February 6, 2013

Meatballs and Gravy with Twice Baked Cauliflower

I love a good meatball and marinara recipe, and this one was the best that I've tried in awhile. The sauce preparation especially intrigued me, since one of the ingredients was a small amount of instant coffee granules. Weird, right??!?! Well, I must admit the instant coffee granules did give the sauce an extra depth and richness I didn't expect. The sauce was delicious! The meatballs were actually pretty delicious, too. Also, I normally like to serve mashed potatoes with a meatballs/gravy combo, but I'm trying to get away from eating starchy potatoes. I'm not against potatoes, I just think they should be saved for a rare treat. I experimented with making a mashed/baked cauliflower recipe as a substitute. Let me tell you, I did not miss the potatoes at all! The cauliflower totally satisfied my itch for mashed potatoes...which was honestly unexpected. I guess this meal was just full of surprises for us!!!

Meatballs and Gravy
Adapted From: Ring Around the Rosie website

For Meatballs:

1 lb. of lean ground beef
1 lb. of mild Italian sausage, casings removed
small handful of fresh basil leafs, finely chopped
1 cup fresh Parmesan
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cups bread crumbs,use more if needed
1/2 Tbs garlic powder
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop your onions and basil finely. Shred Parmesan. Then, mix your meat together and dump in all the ingredients (there’s no specific order). Once it is all mixed thoroughly, roll into balls. Then, place on a lined (I used a silicone baking mat), rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until cooked through and brown.

For Gravy:

olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 small cans of tomato paste
2 small cans of tomato puree
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1/4 cup of red wine
1/4 cup of chicken stock
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1 large pinch of sugar
salt/pepper, to taste
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, more if desired
1/2 cup o shredded mozzarella cheese, more if desired

Place a 1-2 tablespoons in a large pot and saute onions and garlic until fragrant and onions are translucent. Mix all the remaining ingredients into the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let cook for 30 minutes, minimum. Simmer longer for a deeper flavor. Serve with meatballs. (This makes a lot of sauce and freezes really well.) *Measurements are estimated.*


Twice Baked Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup of half and half
1-2 tablespoons of butter
3-4 green onions, chopped finely
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 strips of bacon, cooked crisp and chopped finely into bits (Optional)
1 1/2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place cauliflower florets in a microwave safe container with water. Microwave covered (with lid cracked) for 6 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. Once cooked, remove to a food processor and combine with butter, half and half, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Pulse continuously until well blended and broken up into a mashed consistancy. Mix cauliflower in a bowl with green onions and 3/4 cup of cheddar cheese. Mix to combine and transfer into a glass casserole dish, sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbly. (Turn on the broiler for a few seconds to get the cheese browned, if desired.) Remove from oven, and sprinkle with optional bacon bits if desired. Serve as a side dish with meatballs and gravy.

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