Spaghetti & Meatballs

Flavour packed meatballs smothered in tomato sauce served on top of spaghetti.

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I am constantly searching for dinner ideas that can be made ahead and frozen. Freezer meals save me during the week. I love spaghetti and meatballs. It’s such a classic comforting meal.

I like a flavour packed and tender meatball. I fill my meatballs with ground beef, sausage, herbs and parmesan cheese. They are baked not fried. I like to bake mine on a wire rack so that excess fat can be rendered off. This makes the meatballs really tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.

This recipe makes 24 meatballs, so I freeze what we won’t eat and pull the meatballs out portion by portion as we need them. It’s perfect since I always have spaghetti and pasta sauce on hand. Add a side salad and you have a complete meal in 20 minutes. I don’t know about you but I need more meals like this in my life!

As for the sauce. I keep it super simple fresh and flavourful. I like the meatballs to shine in this one. They have such a delicious flavour I didn’t want a heavy marinara sauce to overpower it. If you want to keep it super simple buy a really good marinara sauce doctor is up with garlic and seasonings, tell everyone it’s a family recipe. But if you have the time make your own sauce… it really is better.

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Spaghetti and Meatballs

Yields: 24 meatballs

Ingredients:

Meatballs:

  • 1 cup Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 cup Milk (Use whatever you have on hand – I used 2%)
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Small Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pound Extra Lean Ground Beef
  • 1 pound Spicy Italian Sausage, removed from casings

Sauce:

  • 2 28 oz Can Whole Plum Tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 2 Garlic Clove, minced
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easy clean up!), place a wire rack into the baking sheet. Spray the wire rack with cooking spray. Set

In a large bowl mix together breadcrumbs, parmesan, Italian seasoning, milk, tomato paste, salt, pepper and eggs. Stir until thoroughly combined. Add ground beef and sausage. Gently mix all ingredients until combined (you can use a spoon, but your fingers are best.. I know it’s gross, but worth it!)

Roll mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls (about 1 ounce each). Place on the prepared wire rack. Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large sauce pan on low. Add garlic to the pan cook for 30 seconds until fragrant and softened. Add tomato paste, heat through for 1 minute. Add canned tomatoes to the pan. Simmer sauce over medium low heat for 10 – 15 minutes. Use a potato masher to crush the plum tomatoes. Add balsamic vinegar and simmer for 5 minutes.

Once the meatballs are cooked through add them to the sauce. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and toss pasta with tomato sauce.

Serve spaghetti in bowls topped with meatballs. Garnish with parmesan cheese if desired.

Spaghetti and Meatballs - Yum! Classic comfort food!
Spaghetti and Meatballs - Yum! Classic comfort food!

Winter Grain Salad with Glory Dressing

Simple delicious whole food ingredients smothered is the best dressing ever invented.

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Happy Saturday guys! I’m popping on here today to share a staple salad and a dressing that can be used to make just about anything taste delicious! This recipe is actually adapted from a recipe my husband got from an old roommate. Many years ago my husband, then boyfriend made us glory bowls for dinner. It was one of the first dinners he ever cooked for me. At this time I was still living at home and honestly hadn’t cooked much, he was the better cook back then. I watched him prep the ingredients, cook rice, grill chicken and make the most amazing dressing. I was so impressed! Since then his recipe for glory dressing has evolved and the scrape of paper the recipe was written on is scribbled with notes and splattered with soy sauce. Isn’t that a sign of a well loved recipe? I think so.

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The best thing about the recipe I’m sharing today is how customizable it is. Today I’m sharing a simple but hardy salad full of whole grains and delicious vegetables. I’ve added grilled chicken, crispy tofu, sliced steak and soft boiled eggs to this salad to round out the meal. You can also switch up the vegetables, add cucumber and pickled red onion, or ad roasted cauliflower and sweet potatoes. The world is your oyster. This is really just a jumping off point for your own creativity!

Now the dressing, it’s made up of olive oil, tahini, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, garlic and sesame oil. I recommend making this dressing in a blender or a magic bullet. You can make it by hand, but I like the magic bullet because it emulsifies the oil and makes the dressing super creamy. Also you can skip the step of chopping garlic, because lets be honest chopping garlic is the worst!

Once the dressing is made pick your favourite grain and veggies toppings, assemble and smother with dressing. You won’t regret it!

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Winter Grain Salad with Glory Dressing

Yields: 2 cups dressing & 4 salad bowls

Salads:

  • 3 cups Brown Rice, cooked
  • 4 Cups Spring Mix
  • 2 Carrots, raw grated
  • 4 Beets, cooked sliced
  • Optional: chicken, steak, crispy tofu, soft boiled egg

Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons Tahini
  • 1/2 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Sesame Oil

Directions:

Add dressing ingredients to a blender, blend until smooth and emulsified.

