Spaghetti and Meatballs

I am really determined to clear out my freezer.  I hate food waste and if I don’t use these items up, I will end up throwing them out.  Plus, on days where I am working 12-15 hours, it is so nice to come home to a simple meal, that is on the table in record time.

spag

Between preparing for and executing events, I have been exceeding my FitBit step goal – EVERY SINGLE DAY!  I decided to celebrate by having a plate of pasta….

I know, I know, but sometimes when a girl is tired and her feet are killing her, she needs pasta!  When I make meatballs, I tend to make a very large batch and freeze them.  While the meatballs are cooking, I whip up a pot full of homemade sauce.  It is a simple matter of filling freezer bags with the meatballs, topping it with sauce and laying it the freezer.

All I need to do is pull a bag out, let it defrost overnight, then boil a pot of water for the pasta.  Easy peasy, tasty, homemade, and it totally doesn’t require me to be on my feet for very long.  This is exactly the kind of meal I need after five days of events!

It’s FINALLY here!

Spring has officially sprung in Pennsylvania, whoo hooo!  Look at these flowers, aren’t’ they gorgeous!

The lilac bushes haven’t yet bloomed, but they are almost ready to show their colors….

lilac

To celebrate, we have been eating outside on the deck.  It is glorious!  Can you tell I am excited? I realize I am a dork, but spring and summer absolutely make me insanely happy.  The warmer temperatures, the sun on my face, the longer days….I am just busting with optimism and good cheer.

We have been grilling our dinner for the last few nights.  I was able to make most of this on the grill.  John grilled the sausage and we put the onions and peppers in a disposable aluminum pan on the grill.  The only thing I cooked on the stove was the pasta and sauce.

sausage, peppers, and pasta

Super easy and super quick dinner that tasted awesome!  Spring is AWESOME!

Baked Ziti with Spinach

So the hubby is still hanging in there with me, at least on the vegetarian front.   One of his favorite dinners is baked ziti.  I decided to substitute the meat for spinach.  He would have preferred plain baked ziti, but I prefer to add vegetables whenever and wherever I can when I cook at home.  I KNOW he makes bad food choices when he travels and since he travels approximately 40 weeks a year, I have to make every home cooked meal count!

ziti

I used frozen chopped spinach, which I defrosted in the fridge overnight then drained.   Once the pasta was cooked, I tossed it with the spinach tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, sauce, and garlic.  I baked it for 40 minutes, added some more mozzarella cheese to the top of the dish and baked it another 10 minutes.  I loved it and I will be taking it for lunch at least two days this week.  The hubby was OK with it, this time he didn’t complain about the lack of meat, just the addition of spinach!  Progress folks, progress.

Dinner for One

Last week, I got a text from one of my neighbors.  It seems she and her daughter took a cooking class and made homemade pasta.  They wanted to recreate the pasta for the rest of the family, but didn’t have a pasta roller – would I possibly have one and if so, could they borrow it? Absolutely, I have a pasta attachment for my kitchen aid mixer, I lent them both the mixer and the attachment.

Imagine my surprise last Sunday morning when they returned the equipment and presented me with a container of homemade pasta in alfredo sauce.  I was thrilled!  The hubby was leaving for a business trip that afternoon which meant I was going to be alone for dinner.   I got to enjoy a lazy Sunday afternoon on the couch, reading a book, AND I didn’t have to worry about fixing myself dinner.

Homemade Pasta

When I got hungry, I transferred the pasta and sauce into a pan and added a splash of heavy cream.  I turned the pan on low and gently heated up my dinner.  It was really delicious.  I will take this kind of thank you any day of the week!

