Italian Sauce and Meatballs

Italian Sauce

My husband is taking the boys camping this weekend so I will be taking the opportunity to make some sauce.  I like to make a big batch of it and freeze it in quart (freezer safe) canning jars.  It will keep in the refrigerator for 4 days.  The meatballs freeze beautifully as well.  After baking move them to a clean baking sheet and place in the freezer.  Once frozen place them in freezer bags or another freezer safe container, keep up to 6 months in a deep freezer.

2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
2 (28 oz.) cans whole peeled Italian tomatoes (with liquid), crushed with your hands
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds pork ribs or neck bones with meat
1 large onion, minced
1 large shallot, minced
3 ribs celery, minced
1 green bell pepper, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 Bay leaves
4 tablespoons sugar

1. Place a mesh sieve over a bowl. Add the tomatoes; force through to remove the seeds.
2. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium. Add the pork ribs/necks; cook until browned, turning as needed about every 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
3. Add the onion, shallots, celery, and bell pepper; cook over medium, 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds.
4. Add the tomatoes, carrot, thyme, oregano, black pepper, bay leaves, sugar and salt to taste; return the ribs to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until meat is tender, 2-3 hours; remove bones and carrot.
5. Meanwhile, make meatballs (below)
6. Serve over choice of pasta with meatballs and grated cheese.

Makes approximately 4 quarts.

Italian Meatballs
In large bowl combine:
2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 eggs
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup whole milk
¾ cup bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes or ¼ cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper

1. Line a rimmed baking pan with foil
2. Form mixture into approx. 40 (2-inch) balls.
3. Place balls on lined baking pan and bake at 400° for 20 min. turning over halfway through.
4. Serve with Italian sauce and pasta

Click Here for a printable copy of Italian Sauce and Meatballs

Beet Crostini


Beet Crostini

Click to print Beet Crostini recipe

I really don’t like beets. My husband loves them. I have a rule in this house if he plants them, he cooks them.  However, this year I signed up for a winter CSA through Fresh Fork Market and wouldn’t you know it the first week’s package included a bunch o’ beets. Ugh, now I had to cook them. Luckily the CSA sent out a newsletter with a recipe for Beet Crostini. I figured bread and cheese can make most things taste pretty good so I’d try it with the beets. The results? I still don’t like beets, but the recipe made them edible; my husband loves them even more, and my 8 year old ate them (he actually ate about 5 pieces). So, if you like beets make this recipe, if you don’t like beets and you find yourself with a bunch of them; go ahead and make this recipe it won’t hurt.

1 bunch beets with greens attached
16 – ½-inch-thick slices baguette, cut on the diagonal
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon salt
4 oz. creamy goat cheese (I didn’t have goat cheese so I used cream cheese)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Trim greens from beets, reserving stems and greens. Place the beets in a baking pan, cover with foil and roast until very tender when pierced with a knife, 45 minutes to 1½ hours, depending on the size of the beets.


3. Meanwhile, thinly slice the beet green stems and finely chop the leaves; keep stems and leaves separate. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the stems and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the greens, vinegar and water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender and the liquid has evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in salt and remove from the heat.
4. When the beets are finished roasting, remove from the oven, uncover and let cool. Turn the oven down to 350°F if serving immediately.
5. Peel the cooled beets and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place ¾ cup beet pieces (reserve any remaining beets for another use), goat or cream cheese and pepper in a food processor and puree until smooth.

(At this point you can store the beet-cheese spread and greens separately in containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Bring them to room temperature before serving.)

5. Arrange baguette slices in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake, turning the slices over once halfway through, until toasted but not browned, about 14 minutes.
6. To assemble crostini, spread about 2 teaspoons beet-cheese spread on each slice of toasted baguette and top with sautéed greens.

Recipe can also be found here:  Eating Well

Empty Out The Icebox BBQ Pizza

I didn’t try this recipe until last summer.  I just skipped over it because I thought I had to put BBQ sauce on my pizza, in my opinion BBQ sauce does not belong on a pizza.  Eventually, I read the ingredients and there is no BBQ sauce on the pizza.  The title means you are barbecuing the pizza.  I don’t have a barbecue, which I believe is cooking with wood or possibly charcoal.  I have a grill and I use propane or natural gas, so technically this recipe should be called:

Empty Out The Icebox Grilled Pizza

1 lb. ready-made pizza dough, at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ lb. cooked sausage, cut into ½-inch pieces (optional)
1 cup assorted grilled vegetables (peppers, onions, zucchini, mushrooms)
6 oz. shredded Colby jack Cheese
1 teaspoon basil
¼ teaspoon dry red pepper flakes
1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Oil grill racks.
2. Roll out dough to a 12″x15″ rectangle. Brush top with olive oil. Place dough, oil side down, on grill rack. Cover and grill about 3 minutes, or until the bottom is lightly browned. Punch down air bubbles, if needed.
3. Brush top with olive oil and turn over.
4. Immediately top evenly with sausage, veggies, cheese, basil and pepper flakes. Cover and cook 3 minutes or until cheese is melted.