Place a bed or rice into bowls or on plates, top with spring mix, sliced beets, grated carrots and optional protein toppings. Drizzle dressing over the salad. Serve immediately.

Dressing keeps up to week in your refrigerator.

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Winter Grain Salad with Glory Dressing - YUM!
Winter Grain Salad with Glory Dressing - YUM!

The Perfect Steak

The first time I ever cooked a steak was for my now husbands 24th birthday. I was 20 years old and we had only been dating about 8 months. I wanted to make his birthday really special. I took on a pretty ambitious menu; steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, homemade bread and peach cobbler for dessert. I had literally never cooked any of these items before. I’ve always had confidence in the kitchen and after reading many recipes I thought I could do it.

I decided I would make the steak by searing in a fry pan, finishing in the oven and I would top it all off with compound butter. Pretty ambitious. So armed with my list of ingredients I went to the store. Since I was a broke college kid you can imagine that this dinner was costing me quite a bit of money. So when i got to the meat section to pick out my steaks my heart sank. All I could afford was the fast fry steaks… no sirloin or rib eye here. I was disappointed, but figured steak was steak and bought them anyway. It would still be the best steak of his life right?

I hate to spoil the ending, but the steak was not the best he had ever had. It was dry and overcooked. Not my best, but we both had budget pallets so it wasn’t so bad. Ever since then I have been on a mission to cook the perfect steak. 

 

For me the perfect steak is:

  • Top Sirloin, Rib Eye or Fillet
  • Seared in cast iron
  • Medium Rare
  • Seasoned with salt, pepper, butter and garlic

I am obsessed with cooking my steak this way… maybe its all the butter and garlic. Whatever it is I really enjoy it. And my husband defiantly doesn’t miss the days of over cooked, tough fast fry steaks.

The Perfect Steak

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 Thick Cut Steaks (Top Sirloin is my fav!)
  • 2 Teaspoons Canola Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, smashed
  • Salt and Pepper

Season the steaks liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Rub canola oil on both sides of the steak. Set aside to come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Place your cast iron pan in the oven to preheat. Once your oven has preheated remove the pan from the oven. Place the pan on your stove over high heat.

Once your skillet is smoking add your steaks. Sear the steaks on he first side (30 seconds – 1 minute). Flip the steak and repeat. Add smashed garlic and butter to the cast iron pan. Place the pan in the oven cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, flip the steak and baste with melted butter. Repeat this process until the steak is cooked to your preference. Personally I cook mine for 4-6 minutes depending on thickness. For accurate cooking I highly recommend an instant read meat thermometer.

Allow steak to rest uncovered for 5-10 minutes before serving. I place garlic cloves and pour basting juices over the steaks while they rest for extra flavour.

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Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

I love all carbs, but noodles are my favourite! I always get cravings for Baked Macaroni and Cheese in the fall and winter. It’s just so comforting. I know the box stuff is convenient but it’s not the same. I have also tried all of those trick for making a single serving in the microwave and I’m sorry but that just wont cut it! Homemade with a roux and cream sauce os the only way!

I have been making homemade Baked Macaroni and Cheese since I was a teenager. In high school I used to make it every Monday night for my brother and I to have for dinner before heading off to dance and soccer. I used a recipe out of one of my mom’s well used cookbooks and would top the whole thing with ritz crackers instead of breadcrumbs. It was good, but even back then I knew it wasn’t perfect.

It was dry, there wasn’t enough cheesy flavour and the noodles were way too soft. For years I didn’t make Baked Macaroni Cheese. There is a store by my house that sells a decent Baked Macaroni and Cheese, so when I need my fix my husband runs out and grabs some (he knows to keep me well fed!). Since it’s just the two of us it seemed like over kill to make a whole pan. But one morning I was watching cooking videos on Youtube and got inspired to perfect my Baked Macaroni and Cheese recipe.

This recipe it perfect. It solved all the issues I had in the past and I really learned a lot about making Baked Macaroni and Cheese.

  1. Undercook your pasta. Always undercook your pasta when making a Baked Macaroni and Cheese. Then you won’t end up with bloated macaroni
  2. Use the strongest and highest quality cheese you can afford. You want to get the most flavour out of your cheese as possible. Find the best old cheddar cheeses you can find, you wont be disappointed.
  3. Make way more sauce then you think you need. The sauce to noodle ratio should alarm you, you should be terrified that your making soup instead of macaroni and cheese. All kidding aside you need a lot of sauce!

If you can remember those three things your Baked Macaroni and cheese will turn out perfect. I hope that this recipe makes it to your table this fall.

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients:

8 Ounces Elbow Macaroni

  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 1/3 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 3 Cups Whole Milk 
  • 8 Ounces Aged Old White Cheddar (crumbled or grated)
  • 4 Ounces Sharp Orange Cheddar Cheese (crumbled or grated)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt 
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

  • 1 Cup Plain Breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter, melted

Directions:

Cook macaroni according to package directions, but reduce the cook time by 2 minutes. You need very al dente pasta for this recipe. Drain pasta and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease an 8 inch baking dish with butter or oil.

