appetizers dinner gluten-free meat

Champagne Turkey Meatballs

December 30, 2013

Sorry, no weekend recap today! I know you’re all devastated. I actually had a fantastic weekend, but I just didn’t feel like capturing it. I’ve noticed that I sometimes have a hard time living in the moment when I have my camera or phone. I get this messed up feeling that if it isn’t photographed, it didn’t actually happen. Clearly I have a problem. champagne turkey meatballsI’m not entirely sure when things changed, but I’ve somehow managed to develop an interest in photography. Remember when I did a whole post about food photography being the bane of my existence? Well, I take it back. Somewhere between then and now my camera and I became friends. It likely had something to do with the fact that I actually read the manual…one year later. I want to clarify that I do NOT enjoy food photography when I am hangry. The pictures never turn out well because I am too impatient to keep trying to get the best shot. I can always tell when I’ve taken a photo in a rush, but my stomach takes precedence no matter what. champagne turkey meatballs 2I have approximately 48 hours to overwhelm you with New Years recipes. I apologize in advance if I harass your twitter/facebook feeds reposting mine and my friend’s deliciousness. New Years is like the underdog to Christmas. Christmas gets a solid 6 weeks of build-up and New Years only a measly week. So I’m giving it the credit it deserves. Today we’re doing a champagne turkey meatball appetizer, tomorrow a dessert and Wednesday you’ll be privy to my resolutions that I’m attempting to not fail at this year. Stay tuned!


Champagne Turkey Meatballs

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: 1 dozen 1x


For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 rice cake, crumbled
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ground pepper

For the sauce:

  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • ½ can cranberries, whole
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup champagne


For the meatballs:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine all meatball ingredients and mix with hands.
  3. Roll into 1 inch balls (or larger if serving as an entree) and place on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 15 mins.

For the Sauce:

  1. Combine all sauce ingredients in a large pot and cook on high until mixture begins to boil.
  2. Add in meatballs and stir to coat.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 10 mins.
  4. Place a toothpick in each meatball and serve as an appetizer.

Do you enjoy photography? What are your New Years plans?


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  • Reply
    Danielle @ Green is the New Black
    December 30, 2013 at 5:18 am

    I am totally with you on missing out on the “moment” sometimes with camera in hand! Sometimes it’s nice to just make the memories rather than take the photos! I absolutely LOVE looking at photos of food, but need some serious work on my photography skills. It will come over time I’m sure!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 30, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      Yup. Lots and lots of practice! I have 10 000 pictures of food on my harddrive if that’s any indication!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2013 at 5:49 am

    Your photography is seriously genius girl.
    I love to take time and make good shots of my food. It makes such a big difference! Especially since I finally invested in a good camera and a light box.
    And as for the recipe – love it, especially the rice cake in them 🙂

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 30, 2013 at 10:00 pm

      As annoying as they may be, good food props, camera gear and patience is what it takes to take a great picture. I used to hate the process but now so long as I’m not hungry I actually enjoy it 🙂

  • Reply
    Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine
    December 30, 2013 at 6:41 am

    I hate having to take pictures of my recipes! I always just want to get to eating it because most of my recipes and for that days meals. I don’t ever feel like fussing with props and placement, but I have been trying harder lately. I almost died yesterday because I made a recipe the previous day and didn’t get to photograph it and through I would do it the next day, but low and behold it was pouring rain all day and there was no natural lighting! But I couldn’t have this recipe go to waste so I found a tiny spot by the kitchen window and made it work to the best of my ability, haha!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 30, 2013 at 10:01 pm

      I hate when that happens!!!! So many times I put it off until the next day and wake up to a cloudy or rainy day! If only we could control the weather!

  • Reply
    sara @ fitcupcaker
    December 30, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Ive never used champagne in cooking at all, but wow, these do sound amazing. meatballs are one of those foods that are great to have at parties. Super easy and everyone loves them! I need to pin this recipe!

  • Reply
    Consuelo @ Honey & Figs
    December 30, 2013 at 7:50 am

    Yeah taking recipes of food when you’re hungry is the worst. Usually, when I shoot my recipes I have to plates: one of the stuff I’m taking pics of, and another one for me to eat meanwhile… It’s the only way I can make thing work ; )
    These meatballs look gorgeous by the way! It’s lunchtime here and I’m so hungry that I could eat all of them. Literally: all. of. them.
    Happy new year! xxx

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 30, 2013 at 10:02 pm

      I do that too sometimes! Now my camera has food all over it! It’s awful…Happy New Year to you lovely!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2013 at 7:59 am

    We are headed to the beach to spend time with friends! Excited about that!

  • Reply
    erin @ The Almond Eater
    December 30, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Haha I agree that my pictures do notttt turn out when I am hangry. I’m starting to enjoy photography more but I have a loooot to learn and a lot of practicing to do. These meatballs look delicious! I actually ate some for dinner last night 😀 So good.

