Cheats Spaghetti and Meatballs

Cheats Spaghetti and Meatballs

On top of spaghetti. All covered with cheese. I lost my poor meatball. When somebody sneezed.

I will give you $5 if you didn’t just sing that in your head! Everyone loves spaghetti and meatballs! With the weather we’ve had today it was the perfect bowl of comfort our bellies were looking for. And this cheats version means no time wasted in making the meatballs.

cheats spaghetti and meatballs

This Cheats Spaghetti and Meatballs is a great way to squeeze some veg into a dinner that your whole family will eat. It’s a tasty combination of eggplant, sweet capsicum and yummy zucchini. The meatballs are made using simple sausages! Genius! All you do is squeeze the meat out of the casings straight into the pan to make little meatballs. Takes a moment compared to making your own. I used a $4 packet of sausages from Aldi (I’m totally converted!). Too easy! My secret ingredient is just a little pinch of cinnamon to add a lovely sweetness without any added sugar.

Possum loved her dinner and so did Legoman. Dinner success! This might be one that ends up on your meal plan for next week? Or even on your family favourites list?

cheats spaghetti and meatballs

Cheats Spaghetti and Meatballs – Serves 4

400g spaghetti

6-8 sausages (I have made this with beef sausages and with pork, both are delicious)

1 onion diced

1 medium eggplant diced into small cubes

1 red capsicum diced

1 zucchini diced

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 Tbsp tomato paste

2-3 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp cinnamon

salt and pepper

Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley to serve

1. Put a large pot of water on to boil, ready for the pasta.

2. In a large skillet/frying pan add the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until starting to colour. Add eggplant and cook stirring for 5-10 minutes until starting to soften. You may need to add an extra glug of oil.

3. Squeeze the meat out of the sausages into the pan to make little meatballs. Continue stirring to brown the meatballs.

4. When meatballs have browned, add in the remaining vegetables and garlic. Cook for a few minutes.

5. Add in your tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, dried oregano, cinnamon and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Continue to cook over low-medium heat for 20 minutes. Sauce should thicken and meatballs should be cooked through.

6. Cook pasta as per packet directions.

7. Serve with parmesan and fresh parsley. A lovely glass of red wine would go down a treat (this pregnant mumma has to wait a while longer for that!)

I hope your whole family can sit down together, enjoy your Cheats Spaghetti and Meatballs and enjoy each others company.

cheats spaghetti and meatballs

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Moussaka without Eggplant?

Apparently you can still call it Moussaka. It’s a good word to say. Moussaka. Moussaka. Moussaka.

This week’s meal plan has gone out the window a bit. Legoman came down with some tummy bug which left him with no appetite for multiple days, plus we had a friend make us some lasagne… so I haven’t been cooking a huge amount this week, but the freezer has a little breathing spacenow.

Tonight I did get to try out one of my intended meals though. Carrot and Zucchini Moussaka. I think it was the lamb and feta that made it a moussaka, otherwise it didn’t really resemble the dish at all (in my opinion). Well whatever it was, it was easy and yummy. And Possum thoroughly enjoyed it. It is becoming more and more apparent that my daughter won’t eat just plain vegetables. They need to be in something. Unless it’s roast sweet potato, then she will eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So this was a good meal to get her veggie count up for the week.

I love the internet! No need for me to write out recipes, even this one which I found in a book from the library! So here is the recipe!

The book I found the recipe in is called “One Pot Wonders“. A year ago I would’ve walked straight past this book, and straight past the other three books I borrowed along similar lines (“What’s for dinner?“, “Three Good Things” and “Everybody Everyday“). My how times have changed. It’s not so tempting anymore to borrow the amazing niche recipe books that seem to pop up every week. Even my taste in food magazines has taken a massive shift. As I was unpacking my cookbooks and food magazines this week (they had been in storage), I wondered when I would need to cook anything from my lovely collection of Gourmet Traveller magazines… one day.

My Friends!

My Friends!

Lamb, Carrot and Zucchini Moussaka

Affordability : MODERATE. Used lamb leg steaks (zhoojed in the food processor) instead of lamb mince. Better flavour and texture but about twice the price. Veggies are cheap filler though. I’d stretch it further and serve with rice and maybe some steamed greens on the side.

Time Factor : MODERATE. Prep is quick and easy but takes about 15 minutes on the stove top and then an hour in the oven. And the carrots were still pretty firm after all that!

Complexity : LOW. Straight forward one dish meal. I always find it a bit more difficult the first time I use a new recipe though.

Deliciousness : MODERATE. Was yummy and belly filling. Possum loved it, hurray!

Mess : MINIMAL. One pot wonder! The book didn’t lie!

Tummy Filling Factor : MODERATE. I would’ve liked some carbs of some kind with it.

Possum Friendly? YES. She loved it! Preference for the lamb, then the zucchini, then the carrot. Was a bit crazy messy though as the yoghurt sauce top disintegrated all over her high chair.

