Thursday, November 29, 2012

Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes

Yes I did say, "loaded".  How else are you supposed to eat a potato?

I have been getting sick of the same old hum drum potatoes.  Baked, mashed, scalloped, Au gratin, hash browns, yadda yadda yadda.  I realized in a moment of desperation, that I have never made a single, solitary twice baked potato.  Is that odd?  I feel like it is.   Anyway, I rectified the situation, and actually had another "first" in my life.  A potato EXPLODED in the oven.  Whaatt???  Only one out of the 3 I had in there exploded.  What a mess.

I roasted my potatoes in the oven.  You can do yours in the microwave if you like.  It makes no difference, just do not under cook them, and don't overcook them.  K?  I used medium size baking potatoes, but would rather have had larger potatoes.  Remember you get 2 servings from one potato, ALTHOUGH...I foresee making these again and making extra and freezing them.  Why not?!

You will need: (yields 6 servings)
3 lg potatoes, baked and crumbled
3 strips of bacon, fried
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup sour cream,
1/4 cup milk
2 green onions finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350.  Cut your already baked potatoes in half and carefully scoop out the insides into a bowl.

When all potatoes have been scooped out, mash the potatoes with a masher or hand mixer until broken down to your liking.  Add in 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, bacon, green onions and milk.  Using a spoon combine until all mixed.  Add salt and pepper at this time, to taste.

Carefully refill each potato boat equally.  Use remaining 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese to top each refilled potato.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted and the whole thing is heated through.  Top with green onions if you like. 

Note: If you bake and refill the potatoes ahead of time, they will take a bit longer since they are starting from a chilled state.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did.  They make a great side dish to almost any meal! 

Your"how many ways to make a potato"chefwannabe

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pumpkin Hazelnut Bread (Sweetened Brown Butter Glaze)

Happy week after Thanksgiving!  Let the shopping begin!!  Right?  Most importantly, let the BAKING begin!

Why is it, that I find my best recipes are born from the marriage of random leftovers?  I think it is because I refuse to through leftovers away and I am forced to be creative.  I have had these blasted hazelnuts in the freezer for like, oh I dunno, a LONG time I have needed to use up.  I had never made brown butter, or sweetened brown butter but of course eaten it so I wanted to try it.  

My husband is sitting here and we are laughing over all the things people MIGHT make out of leftover pumpkin.   So he just said, " With my leftover pumpkin, I made a reduced fat, pumpkin vichyssoise served with gluten free, whole wheat and non fat, pumpernickel bread croutons.  I topped it with a dollop of non fat, gluten free creme fraiche substitute made from the purist tofu".  Ok so, before you get offended, we are joking, he just had to incorporate all of his own personal worst nightmares! If you could hear how hard he is laughing.  I don't know, I think it is a turkey overdose. 

So here it is, this is SO good, great for breakfast, dessert, brunch, midnight snack.......anytime!  Oh and as usual, you can trade out the hazelnuts for any kind of nuts you like, or just have on hand or need to use up.  Trust me though, when I tell you, the hazelnuts are awesome in this.  That's all I'm sayin'.....

Also, see how all the drizzle is pooled on the sides of the bread?  A good photographer would have picked the bread up after it was set, and put it on a clean plate.  Me?  HECK NO!  That pooled drizzle is the part you use a butter knife to pick up and spread more on your piece of bread!  Shhh, I won't tell if you won't tell!

You will need:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup toasted/roasted hazelnuts (or other nut of your choice but trust me on this hazelnut thing)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl combine flour, sugar, salt and baking soda.  Mix completely and set aside.  In a separate bowl combine the pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg.  Mix until they are combined.

Now, pour the wet mixture, into the dry mixture and using a spoon, mix until just combined.  At this point you can add in your toasted nuts as well.  Get them totally mixed in. 

Prepare your standard loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter.  I line mine with parchment paper just down the center and leave it long enough that when it is done, I can use the parchment as handles to lift the loaf right out! (see photo below) Just LOOK at the color!

Bake for 50-55 minutes.  When a toothpick or skewer comes out of the center clean, you know it is done.  Cool COMPLETELY before icing!!

For the Sweetened Brown Butter Drizzle you will need:
1/4 cup butter (half of one stick)
3/4 cup powdered sugar (icing sugar, confectioners sugar)
Up to 2 tbsp milk (depending on the consistency you want, mine took 1 tbsp)

In a small saucepan, add in your butter.  Let it go on a medium heat until it turns brown.  Don't walk away, just watch and right when it turns brown, it will be done.  Remove it from the heat and add in powdered sugar.  Add milk as needed until it is the consistency you want.  To be honest if you want it thick to spread on the top that is fine, or if you want it to drizzle add the milk until it is where you want it.  Drizzle over the bread and let sit for 5 minutes.  Serve!!

