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Monday, July 19, 2010

Mom's Meatballs and Spaghetti

The first thing you need to do is play your music.
Listen to Dean Martin CD's while your cooking.
The next thing you need to do is pour yourself
 a nice glass of Chianti or other red wine
...if you're so inclined.
Notice the wine charm that I made. It helps
 everyone, especially me, keep track of my glass.
Made them for everyone.
Ready to make the meatballs?
Combine the ingredients in a large bowl and mix 
with a fork and then your hands to combine well.
 A meatball scoop makes it easy measure out even 
sized meatballs. Gently roll between the palms of
 you hands to smooth. Put them to a cookie sheet 
as you go. It keeps your counters clean and then 
you can put the pan in the refrigerator. 
 Refrigerate them for 30 minutes, if you have time. 
This helps them firm up and the flavors to blend. 
You can make them earlier in the day, then finish
cooking later. You'll have about 33 meatballs.
In a large skillet brown the meatballs in
 1-2T olive oil on medium heat. Turn to 
brown evenly. This takes about 6-10 minutes.
   Then add 1 large jar of your favorite
spaghetti sauce, (Ragu Chunky Garden Style) or
 better yet, My Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce
(recipe follows). Cover and simmer on low for
about 15 minutes while you cook  the spaghetti.
Serve over spaghetti and top with additional
 Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil.
 Garlic bread, or warm rolls, salad...then,
listen to Dino, pour more wine, 
light the candles and MANGIA!

Mom's Meatballs with Spaghetti
1 lb ground beef
1/2 C bread crumbs
1/2 C Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 C milk
1 egg
1 T Italian herb seasoning
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/8 t nutmeg
2 T minced fresh parsley, or 1 T dried
2 cloves garlic, finely minced

Combine all ingredients well. Use a meatball scoop to form the meatballs and then gently roll between your palms to smooth. You'll have about 33 meatballs. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Brown in 2 T olive oil for about 8 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add large jar of spaghetti sauce, or homemade preferred. Cover and simmer 15 minutes on low while you cook the spaghetti. Serve over  1lb cooked spaghetti. topped with fresh chopped basil and parmesan cheese.

Easy Marinara Sauce
2  (28-ounces) cans crushed tomatoes
1 onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
1/2 t sugar
1/2 t pepper
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1/4 t nutmeg
2 t dried oregano
6-8 fresh basil leaves, basil rolled and thinly sliced (can use 2 t dried)
1/2 C wine, red or white (optional) or water


Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pot over med high heat. Saute the onion until slightly translucent. Add the garlic and saute another minute. Add remaining inigredients. Stir well and simmer covered on low. At this point you can add the meatballs and all their drippings to the pot, or just pour the sauce over the meatballs. Scrape up any browned bits.Simmer for at least 15 minutes. 
This sauce freezes well. It's also the sauce I use when I make pizza.
You can also remove the meatballs to a plate,
 then add a little olive oil to the pan and continue
 with the recipes; saute the onions and garlic.
 Add the remaining sauce ingredients. Stir well
 and bring to a simmer. Return the meatballs 
to the pan, cover and simmer 15 minutes.

link to MAY DAYS to see my Italian Night Tablescape.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Baked Acorn Squash

This is a favorite side to bake along in the oven with roast chicken or roast pork. I also bake it in my toaster oven when we're having grilled steak, chicken or pan-grilled pork chops like tonight.

Baked Acorn Squash
1 acorn squash serves 2
cut each squash in half lengthwise
scoop out the seeds with a spoon
place squash cut side up in baking pan
put a pat of butter into each half-about 1/2-1 T
add about 1 T brown sugar to each half
Bake at 400 for about 45 minutes, until tender
(check by piercing with the tip of a knife)
or at 350 for about 1 hour if your baking
along with a roast at that temperature.

I'm linking to FoodieFriday

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Best Banana Bread

I've tried dozens of banana bread recipes over the years and this one is our favorite. It's moist with just a touch of cinnamon. Great with a cup of coffee. Serve warm with a little butter, or toasted the next day.
It freezes well. I always have a loaf to take on road trips for coffee breaks. 
You'll need very ripe bananas. Once your bananas are too brown to eat, make bread. Or pop them in a the freezer to use later. You can also get overripe  bananas free from your produce guy. They just throw them out. That way you can always have bananas in the freezer ready to go.
 2-3 bananas will give you 1 C mashed.
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
A little tip: Use the butter wrapper to grease the pans. One 9x5x3 loaf pan or 3 small pans.
Add the flour mixture.
Stir in the nuts.

Best Banana Bread
1 stick butter, room temperature (see tip)
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 C peeled very ripe bananas
1/2 C sour cream
1 t baking soda
1-1/2 C flour
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1/2 C chopped pecans

Combine the sour cream and baking soda in a small bowl (at least 2 C) and set aside until it foams and doubles.

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs. Add vanilla.
Mix in the cut up bananas. Mix in the sour cream mixture. Add the flour, cinnamon, salt and pecans and mix just until combined.

Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then invert and turn onto a small platter.

Tip: To soften the butter just put it in the glass bowl for 1  minute on 3% power in the microwave. Then add the sugar and proceed with the recipe.