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 30, 2013 at 10:03 pm

      Your pictures have been looking fantastic lady! Did Mama make the meatballs? Ain’t nothin better than mama’s meatballs!

  • Reply
    Jessica @ FromtheKitchentotheRoad
    December 30, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Your pictures are looking fantastic. I’m still using the ol’ cell phone for my blog pictures. One day I might step it up but probably not anytime soon. 🙂

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 30, 2013 at 10:05 pm

      The camera was a gift and it basically sat in a box for a year before I started using it! Now it’s all beat up and covered in food haha!

  • Reply
    Allison @ Life's a Bowl
    December 30, 2013 at 8:23 am

    My photography skills are lacking, I’d love to take a class one day! These meatballs look seriously divine – I never can say no to champagne!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 30, 2013 at 10:05 pm

      I would love to take a food photography class! I took a reg photography class but my teacher was horrible and I think I came out dumber!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2013 at 9:22 am

    I also seem unable to take any pictures at all when I am hungry. And when isn’t that the case? Haha.

  • Reply
    Amanda @ .running with spoons.
    December 30, 2013 at 9:53 am

    I have the same problem when it comes to taking pictures of “life” things… I have the hardest time being able to justify whipping out the camera when I’m trying to be in the moment, but then I regret not having captured some shots because they’re so great to look back on. And taking pictures while hungry? Definitely one of the worst things there is… Your shots are looking pretty freaking amazing lately, though!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 30, 2013 at 10:06 pm

      It’s true, I love looking back at my weekend recaps even if I know Curt was yelling at me for trying to capture the moment instead of living it haha!

  • Reply
    Ang @ Nutty for Life
    December 30, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Little cocktail meatballs might be my favorite type of ball. I could eat a million of them, not joking. The fact that these include champagne makes my heart flutter!

  • Reply
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles
    December 30, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Bahh, you need to teach me what you’ve learned about food photography lately! Because yours have been looking amazing lately, and mine, well….do not. Something that I really need to work on more!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 30, 2013 at 10:11 pm

      It’s been a struggle! I think I’m finally figuring out how to use my camera but for real it’s taken me 10 months to get to this point!

  • Reply
    Meghan @fitnesscrEATures
    December 30, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Oh my gosh I don’t even eat meat and I’m drooling over these! You’re so clever.
    And I’m glad you and photography are no longer enemies, you are SO good at it! This look awesome.

    Also, I demand a weekend recap. I don’t care if you have to miss out on the moment, I want pictures.
    I kid. That’s how I have been the past 2 months. I’m the worst. Ha!

  • Reply
    Coffee and Crumpets
    December 30, 2013 at 10:56 am

    As much as I love food photography and love it when my photos come out looking great, it’s also the bane of my existence! Sometimes it just takes too much thought!
    Your photos are gorgeous, so you’re doing something right!
    My husband and I have made ourselves so old and fuddy duddy ( we’re only in our prime 40’s ;)) we stay in on New Year’s Eve and are asleep before midnight! We’re terrible.
    So, no cool parties for us and so I never make appetisers and so never post any!!
    I just enjoy looking at everyone else’s, these meatballs are gorgeous! Perfect for a festive party platter.

    Happy New Year!


    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 30, 2013 at 10:13 pm

      Happy New Year to you too! Enjoy the night in! Truth-be-told if I had it my way I’d stay in too 😉

  • Reply
    Danielle @ LabelsAreForTinCans
    December 30, 2013 at 11:04 am

    I am glad you are paying some attention to New Years! 😉

    I hate doing food photography… But maybe that will change!

  • Reply
    Tina @ Tina's Chic Corner
    December 30, 2013 at 11:55 am

    How did you get mini meatballs to look so darn good on camera?! Kuddos. These look delicious.
    I love taking pics of my food but will admit that I’m not a fan when I’m in a rush.
    I try to remind myself all the time to live in the moment. Thanks for remind me. 🙂 Have a happy 2014!

  • Reply
    D @ The Kosher Cave Girl
    December 30, 2013 at 11:56 am

    This looks divine! I’m supposed to bring an appetizer to a friend’s new years party, so I may have to borrow this from you. Thanks!!

  • Reply
    Christie @
    December 30, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    I’m the same way. Sometimes I need to just put my phone/camera away and enjoy the moment. This recipe looks amazing too! I’ll have to try it for New Years 🙂

  • Reply
    Elise @
    December 30, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    WOW this is delicious! I finally got a decent camera for Christmas, so I’m hoping to learn a little more about food photography. More reading the manual less instagraming pictures to look good lol

  • Reply
    December 30, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Yum yum yum, I totally agree too! New Years actually gets less than a week, because everyone talks about how sad they are that Christmas is over for at least two days before getting excited for the new year.
    I am curious about these meatballs! Did they come out sweet?