You could make mini loaves and put them on your cookie trays for Christmas.  Freeze them even!  I will tell you all about how I feel about cookie trays soon...........or did I already?
Your "do you say pumpkin or punkin"chefwannabe

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Faux" Mein

Great name, isn't it?  Thanks honey!  My husband came up with this, during our discussion on what to name it.  I love it!  And it is exactly what it is!  I labeled the photo as CHICKEN but, that is because I used chicken, you will see you can choose any protein you wish!

I LOVE lo mein.  I was out of the usual pasta I use for lo mein.  I use soba noodles or pancit canton noodles.  I realize not everyone has access to specialty pastas and since we didn't feel like running to the Asian Market, I used spaghetti.  I also am trying to reduce my sodium.  When I spent a couple of days really paying attention to the amount of sodium in my food I almost died.  I wanted to cut down on the amount of sodium, I mean using soy sauce, you can't cut it all out, but all of my products are low sodium.

You all know I am a carb fein, it is impossible for me to say no to pasta.  You can keep trying to convince me all you want about wheat pasta, but I tried it.  I don't buy your "you get used to the flavor".  Nope, I have made enough changes in our diets, to NOT have to choke down whole wheat pasta.  I made like 12 typos in that last sentence just trying to get my fingers to TYPE "whole wheat pasta".  The point is, that is not going to change for me.  This isn't of course all of your usual lo mein suspects but it is what I had on hand and what I love is that you can add any veggies you like or need to use up.  Same with the protein, use pork or beef or no meat!  This is just a method you can use, when you need a quick, VERY budget friendly meal.  I also added some heat to mine, but as always, that is easily omitted. 

Here we go for this easy, budget friendly, tummy satisfying, faux mein!

12 ounces spaghetti
2-3 chicken breasts, thighs, pork, beef, or tofu.
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic minced/crushed
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 cup grated carrots
2 cups veggies of your choice.  Divided or all the same, no matter. 
1 tsp red pepper flakes or minced dried red chili's
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
Additional 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp Unagi Sauce (if you can't find this, just use dark soy sauce, or extra reg soy)

Cut your meat into think slices and then strips.  You want them to cook quickly while you stir fry them.  When you have them cut, place them in a bowl, add 2 tbsp soy sauce, ginger, red pepper flakes and garlic.  Mix together and let sit at least 15 minutes.  In the meantime boil your spaghetti.  Drain it and then rinse immediately with cold water for this recipe.  Let is sit in the colander and just drain and dry while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.  In that same pot you boiled your pasta in or a large wok, add in 2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil .
In a large wok or same pot you boiled your pasta in, add in 2 tbsp peanut oil.  Add in your meat and stir fry until it is cooked completely through.  Add in veggies of your choice and cook another 2 minutes.  Now add in your chicken stock.  Let simmer a couple of minutes to slightly reduce.  Add your pasta and toss, also add in 2 more tbsp soy sauce and unagi sauce.  When all the pasta is covered in the "sauce" it is ready to serve! 

I LOVED this, I would loved it more with green onions and bok choy but, next time.  There is no heavy "sauce", it just is really good and light.  I enjoy writing you recipes that you can change up to meet your families tastes and dietary needs.  My husband was dying for mushrooms in it.  My goal is to add more lean protein and veggies than pasta.  I am not there yet, because I was low on veg, but that is my ultimate goal with this recipe.  I say to add 2 cups of veggies as an option but the reality is, add all the veggies you want! 

Easy, quick and really stretches the buck.  Try my FAUX MEIN soon!

Your "how can you go wrong with Faux Mein" chefwannabe

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mini Caramel Cheesecakes

It is no secret, I love all things caramel.  Even more than I love all things chocolate.  It is what it is.  I realize it is unwomanly (is that a word?) to not go gaga over chocolate but, I go gaga for caramel.

I especially love it on cheesecake.  I asked you all on Facebook how you felt about cheesecake and what you liked to top it with.  There are so many options aren't there?!  Many of you like cherry pie filling, strawberries, caramel/turtle varieties and my husband and dads favorite, pineapple.  I am usually a purist, I like it plain.  I actually like it from Aramingo Diner in North Philly but we all know, I can't just hop in the car and go for a cheesecake run with my bestie anymore.  (insert sad face).  It just occurred to me, that they used to SHIP.  Any of my Philadelphia peeps, do you know if they still do?  Anyway, I have a recipe for Sopapilla Cheesecake here but this is just a little different.  And it is a "mini", you all know how I feel about that. 

