Tuscan Meatballs in Tomato and Red Wine Sauce with Spaghetti

Hello Dear Reader,

This is another lovely recipe I stumbled upon by accident and I am so very glad I did, as always I have tinkered with the original recipe to make it my own and to reflect the ingredients available. The meatballs are super soft but still hold together well because of the ricotta and the bacon and parmesan add a beautiful depth of flavour. You can bake the meatballs way ahead of time and freeze if necessary until the day they are needed. And the simple sauce ingredients are just bunged into a pot and let blip away for 30 minutes or so, get that sauce and meatballs together, boil some spaghetti and voila dinner is done.

I doubled the original recipe so you could easily half this recipe for a smaller crowd, my idea was to have lots of leftovers for when I was very busy during the week, and it worked a treat.

Ingredients for the Tuscan Meatballs, clockwise from top right-1 kg of pork mince, 3 teaspoons of dried Thyme, 1 tub of ricotta (375 gram) 2 smallish onions, finely diced, 2 eggs, lightly beaten, 6 rashers of bacon, diced, 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese, a good handful of parsley, finely chopped, 200 grams of fresh breadcrumbs (the ones in the photo were freshly blitzed in Thelma the Thermi so there looks like there is a lot because they are really fluffy)

In a very large bowl, add all ingredients and using your hands, mix everything together really well

Roll the pork mince mixture into just smaller than golf ball size, as you can see it makes a truck load. As I rolled them, I place them on foiled and greased baking trays and baked them for 30 minutes at 200 C flipping them half way through to brown both sides. I then let them cool and froze them till I needed them later in the week. After they are baked you just pop them in the waiting tomato and red wine sauce. 

For the Red Wine and Tomato Sauce-clockwise from top right-1 1/2 cups red wine, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Thyme, 3 tablespoons tomato paste, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 sprig rosemary, stripped and chopped finely, 3 small or 2 large garlic cloves, grated on a microplane, 3 x cans crushed tomatoes (rinse each can out with about 1/3 cup of water and add this to the pan as well) and 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

Throw everything into a big pot, let bubble away for 30 minutes or so

Until nicely thickened. Then add the meatballs and let meatballs warm through thoroughly. Serve with Spaghetti or what every pasta takes your fancy

Grate over extra Parmesan

Easy, kinda quick or as slow as you like, freeze the meatballs, don't freeze the meatballs, it is totally up to you. The main thing is... it is so delicious, so moorish, so comforting, you just must make these, they are truly the best Italian-fied meatballs I have every tasted. The end.

Have the loveliest of days

Sunny Side Up Sunday

Hello Dear Reader,

Today I am grateful for being able to spend some time with my darling Sister whilst attending Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food, Newport, yesterday afternoon. After two very busy and emotionally draining weeks, it was lovely to spend a couple of hours focused on something else altogether.

We have signed up to do the 5 week cooking course, held once a week, just down the road from me. This is my second year of doing Jamie's MOF and because I enjoyed the first one so much I jumped at the chance to attend it again this year.

One of the same teachers from last year was there, as well as another lovely attendee from last year, funnily enough we are attending the same time of day, day of the week as well as using the same cooking station as last year. It was just meant to be. We also work for Queensland Health and have a lovely friend in common, must be kismet.

Cooking makes me happy-simple.

What are you grateful for today?

Have a lovely day,

What we bought, spent and ate this week

Hello Dear Reader,

As I've mentioned before, we are trying to make the most of our charcoal BBQ which we have had for a couple of years but really haven't used it that much. Our plan is to use the extended heat of BBQ to cook as many meats for the week ahead. It makes complete sense to utilise the smoky charcoal heat while its lit. It stays hot for about 15 hours and the heat is easy to regulate, starting off low and slow for a slow cook then increasing the heat to roast a chicken.

So, many of last week meals were actually made on Sunday and frozen or used up in a timely manner. I love it, even though it does cost us more because we are using more meat, the time it frees up is worth it to me at the moment.

This is what we bought, spent and ate this past week-

What we bought
Shopping from Aldi

Shopping from Coles

Shopping from Northside Discount Fruit Barn

Meat from Marjax Meats

What we spent
Northside Discount Fruit Barn-$19.78
Marjax Meats-$78.00-WOW

TOTAL-$190.39 holy cow, literally 
What we ate
Friday-Baked Beans with a fried egg on toast

Saturday-Prawns with Seafood Sauce and Lettuce on Turkish Bread

Sunday and Monday-Slow Cooked BBQ Pork with Roast Veggies and Steamed Broccolini. And I still have one whole pork roast in the freezer for this week

Tuesday and Thursday-Tuscan Meatballs in Tomato and Red Wine Sauce-recipe coming soon

Wednesday-Slow Cooked Korean Beef with Wilted Spinach and Oyster Sauce

Over to you, what did your family eat this week, I would love to know😋

Have a lovely day,

This Weeks 5 Frugal Things on a Friday

Hello Dear Reader,

Wow, time just is flying by. I really can't believe how fast this week has flown by, just busy I guess. My days of late are so very different from when I'm working full time, I don't set an alarm, I sleep in till 6 or 7 am. I blame the cold for this, I am such a sissy when it gets really cold here, and I find it has been just so very cold of a morning, it is extra hard to get out of bed. AND I have been putting on the reverse air conditioning to warm the house of a morning, gosh I am getting soft!

