Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Classic Favorite…Spaghetti & Mini Meatballs

Pasta night.  A night I actually dreaded when I was little because we had TWO, count them, TWO pasta nights a week in our house.  We attended church so much and my mother needed something quick for those nights.  So there I was, with my small face and large hair, staring into a bowl of spaghetti.  I just stared thinking, good Lord NOT again.  As I grew up, those pasta nights only came down to once a week. Sundays.  That was the day.  And I hated them.  When I got married I swore off pasta.  I would NOT make it.  I didn't care it was the "Italian thing to do".  I just wanted macaroni gone from my life.  And it was. (for a while).

Then my kids came.  And they grew.  And my family got bigger.  And so did our food bill.  Now here I was thinking, "what can I make that isn't too expensive and it's quick and fairly easy to make?"  Yup.  You guessed it.  Pasta!  I made a pasta night once a week.  Okay, so you're probably thinking "Tina, if you hated pasta night so much as a kid, why would you do it with your kids?"  And the answer is simple.  My kids aren't big annoying pains like I was.  They actually LOVE it.  So Tuesday became THE night.  And honestly, I guess because I didn't make it for so long, I am enjoying it!  See?  It's always good to try new things or retry old things.  *cue Mr. Rogers music*

What more classic dish can you get than spaghetti and meatballs?  It's inexpensive, easy, and fun for the kiddos to eat.  So here's my recipe for it.  Hope you all enjoy it!


  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground pork, beef, and veal mix ( most grocery stores sell it as a "meatloaf mixture") *can also use regular ground beef*
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup romano or parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • oil for frying


In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat enough oil to go half way up your meatballs.

For meatballs, mix all ingredients in a large bowl by hand.  Using your hands and depending on the size meatball you would like to make, take the amount of meat mixture and roll between your hands to form a ball.

Place meatballs in the oil and fry on all sides until brown.  The sides and middle will not be cooked.  When they're brown on all sides, place on a paper towel to drain off any excess oil.

In the meantime, bring your marinara sauce to a slow slimmer, on medium heat.  When your meatballs are finished browning, add them into the sauce.  Place a wooden spoon on the top of the pot and rest the cover halfway on the pot.  Simmer for 30-40 minutes, being careful when you stir  so you won't break the meatballs.  

Keep warm until ready to serve.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add I Tbsp. of salt to the water.  Cook spaghetti according to the package.  Drain.  

Toss spaghetti with sauce and serve with meatballs.  Garnish with parmesan cheese and serve.


Serves: 4-5
Makes: 25 large meatballs or 40 small meatballs

Homemade Pasta Sauce

Well I guess it's safe to say that you must be getting a little worried that all I know how to do is cook, based on all the food posts I've been doing lately.  But I am happy to announce that I have many projects currently in the works and WILL post about them when they're completed.  So for now, you'll just have to stare at delicious food and patiently wait.  So sorry!  :)

Anywhoo, I thought that this sauce needed it's own post.  It couldn't be worked into the spaghetti post I'll be doing that actually uses this sauce.  It's a slightly different recipe than my Grandma used to make.   Because frankly, I never have the exact stuff on hand that she always used.  So I had to improvise.  And I'm glad I did.  This sauce is so easy to make but completely full of flavor.  Just like Grandma's.  Well, nothing will ever be as good as Grandma's cooking, but a girl can dream!


  • 2 -29 oz cans of tomato sauce (any brand will work )
  • 1 -15 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 2 fresh basil leaves, whole
  • 2 Tbsp. dried chopped onion
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped


In a large sauce pan, add in your oil and heat on medium high.  Add in garlic and stir.  Cook until garlic is tender, about 1 minute.  

Add in sauce.  Stir.

Add in all remaining ingredients and let simmer on low for 1-2 hours.  

*NOTE: For best flavor of sauce, cook meatballs in the sauce for half an hour.

