On Top of Old Smokey Meatballs

All covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed.  But it’s ok because I made tons!  These meatballs were so easy to make and quick.  Such wonderful flavor!  And one of things that attracts me to a recipe is the ability to really make it your own.  Change it up some. Use spicy Italian sausage for a kick. Or, add your favorite hot sauce to regular Italian sausage. Instead of Italian seasoning, how about the Mexican Blend I always use with some fresh cilantro?  Add ginger and teriyaki sauce, served over steamed rice, for an Asian flavor.  Oh, how about subbing the bread crumbs with finely ground potato chips, shredded cheddar cheese and BBQ sauce.  Tailgate anyone?  So, let everyone sneeze as much as they want, you’ve got meatballs covered!

Ingredients (Meatballs Only):

16 oz pkg premium pork Italian sausage
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 375°. Mix ingredients until blended (the best way is to don some gloves and dive right in).

Shape meat mixture into 2″ meatballs and place on a baking sheet.  Either spray with nonstick spray, or as I did, line with parchment paper.

Bake meatballs 15 minutes or until done (when they reach 160°).  Serve with your favorite pasta sauce (such as my  Busy Mom’s Spaghetti and Meatball – but ignore those meatballs, just this once, and go back another time to try those!)

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Pinot Noir

Serves 6 (with pasta & sauce)
Prep time: 15 minute; Cook time: 15 minutes

On Top of Old Smoky Meatballs

On Top of Old Smoky Meatballs

*Derived from Jimmy Dean

Mushroom and Sausage Ragu with Polenta

If I had an Italian grandma, this is what she would make.  I can even imagine the whole huge family gathering at her house for Sunday dinner.  As everyone makes their way inside the front door, they stomp the snow off of their books, remove their coats and scarves, and are overcome with the wonderful aroma of the sausage and mushroom bubbling away quietly on the stove.  But, I don’t have an Italian grandma, a large family, or live where it snows.  That, however, did not stop me from making this for Sunday dinner with my fantastic little family.  Suffice it to say, my Italian grandma would do a better job of the polenta than me.  It wasn’t all my fault though!  A big part of it is that 1970s stove top I’m working on (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).  I will try this again, but will be more kind with my polenta, and maybe my polenta will be more kind with me.


1 1/2 Tbs olive oil, divided
8 oz sweet turkey Italian sausage (original recipe called for hot, but I knew the kidlets would NOT be on board for that)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 lb sliced cremini mushrooms
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 (14.5 oz) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
2 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup uncooked polenta
4 oz 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1 Tbs butter


Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 1/2 tsp olive oil to pan, swirling to coat.  Remove sausage from casings and add sausage to pan; saute about 3 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.  Removed sausage from pan.

Add 1 Tbs olive oil to pan, swirling to coat.  Add onion; saute 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add mushrooms; saute 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic; saute 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Stir in sausage, 1/8 tsp salt, and tomatoes, bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium; simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Bring broth and 1 1/2 cups of water to  boil in medium saucepan.  Add polenta, stirring well.  Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 20 minutes, or until thick, stirring occasionally.  Stir in remaining 1/8 tsp salt, cream cheese, and butter.  Serve over with sausage mixture.

Wine Pairings Suggestions:
Cabernet FrancMalbec
Pinot Noir

Serves: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes; Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Sausage Ragu

*Courtesy Cooking Light

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Quick and Easy Pasta Sauce

I don’t know about you, but pasta is a staple in our house. That means I’m always on the lookout for new recipes. What I like about this one: it WAS quick and easy; the sauce was not heavy, but was flavorful; and, I liked that my kids used the little slices of bread to make spaghetti sandwiches 🙂 You can easily make this vegetarian by leaving out the sausage. Want it meaty, but still vegetarian? Add some mushrooms. Or, use whatever meat you have on hand, such as chicken or ground meat. What I would do different next time: this recipe called for the sausage to be cooked in advance (or if you are not completely paying attention because you keep hearing, “Mommy can I . . .,” like me, you’ll need to grab a separate skillet for the sausage at the end). I would cook the sausage at the beginning, drain the grease, remove the sausage to a plate and then cook the onion, etc, in that skillet. Also, while it had nice flavor, it seemed rather one-dimensional. Next time I’ll run out to my basil plant to snip a few leaves to hit the sauce with at the very end. All in all a tasty and satisfying recipe that leaves you feeling comfortably full, but not weighted down.


2 mild Italian sausages, casings removed
1/4 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups canned tomatoes (whole, diced, puree, etc)
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (or a pinch of dried)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt


In large saucepan preheated to medium high heat, add sausage and crumble as cooking.  When sausage is browned, remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain grease.  Remove all but 1 Tbs of oil from pan.  Add onion and saute until translucent, 2 – 3 minutes.  Add garlic and saute another minute.

If using whole tomatoes, chop them (easiest is to just cut them with scissors right in the can), add tomatoes and juice to pan.  If using diced or puree, just add directly to pan.  Stir in sugar, rosemary, and salt.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce hs thickened, about 20 minutes, stirring often.  Return sausage to pan and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, until heated through.

Serves 6

Prep time: 10 minutes; Total time: 45 minutes


*Derived from KitchenDaily