Approximate stats for the period of September 13-30:
Hours in a plane/airport: +/-23
Hours driving in a car to/from a vacation destination: +/-32
Nights spent in a guest bed or hotel: 12
Nights spent in my own bed: 6
Oh…. And hello, October. DAYS UNTIL OUR WEDDING: 24
I’ve been a busy bee. For a bride-to-be, I think that’s the norm; there are a lot of details to wrangle for the big day. Me? I’ve been traveling. A lot!
Three weekends in a row, I’ve left the lovely autumn in Utah to frolic in other states: California, Colorado, South Carolina. And all three trips were fabulous. I still have photos and stories to share with you from my girls’ trip in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, and John and I just returned from an incredible long weekend in Charleston. (Stay tuned!) But despite the fun that I’ve had in the last few weeks, MAMA NEEDS A BREAK.
Truth be told, I have some serious catching up to do when it comes to rest. My jet-setting ways have taken a bit of a toll on my health, and I need to regain my bridely glow! Yesterday, I slept in, savoring my comfy bed. I sorted through vacation photos, tossed some laundry in the washer, snuggled with Cholula, tackled some wedding tasks. By this evening, I wanted nothing more than a date with my kitchen in my slippers and some kind of comfort food. I pulled out a recipe I haven’t made for a couple of years, but it was just the ticket today! So, dear readers, instead of a vacation recap, you get comfort in my kitchen. But who doesn’t drool when they hear the words “Mozzarella-stuffed Meatballs”?!
First, the word MEATBALL is awesome. A ball of meat. Apologies to my vegetarian friends, but I love that. Everybody has a different version of his/her favorite meatball. I have a few variations, too; tonight’s version is tasty, moist, cheesy, gooey, YUMMY.
Start with ground beef and pork, Italian breadcrumbs, a beaten egg, some nutmeg, some parmesan cheese, chopped Italian parsley, garlic salt and cracked pepper.
Get in there. The only way to be sure it’s mixed properly is to remove your rings, roll up your sleeves, and dive in- but just until it’s combined.
The fun part of these meatballs is the melted mozzarella that surprises you when you take a bite. To make them, roll your meatball (mine are about 2 inches each) and press into it with your finger. Tuck a square of mozzarella cheese inside and finish rolling the meatball, taking care to seal it up well.
My assistant is like a little meatball. I stuffed her with a square of mozzarella. She wagged.
Once my pretty little meatballs were formed, I heated up equal parts olive oil and vegetable oil and dropped a few in. Too many meatballs in the pan cools down the oil, so give yourself time for this stage. I turned them to brown all sides and kept them on deck on a plate with paper towels.
Speaking of ‘on deck,’ I had the Yankees/Red Sox game on while I was cooking. Is there anything more FALL than almost-to-playoffs MLB? (Side: I hate the Yankees.)
See that meatball to the far right, with sneaky mozzarella cheese already dripping out? That’s what happens when you don’t seal the little mozz square in there well enough. It’s not a biggie- it just fries up in the oil. Bonus.
As my meatballs were browning, I chopped some onion and garlic for the sauce. Once the meatballs were done, I drained the oil but didn’t clean the pan- the browned bits add to the flavor of the sauce! In went some olive oil, the onions, and then the garlic. A douse with good red wine allowed all of those yummies on the bottom of the pan to be absorbed.
The rest of the sauce is pretty standard: a can of organic crushed tomatoes, chopped parsley, basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper for heat. I tucked the meatballs back into the sauce and covered them up, letting them simmer away for 20 minutes or so.
In the meantime, I made a simple parmesan toast to accompany our pasta and poured some tasty vino. No Italian meal is complete without it!
Lacking spaghetti noodles in my pantry, I opted for Rotini. The sauce tucked into the twists of the noodles so I got a perfect bite, every time! A couple of meatballs go a long way, especially with the cheesy center. Talk about comfort food- take a look!
The meatballs were moist and flavorful, and the melted mozzarella just adds a bit of fun. The best part is that my recipe made plenty of meatballs to freeze for a lazy winter evening- which will be here before I know it!
But hopefully not within the next 24 days.
I hope your week has a bit of comfort in it. Stay tuned for my vacation recaps!
For the meatballs:
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 lb. ground pork
- ½ cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2/3 cup grate Parmesan cheese
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Garlic salt and pepper
- Mozzarella cheese, cubed
- Vegetable oil
- Olive oil
For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- ½ cup good red wine
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- Dried oregano and basil to taste
- Crushed red pepper to taste
- Garlic salt and pepper
You’ll also need spaghetti or another noodle of your choice, plus extra Parmesan and parsley for serving!
Place the meats, breadcrumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and ½ cup of water in a bowl. Combine with your hands until just combined. Form the mixture into 2 inch meatballs. Press your finger into the meatball to form a hole and tuck a square of mozzarella into it. Seal the meatball around the cheese well. This makes about 15 meatballs or so.
Heat equal amounts of olive oil and vegetable oil over medium low heat in a large skillet (1/4 inch deep). In batches, place the meatballs in the hot oil and brown them on all sides. Don’t put too many in the pan at once- take your time. Set the browned meatballs on a plate covered in paper towels. Toss the oil but don’t clean the pan!
For the sauce, heat olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic for another minute then add the wine. Scrape up the yummy brown bits and let most of the liquid be absorbed. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, and seasonings.
Place the meatballs back in the sauce, cover, and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes (or until the meatballs are cooked through). Serve over cooked noodles and top with Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.
Don’t forget the bread and wine!