Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Greetings via the mail


It seems that on the weekends when we are making dinner a dessert is always on the menu.  My son is a big dessert fan.  He is insistent that he get something for dessert every day it seems.  And he can use the extra calories right now because he is in a major growth spurt.  It is great to see that the picky little eater can fill his plate, get seconds and then finish off the meal with dessert.  That is to say that he likes what we are serving.  If it is a pasta dish, stand back, he can even go for thirds.  There are some things that he just will not eat, for instance Shake and Bake or anything that resembles it.  We made Parmesan crusted chicken this week from the Hellman's recipe.  It tasted really good, but for our son, it looked like Shake and Bake and he was not happy.  He will pick at eat and then push it off to the side and pile on the side dishes, such as mashed potatoes.  We try to get him to eat it, like a little kid telling him no dessert, but he is not buying.  So dessert he gets!

About a week ago we received a mailing from a local financial adviser extending holiday wishes.  There was no true sales pitch involved, at least on the surface, but what he did send was a recipe for the Thanksgiving holidays.  We looked it over and thought that it was simple enough to give it a try.  Researching this recipe it looks like it came from Food Network.


Pumpkin Pecan Crunch


Ingredients

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for baking dish
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pie mix)
1 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, divided
1 tablespoon bourbon, optional
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped pecans
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Bourbon Whipped Cream, recipe follows
Ice cream, optional

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat an 8 by 8-inch baking dish with butter and set aside.

Combine the pumpkin, cream, eggs, sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, bourbon, if using, ginger, nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Whisk until evenly combined and pour into the prepared baking dish.

Cut the butter into small pieces and add to a medium bowl. Stir in the pecans, flour, and the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and mix until it holds together somewhat but still crumbles. Scatter the topping over the pumpkin mixture and bake until the edges are puffed and the filling is set in the center, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove to a rack to cool to room temperature. Serve with the Bourbon Whipped Cream and/or ice cream.

Bourbon Whipped Cream: 


1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon
Add the heavy cream to a medium bowl. Beat the cream with a hand-held mixer until thick and frothy. Add the sugar and bourbon and beat until medium peaks form.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce

Yes,this is my second post of the day, but I have a recipe backup in my blogger account.  And in looking out the window right now I though that this might be a perfect time to share this recipe.  Heating up the oven to bake makes a cold and snowy day bearable.

This is An old recipe for us but a good one too.  This makes enough that you use one pan and freeze the other for a later time.  With our kids winter sports season getting into full swing, it is nice to have ready made meals  all set to go.  Just pull them from the freezer in the morning and then the first one home at night starts the oven.

This is a Giada recipe and both the sauce and the stuffed shell recipe are below.  If you don't have enough time to make the sauce, just use a spicy spaghetti sauce such as Arrabbiata or Dafriolo.

Cheese mixture ready for filling

,
This is one of my husbands recipes.  Here he is stuffing the shells.


Ready for the oven.

 



 

Ingredients


12 ounces (1 box) jumbo pasta shells (approximately 36 shells)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing baking sheet
6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, diced
2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups marinara sauce
2 (15-ounce) containers whole milk ricotta cheese
1 1/3 cups grated Parmesan
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

Lightly oil a 12 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish and set aside. Lightly oil the baking sheet and set aside.
Partially cook the pasta shells in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly tender but still quite firm to the bite, about 4 to 6 minutes. You will continue cooking the shells in the oven after they have been stuffed. Using a slotted spoon, drain pasta shells and place on oiled baking sheet, spreading them out so that they don't stick together and allow to cool.
Heat the oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes. Add the garlic and sauté until tender, about 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring often.
In a medium bowl, stir the ricotta, Parmesan, egg yolks, basil, parsley, mint, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spoon 1 1/4 cups of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Fill the cooked shells with the cheese mixture, about 2 tablespoons per shell. Arrange the shells in the prepared dish. Spoon the remaining sauce over the shells, then sprinkle with the mozzarella.
Bake in the lower third of your oven until the filling is heated through and the top is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes

Home Ec at home - Pan seared Scallops with Sesame Sauce and Cellophanenoodles

 





My son asked my husband and I the other day if we wished he had Home Economics in school.  I thought about that for a few minutes.  Home Ec for me was cooking and sewing, from what I remember way back when.  For my kids, since they go to a small school that doesn't have the fav itills for a traditional class, HomeEc begins at home.  

