Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Easy Penne and Meatballs

Today I'm making homemade meatballs served over some nice penne noodles. In my household homemade doesn't mean I don't cut corners. I use pre made ingredients just as often as any young mother. Tonight my premade ingredients include a Kraft Fresh Take (Savory Four Cheese), a jar of spaghetti sauce and boxed penne noodles. I always use boxed noodles, just for future reference.

Our fresh ingredients include: one small onion. Haha that's it. This meal is fairly easy to prepare.

Our thawed ingredients include: one pound of ground chuck. I use chuck as opposed to hamburger because I find it has a lot less grease but just the right amount of fat to help the Fresh Take hold our meatballs together. Why is it thawed? Because like most people my age I don't have tons of money laying around so I buy meat in bulk when its on sale.

I'm only going to be using garlic powder in this recipe because the Fresh Take has plenty of flavor. I will also use a tablespoon or two of sugar in the prepared spaghetti sauce but that's a personal preference and not at all necessary for this dinner to be delicious.

The preparation of the meatballs is simple. Put your ground chuck in a mixing bowl. Add your Fresh Take and a teaspoon of garlic powder. I use latex gloves to mix (powder free!) but if you don't mind getting your hands dirty go ahead and dig in!

Now this particular Fresh Take has feta cheese in it. I personally have a love for all things feta, a love I inherited from my mom who puts it on and in anything she can, including tacos! In this recipe the feta will add a great creamy and salty dynamic to our meatballs that I think is fantastic. But if you have an aversion to the cheese my daughter calls Stinky Cheese another Fresh Take can be easily substituted.

Once your meat mixture is thoroughly combined you can start forming your meatballs. Now you can make any size meatball you'd like, but because I have a two year old who is very independent and doesn't like for mommy to cut up her food anymore, I'm making one inch meatballs.

Once all your meatballs are formed you're gonna want to put them on an ungreased baking sheet. Pre heat your oven to 350° and when you're ready pop those meatballs right in! Cook them for about thirty minutes ( if you made bigger meatballs you may want to cook them a little longer) and once they're cooked completely pull them out and put them aside. We have big plans for them but not until later.

While the meatballs are cooking in the oven fill a large pot with water. I never measure my water out. Shameful huh? If you feel the need you can always use the directions on the back of the noodle box. Once you have your water in your pot add a generous sprinkling of table salt. This brings the boiling point of the water a little bit higher, thus cooking your noodles a little faster ( thank you freshman physical science! ) and I promise it wont make your noodles salty. Once your water is at a rolling boil add your pasta. I use a little less than half the box since there are only three of us in my household. If you want a more exact measurement for your family consult the back of the box. Cook until tender, then drain the pasta. I use my metal strainer for this. Then go ahead a put them back in their pot.

While the noodles cook dice up your onion. In a large saucepan add a tablespoon of olive oil before adding the diced onion. Cook the onion until it is tender and translucent. Then add your jar of spaghetti sauce. Now would be a good time to add any seasonings you like. I found a sauce I like very much and the only thing I add is a tablespoon of sugar.

Now all that's left to do is decide how you're going to serve your meal. When I have guests over I place each component of the meal in a large serving bowl and let the guests serve themselves. But since tonight is just the family, I will just put noodles in a bowl with a few meatballs and top it off with some sauce. And because I'm a fan I sprinkle parmasean cheese on top. Voila! A great meal from my kitchen to your table!

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