Now, for this recipe, I used my caramelized sweetened condensed milk technique.  I know there are many ways to do it, but I boil mine, it is what I have always done so that is the one I am recommending.  Place your sweetened condensed milk (still in the unopened can) in a large pot of simmering water.  NEVER let the water get lower than the can, it MUST stay covered with water.  I cover with a lid and let simmer 3 hours.  I check a few times to see if it needs water but as long as you keep it covered it should be fine. 

Now shall we get to the makin' part?  I think so too.  This recipe will make 12 mini cheesecakes!  I used Caramel Apple Candy Corn for the tops, use whatever you like!

For the CRUST you will need:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs.
2T melted butter
1/4 cup sugar

Mix together in a small bowl.  Line your muffin tin with papers and divide crumbs among them.  It comes to about 1 1/2 tbsp per cup.  Give or take, just work it out, I have faith in you!  Use a clean finger to press them down.  You like how I say that?  Like you might pick your nose just before hand or something. 

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

For the FILLING you will need:
12 ounces  cream cheese, room temp
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
Pinch of salt

I combine all of these in my food processor and saved myself the overworking of my fragile arms.  HA!  Use a hand mixer, stand mixer, food processor, or your arms to combine this until smooth and creamy!  Divide among the 12 cups.  They will be close to the top, but no worries on that, just git-r-done.  Did I just say that? Bleh! 

Bake for 30 minutes.  You can check at about 25, but I am nearly positive our ovens aren't THAT different, they were perfect at 30 minutes for me. 

They will have puffed up a bit.  But as you let them cool, they will fall a bit.  If a few are cracked, no biggie, we are going to cover it up anyway!

Let them cool for 20 minutes.  Now you have to decide what you want to do.  If you are going to transport them keep them in the pan.  

1 can of caramelized sweetened condensed milk. (poor milk has been through a lot)
12 pieces of your favorite little sweet treat for the top!

Top them with the caramelized condensed milk and then a colorful treat OR take the wrappers off, top them and plate them.  Either way, they need refrigerated for at least 1 hour before serving, they are just best that way so don't try and talk yourself out of it. 

I took them out of the papers because I liked being able to see the layers but feel free to leave them on too!

I hope you decide to put these on your holiday table, or your everyday table for that matter!  Be careful, you might not be able to stop at just one!

Your "caramel cheesecake IS heaven" chefwannabe

PS.  Unwomanly in fact, is NOT a word.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Coconut Dream Cake

And is it EVER!  I don't even LIKE coconut and this is fabulous!

I am not sure what possessed me to make this.  Oh yes, I do, I had coconut milk and coconut in the cupboard.  It ALMOST falls on me every time I open the cupboard, it was asking to be the star of a dish basically.  I decided to go sweet.  HOWEVER, just forget about that part, it just means you won't be able to eat as big of a piece.  It is like a coconut cloud!

I try and make desserts I don't like and won't eat.  Does that make sense to anyone?  Well I do, and it generally works.  I did taste a bite of this cake.  I liked it, ALOT.  The coconut isn't in your face, fake coconut. The vanilla and white chocolate are subtle and the combination really works well.  So I, the coconut hater, even likes this.  Oh plan is RUINED!

For the CAKE you will need:
5 egg whites (room temperature)
1 cup coconut milk
3 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 cups flour
1 T+1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
12 T butter (room temperature)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl mix, egg whites, coconut milk and vanilla together.  Set aside.  In your mixer bowl or a large bowl combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.  Use paddle attachment and mix for 1 minute  until all dry ingredients are combined, add butter and mix again, until combined. Next, pour in the liquid ingredients you previously mixed together and mix until smooth and creamy!
Butter or spray 2 8-9 inch round baking pans.  Lay the bottom with parchment paper!  Divide batter in half and fill both pans. Tap the pans on the counter to get any air bubbles out and back for 30 minutes.  Check them at 25, but make sure not to over bake!  When they are done, let cool for 5 minutes, run a knife around the edges and turn out onto a cooling rack.  Let cool completely. 
For the FROSTING you will need:
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup white chocolate chips
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup sweetened coconut
1/2 cup toasted coconut (put on a pan in the oven or I did mine in a skillet on low heat, careful though, it will burn easy, this photo is exactly 30 seconds before I ruined the entire batch and had to make a new batch)
In a medium saucepan bring butter, sugar, and milk to a boil. Stir constantly so it doesn't burn.  As soon as it boils, add in white chocolate chips and vanilla.  Stir a few times and then dump into your stand mixer or into a mixing bowl.  You will need to mix this with your stand mixer or hand mixer until it is cooled and thickened.  It took me over 10 minutes.  No joke.  I was sure at this point, this was never going to work but it does!  When it is completely cooled, it will still be a little loose.  Add powdered sugar and coconut and mix again.  It is done!  Frost your first layer, put the second on top and then frost the whole thing.  Sprinkle your toasted coconut on top!  Now I warn you, you WILL have leftover icing.  If you half the recipe, you risk not having enough.  So the extra, I threw in a container in the freezer.  Going to be great when I need some quick cupcakes!  I don't like having not enough icing, so I did it this way and decided to just leave it.  You can half it, but don't say I didn't warn you in case it isn't QUITE enough! 

