Happy New Year!

Last New Year’s Eve, I pushed myself to go out only to wish I had stayed in.

This year, we stayed in. Jake and I loaded up on Redbox flicks and cheap champagne that we enjoyed with spaghetti with meatballs when he got home from work. I doctored up a jar of the cheapest tomato sauce in which I simmered homemade meatballs. It tasted fantastic, semi-homemade and all (gasp).

I have come to love making meatballs and keep them moist by adding sauteed vegetables to the raw mixture. Leaner meats like ground turkey also benefit from the addition of fresh breadcrumbs soaked in milk. For these meatballs, I used meatloaf mix made from ground beef and pork and they were plenty moist from just adding dried breadcrumbs and a splash of milk. As far as baking vs. frying meatballs goes, I still like to take the time and effort to pan-fry my Swedish meatballs. But for these meatballs, baking is easier since they will simmer in the sauce.

I served this meal with fresh carrots cut into coins. I briefly sauteed them in a little butter and olive oil. Then, I added some orange juice, powdered ginger, salt, pepper, sugar, and enough water to almost cover. I simmered the carrots until they slightly caramelized and the liquid had been absorbed or evaporated. These added a nice sweet contrast to the savory meatballs.

My homemade meatballs and spaghetti didn’t especially go well with our cloyingly-sweet $6 bottle of champagne, nor did I particularly enjoy them along with The Walking Dead zombie gore and adrenaline (Jake did). But they really were the best darn spaghetti and meatballs I have ever made. A comforting dish that helped us ring in the new year.

Spaghetti and Meatballs


4 large mushrooms, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 lb ground meatloaf mix (pork and beef)
Black pepper
1 egg yolk
Parmesan cheese
Small splash of milk
Soy sauce or salt

1 jar of cheap tomato sauce (I used Bertolli’s tomato-basil variety)
1 small onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1-2 small stalks of celery, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
Splash of red wine


To prepare the sauce:

  1. Preheat a larger saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Saute onion carrot and celery until tender. 
  3. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant but not burned. 
  4. Pour in tomato sauce and add a splash or two of red wine. 
  5. Taste for seasoning, cover, and simmer. 
To prepare the meatballs:
  1. Preheat oven to about 375 degrees F. 
  2. Over medium heat, sweat the mushrooms and onion in a little butter and/or olive oil and until translucent and tender. Season the vegetables with a little salt and pepper when you begin to cook them. 
  3. Add garlic and briefly stir until fragrant, but not burned. 
  4. Remove cooked vegetables and garlic from heat and set aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the meatball mix.
  5. Place the ground meat in a large bowl. 
  6. Add egg yolk, a couple handfuls of breadcrumbs (I used both toasted and panko), a handful or so of Parmesan cheese, and a splash of milk.
  7. Season with some soy sauce and black pepper. 
  8. Mix completely, but as lightly as possible so as not to over-mix the meat. Let set for a few minutes before deciding if it’s too wet or dry. It will take a moment for the breadcrumbs to absorb the liquid. Add more breadcrumbs if the mix is too wet to hold a meatball shape and add more milk or another egg yolk if its too dry.
  9. Take a small pinch of the meat and cook. Taste and season the raw meatball mix accordingly.
  10. Shape meatball mixture into balls. Place on sheet pans covered in parchment paper.
  11. Bake until browned on each side, flipping occasionally.
  12. Gently place meatballs in the tomato sauce along with meat juices on the pan.
  13. Simmer until the the meatballs finish cooking and absorb the flavors from the sauce.