**When we are entertaining for a grill out, I sauté the veggies and cook the sausage in the morning before the event and put them in the fridge in separate containers. When it is time to make the pizzas I pull out the bowls bring them to the grill and the cook can make several different pizzas according to the wishes of the guests.  This is especially nice when entertaining vegetarians and the sausage can be omitted on some of the pizzas.

From: “Marlboro Cook Like A Man Cookbook”, In the back of the book, there are names of those who contributed to the cookbook but the names are not directly linked to the recipes. 2004 Philip Morris.

Easy Fruit and Cheese Tray

Nothing fancy about this but it looks impressive and after an evening of watching Disney’s Ratatouille the kids will try the fruit and cheese together.

Good country Italian Bread
Green Apples
Fresh Pineapple
Sharp White Cheddar

Slice bread
Wash and de-stem grapes
Cut strawberries in halves or fourths
Slice apples into approx. 10 slices each (an apple slicer is a handy tool for this)
Core and slice pineapple or chunk it
Slice cheeses
Arrange on a fruit on a platter or 3 separate plates as follows: Fontina with Pineapple, Havarti with strawberries and grapes, Cheddar with apples. Serve with bread or water crackers.

I have mentioned this before and I will say it again. I am not a food stylist or a food photographer.   This was a simple lunch with a cheese and fruit sampler and some chicken salad.  It was gone in 20 minutes.

Zubriac – a fancy way of saying Vegetarian Lasagna

Vegetarian Lasagna

I am from Minnesota and the premier grocery store in the Minneapolis area is Lunds or Byerlys. When I moved out of my parent’s house decades ago, my Mom gave me a cookbook from Byerlys called “The Best of Byerlys”. This cookbook is my first go-to cookbook. It has taught me how to cook several different cuts of roasts, feed a crowd, carve a turkey, make a fruit and cheese plate and even how to serve a Dungeness crab!

This recipe is adapted from that book and the original can be found online here.  Thanks Mom for the book and thanks Byerly’s chefs for teaching me how to cook.

8 oz. Lasagna noodles, 11-12 noodles
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, diced (1 cup)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup carrots, matchstick cut
36 oz cottage cheese
2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 eggs
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley
¼ teaspoon white pepper
30 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained

Boil water for pasta. While waiting for water to boil; saute onion, garlic and carrot in olive oil. Set aside to cool. Salt pasta water and cook noodles following package directions; drain and pat dry. Combine cottage cheese, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, and pepper. Mix spinach into the cooled onion and carrot mixture. Layer ⅓ of noodles, ½ cheese mixture, and ½ spinach mixture in buttered 9×13″ baking pan; repeat layers, end with last ⅓ of noodles. Sprinkle with 1 cup Parmesan. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to bake. Bake, covered, in a 350° oven until bubbly (50-60 minutes). Uncover and bake 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Cut into 12 squares.

Amount: 12 servings

Cheesy Mac ‘n’ Bangers Bake

This says serves 4, but with a salad on the side it fed our family of 7. Make this one the night before for an easy after work meal. Cook an extra ½ pound of sausage to make ‘Scrambled Egg Muffins” to have on hand for breakfasts.

½ lb. elbow macaroni
1 lb. Irish bangers or sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 lb. thawed frozen chopped spinach, squeezed dry
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
Salt and pepper
6 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated parmesan (4 ½ oz.)
6 slices white sandwich bread, crust trimmed

1. In a large saucepan of boiling, salted water, cook the macaroni, stirring often, until al dente. Drain and let cool; do not rinse.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally until crumbly, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Melt the butter in the pan, then add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cream cheese until blended; season with salt and pepper. Let cool.
3. In a large bowl, using a fork, beat together the eggs, heavy cream, ⅔ cup parmesan and ½ tsp. each salt and pepper.
4. In a 9-inch square baking dish, evenly layer the macaroni and cover with the bread slices. Top with the spinach mixture in an even layer, then the sausage. Pour the egg mixture on top and sprinkle with the remaining ⅓ cup parmesan. (Cover and refrigerate overnight if desired.)
5. Let the casserole stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. Preheat the oven to 375° and bake until browned and crusty on top and set in the center, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting.
Everyday with Rachael Ray Jan. 2012: Cheesy Mac ‘n’ Bangers Bake