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It is mid-August, and the rainy season in Juneau is well underway. Truthfully, it's always rainy season in Juneau. We live in a rainforest. If rain is in the name of the area in which you live, chances are you're going to get rain. Southeast Alaska gets an abundance of the wet stuff, and I love it. Unlike many of my friends who live here, I really do enjoy the rain. I enjoy the cool, fresh air. I enjoy the blanket of clouds that dance in and out of the evergreen trees. I even enjoy the foggy days. It's like a treasure hunt to me. Fog reminds me of mystery and romance and hidden treasures or secrets. It tells its own story.
Meals with Midgi: Homemade is definitely better 082014 AE 1 FOR THE CCW It is mid-August, and the rainy season in Juneau is well underway. Truthfully, it's always rainy season in Juneau. We live in a rainforest. If rain is in the name of the area in which you live, chances are you're going to get rain. Southeast Alaska gets an abundance of the wet stuff, and I love it. Unlike many of my friends who live here, I really do enjoy the rain. I enjoy the cool, fresh air. I enjoy the blanket of clouds that dance in and out of the evergreen trees. I even enjoy the foggy days. It's like a treasure hunt to me. Fog reminds me of mystery and romance and hidden treasures or secrets. It tells its own story.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Story last updated at 8/20/2014 - 8:41 pm

Meals with Midgi: Homemade is definitely better

It is mid-August, and the rainy season in Juneau is well underway. Truthfully, it's always rainy season in Juneau. We live in a rainforest. If rain is in the name of the area in which you live, chances are you're going to get rain. Southeast Alaska gets an abundance of the wet stuff, and I love it. Unlike many of my friends who live here, I really do enjoy the rain. I enjoy the cool, fresh air. I enjoy the blanket of clouds that dance in and out of the evergreen trees. I even enjoy the foggy days. It's like a treasure hunt to me. Fog reminds me of mystery and romance and hidden treasures or secrets. It tells its own story.

Along with the cooler temps and soggy days, I enjoy cooking robust meals that are comforting and filling. I am trying to cook lighter meals, but every once in a while I hanker for something beefy and hearty. I'll make a stew or chowder or even a steak with roasted potatoes.

What I enjoy the most is pasta. I could never do a low-carb or no-carb diet. I love carbs. I love how they taste and how I feel when I eat them. What I can do, however, is limit my carb intake so that when I have them it's worth it. I don't eat potatoes and pasta at every meal, or even every day. But when I have them, I enjoy them. No guilt, not denial, just eat and enjoy. I also like to make food that is fun.

Meatballs are a perfect example. I love the chopping, blending mixing and especially rolling the meat mixture into little balls of deliciousness. It's fun to get your hands dirty and play with your food. This is a great job for kids, too.

I have used regular beef, pork and even turkey for meatballs. I never use a small cookie scoop or anything to measure them. It's a touchy-feely-eyebally-it kind of thing. They look even enough to me. If one is larger than another, I take off some, roll it out again and add the remainder mixture to another one that might be a tad small. It's not a science, it's cooking and it should be fun.

For this particular recipe, I combined these two ingredients to make a hearty and delicious meal. I took a little help from the grocery store and purchased cheese tortellini, but I made the meatballs from scratch. This is a big a must for me. I never, ever buy pre-made meatballs.

When they come from a store, they're all perfectly formed, without any flavor and because they've been made in a machine and not by hand, they don't soak up the flavor when simmering in a sauce. The sauce tends to just collect on the outside of the meatball, not really permeating it. Pre-made meatballs are flavorless inside, so your sauce had better be good.

I say, keep it simple and make them yourself. The process is fun and you control the ingredients. A little diced onion, garlic and few other tasty ingredients and you'll have great meatballs full of flavor that will compliment your sauce.

A pasta bake is also an easy dish to make and adds some delicious aroma to your kitchen. A simple tip to cook them all at once is to bake them on 350 for 25 minutes. They will brown on the outside and get nearly done on the inside. Once they are placed in your sauce, let them simmer a while and they will absorb some of that delicious saucy flavor. The more they simmer, the more flavor they absorb.

This is a dish best done on a rainy afternoon so that the meatballs can simmer a while. They freeze great and can be used for sandwiches, a pasta bake or on top of spaghetti.

This week I present a dish that is fun, easy to make and has a layers of flavor: Meatball Tortellini Bake.

Until next time...

Eat and enjoy,

Midgi

MEATBALLS

1 lb ground beef

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

½ cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1 egg

¼ cup red wine

2 teaspoons fresh garlic, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients and mix well by hand.

Roll mixture into small balls, about ½ inch in diameter. Place on foil lined cookie sheet and cook for 25 minutes.

MARINARA SAUCE

½ yellow or white onion diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (fire roasted is best)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

2 cups beef broth

Salt and pepper

Preheat skillet to medium high heat. Add olive oil and sauté onions and garlic until softened. Add crushed tomatoes and seasonings. Mix well. Add 2 cups beef broth and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove meatballs from baking sheet and simmer in sauce at least 30 minutes. Longer is better.

TO MAKE MEATBALL TORTELLINI BAKE

Combine meatballs, sauce and tortellini in greased casserole dish. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 until tortellini is cooked through. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.


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