Thursday, October 17, 2013
Homestyle Spaghetti & Meatballs: Freezer Meals for Baby
As preparations for little lady’s arrival are underway (eeeee less than 10 weeks till Due Date!!!),
I have started cooking double meals (or single LARGE meals in this case) for the freezer. Due to popular request over on my Facebook page, I decided to share my freezer meal ideas with you as I make them to stock my own freezer!
Today I made a classic comfort food that every new mom needs in her stash… Meatballs in Sauce (for spaghetti & meatballs).
I don’t know what it is about it, but spaghetti & meatballs taste WAY better to me than spaghetti & meat sauce.
I know, I know… it makes absolutely NO sense as I use the same ingredients for both. But, I’m telling you, there are few things as incredibly delicious as a big bowl of tender pasta topped with a perfect marinara sauce and a few tender flavorful meatballs.
It’s comfort food at it’s finest… and I CRAVE the daggum stuff!
The great thing about this recipe is that it makes a GIANT pot of meatballs and sauce… WAY more than our family of 2 (and 1/2) could possibly eat for dinner & leftovers. However, meatballs and sauce freeze amazingly well! I figure if I’m going to go through the hassle of making a homemade meatball and marinara sauce, I might as well have enough to stock my freezer for another night!
I store the remaining meatballs & sauce in ziplock freezer bags and then plan on defrosting and then reheating them for another round of spaghetti after baby arrives -or- slapping them on some hoagie rolls, topping them with some slices of provolone cheese, and broiling them until golden perfection. Either way, when I’m needing a down-home comfort meal while dealing with sleep deprivation and life as a new mom, this sauce will have me covered!
What are your favorite freezer friendly meals??
Homestyle Spaghetti & Meatballs
Yield: 26-28 golfball sized meatballs & sauce
Total Time: 1 1/2-2 hours
Recipe makes a large pot of delicious home cooked meatballs and sauce... don't panic if you think it's too much food. I figure if you're going to do the work, you might as well make enough to freeze some for later!
For the Meatballs:
1 1/3 pound lean ground beef
2/3 pound hot italian sausage (casings removed)*
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup italian bread crumbs
1/3 cup milk
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley (optional)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
*May substitute sweet italian sausage -OR- if you aren't into pork, you can do 2 full pounds of ground beef & skip the italian sausage all together - I, however, love the depth of flavor it adds to the meatballs!
For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1-1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 (28 ounce) cans of crushed tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can of tomato paste + 1/2 can of water
2 tablespoons sugar
1-2 dashes of cayenne*
2 bay leaves
*May substitute a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
For the Meatballs:
Add ground beef and sausage meats to the bowl and mix together with clean hands until incorporated. Add egg, parmesan, bread crumbs, milk, garlic, salt, parsley, and pepper and again mix with clean hands until well combined. Set aside until sauce is ready to go.
For the Sauce:
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add chopped onions and saute until translucent (5-7 minutes). Add the garlic, oregano, basil, and salt and saute (stirring constantly) for 30-45 seconds, or until fragrant. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and fill 1/2 of the tomato paste can with water and add. Stir until tomato paste is dissolved into sauce. Add sugar, cayenne, and bay leaves and stir well. Bring sauce up to a simmer and reduce heat to low.
Using a cookie dough scoop and your hands, roll meatballs into golf ball sized rounds and gently lower into sauce as you make them. Repeat until all meatballs are in sauce. Gently push meatballs down into sauce with spatula to help submerge them. Cover pot with lid and allow to simmer on low for 25 minutes untouched. Remove lid and stir sauce. Place lid back on and simmer on low for at least another 25-30 minutes (may simmer for hours if desired).
If serving immediately*, bring a pot of salted water to a boil during last 25-30 minutes of sauce cook time. Cook spaghetti according to box instructions, drain and return to pot. Ladle a few scoops of red sauce (skipping the meatballs) onto cooked pasta and toss with tongs to coat. Scoop individual serving of pasta into pasta bowls and top with meatballs and additional sauce. Garnish with parmesan cheese and serve with garlic toast.
*May also keep sauce warm for a couple of hours over low-low heat until ready to cook up pasta & serve.
I usually make enough pasta for 1 meal (plus a little serving for leftover lunch the next day). To freeze remaining meatballs & sauce, allow to cool COMPLETELY, then carefully ladle into a freezer ziplock or other freezer-safe container (I like ziplocks because they don't take up too much space), seal, label with a sharpie and place in freezer for use at a later date.