In a large sauce pan melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and continue to cook for about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk milk into the roux. Whisk constantly to combine the mixture and prevent milk from burning. Continue to cook the mixture until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Whisk sauce occasionally.

Once the sauce has thickened reduce the heat to low. Add the cheese to the sauce, stir to combine. Season the sauce with salt, chili and garlic powder.

Fold cooked macaroni to the sauce to coat. Transfer the mixture to your prepared baking dish. Set aside.

In a small bowl mix together breadcrumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle the mixture over the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 25 minutes until the top is golden and the macaroni and cheese is bubbling.

Adapted from Seasons and Suppers

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Homemade Lasagna
Chicken Pot Pie

Homemade Lasagna

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If I could eat Italian food for every meal I would. Pasta for breakfast sounds way better then oatmeal or eggs to me. I have always loved Lasagna. My mom would always make it when my grandparents came to visit. It’s such a great crowd pleasing meal that can be made in advance.

Now this recipe is not my mom’s. Her recipe came from the back of the pasta box. Although delicious you wont see me make a lasagna recipe that contains cottage cheese in place of ricotta…. sorry mom! This recipe has, ground beef, Italian sausage, ricotta, fresh basil and lots of cheese!! I’ll also share a trick for avoiding soggy noodles. Believe me this recipe is worth the effort.

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So my tips for this recipe are….

  1. Find the biggest pan you can! If you can get a pan thats actually called a lasagna pan that’s the best this to use since this makes a large quantity. I use the deepest 13×9 baking dish I own and always have a little bit left over. SO the bigger the better!
  2. Double or even triple the recipe. Make up a few lasagnas in foil baking dishes and stock your freezer. I wouldn’t call this recipe hard, but it is time consuming so you might as well batch cook.
  3. Throw a parmesan rind into your meet sauce. Now this is totally optional, so if you don’t have one no worries. If you do have a parmesan rind (I freeze my leftover rinds) throw it in to simmer with your sauce it will add incredible flavour.
  4. Either use fresh lasagna noodles or quick soak your dried pasta. Ok so I hate cooking lasagna sheets, they always tear and my largest pot is already being used to simmer the meat sauce. So I have two options for you, the first is using fresh pasta. This stuff cooks so fast you don’t need to boil it! It can be pretty pricy though so I normally opt for option two, quick soaking regular lasagna noodles. I put the noodles in a large pan, cover the noodles with boiling hot water for 2-3 minutes. This will soften the noodles but they will still have a nice structure, and they don’t soak up too much sauce as the lasagna bakes.
  5. My fifth and final tip is that fresh is best! Fresh cheese and fresh basil! Get your self a basil plant, they are the best! Basil is one of the only herbs I refuse to use dried. In my opinion if you only have dried basil you might as well not use any at all. Secondly your cheese should be either deli sliced, or freshly grated by you! Pre grated cheese has a weird powder on it and it impacts the flavour of the cheese so buying a block is best (and cheaper!)

So now you have a fews tip on how I make this lasagna, its really so good!

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Homemade Lasagna

Yields: 12 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pound Italian Sausage (I use spicy, but sweet is also delicious!)
  • 2 Pounds Lean Ground Beef
  • 1 White Onion, finely diced
  • 6 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
  • 2 (28 oz) Cans Crushed Tomatoes
  • 2 (6 oz) Cans Tomato Paste
  • 1 (15 oz) Can Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Red Wine (Chianti and Pino Noir are my favourites)
  • 1 Tablespoon White Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese Rind (optional)
  • 1 Pound Lasagna Noodles
  • 16 Ounces Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 Pound Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/4 Cups Fresh Parmesan Cheese, grated

Directions:

In a large pot or dutch oven brown sausage and ground beef over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Sauté until translucent, browning and fragrant (5 minutes). Add red wine to deglaze the pan. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato past and tomato sauce. Bring sauce to a simmer. Add sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and parmesan rind to the pot. Cover and simmer on low heat for at least 1.5 hours. Remove parmesan rind before using.

In a medium sized bowl combine ricotta, egg, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Mix to combine and set aside. Place noodles in a large pan, pour boiling water over the noodles and soak for 2-3 minutes. Remove noodles from the pan, place in a colander and rinse with cold water. Place shredded mozzarella and remaining shredded parmesan together in a bowl, Mix to combine and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 ° F.

Assemble your lasagna. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with 1 cup of meat sauce. Cover sauce with 6 lasagna noodles. Layer one half of the ricotta mixture, gently spread. Sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheese mixture. Top with 1 1/2 cups of meat  sauce, and sprinkle another layer of cheese. Repeat layers. Top the final layer of noodles with remaining meat sauce and cheese.

Cover loosely with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Adapted from All Recipes.

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