Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spaghetti & Meatballs + Homemade Sauce Recipe

Ironically, spaghetti and meatballs doesn't even exist in Italy. It's something we Americans put together and called Italian. But for someone like me who likes a little bit of meat and a LOT of pasta, and who is married to someone who likes a LOT of meat and a lot of pasta- this dish works perfectly.

Today's recipe is really for a new version of a homemade sauce that I made, but I figured I would show you some tricks for meatballs and cooking spaghetti while I'm at it. ;)

Making your own sauce is really not that hard, so don't let the number of ingredients intimidate you. This recipe is a spin off of another marinara recipe that I have shared on here before. But this recipe requires less simmering and cooks less than half the amount of sauce, so it's perfect for a weeknight family meal. Also, although I've never tried it, I imagine this sauce would cook perfectly fine in a crock pot all day if you don't have time to simmer it when you get home. The longer is cooks, the better the flavor!

*A quick note on the meatballs- I have made my own meatballs before, but it is a labor of love that involves lots of mashing of raw meat between your fingers. For someone who does not love meat, buying these delicious, pre-mashed and prepared meatballs from Publix is a beautiful alternative. They really are SO good! 

1 lb. spaghetti
1 package, ready to cook meatballs from Publix
4T Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
1 sweet onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried basil
1 T salt
1/3 c. brown sugar
2- 28 oz. cans San Marzano whole plum tomatoes- I use these from Costco
1- 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1/4 tsp. baking soda
generous amounts of freshly grated parmesan, of course ;)

Sauté onions in 3T of EVOO. Add garlic AFTER onions are sautéed. Add all ingredients except baking soda to onions and bring to a boil. Add baking soda after sauce comes to a boil. Simmer for 1-2 hours before serving. 

While sauce is simmering, heat remaining EVOO in saute pan. Once oil is heated, add meatballs and simmer until golden brown and cooked through, usually about 7 minutes on each side- but rotate often to make sure they don't burn. Pat cooked meatballs dry with a paper towel to degrease them and add them to the sauce.

While sauce and meatballs are cooking, boil water in a flat, large saute pan. You can use a large pot, but the flat pan requires less water, boils faster, and fits the noodles perfectly- no breaking or pressing with a fork to get them under the water. Once the water boils, add salt and spaghetti and cook to al dente. Drain cooked spaghetti and serve with sauce, meatballs, and generous amounts of parmesan cheese. :) If your spaghetti needs to sit before serving, return it to the pan with a little olive oil or sauce to keep the noodles from sticking together.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Piedmont Park, Bark in the Park, and some sweet luck

Our typical Sunday routine involves going to the 9 o'clock service at Buckhead Church, serving in our 2nd grade class in UpStreet during the 11 o'clock service, and then heading downstairs to our small group which meets from 12:30-2:00.

But this past Sunday, our small group was canceled last minute, so we decided to put off yard work take advantage of the nice weather and head to Piedmont Park for a picnic lunch- Firehouse subs in tow of course. ;)

Tally: "The afternoon is working out just the way I planned."

And then the craziest thing happened. I met a lady in the bathroom by the playground (yes, you read that right) who was randomly checking her newsfeed on Facebook and asked, "Was Bark in the Park today?" 

Bark in the Park is an event that Turner Field (where the Braves play) puts on twice a year where fans can bring their pups to the game.

So I proceeded to tell her that my husband and I had tried to get tickets and didn't realize how quickly it sold out. So then SHE proceeds to me ME that her friend on Facebook, has two extra human tickets and a canine ticket that he can't use BECAUSE HE'S AT PIEDMONT PARK AT A BDAY PARTY FOR HIS DAUGHTER.

WHAT?! Craziness!

So I asked the girl if she would mind asking him if he still had them available, and sure enough, he did. So she gave him my email address and he emailed us the tickets for free right then and there!

And off we went.

Well, sort of...

...Tally decided walking in the heat was an unbearable task and gave up 2 minutes before we reached our car.
So Matt left the two of us and went and got the car so that our 75 lb dog who can no longer be carried could have curb-side pick-up. 

...And off we went for the game!

The Braves went into extra innings and won in the 10th! And we made it back to car literally seconds before the downpour hit. We closed our car doors and the skies opened up. 

It was comical how much everything, even the weather, just came together that day.

So thanks to that sweet lady in the bathroom at Piedmont Park, to the man who was nice enough to email us his tickets for free (no negotiating required this time friends), and to Facebook for making it all possible. ;)

Happy Tuesday!


Monday, April 28, 2014

First Shower and The Fox!

Friday after school, four of my sweet teacher friends hosted my first shower! They went above and beyond- I'm still not sure how they managed to get the whole thing organized and set up so nicely on a Friday right after school! It was such a sweet time celebrating and looking forward to when we finally get to meet the little man in July. Unfortunately, I forgot my real camera, so we took turns snapping pictures with our phones of all of the cute decorations. Baby Nelsen and I felt quite spoiled and loved.

Sweet Mary made the adorable diaper cake!
I mean, really! How cute is this?!
Sweet baby boy clothes!
The hostesses!
The hostesses and Mattie- who asked if she could photo-bomb. ;) 
Sweet Heidi and the finished bumper and bedskirt!! She is amazing.
Lindsey and I worked together for 6 years before she stayed home with her first. She is due with her second in 4 weeks! Yes, I'm due in 12... I made her stand sideways to show off her bump, yet mine still looks the same size! HA!

My partner in crime- Lynn ;) Wish this picture turned out better but how cute is the punch she made with the little rubber duckies floating on the bottom?!
Kelly made sure there was children's food at my shower- for me, not the children. Now that's a good friend. ;)
I will surely miss seeing these sweet friends next year!

When I got home from the shower, Matt said he found tickets on Craigslist to The Lion King at the The Fox Theatre. The show had been in town all month, and we had talked about wanting to see it, but never set a date and made a plan, until Friday evening. ;)

Matt bought the tickets at 6:45- by 7:00, we were in the car heading to the show. We stopped for Chick-Fil-A on the way, asked the parking guy for a quick pic, and made it to our seats by showtime. Our seats were incredible and the show was seriously amazing. I'm so glad we got to go! And thankful for a hubby who can wheel and deal with the best of them to get us sweet seats. ;)

Tomorrow's post is all about the rest of our fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants weekend involving a trip to the park for a picnic with the pup, that turned into a trip to the Braves game- with the pup.

See you tomorrow!