  • Reply
    kathy@vodka and soda
    December 30, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    i just tried to lick the screen but it didn’t taste like turkey meatballs at all. ok, so i tried to french your profile picture, same diff! 😀

    Vodka and Soda

  • Reply
    Kim @ BusyBod
    December 30, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    I can kind of tell you’ve found your love of photography, because your pictures were always great, but lately I feel like every recipe I am blown away! I should consider reading the manual to my busted camera… and/or using my real camera instead of my iPhone. #bloggerfail

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 30, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      Awww thanks lady! Been working hard at it and 10 months later I’m finally figuring it out! It’s been a struggle though and oftentimes I just want to use my iphone too!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Those look fantastic! I need to make them (if I can ever save the champagne instead of drinking it!). 🙂

  • Reply
    Vicky and Ruth / May I Have That Recipe?
    December 30, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    I still have to read my camera manual and it has been almost 18 months! I better do that soon. The pictures in this posts are fantastic and I love this recipe, adding champagne to the sauce is such a clever idea!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Sweet lord!! These look and sound incredible!!

  • Reply
    Amy @ Long Drive Journey
    December 30, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Well you know I love meatballs. Very interesting idea to crumble a rice cake in it to give it some hold without the breadcrumbs. You’re a gluten free genius! Also, I give you props for recapping every weekend. I am both 1) too boring to do so and 2) too lazy to do so. I like reading about yours though! Happy new year love.

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 30, 2013 at 10:36 pm

      I thought of you when I was making these! First recipe I have a moderate chance at you making? Maybe not, but I tried!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Seriously how simple are these things?! How amazing! These would so be perfect for the new years eve party we have planned…

  • Reply
    Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health
    December 30, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Your photography is beautiful- you can really tell you are falling in love with it! I have yet to feel that way about mine. I think I need to quit my job to help me fall in love too, haha.

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 30, 2013 at 10:41 pm

      Sarah you’re basically my photography inspiration! Every picture you take is amazing! And yeah there is a definitely correlation between my funemployment and my photography skills haha

  • Reply
    Arman @ thebigmansworld
    December 30, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    YES! I always use ricecakes/rice crackers as the faux bread crumbs in meatballs/patties etc- Works out just great!

    No joke- I accidentally bought champagne instead of wine and have a bottle starring right at me. It must be a sign…

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 30, 2013 at 10:42 pm

      I thought I had a stroke of genius when I was out of breadcrumbs but obviously the big man got there first. Damnnn

      And yes it’s a sign. And then polish off the rest of the bottle while you’re at it and send me drunk selfies please!

  • Reply
    Tonya@Healthy, Fit, and Frugal
    December 30, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Your pics of your food are always amazeballs! Or should I say turkeyballs? 🙂

  • Reply
    December 30, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    I cannot wait to make these! Definitely on my list!

  • Reply
    Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen
    December 30, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    I totally hear you on sometimes just needing to take the weekend off from taking pictures. It can be so nice to just live without feeling obligated to always whip out my camera!

    That’s so cool that you used champagne in the sauce for these – I’ve never heard of doing that before!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 30, 2013 at 10:46 pm

      Well I figured if people use wine in sauce, why not use champagne right? Thankfully they turned out great but it could have been a disaster!

  • Reply
    Katie @ 24 Carrot Life
    December 30, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    I want these followed by this champagne drink I concocted for New Years’ Eve.
    Please and thank you! Perfect combination.

  • Reply
    Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves
    December 30, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Ooo I’m loving the literal interpretation of cocktail meatballs! 😉
    Your food photography is just gorgeous! The photos are definitely making me drool, but I get the hangry thing. I do not know how some people take at least twenty pictures of their food in different positions and with different props. If I’m hungry, it is one picture and then eat time!

  • Reply
    Whitney @ To Live & Diet in L.A.
    December 30, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    You are an AMAZING photographer and these meatballs are making me HANGRY!

    Hope you have a fabulous New Year’s! xoxo

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 30, 2013 at 10:47 pm

      Thanks Whitney!!! It’s been a 10 month struggle to figure my camera out but finally it’s clicking. Now let’s pray it sticks into the New Year! Happy New Year, lovely!

  • Reply
    Melissa @ Fit 'n' Well Mommy
    December 30, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    These look SO good and so appropriate for New Years! I have some ground turkey in our freezer, so I might have to make these for my husband and I tomorrow night. We are staying in and making a nice dinner after my son goes to bed and we haven’t decided on what to make, so these are an idea…

    I’m slowly learning how to take better pictures, but I tend to get in a hurry, (especially if I’m hungry or have Keenan around) which makes the quality suffer. I’m hoping to learn more this coming year and become a better photographer!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      December 30, 2013 at 10:48 pm

      I could imagine that a hunger blogger and hungry kid would be a lethal combo if you’re trying to take pictures! Yours turn out great though!

