Spaghetti and meatballs (in the crockpot this time)
March 5, 2012 § 4 Comments
By now, you’ve probably figured out that we like to eat, but we don’t always have enough time to cook a decent meal for ourselves. Like you, we work long hours, have little time, but want to eat healthily and deliciously.
We use our crockpot to help cook some of our meals. It doesn’t work for everything though. In fact, most recipes that employ it are awful. Crockpots make me think of chewy meat, dry stringy chicken, and mushy gray vegetables…you get the idea. There are only a few things I make in the crockpot…things like red beans and rice, broccoli cheese soup, and ham and beans. Foods like these require long hours of simmering, and they consistently turn out well in the crockpot.
While reading one of my favorite blogs recently, The Art of Doing Stuff, which is quirky and funny (exactly how I like my blogs), I saw a recipe for spaghetti and meatballs. Karen cooked the meatballs and sauce in a large roasting pan in the oven…that’s a terrific idea, but since I’m away from the house for hours at a time, I wondered if I could use a crockpot instead. So, the following recipe is a combination of Karen’s recipe, and my own, and it works perfectly in the crockpot. If you want to make The Art of Doing Stuff’s version, then that’s fine too…you can’t go wrong with either recipe. By the way, this makes a LOT of sauce. We made double the amount of meatballs indicated below, and there was still plenty of sauce to cover them. I thought all of the tomato juice would make the sauce runny, but it was thick and rich.
In all, the below recipe made one meal for the two of us, one meal for me and my two colleagues at the office, and I also froze a big batch of sauce for another day (Dave and I love having some healthy options in the freezer).
Spaghetti and meatballs (in the crockpot)
Meatballs (make these first, and then put them into the freezer to freeze):
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Mix ingredients lightly together, and form into meatballs, each about 1-inch in diameter. Use them as is, or place them on wax paper and freeze until firm. When they’re completely frozen, remove from the wax paper and either place them in plastic bags and return to the freezer, or drop them into the crockpot of sauce.
1 onion, chopped*
1 red or green pepper, chopped*
1 48-ounce can tomato juice
1 12-ounce can tomato paste
1 12-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
Place the above ingredients in a large crockpot, in the order given. Drop in meatballs (I add them frozen, because I think they hold together a little better this way).
Cook on LOW, all day while you are at work. I left mine on for 10 hours, and when I came home, it was perfect (Dave ate it too, and he liked it, and you’ve heard how picky he is). Serve over cooked spaghetti or whatever kind of pasta your little heart desires. As with all crockpot recipes, you may need to adjust the seasonings before serving (I ended up adding 1 more teaspoon of dried basil).
* instead of 1 chopped onion and 1 chopped pepper, I substituted a 12-ounce package of Three pepper and onion blend, which is available in the frozen vegetable case in your grocery store.