Everyday Mom's Meals: Fingers Crossed

Monday, February 9, 2015

Fingers Crossed

Recipe contests. They aren't something I enter a lot, but when I do, I want to make sure of two things. One, the sponsor is a company I respect and/or use in my every day life. Two, I am confident I can create a recipe to be proud of, so that even if it doesn't win, I can know I did my very best.  And this time you actually get to take this little journey with me.

I've worked with Healthy Solutions Spice Blends before. In fact, you can read all about them in my original post, here. So when I was contacted about entering their Blogger Recipe Challenge, I immediately said "Sign Me Up!"

It was really quite simple. I got to pick out one of their terrific spice blends to create a dish around, and then share it with all of you, and them.

Having already tried a couple varieties for my original review, I wanted to use a different one this time around. While browsing their product line when I saw the word Italian, I knew I had found my winner ! Ya'll know what a sucker I am for great Italian food, so I knew I could do something yummy and unique with this one.

Sure, this blend of spices is made to enhance the flavor of both meatballs and sauce, but I wanted to take that idea and turn it into a simple weeknight meal. And with that decision one word came to mind. Casserole. Yep, a scrumptious pasta and meatball dinner turned into every busy mom's best friend!

This one would travel well too, so keep it in mind for your next family or church potluck! Oh, and if you wouldn't mind, please keep your fingers crossed for me and I will let you know if I win! 

Meatball Casserole
1 lb. penne pasta, cooked to al dente
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1/2 c. plus 1 TBS grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 TBS Healthy Solutions Italian Meatball Seasoning
3/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 (24 oz.) traditional pasta sauce
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 c. ricotta cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dried Parsley

Preheat oven 375. In a large bowl combine ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, 1 TBS Parmesan cheese, meatball seasoning, salt and pepper. Using hands, mix well. Form into 1 inch meatballs. (You should have about 20.) Lay wire racks on a large baking sheet. Spray with nonstick spray. Lay meatballs on. Bake for 25-30 minutes until done through. 

While meatballs cook, warm sauce and Italian seasoning in a large saucepan over low heat. And cook pasta.  When meatballs done, transfer to skillet and stir to combine with sauce. When pasta is done, drain well. 

Spray a 11 x 5 baking dish with nonstick spray. Layer in half the meatball mixture. Top with half pasta, half the ricotta, half the remaining Parmesan and half mozzarella. Repeat layers. Sprinkle top with parsley. Reduce heat to 350. Bake for 20-25 minutes until browned and bubbly. 

*NOTES* You can make the meatballs ahead of time and chill in fridge until ready to use. I actually prefer to do this because they seem to "set" and stay together better. Also, don't be alarmed if the ricotta cheese doesn't melt and "spread out" entirely. As soon as you scoop the casserole to serve, it will mix together very well and become creamy. Also, you can also substitute Italian seasoning for the spice blend and achieve the same result, for those of you not entering this contest with me! 


JackieToo said...

Looks yummy! Good luck!!! :)

The Better Baker said...

Sounds like an awesome creation. I'd say you have a winner there, whether or not you win the contest. Fun to enter anyway, I know. =) Thanks so much for sharing with us at Weekend Potluck!