Enjoy, and make sure to have some hot coffee or tea with this.  It truly is a dream cake!

Your "totally dreamy" chefwannabe

Monday, November 12, 2012

Orecchiette and Sausage (A one pot wonder)

Ok I might have lied.  No, actually I didn't.  Wait.....I think I did.

Well, it isn't technically a ONE pot oh wait, yes it is, it is ONE pot.  And ONE skillet! :)

Ok now that, that inner battle has been won, by me of course, let me tell you a little something interesting.  Do you know what orechhiette means?  It means a small ear.  I thought you might enjoy knowing that.  It is a pasta typical of a region in southern Italy (where my dads mother comes from)  Anyway the only real reason I told you was become some people just "couldn't bring themselves to eat witch finger cookies", wonder how those peeps are gonna like eating little ears.  Cause they DO look like little ears and that color just drives home the fact you COULD be consuming, small Italian troll ears.  Just pointing that out.  Maybe I should be flattered, maybe my witch finger cookies really DID look that much like a real finger, you know being green and all.

Anyway, I love this pasta.  I have a real thing for shapes of pasta.  I know it is all the same basically, I just have certain kinds I think taste better or "eat" better than others.  Bucatini, and cavatappi, and ditalini rounding out my top 3.  I think this has to be number 4.  Yea, for sure.

Now that we have covered the important issues, human appendages and pasta shapes I think we can get on with this easy, delicious crowd (even kid) pleasing, QUICK dish!  This is a spicy dish, you can remove the red pepper and use sweet sausage (mild), but unless you just can't do it or hate it, I would consider it a sin.  This is creamy, without having a heavy sauce, it has a fresh bite from the tomatoes and it is so yummy!

You will need:
16 ounces orecchiette pasta (now lets be serious, any short pasta WILL work)
1 lb ground HOT Italian Sausage
3/4 cup chicken stock
1-2 crushed cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup grated parmesan
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 T butter
salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet brown your sausage.  When it is halfway done, add in the stock, garlic and pepper flakes.  Make sure not to let your garlic burn! Stir often and let your chicken stock reduce by half.  Set aside.  In a large pot, boil your pasta per the package directions.  Make sure you salt your pasta water and use a lot of water!  Pasta needs room to groove!  When it is done, drain and add back into your pot.  Now take the contents of the skillet and add it to the pasta, add in grated cheese and butter, mix until combined.  Dump in your halved cherry tomatoes, toss and serve!  It should be beautiful creamy without any heavy sauce.  If you find it a bit dry, just add some more stock and mix!

Make sure to grate some extra cheese over the top, like my husband did. 

Enjoy this ONE pot ONE skillet dinner!

Your "loves winning inner battles with myself" chefwannabe

Friday, November 9, 2012

Quick and Easy Scalloped Potatoes

Hey guys!  It is VOTE day!  I hope you all exercised your right to vote!! 

In case you wondered, I have an Au gratin potato recipe already posted.  It is a cheesy, cheesy, cheesy recipe.  What is the difference between scalloped and Au gratin you ask?  Au gratin is with cheese!  Scalloped with a cream sauce!  I broke the rules and topped this pan of scalloped potatoes with a wee bit of cheese, because I like how it looks better!

