Friday, August 6, 2010

“Family” Dinner Sunday

Country Thunder 2010!
I've been trying to write this post for about a week now. For some reason I have been anti-media/technology/Internet/computer for the last few weeks. After I'm done with work I hardly ever want to deal with looking at the computer anymore than I absolutely have to. So what's been going on in our household…since my last post I returned from Wisconsin very happy I had a girls weekend with one of my bestest from high school. I did some work in between Wisconsin and here Monday-Wednesday and then returned home. Thursday was pretty low key…I don't even remember if I did anything significant beyond work and spending time with Hubbins. Friday we went to dinner at some friends' house and Saturday I recovered from Friday before going to a Peachfest…yeah it's not a festival – it was one of Hubbins' friend's family reunions, she left that part out – but no worries we had a blast with the family. Sunday was a "family" dinner type of event and leads me to this post, well Friday has a part in this post as well, but the dinner was on Sunday….confused yet? Good.

My creation for Sunday's Dinner
As I said, we went to some friends' house for dinner (sausage stuffed pork loin with Szechuan green beans). The dinner was awesome and our hostess, host, and hostette were fabulous! As soon as I walked in the door hostette asks me my name, I in turn asked her, formalities done with, she asks me to play. I play with hostette for a little, while hostess finished up the final touches for dinner. After a little I sneak out of the play area so that I could talk to the big kids. Hostette looked a little heartbroken, but as most kids do, she rebounded, played with the adults, watched TV, and soon forgot all about me – well maybe not completely, but she didn't ask if I would play with her anymore since her Mommy told her it was time for me to play with the adults. I have a way of attracting little ones and they just know I can't say no when they ask me to play. J

After a few bottles of wine were consumed (yeah – 2 for me – opps) hostess and I were talking about our upcoming plans for dinner on Sunday. Hubbins and I were planning on having spaghetti and meatballs with marinara sauce – the latter two made from scratch. As we explained how I came across the recipe from the Rao's Cookbook Hubbins' Aunt and Uncle got for him a few years ago, one way or another the mention of Bobby Flay's Throw Down on Food Network came up, and the next thing we know we're agreeing to a meatball throw down…really? Meatballs? I'm surprised that meatballs was a throw down challenge…if you ask me I don't think I would say meatballs are my specialty, I was just excited to make the Rao's recipe…I think Hostess would agree that meatballs weren't her specialty as she had never even made them before. But alas we agreed and so our throw down was set for Sunday evening.

My basil growing - it's
doubled in size since
this picture!
Sunday rolled around and after going to church and to the grocery store for last minute items I came home and started on my marinara sauce. The "Marinara Sauce" recipe was pretty easy, although I don't think I squished up my tomatoes well enough, it was a little on the chunkier side, which doesn't bother me, but I think next time I'll get it a little smoother. I was very excited to be using some fresh basil from my window box garden…my garden which consists of basil and more basil – I was not so successful on growing any other herbs this year – maybe next year.

When it came time for the meatballs I was interested in "Anna and Frankie's Meatballs" recipe, it was slightly different than my usual meatball creations. My family is big on eating wild game, so I grew up on venison, I usually make venison or beef meatballs and while that's normal for me, the Rao's recipe called for ground beef, pork, and veal….uhhhh, yeah, when I went to the grocery store I was pretty sure I would only be able to find the ground beef, I surprisingly found some ground pork, but the veal was a no-go. So I substituted turkey for veal. The meatballs also use a LOT of bread crumbs, I am used to making my meatballs just dry enough with the bread crumbs so that they stick together…this called for two cups, PLUS the addition of water. I followed the recipe, except for the fact that I did not use homemade or quality bread crumbs. I'm sorry Rao's I don't know if I am allowed to call my meatballs true meatballs by your definition now. There really is a note attached to the recipe that states, "Unless you make your own bread crumbs, you won't be following Rao's kitchen tradition. Use the finest-quality Italian bread you can find…" PS working with wet meat is kind of weird….

Finally I get my meatballs prepared, just in time to transfer my sauce to the crock pot (our first time using it!!) I fry the meatballs, and they are looking pretty good, however, when one is very excited to make big meatballs they should judge the size of the vessel where meatballs will be placed into the sauce. My crock pot was only able to hold about 12 meatballs, which worked out well enough, I made smaller meatballs after the first 12, fried those and then popped them into the oven to make sure they were cooked through, those meatballs eventually made their way to our freezer for future use.

By 6 pm Hubbins had done a great job cleaning the rest of the house while I cooked and after we relaxed and read for a little bit before we popped in our "An Evening at Rao's" CD and waited for our company to arrive. I feel really bad because I think we had rushed my challenger from a previous engagement, I hope she forgives me! J We sat down for some dinner and I thought her meatballs and marinara were pretty good, although she claims the sauce was burnt, if she says so then I look forward to trying her sauce not burnt because it was pretty durn good. Since we didn't have any unbiased guests over for dinner no winner was truly declared in terms of meatballs, but my challenger kicked butt on the dessert, spaghetti and meatballs cupcakes!!! She'd kick my butt any day on cake decorating! Just look at these beauties! And they were really good too!

I'm very jealous of the cupcake decorating
abilities exhibited here.
Sunday night was full of cleaning up the kitchen and then bed-time, Hubbins had a "long, slow run" on Monday morning – I stayed in bed (as I usually do when he gets up at 4:30 am) I'm glad we had the "throw down" "Family Dinner". Next time I think we will pick food that is more of our specialty.
My meatballs in the frying pan,
A yummy take on the whole meal.

Bon Appetit Everyone!


  1. The whole thing was really delicious (except my burnt meatballs) and we had a lot of fun! You will definitely have to try my sauce not burned at some point!

  2. Sounds delicious. I look forward to trying some of your homemade food in the future!