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!

Blueberry Oat Muffins

Whole wheats and oat muffins, bursting with juicy blueberries.

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Every weekend I try to make muffins or banana bread. Some sort of baked good that can be grabbed on our way to work in the morning. Or thrown in my purse for a mid morning snack. Bonus points if it’s tasty enough to enjoy as dessert. Anything that keeps me away from a chocolate bar is key to keep my waist line from growing!

Blueberry muffins are one of my favourite kinds of muffins. I like that they are fresh and light while still providing the comfort of a baked good. I personally am not a fan of the baker style muffin. To me those are truly a dessert. They are more like cake than muffin and you will rarely find me baking them. If a baked good is going to be part of my regular diet as part of a meal pr snack I have a few requirements:

  • Mostly whole wheat or whole grain
  • Low in sugar
  • Healthy fat source
  • Delicious!
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These muffins fit my rules. They contain whole wheat flour, rolled oats, honey, cinnamon, apple sauce, coconut oil and blueberries! Lots of filling healthy ingredients to fuel your day.

We’ve enjoyed these so much I’m going to me making another batch on Sunday!

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Blueberry Oat Muffins

Yields: 14 Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 cup Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar, loosely packed
  • 1/3 cup Honey
  • 1/3 cup Unsweetened Apple Sauce
  • 1/3 cup Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1 cup Milk (Cows milk, nut milk, oat milk – your favourite!)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 cup Blueberries (fresh or frozen, do not defrost frozen)
  • Optional: Rolled Oats and Turbinado Sugar, for topping

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare your muffin tins with cupcake liners or grease with oil or non stick spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. Once ingredients are evenly distributed, set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together brown sugar, honey, apple sauce, coconut oil, milk, vanilla and egg. Whisk until smooth. Pour dry ingredients into the wet. Fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Add blueberries, fold into batter.

Pour batter into the prepared muffin tins. Fill each tin 3/4 of the way full. Do not over fill.  Sprinkle tops of muffins with rolled oats and turbinado sugar if desired. Bake muffins for 20-30 minutes. Muffins are done when a toothpick comes out clean.

Store in an airtight container in your refrigerator for about a week. These muffins also freeze and defrost well.


Vegan Cookie Dough Energy Balls

The post Christmas sugar crash is totally real. I find it takes at least a month for me to get used to not having dessert and treats every day. Why do we do that to ourselves? I don’t know, but it will never stop. So as we clean up our diets a bit after the holidays I need a little something to get me through my sugar cravings.

These energy balls do just the trick. They have enough sweetness to give you that fix, but not enough to give you a sugar crash. Plus they are full of rolled oats, fibre, and healthy fats. They are the perfect dessert or mid day snack. And they are actually really filling.

These tiny balls contain rolled oats, ground flax, peanut butter, unsweetened coconut flakes and mini chocolate chips!

I also love using real maple syrup as the sweetener and binder for this recipe. I love that it is an al natural sweetener and it makes these energy balls truly vegan unlike using honey (here’s some info on veganism and honey). Also because it is more liquid than honey you can use a little less. Anytime I can cut back on sugar in a recipe I will do it.

This recipe also requires that you use natural peanut butter. To get the energy balls to bind you require the runny texture of natural peanut butter. Also we want to control the sweetness of the energy balls. Conventional peanut butter is loaded with chemicals, low quality fats and tons of sugar. And honestly if you taste them side by side conventional peanut butter doesn’t even taste like peanuts.

Packing all these whole foods into a portable delicious snack is perfect for curing your sweet tooth.

Vegan Cookie Dough Energy Balls

Yields: 20 Energy Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 cup Real Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Rolled Oats
  • 2/3 cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 1/2 cup Ground Flaxseed
  • 4 tbsp Mini Chocolate Chips

 

Directions:

In a medium bowl combine peanut butter, maple syrup and vanilla extract until smooth. Add oats, coconut flakes, flaxseed and chocolate chips. Mix until combined.

Cover and place in the fridge to chill for an hour. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to a week.

Adapted from Cooking Classy.