I hesitate to get into how this recipe can be changed up.  I mean, you can use any cream soup you like, I would enjoy cream of celery but my husband doesn't groove on celery, so I use cream of mushroom.  You could use cheddar cheese soup and make it Au gratin.  You could do cream of chicken and add chunks of chicken for a one pan dish.  Remember the recipes I give you are mostly methods, sometimes not, but almost all of my recipes can be changed up and I try to always make sure to tell you if they shouldn't be changed up.  Sometimes they are just as they should be, sometimes there is room for adjustments according to taste.  This is one of those recipes.  Might I suggest always making it the way it is written first, so you know what it was supposed to taste like originally!?  We ate these with ham last night, and it was just awesome. 

This is the second time in 2 weeks I have made this dish because after I came up with the recipe, made it, and loved it, I never photographed it before it was eaten!  So I had to make it again, it was just horrible eating this deliciousness twice!  I have a little secret to keep this easy and quick in comparison to some recipes.  OK, maybe it is no secret, I partially cook my potatoes in the microwave first.  Whatever time they would take to become a baked potato, I do half.  I prefer the microwave to boiling because I like them to stay dry and not be wet.  I made these in a 9x13, but it made a pretty thin layer of potatoes. I like it that way, makes for crispy edges, but you could do them in say a 9x9 pan if you like.

That being said, let's get on to the important part, the recipe!

4 cups sliced, partially cooked potatoes  (if you error on making a few to many, just add them in anyway, and add an extra splash of milk)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper
1 tbsp seasoned salt of your choice (I used a no salt added seasoning)
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spray or butter the bottom and sides of your pan of choice.  Add in sliced potatoes and get them in an even layer,pepper them to taste, then add your seasoned salt.  If you use a NO SALT seasoning, remember to add some salt, potatoes are hard to salt enough so make sure you give them a generous sprinkle!  Now in a bowl mix together, soup, milk, cornstarch, parm cheese, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.  Make sure the cornstarch is dissolved and it is all combined.  Pour over the potatoes, top with grated cheddar cheese.  Bake for 45-60 minutes.  It just depends on how "done" your potatoes were when you started! 

Enjoy, especially with ham!

PS.  I left the skins on mine, feel free to peel them first!

Your "potatoes please" chefwannabe

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Black and White Cookies

Oh you guys.............

I love black and white cookies.  When I lived in New Jersey, I could get them anywhere.  When I moved out here to Nebraska, I can go them nowhere.  Black and white cookies are a New York thing.  North Jersey and New York, I mean, you can get them many other places in the northeast but their popularity "supposedly" started in Manhattan, the Bronx, and North Jersey.  This is just from what I have been told and read.  So don't sue me if there further history here I have omitted.  My goal, when faced with these black and white beauties was to eat it.  Just being honest.  It was really my only concern.  (just ask my chin, the 3rd one back, is made of all black and white cookies). Pffftt.

I was in Whole Foods once since my return to the midwest and found a black and white cookie.  Now you all know I love my Whole Foods, and Trader Joes, but lets be honest, Whole Foods smells somewhere between a barnyard and rotten feet.   I was skeptical how this cookie even made it INTO the place, let alone that it didn't taste like naturally sweetened horse feed.  It might explain why I have never seen them there again.

So as always, when you can't find something that is pretty regional, in your new city, you make it yourself.  And that I did.  Black and white cookies have a cake-like consistency and there are so many variations on the icing, poured fondant, etc that, well, it really isn't my main concern.  I mean obviously it better be of the "black and white" visual, but the cookie part is where you can NOT mess this thing up. 

I made 6 cookies the size of my head out of this recipe.  I do a few things different in mine, but the flavor is awesome, consistency is perfection and once you start you wont be able to stop.  You can also make 12 decent size normal cookies from this batch as well.  The choice is yours.  So heeeeerreee we goooooooooooo...........

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 lg egg

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a baking sheet or 2 with parchment paper.  In a bowl mix together flour, baking soda, and salt.  Now in another bowl or in your stand mixer combine, butter and sugar.  Cream together for 1 minutes.  Add in vanilla and the egg, mix until combined.  Now add in the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately, starting and ending with the flour.  Mix until just combined so you don't overwork the flour.

Using a large cookie scoop, I made 6 cookies.  You are welcome to make them smaller, but where I got them they were huge!  If you make 6 large cookies, bake them for 13 minutes. Do NOT overbake them or they will be dry!  Let cool on the cookie sheet while you prepare the icing.

1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 T light corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
2-3 tbsp water
1/8 cup cocoa powder

Combine all ingredients EXCEPT cocoa powder.  You may need more or less water depending on how your icing feels.  Make sure it is thin enough to be very spreadable.  When you have gotten it the consistency you like, divide in half.  In one bowl of icing add the cocoa powder and combine.