You can find a recipe for meatballs HERE


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Creamy Cucumber Salad

This creamy and refreshing cucumber salad is the perfect side dish at any BBQ or goes great with any summer time meal.  And the best part is….it's 125 calories per serving and only 1 gram of fat.  Any dish that's low calorie, low fat, and low carb is a triple win in my book!


  • 1 whole cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 of a red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 Tbsp. lite sour cream
  • 1/4 cup vanilla non fat greek yogurt 
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper


In a medium bowl add sour cream, greek yogurt, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.

Add in cucumbers and red onion.  Mix.

Let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours for the flavors to combine well. 

Serve cold.

Serves: 4


Monday, April 21, 2014

Simple Three Cheese Pasta Bake

It's pasta night in our house once a week.  And I don't know about anyone else, but when you have a specific day set aside for a certain food, the pressure is on to find something different than the previous week.  And if I had to see tomato sauce one more time, I was going to lose the slightest bit of sanity I have left. So I knew I needed some type of different sauce.  And this was the perfect dish to make on our pasta night.  It's creamy, warm, and super delicious!  And the best part is, you only need to dirty two pans to make it.  Less clean up means more time to sit and chat with my family.  Plus, I'm pretty sure my dishwasher was full and couldn't fit anymore in it.  Yeah, that sounds about right...


  • 1 (16 oz) box pasta of choice ( penne or bowties work best)
  • 2 (10 oz) jars of Alfredo sauce
  • 1 (15 oz) container Ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Boil pasta according to directions on the box.  Drain and return to pot.

Add all ingredients to the pot except for mozzarella cheese.

Stir to combine.  Place in greased 13x9 pan.  Top with Mozzarella cheese.

 Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

He Has Risen { Free Easter Printable }

With all the hype about all those cute little bunnies, Easter egg hunts, and spring crafts, I think the real reason behind Easter gets left in the shadows.  So I wanted to make this printable to share with you and also as a little reminder of what Easter is all about. You can download the printable { HERE }.  Hope everyone has a safe and joyful weekend with those you love.

*Note: If you right click and save the above printable it won't be sized correctly when you print it, so make sure you download, then print :)

If you'd like, you can also check out all my FREE PRINTABLES HERE.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bird's Nests Cookies

With Easter right around the corner I thought these would be a cute little snack the kids can make themselves and get them into the Spring time mood.  I remember making these in school when I was a kid and I was happy to pass down the recipe to my kiddos.  They had a great time making them but probably an even better time eating them when they were done!


  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups chocolate chips ( can use milk chocolate or semi sweet )
  • 2 + 3/4 cup chow mein noodles
  • 1/2 bag jelly bean eggs, cadbury eggs, or jelly beans


In a large bowl, melt peanut butter and chocolate chips in the microwave for 1 minute or until smooth.  Stirring after 30 seconds.

Add in chow mein noodles and stir to incorporate, making sure all the noodles are covered in the peanut butter/chocolate mixture.

Place round tablespoons of the chow mein mixture onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Press down slightly in the middle.  Place 2-3 eggs on each nest.

Place in the refrigerator for about an hour to harden.


*Happy Spring*

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Drizzled Popcorn

Popcorn, for me, is always a favorite snack because I feel like I can induldge a little bit more with popcorn as opposed to sitting in front of a t.v with my big fat hand in a bag of greasy chips.  But…sometimes ya need to switch things up.  And so.. peanut butter and chocolate drizzled popcorn was born.  And everyone welcomed this little bundle of joy with open arms mouths.  It's the perfect combination of salty and sweet.  And honestly, when you add peanut butter to anything, it's always better!


  • 3 cups popped popcorn (about 1/2 cup of kernels)
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • salt


In a microwave safe bowl, add chocolate chips and melt in 30 second intervals, stirring after each 30 seconds.  Microwave until completely melted and thin.  Set aside.

In another bowl, melt peanut butter in the microwave for 1 minute or until completely melted and smooth.  Stir.