We have tried to teach our kids life skills everyday of their lives.  Working in the yard maintaining the plants, planting bulbs, weeding, raking, so that one day they will be able to maintain their home.  Even mowing the lawn this summer for my son has been a skill he will need.  And it is not just mowing the lawn in general, it maintaining the lawn and the mower too.  There are Home Ec/life skills out there every day that you can make teachable moments.  

So, from this blog you an tell cooking and baking with the kids is Home Ec class at home.  For our daughter, she has been doing this for a few years.  For our son, it has only been things like the ramen noodles he has made in the microwave.  He had recently asked me to show him how to make eggs or French toast which I believe he has mastered.  So the opportunity was there one Friday night when it was time to throw something together for dinner.  

My husband walked him through each step of the recipe, the measuring, finding the ingredients, mixing them up and then the sauté steps.  The end result was a flavorful scallop dish from a Food Network recipe we had in our big binder.  

Ingredients


8 ounces cellophane noodles
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops, about 12
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup scallions, chopped

Directions

Soak cellophane noodles in hot water for 10 minutes, until tender. Strain and set aside.
While the noodles are soaking, in a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, garlic, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, cornstarch, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallops and season the tops with black pepper. Cook 2 minutes, until golden brown. Flip with spatula and cook 2 more minutes, until second side is golden brown. Add soy sauce mixture to pan and bring to a simmer, for 2 minutes, until sauce thickens and scallops are cooked through and have an opaque color.
Serve half of the scallops over all of the cellophane noodles and top with scallions. Reserve remaining scallops for salad, if desired.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Orange Blossom Cookies

I have been challenged!  That's right, challenged!  I have a two day meeting this week and on the second day a few of the participants bring some of their Christmas cookies to share.  It has been happening for the last few years and let me tell you there are some pretty good tasting treats put out on the break table.  So this year I decided to make something that I can take.  

I was in luck.  We just received a Penzey's Spice catalog that was featuring some new Christmas Cookies that use their spices and extracts.  The Orange Blosoms No Bake cookies caught our eye.  So this past weekend I gathered all of the ingredients together and mixed up a batch to take with me tomorrow.  But before I packed them up my hubby and our little guy got to sample them.  We think the orange flavor is going to be a good surprise.

Penzey's is a great mail order spice store that we have been using for a couple of years.  They do have some retail stores, but not in our area.  The closet we had was one that was in Grand Central Station, which closed about a year ago and moved to a large mall outside of the city.  It was always a great stop when visiting the city.  So, we are hoping that someday we can have one close to us again.



My bowl of crushed Nilla wafers.  





Orange Blossom Cookies

1 12 oz.-box* vanilla wafers, crushed (or, make your own with our easy recipe)

2 Cups powdered sugar

1 6 oz.-can orange juice concentrate, thawed, undiluted (3/4 Cup if you are working from a bigger can)

1/2 tsp. PURE VANILLA EXTRACT

1/2 Cup butter (1 stick), softened

1 Cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped

1 to 2  Cups sweetened coconut flakes (recipe called for 1 Cup, we ran out and needed 2)
 
Crush the vanilla wafers to make fine crumbs. A blender or a rolling pin both work well. (For us a food processor was much better for crushing the cookies) Add the powdered sugar, juice, VANILLA, butter and nuts; mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls; roll in coconut (finely crushed nuts work well too). Chill until firm. Note: The longer they sit, the better they taste! Also fantastic made with lemonade instead of orange juice.

* The standard box of vanilla wafers now seems to be 11 oz., not 12. It still worked for us, but we added 1/3 cup extra powdered sugar to stiffen the dough enough to roll.

Skillet Rosemary Chicken




A little blurry, but you get the idea

A weekend dinner that uses our fresh Rosemary that is still going strong  out side our kitchen door is a real treat.  Picture a Saturday afternoon, working around the house and the question comes up "what would taste good to you for dinner?".  Something tasty, maybe chicken and potatoes?  Well look what we found on Food Network.  Skillet Rosemary Chicken, a tasty Saturday night dinner.
 

