Spaghetti sauce day has become a time honored tradition in our house. We spend hours mixing together our trio of meat into perfectly round balls before popping them into a giant pot of sauce so it can simmer away on the stove all afternoon. My pot of marinara slowly cooks down and thickens for the better part of an entire day. By the time it's reduced to the perfect consistency and developed complex flavors, I've invested at least 8 hours into the preparation of this revered spaghetti sauce.
To say that I treat the vibrant red sauce as though its liquid gold, would be an understatement. My family teases me about being way too stingy with my precious sauce. They are fully aware that if any trace of sauce is left on their plate after our spaghetti dinners, I will expect them to mop it up with a piece of crusty Italian bread. I just can't handle the thought of wasting spaghetti sauce. It's way too good for that.
My mom's spaghetti sauce recipe is one recipe that I don't mess around with. The only issue that I have is that sometimes, we run out of meatballs before we run out of sauce. I'm hesitant to try and adjust the meatball to sauce ratios though, so occasionally I'll make batch of extra meatballs to add to my sauce. These turkey and sausage meatballs were a delicious addition to our spaghetti dinners.
I served these meatballs and sauce along with a side of Italian bread for dinner. My family LOVED the idea of having a meal centered around meatballs without pasta. I packed up the leftover meatballs in ziploc bags, popped them in the freezer and served them with my prized spaghetti sauce when I ran out of of meatballs.
Cheesy Turkey Meatball Skillet
1 pound 93% lean ground beef
12 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
1/2 cup whole wheat panko
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup fresh mozzarella cheese
Uncover and add mozzarella. Cover and cook until melted.
Garnish with chopped parsley.
Serve right out of the skillet or transfer meatballs to a bowl.
If you prefer, you can always serve pasta with your turkey meatballs.
I've only got a 2-3 containers of spaghetti sauce and meatballs in my freezer right now so it won't be long before I have another sauce day. Having an adequate supply of spaghetti sauce stored in my freezer helps me sleep better at night. Spaghetti sauce is my ultimate comfort food.
I love where I live. As hard as this is to believe, I don't pass a single fast food restaurant between my house and the local Kroger store. (A trip that I make often.) There are no fast food restaurants on the route from my house to the school that my kids attended. My husband doesn't even pass a single fast food restaurant on his commute to work.
I know what you must be thinking - "she must live on some remote island in the middle of the the Indian ocean." 🤣 Actually - I live 45 minutes outside of Atlanta - which boasts the worlds largest drive-in restaurant and the worlds busiest airport. We love going into the city but we were very intentional when we choose a rural neighborhood to raise our family.
For some people, this type of living probably sounds like a nightmare, but to me - it's a dream. When my kids were young, they adored french fries and chicken nuggets as much as the next kid. Luckily, out of site-out of mind, worked in my favor because they really didn't ask for fast food treats unless we were actually driving past the restaurant.
I really don't enjoy eating fast food very often so the lack of burger and chicken joints in close proximity to my home actually proved to be more of a benefit than a hinderance. I certainly would have been tempted to stop and pick up a quick and easy meal way more often if I passed by fast food options on my daily errands. Most nights, it was more efficient for me to prepare dinner at home than it was for me to drive to the nearest hamburger shop.
These Citrus and Spice Pork Chops are the perfect example of a recipe that I can make even quicker than I can pick up dinner. The thin chops grill up super quickly and they are really tasty. Way better than anything that I can pick up from the closest restaurant adorned with golden arches.
Citrus and Spice Pork Chops
1/4 cup oil 2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon fresh mint, chopped 2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon minced shallot 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar 1/4 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon lime zest 8 bone in pork chops
2 Tablespoons lime juice 2 Tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Transfer pork chops to a platter and spoon vinaigrette over top.
Yes, I know that there are 4 pork chops on this plate. How long it's going to take for me to figure out this whole cooking for two thing? Maybe I'm in denial that we're empty nesters or maybe it's my catering experience or maybe I just don't know how to cook for two: whatever the reason, we have plenty of leftovers - which is not always a bad thing.
I've been in denial for a long time but it's time that I admit to the fact that I am a recipe hoarder. I'd like to call myself a recipe collector but I think it's safe to say that I've moved way past the "collection" stage and entered the hoarding stage. The problem is that every day I find great recipes that I want to try. (Admittedly, there are worse problems.) I see them everywhere I look - in my cooking magazines, on television cooking shows, on the internet and facebook videos and then there's the delicious food that I eat at restaurants that I want to try and duplicate at home. Safe to say that I'm obsessed with food and recipes.
As of today, I've got over 50 recipes in my blog que that are just patiently waiting to be revealed. Instead of trying to keep track of torn out magazine pages and trying to remember internet websites, I copy new recipes into my blog que for safe keeping until I'm ready to give them a try. Some of the recipes in my que stay there for a long time and others get created almost immediately. It all depends on what I'm in the mood to make or what type of recipe I need for a specific occasion.
