Tag: cooking lessons

Cooking Lesson: Spaghetti and Meatballs

As many of you know my favorite food is spaghetti and meatballs.  I love it because of the carb-fest, the mix of flavors and a certain sentimental value.  When I was super down in life I made a spaghetti and meatballs and as odd as it might sound I had an ‘ah, ha’ moment about my life.  I recounted that experience in the chapter of my nanobook I entitled ‘The Spaghetti Incident’.  You can read about it here:


Basically I said to myself ‘why isn’t the rest of my life as good as this spaghetti’.  6 years later my life is close to as good as that spaghetti, which I am very grateful for.  Hopefully some day I will get all the way as good but a girl’s got to leave some room for dreaming. 🙂

Anyway, my friend and fellow bookclub buddy Rachel Bey asked if I could do one of my famous cooking lessons.  She didn’t know what she wanted to learn how to make and so I suggested making spaghetti and meatballs (if she doesn’t know why not make my favorite food).I think this is the 6th lesson I’ve done over the last year and a half or so and I really enjoy it.   Its fun to cook with friends, share talents and make delicious food all at the same time.  I’ve been thinking I may want to come up with a mini-cookbook and update it as I do more lessons.

I started this recipe with Ina Garten’s spaghetti and meatball recipe and then added my own flare (and yes to you Italian purists I put sugar in the sauce, so good).

spaghetti 5
Rachel making meatballs
spaghetti 4
Stirring the sauce. The water for the pasta for some reason took forever to boil.
spaghetti 1
A good meal, good friends. Happy day
spaghetti 3
Rachel liked it too.

Spaghetti and Meatballs (my recipe inspired by Ina Garten with a bunch of my additions)

For the meatballs:

1/2 pound ground Italian sausage (Ina calls for veal but who can afford that)
1/2 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices pulsed to crumbs in food processor)
1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 extra-large egg, beaten

3/4 cup of water
Vegetable oil
Olive oil

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup chicken stock (Ina calls for wine but I don’t cook with that)
2(28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp sambal or other hot sauce
3 tbsp sugar
Italian seasoning

For serving:

1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
Freshly grated Parmesan


Place the ground meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Mix all ingredients together with your hands or a spoon if you aren’t brave. Then lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. I like to put them on cookie sheets as I make them.

Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don’t crowd the meatballs. I then put them on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350 to keep warm and bake all the way through.

For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the chicken stock and cook on high heat deglazing the pan. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Once it heats through add hot sauce, sugar, Italian seasonings to taste.  Heat all the way through and then let simmer as long as you can

Put meatballs into sauce and let cook a few minutes together until spaghetti noodles are done (follow package instructions.  Our water took forever to boil).  I personally like to keep my pasta and sauce separate and then plate them together but if you like to mix them all up in one pot that is fine.  Top with parmesan cheese and a little basil or parsley.
The finished product.  So good!
The finished product. So good!


Pies, Books, Hair and Chili Lesson

Phew!  What a day! I’m exhausted but it has been tons of fun.   Here it is in pictures.

First of all I had book club in the morning and made these pies
First of all I had book club in the morning and made these pies

me and pie

Blackberry Crumb Pie


1 Pie Crust, refrigerated or from scratch

For the Filling:

3 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
¼ – ½ cup sugar
¾ teaspoons cinnamon

For the Crumble Topping

2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ cups flour
12 tablespoons butter


For the Filling:

Toss the berries with the sugar and the cinnamon.

For the Crumble Topping:

Whisk together the flour and the sugar.
Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or fork until mixture is crumbly.


Press the pie crust into a pie dish.
Pour in the berry filling.
Cover with the crumble topping.
Bake at 400° for 1 hour (The recipe only called for 35 minutes but it just wasn’t done)

Book club was neat. I figured out it was our 30th book! Not too shabby.  We read Rebecca by Daphne DuMarier and we all enjoyed it immensely.  While we were talking about the book I had my light fixture and art installed in my room.  I kind of love it!

new light fixture
Isn’t it pretty? I just love it.

Then I met my trainer for a quick session and went to 2 Wallgreens to get an awesome collage poster done for my lesson.  I’m teaching about friendship and so I made a poster of my friends.  Then I came home and had another mini bookclub session with my friend Melissa who couldn’t come earlier but wanted to talk about the book. So fun!

Next, I had to work on my lesson for a bit and do the program for tomorrow’s relief society.  Then it was time to get my hair cut and colored by my friend Rachel.  It’s very similar to what I always get but I like it.

New hair.  Or the same hair again.
New hair. Or the same hair again. What do you think?

Then Taylor and Becca came over and we did another of our cooking lessons.  This time I taught them how to make chili and cornbread.  Everything turned out great especially the chili and it was so much fun to teach them and gab together.  They are such fun friends.

I think they had fun? :)
I think they had fun? 🙂
I’d say it was one of the best chili’s I’ve made. Yum


1 yellow onion diced

3 red, orange, yellow peppers diced

2 jalapenos seeded, pulp removed, finely diced (less if you don’t want it to be spicy)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 lb ground beef

3 cans diced tomatoes

1 small can of tomato paste

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp smashed garlic

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tbsp paprika

1/2 tsp nutmeg

2 tbsp honey

4 cups chicken broth

2 cans black beans (or any kind of beans)

Heat olive oil add diced onion, garlic, peppers.  Sweat vegetables until clear.  Add ground beef until heated through.  Add spices. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth, black beans, add honey to taste. Come to a boil and then simmer and it will get thicker. Top with cilantro, green onion, greek yogurt etc. Serve with cornbread.

Taylor learning to cook
Taylor learning to cook
Me and Tayor
Me and Tayor
Becca stirring some chili
Becca stirring some chili

So is that not a super full day? Tomorrow I have to teach my lesson and pick my Dad up from the airport and then its back to work.  Busy, busy, busy but happy.  Life is good. Wish me luck on my lesson.  A little nervous about it because its a little unorthodox but in a good way.  Right now I’m too tired to give it much thought.  What fun day!

Cooking Lesson

Yesterday my sister Anna with her roommates Taylor and Becca came over for the first in what will hopefully be many cooking lessons.  We had talked about doing this for a couple of months and I was thrilled that we actually did it!  With fall in full swing I had a request to teach the girls how to make soup.  French onion soup is Becca’s favorite soup so that’s what I chose to show them.  I also thought it was a good, simple recipe for new cooks.  In addition to the soup we made homemade bread and decorated a cookies and cream cake.   While I admit this is not the healthiest of meals, I figured it was Halloween and we could go a little carb crazy!

The one thing I didn’t think of was what cutting 2 lbs of onions would do to our eyes.  It was intense in my kitchen and all of us had red eyes and tears (not exactly the best way to start off a cooking lesson but oh well!).   Anna did a little video tape to show their pain:

Once we got through the tears we caramelized the onions, added the broth and then transferred the soup into oven proof bowls for the croton/cheese toppings.  Delicious!


Delicious french onion soup!
This french onion soup was souper good!


I had already baked the cake so I showed them how to cut layers in it, add a pudding filling,  and frost it with whipped cream.   It was a yummy cake- perfect for Halloween.


cookies and cream cake


Don’t worry I’m back on the diet bandwagon today. In fact, I met with my trainer this morning and got a beast of a work out! Maybe the next class I do will have to be a healthy food class but on Halloween come on!  Anyway, it was a lot of fun and I hope to do it again soon.

By the way, I am going to put out a winner for my recipe contest this week.  It has taken me longer than I thought to test out the recipes.  Only 2 more left!  I didn’t want you’all to think I’d forgotten it.