Skillet Rosemary Chicken

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound small red-skinned potatoes, halved, or quartered if large
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Juice of 2 lemons (squeezed halves reserved)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each)
  • 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450. Cover the potatoes with cold water in a saucepan and salt the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender, about 8 minutes; drain and set aside.

Pile the rosemary leaves, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt and the red pepper flakes on a cutting board, then mince and mash into a paste using a large knife. Transfer the paste to a bowl. Stir in the juice of 1 lemon and the olive oil. Add the chicken and turn to coat.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, cover and cook until the skin browns, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken; add the mushrooms and potatoes to the skillet and drizzle with the juice of the remaining lemon.

Add the rosemary sprigs and the squeezed lemon halves to the skillet; transfer to the oven and roast, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crisp, 20 to 25 minutes.
 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Crockpot time!


Hubby get's emails daily from Food Network or my recipes.com with the recipe of the day. Some days he prints them out and I will find a stack of recipes sitting by our printer.  Sometimes the recipes make it out to the kitchen counter or thrown in the drawer next to the cookbooks.  And then some make it quickly to our kitchen dinner table.  This recipe was one of those.  

We love the crockpot recipes because it is so nice to come home and have dinner already for you.  Not to mention how wonderful the house smells.  And this recipe is so easy- no browning of the meat.  Just mix it all together and turn the crock pot on!  Big tip- use the crockpot liners!  Easy cleanup!






Beef Burgundy with Egg Noodles


  • 2 pounds lean beef stew meat 
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour (about 1 3/4 ounces) 
  • 2 cups (1-inch-thick) slices carrot 
  • (16-ounce) package frozen pearl onions, thawed
  • (8-ounce) package mushrooms, stems removed
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth 
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine 
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces uncooked egg noodles 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme

Preparation

  1. 1. Place beef in a large bowl; sprinkle with flour, tossing well to coat. Place beef mixture, carrot, onions, mushrooms, and garlic in an electric slow cooker. Combine beef broth and next 6 ingredients (through pepper); stir into beef mixture. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.
  2. 2. Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Serve beef mixture over noodles; sprinkle with thyme.

From Coking Light - September 2012

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dinner Club at our House!

We hosted our dinner club last night to rave reviews (at least I think they were rave reviews). Our menu was sent out a couple of weeks ago with one thing missing - the main entree!  So people started to guess what it could be.  I think we stumped them.  And you will have to read all the way to the end to find out. 

Our appetizer was inspired from our California trip.   While in California we roamed the gardens of various wineries and saw our first artichoke plants.  It was so cool to see how these plants grow! So, we gave this recipe to "Giada from across the street" and her wonderful hubby! 

Our Dining Room table set for a fall dinner!
Stuffed Artichokes 
Ingredients
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 3 whole garlic cloves, smashed
  • 6 large artichokes
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 4 tablespoons drained capers
  • 6 ounces Italian bread, crust trimmed, bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 fresh Italian parsley sprigs, for garnish
Directions
Squeeze the juice from the lemon halves into a large pot of cold water; add the squeezed lemon halves and the whole garlic. Cut off the top quarter of each artichoke and discard. Use a small sharp knife to trim the stem of the artichokes. Starting at the base, bend the tough outer leaves back and snap off where they break naturally, leaving the tender inner leaves. Trim the outside of the base until no dark green areas remain. Cut the artichokes in half and then into quarters. Cut out the fibrous choke and small purple-tipped leaves. Submerge the artichoke quarters in the lemon water. Cover and boil until the artichokes are tender, about 45 minutes. Drain. Set the artichoke quarters aside to cool to room temperature.

Mix together lemon juice, herbs, garlic, lemon peel, capers, bread, and tomatoes in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Arrange artichokes, cut side up, on 2 platters. Spoon the tomato mixture into the center of the artichoke quarters, dividing equally. Drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with the parsley sprigs and serve.



