Hi! I’m Mallory and I’m super excited to be writing this guest post for Dori, especially knowing how great her regular readers are! I am relatively new to the blogging community…as I’ve settled into working a full-time job, I have learned how to use my time at work very efficiently checking blogs throughout the day! My recently-redesigned & renamed blog, A Bacon-Wrapped Life, is mostly me rambling about things I’ve eaten, cooked or experienced. There’s also a fair amount of ooh-ing and aah-ing over my sweet baby puppy (who is actually 3 years old), Santana. She also has a blog! And she is featured prominently throughout Dori’s blog as well!
Over the last couple years, Dori and I have had lots of opportunities to talk about books, fools who do idiotic things around us, our shared love (Matt!) and the endless amount of delicious food we’d both like to consume. At least three times a week, while we’re chatting from work, I give her an update of what we’ve been cooking and eating …even though she’s not here to share with us or steal our leftovers, she gets SO excited about the yummy things Matt and I create!
As a cook, I’m generally not following any dietary guidelines—vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free, high fiber, low fiber…whatever. It’s all on my horizon, and I definitely like to expand the variety of food that I make, but for the most part, I just shoot for really good food that isn’t completely horrible for us (although, I am a big fan of indulgence every once in a while). There are a few things I try to incorporate as often as possible—convenience, casseroles, make-ahead/freezable food and using lots of new veggies, which I’m always finding in our CSA box. Casseroles and crock pot meals are a big favorite of mine for a couple reasons: they make great leftovers and they’re generally pretty easy. With a semi-tight budget and crazy schedules, leftovers are an important part of our lives lately. These same restrictions have made freezing food a huge thing for me in the last few months…our freezer is PACKED with soups I made in bulk, veggies we couldn’t use in time that needed to be frozen, extra meat from the family value packs that are often on sale.
I love comfort food like my grandma’s macaroni and cheese and giant bowls of soup, but I also like to experiment with different combinations of what’s on hand and things we’ve never tried. Sometimes, I even manage to be a little ambitious or fancy!
Here’s a recipe for Italian Wedding Casserole, a meal I created a couple years ago because of my love of the similarly-named soup! As a bonus, it’s also a great example of the wonderful nature of casseroles, leftovers AND freezing! The casserole made a great dinner on Sunday and was reheated on Tuesday. Plus, we had too much pasta to fit in our casserole, so some of that came with me to work for lunch on Monday (lucky me, it was pasta bar day so I had marinara and alfredo sauce to top my plain pasta!). Even better than this, the meatball recipe we used made a HUGE pile of mini-meatballs. They’ll be ridiculously delicious and easy to throw into our favorite (homemade!) marinara sauce to heat through on any busy weeknight. Spaghetti and meatballs is one of our favorite meals, and now we have at least 4 dinners’ worth of meatballs in our freezer! The other great thing is that a casserole is really variable and you can change the spices, add any veggies you have on hand and throw in anything you think would suit your tastes. Without further rambling, here’s the recipe:
Sage Parmesan Meatball Mix:
· 3/4 lb ground pork
· 3/4 lb ground beef
· Dried basil (or fresh)
· Dried parsley (or fresh)
· Dried sage (or fresh)
· Cayenne Pepper
· 3 eggs
· 1 cup breadcrumbs
Hairy Hands Not Included
This is a recipe I adapted from the Food Network. It is really yummy…adjust the spices to suit your needs/tastes. This particular batch was super sagey and had a nice kick because Matt was in charge of the cayenne! These measurements make a huge amount of meatballs. I used about a third of it for my casserole and then froze the rest. Pan fry until cooked, drain and cool a bit, lay out on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in the freezer. When frozen, toss into a giant Ziploc bag, label with the date, and freeze! To reheat, we usually just toss frozen meatballs into our favorite sauce and simmer on low for an hour or so until the meatballs are heated through.
What You Need:
· Pasta (We used Rotelle, but any curly or spiral pasta will work)
· About 1/3 of the sage parmesan meatball mix
· Chicken stock
· ~ 1 Tb Flour
· 1 Tb olive oil
· 1 Tb Minced garlic
· 1 Diced onion
· 1 bunch fresh spinach, washed, drained, and chopped. (Or frozen spinach, defrosted, drained, squeezed as dry as possible)
· Ritz crackers
· Parmesan Cheese
· Salt and Pepper
· Basil, parsley, sage, cayenne pepper
**Note: We cooked a whole box of pasta, and ended up using a little over half of it in the actual casserole. The rest is leftovers!
The final result!