  • Reply
    Mary Frances
    December 30, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Your photos are so good, Davida! You and the camera are definitely becoming very good friends;) These meatballs make up for the devastation I felt because of no recap post 😉 They look delicious!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    This might be one of my favorite recipes you have published!! I know you are a huge baker but I’m not a baker and love cooking – can’t wait to try these meatballs!!!

  • Reply
    Lexi @ Lexi's Clean Kitchen
    December 30, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    TOTALLY obsessed with these. And your photography is killer!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    I would enjoy photography more if I had something more than a phone and knew how to use it.

    I’m thinking I would love the meatballs!

  • Reply
    Heather @ Run Like a G!
    December 30, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Okay those look amazing!
    I think one of your New Year’s Resolutions should be to come to NY and teach me how to cook 🙂
    Happy New Year!!!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    Since I don’t eat meat can I just drink the champagne??

  • Reply
    Jeanette | Jeanette's Healthy Living
    December 30, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Your photography is beautiful Davida – and these little meatballs sound perfect for New Years. Happy New Year!

  • Reply
    December 31, 2013 at 2:27 am

    Between your delicious recipes, and now your beautiful photography, you are a woman of many traits! Happy NYE & NY girl!

  • Reply
    December 31, 2013 at 2:41 am

    For the first time I don’t feel like a freak in the blogosphere! Sometimes I can’t stand all the waiting around while I snap a picture, just gimme, gimme, gimme! (Says the hungry little gremlin who lives in my tummy … I imagine).

    I’ve experimented recently with chicken in white wine, it gives it such a lovely caramel/crystal flavor and it’s so simple! It’s my “fancy” dish that I use to impress 😛

    Which, at last count, it only impressed me hahaha

  • Reply
    Christa @ Sit-ups & Sequins
    December 31, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Anything with champagne = WIN. Definitely pinning these and will be the hit of the next party I decide to bring them to. 🙂

  • Reply
    Megan (The Lyons' Share)
    December 31, 2013 at 11:36 am

    One of my 2014 goals is to actually learn how to use my camera! Kevin got me a mini-photography studio thing that I haven’t even opened, my sister in law got me a food photography book, and my mom got me a few new place settings. If that’s not a recipe for better photos, I don’t know what is :). Happy New Year, friend!

  • Reply
    Karey @ Nutty About Health
    December 31, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    OMG, these meatballs look (and sound) so good!!
    Hope you have a Happy New Years!!

  • Reply
    Luv What You Do
    December 31, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    I think these will be perfect for an upcoming party I am throwing. Yum!

  • Reply
    Christine@ Apple of My Eye
    January 1, 2014 at 1:56 am

    OMG could these flavors be any more perfect? Perfect for New Years!

  • Reply
    January 2, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    I LOVE this idea… the best part is that you obviously also have to finish the champagne because you just can’t have random flat champagne in the fridge, right?

    Funny you posted this – I have a turkey meatball recipe sitting in my drafts that I need to edit the photos for. (twins) Maybe next week will be my week!

  • Reply
    January 18, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    You are so right! Do not stage a food photo shoot when you’re hungry. It’s akin to going to the grocery store when there’s a rumbling in your tummy. No good can come from it.
    Beautiful pictures!! You must have just eaten!

  • Reply
    Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli
    January 20, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Omg, these look INCREDIBLE! Cranberries and champagne? My mind is blown! You know, I’ve been wanting to try making meat balls for a long time now…but I’ve always heard so many horror stories of meatballs gone wrong! Haha! One of these days, I’ll put on my big girl pants and manhandle some MEAT! Oh yes, I just said that! 😉

    Food photography! LOVE IT! Love looking at it, love studying it, love taking it….even if I suck sometimes! I totally hear ya on the hangriness! Been there…done that. It is IMPOSSIBLE to get a good shot when your hands are shaking your so hungry!

  • Reply
    Kathy Richman
    July 6, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    Has anyone made this with beef?

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      July 8, 2015 at 6:31 am

      I’ve never made them with beef but I’m sure they’d be fantastic! Enjoy 🙂

  • Reply
    March 8, 2020 at 9:32 pm

    The comments were so positive, and it looked so good, but I didn’t have a great experience, perhaps somewhat my fault. The recipe calls for 1 can of whole cranberries. The only thing that is available (I searched all over online) is whole cranberry sauce, which is loaded with HFCS. Against my better judgment I used it, and the flavors were all completely out of balance. The meatballs themselves are devoid of seasoning except for S&P. I used 93% lean turkey, which was too moist, and the balls wouldn’t hold their shape. The sauce was dominated by the sweet cranberries, and the mustard only contributed an off taste. I would completely rework this recipe. I did like using the rice instead of bread crumbs, and it seemed to work well.

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