With the appetizer we served some cheese's we tasted in California at the Vella Cheese Company.  This was the last stop on the Segway tour.  I called the company last Friday and had a sampler pack delivered.  The Dry Jack and the Italian Table cheese were just wonderful with this dinner.  www.vellacheese.com

Course #2

Our next course was the Soup course. I love a good soup and I knew that our foodie friends love to make soup too. They received this recipe to bring to our dinner.
Italian Wedding Soup 
Ingredients
For the meatballs:
  • 3/4 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the soup:
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup diced celery (2 stalks), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 10 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup small pasta such as tubetini or stars
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh dill
  • 12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed
Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. With a teaspoon, drop 1 to 1 1/4-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (You should have about 40 meatballs. They don't have to be perfectly round.) Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted.

Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.

Entrée – Surprise!  Recipe will be shared at End of Post

So our final recipe we sent out was dessert. I choose this cake because it is fall and that means pumpkin time, but it was also two days before my birthday, and this just might of been my birthday cake. (OK- not really since my hubby is in the kitchen now making me a Grand Girl Apple Cake). I gave this recipe to my artist friend and her Farm Boy Hubby to make. And what I found out is that she made two of them. Once for our dinner and one for her book club this coming Tuesday. It was delicious! Tasted like a great fall dessert. You might want to think about this for Thanksgiving! 

Now don't get too shocked at the recipe size... It is from Fine Cooking and all of their recipes are very detailed.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake 
 

A gingery glazed nut topping and brown-butter-spiked cream cheese frosting are the finishing touches for this spectacular spiced pumpkin cake. Double the topping if you want to pile the nuts on as shown in the photo.

For the purée
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium-large Sugar Pie pumpkin, cut in half from stem to bottom and seeded
Tip: You can substitute canned pumpkin purée for homemade, if you like.
For the cake
  • 6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter; more for the pans
  • 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
For the topping
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, raw, hulled pepitas
  • 2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. chopped crystallized ginger
For the frosting
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 5 oz. (1-1/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar
Make the pumpkin purée –Please feel free to used canned!
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Brush a 9x13-inch baking dish with the oil. Put the pumpkin halves in the dish cut side down and bake until tender when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes. Let cool. Peel the pumpkin and purée the flesh in a food processor until smooth. You’ll need 1-1/2 cups of the purée for the cake. Refrigerate or freeze any remaining purée for another use.
Make the cake
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans with removable bottoms (or butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, butter the parchment, and flour the pans).

Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not set, about 15 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves. In a large bowl, whisk 1-1/2 cups of the pumpkin purée with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and buttermilk until very well blended. With a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Gently whisk in the brown butter until completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

Bake the cakes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto racks, remove the pan bottoms or parchment, and cool completely.
Make the topping
Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and pepitas and cook until the pecans brown slightly and the pepitas begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and salt and stir until the sugar melts and the nuts are glazed, about 2 minutes. Stir in the ginger. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool in the skillet.
Make the frosting
Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until the solids settle at the bottom of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the bowl to the freezer and chill until just firm, about 18 minutes. Using a spoon, carefully scrape the butter from bowl, leaving the browned solids at the bottom; discard the solids.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light in color and the brown sugar has dissolved, 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.
Assemble the cake
Put one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread 1/2 cup of the frosting on the layer. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the nut mixture over the frosting and top with the second layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Arrange the remaining topping in a ring 1-1/2 inches in from the edge of the cake and serve
Make Ahead Tips

You can make the purée up to 2 days ahead. The assembled, frosted cake can be covered with a cake dome and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve at room temperature.

OK- so now you are asking.... What was the Entree?  
Surprise!


How to Make Spaghetti & Meatballs

The chef of New York City’s Meatball Shop shares his favorite recipe.

From Daniel Holzman from Fine Cooking Need to Know
Make a thick, chunky sauce, which will cling to the pasta and add some welcome texture to this simple dish. I like the fresh flavor of Pomì brand diced tomatoes, but feel free to use your favorite brand—just avoid preseasoned tomatoes and petite diced tomatoes, which will make a thinner sauce.

