Slow Cooker Meat Sauce

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Well the supposedly long weekend came and left in a blink of an eye.

Why does time have the pesky habit of doing that? Or maybe it’s an indication that we should slow down and catch up with its pace instead. Regardless, I can’t seem to have enough lazy Sundays on the couch with Mark while he watches action films or plays video games or his guitar. One of the above.

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I celebrated Valentines Day for the first time in 23 years this year. I had been jokingly pestering Mark about his plans for me since it would be the first I actually had somebody to celebrate it but I knew I would be happy just having quiet time with him at home. But about a week before the 14th, he came home to tell me that we wouldn’t be gone the entire weekend for Valentines but he wouldn’t tell me where.

So on the morning of Valentines, I crept out of bed before he woke up and plastered the bathroom mirror with love notes written on yellow Post-Its and left a bag of chocolates right beside his razor. He brushed his teeth, shaved and came back into the room with a thank you. I knew I couldn’t go wrong with chocolates.

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We jumped into my car and was on the road almost as soon as he got off that evening. He said we had a four hour drive ahead of us, so we loaded the iPod with an audio version of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye and a satirical encyclopedia by The Onion. Before I knew it, our drive had come to an end and I was greeted with a beautiful view of a resort in the Outer Banks and the salty taste of ocean air.

The next two nights were spent comfortably in a spacious hotel room that featured a king-sized bed and patio. We laughed, sang, drank wine and slow danced in the middle of our room to cheesy love songs. We also shared a bonfire with other couples, went for a morning run, indulged in a full-body massage and ate at a quaint local restaurant downtown.

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I couldn’t help but feel immensely grateful and happy for this love. In so many ways, it’s been the one I’ve been waiting for all my life. I’ve never really known what it’s like to have a partner, somebody to share every single aspect of my life with. Some days it’s daunting but mostly, it’s comforting.

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It’s a little embarrassing to say, but this meal was inspired by our empty pantry upon coming home. All I had was some ground beef, lots of canned tomatoes and some spaghetti noodles, so I decided to throw everything into a crockpot and see what happened.

The result was a rich, extremely flavorful sauce that I would make over again. Plus, it’s freezer-friendly!

Slow Cooker Meat Sauce

Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced, or petite diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp cracked black pepper
*4 ounces cream cheese

Directions:

Brown beef, onion and garlic in a pan. Drain grease and transfer into slow cooker. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and seasoning. Cook on high for 3 hours and turn heat down to low for 2 hours after that. Stir in cream cheese until it melts and is mixed evenly with sauce.

Serve over buttered noodles and garnish with fresh basil and parmesan reggiano if preferred.

*You can substitute cream cheese with 1 cup of whole milk if you like. I used cheese because that was all I had on hand! 

Italian Meatballs

Temperatures decided to climb a little bit more today and upon looking at the forecast for the rest of the week, it showed temperatures up to the 70s by the weekend.

Still, I am sympathetic towards my friends and people all over the Midwest and Northeastern part of the country. Especially my brother living in Minneapolis right now. It cannot be comfortable. They are calling it the polar vortex and just the phrase itself sounds chilling. Brrr…

I had gotten an early morning text from a friend who I had met from going to yoga class. She asked me if I was up for a pilates workout this morning but I wasn’t. The covers had gotten the best of me. Again.

Instead we made plans to go on a hike. I liked that idea a lot better since it meant I got to laze around a little more. Or I mean, complete some household chores before leaving… I met up with her at about 1 o’clock and we went to explore a couple of hiking trails near the area. She brought along her 3-year-old German Shephard/Labrador mix by the name of Eli. He had a wild time running around the woods, chasing squirrels and relishing in the vast openness.

Quite honestly, I had a great time being in the sun and outside too. It was nice hearing the crunch of leaves under my shoes and having good company. We trekked along for about an hour before deciding that we should turn around on the trail, just in case we got lost.

I had forgotten to eat lunch before leaving on the hike, so I came home absolutely famished. I had nearly gone through an entire box of strawberries before I realized that Mark would be home in about an hour, which meant I had to have something lined up for dinner.

Still a little tired from the hike, I just sat on the couch to catch up on Downton Abbey. It wasn’t until Mark came home and said he was going to order pizza that I pulled myself up to the kitchen to fix something quick.

We had gotten frozen meatballs once from the grocery store and I honestly hated the way it tasted. Not so much the flavor, just the texture. There’s something about frozen foods that tastes so…processed. Seeing that I had 3 pounds of ground beef in the refrigerator, I decided I would make my own meatballs to add to spaghetti, which is to date the easiest dinner for me to whip up.

I really thought I would have leftovers for subs tomorrow but I guess they turned out pretty good because we didn’t leave any at all! I decided to forego adding bread or breadcrumbs to my batch of meatballs because I’m carb-conscious like that. I’m not sure if that’s even a real word… If it’s not, can I just make a thing now?

Italian Meatballs 

Ingredients: 
1 lb ground beef
1 egg
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp black pepper
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 medium-sized onion

Directions: 

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

In a bowl, beat egg. Combine all ingredients together and mix well, until everything is blended together. Pinch portions of the mixture out and form into medium-sized meatballs by rolling the meat between the palm of your hands. Continue until all the meat has been formed into well-sized balls.

Heat some olive oil in a pan. Place meatballs in pan and cook until the outsides are brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer meatballs onto baking sheet and bake in the oven until done, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Place meatballs in marinara or pasta sauce and let simmer for another 10 minutes so the flavors blend.

Serve with cooked pasta of choice or on a hoagie as a meatball sub.

Recipe yields about 16 meatballs.