Friday, March 11, 2011

Healthy Dinners: Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs

Dinner inspired by the classic Disney movie.  

The Lady and The Tramp is a surprisingly huge hit with both my kiddos.  I actually didn't come to like it until I was an adult but now I love all the music and the flat out loveliness of it.  Us watching it is almost ALWAYS followed with pleading for spaghetti and meatballs, of course.  Now, I usually make my spaghettis sauce more like a bolognese sauce, where the meat is cooked and added into the sauce that reduces and thickens into a heavenly, aromatic, heavy sauce that stands up to the noodles, but sometimes you just need a classic.  Lucky for us, spaghetti and meatballs aren't that hard to make and always pare well with a simple romaine salad or some sauteed green beans, even that broccoli we talked about making last week goes nicely with this!

Making your own spaghetti sauce isn't terribly hard or terrifying.  I promise that.  My parents taught me how when I was barely even walking, and I grew up on it.  When I went to college and encountered the bevy of jarred and canned sauces that there are, I was a bit befuddled.  Some were ok, some were fairly decent but NONE tasted like the goodness of homemade sauce.

I figured out that I really didn't want things like macaroni and cheese or spaghetti unless it could be homemade.  Now that I'm a mama with my own big, grown up kitchen, I can make these yummy things and enjoy kiddo movies as well.  There are pluses, aren't there, to being a grown up now!  I promise you, you can make this without batting an eyelash.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

1 lb ground hamburger (I usually use a 85/15 blend, you can use your preference)
1 lb spicy or sweet Italian sausage (if the sausage is in casings, you can slit them open and pull the sausage out)
1/2 cup of panko crumbs
1 egg, well beaten with a fork until well combined
1 medium white onion, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced well
1 can of crushed tomatoes, 28 ounces
1 can of crushed tomatoes, 18 ounces (If you find a 32 ounce of crushed tomatoes, let me know!  I use low sodium tomatoes and check the label to make sure there isn't tons of added sugar or preservatives.)
2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp of Italian seasoning or a good pinch each of basil, oregano, thyme , marjoram, and cayenne pepper
Good pinches of salt and pepper
1 16 ounce box of Ronzoni Smart Taste Spaghetti noodles (I love these noodles!  Extra calcium and fiber but still a nice smooth taste.)

-Saute your minced onions and garlic in the olive oil until tender and translucent over low to medium heat.  This shouldn't take more than 5 minutes.
-To make the meatballs, grab a large bowl.  Dump the hamburger, Italian sausage, panko crumbs, half of the onions and garlic into the bowl.  Start gently folding and blending the mixture together with your hands.  Use your hands kind of like claws to pick up and fold the mixture together until it is well combined.  Pour the egg over the mixture and mix together with your hands a few more minutes.  Do this gently, don't smash the stuff together or it will get really dry when you cook the meat balls.
-Heat your oven to 400 degrees.  Pinch of about 1 1/2 inches or so of the hamburger mixture, roll it gently and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Continue to do so until you've got all the hamburger rolled into balls.
- Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the meatballs at ten minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of water and salt it well.  Bring to a boil for the noodles and cook according to the package directions
-In a large sauce pan, add the rest of your onions and garlic, the two cans of tomatoes, your herbs, salt and pepper, and bring to a gentle simmer.  Let it simmer while your meatballs bake and noodles cook.
-During the last 5 minutes of your noodles cooking, add the meatballs to the sauce and bring back to a gentle simmer.

-Drain noodles, divide into bowls, top with sauce and meatballs.  Serve with plenty of grated Parmesan, a salad or another favorite veggie for a side dish.  Watch Lady and The Tramp and cuddle with the kiddos.

Happy Friday!

1 comment:

Healthy Spaghetti and Meatballs said...

Can you substitute whole wheat bread or the bread that has the seeds in it for the bread crumbs? Thanks!