Originally created 09/05/01

A taste of Philly

You've seen frozen cooked meatballs on top of spaghetti and, in last week's recipe for a creamy stroganoff, atop egg noodles. You've probably sampled them at parties in a crockpot with barbecue or sweet-and-sour sauce.

You might have heated them with marinara and spooned them onto rolls for a meatball sub. But, if you're like me, you never thought of turning them into a Philadelphia-style cheese-steak sandwich.

The inspired use of this gem of a convenience product comes from the Beef and Veal Culinary Center of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Its recipe for Philly cheese meatball sandwiches combines a package of frozen, fully cooked meatballs with the traditional ingredients of a cheese-steak sandwich.

Here, the frozen meatballs are sauteed in oil in a large skillet. Then bell pepper and onion strips are added. In just 15 minutes, the meatballs are completely heated through, and the vegetables are tender. The meatballs are spooned onto split hoagie rolls, then drizzled with a melted process cheese spread.

This is a fast entree for a family meal during a busy week. And, the preparation time can be cut further by using 2 cups of frozen pepper stir-fry blend in place of the fresh green bell pepper and onion.

Because the meatballs are relatively high in fat, I used light Cheez Whiz when testing the recipe. Regular Cheez Whiz or Velveeta can be used as well. The process cheese is simply melted in the microwave while the meatballs and vegetables cook in the skillet.

Children love the combination of the meatballs and cheese sauce but may not like the sauteed pepper and onion strips. When preparing this for my picky eaters, I saute the meatballs with the vegetables but serve the children meatballs and cheese sauce only, leaving more vegetables for the adults.

Add some chips and fresh fruit to complete this quick meal.

Philly cheese meatball sandwiches

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 green bell pepper, cut into strips

1 small onion, cut into thin wedges

1 18-ounce package frozen, fully cooked meatballs (about 35 meatballs)

6 hoagie rolls, split and warmed

3/4 cup low-fat pasteurized process cheese spread sauce, heated

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add bell pepper and onion. Cook and stir 3 minutes. Add meatballs. Cover and cook 13 to 14 minutes, or until meatballs are heated through and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Spoon meatball mixture into rolls and drizzle with cheese sauce.

Makes 6 sandwiches.

Nutrient analysis provided by Fran Frye, a licensed and registered dietitian of the Augusta District Dietetic Association. Send questions via e-mail to augustadietitian@yahoo.com.

Karin Calloway is the online chef for Viking Range Corp. (www.vikingrange.com) and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You can write her in care of The Augusta Chronicle Newsroom, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903. Or send e-mail to karin.calloway@home.com.

 Calories: 528
 Fat: 25.7g
 Saturated Fat: 10.8g
 Protein: 27.3g
 Fiber: 2.6g
 Carbohydrates: 47.3g
 Sodium: 1,398mg
 Cholesterol: 78.3mg


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