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 dinner one last time. Over 100 meatballs .. 2 big pots of spaghetti noodles .. 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 .. 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 .. 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 .. or 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 1/2 italian sausage and 1/2 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 beautiful 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: For other recipes and stories from Spaghetti Saturday .. here
~ Adapted from Bon Appetit | September 1999 .. here
Spaghetti and Sicilian Meatballs
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 28- ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
- 4 Tbsp chopped fresh basil divided
- 1/2 pound ground beef 85%
- 1/2 pound Italian pork sausage
- 2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs ** I made my own from dried
- 3 Tbsp milk
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 XL egg
- 3 heads roasted garlic ** the original calls for 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp pine nuts toasted
- 2 Tbsp dried currants
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions
- Set aside
- Heat the oil in 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 fork (~ an hour)
- Stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp basil.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Set sauce aside
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the bread crumbs and milk. Let stand 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