My Meatballs

I call these my meatballs because there is 5,000 different recipes out there to make meatballs.   There are different ingredients, techniques and special secrets.  Everyone has a favorite type, method or way to serve them.   And chances are they are all great.  I just happen to think mine are too, and so does my family. 

Like so many personal recipes, these meatballs are a mosh up of different recipes I have seen over the years and what I like in meatballs, what I like for flavors and what the family enjoys.  They started out as my moms meatballs and worked out to this, after much much trial and error.  Rob especially likes the fact that they are not greasy.   I especially like that I know what is going into them.  That is my biggest problem with most store bought stuff.  If a “recipe” has less than 1% of an ingredient in it, you dont have to list it.  They could put two drops of rat poison but since it is only 0,5% you will never know.  I know that is being dramatic and you can have that with your ingredients as well but I just enjoy making it myself!

yield about 10 dozen 1 oz meatballs
2 1/2 lbs 91or 93% lean ground beef
2 1/2 lbs 93% lean ground turkey
2 lbs ground italian sausage (sweet or hot, I use sweet)
10 slices whole grain bread (white, wheat or in this case oatmeal)
1 onion
6-7+ cloves garlic (I could add three bulbs and Rob would think there was enough)
1/4 cup italian seasoning
1/4 cup garlic romano seasoning (if you cant find this you can omit it, just adds a bit of flavor)
3 eggs
S & P

Cast of Characters

Preheat you oven to 350 and line two sheet pans with aluminum foil.  Spray racks with Pam or spritz with oil.  In a large bowl, put your meats, taking the sausage out of the casings (or you can buy it not in casings but it is like $.20 a pound more so I buy it linked).

While one kid is ripping the bread up into little pieces you can get the garlic and onions minced.  You dont want huge chunks.  I am always reminded of Eddie Murphy talking about homemade burgers in a skit I heard as a child.  So I am pretty good about mincing them up fine. 

While one kid is ripping up bread into little pieces, the other one can be grinding up pepper.  We use a mortar and pestle to grind up larger amounts of pepper.  It takes only a couple minutes but I love the flavor it imparts and it is much faster than trying to use a standard peppermill.   I will be writing a post about how to care for you mortar for another time but for now here is the finished product.

Add your minced garlic, onion, salt and pepper (I use about 1 tablespoon of pepper and 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt, but use to your taste), italian seasoning and garlic romano blend.

Add your bread.

And then the eggs.

And now you can mix.  Nik loves this step for some reason.  Aaron would rather clean the mortar.  LOL 

Once thoroughly mixed it is time to roll the balls.  I measured them out so I could add them to my points tracker for WW (4 meatballs is a whopping 7 points but I will deal, I love em) so they would be equal in size.   If you dont care about points or any of that, then just make them the size you like them. 

And put them on the racks like this…..

Until they look like this….

And bake then at 375 for 25-30 minutes until they look like this…..

Freeze them and use them for anything that requires meatballs.  For this batch part was given as a thank you to a friend who picked me up from my surgery and the rest are currently in the freezer.  I make these large batches and it is enough for three meals for my family.  We use them for spaghetti and meatballs, meatball subs, layer into a lasagna, or just eat them as is.  I dont always need sauce.   Here is what they look like all frozen and in the freezer ready for some night we need a quick dinner!

I hope that you liked this recipe.  I can say for me it has been years in the changing.  I might change it up again to make it a bit more low fat but to be honest, as often as we have them, and the fact that 4 meatballs is alot for me….. I think they will be keeping their place in The Box, as is.

Happy Cooking!!


Three Meat Jambalaya

This is totally a spicy food house.  I mean we all like it.  The kids drink hot sauce practically.  Okay well not drink it but it is eaten at almost every dinner.  They even put it on their eggs.  Rob and I like it as well but we are not as freaky as they are.  I like some flavor behind the heat.  The boys just like to brag how hot they can handle.  Typical teenage testosterone. 

My favorite way to have some heat is as part of a wonderfully flavorful dish.  I love my homemade salsa and hot pepper jams but if given the choice would much rather have a deeply flavorful stew-like concoction of this jambalaya.  I have a few friends with yummy recipes but I found this one a few years ago and had forgotten about it tucked away in “The Box”.  The Box is something I have talked about before and if I wasnt so comfortable sitting here leaned back in my chair I would go take a picture of said box.  For those of you new to my blog, The Box is where all my tried and true recipes go.  This is where I hold the recipes I want to pass down.  This Jambalaya is in The Box.  But it was buried, and now it is found. 

It started out as so many recipes do.. something else completely, then I tweaked the hell out of it.  The original  had only 1/2 tsp of cayenne!  Are you kidding me?  This makes 10 cups.  That ratio was way wrong.   The original was only one meat and had only onions.  It was bland and pretty much tomatoes.  This is better.

yield: 7 – 1 1/2 cup servings  (WW 7 points)  adapted: from AllRecipes

1 onion
1 red or green pepper
5-6 cloves garlic
1 lb of turkey kielbasa
1 1/2 lb of boneless skinless chicken breast
1/2 pound of shrimp
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper (start with 1 tbsp and work up is my suggestion, we like this level)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
1/2 tsp basil
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
14 oz (or 1/2 of a 28 oz can like I had) of diced tomatoes in juice
1 cup water
1 cup uncooked orzo

Cast of Characters

Add a spray oil to a pan and chop up your onion.