Now, flip the cookies over, because you actually frost the BOTTOMS of the cookie!  I know!

Using an offset spatula, ice cookies VANILLA ICING FIRST!  It is just the rules man, don't ask why.  It should take you 2 swipes, one on on the vanilla half, then let them sit 5 minutes.  Then the chocolate half.  Refridgerate until ready to serve.  The corn syrup gives a beautiful gloss to your icing and allows it to set a little bit.

There you go, you have the greatest black and white cookie recipe ever.  If you want to experiment with icings, that is great, this is just how I do it!

I hope you enjoy them, what a great treat, and the cake-like cookie is amazing!

Your "will give up color for black and whites anyway"chefwannabe

Monday, November 5, 2012

Baked Spaghetti and Stuffed Meatballs

Have you ever had one of those days,where you just KNOW you were supposed to remember something, yet, for the life of you, you can't?  It is totally that day for me.  I attribute it to the fact my husband took the whole week off of work.  In fact, he always takes our anniversary off of work, and my birthday and his own birthday.  Since we just planned to stay home and chill, he came up with stuffing meatballs.  He was devastated to find out he indeed was not the inventor of the stuffed meatball!  But we put together this dish together, and we had a great time.

You will find this meatball recipe is a bit different than my others, or his!  Not near as many breadcrumbs because I wanted them pretty sturdy to keep that cheese in!  I have seen spaghetti pie, just never ate it, or made it.  It is traditionally made in a round pie pan, but this made to much for that, so shall we call it spaghetti bars? :)

I gave you the ingredients for each part, instead of all together and dividing them.  Make sure to go down the entire recipe for what you will need.  This freezes beautifully, it can be made a day or 2 in advance, and it gets better the longer you reheat leftovers, just like real spaghetti, in my opinion!

I used jarred sauce.  Don't even make that "face", sometimes, I do it, I own it, and I do it proudly!  If you have homemade, or want to make your own for this, go ahead.  I just felt like the meatballs were the star, so the sauce wasn't going to get all my time and effort!

For the meatballs you will need:
2lbs ground beef
1lb ground pork
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I use fresh)
1tsp dried parsley
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion salt
2-3 T Italian dried seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 lb chunk of mozzarella cheese (cubed, you will use some to stuff meatballs and some to spread out over the sauce below them)

Combine ALL ingredients EXCEPT mozz cheese, and roll into 24 meatballs.  They will be big! When you roll a meatball, stick a small cube of mozz in the center and completely seal it back up.  If you do not take time to make sure they are sealed, the cheese WILL leak out and the fun stops there. HA!  I used a little water on my hands to make sure they were sealed good!  In a skillet with olive or vegetable oil, brown the meatballs on all sides. 

It is important to brown them to seal the cheese in.  You aren't cooking them all the way through here, just browning them.  When you are done set them aside.

For everything else you will need:
1 lb spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine.  *no angel hair or thin spaghetti*
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1 jar of your favorite or homemade marinara
1 regular size can of diced tomatoes.
1 16 ounce package of grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat your oven to 375.  Boil your pasta for the lowest cooking time recommended. Drain.  Run under cold water, to cool it quickly.  In a bowl with a clean hand, mix together the pasta, egg, and grated Parmesan cheese. 

Lay it in the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan.  It will act as your "crust".  Lay the rest of your leftover mozzarella on top of the pasta.  You can see I just pulled pieces apart with mine but if you cube it all just lay them over. 

Now in the same or a clean bowl mix together your marinara sauce and diced tomatoes.  I gussied mine up a bit, but when you are ready, pour it over the top of the pasta evenly. 

Now take your meatballs and top the whole dish with them.  I got 4 rows of 6 perfectly.  
Place on a baking sheet to catch any potential drips, bake for 30-45 minutes. 
Remove, and sprinkle cheese on top, bake for another 15-25 minutes, until cheese is melted and meatballs are cooked all the way through.  Make sure to check your meatballs!!  When it is done, let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.  It will cut just like a cake, because of the egg in your pasta.  Perfect pieces!
This is delicious, and easy to change to suit your liking.  Do you like ricotta?  Put that on top of the marinara too!  It was the original plan but since my husband knows I don't like it, he didn't want me to put it on. 

This will freeze like a dream and when you are still eating it 2 days later, it will be even better than when you first made it!  I promise! 

This is one hearty meal, that will feed a crowd and don't be surprised if you have to unbutton your jeans.  Just sayin....

Your "never leaving another meatball unstuffed" chefwannabe