Drizzle melted chocolate on popcorn, then drizzle melted peanut butter over popcorn.  Sprinkle with salt.  Let cool so the chocolate slightly hardens.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Easy Peanut Butter Granola Cereal

This easy granola cereal is so delicious and tastes almost like a peanut butter cookie.  I don't know about anyone else but cookies for breakfast? Don't mind if I do!

It only has 4 ingredients, is so simple to make, and tastes absolutely yummy with some ice cold almond milk poured over the top.  My kids like it with bananas, strawberries, and regular milk.  It's even delicious on top of some yogurt.  Any way you prefer, it's a sure winner!


  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 stick butter or margarine
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

In a large bowl, combine butter, peanut butter, and honey.  Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring each time, until completely melted.

Add in oats and stir well.   Spread mixture out on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, removing the baking sheet from the oven every 5 minutes to stir and flip.  Bake until golden brown and slightly crispy.

Cool.  Store in an airtight container.


Yield: 4 Cups of Cereal

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookie

A cookie for breakfast? Um, I think so! But this isn't your typical cookie.  This "cookie" is eaten with a spoon and made with healthy ingredients that make this yummy treat a perfect way to start your day.


  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 2 Tbsp. whole wheat flour (can use regular flour)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp. vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1/2 Tbsp. chocolate chips
  • 1/2 Tbsp. white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon


Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Place in the center of a small microwave safe plate.  Shape into a cookie shape with your hands.  Gently press down.  Microwave for 1 minute.  Your cookie is done when it springs back and is slightly dry in the center.  Microwave in 10 second increments if 1 minute isn't long enough.  Eat when warm.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Simple, Raw & Fresh Veggie Wrap

This wrap is super simple to make with a lot of flavor!  You can add in any veggies you like and use any type of wrap.  The possibilities are endless.


  • 2 flour tortilla ( can use whole wheat, corn, or a spinach wrap)
  • 2 outer lettuce leaves
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 orange bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 tomato, sliced
  • 1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 Vlassic pickle sandwich stacker, sliced in 4 pieces lengthwise
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 5 black olives, sliced
  • 1/2 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
Add ingredients to your wrap of choice in any order you prefer.  Drizzle with oil and vinegar.  Fold in half, fold in both sides, and roll together. 


Avocado Egg Salad

This creamy and delicious take on egg salad is not only super yummy but a better option when you're trying to eat healthier.  With only 3 ingredients, you'll be sure to make this a regular lunch time meal!


  • 1 whole hard boiled egg, plus 1 hardboiled egg white
  • 1/2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1/2 avocado
  • salt and pepper to taste


1. Peel and chop your eggs with a fork or you can place in a food processor.  
2. Add in remaining ingredients.
3. Mix together until avocado and egg are combined and the salad is creamy.


Serves: 1

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Copycat Olive Garden Salad Dressing


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried italian seasonings
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 4 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. water
  • 1 envelope Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix (.7 oz envelope)


Add all ingredients in a mason jar or bowl.  Whisk or shake to combine all ingredients together.  Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Broccoli & Macaroni


  • 1 bag stream fresh broccoli cuts or florets ( can use regular frozen broccoli and cook according to package)
  • 1 16 oz box pasta of choice ( I use ziti)
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 Tbsp. salt + 1 tsp. salt
  • 6-8 garlic cloves


1. Cook broccoli according to package.  Set aside in a bowl. Add 1 tsp. salt to the broccoli.
2. Bring water to a boil in large pot to cook pasta.  Add 2 Tbsp. of salt to the water before adding in pasta.  Cook according to time on the box.
3. While pasta is cooking, chop garlic.  Add 1/4 cup of oil to a sautee pan and heat on medium high heat.  Add in garlic and cook until fragrant.  About 1-2 minutes.  Do not brown, as the garlic will have a bitter taste.
4. When garlic is done, add garlic and oil to the broccoli and stir.  Set aside.
5. Before draining pasta, save 1 cup of "pasta water" in a separate bowl and then drain.
6. Add macaroni back into the pot.  Add in broccoli mixture and the cup of pasta water.  Stir to combine.
7. Top with grated parmesan cheese.  (optional)