Would I make it again? Yes, but I would add some eggplant 😉

Lamb, Carrot and Zucchini Moussaka

Lamb, Carrot and Zucchini Moussaka

And a little extra… After realising I buy a whole heap of stuff that I really don’t need, I am trying to make a conscious effort to cut down on crap in my life. So today, I happily unsubscribed to a whole heap of emails that keep telling me to buy things, that unless I opened the email, I wouldn’t even know about! And then this image popped up in my Facebook feed, very timely indeed. I am going to print it out to stick on the fridge as a reminder that there are many other ways of meeting needs. I hope it sparks a thought in your mind as well.

Leftover Pies

I challenge you to think of a food that isn’t yummy when teamed with pastry… Anchovies? A tart! Strawberry yoghurt? Pastry dip sticks! Steak? Beef wellington! The list goes on and on! If you do think of something, leave a comment, enlighten me!

So it’s the end of a week, when there is food to be used up before the weekly shop and cooking cycle begins again. What better way to use up that food than to surround it in golden buttery puff pastry. The main items that needed eating this week were vegetables, I had been a bit over zealous at the fruit and veg shop last week! Tonight, I made Space Curry but with extra eggplant, no cauliflower and with zucchini, butternut pumpkin and silverbeet. Possum still loved it just as much as she did the first time and ate a heck of a lot of eggplant at dinner. For a bit of added fullness, I added 1/3 cup red lentils, 1/3 cup millet and 1/2 cup extra water and let it simmer away while Possum and I had 5pm dinner.

Space Curry Version 2.0

Space Curry Version 2.0

Just as I tend to over fill my tortillas, I also tend to over fill my pastry. I thought the pies were going to be melted blobs of goo coming out of the oven, but miraculously held together! There was enough filling to make two large parcels and 4 small ones with curry leftover for lunch tomorrow.

Leftover Pie

Leftover Pie

Just a reminder, take off the plastic backing from the pastry BEFORE piling on your filling… lesson learnt the hard way.

Leftover Space Curry Pies

Affordability : EXCELLENT. Cheap vegetables, canned chickpeas and some store bought curry paste and chutney, the added lentils and millet help to fill it out even further. The puff pastry adds about $5 (I buy the stuff made with butter as I don’t believe in margarine).

Time Factor : MODERATE. Quick to get the curry started, but allow 30-60 minutes cooking time depending how cooked you like it all to be. Allow 10 minutes prep to get pies made up and another 20 minutes in the oven. Despite the curry being cooked and ready, tonight’s dinner was a bit late.

Complexity : LOW. A nice simple curry to make. If making pies doesn’t tickle your fancy, then you could just make rice! (Even cheaper still!).

Deliciousness : MODERATE. Tasty but I prefered the Space Curry as, Space Curry. But it did work well surrounded by golden puffiness.

Mess : MODERATE. One pot for the curry, but a couple of trays and some egg mess with the pies.

Tummy Filling Factor : MODERATE. Curry as curry would’ve been more filling, but the extra protein in there helped.

Possum Friendly? YES. Possum loves curry, and Space Curry especially it seems. Her patience was tested waiting for her serve to cool down enough.

Would I make it again? Yes, Space Curry is now planted in the go to list.

Leftover Pies

Leftover Pies

In Possum news, she had her first trip to the library today where she could get out of the Ergo and crawl around. She was more excited by two big kids there than the books (which is surprising as she loves her books!). She is starting to point and has learnt the concept of putting things in, which is a great achievement after months of pulling stuff out. Possum has also figured out a little game. She hides a piece of her dinner under the tray and smiles very cheekily at you and when you say “where did it go?” she pulls it back out and starts giggling. A very cute game, though she played it at lunch with spaghetti bolognese… a messy amount of fun. But worth it to see her be so creative.

We <3 books!

Meat Free Week #4: Cashew! Gesundheit…

Mmmmmmm toasted cashews. I love me some nutty curry. Apologies for the lame joke, this 2 weeks at home with a snotty 10 month old for company means my conversational skills are plummeting. We did manage to get out of the house to take my bestie some coffee and cake for her birthday! Happy Birthday Sweetpea!

Tonight’s Cashew Curry was so simple and tasty. A no brainer, thankfully! And a Possum success! The recipe only has cauliflower, beans and tofu as the curry fillers so I added red capsicum, zucchini and carrot. Possum ate two pieces of tofu and plenty of veg (except for the cauliflower and beans).

Legoman liked this straight away, and thought it was one of the Spice Tailor packets. I take that as a compliment as they are super tasty. The crazy thing is, I used Keen’s Curry Powder. That wonderful flavour mix that is normally reserved for curry egg sandwiches (one of my favourites, on fresh white bread with crispy lettuce). No fancy curry powders or mixing or grinding needed. I would highly recommend this as a family meal.

Cashew Curry

Affordability : EXCELLENT. Expensive items were a handful of cashew and some organic tofu. But still works out cheaper than eating meat.

Time Factor : EXCELLENT.One pot wonder. Quick prep. Then let it simmer in the pot until veg is cooked to your liking. I cooked it a bit longer than the recipe suggests to get the veg nice and soft for Possum.

Complexity : LOW. Super easy. Use whatever veg you have available or is cheap.

