Tag Archives: spaghetti

Kids in the Kitchen: Spaghetti and (Gluten-Free) Meatballs

spaghetti and meatballsTonight was Matt’s night in the kitchen. Matt has somewhat picky tastes, but he’ll eat just about anything if it involves pasta or wrapped in a tortilla. So it was no surprise to any of us that spaghetti and meatballs was his first choice. He could eat spaghetti every day, if allowed. So spaghetti it was.

Of course, with my recent decision to go gluten-free, I knew that I would have to make some modifications. Gluten-free spaghetti is easy – Glutino sells some brown rice pasta. (Of course, brown rice works just as well in a pinch.) However, my usual meatball recipe calls for bread crumbs. I could omit them, but I was afraid the meatballs would be soggy and dense. I had some Glutino Flax Seed Bread, (which makes really good toast!) so I figured, why not make bread crumbs from this? Blitzed 4 slices in the food processor, and ta-da, gluten-free bread crumbs! We were in business.

Matt was a fast learner in the kitchen. Good thing, because his dish called for more ingredients than the dishes his siblings prepared. His favorite part, obviously, was making the meatballs. (He kept rolling HUGE meatballs, and telling his brother that they were his “dream” meatballs.) With the laughing and joking around, the preparation went by rather quickly. We had those meatballs in the oven in what seemed like a matter of minutes.

Matt mixing the meat for meatballs

Matt mixing the meat for meatballs

Speaking of a matter of minutes, this tomato sauce recipe takes less than 10 minutes to prepare. Who needs 15-plus ingredients and a long simmer time to make a great tomato sauce? As I’ve found out recently, not I! This sauce is so tasty and bright, with a good kick from the red pepper, and only uses 7 ingredients (if you count salt as an ingredient).

All in all, this turned out to be a satisfying meal. After tonight, the first round of “Kids in the Kitchen” is complete. I couldn’t be more pleased. I think we’re beginning something that will continue to be a source of fun and education for a long while to come.


Gluten-Free Meatballs (adapted from Cuisine At Home)

1 1/2 c gluten-free breadcrumbs

3/4 c parmesan cheese, finely grated

1/2 c milk

1/2 c vegetable broth

1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped

3 eggs, beaten

2 T dried oregano

1 T garlic, minced

1 1/2 t salt

1 T ground black pepper

2 t dried basil

1 t crushed red pepper flakes

pinch nutmeg

2 lbs lean ground beef

1 c vegetable or chicken broth

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Stir together first 13 ingredients (through nutmeg) in a large mixing bowl. Add ground beef and mix together thoroughly. (We used our hands – clean, of course.) Take a portion of meat (about 1 1/2 oz each, or nearly 2 inches in diameter) and roll into a ball with your palms. (Alternatively, you can use a portioning scoop or two spoons.) Place the meatballs on a baking sheet or shallow roasting pan, evenly spaced.

 chicken curry 042

Cover the bottom of the pan wiht the remaining 1 cup of broth. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the meatballs are just cooked through.

While the meatballs are baking, you can prepare the pasta according to package directions, and start the sauce.

Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce

3 T olive oil

2 t crushed red pepper flakes

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 28-0z cans crushed tomatoes

salt to taste

2 T basil leaves, julienned

1 t oregano leaves, chopped

Combine olive oil, red pepper and garlic in cold saucepan. Heat to medium, stirring while heating. Cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir to heat. Add salt to taste, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in basil and oregano, and add meatballs (once baked).

Serve meatballs and sauce over pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan if desired. Serves 6.


Filed under Beef, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Pasta

Macaroni Pasta with Ground Turkey

macaroni pasta with ground turkeyEveryone should have an easy-to-make, low-cost meal in their back pocket. This recipe is simply that. Its total comfort food for me (aka high in carbs). It’s easy to make (my 13-year-old stepson helped!), and a kid favorite (that same 13-year-old ate two huge platefuls!). I also used it as a spaghetti sauce the other day, so it’s versatile. Substitute the ground turkey for ground beef if you’d prefer.

1 lb pasta (macaroni, spiral, or even spaghetti pasta)

1 lb ground turkey

2 T olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ c chopped onion

½ t fresh thyme

½ t red pepper flakes

2 t Italian seasoning

½ t anchovy paste

½ t Worcestershire sauce

2-3 c chicken broth

2 t fresh basil, chopped

2 cans tomato paste

1 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes

¼ c chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Salt and pepper

Grated parmesan cheese


Heat a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta to the pot, leave uncovered, cooking as directed on package (usually 7-10 minutes). Drain pasta.


Meanwhile, set a large skillet to medium heat. Add 1 T olive oil, heat until shimmering. Add onions, cook 4-5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic, thyme, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes, cook until garlic is soft, 2-3 minutes more. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.


Add 1 T olive oil to skillet. Heat for a minute, and add ground turkey. Salt and pepper to taste. Brown turkey, stirring to break it up. Once turkey is browned, add anchovy paste and Worcestershire sauce, stir. Add cooked onion mixture, canned tomatoes and cans of tomato paste. Add chicken broth and stir to combine. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes. Add basil and stir. Adjust seasonings as necessary.


Add pasta to sauce, stir to combine. Sprinkle parsley over top of pasta, if using. Serve with plenty of parmesan cheese and garlic bread.


**note – You can also put the cooked onion mixture and the canned tomatoes in the food processor or blender and blend until smooth. My family prefers “unchunky” tomato sauce, so I tend to do it this way. Simply add this new tomato sauce at the same time as you would add the canned tomatoes.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Pasta