original. If anyone successfully adapts this recipe using fresh spinach or finds a comparable gluten free alternative, I’d love to learn your strategy!

For the sake of ease, I use three 1 pound bags of frozen spinach and take them out of the freezer to thaw at least 8 hours before I start prepping. This recipe is really quite easy and fun, especially if you like getting your hands covered in gooey goodness!

prepping the strozzapreti

Strozzapreti aka Amaze Balls

Prep time: 15 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: 35 amaze balls

3 pounds of thawed (previously frozen) spinach
3 cloves chopped garlic
15 ounces fresh ricotta
1 pastured egg
½ cup bread crumbs
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ cup chopped fresh sage
8 ounces grass fed butter
2 cups fresh shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put thawed spinach into a colander and squeeze out as much moisture as possible.

Transfer the spinach to a large mixing bowl and add the chopped garlic, ricotta, egg, bread crumbs, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Using a spoon, stir until well combined.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish and using your hands, roll the mixture into 1¾” balls and place them in pan. Usually, I can perfectly fit about 35 balls in a dish.

After all your balls are rolled and ready, put the dish in the oven and set your timer to 35 minutes.

In the meantime, chop the sage, shred the parm, and cube the butter. When about 10 minutes remain, add the sage and butter to a saucepan over medium heat and stir until butter is melted.

After the 35 minutes is up, remove the dish from the oven, spoon the sage butter mixture evenly over the balls, and then cover with shredded parmesan. Return the dish to the oven and bake for 15 more minutes.

When time’s up, remove the dish from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

You can enjoy them as is or eat them atop a slice of ciabatta bread. Either way, enjoy them to the last buttery drop!

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strozzapreti out of the oven

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pumpkin power biscuits

Who said you can’t have your biscuit and eat it too? It sure wasn’t me and that definitely does not apply to these high protein guilt-free bites of wonder…

These power packed biscuits are perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack. They are very filling thanks to the chia seeds and their high protein content offers sustained energy.

You may be thinking, “Wait, what? Did she just say chia seeds, as in ch-ch-ch-chia Obama head sprouting green hair?” Why yes, yes I did.

Chia seeds are a total nutritional powerhouse! They have an extremely high concentration of omega-3 acids – even more than salmon. One serving size includes 18 percent of recommended daily calcium and four grams of protein, and they are a great source of fiber and potassium – plus they’re low in cholesterol and sodium.

Chia seeds come from the chia plant, which is part of the mint family. It’s native to Central America, but due to its increased popularity, you can find the seeds at many grocery stores.

So now, back to the biscuits… They are gluten and dairy free and if you follow the paleo diet, there’s an option for that too. They have a cake like texture if using gluten free flour and are more like a scone if using almond meal.

The batter freezes well so I often like to make a double batch and save half for later.

Pumpkin Power Biscuits
tweaked from a Dr. Cory’s Good Healthy Fun recipe

Prep time: 35 minutes
Ready in: 50 minutes
Yield: about 2 dozen biscuits

1 ½ cup Bob’s Red Mill or Pamela’s gluten free baking mix (or almond meal for a paleo version)
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon chia seeds, soaked in ¼ cup of water for 10 minutes to make a gel
½ cup pureed pumpkin
½ cup almond butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
¼ cup honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
¼ cup pecans chopped into small pieces
¼ cup pepitas
½ cup dried cranberries (or other dried berry)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a small well in the middle and add all the wet ingredients. Using an electric mixer, mix all ingredients until they are fully combined.

Add pecans, pepitas, and dried cranberries and gently mix them in using a large spoon.

Using spoons, dollop ping pong ball size portions onto a baking sheet and flatten them down a bit. They don’t rise like other biscuits.

Bake for 12-15 minutes and let cool. They pair most excellently with a cuppa tea~ Enjoy!

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Your thoughts are welcomed in the comments section below.