Mushroom and Mozzarella Meatballs and Spaghetti

I have posted some meatball recipes before but as I was contemplating fixing today’s dinner I realized: why not put them in the crock pot with the sauce to heat everything together?  It was a brilliant idea if I do say so myself.  It’s always so messy heating spaghetti sauce as it can splatter about if you heat too high and a longer heat time allows the sauce to infuse with the meatballs to perfection!

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I added my sauce and cooked meatballs to my slow cooker and heated on high for about 1 1/2 hours.  It was most likely ready sooner but I wasn’t.  Here’s my meatball recipe for today:

  • 3 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1/2 cup diced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup diced bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 black pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in large bowl.  Form into meatballs; I made large meatballs today and go about 10 from the mixture.  Bake at 375 degrees until cooked through; about 30 minutes for large size.

Add to sauce and heat as desired; serve with cooked pasta.

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Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Baked Italian Meatloaf Pasta

I put some of the leftover meatloaf to use today as a substitute for meatballs.  This was my crock pot meatloaf  so it had a softer texture than oven baked meatloaf but the flavor worked perfectly.

  • 8 o.z pasta
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce
  • leftover meatloaf ~ about a pound
  • 1 cup italian cheese blend

Cook pasta according to package.  Drain and add 2/3 of the spaghetti sauce.  Cut meatloaf into large chunks and stir in. Pour into buttered baking dish; top with italian cheese blend.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Super Easy Beef and Noodle Casserole

I was just thinking about this recipe a few days ago; little did I remember it was in our family cookbook that my Grandma put together many years ago. I have to admit I didn’t actually make it today but if my childhood memories of this are worth anything I know it is delicious. I am posting it as is was written but I have to admit I would probably add some garlic, italian herbs, and some parmesan if I were making it today.

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 2 cups uncooked egg noodles
  • 15 o.z. jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese

In skillet cook beef and onions until meat is brown and onions are tender. Butter a 2 quart casserole; spread uncooked noodles evenly in baking dish.  Drain fat from beef and onions and sprinkle meat mixture evenly over top of noodles.  Mix water and spaghetti sauce and pour over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes; sprinkle with cheese, return to oven and bake an additional 3 – 5 minute until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly


Italian Cheesy Meatballs ~ Perhaps my best Meatballs yet

We had a craving for some meatballs today.  I’ve done a couple of different variations on meatballs but these were perhaps the best I’ve done so far.  Very moist and cheesy;  the spaghetti was terrific and I am sure the meatballs sandwiches will be delicious too.

Italian Cheesy Meatballs

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 4 slices white bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

Combine all ingredients well.

Form into balls or I prefer to flatten a bit into patties; this will make them easier to eat when we make our meatball sandwiches and easier to catch on the spaghetti.

Bake at 375 degrees on foil lined baking sheet for about 30 minutes depending on size.  Mine were rather large; I made 14 so adjust time accordingly.

Remove from baking pan and place in sauce pan of spaghetti sauce; heat through.  The longer they soak in the sauce the better.  Serve with spaghetti or on sub buns for amazing meatball sandwiches!

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Stuffed Shells ~ Pasta shells with Crab and Goat Cheese

I decided I wanted crab for dinner and couldn’t quite decide how to fix it.  Once Charles go home I rattled off the ideas and stuffed shells just seamed perfect. This was a terrific combination.  I considered using some cream cheese since I had some in the house but I don’t think it was necessary;  I almost scrapped the idea completely since I didn’t have any ricotta. The mozzarella and goat cheese though worked perfectly.  I did use real crab meat that I picked from the few legs I had in the freezer but I am sure a canned crab would work too. The fresh basil, jalapeno, and green onion added the perfect touch.  Very meaty and cheese; just the way we wanted.

Stuffed Shells ~ Pasta shells with Crab and Goat Cheese

  • 15 pasta shells
  • 1 1/2 cups crab meat
  • 6 o.z. goat cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 2 green onions ~ thinly sliced
  • 1/2 jalapeno ~ diced
  • 1 tsp fresh basil ~ chopped
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce

Cook shells according to package directions.  Mix together crab meat, goat cheese, mozzarella, green onion, jalapeno and basil.

Place about 1/3 of the spaghetti sauce in large casserole dish.  Stuff cooked shells with mixture and place in baking dish.  Top with  remaining spaghetti sauce and sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Chunky Tomato Basil Salad Dressing

I wanted to make a nice salad with our lasagna so I decided to go with a vinegar based dressing and fresh tomatoes.  Not exactly a vinaigrette but a nice tangy herb dressing none-the-less.  Traditionally vinaigrettes have about 3 to 1 ratio of oil to vinegar and I just don’t see the need to add that much oil to salad dressing.  My love of cheese takes care of any fat I may be missing out on so I like to get my flavor from the herbs and vinegar!  My sister bought me a tasty apple balsamic vinegar for Christmas;  substitute a favorite vinegar if you have one or I am sure a simple rice or red wine vinegar would be tasty too.

Chunky Tomato Basil Salad Dressing

  • 1/2 cup diced or wedged tomato
  • 1 tsp fresh basil
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 2 Tbs apple balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 2 o.z. fresh mozzarella

Cut tomatoes as desired and add basil, sugar, vinegar, and olive oil.  Stir until blended; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss with torn lettuce and sprinkle with fresh mozzarella.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Homemade Lasagna ~ meat and cheese

Here’s the lasagna I mentioned yesterday in my basil post.  This came out very well.  I used a square pan so I needed to trim my noodles a bit and really only used 7; adjust pasta as needed for your pan size.  I really enjoyed the fresh mozzarella but any mozzarella will work.  Fresh mozzarella is a bit moister and softer than the pre-shredded type but both have their own charms so use your favorite or even an italian cheese blend if desired.