This recipe for Roast Chicken and Stuffing only sat in my blog que for about 48 hours before I moved it from the "want to try" category to the "tested" category. I'm a sucker for a great roast chicken recipe. Any easy chicken dinner that's healthy AND delicious is my jam so it didn't take me long at all to jump all over this recipe for a skillet roasted chicken breast dinner.
Roast Chicken and Stuffing
2 bone in chicken breasts
3 Tablespoons butter, softened
4 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoons fresh sage, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
1 onion, chopped fine
1 celery rib, chopped fine
5 ounces Italian bread, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup chicken broth
Serve over stuffing.
It's taken me nearly two years to get used to downsizing my meals to make them suitable for just two people. This recipe is perfect for a family of two. Roasting chicken breasts instead of whole chickens is a great way for me to keep my meal size in check. My chicken breasts were so big that we had plenty for dinner with a little leftover for lunch the next day. 😃If you're feeding more than two, you can simply adjust the servings by adding more chicken breasts and stuffing to your recipe. Enjoy!
Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved chocolate studded cake and sweet breads and she dreamed of what it would be like to create a chocolate chip cake/bread fusion. Little did she know that this amazing confection already existed.
When I first discovered the chocolate chip panettone - I was blown away. This was the egg rich, chocolate chip loaded sweet bread with cake like qualities that I had been dreaming of. Traditionally, panettone is made with whisky soaked raisins but let's face it - no one dreams of breads studded with raisins. It's not that I'm opposed to fruit laden sweet breads but I would argue that chocolate chips just add more oompf to this delicious creation.
Chocolate chip panettone is one of the greatest breads ever. Want to know why? The first couple of days after the bread is baked, I slice off giant wedges and eat it for breakfast. If there is any panettone left after day two, the remainder gets toasted and enjoyed warm with a thin pat of butter. I have the best of intentions of turning the leftover sweet bread into french toast after day 4 but to be honest - our panettone has never lasted that long.
Chocolate Chip Panettone
3/4 cup warm milk
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 3/4 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Remove loaf from pan and let cool 3 hours.
Panettone is an Italian sweet bread originally from Milan. I did a little research into the Panettone and discovered that it's name is believed to be loosely translated into "cake of luxury." I couldn't agree more.
Tidying Up is one of the most popular series on Netflix right now so I can't possibly be the only person who's binge watched the show and jumped on the Marie Kondo bandwagon. (You should see my ultra organized sock drawer. 😂) For the few people who haven't seen the show - in a nutshell, Marie Kondo is a tiny Japanese tidying expert who helps people clean out clutter to find joy in their lives.
In case you're wondering, I did NOT evoke Marie's method of piling every single item of clothing that I own on my bed and then systematically touching them one by one to discover which ones bring me "joy". I DID however, embrace some of her other tidying ideas. Watching Marie fold clothes with the precision of a surgeon is inspiring. I'm still not sure how she manages to involve her young children in the folding process and accept their imperfectly pleated t shirts without refolding them when they're not looking. I'm not nearly as particular as Marie Kondo is about folding but I'm too type A to put away crinkled clothes.
I don't feel like Marie's methods of organizing are really anything new or radical. She groups objects of similar function and size together into small, sleek containers. Sounds like an easy enough task but training everyone else in the house to comply with the organization is a whole different level of adversity. If I decide to change the location of the vegetable peeler, for example - I can expect at least 6 months of searching for misplaced a peeler in the kitchen. It will be hidden in random drawers and cabinets by my well intentioned family members. 😅
My kitchen organization is probably not Marie Kondo approved but it works for me. I have my most frequently used gadgets within arms reach and my grouping system works perfectly. I could never do what Marie Kondo does, it would be impossible for me to organize anyone else's kitchen without observing them in the kitchen over a long period of time. What equipment do they use the most? Which knives do they need to have within an arms reach? I believe that the best person to organize a kitchen is the person who USES the kitchen.
I love a great chopped salad but I don't make a whole lot of them at home because they always seemed too labor intensive. The key to a great chopped salad is getting everything cut into similar sized pieces and that takes a considerable amount of precision and time. (Very Marie Kondo like.) This simplified chopped salad, compliments of America's Test Kitchen, is easy to put together and it compliments just about any meal.
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
8 ounces grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 English cucumber, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 Romaine lettuce hearts, cut into 1/2" pieces
4 ounces feta, crumbled
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
Surprise - I'm adding a bonus recipe to the blog today. It's a slightly different version of the chopped salad that's listed above. I love this salad and all of the different ways that you can modify it.
Southwest Chopped Salad
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons lime juice
1 shallot, minced
8 ounces grape tomatoes, halved
15 ounce can black beans, rinsed
2 Romaine lettuce hearts, cut into 1/2" pieces
4 ounces Colby Jack cheese, shredded
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup corn
1 avocado, cut into 1/2" pieces
Top with avocado.
Two versions of one salad. Just think of all the other ways that you could adapt this scrumptious chopped salad to suit your needs. A Greek version? A tropical chopped salad? Or a chopped salad with crispy Chinese noodles? It's time to get choppin'.
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