I only have so many funny or weird kid stories to tell and since we pretty much stay at home every day, there’s not much to tell on this blog. But I cook every day so I’m going to start sharing my recipes.
We eat at home every night of the week. It is a true treat to grab take out or eat out. Buggy eats with us (yes, we all eat at 5:30) and one day Baby Girl will too. I cook ONE meal for all of us. It is possible folks – but it ain’t easy. Whether working or staying at home, cooking a delicious, healthy meal takes time, energy, and a little planning. With my experience in both worlds, I’m hoping to share some tips on how to be able to enjoy such meals even with a hectic schedule.
If you asked me what my favorite meal is, I probably wouldn’t say spaghetti. However I have realized spaghetti tends to be something I can eat for 2 dinners and a lunch and still not be sick of it. We all love it and it’s not that hard to prepare. So here’s my recipe for Spaghetti & Meatballs. It’s a semi-scratch sauce (canned tomatoes rather than fresh). I’ve adapted it from a “Big-Batch Spaghetti” recipe from Better Homes & Gardens. (The smaller version is listed before the Big-Batch on their website.)
I like garlic, onions, green pepper, and mushrooms (I use Baby Bella) in my sauce. Use a few tablespoons of oil in a large pot (I LOVE my dutch oven) to saute the veggies for just a few minutes.
Then comes EVERYTHING else. Yep, add in the crushed tomatoes (I use crushed because I think it makes a smoother sauce), tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, spices, and anything else you like to add. I like a bit of olive oil in my sauce as well. I’ve tried balsamic vinegar as well. Not my preference but still good. (Tip: Adding the spices to the veggies first, then everything else seems to help keep them from sticking to the sides at the top of the pot.)
Now, just let this simmer away on the stove. The original recipe says it only needs to cook for 30 minutes. I’ve done that. These days, I cook it for at least 2-3 hours on low heat. It tastes great either way. You could also put it in the crock pot for a few hours. That allows you to leave the house while it simmers. Here is a good and easy crock pot sauce recipe from Budget Bytes that I originally found on Pinterest and have enjoyed.
If you are making meatballs and cooking the sauce for only 30 minutes, add the cooked meatballs in when you start the sauce. If you are cooking for longer, you can add them in at any time. The longer the better – they soak up some of the sauce and are just as tender and delicious as can be.
To make the meatballs, use a pound of ground beef, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and just a sprinkle of bread crumbs (less than 1/4 cup). I know people have their preference for fat to meat ratio but I always use 96% lean for Hubby’s cholesterol.
Mix together well. Form into balls around the same size. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. I use our toaster oven. You could use yours, the regular oven, or even brown in a saute pan on the stove. I like mine to be cooked through so there is no question they are done no matter when I throw them in the sauce. I also like them to be browned on the outside to add that bit of crunch and flavor.
Another option for the meatballs would be to use a half and half mix of italian sausage (the pack that isn’t in cases) and ground beef. Delicious flavor. Plus it makes 2x as much so you can freeze a batch for the next time you make spaghetti.
Cook your noodles according to the package directions. Plate your pasta. Enjoy!
My tips and tricks:
- Cut the vegetables early or the night before. (Some people cut all of their veggies for the week on one day to save time. I don’t need to do this, but I could certainly see how it would save a ton of time.)
- Prepare and cook the meatballs the night before.
- If making this big batch, freeze some of the sauce for another meal.
- If making this big batch and eating it for several meals, cook all noodles needed for all meals. Combine the noodles with the sauce and meatballs and store together. All you have to do is reheat for the next meal. And let’s face it, pasta is always better after it has a night to sit.
- Double the meatball recipe and freeze half for the next time you make spaghetti.
Anne’s Spaghetti & Meatballs
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1/4 tsp each salt, ground black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder
- less than 1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
Mix ingredients together well with clean hands. Divide and roll into balls the same size (12-16). Place on foil lined baking sheet. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until desired doneness (is that a word?).
- 1 medium onion, choppied
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1 small package Baby Bella mushrooms, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 TBS olive oil
- Two 28-ounce cans peeled, crushed tomatoes
- One 6-ounce can tomato paste
- One 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 2 TBS dried parsley flakes
- 2 tsp dried basil (or 2 TBS fresh basil)
- 2 tsp dried oregano (or 2 TBS fresh oregano)
- 1 tsp dried marjoram (or 1 TBS fresh marjoram)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 TBS olive oil (optional)
- 2 TBS balsamic vinegar (optional)
In Dutch Oven or large sauce pot, cook vegetables in hot oil until just tender. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine well. Bring to boiling. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes to 3 hours. Add cooked meatballs immediately if simmering for 30 minutes. Add cooked meatballs with at least 30 minutes or more time remaining if simmering longer. (Stir every once in a while while simmering.) Cook pasta according to package directions. Serve sauce and meatballs over hot pasta. Enjoy!