Add ricotta for juicy meatballs. Its fat content adds a little bit of extra moisture and a mildly creamy flavor without making the meatballs dense or heavy. Combine the meatball mix with your hands, and don’t over mix. Overworking the mixture can lead to dense meatballs. Using your hands literally gives you a feel for mixing, which helps keep the meatballs light.
Use an ice cream scoop to form the meatballs. A 2-oz. ice cream scoop that’s 2 inches in
diameter quickly makes uniform balls that are just the right size.
Salt the pasta water until it tastes briny. You’ll need about 1 Tbs. of kosher salt for every 2 quarts of water. As the pasta cooks, it will absorb the salt and become more flavorful.
Thin the sauce with pasta water. Starch from the pasta will prevent the sauce from becoming too watery, and the salt adds flavor.
Finish cooking the pasta in the sauce. Stopping short of the recommended time and then simmering the pasta in the sauce lets it absorb the sauce’s flavor without becoming overcooked

Plenty of oregano and a touch of fennel makes these tender meatballs super flavorful. This recipe uses a higher proportion of pork than beef or veal in the meatballs because it gives the best texture, but meatloaf mix—equal parts beef, veal, and pork—is an easy-to-find substitute.

Ingredients

For the sauce

·         1/2 cup olive oil
·         1 large yellow onion, chopped (1-1/2 cups)
·         3 medium cloves garlic, crushed
·         2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dry oregano
·         1 bay leaf
·         1 Tbs. tomato paste
·         2 26- to 28-oz. containers diced tomatoes, preferably Pomì brand
·         Kosher salt

For the meatballs

·         1 Tbs. olive oil
·         8 oz. ground pork
·         6 oz. 80% lean ground beef
·         6 oz. ground veal
·         1 cup coarse fresh white breadcrumbs
·         1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta
·         2 large eggs
·         2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
·         1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano or 1-1/2 tsp. dry oregano
·         1/2 tsp. freshly ground fennel seed
·         1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
·         Kosher salt

For the pasta

·         Kosher salt
·         1-1/2 lb. dried spaghetti

Directions

Make the sauce

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-duty 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, oregano, and bay leaf. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft, 6 to 10 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until darkened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice and 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce has reduced by about a third, 40 to 60 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and season to taste with salt. Keep warm, covered. (The sauce can also be refrigerated for up to 5 days, or frozen for 1 month.)

Make the meatballs

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F. Coat the bottom and sides of an 8x8-inch baking dish with the olive oil. Set aside.
Combine the ground meats, breadcrumbs, ricotta, eggs, parsley, oregano, fennel seed, red pepper flakes, and 2 tsp. salt in a large bowl. Mix gently but thoroughly with your hands.

Divide the meat into 16 golf-ball-size portions using a 2-oz., 2-inch-diameter ice cream scoop or your hands; roll with wet hands to make them round. Arrange the balls snugly in the baking dish.

Bake the meatballs until they register about 90°F on an instant-read thermometer and are firm to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes. (If you’ve made the tomato sauce ahead, heat it while the meatballs are cooking.)

Remove the meatballs from the oven and drain excess fat, if there is any, from the pan. Ladle half of the sauce over them, return them to the oven, and continue to bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into one reads 165°F, about 15 minutes. (The meatballs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 2 weeks.)


Cook the pasta

Bring a large covered pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil.
Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes less than package timing for al dente. Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water and drain.
Return the pasta to the pot and mix with the remaining sauce. Add 1 cup pasta water to thin the sauce and cook over medium heat until the pasta is al dente, 2 to 3 minutes. Add more pasta water if necessary, and season to taste with salt. Transfer the spaghetti to a large heated serving bowl. Top with the meatballs and their sauce and serve.
Our Entree heading out to the table!



Our Side dish..... ( Found this recipe about 3 hours before dinner!)

Green Beans with Sage and Pancetta


Bon Appétit | December 2007

Makes 10 servings
Ingredients
2 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed
8 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh sage
Fleur de sel* or other medium-grain sea salt for serving (optional)

Preparation

Line baking sheet with several layers of paper towels. Cook beans in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes depending on size of beans. Drain. Spread beans out on paper towels. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Combine pancetta and 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet. Sauté over medium heat until pancetta is crisp, separating pieces with 2 forks, about 10 minutes. Add sage and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to plate.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add beans and sauté until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add pancetta mixture and toss to blend. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to large bowl; sprinkle with fleur de sel, if desired, and serve.*A sea salt with especially subtle, complex flavor; sold at specialty foods stores and online at chefshop.com. 

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Sausage and Pasta Skillet

We needed something for dinner the other night and I didn't want to head back to the grocery store for the third day in a row.  So I pul...