Thursday, August 11

Thrifty Foods!

Today I am just going to share my way of making spaghetti and meatballs. I like making foods homemade and if I can save money I am even more pleased! Recently I have been fiddling with making noodles, flatbreads, and other grain items from scratch for my family. I eat these instead ---> Shirataki Noodles
It is still fun to cook for my family though and it saves me a good bit of money!
Tadah! The noodles are not thin and round, but that would require a pasta maker. These are just as tasty though, despite their looks! How I make my home made spaghetti.
First, I do the meatballs. You could go for a meatsauce, but my kids find the balls much more fun.
In this photo above I have a bowl with a pound of meat, half ground beef and half italian sausage. You can use all beef if you like to reduce the price further. I was feeling a bit fancy last night, so I tossed some pork into the mix. Then I have three eggs, some salt and pepper flamingos, italian seasonings, and about 6 pieces of toast. Hello Kitty toast, to be exact. But if you have regular toast you will be fine as well! Lol. 
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
2. Chop the toast into small squares. 
If you do not think the chunky toast will be appealing to the pallet you could always exchange this ingredient with bread crumbs or crackers that are crumbled up. I have heard of other people using oatmeal too, but I like the chunky bread best.
3. Add the bread chunks, all three eggs, and 2 TBS. of the itialian seasoning to the meat bowl. 
I add salt and pepper for taste, we like LOTS of pepper, so do this at your discretion. You can always season the sauce to compliment the meat if you get it too bland on the first shot. Mush it up with your hands! YOUR HANDS! Ewww, gross! I do not mind using my hands, some people may find other means. Lol.
Mmmmm, squishy bowl of slime. Appetizing, right?
4. Roll small hunks into about one inch diameter balls and place on a baking sheet.
I use low fat ground beef, so the baking sheet does not get too messy. But if you use a higher fat content in your beef I suggest you lay out a sheet of aluminum since you will have "drippings" from the meat. Easy clean up!
My meatballs. UGH! Drives me crazy I have an odd number of them. Cannot be helped I suppose!
5. Toss those babies into the oven! 
They take about forty five minutes to cook all the way through and brown up nice. This will give you plenty of time to fiddle around with the noodles!

In this photo I have two cups of All Purpose flour, one cup of hot water, salt, and one egg.
I use AP flour because of it's availability. A variety of flours are used to make pasta and each one creates a different consistency. AP is sufficient for the job, but if you enjoy making this simple attempt then have fun and go nuts with experimentation! I love to play around with cooking.
1. Start to boil water in a tall pot. 
More is better than less so as to give room for your noodles to cook, but too much water takes a long time to boil so do not go crazy with the size of the pot. Let the water get ready while you do the noodles. I also add a dash of olive oil to the water to help the noodles not stick to each other. They can be very sociable! 
2. Mix in one tsp of salt to the flour. 
3. Make a hollow area in the center of the flour and add the egg along with a small amount of the hot water. When the egg is incorporated, keep adding small amounts of hot water and mixing until it becomes a firm but only SLIGHTLY sticky ball. 
If it gets too sticky/gloopy add a bit more flour and mix some more. When it gets to this stage I sort of give up on the spoon and mix it by hand. You are going to have to use your hands eventually in this dish, why avoid it?
4. Dust your surface with a small bit of flour to keep the dough from sticking. With your hands, knead the dough til it feels a good bit stretchy. 
This makes good noodles, in my experience. Crumbly dough will not form well and will break apart as you shape it. Gloopy dough will stick to everything, including the other noodles when they touch. Also, they will fall apart when you toss them into boiling water.
5. Roll out the ball of dough into a thin sheet.
I have a small counter so I break the dough into about three pieces before rolling out. 
6. Cut into strips of pasta! 
I use a pizza cutter, ha ha ha. It works, right? I have also used a knife, but the rolling action of the cutter allows me to go faster and makes neat cuts. Smaller noodles are more desired for spaghetti but you can make them wider for an "fettucini" look. The noodles will not be round, obviously, as a pasta maker is needed for this accomplishment. Or you can practice hand rolling noodles like a pro. Alton Brown, my cooking teacher, can show you about that. Amazing Noodle Making!
They look cool, right!? I love Alton Brown! He wows me every time I watch him! My noodles look like this though.
I know, not as amazing. But still tasty! Plus, CheezeIt loves to help cook in the kitchen. I cannot deny him and he is six years old. Straight lines are not in his list of skills.
7. Throw those noodles into the boiling pot! 
They only will have to cook for about five minutes. Pull one out and chew on it. Does it taste/feel like a noodle? Yes? Then just strain them and rinse them off in the sink with some cool water. Set aside to wait for THE SAUCE!

This is the most simplest sauce you will probably ever see, aside from slapping some out of a premade can. I take one can of tomato paste and toss it into a sauce pan. I then add three cans of water. Boil, then put it on medium heat. Throw into that some of the itialian seasoning and a LITTLE BIT of sugar. I do not usually add any salt since the paste is already salty enough for me. Cook until it thickens to your desired consistency. At this time, the meatballs should be done and can also be thrown into the sauce pan.
This is what done meatballs should look like. They WANT to bathe in that sauce, do not deny them!!!!

Slap it all together on a plate, add some garlic bread to the mix. Some salad. You have now a cheap but very tasty dinner on your table! You may like this, you may hate it? I hope you do enjoy it though! It took me some time to learn how to do these things properly but as I practiced I have gotten this down to a very fast paced and easy dinner for my family. And everything I have learned about cooking I pick up on my own from web sites, television, and just experience. I am not a guro, like Alton Brown. Have I mentioned him yet? Oh, I did? Too bad, I love watching his show so, so very much. It's like Beakman's World with cooking! And so much better! 

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