Grinders: Meatballs and Sauce Revisited

When I was back visiting my dad, I made him a few meals, including meatballs in sauce. I left him the fixin’s for meatball subs (called grinders when I was a kid).

I didn’t realize how much making meatballs and subs was wrapped up in memories of my mom, until I re-read my original post. From 2013:

Meatball Subs1

A few weeks back I made meatball grinders – subs to most people – and was talking to my mom about them, because after all I used her recipe. She told me that one of her favorite things to do is to buy ground beef when it’s on sale and make and freeze a whole bunch of meatballs. Then they are available to make all kinds of good stuff, like meatball soup and various meatball sandwiches.

Until that moment, I hadn’t given meatballs much thought. I mean they’re good, but beyond the occasional grinder, I didn’t really use them.  But now when I make them, I make extra so add to soups, sauces and subs.

I’ll post a basic meatball recipe below and include the grinder/sub recipe. They are just as good with pasta.  At the bottom of this post is a link to vegetarian meatballs if you’d like to go meatless.

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Lasagna

I like these hotel pans for lasagna.  This one takes two pasta planks side by side and is deep enough to stack pretty high.I refrigerated this one overnight and so managed to get it out intact onto the board.  It made for easy slicing with my trusty bread knife.  I have ricotta in this one, with added parmesan, an egg, garlic and onion powder, basil and oregano.  I had planned for three layers of pasta but it looked like another layer would work although my ricotta mixture was dwindling.  The top layers are skimpy on the cheese but I did top it with plenty of mozzarella.

Chicken Parm

This dish is usually made with tenderized chicken breasts, I like the boneless, skinless thighs better.  I pounded these a little but not a lot.  The prep was typical, though:  dredge in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs,  Cook in olive oil until golden, then flip.  Bake, topped with sauce and cheese and serve.  I like a bed of spaghetti that has been tossed in butter and good olive oil with plenty of garlic.

Stuffed Mini-Peppers

I’ve been growing these in a container in the patio garden.  They are green bell peppers in all but name – I’m not sure what the tag said.  I managed to stuff about a tablespoon or so of my Italian beef/rice filler into each one.They are cute as can be!  Here they are after blanching.I went with cooked and crumbled Italian beef mixed with rice and some stewed tomatoes.  Actually, I started with the stewed tomatoes – Mrs J delivered a dozen or so ripe ones that I de-skinned and boiled down with onion and jalapeno peppers.  We had a regular sized green pepper in the fridge so I made sure to make enough stuffing for it, too.Mozzarella made the perfect topping, I cooked them side by side in the toaster oven, the taller pepper browning better than the minis.  Since the filling was already cooked, they just needed enough time in the 375 degree oven to make the peppers tender.Each one was two bites and gone – note that they have relatively thick skins compared to other small peppers.

Christmas Eve Menu: Spinach Lasagna Dinner

Lasagna snap3

I’ll update the photo if I get a good one this Christmas Eve

Tossing around ideas for my Christmas Eve party and settled on lasagna this year. It will once again be gluten-free using specialty noodles. Excited to have our traditional party in the new house.

On the board:

  1. Spinach Lasagna
  2. Tossed Salad
  3. Garlic Bread*

This recipe takes about an hour to prepare and another hour to cook. It easily serves 6 – 8. I will make it a day ahead and refrigerate. It will need additional cooking time to bring center up to temperature.

Spinach Lasagna

Sauce:

  • 3-15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2-6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled & finely grated
  • pinch of sugar (reduces acidity of the tomatoes)
  • Optional: ½ lb ground beef and ½ spicy Italian sausage, browned

Saucepan

Add all ingredients to saucepan on medium-high, stirring constantly until it begins to boil lightly. Turn to low and let simmer while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Lasagna:

  • 1 pkg lasagna noodles (16 oz), cooked and placed in cool water until layering
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz package frozen spinach, thawed or 8 oz fresh, washed and dried
  • 1 egg
  • 12 oz sliced mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese

13×9 baking dish (I prefer glass), lightly oiled

To prepare: Mix ricotta, spinach and egg until well blended. Ladle a layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Cover in a single layer of noodles. Ladle sauce over noodles. Spoon ½ of the ricotta mixture evenly (if you place large dollops evenly like putting cookie dough on a baking sheet, fairly close together, it will spread as it cooks, no need to smooth it). Layer 1/3 of the mozzarella over the ricotta. Repeat: noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, noodles. On top of the last layer of noodles, add remaining sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, uncovered – I like to place the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any spills as it bubbles. Place knife through the center, if it comes out heated through, remove and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. If it needs more cooking time, you can cover with foil to keep the cheese from burning and cook 10 more minutes. Let stand uncovered before serving.

Garlic Bread

*I’m going to purchase a gluten free loaf  (we have a great local bakery for that) and I’m also going to make this Slow Rise recipe.  Making the garlic bread is easy. I slice the loaves in half lengthwise, melt butter, add a healthy amount of crushed garlic and brush liberally on each loaf half. Then I top with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan.  Broil until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown. Slice and serve.

Tossed Salad

I try to change it up each year, and I don’t know how I’m going to do this time. Maybe spinach/raspberry or a veggie toss with romaine.

Next up: Dessert Menu



 

Lasagna

DSC_1215 (1600x1060)I thought about making a lasagna with a bechamel sauce to carry the cheese but went with ricotta instead.  Why mess with a good thing?  I mixed a couple of eggs with the ricotta, a package of chopped spinach, a little shredded mozzarella, and a fair handful of Parmesan.  The tomato sauce was from a jar I canned last summer, with some crumbled and browned Italian sausage.  I had a loaf of fresh mozzarella to layer over the top.  Worked out nicely, had a good flavor, and this time I managed to wait a little while before I plated a serving so it held together better than my usual.DSC_1211 (1600x1060)We bought a set of these individual sized casseroles so I made a Mrs J sized portion for her.  I like the looks of the dishes and I’m going to do a mac & cheese in them one of these days.