I normally devote an entire afternoon to making a batch of spaghetti sauce with meatballs and sausage. I get out my giant pots and fill them to the tops with sweet tomato sauce seasoned with vine ripened tomatoes and fresh basil. After smelling the sweet aroma of simmering sauce all afternoon, I can hardly wait to get my first taste of the sauce for dinner. A simple sprinkling of parmesan cheese and some whole wheat pasta is all I really need to make a fabulous meal. When we've eaten all of the spaghetti and meatballs that we can possibly eat in one day - I package up the leftovers and put them into the freezer for another day.
There are times when it just isn't convenient for me to spend an afternoon making sauce and luckily - I've got another - quicker way to achieve (almost) the same delicious results in less time. This sauce is very close to its 8 hour counterpart and it can be made in about an hour.
Pork and Ricotta Meatballs
4 slices bread, crust removed and torn into small pieces
1 cup ricotta
2 pounds pork
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 shallots, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 cans crushed tomatoes
2 Tablespoons fresh basil
Combine bread and ricotta. Smash together with fork. Let sit 10 minutes.
Add pork, Parmesan, parsley, eggs, shallots, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix together with hands.
Divide mixture into 24 pieces and roll into ball. Place on a wire rack set over a foil lined baking sheet.
Bake 30 minutes on lowest rack in the oven at 450.
Add red pepper flakes. Stir in tomatoes and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover with lid, partially, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Nestle meatballs in sauce. Cover pan and return to oven for 30 minutes.
Remove meatballs and stir basil into sauce.
Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve with pasta.
I really enjoyed this meatball and sauce recipe. The thick tomato sauce just absorbed that delicious flavor from the pork meatballs while it baked in the oven. The fresh basil really adds a nice bright flavor to this quick sauce too. This recipe is definitely worth a try.
I love finding new recipes and I certainly don't shy away from crazy complicated recipes with obscure and rare ingredients. I love a challenge but there's also something great about a simple, uncomplicated meal. There are days when I like to make complex recipes and there are days when I crave the simple.
So for those of you who like simple meals that are easy to prepare with easy to find ingredients and still taste delicious - this recipe is for you. Clearly my family is partial to the more simple meals because when I served this Chicken Ranch Roll Up they said "you should make this more often" and "THIS is delicious." (I rarely get that kind of response to meals that take me all day to prepare. - Lesson learned.)
Chicken Ranch Roll Ups
1 package crescent rolls
2 Tablespoons ranch dressing
1/2 cup shredded or sliced cheese (I used colby jack)
1 cup shredded or thinly sliced chicken
Let cool 5 minutes then slice.
This recipe would be perfect for college students who are living in apartments on campus --- Ryan Davis. (Was that subtle enough?) ANYONE can make this yummy chicken roll up and if you start with a Rotiseree chicken - it will be even easier.
It's apple season and Fall would not be complete without a trip to the apple orchard. Every October, we head up to the mountains of North Georgia in search of the best apples in the state. Our first stop this year was B.J. Reese Apple House in Ellijay where we headed into the field with empty bags and came out with our bags filled with the most delicious, juiciest and sweetest apples we could find.
This year, we had some company at the orchard. Ben's parents and our niece and nephew helped up out with the apple picking. Ben always lends a hand at getting those unreachable apples at the very top of the trees too.
It's not just about apples at the apple orchard anymore. Now there's cow milking, petting farms, wagon rides, pig races, jumping pillows and zip lining! Yes, zip lining.
Since we bring a couple of bags of apples home with us each year, it becomes apple cooking season for several weeks after our trip. I make apple pies for the winter, apple breads to store in the freezer and apple cider cupcakes for the cafe.
These apple cider cupcakes are really good and when you top an apple cider cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream - you've achieved apple perfection.
Apple Cider Cupcakes
Bake 22 minutes at 350.
For caramel buttercream, melt 12 Kraft caramels in microwave.
Fold melted caramel into a batch of vanilla buttercream.
Pipe caramel buttercream onto cooled cupcakes and drizzle with additional caramel.
It was such a beautiful day to be in the mountains that we decided to take a hike before we headed home with our apples. These are some of the pictures from our hike through the woods.
The trees were absolutely beautiful in the mountains yesterday. I don't feel like I did a very good job of capturing the extraordinary colors in my pictures but --- its a learning process. We'll certainly be back again next year.
I struggle to find side dishes to go with my Mexican meals. Of course there are the obvious choices like rice and beans but beyond that - I'm at a loss. My normal vegetable side dishes like broccoli and green beans just never seem to compliment Mexican fare. Soooo... what's a veggie lovin girl to do when she's at a loss for vegetable side dishes? Well, this girl turns to Pinterest. That is exactly where I found the inspiration for this delicious Mexican corn salad.
I made a similar side dish in 2012 based on the delicious corn sold on the streets of Mexico. Creamy, salty cheese sprinkled over mayonnaise coated corn cobs equals great Mexican corn.
Since it's not fresh corn season right now, I opted for a similar recipe using frozen corn. I'm not certain that this is an authentic Mexican side dish but it sure is delicious.
Heat oil in skillet. Add corn and cook until slightly charred.
Transfer to bowl. Add lime juice, onion, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, chili powder, salt and pepper.
Add mayonnaise and cheese.
I served my corn salad with red rice and Mexican lasagna.
A yummy Mexican side dish that's delicious and simple to make.
We made our annual trip to the pumpkin patch on Saturday. Courtney searched the patch thoroughly and found the perfect pumpkin --- and Ben "carried" it to the car.
This perfect pumpkin will not be eaten. This one is destined to be carved into a beautiful jack o' lantern for Halloween but it reminds me of all my favorite pumpkin treats. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies and of course, pumpkin cupcakes. My new favorite pumpkin cupcakes is a pumpkin carrot cupcake with maple cream cheese frosting.
Pumpkin Carrot Cupcakes
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
Bake 24 minutes at 350.
Combine frosting ingredients and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.
Just in case you haven't been to a pumpkin farm lately, they now offer lots more activities than just choosing pumpkins from the patch. There are corn mazes and jumping pillows, sandboxes filled with corn and animals to hold, pumpkin sling shots and corn cob cannons and pig races and so much more. We had a great afternoon at our favorite pumpkin farm.
And since Fall isn't quite complete without a little Charlie Brown, my DVR is set to record It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown tomorrow night. It is - without a doubt - the all time greatest Halloween show EVER.
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