On Top Of Spaghetti

Meatballs!

Spaghetti + meatballs = one of my favorite quick dinners. And homemade meatballs are a lot easier to make than you might expect — hint hint to a certain little sister of mine :)

The Recipe: Easy Meatballs

Yield: approximately one dozen meatballs
Time: 35 minutes

1 lb. ground sirloin
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Do This
Preheat the oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Combine all ingredients, and roll into meatballs. I usually get about a dozen with this recipe, but your yield may vary depending on the size of your meatballs.

Bake the meatballs for 30 minutes (or until the centers are no longer pink — this may take longer if your meatballs are on the larger side).

And…that’s it! Homemade meatballs! They’re friends with spaghetti. And garlic bread. And parmesan cheese, sometimes.

Wanna spice things up? Crushed red pepper makes a hot addition to this recipe.

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Sass-age

Italian sausage, a little bit sassier. I spiced up some ground salciccia and let it have a little party with some rigatoni, red and green peppers, and delicious red pasta sauce from Zia’s (a St. Louis Italian restaurant located on The Hill).

Slow Buffalo

My friend Rick (aka The Rick) brought a slow cooker filled with delicious buffalo chicken dip to our Super Bowl party this year. He emailed me the recipe today, and I thought it was the perfect way to break in the new slow cooker!

The Recipe:
Buffalo Chicken Dip

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (mine totaled about 1.5 lbs)
1 cup hot sauce (I used 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot + 1/2 cup Frank’s Buffalo + a few shakes of Great Balls of Fire)
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tbsp butter
16 oz (2 packages) cream cheese
1 cup ranch dressing
pepper and salt
celery, optional

Do This

Brush the chicken breasts with hot sauce, season with pepper and salt, and bake at 350 degrees for half an hour.

Remove the chicken from the oven, and let it cool until you are comfortable touching it. Shred the chicken into small bits.

Layer the shredded chicken, cream cheese, butter, hot sauce, shredded cheddar, and ranch dressing in the slow cooker, and turn the heat to high. Cook for about an hour, or until the dip is melty and gooey and just a bit bubbly. This is where the “slow” part of “slow cooking” comes in, but an hour really isn’t that terrible of a wait. Make sure to stir semi-frequently — you don’t want the liquid part of the sauce to burn to the sides.
Once the dip is done, switch the setting on the slow cooker to “warm” and serve! Chips, celery, and carrot sticks are all excellent vehicles for getting the dip to your mouth. I promise you won’t be leaving the cooker on “warm” for long.

Optional step if you want the dip to transform into a sammich filling: up the amount of chicken, and chop up celery and mix it into the dip, then spoon dip onto a bun.

If you like the heat: this dip is going to be a bit mild for you. Add in more hot sauce.

Linguine alla Reckless

Linguine + lemon butter + arrabbiata sauce = my favorite pasta in the whole world.

It might sound a little strange, but it’s my preferred way to eat pasta. The lemon butter makes the noodles all slippery (and probably a lot less healthy…arteries, be damned!), and the arrabbiata adds a nice, spicy kick.


Click on the photo to zoom in on my favorite pasta ever.

The Recipe:
Linguine alla Reckless

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium-sized white onion, chopped finely
3 tsp minced garlic
1/3 cup red wine (I used a Cabernet-Shiraz blend, substitute with what you’ve got)
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
1/3 oz fresh basil, chopped (or 1/2 of a package, if you get the pre-packed “fresh” herbs at the grocery)
2 cans peeled, diced tomatoes
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 stick butter
3 tbsp lemon juice
linguine noodles (I used about half of a standard box, I’ll check the number of oz later)

Do This

I like to get all of the chopping out of the way at the beginning. Chop the onion into tiny tiny bits, and do the same with the basil.
Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into a large saucepan, coating the bottom. Dump the chopped onion bits into the pan, and turn the burner to high. Cook for about three minutes, to the point where you can smell the onions cooking from another room. Add in the minced garlic. Open up the cans of diced tomatoes and the tomato paste, and add to the sauce pot. Pour in the red wine, and stir with a wooden spoon until the contents of the pan are well-blended.
Add in the red pepper, black pepper, Italian seasoning, fresh basil, and sugar, and stir. Cover the pan, and reduce heat to medium-low.
While the sauce is hanging out on a back burner, fill a pot with water, a shake of salt, and a short glug of oil, and start it boiling. Grab some linguine (I generally like to take as many noodles as will comfortably fit inside the circle made between my thumb and index finger, and count that as one serving. If you’re cooking for two people, you’ll most likely use at least half a box) and place it in the boiling water. Cook until just past al dente – you don’t want to overcook them, but you also aren’t going for too much crunch with these noodles.
Place the stick of butter in a small saucepan, and turn the burner to low. The butter will melt fairly quickly. Add lemon juice a tablespoon at a time. Three worked perfectly for me, but you may want more or less, depending on how you prefer your lemon butter.
Drain the water from the pasta. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl. Gently pour the lemon butter over the noodles – you’ll have plenty left over, so don’t pour any more than is needed to gently coat the pasta. Lightly toss the noodles in the lemon butter, then spoon into serving plates or pasta bowls.
Top the linguine with the spicy tomato sauce. You won’t need too much – again, there will be plenty of sauce left over. Garnish with fresh basil, and enjoy!

The arrabbiata sauce freezes very well, and you’ll have more than enough for several dinners/lunches. It’s also great on chicken, on other types of pasta (with or without lemon butter), or spooned over garlic bread.


Click on the picture to zoom in. Sorry, you can’t smell the sauce through your computer.

Warning: you may find that this arrabbiata sauce is a little bit hot; I’m a huge fan of crushed red pepper. If your tastebuds are a little bit more sensitive, you can cut back on the crushed red, and I won’t judge you.