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Spaghetti and Meatballs

Contributed by: NewsUSA

Got Kids Bored By Winter? Get Them Cooking

(ARA) - It's that time of year. The holidays are over, new toys have lost their glamour and cold-weather days are still ahead of us. This requires parents to be a little more creative when it comes to staving off the dreaded statement "I'm bored."

Spaghetti and Meatballs
What can you do to keep kids entertained indoors this winter? Cook with them. Engaging kids in planning and making family meals has a host of benefits - including having someone to help with the dishes.

Cooking with your kids is beneficial for a number of reasons:

  • * Cooking is a bonding time.
  • * Cooking helps kids build self-esteem because they can see and taste the fruits of their labor.
  • * Kids who are involved in the cooking often become healthier eaters as adults.
  • * Cooking is a lifelong skill.
  • * Interacting with different kinds of foods teaches kids about the origin of the food and other cultures.
  • * Cooking teaches kids math, reading and chemistry skills.
  • * Kids who cook with their parents are less likely to use drugs, tobacco, or alcohol, according to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

When it comes to finding a good recipe to create with your kids, Noodles and Company, www.noodles.com, a family-friendly restaurant chain that serves some of the world's most-loved pasta dishes, has a couple of recommendations. First, start with a family favorite. Noodles and Company suggests their popular version of Spaghetti and Meatballs (recipe follows). The recipe is complex enough that kids will feel like they've accomplished something while being simple enough that they are familiar with the outcome. Plus they'll love using their hands packing and rolling the meatballs.

Once your kids have mastered more basic recipes, try something a little more challenging like Pad Thai to help kids flex their culinary muscle, while learning about other cultures. Last, don't assume that kids don't like vegetables or complex flavors. Kids who are part of the cooking process tend to be more adventurous. Before you know it, your 2-year old will be noshing on raw green peppers.

Ingredients:

  • Ingredients for marinara sauce:

    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
    • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 /4 cup white wine
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 2 teaspoons sea salt or to taste
    • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper or to taste
    • 1 (32-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
    • 1 (32-ounce) can of tomato sauce
    • 2 dried bay leaves
    • 1 bunch fresh basil, sliced
    • 2 teaspoons crushed chilies
    • Aged parmesan or Asiago cheese

Directions:

Marinara sauce preparation:

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the salt, pepper and sugar and stir. Add the wine to deglaze. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, then simmer uncovered over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season the sauce to taste, adding the crushed chilies if you wish to have some heat.

Ingredients for the meatballs:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasonings
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons half and half
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Meatball preparation:

Line a large shallow baking pan with foil and oil lightly. Combine all ingredients and shape into meatballs, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter.

Broil the meatballs about 8 inches from the heat source for about 10 minutes. Turn and broil for 10 minutes longer so that the exterior gets seared evenly.

Put the meatballs in a large saucepan and cover with marinara sauce. Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes and serve over cooked spaghetti or with your favorite pasta.

Garnish with fresh shaved parmesan cheese and fresh sliced basil.

Serving Size: Makes 4 - 6 (about 18 to 24 meatballs) Servings


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