Soft jazz played in the background as I walked through the house lighting candles
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our first Spaghetti Saturday
A kitty cat kept watch at our front door, mesmerized by the big beautiful snowflakes on the other side of the glass; the first snow of the season. We poured a couple of glasses of wine and checked on dinner one last time. Over 100 meatballs, two big pots of spaghetti noodles, and tomato sauce simmering in the crock-pot. It was everything I'd envisioned, and more.
This very special night was about so much more than dinner. Every person who would walk through the door that evening was someone near and dear to our hearts.
“Here's what we've decided to do to make our lives happier. We're starting a new tradition we'll call Spaghetti Saturdays.
Starting in November, we'll be cooking spaghetti and meatballs on the 3rd Saturday of every month. There will be jazz playing and candles flickering as we sit down to eat together, along with anyone else who'd like to join us
This is our attempt to spend time with the people we love so very much. You're invited.”
It wasn't long before our little house was filled with friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family. Fifteen of the most interesting people you'd ever want to meet.
By trade, there were professors, fitness center owners, jazz musicians, an accountant, a nurse, fast food franchise owner, director at a state agency, a technical writing editor. Their nationalities were just as diverse. One a native of Russia, another from India, yet another from Germany, with many others having lived overseas, and various places throughout the US
While no one was privy to the guest list ahead of time, most could count on knowing at least one other person. One of my favorite things? Hearing a delighted
“Oh my gosh, I can't believe you're here too! Wait, how do you know them?”
The hours flew by, one glass of wine turned into two, and plates of spaghetti were filled and refilled. The sides everyone brought made fantastic compliments. Dessert included such things as rice pudding(!) red quinoa cookies, pecan muffins, and cream puffs.
With each story told, our worlds got a bit smaller, our evening a little brighter, and our hearts that much warmer.
What an incredible evening. I have a feeling we're onto something terribly extraordinary
(much more to come)
It only made sense to head straight to a trusted source when it came to an event as special as this, and Bon Appetit rarely disappoints.
The meatballs a combination of half Italian sausage and half ground beef. Pine nuts and currants as an addition, were completely unexpected, in the best of ways. Gluten-free breadcrumbs made from homemade artisan bread, without anybody being the wiser.
We made the meatball mix a couple of days ahead of time, giving the flavors a chance to meld in the fridge. Cooking them the afternoon of was a breeze. Lots of recipes online let them warm in the sauce before serving, we decided to keep them separate. What little was left-over, tucked away in the freezer as protein for meals down the road.
As the weekend draws to a close, I can't help but be grateful. What a wonderful group of people we're lucky enough to call family and friends.
Thank you not only for coming but most of all, thank you for your incredible love and friendship
We can't wait for next month
ps: More fun recipes and stories from Spaghetti Saturdays
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~ Adapted from Bon Appetit | September 1999
Spaghetti and Sicilian Meatballs
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 ½ cups chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes in juice
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, divided
- ½ lb ground beef (80 or 85% is best for these)
- ½ lb Italian pork sausage
- ⅔ cup breadcrumbs (gluten-free if you’re avoiding gluten)
- 3 Tbsp milk
- ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup finely chopped onion
- 3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 egg (large or XL)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
- 2 Tbsp dried currants
- 1 lb spaghetti noodles
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Set aside
- Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium-low heat. Add onion the onion and sauté until golden (~ 10 minutes)
- Add the garlic and continue to sauté for another minute or so.
- Increase the heat to medium-high, add the tomatoes (along with their juice) and 2 Tbsp basil. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat low and simmer until the sauce has thickened, breaking up the tomatoes with a fork (~ an hour). Stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp basil.
- Season with salt and pepper. Set sauce aside
- Preheat oven to 350° F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the bread crumbs and milk. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- Add parmesan, onion, basil, egg, garlic, and pepper. Add sausage, ground beef, pine nuts, and currants. Blend well.
- Using wet hands, form mixture into 2-inch balls and place them on the baking sheet. Bake until the meatballs are light brown and cooked through (~ 30-35 minutes)
- Add to the sauce.
- Serve hot over pasta