Deliciousness : MODERATE. A lovely mild curry that everyone will enjoy. The cashews give the curry some lovely buttery sweetness.

Mess : LOW.One curry pot, one rice pot and a chopping board. Hurray!

Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. I was nice and full after a bowl but was hungry again an hour later, but a little piece of my fudgy choc-orange slice filled the gap well.

Possum Friendly? YES. Not too spicy for bubs, loaded with good fats from the coconut milk. Just don’t give whole nuts until a few years old. Possum enjoyed the variety of veg in tonight’s meal, you can tailor to suit your family’s likes and dislikes.

Would I make it again? Yes. A great midweek simple meal. If you were having meat and time was tight, you could pick up a BBQ chook and chuck that in (obviously not whole, that would just be ridiculous. I kind of wish someone would do that now).

***BONUS QUESTION! Did you miss the meat?Nope. Legoman did though. Personally, I quite like tofu in meals. It tends to just soak up sauces and flavours nicely without over powering. Seems that Possum quite likes it too.

Cashew Curry

Cashew Curry

And a little touch of cuteness…. Here is Possum gazing lovingly at a photo of her playdate pal from yesterday. Awwwwww.

Friends

Friends

Dhal for my Darl

Ah dhal. The food of uni students around the world. Cheap, tasty and sustaining. Somehow what a uni student wants from a meal is the same thing a mum looks for. Cheap, tasty and sustaining. Though now I think I would tac nutritious in there too. Didn’t care too much about that when I was 20.

With both Possum and myself plodding along with some kind of snot thing going on, dhal for dinner was just what the doctor/naturopath/ayurvedic specialist ordered. I was so glad I made dinner early today, as I sat with Possum while she fell asleep, and I was wiping snot onto my own sleeve. So glamorous this whole parenting thing.

Dhal was a Possum success, but not for the lentils. I learnt my lesson last time I made this for her, so added a good amount of veg cut nice and thick, easy for little Possum hands. The bonus of this is that she ends up eating lentils without actually liking or wanting to eat lentils! Mwahahahaha.

Snot Monster attacks camera

Snot Monster attacks camera

I used some onions from the garden in dinner. Now, before you go thinking that I’m some kind of gifted gardener wonder mum with butterflies resting on my shoulder while i wear my baby to garden wearing organic hemp. You couldn’t be further from the truth. I have an extensive collection of empty plant pots, half used potting mix bags, rusty garden tools and garden books in pristine condition. Full of initial enthusiasm without any skill or lasting passion (like any teen romance really). These wonderful onions that I speak of came with the house, so to speak. The place we’re living in has a lovely garden complete with raised veggie beds and fruit trees. Which I am certain I will manage to kill entirely before we move out. Sorry Pete.

Homegrown onions

Homegrown onions

No recipe link for you tonight. This was made off the top of my head… So here it goes…

Dhal for my Darl 

Serves 4

1 cup red lentils, rinsed

4 cups water

1 Tbsp ghee, butter or coconut oil

1 large onion or two medium onions

1 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated (I used my microplane)

1/2 – 1 tsp garam masala

1/2 – 1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 – 1 tsp ground cumin

3 large carrots or 5 small carrots, cut into 1cm thick diagonal discs (does that make sense??)

1 large zucchini, cut into 1cm thick half crescents

2 tomatoes, thickly diced

  1. Place lentils and water into a medium – large saucepan and bring to the boil. Skim any muck from the surface. Lower to a simmer and add the carrots. Continue to simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom.
  2. Meanwhile, melt ghee into a small frypan. Add your onion, spices and ginger and cook over a steady low heat to slowly soften.
  3. After the lentils have been cooking for 45 minutes, add the zucchini and tomato. Continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.
  4. Prior to serving, stir through the onion and spice mixture. Reserve seasoning until dishes are served (only relevant if bub will be eating it too).
  5. Serve with rice, or naan, or in my case… buttered bagels. Surprisingly delicious! Would recommend. But make sure you smother the bagel in butter. And don’t you dare use margarine!

And now for the rating…

Vegetable and Red Lentil Dhal

Affordability : EXCELLENT. Crazy cheap.

Time Factor : EXCELLENT. One you can set up and leave to do it’s thing. Minimal prep needed. And once you know how to make this, then there’s no referring back to a recipe.

Complexity : LOW. I could make this when I was a silly 20 year old. And I can still make it as a muddled mummy.

Deliciousness : MODERATE. Sustaining goodness. The bagel helped bring this up to highly moderately delicious.

Mess : LOW. One saucepan and one little frypan. Easy.

Tummy Filling Factor : MODERATE. Glad I had the bagel. But if you had another curry alongside this it would help fill out the meal.

Possum Friendly? YES. I had to get her seconds. She gobbled up about 10 pieces of zucchini and 10 pieces of carrot. I was impressed. I wasn’t impressed with how much of the lentil curry she managed to paint through her hair though…

Would I make it again? Yes. A great one to have for when there’s nothing in the fridge or in the wallet.

Red Lentil and Vegetable Dhal

Red Lentil and Vegetable Dhal