Thursday, February 6, 2014

10 Hungry Men

I hosted my first "carbo cram" recently (a big carbohydrate-laden meal the night before a sporting event, mostly meant for team bonding).  It never ceases to amaze me how much food 10 teenage dudes can put away!  I made spaghetti & meatballs (the meatballs are based on a recipe from a friend - I sort of 1-1/2'd it, and are GREAT for freezing, so make a big batch and freeze them, and take out as many as you need for dinner, or to bring to someone), baked penne alfredo, bread, salad and ice cream dessert.

3 lbs. ground chuck
2-1/3 c. Italian bread crumbs (I used Panko with some Italian seasoning - it's what I had)
3 eggs
2-1/4 c. sour cream (I used light)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix all ingredients well and form into loosely-packed balls.  I actually weighed all of mine, and it made 57 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 oz. meatballs.  Bake on a rimmed baking sheet for about 25 minutes. I froze mine on the tray after baking, since I made them in advance, and then tossed the frozen meatballs into my slow cooker with 3 jars of pasta sauce I had on hand.  They simmered all day and were fall apart tender by dinner time.  SO good.  I made 2 lb. spaghetti noodles, and served that lightly tossed with olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and Grated Parm on the side.  I could have made 3 lb. of spaghetti noodles, and they likely would have finished it. 

A way to use leftover meatballs - serve with little dinner rolls (we like the Hawaiian bread rolls) and some mozzarella cheese for meatball sliders - makes a great substantial app or even dinner.  Just bake in the oven until the cheese is melted.  So good.

Baked Penne Alfredo
1 lb. penne pasta, cooked & drained
salt & pepper to taste
1 recipe Alfredo sauce (see below)

Optional: 2 c. cooked chicken, diced; 1-2 c. broccoli, steamed & chopped; 1/4-1/3 c. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped, 1/2 - 1 c. sauteed mushrooms; red pepper flakes (1 tsp.)

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare a 9" x 13" baking dish (non-stick spray, butter, whatever) and set aside.  I cooked up 1 lb. penne noodles according to the directions on the box, drained it, and set it aside while I made the sauce.  Then I stirred the pasta into my sauce and spread it into my baking dish. Since I was making this for a group, I didn't get too fancy, but I think adding some chicken, sauteed mushrooms, diced onions, sun-dried tomatoes and broccoli would be awesome.   I baked this for about 15 minutes, or until it was all heated through, stirred it up, and then topped with some Parm and put it back in until the cheese started to turn golden brown.  I served some red pepper flakes on the side, versus adding them in.

Alfredo Sauce:
1/4 c. unsalted butter
1/4 c. AP flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Melt butter in sauce pan over medium heat, then whisk in flour, cooking for about 2 minutes to remove the raw flour taste.  Remove from heat, and add cream, whisking well.  Return mixture to heat and bring it ALMOST to a boil, then remove from heat.  It takes a few minutes for the sauce to start thickening, but then all of a sudden, it does.  Stir in Parmesan cheese.  

I served everything with some foccacia bread cut into strips and 2 loaves of Italian bread with some butter (dipping oils too tough with the crowd), and a big salad.

For dessert, I made an Oreo Ice Cream Dessert.  The recipe was a combination of 4-5 different ones I found online.  Judge all you want, make your own "oreos," ice cream, and chocolate, whatever, but I just used the store-bought stuff, because, well, I made everything else and I didn't feel like it.  And they wouldn't have noticed or cared.  And yeah.

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