Chop up your garlic and your red pepper.  Add the red pepper and onion to the pan.

Saute the onion and pepper and when starting to release their fluid add the garlic.  If you add the garlic too soon it will brown too much and taste burnt.  Yuck.

Cut the kielbasa up to the size you want,  I like it small so I quarter each round. 

Toss into the veggies.  The great thing about turkey kielbasa is that it adds VERY little fat so you dont have to strain it.

Cube up your chicken and toss that in.

Add the sugar.

Then the rest of the spices.

Then when the chicken has been cooking for about a minute, pour in the crushed and diced tomatoes and the water.  The chicken will finish cooking in the hot sauce.

Stir to combine and increase heat to meduim high.  Once hot, add the orzo.

Peel and cut the shrimp in half.  I like having more bites of shrimp than seeing them whole.   Set aside until the orzo is cooked.

Keep stirring or else you will end up with a gooey mess on the bottom.

Once the orzo is done, about 10 -15 minutes, add the shrimp.  Cook just until the shrimp are done, 1-2 minutes.

Serve in a nice bowl with a side of bread or just like I have it here.. all by itself. 

Pure heaven in a cup.  I was so happy tonight.  HAHA  Nik and Aaron loved it, gobbled it right up.  Just the right amount of spice so they didnt add any hot sauce.  Granted I might have been upset if they had.   Rob is still chemo-ed out, last one was this week, maybe he will get his tastebuds and belly back soon!  I hope so, he hasnt had this yet.  Remember, I told you The Box had hidden it. 

Happy Cooking!!

Baked Ziti with Sausage

I usually like to make most things from scratch, my own spaghetti sauce being one of them.  I am in school and dont have time to breath so spending an afternoon making sauce isnt really in the plans for right now.  So I “cheated”.  I used can sauce to make this dish.

Let me lead off by saying that baked pasta doesnt really do it for me very much.  I dont like how the middle turns gelatinous and the edges get crispy.  Not something I like usually.  BUT two weeks ago I was in a meeting for something for the kids and met this woman named Stephanie whom I find out had just lost her home and all her belongings in a house fire and she and her husband are living in a hotel, eating out every night.  This sounds like torture to me so I offered to make her a casserole or some sort of a home made meal.

Well lo and behold, she took me up on it!   When I didnt hear in the first week I figured she assumed I was not serious and forgot about it.  I got an email last week asking if the offer still stood!  Of course it did.   I wouldnt have offered if I wasnt serious.  Unfortunately I was back in full swing of school though and wouldnt be able to put as much time into this as I would have liked to.  SOOOO here is my solution… Baked Ziti.. easy peasy, fast and easy!   This made two 9×13 casserole dishes.  We gave the one away and will have the other tonight for dinner. 

2 boxes of your favorite pasta
1 large onion
1 large green pepper
4-5 cloves garlic
3 lbs of italian sausage, sweet or hot or a combination
3 cans of your favorite sauce (Rob likes the cans of all the store sauce)
1 can of crushed tomatoes
Some sweetener if you like the sauce a bit sweeter, I used two Splenda
Salt and pepper
2-3 tbsp Italian seasoning
2-3 tbsp Parmesan cheese or in this case some of a parmesan and garlic mix
Shredded cheese (I know, I know, I said in other posts I never use this.. well I do when I am in school!)

I am totally missing the veggies in this picture…. it was 7 am what do you expect!

Start off by poking each sausage with a hole. 

Then set up your sausage baking rack.  We always bake our sausage.. so much less fat this way.  Simply line a pan with aluminum foil and put a tray on it.. arrange your sausage and bake for 35 minutes on 350.

Now peel your onion and garlic and seed your pepper and chop it up fine with a mini processor.  I generally prefer chunks but both Stephanies and my husband prefer no chunks in the sauce.. hmph!   Get them sauteing in a lightly greased dutch oven.

Check on the sausage which is now making the house smell yummo.  Give them a couple more pokes with a knife so that the fat can drain out of them and onto the aluminum lined pan.

Add the sauce, tomatoes and spices.

Simmer your sauce.. but dont leave it to be watched by the son while you go study for your exam or you will end up with a mess… which I made him clean up.. and told him to get off the phone while cooking!  LOL

Once the smell had permeated your home (and the 35-40 minutes are up) you can take your golden and delicious sausages out of the oven, leave the oven on since you will need it soon.

And slice them up once they have cooled slightly.

Stir the sausage into the sauce.

Boil salted water in a large stock pot and add your two boxes of Ziti.. or Bowties.. or Macaroni.. whatever floats your boat.

Drain pasta and mix with sauce.

Pour into the lightly greased pan.

Cover with your shredded cheese.  And bake for 40-45 minutes or until the cheese is melty and gooey!

Oh and my solution to the gelatinous and crispy issues…… dont cook your pasta fully.. a little less done than al dente.  AND a bit extra sauce around the edges.

This recipe took about 2 hours to make but that included the 40 minutes to cook the sausage and the 40-45 to bake the ziti.  It is filling and hearty and since you got rid of alot of the fat from the sausage it is only mildly artery clogging.  HAHA   All in all an easy dish to make and very tasty!   I cant wait to hear if Stephanie and her spouse liked it. 

Happy Sharing!!