Spicy Spaghetti Sauce with Turkey Meatballs

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Knowing how to make a good spaghetti sauce is a necessity in every at home cook’s life.  There are plenty of spaghetti sauce jars to pick from at the grocery store that are okay in a pinch, but nothing compares to a homemade sauce that spent all day on the stove perfecting.  This is a spicy sauce that is hands down the best I’ve ever made.  I added turkey meatballs while cooking, which were perfect and flavorful.

Sauce Ingredients:

– 2 Tbsp butter
– 2 tsp fresh sage, minced
– 2 tsp fresh parsley, minced
– 2 tsp fresh basil, minced
– 1 Tbsp dried oregano
– 1 Tbsp dried basil
– 2 tsp red pepper flakes
– 1 dash of salt
– 1 tsp pepper
– 3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
– 1 onion, diced
– 1 red bell pepper, diced
– 1 green bell pepper, diced
– 1 jalapeno, diced
– 1 hungarian pepper, diced
– 1/4 cup red wine
– 4 15oz cans of tomato sauce
– 2 cups chicken broth

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1. In a large sauce pan turn heat to low/medium-low and brown butter with the fresh herbs for a few minutes.

2. Add the dried herbs, garlic, onion, and peppers and saute for 10 minutes over medium heat.  Add red wine and simmer for 5 minutes before adding tomato sauce and chicken broth.

3. Allow sauce to simmer on low for 1 hour, then puree with an immersion blender or transfer to stand up blender and blend in batches.

4. Continue to simmer while making meatballs.

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Turkey Meatball Ingredients:

– 1 lb ground turkey
– 1 lb hot sausage (jimmy Deans)
– 1/2 lb ground pork
– 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
– 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
– 1 medium onion
– 1/2 jalapeno, diced
– 1/2 cup bread crumbs
– 1 large egg
– 1 tsp red pepper flakes
– 1 tsp oregano
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tsp pepper
– 1 tsp garlic, minced

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Meatball Directions: 

1. Combine all ingredients except for the meat in a large bowl, mix well.

2. Add meats and mix with hands thoroughly before rolling into balls.

3. Place meatballs into pureed sauce and simmer on low for 2+ hours, stirring occasionally.

2013-10-04 16.40.45 2013-10-04 16.47.57I served the sauce over thin spaghetti noodles, but it is also excellent over spaghetti squash as a healthy alternative.  Expect leftovers if you are serving less than 10 people.  The turkey meatballs are perfect for a meatball sandwich the next day.


Split Pea Soup

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After making a bone in ham, the next natural meal is split pea soup.  Making the soup in the crock pot makes for an easy weekday meal.  I found this recipe online a year ago from Whole Foods, very simple and flavorful.  I prepped everything the night before so starting the slow cooker in the morning would be as easy as can be.


-1 (16oz) package of dried green split peas, rinsed

-1 meaty ham bone

-2 cups of diced ham

-1 cup sliced carrots

-1 cup chopped yellow onion.

-2 ribs celery plus leaves, chopped.

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-1 bay leaf

-1/4 cup fresh parsley

-salt and pepper to taste

-6 cups chicken broth.

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(Everything prepped to go in the refrigerator for morning)


1. Layer in crock pot in this order, do not mix or stir.  Cook on low for 8 hours.

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2. After the soup has cooked remove the bone letting meat fall off into the soup, remove bay leaf and stir well.


Brown Sugar Glazed Ham

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When I think of ham, I think of large holiday gatherings with family and friends.  Making a ham is easy, healthy, affordable, and a perfect gateway meat to leftover meals.  In addition to a delicious meal, I find making a large roast on the weekend can be a huge help to week night meals.  This weekend we made a ham, taking care to save the bone to use a few days later for split pea soup.

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– 1 fully cooked bone in half ham, 7-8lbs

– 25-30 whole cloves

– 1/4 cup brown sugar

– 2 Tbsp mustard

– 2 Tbsp (+) fresh lemon juice

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1. To prepare ham, place cut side down in roasting pan and score through fat and skin.  Make cross-hatch lines about 1 inch apart, taking care to not cut down into the meat.

2. In the center of cross-hatch marks, pierce with whole clove.  I do this to the entire exposed surface of the ham.

3. Cover ham for the first half of cooking with foil.  Bake at 325 for 2-3 hours or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees (as long as the ham was purchased fully cooked).  If you are cooking a ham that was not fully cooked, you will want to cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

4. When there are about 30 minutes left in cooking time, drizzle ham with a glaze made of mixed brown sugar, mustard, and lemon juice.

2013-09-29 17.52.295. Let the ham rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.


Roasted Garlic Red Skin Mashed Potatoes

No Fall or Winter feast is complete without mashed potatoes.  Ever since I was a kid I have been a mashed potato snob, I always demanded the real thing, none of that boxed stuff.  While I love classic mashed potatoes, I can’t help but try to enhance it.  I recently gained a new appreciation for roasted garlic, the flavor is soft yet powerful at the same time.  If roasting garlic seems frivolous or too time consuming, try popping a few cloves in the oven with a main dish to roast for sides (such as this one) or smearing on bread.  The process is totally worth the effort in my opinion.

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– 2 lbs of red skin potatoes, diced evenly

– 1/4 stick of butter (or more to taste)

– 2 Tbsp fresh chives, roughly chopped

– 1/4 cup of milk (more or less for consistency)

– 1/4 cup of sour cream or plain greek yogurt.

– 3-4 cloves of garlic, roasted and mashed

– salt and pepper to taste


1. Roast the garlic:  Cut the top off of the cloves leaving skin intact, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Loosely wrap in foil and roast in oven at 325-350 for 45-60 minutes.  I stuck this little foil pouch in with the ham while it was cooking to save time.  To prepare garlic for mixing, remove roasted cloves from oven and push pulp out of skin and mash with a fork or knife.

2. Prepare your potatoes and cover with cold salted water, bring to a boil and cook until fork tender.  Try to not overcook.

3. When the potatoes are cooked, drain water and mix with remaining ingredients in standing mixer or hand mixer, take care to not over work.

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Roasted Carrots and Fennel

Easy but healthy sides are an important part to every meal.  Roasted vegetables are a great part of winter weather cooking when grilling is not an option.  For tonight’s meal I kept it simple, and the fresh garlic and ginger make it taste like a much more complicated side than it really is.

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– 6 carrots

– 1/2 bulb of fennel

– 3 cloves of garlic

– 1 Tbsp ginger sliced

– grape seed oil

– salt and pepper

2013-09-26 19.23.42Directions:

1. Slice carrots and fennel, mix together with garlic and ginger.

2. Drizzle with grape seed oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Spread out on cookie sheet and roast in oven for 15 minutes at 350, then mix and turn temp up to 450 to finish roasting about 10 more minutes or until fork tender.