Sloppy Joe’s

The hubby’s travel plans this week were a bit crazy.  He was supposed to be early in the day on Friday but the  airlines had other ideas.   Originally I was going to have salads with grilled salmon for him and grilled chicken for me, but not knowing for sure what time he would be getting home, I bit the bullet and went with a dinner that could simmer on the stove until he walked in the door.

sloppy-joes-with-mac-and-cheese

I picked up a two pound package of ground beef at the store along with a green pepper.  I had celery, red peppers, and carrots at home already.   I try very hard to incorporate a TON of veggies in whatever I am making.  The hubby isn’t overly fond of veggies so I tend to sneak them in to meals.  For the sloppy joes, I made sure they were half meat, half veggies.

I diced up the three peppers (two red, one green), two carrots, three stalks of celery, two onions, and six cloves of garlic.  I sauteed all of them in a pan, seasoning them with salt and pepper, then removed them to a bowl.  I added the meat and fried it until it was done.  I added the veggies back in and started building the sauce – tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, ketchup, and a little brown sugar.   I let it simmer for an hour while I made the cole slaw and got started on the mac and cheese.  Originally I wasn’t going to make the mac and cheese, I have been trying so hard to stay away from carbs…but this past week has been an insanely stressful one at work, I found myself with time on my hands and a serious craving for pasta.  Sigh…..it was SOOOOOO worth the calories!  The picture above is of the hubby’s plate.  I chose to eat my sloppy joes minus the bun, I skipped the cole slaw, but I did add a generous helping of mac and cheese to my plate.  Thankfully, I only made a small batch so I don’t have to content with a huge amount leftover in the fridge, taunted me with its cheesy goodness.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

The weather forecast was calling for intense thunderstorms so I knew grilling our dinner was out of the question.  I wanted pasta, so I gave the hubby a choice: Lasagna, Baked Ziti, or Spaghetti with Meat Sauce.  I was totally surprised when he choose the latter.  He is a BIG fan of baked ziti and lasagna so I was sure that was what we were going to have.

spaghetti with meatsauce

I used a combination of hot Italian sausage and ground beef.  I diced a onion and a few garlic cloves and added it to the meat as it was cooking.  I love the jarred pasta sauce by Mario Batali, it is really tasty and makes getting a pasta dinner on the table a snap.

Once the meat was browned, I added in the sauce and let it simmer while I boiled a pot of water.  Once the pasta was done, it was a simple matter of plating the pasta, adding a generous helping of parm cheese and digging in!

While we were eating the storm raged outside, but as soon as we finished, the sun came out and a double rainbow could be seen for miles.  Nothing like the sun shining through the rain to end to make for a spectacular night at home!

School’s Out For Summer….

Well, technically we offer two summer sessions so I guess school is really only out for one week.  The summer sessions have far less students, especially the first one, so campus feels like a ghost town right now.   It makes for easier parking, but that’s about the only plus.

I decided to celebrate the end of the school year by making a recipe that I had bookmarked a while back – Giada’s Chicken Marsala Meatballs

Whenever I make regular chicken marsala, I usually double the sauce so we can serve it over pasta, so I went ahead and did that with this recipe too.  It was the only change I made.  They turned out DELICIOUS!  I took some leftovers into one of my coworkers and he LOVED them, said they were his new favorite dish.  I definitely think I will be making these again soon!

Because I am really, really picky about my ground meats, and since I wasn’t able to get to the butcher, I pulled out my trusty meat grinder (thank you Momma!) and ground the chicken myself.

The recipe calls for making the meatball mixture ahead and letting it rest in the fridge to get super cold.  Since I partially froze the chicken before grinding it, I think I could have skipped this step.  Before I cut and froze the chicken, I diced the shallots and mushrooms and stashed them in the fridge for later.  It really made it disgustingly easy to throw dinner together.

While the mushrooms and shallots browned in a pan, I fried up the meatballs.   I put on a pan of water for the pasta and roasted off a whole spaghetti squash for me.  I finished making the sauce, added the meatballs and cleaned up some of the prep dishes.

It was a simple matter to boil off the pasta, make a salad, and serve dinner.

It was so good!  I have to say, there were quite a few dished to wash after making this dinner, but it was totally worth it in the end.  You should definitely try this recipe!