Marinara Sauce with Meatballs

This produces some of the best marinara sauce with meatballs I’ve ever tasted, because the sauce actually cooks the meatballs. That’s right, they’re not browned first,  just dropped into the simmering sauce and cooked until done.

It helps to have the sauce at a point where it needs about another hour of cooking. This assures that the meatballs will be cooked through.


Ingredients



Meatballs 
 
2 lbs. of lean ground Beef
2 tbsp. Breadcrumbs
2 Eggs, well beaten
3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Marsala wine, Cream Sherry can be substituted if Marsala isn’t available.
1 large sautéed Onion
2 Tbsp. freshly chopped Parsley
1 tsp. Salt
Fresh ground Black Pepper
 
Makes approx. 15 to 20 meatballs depending on the size. After prepping, put them into the refrigerator.

 
Marinara Sauce

Ingredients
 
1 large finely chopped Onion
1 large finely chopped Carrot
2 finely chopped stalks Celery
4 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
2- 28 oz. cans of crushed Tomatoes, or whole tomatoes that are lightly chopped in the processor. San Marzano’s are the best
1 cup of Marsala wine
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
 
Put enough olive oil to just cover the bottom of the saucepan. The key to this sauce is to use a stainless steel or cast iron pan that will maintain heat. The cheap aluminum pans will not work, as they can’t maintain an even heat. My favorite is Le Creuset.
 
Just heat the oil slightly, and then add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic. You want to just sweat the mixture sweat gently. Don’t let it brown, as the flavor will become bitter.
 
After the mixture has become soft, add the Marsala and cook until the alcohol is gone. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper. Now bring it back to a boil, and then reduce the heat down and just let it cook. The longer you cook it, the better it will be.
 
After about 2 hours, you should add in the meatballs and cook for another hour. Afterwards, you will have a beautiful, hearty marinara sauce with meatballs. Serve with your choice of pasta. I suggest spaghetti or penne if you prefer a heartier pasta. 

Mountain Dew Cake

I can’t imagine something being more Southern than a Mountain Dew cake. By now, I’m sure most people have heard of Mountain Dew soft drink, but there was a time when it was relatively unknown outside of the South.

I remember as a child that I loved the glass bottle it came in, because it had an imprint of a hillbilly man drinking a Mountain Dew. I always thought he was funny. That glass bottle is long gone, but this recipe remains and is incredibly moist and good.

Ingredients


Cake:
1 box of Yellow Cake Mix, my grandmother always used Duncan Hines
1 box of Vanilla or Lemon Instant Pudding
1 cup of Vegetable Oil
4 Eggs
1 10 oz Mountain Dew that has gone flat
 
Icing:
1 large can of crushed Pineapple
3 tsp. Corn Starch
1 cup Sugar
1 stick of Butter
1 cup unsweetened Coconut
 
Preheat the oven to 325F. Mix together all ingredients, making sure that the fizz is gone from the Mountain Dew before mixing it in. 

Pour entire mixture into a large greased baking pan, or two cake pans and bake until the cake is light brown and done through. 


When cake is almost cooled, make icing by mixing pineapple, sugar and corn starch in a sauce pan and simmer until thick. Add butter and coconut and mix thoroughly. Finally spread over the cooled cake while the icing is still warm.

Carne en su jugo – Mexican Beef Soup

One of the wonderful things about living in California is we have fantastic Mexican food. However, while the food in most restaurants is really good, it is not the real home cooking I really enjoy. So, when we went to visit our neighbors, Monica made a completely authentic Mexican soup and it was stunning. It was honestly one the best things I have ever eaten, so I asked Monica to send me the recipe. Here it is and I can promise you, it is just amazing. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1/2 lb  Bacon cut into small pieces
2 lbs. Flap/Skirt Steak (ranchera), cut into small strips
Garlic Salt (to taste)
Black Pepper (to taste)
1 can Pinto Beans, cooked
16 Pearl Onions, boiled
Lemon or Lime wedges

Sauce:
5 Tomatillos
1/2 a bunch of Cilantro
3 Garlic Cloves
1 Jalapeño or 2 Serrano Chilies

1 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 cups water or chicken broth
2 heaping teaspoons Chicken Bullion

In blender, add all the sauce ingredients and blend until liquefied.  (I added 1 cup of water to the blender first and then when I poured the sauce in the meat mixture, I poured the other half cup of water into the blender to swished it around to get whatever got stuck to the blender. Don\’t leave any goodness behind.)


Fry bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and put on paper towels to drain. Add meat to bacon grease and fry until just about done (medium-high heat). As you\’re frying the meat add garlic salt and pepper to taste.
Most of the meat will be browned but you\’ll see tiny bits of pink. Toss in the peeled pearl onions. Fry for a couple minutes more. Add the sauce and simmer on low for about 45 min. to one hour. (Taste test… you may need a bit more garlic salt).
In a bowl, add a large spoonful of freshly cooked pinto beans (without the broth), and  chop up the other half of the cilantro bunch and serve as garnish along with bacon and lemon wedges. Serve with flour or corn tortillas
Serves about 4