What a long, strange trip I've been on. Actually, I haven't been anywhere, but I have a scarcely had a moment to breathe in the past 10 days, much less form many coherent thoughts.
Really, I've just been busy. My oldest was home from college for spring break (10 days), and with him come 2-3 friends, who are here pretty much all the time. Here's how that goes. I spent hours and hours devoted to food, whether in the kitchen or at the grocery store. I feel this compulsion to feed my son when he's home, partly because he's so dang skinny but mostly because he's so very appreciative of home-cooked meals.
We've had some fabulous meals in the past 10 days. Most are tried and true favorites:
Randy's Famous Sunday Night Fried Rice
Penne a la Betsy
Rainy Monday Beef Stew
But I did add a few new ones:
• Pioneer Woman's Chicken Cacciatore is one of our new favorites. I use chicken breasts instead of thighs and leave out the green pepper (Dr. H. despises cooked green peppers).
• Korean-Style Fried Fish with Kiwi is another new one. I would never have imagined such a thing, but Jesse read or heard about this somewhere and begged me to try it. Absolutely fantastic! I used tilapia and followed the recipe exactly except for the chives. This is definitely going on our master menu list.
• Pioneer Woman's Stuffed Shells were fantastic and served 8-10 people, including 4 teenage boys. I didn't have romano cheese so I used mozzarella, and they were fabulous.
I also have been making my own spaghetti sauce lately. Making spaghetti sauce always seemed frivolous to me when a jar of Ragu was so easy to open, but I am truly swayed over to the other side now. Also, I like to smell this in the crockpot all day.
Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs
1/2 onion, chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
Sauté onion in about 2 TB butter until soft. Add garlic and sauté for a minute or so.
2-3 cans of chopped or crushed tomatoes
1-2 cans (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste plus 1-2 cans of water
2 TB brown sugar
Italian spices, 1-2 TSP of each: basil, oregano, salt, pepper. Some red pepper flakes (about 1/4 tsp)
About 6 dashes of Tabasco sauce.
Put everything in the crockpot and cook on low all day, or on high for a couple of hours and then on low. Taste after a few hours and adjust spices. You might want to add a bit more water.
1-1/2 lbs. gr. beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan
Salt, pepper, and Italian spices (about 1/2 tsp of each)
Mix all together and form into meatballs. Place around the rim of a dinner plate. Cover with wax paper and cook for about 7 minutes on medium-high power. (Adjust for your own microwave.) They should be almost done but still show a little pink. This makes about 2 plates of meatballs. Add to the crockpot for at least the last couple of hours.
Serve it all with your favorite pasta and focaccia or buttery bread. You can freeze whatever leftover meatballs and sauce you have.
I have no idea what we're having to eat this week, besides maybe some chicken on the grill. I am, quite frankly, tired of preparing big meals. But since I have a family to feed, I'll be searching around the internet for more good recipes, and I might even consult a few actual hard-copy cookbooks that I have.