 

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Banana Nut Muffin
Vegan Cookie Dough Energy Balls
Vegan Cookie Dough Energy Balls

Grapefruit and Ginger Champagne Cocktail

Hi everyone! I’m back to blogging after a little Christmas break. It was so nice to get out of the kitchen and visit with all our family for a few days. It was hectic and I’ll admit I’m still exhausted from travelling but it was well worth it. We had a really great Christmas. I hope you all did too.

Now we’re all in this awkward stage between Christmas and New Years where like isn’t totally normal yet and chocolate and sweets are a main food group. I went back to work the day after boxing day and I will admit that really messes with my post Christmas coma I typically enter into. But it’s almost the weekend and then before we know it it will be New Year’s Eve.

New Years Eve is my jam, but I’m very particular in how I spend it. I’ve been on trips to Mexico, snowboarding, parties, game night and fancy dinners. But the only way we spend our New Years now is at home. We decorate the house, dress down in brand new comfy sweats eat fabulous food and drinking the best cocktails and wines. We play games, watch movies. And our strangest but favourite tradition is eating homemade cinnamon buns and drinking champagne while watching the ball drop at midnight. Then we stay up until 2 am chatting about our hopes, dreams and goals for the next year. It is one of the best nights of the year!

In the past I’ve cooked an elaborate dinner for New Years, but this year I am working, so we are doing appetizers only. I’m planning a charcuteries platter, baked brie, various homemade dips with the best bread in town and all of the homemade puff pastry appetizers in my freezer (yum!). I will be making fresh homemade cinnamon buns for midnight so I thought that keeping it simple with our savoury options was the right choice.

I’m also saving myself time so that I can make some delicious champagne cocktails. The recipe I’m sharing today has been a staple at our New Years Eve celebration for a few years now and I just cant get enough. I think it’s great to leave cranberry and pomegranate behind after Christmas and celebrate the brighter flavours of the season like citrus. Such as grapefruit. I love the colour a ruby red grapefruit gives this cocktail and the addition of ginger ale helps to sweeten things up and give another dimension of flavour. This is perfect for a small party where you have time to make your guests drinks. It is super fun and festive for New Years. I hope you enjoy it.

Grapefruit and Ginger Champagne Cocktail

Yields: 1 cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce Vodka
  • 1 ounce Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice (blood orange is great too!)
  • 2 ounces Ginger Ale
  • Champagnes
  • Mint Leaves

Directions:

In a champagne flute combine vodka and grapefruit juice. Add ginger ale, then top with champagne. Garnish with mint leaves.

Adapted from Half Baked Harvest.


Peppermint Bark

Today marks one week until Christmas….. let that sink in a moment.

Ok how are we all doing? Stressed, excited, organized, overwhelmed? Personally I’m feeling pretty good. I think I have things pretty under control. Since we travel at Christmas I’ve always had to be organized well in advance. And I think this year will be the smoothest… knock on wood. 

Today I am sharing a recipe I have made since I was a kid. I would make this with my mom and brother every Christmas as a kid and it’s still one of my favourites today. Peppermint Bark is seriously simple to make and so delicious. It looks great on a cookie tray, and it’s also a great hostess gift.

It’s so easy you can even make it in the microwave. Don’t we all need easy at the holidays? So give it a try and let me know what you think.

Peppermint Bark

Yields: 1 sheet pan

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces White Chocolate
  • 8 ounces Milk or Dark Chocolate
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Coconut Oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon Peppermint Extract
  • 5 Candy Canes, crushed

Directions:

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl melt 6 ounces of the milk chocolate in 30 second intervals (1-2 mins), string in between. Stir in remaining chocolate and 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil. Spread the chocolate thinly on the prepared baking sheet. Allow to set in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Repeat the same melting process with 12 ounces of the white chocolate. Stir remaining chocolate, remaining coconut oil and peppermint extract into the chocolate. Pour chocolate over the set milk chocolate and spread out to cover. Sprinkle crushed candy canes all over the white chocolate. Return bark to the fridge to set for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Once set break bark into sizes of your choosing. Store in an air tight container in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. You can also store in your freezer for a few months.

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Sugar Cookie Snowflakes