Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spaghetti & Meatballs plus a Give-away

Dinner tonight was good ole spaghetti and meatballs. Growing up, we had this about once a week, and I'm not one for repeat meals, so I rebelled and don't cook it often myself.

Although, often is an understatement. I probably haven't cooked spaghetti and meatballs in a good year. Meatballs were hard for me to adapt because a lot of breadcrumbs contain whey, and up until recently, I was unable to find a Parmesan cheese that agreed with Johnny.

I was really in the mood for a bowl of comforting pasta, done right. So here are my two recipes for home-made meatballs and home-made sauce. They're a collaboration of what I gathered watching my mom, my dad, and my Grammy make meatballs and sauce. Also, a little bit of changes I have to make for Johnny's allergies.

Ingredients to make fifteen 1 1/2" meatballs:

1 lb. ground beef (I used 95/5)
1 egg
1 clove of garlic, minced
Parmesan cheese, grated
a couple slices of bread, diced fine
salt & pepper
various Italian spices, to taste
extra breadcrumbs, as necessary

Pre-heat oven to 350°. Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl and work with hands until well combined. My mom likes using bread because it holds the juices of the meat in while it's cooking, and when you put the meatballs in the sauce, the bread soaks up the flavors of the sauce as well. I ended up putting only about 2 Tbsp of additional breadcrumbs because my mixture was a little wet when working into balls. Form into 1 1/2" meatballs and bake for 15 minutes and they'll come out nice and juicy!

Ingredients for sauce:

1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
~1/4 cup olive oil
pat of butter
salt & pepper
various Italian spices, to taste
crushed tomatoes
tomato puree
tomato paste

To start the sauce, pour about 1/4 cup of olive oil into a big pot with a pat of butter. This seems like a lot, but it really adds to the overall flavor of the sauce in the end.

Next, throw in the finely chopped onion. I cut into about 1/4" pieces and let it hang out a long time, maybe 5 minutes on medium heat. The onions get really translucent and sweet, but because they are so small, they cook down to almost nothing in the final product. I love the flavor they add to the sauce, and they also infuse the oil with a bunch of great flavor. Add the minced garlic, and lower the heat a bit so it doesn't burn. I let this infuse for about a minute before I add the tomatoes.

I add the two big cans first, in no particular order. I buy the unseasoned cans, because I prefer to add my own seasonings. I also buy pureed and crushed because I do not like chunky sauce. If the crushed are still too chunky for me, I will mash them down with a potato masher in the can before I dump them in the pot. Once these heat up a bit, I put the paste in and stir until it's incorporated.

Finally, I add a big dash of salt and pepper, along with generous sprinklings of onion and garlic powder. I let these sit for maybe 5-10 minutes, while the sauce cooks on low and then try it. Usually it needs more salt, but I like to get those flavors right before I bombard the sauce with the stronger flavors of basil, parsley, and oregano.

At this point, my meatballs were done, so I threw them into the sauce and let that sit on low while my spaghetti was boiling. Everything stayed warm without the threat of burning the sauce, and the meatballs were able to absorb the sauce.

Johnny said they were the best meatballs he's ever eaten! We both ate way too much, but it was great to just chow down on an Italian comfort food. We grated more fresh Parmesan cheese over the top, and I served with a salad of mixed greens, carrots, green pepper, string beans, edamame, and sunflower seeds.

And, finally! Time for Dinner at Christina's monthly give-away on the 23rd!

Up for grabs is a fresh baked loaf of my banana bread with your choice of walnuts, or nut free.

All you have to do is take a guess as to how many delicious gummy bears are in this glass. The closest guess without going over will win! Please, U.S. residents only because shipping is so crazy! Contest will end next Thursday, April 30th. Spread the word because I have a LOT of bananas in my freezer, and there might be a second lucky winner, randomly chosen!


Sweetie Pie said...

I love meatballs!! Yours look awesome. I think the best recipes I know are the ones I picked up by watching my family members in the kitchen.

I'll guess 37 gummy bears. I'm terrible at this game, but it's fun to play! :-)

Linda said...

I just stumbled onto your blog and am thrilled to see your content. My guess is 24! I always find these entertaining and I like how yours is a no-frills contest.

Will be returning often!

Anonymous said...


tt said...

I guess 27.

Jenn@slim-shoppin said...

Your spaghetti and meatballs look amazing!

I am going to guess 35

Anonymous said...

Love your meatball recipe - I'll have to steal that one!

Don't count me in your giveaway, since I won last months, but my guess is 30!

Happy Friday!

Laura said...


and the meatballs look great!