Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tasty Tuesday - Homemade Marinara and Meatballs

There are two things that I worry the kids don't get enough of when it come to food, veggies and iron.  I'm anemic and the kids are borderline anemic. We tried doing iron supplements with Brooke, her levels were low enough they wanted to do a full blood panel, but she gagged and spit it up as soon as the liquid hit her mouth. So much for that.

As you might know from our pictures on here and Instagram(justjm03), we do lots of popsicles and smoothies. All of their popsicles and smoothies are laced with either kale or spinach in hopes of keeping their iron levels high enough. I definitely don't eat a lot of red meat, which means the kids don't either, but I'd like to incorporate more into our diets.  Enter spaghetti and meatballs.

For the first 6 years rob and I were married anytime we had spaghetti I always used Prego and would occasionally add some ground beef or sausage to it.  One day I was watching "Cooking Boss" and Buddy was making his eggplant parm.  He talked about making his own sauce from scratch and how easy it was.  I decided to look it up and try it.  It's so easy and delicious I haven't used canned sauce since.

I remember one time Rob decided to make meatballs and he wanted to experiment. The mixture wound up containing balsamic vinegar, peanut butter and Pepsi. They weren't disgusting, but they weren't great either. From then on out I've made meatballs myself on the rare occasion we have them.  I'm not a huge fan of sticking my hands in raw meat and eggs, but you have to get it thoroughly mixed. For the same reason I don't often make meatloaf.

Below you'll find the recipes for both Buddy's Marinara Sauce and Italian Meatballs.  An added bonus to meatballs, they are a great way to sneak veggies into your kids mouths.  There's an entire bell pepper and 1 cup of spinach in the recipe below.

Marinara Sauce
2 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 .6 ounce package fresh basil


1. Heat a dutch oven style pot over medium heat.  Add oil.  Once oil is warmed add garlic and cook until lightly golden and fragrant.  

2. Add tomatoes, salt and 1 spring of basil.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.    

3. While the sauce simmers, chop remaining basil.  Add basil to the sauce after 30 minutes of simmering. Serve immediately or freeze once cooled.  

Notes: This recipe yields enough for approximately 3 meals.  I always freeze two portions and use one immediately. 

1 pound ground beef
2/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 cloves minced or pressed garlic
1 cup frozen spinach
1 bell pepper
12-15 1/2" mozzarella cheese cubes (optional)


1. Mince bell pepper and spinach.  The smaller the pieces the better. 

2. Mix all ingredients, except mozzarella cubes, by hand in a large bowl. Make sure all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. 

3. Roll mixture into 2"-3" balls. If you want to add mozzarella cheese, cover each cube with meat mixture making sure to pack it tightly into a 2"-3" ball.  Place balls on a baking sheet. 

4. Bake at 350* for 30 minutes, flipping meatballs halfway through.  Meatballs should be fully cooked and lightly browned when done.  

Makes 12-15 meatballs

Notes: I make my meatballs with the mozzarella.  No matter how tightly I roll the meatballs, I always have a little cheese leak out.  I used 1/2 green pepper and 1/2 orange pepper in addition to the spinach. Carrots, zucchini, squash and kale would all be great substitutes.  If you're concerned about fat content, use lean ground beef or turkey.

Brooke wanted just the meatballs and Harrison got down on everything.  Success!

Happy Cooking!


  1. Our iron levels are iffy too! Great idea with the veggie pops & this pasta looks amazing :)

    Instagram: megawat

  2. Nice post. It is really interesting. Thanks for sharing the post!
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