Meat and Cheese Lasagna

  • 1 pound ground beef or italian sausage
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper; if desired
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce
  • 9 lasagna noodles cooked according to package
  • 1 pound ricotta
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbs fresh basil
  • 1 egg
  • 12 o.z. fresh mozzarella

Cook meat and add salt and pepper if desired.  In small bowl combine ricotta, egg, basil, and parmesan cheese.

In bottom of oiled baking dish pour about 1/4 cup of spaghetti sauce.  Lay 3 noodles across bottom of pan ~ trim noodles if needed; I used a square pan so my noodles were a little long.  Layer 1/2 of the meat, 1/2 of the ricotta mixture, and 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce and about 4 ounces of mozzarella.

Repeat with next layer.  Lay final layer with noodles top with remaining sauce and mozzarella.  Sprinkle with additional parmesan if desired.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Homemade Pizza ~ Part 3 …. The Results

The pizza turned out great.  We really enjoyed the crust, it was crispy yet not to thin and the sauce was perfect.  Next time I think we’ll make the mozzarella again just to finish out the homemade touches.

I think the key to the crust was making it the day before and refrigerating over night.  It was a very mild dough I used very little yeast so it wasn’t at all overpowering.  I think next time I may up the seasonings a bit.  Perhaps double the salt and garlic or sprinkle the dough with come additional garlic and maybe some parmesan before baking.

I like to bake the crust for 10 minutes at 425 degrees before building.  I think this helps make a crispier crust and keeps from having a doughy center.  I don’t have the ideal pizza stones so I used my 11 X 17 baking sheets.  The dough stretched very well on its own; no need to roll.  Pierce the dough a few times with a fork before baking to keep from getting large air pockets.

Once the crust has been prebaked (it won’t be cooked all the way through) add sauce.  Don’t go too heavy on the sauce.  It will take about a 1/2 cup of sauce to make this size pizza.  Adjust to your liking; my recommendation if you prefer extra sauce would be to toss your toppings with some sauce instead of spreading a thick layer.

Top with your favorite toppings.  I used italian sausage, onion, green pepper, and spinach.  I cooked all of it before topping.  The veggies were a little more cooked than when you toss them on raw but I liked the flavor better this way.  Either works well.  Sprinkle with cheese.  I used fresh mozzarella pearls and grated parmesan.  The pearls are good but they do tend to be a little wet.  I drained them well but still ended up with a little moisture being released as it baked.   Any kind of cheese works great; just pick your favorite.

Once the pizza has been built to your liking bake an additional 12 – 15 minutes depending on amount of toppings used.  This technique works well with just about any crust and sauce so don’t be afraid to give any recipe a try. The leftovers were great too; cold, microwaved and baked; baked of course was the best ~ just bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes to reheat slices.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Mozzarella Success ~ Homemade Cheese ~ …time to get Goats!

I posted before about our failed attempt at making cheese.  Well, the second try was a success.  All of the recipes online that say it only takes 30 minutes are oh so wrong!  I didn’t time the process but it was way longer and more tedious than any of the recipes implied ~ don’t get me wrong it was very fun and I am sure will go much quicker with practice but there are some steps that can’t be sped up and heating that can’t be rushed.

Here are some pictures:

It was so hard to tell when the time was right to move from step to step.  Was the whey clear enough? Was the curd firm enough?  So many questions and no definite answers.  We decided after many more minutes than the instructions said the curd was ready to cut and heat again and move on to the next steps.  We went with the salted water method to bring the curd together; most instructions said to use the whey water or a microwave method but we used salt water on the stove top to dip the curd into before kneading and stretching the cheese.

The final result was some great creamy cheese ~ looking forward to trying again maybe working in a little more salt.  We just ate most of it ~ saved some for melting on our stuffed mushrooms too but most of it just got eaten right away! I don’t think I’ve given credit yet, but Charles did almost all of the work.  I was just there for moral support and gentle nagging and of course taste testing!

Now as for the goats ~ Charles has talked of them for a while and with any luck will get some this spring then goat milk will be a plenty. Homemade chévre sounds oh so good!

I didn’t really have a unique recipe to share; most of the online recipes are the same so give one a try!  Just be patient and enjoy ~ Kimberly

Homemade Mozzarella …. or so we hoped!

Today I must share the story of our failed attempt to make cheese.  We bought a kit to make our own mozzarella ~ Yes, I am sure that I could have purchased the ingredients I needed for way less than this kit from Canada; but it was just so darn cute and I couldn’t resist.  It came with everything we needed except of course the milk.  So we gather together all of our equipment; read the provided recipes; look at a couple of online recipes; even watch a couple of videos on You Tube.  Seems easy enough……

We’ve taken the rennet and the citric acid and dissolved them in their own bowls as directed.  Heat the milk to 55 degrees; add the citric acid and stir.  Then we heat to 90 degrees adding the rennet and stirring for no more than 30 seconds as directed … removed heat and let set for 5 minutes.  Here’s where it all went wrong we think …. what does “somewhat hold its shape” mean?  I said “oh, I think that is right”.  Perhaps we were premature in deciding it was holding it’s shape.  Perhaps the milk is ultra-pasturized and unmarked.  Perhaps …..

So we proceed on cutting the curd; heating again, waiting some more … then straining …..

This picture actually makes it look like something but as I continue releasing the whey it all disintegrates.  We decide to continue anyway … heating the whey and trying to knead our cottage cheese ball into something.  I wish I had taken more pictures but by this time the disgust has set in and after several more minutes of trying to make cheese we put on our coats and head to the chinese restaurant for some carry out…. we shall try again.  Just got another gallon of milk perhaps Monday will bring more luck!