I still do my normal morning routine, get up, feed Ninja and let her out, boil the kettle and make my tea, empty the dishwasher, make our fruit and yoghurt bowls for breakfast then head into the office to blog, you may have noticed that I am posting much later than normal, but for the moment it is my new normal.

I have had a couple of really productive days next door, and the difference is our kids are home and have been able to sort through what they want to keep and we have decided as a family to go ahead with how we will divest the rest of the items in my late In-Laws home. It feels so good to have everyone that matters on the same page and now we are really getting somewhere, tying up the loose ends of the estate.

Amongst all of this I have still cooked dinner every night, kept up with the washing and tried to keep life as small and normal as possible. I spent Wednesday with my darling sister, helping her out when she needed me most and I loved every minute of it. We shared a wonderful slow lunch of home made Chicken soup with Kale which was just what I needed, some soothing goodness which was good for me and my soul.

The garden is still a mess with the fencer unable to come this week due to being super busy, I guess because he is a good friend and he is doing us a great deal, we're not a priority, but thats okay, I know it will happen eventually. Lovely Hubby bought a few bags of gypsum to spread out over the exposed ground that had been dug out by a bob cat, we will get the tree removal guy in again with the stump grinder to break up all those left over roots from the golden canes, not even the bob cat could break them up. We're hoping by doing all this preparation, our raised garden beds will have really good drainage. 

Now on with the frugal stuff-

1. I had bought a bunch of parsley for a new recipe I tried this week, I chopped and froze the rest of the bunch to prevent waste

2. Made a double portion of meatballs and baked them while the BBQ was on on Sunday, cook once, eat twice, love it.

3. Caught the train in to see Bea Johnson's talk on her Zero Waste lifestyle, saving petrol and parking fees.

4. Put all the leftovers front and centre in glass containers to make sure they were all used up in a timely manner. I have been slowly replacing plastic containers with glass containers, whenever I go to an op-shop I always check to see if there is any, I have been quite lucky to pick up a few. 

5. Hung all the washing on the line to dry

How have you saved money this week?

Have the loveliest of days

For What it's Worth

Hello Dear Reader,

I hummed and harred over whether to do this post. The reason? it is so personal, divisive and just plain hard.

I have heard from some lovely readers that have done the exact same thing as I am doing now, settling the home of their late Parents or In-Laws. And all of them have offered some very wise words and kind advice.

My biggest dilemma has been-what do I do with everything that is left after our family have taken what we wanted?

The whole home is filled with beautiful antique furniture, old world bric a brac, delicate doilies, tablecloths and napkins, crystal glasses, so many dinner settings, platters, casseroles, pottery, brass, Chinese pottery, German and Irish ceramics, silver cutlery sets, I could go on and on and on...

I have had some really conflicting advice from a close family friend and a local Antique dealer. I asked the local Antique dealer to come and give us a quote of what she would pay for the items, NOT what they were worth. I wasn't surprised with what the Antique dealer came back with, but really taken aback by what the close family friend had said about not trusting this particular dealer and to get another quote before letting anything go.

 I am so super tired and just want an end to this ordeal. It is not pleasant or easy and even though we have been offered what I feel is a justified amount for the items, there is now this niggling doubt that we are letting those items go way too cheaply. Let me say, we aren't in it to make money from this saga, we want the items to go to someone that will love and cherish them again.

I now fully understand the concept of "What it's worth" and "What it will sell for". Over the past few months we have been told over and over again the bottom has fallen out of the Antique Market and you just have to let the pieces go for what people will pay rather than hold on to the notion of what the piece is actually worth.

So, we had a family meeting last night with the kids and their partners and went through the furniture and told them what the Antique dealer had offered us, as a family unit we have agreed to how much she is prepared to pay us, so today I will ring her and organise a time for her to come and pick up the items.

As I said, I just want this saga to be over and I want to do it without any guilt or worry about if I have done the right thing.

What would you do if it were you?

Have the loveliest of day,

One Year Ago-A Day out at Le-Festival
Two Years Ago-Toffee Apple and Pecan Cake with Easy Toffee Sauce

Queen Bea

Hello Dear Reader,

Just a really quick little post today. I had a very rare night out last night, I went to hear the Queen of Zero Waste-Bea Johnson, what a dynamic woman she is. Her informative talk went for just over one hour, it was a very well rehearsed speech, full of her life of zero waste and how she started on this journey. She was witty, energetic, honest and generous with her time.

She has travelled all over world spreading her love of the zero waste movement and when I saw she was finally coming to Australia I immediately went on line to see how much the tickets were, I was delighted to only pay $15 per ticket for the early bird price, even better was the fact that you received a jute tote bag and a $20 gift voucher from "The Source Bulk Foods",  I couldn't go past that opportunity. The voucher was in the form of a jar lid, very clever.

There was also a stand there from the Brisbane City Council promoting the  "Love Food, Hate Waste"campaign. I took one of their free meal and shopping planner

Both my sister and I caught the train in and bought our dinners to eat at the talk, as it was a zero waste talk we bought our food in re-usable containers and bought water from home. Even the "tickets" were downloaded onto my phone so it really was a zero waste evening all round.

It was a late night for me, with the train getting back to Redcliffe at 9.45, lovely Hubby was there to pick me up as I had ridden my bike to the train station. I am without a car at the moment as our Daughter and Partner are down here for a Tattoo Convention.

Have the loveliest of days,

One Year Ago-Smoky Lentil and Chorizo Soup
Two Years Ago-Biryani with Yoghurt and Chutney

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