Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spaghetti & Meatballs

I love spaghetti and meatballs, yet I haven't really tried to find a 'go-to' recipe for a sauce and meatballs from scratch. I tend to rely on browning ground beef in skillet and then adding jarred sauce for a quick meal. BUT, with this recipe, the days of jarred sauce are pretty much over! This recipe is so easy, there's no reason for me NOT to make this!

The recipe comes from Annie's Eats, the always-trusty source of good recipes. As she mentions in her commentary, this makes a LOT of meatballs and sauce. Since I'm on this freezer-friendly food kick, this is perfect. I made the recipe exactly as written and it all came together very easily. I formed about 30 meatballs using a 1.5-inch cookie scoop. The recipe calls for cooking the meatballs in the sauce. Since the plan was to freeze most of the meatballs, I cooked only the portion we wanted to eat for the night. The rest I froze individually (loosely covered on a cookie sheet) before placing into a ziploc freezer bag. After Chris and I ate what we wanted of the sauce, I portioned the rest into containers that would hold 2-3 servings and froze.

We recently made spaghetti from the frozen sauce and meatballs. To cook the frozen, raw meatballs I heated the oven to 400, placed the frozen meatballs on a cookie sheet and baked until cooked through, then finished them off in the reheated sauce.

Give this recipe a try. It will not disappoint, and will leave plenty for you to enjoy at a later date!

Recipe on Annie's Eats: Spaghetti & Meatballs

For the sauce:
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz.) can tomato puree
  • 1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water (or more)
For the meatballs:
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs, divided
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. ground beef, pork and veal mixture (or 1 lb. ground sirloin)
For serving: Freshly cooked spaghetti, Shredded Parmesan cheese, Minced fresh basil

  1. To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion to the pot and saute until tender, 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, stirring, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the tomato puree, tomato sauce, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and sugar.
  3. Add water to thin the sauce out to your desired consistency (I would estimate that I add about 1/2 cup). Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Let simmer for at least 2 hours.
  4. To make the meatballs, in a medium mixing bowl combine 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs with the milk. Let the bread crumbs soak for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Form the mixture into meatballs
  6. Add the meatballs to the simmering sauce about 45 minutes before the sauce will be finished cooking. Cover and let simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, 35-45 minutes.
  7. Transfer freshly cooked pasta to serving dishes. Top each serving with sauce and meatballs. Garnish with shredded Parmesan and fresh basil, if desired.
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Herb-rubbed Grilled Chicken with Creamy Orzo

Annie's Eats is a very reliable recipe source for me. And this recipe is no exception. The chicken cooked up beautifully, and the orzo was creamy as promised. And, it all came together quickly with minimal pots and pans required. The only change I had to make was subbing the Herbs de Provence with what I had on hand - I just sprinkled on oregano, parsley and basil.

Here's the recipe as seen on Annie's Eats: Herb Rubbed Grilled Chicken with Creamy Orzo

  • 8 oz. orzo pasta, uncooked2 chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 pieces total)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Bring a saucepan of salted water to boil. Add the orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.
  2. Season both sides of the chicken breast halves with salt and pepper. Sprinkle evenly with the Herbes de Provence. Heat the olive oil in a 12- or 14-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breast halves to the pan and cook about 3 minutes per side, until golden brown.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallot to the pan and sauté 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté an additional minute, until fragrant. Add the diced tomatoes with juices and the broccoli florets to the pan, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer over medium-low. Cover and let cook until the broccoli florets are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in the cooked orzo, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. Mix until well blended and the cheese has melted. If necessary, add some of the reserved pasta water to smooth out the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
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Monday, April 26, 2010

Baked Penne with Chicken, Artichokes, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Mushrooms

Alright, not the best photo. You can't really make out all the goodness that's in this pasta dish. But, clearly you can see, it is CREAMY. I set out to find recipes that I could make big batches of and freeze half for later. I found a great selection on, and this is one of those recipes. You can find the original here: Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-dried Tomatoes

I pretty much stuck to the recipe, but added in a can of quartered artichoke hearts, and subbed mozzarella for the provolone (I just didn't have any on hand). The artichokes seemed fitting to go with all the other ingredients. The recipe reminds me of the "Pasta Milano" dish served at Romano's Macaroni Grill.

As far as freezing goes, it couldn't be easier. I bought cheap tin baking pans from the grocery, filled with half of the mixture, cooled in the fridge, covered with foil once cool, wrote the directions on the top with a sharpie, and popped in the freezer. We ate the freezer version recently, and it took a while to cook (as you bake it from frozen), but was as good as it was when I made the original batch.

If you are interested in making this and NOT freezing it, I suggest halving the recipe, as this recipe as written will make enough to feed a small army.

Recipe from Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-dried Tomatoes

  • 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 ounces each), halved horizontally
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 10 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded provolone (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan (4 ounces)

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta, and return to pot.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.
  3. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. Off heat, gradually stir in provolone and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
  4. Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes; sprinkle each with cup Parmesan.
  5. Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
  6. For Freezing, Prepare through step 4; let cool. Cover tightly with foil, and freeze, up to 3 months.
  7. Preheat oven to 400, and bake (still covered in foil) on a rimmed baking sheet until center is hot, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil; bake until golden, about 15 minutes more.
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Sunday, April 25, 2010

FINALLY! An update

Alright, my last post was nearly 5 months ago. I have not been a good blogger! I promise, I can explain. First and foremost, see the above photo. THAT is my new kitchen! We started construction on our kitchen January 4th and therefore, I was without kitchen for several weeks. I didn't really think you wanted me to blog about the soup I microwaved, or the grilled cheese I made in an electric skillet. At any rate, the kitchen renovation is finally over, and I'm happily cooking away in my new digs.

Secondly, my computer died on me! My screen broke in mid-December, and so I broke down and bought a new one in early January. Unfortunately many of the recipes I was planning to blog about in December are still trapped on the old machine. Someday, I'll transfer them over. So if you see any Christmas recipes in July, this explains it.

That said, hope you enjoy some of the recipes I'll be blogging in the future. I may be a bit sporadic with my entries, but hang in there with me!

Oh and if you wondered what the 'before' looked like, here you go - feast your eyes on this 1988 beauty!

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