Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

Meatball soup

It has been freezing lately (for SoCal, at least) and hearty soups have been on my mind.  But, so has laziness… So I did a stock of the freezer/ fridge/ pantry and I had all of the ingredients to make something I have been wanting to try, Meatball Soup!  I adapted this recipe to my tastes, and just used the frozen turkey balls I had one hand (as I always do!).  I just set the frozen turkey balls out when I started working on the soup, and they were about half defrosted by the time I added them, and it was fine.  This is a really great, easy recipe to crank out on a cold rainy day.  You should have most of the ingredients, especially if you already have some frozen meatballs.  This would also work with store-bought frozen meatballs.

What you need:

  • About 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bag of baby carrots
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Minced garlic, I used about ten cloves
  • 3 -4 bay leaves, fresh or dried
  • Meatballs, I think I used about 16 – 20
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cups water
  • 2 – 3 cups dried pasta of your choice.  I only have linguine, so I broke it in half.
  • Fresh parmesan for garnishing

What to do:

  1. In a deep pot over medium heat combine oil, carrots, garlic, onions, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Cover pot and cook veggies 5 or 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Uncover your soup pot and add broth and water to the pot. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil.
  3. When soup boils, reduce heat a bit and drop meatballs to cook in the broth.  Simmer while meatballs are cooking.  If frozen, this will probably take 10 – 15 mins.
  4. Add pasta to the soup and stir. Cover and simmer soup 15 minutes.
  5. Serve and garnish with fresh parmesan.

Don’t worry about over simmering it, as it will just taste better with the juices of the veggies and meatballs flavoring the broth. This makes 4 entree sized servings.

I apologize for the lack of photos, but I burned myself taking the cast iron griddle out of the broiler and was barely able to limp through the very easy cooking process.


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Butternut squash was crazy on sale about a month ago at Sprouts/ Henry’s, so I did the rational thing and bought like seven of them.  Luckily I came across this recipe in Martha Stewart Living for butternut squash lasagna.  It really is perfect because Boyfriend loves lasagna (but I rarely make it because it takes about 6 hours) and I have all these squash to use!  I followed the recipe for the most part, but did make some minor changes based on laziness.

What you need:

  • One butternut squash, about 3-4 lbs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • At least one pound ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 cups of grated mozzarella
  • A tablespoon or two of nutmeg
  • minced garlic, to taste (I used about a tablespoon, maybe a bit more)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • Lasagna noodles
  • Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425.  Peel and cut up the squash into one inch pieces.
  2. Toss or spray with olive oil.  Sprinkle with pepper.  Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
  3. Reduce oven to 375.
  4. Combine ricotta, eggs, cream, mozzarella, nutmeg, garlic and a pinch or two of salt.

    Cheesy mixture

  5. When the squash is done roasting, or has a few minutes left, melt the butter in a large sauce pan.  When the butter is fully melted, add the chopped sage.  Stirring constantly, cook the sage & butter over medium heat until the butter becomes very yellow, about 4-5 minutes.

    Not quite yellow enough yet

  6. If you have a sous-chef, like I happen to last night, have them do this step while you are working on the sage & butter.  Soak about half a pack of uncooked lasagna noodles in hot tap water in a shallow dish.  After 3-4 minutes take them out of the water.  They should still be pretty stiff.
  7. Add the squash and chicken stock to the sauce pan with the sage and butter.  Mash most of the squash and stir thoroughly.
  8. Assemble the lasagna in a 9×13 baking dish, in this order: Layer of noodles, layer of butternut squash (about 1/3 to half of the mixture depending on how many layers you want), layer of cheese mixture.  Repeat until you run out of squash and cheese.  Top the entire thing with a generous layer of Parmesan cheese.

    Bad representation of the layers

  9. Bake for 35 minutes.  Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving, unless you want to burn your face off. 


    The end result was very good, perfect for a chilly night.  It was WAY less time consuming that normal lasagna (if you make your own sauce, as I do), so it’s much more appropriate for a weeknight dinner.

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So I don’t eat beef, and so really hadn’t had any meatballs since I was ten maybe.  Then last New Year’s Eve, we had a party and I decided to make turkey meatballs for my Italian themed appetizer spread.  I don’t know if it is because I just forgot how magnificent meatballs are in general, or if these ones are just super amazing, but they are REALLY delicious, and you should try them.  Much like my favorite biscuits I almost always have a stock of these puppies in the freezer, ready to make a quick dinner of meatballs at a moment’s notice!  It’s just so much easier/ cheaper to buy the huge pack of ground turkey at Costco, make a bunch of meatballs and throw ’em in the freezer for later.

What you need:

  • 1 pound extra lean ground turkey/ chicken
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 8 – 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1  teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1  teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 5-6 dashes hot pepper sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup seasoned bread crumbs

What you need to do:

  1. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Place the meat into a mixing bowl, and season with salt, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, oregano, red pepper flakes, hot pepper sauce, and Worcestershire sauce; mix well.
  3. Add the milk, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs. Mix until evenly blended.
  4. Form into 1 1/2-inch meatballs, and place onto a baking sheet.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the center, 25 minutes.

Note: Make sure the baking sheet is greased, and it helps just place the meatballs on a sheet of foil on top of the baking sheet.

Ready to bake OR freeze for later

If you are going to freeze them, freeze them after you roll into balls.  Bake them straight from the freezer, but you will need to at least 10 minutes to the baking time.

Meatballs served with polenta, parmesan and some marinara sauce


Also this is totally unrelated to food or recipes or anything, but I will be out of town for almost three weeks, so don’t expect any posts until late September.   I will be eating and drinking my way through Europe, so I will take lots of photos of all the delicious-ness  and post upon returning.  Hope you don’t miss me too much!

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Tomato sauce

I got this from smittenkitchen.com and it’s delicious! I’m sure there have been variations to the recipe but I think the original is just fine.

– 1 28 oz can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes. This is KEY! These tomatoes are sweet and plump; don’t use whatever off-brand can of tomatoes!

– 5 tbsp of butter (a little more than half a stick)

– 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in halves.


Pour the can of tomatoes into a pot with the butter and the onion and let it simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and crush the tomatoes to desired size. Remove the onion after 45 minutes and add salt to taste. AND THAT’S IT!

$ breakdown:

1 can of tomatoes: $3.99 (i think?) at Whole Foods


Cheap and homemade tomato sauce!

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