Back from Vacation, time for Spaghetti and Meatballs

IMG_9611Our family just had an awesome two weeks away in beautiful Maine.  We went to the beach, rode bikes, picked strawberries, and just simply relaxed.  I went to the grocery store at the start of our vacation and got some super easy foods so I could get a week off too.  Chicken nuggets, the blue box of mac n cheese, hot dogs….my kids would be in heaven right?!  No, no my kids wanted Spaghetti and meatballs.  All vacation long when I would yell out what was for dinner, I would get big “AWE, we wanted meatballs”.  So, now that we are home its time to make the kids happy.  What an awful vacation they must have endured, right?

One of my favorite things about this meal is that I can do most of the work at nap time. I love love love meals I can make earlier in the day and just are ready when the Chaos of five o’clock hits.  All I have to do for this meal is make boil the spaghetti, and it has to be spaghetti, my boys love twirling spaghetti and making a pretty huge saucy mess in the process.  I cut all the pasta down for the baby so she can easily grab fistfuls to toss about the dining room, its fun for all.

This is also a meal that the boys can help make which is always a bonus, right?  At least if they are helping me in the kitchen the insanity is confined, and I know they are not going to wake up their baby sister.  They love to push the button on my food processor, it is a button that has launched missiles, set off the zombie apocalypse and destroyed the death star.

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They also get to form raw meat into balls, which I never realized was such a treat before. If you are making the meatballs yourself try and get them into uniform sizes, but when little hands help you will end up with a couple different sizes.

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Now I know most people say that making homemade sauce is just a waste of time nowadays.  You can pick up a pretty good jarred sauce for not too bad of a price nowadays.  Being budget minded though, I still make my own sauce.  I have most of the ingredients on hand and just have to buy the three cans of tomato products.  I get a great sauce and spend probably a third of what I would for a couple jars of the pre-made stuff.  If you are like me and purchase the cheapest tomatoes you can get your hands on then you might need to add a little extra sugar at the end if you still taste a little bitterness.  However, if you are a big spender and get really nice tomatoes like the San Marzanos or even better you use home canned tomatoes, you might not need any sugar at all.

IMG_9606If you have any red wine on hand I usually prefer that in my sauce but again the beef broth adds a little more sweetness than the red wine will.  I had some sausages in my fridge that I baked along with my meatballs and halved those and added to the sauce as well.  I like to add the meat as soon as they are done cooking and get them into the pot to impart some flavor while the sauce simmers

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Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 3 Small or 2 Medium Onions (roughly chopped)
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • ¾ Cup Bread Crumbs
  • ½ Cup Shredded Parmesan
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Milk
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 2 ½ – 3 Lbs Ground Beef

Put the onions and garlic into the food processer and pulse them until they are finely ground.  Add breadcrumbs, parmesan, eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and the Italian seasoning.  Mix well.  Add the ground beef and mix until just combined, do not overmix.  Form into uniform balls and bake at 350° for about thirty minutes, or until and internal temp of 165°

Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 Small or 2 Medium Onions
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • ½ Cup Beef Broth or Red Wine
  • 2 Cans Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Can Tomato Sauce

Add onions and garlic to the food processor and pulse until finely ground.  Meanwhile add oil to a large heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Heat oil over a medium heat and add the onions and garlic.  Add the crushed red pepper, Italian seasoning, sugar, a few pinches of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.  Saute for five minutes and add broth or wine.  Cook down for five more minutes.  Add cans of tomatoes and turn heat to low.  Cook for at least an hour stirring occasionally.

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