Friday, September 17, 2010

Fabulous Friday Food - Spaghetti and Meatballs, Cheater Edition

B was out of town this week, and on Wednesday when we talked our conversation went something like this:

Him: How was your day?

Me: Fine. Well, actually crazy. ThegirlsaregoingineverydifferentdirectionandIhavetogotocurriculumnightatthehighschooltonightand . . . *breath* . . . whydoesitseemlikeeverydayisjustspinningandspinningoutofcontrol?

Him: What?

Me: Sorry, I just panicked. The days . . . they just get so crazy once school starts. All the activities. And the homework. And the music practicing. ARGH!!

Him: So how was your day?

I know you have them. Days like mine. Days when everything seems to just be gathering speed right around dinnertime and you need some easy sustenance.

Comforting sustenance, but easy.

This week I took the lazy way out and made spaghetti and meatballs the semi-homemade way. Not the Sandra Lee "Semi-Homemade" way because, kind of like the Neelys, she drives me crazy. In fact, even moreso than the Neelys. I just can't watch Sandra, as sweet as she may be. She's kind of like a toothache that just never goes away.

Anyway, I'm calling this a cheater recipe because I went to our local meat market and bought their meatballs because, gosh darn, they are GOOOOOD. I have an excellent recipe for homemade meatballs that I make sometimes, but in a pinch, the meatmarket meatballs are really wonderful. (Someday I should just do a post on our meatmarket. Oh the joy it brings me!)

I also cheated by using canned tomatoes, but, frankly, I've never used fresh tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce in my life. Canned tomatoes are the way to go, baby.

Before I realized it, I was on my way to Spaghetti and Meatball heaven. Unfortunately, I got halfway through the process before I remembered to grab my camera. Oops.

So let me bring you up to speed before the pictures begin.

I basically browned the meatballs in a little bit of olive oil. Once they were nice and brown on the outside, I transferred them to a paper towel-lined plate.

Oh look! A picture!

I know, kind of gross to look at meatballs draining on paper towel, but, hey, it's a picture.

To the hot pan with all the yummy brown bits in the bottom, I added some chopped onion (about half of a large yellow onion) and let that get all soft and a little brown around the edges. Mmmmmm.

Then I added a couple of teaspoons of the already-chopped-up-garlic-in-a-jar (this is the cheater edition, remember?) and let that get just warm. Don't let garlic sit for too long in a hot pan or it will burn, and burned garlic is a no-no.

Then I added a small can of diced tomatoes that I had on hand and, again, let it get happy for a few minutes until it had turned a slightly darker color and bubbly. All the while, scrape the yummy brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

At this point, I noticed that I just happened to have about a half a cup of red wine sitting in a bottle right next to the stove. How convenient! And wine always adds a little something special to a dish, I think, so I did it. I added a little something special.

And let the sauce get even happier. For about 5 minutes.

See how dark and yummy it looks? Mmmmmm.

Let's add some more flavor layers.

Like tomato sauce--a big can.

And here's my favorite part. The herbs. Herbage is good.

This is my little herb garden. It brings me so much happiness throughout the summer. Pretty soon it will get too cold, and my basil will turn black, but for now, I'm still enjoying it.

Like I said, I've got some basil (a little top-heavy right now).

And some parsley.

And somewhere tucked away in there is some rosemary.

I also have thyme, but I forgot to take a picture of it. Mmmmm. I love fresh thyme.

So back to the sauce. I'm adding layers of flavor (I learned all about that watching The Food Network. I know you're impressed.). So I grabbed a handful of basil and another handful of parsley.

I chopped them up and threw them in too (along with some salt--always add salt along the way).

Then I added the meatballs back into the sauce. They're smiling at you!

Cover the pan, turn the heat down to a simmer, and walk away. Just walk away. For about an hour.

And then your kids will come home from school and they will sniff and say, "Oh, Mom, it smells SOOOO GOOD in here!"

Yeah, you're a hero.

After an hour, here's what you'll have.

Plate the whole thing up and enjoy!

Spaghetti and Meatballs, Cheater Edition

1 lb. meatballs (from your local meat market if you have one, otherwise make them yourself)
1 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 Cup red wine
1 28-oz. can tomato sauce
Fresh basil
Fresh parsley

1. Brown meatballs in about 2 T. olive oil in a hot pan. Drain on paper towel and set aside.

2. To the pan, add onion; cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add garlic; stir for about 30 seconds. Add diced tomatoes, stirring and scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan for about 5 minutes. (Add some salt at this point.) Add red wine; stir and allow to cook down for another 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and fresh herbs, along with a little more salt.

3. Add meatballs back to pan, cover, and let simmer for about 1 hour.

4. Serve with cooked pasta.


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  1. I'm in! Thank you for inspiring me to post today. I needed that.
    Maybe after this weekend I'll get back on weight watchers. Need to. Seriously need to. : ) Yeah, and you can her my commitment when I say "maybe after..."

  2. This may be my favorite recipe post ever. I LOVE cheating when I cook! (Like I need to tell you that. It's pretty obvious, right?)

    Okay, I'm going back to grab a recipe to post up here!

  3. Weeelll - that would not be "cheater edition" in my house - that's definitely cooking!

  4. Also not a cheater version at my house. But it looks delicious!