OBA Blog Swap Guest Post from My Retro Kitchen

Hey Everybody- As a part of today’s Ohio Blogging Association‘s All State Blog Swap, I’m happy to introduce you to Amie from My Retro Kitchen. On this day, bloggers from around the great state of Ohio are guest posting on one another blogs as a way to help to get one another in our blogging community. For a full listing of blog swap participants, please visit Poise in Parma today.  I am totally in awe of Amie’s talents as a mom and abilities in the kitchen.  Keep an eye out for my guest post on her blog this afternoon!

my family, my life

Hi everyone!  My name is Amie and I write the cooking blog My Retro Kitchen.  Since becoming a mom myself I have noticed, although I hope it to be a dying trend, that the art of a home-cooked, sit-down family dinner is a thing of the past. It is a retro idea. People are busy, kids sports schedules are hectic and goodness, it can just get hard to have a moment to talk to one another, let along cook a meal and all eat it at the same table at the same time.  But truly I believe it is one of the best things a person can give their family! So My Retro Kitchen is full of recipes that anyone can make at home, they don’t take a lot of time and shouldn’t cost you a lot in the process.  Cooking for your family doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can be delicious and from the heart.

When the Ohio Blogging Association put together this blog swap together, I was thrilled to be pared with Sara!  At our last meet up, she and I got to sit next to one another.  I had such a nice time chatting and getting to know her.  It is always so much fun to actually sit face to face with a blogger you read online all the time!!  So thank you so much Sara for letting me take over your page for the day.

As a stay at home to two very, very active little boys- Jackson my Super Hero 5 year old and Owen, the busy 18 month old (who-thinks-he-is-five!), I often get asked if I really do cook for my family every day. And how in the world I can do it!! Of course we do have our occasional declared pizza nights, but aside from that, yes I choose to bless my family in the way.  For healthy happy bellies make healthy happy children and husbands!  Sarah asked if I could share some tips to making nightly home cooking simple, and not as time consuming as it seems.  I promise you can all do it!

Weekly Meal Plans I think one of the most cost efficient ways to kick-start nightly home cooking is to create a weekly meal plan.  This is actually a process that I discovered not to very long ago but now swear by it!  My meal plan isn’t broken down into strict Monday we will eat This and Tuesday we will eat That.  But I do decide the night before I go shopping for the 2 week pay schedule what dinners we will eat across those 14 days, and then shop according to those recipes.  That way all I have to do is peek at my “Menu” on the fridge where have a ton of ideas (that I also know I have all of the ingredients for on hand) and dinner is a snap.  There is nothing worse then having this great idea for dinner, you start cooking and realize you need some beans, canned tomatoes or maybe rice noodles and fish sauce.  Out to the store you go.  Not very time saving or cost efficient.

Stock Your Pantry Going along with the weekly meal plan is also the importance of a stocked pantry.  I don’t mean going crazy and buying 10 cans of tomato sauce at the bulk store.  But having one or two extra items of the things you go thorough most often along with a few “special” ingredients for when a fun idea hits you.  I love playing with Ethnic recipes, so for these I like to pick up some of the not so everyday (for me) items to have on hand. There is something about a nice stocked pantry that makes me smile from ear to ear.  Ohhh the choices!!  Don’t do it all at one time, just maybe buy an extra bottle of ketchup or those two for one cans of kidney beans each time you shop.  You won’t notice the expense in your weekly shopping, but your pantry will get full fast.

Make Use of Your Freezer Another thing I find hugely helpful is making two batches at a time when I am putting together a recipe like a casseroles, enchiladas, or homemade raviolis (won ton wrappers are a great time saver for these by the way!) and even breakfast muffins- one for a meal that day and another to wrap in plastic and foil and placing in the freezer for another night down the road.  You already have the ingredients on the counter so it takes not all that much extra time now but saves you a world of time when you get home a little later then usual in a couple weeks and the thought of making a full dinner makes you groan.  All you have to do is pull that tray of enchiladas out of the freezer and pop it in the oven. Dinner is ready in 25 minutes and you did nothing… but your family raves of your Super Ability!  All it takes is a little pre-planning.

I could go on and on all of the simple changes you can make in your routine to make dinner time a family tradition.  But with so many tips I think I have found a new weekly blog post on my Retro Kitchen! Thanks Sara! lol.

So now I am going to share with you one of my most favorite, and also most popular recipes on My Retro Kitchen.  My Spaghetti and Meatball Pie.  Everyone loves spaghetti and meatballs and how many of us have it as a regular item on your rotating meals?!  Well this recipe takes the basic idea of the dish, but gives it a little spin to turn it into something completely new and delicious.  And the best part of it- it freezes awesome!

Spaghetti and Meatball Pie
8 oz. dry spaghetti noodles (half a box)
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 well-beaten eggs
1 lb ground turkey or beef, divided (1/4 for meatballs and 3/4 for in the skillet sauce)
1/2 cup sliced onion
1/2 cup-1 cup shredded zucchini (optional)
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 bell pepper, chopped (optional)
1 (8-oz.) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes (don’t drain) or 4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cottage cheese or ricotta cheese (I prefer cottage cheese for this, but both work. I use whatever I happen to have on hand)
1/2 cup Mozzarella or Moneterey Jack cheese, shredded

For the meatballs (makes about 4-6 meatballs)
the reserved 1/4 lb ground meat
8 ritz crackers, crushed (or 1/4 cup bread crumbs)
1 teaspoon fresh oregano chopped
1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
salt and fresh ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients and roll into golfball-sized meatballs. Brown on all sides and set aside.

For the pie

1. Cook spaghetti noodles. Drain. Stir margarine into hot noodles until melted. Stir in Parmesan cheese and eggs. Form pasta mixture into a crust shape in a buttered 9-inch pie plate.

2. In skillet, cook ground beef and onions, bell pepper and mushrooms until meat is browned. Drain. Add to meat mixture, tomatoes, zucchini, tomato paste, oregano and garlic. Heat through. Spread cottage cheese over bottom of spaghetti crust.

3. Top with tomato/meat mixture.

4. Cut the meatballs in half and arrange on top.

5. Sprinkle grated cheese over all.

Lightly cover pan with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove foil and bake for 5 more minutes until cheese is lightly browned. Cut into pie wedges and serve.

Special Note: You can also prepare this dish ahead of time and freeze for later. If you want to go this route, you will cover your pie pan with plastic wrap and foil right after assembly; label and freeze. When you are ready to serve: Thaw. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes at 350 F. Remove foil and bake for 5 minutes more until cheese is lightly browned.  If you prepare this in a disposable foil pan you even have less dishes to do!

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19 thoughts on “OBA Blog Swap Guest Post from My Retro Kitchen

  1. [...] Amie shared some tips to making nightly home cooking simple [...]

  2. Great tips! I’m a huge believer in having a stocked pantry. I can literally make an after work dinner for two or whip up an impromptu dinner party in a flash because of my loaded cupboards and freezer. I’ve never made a spaghetti pie before – looks good!

  3. Great ideas! I’m just now starting to get into the meal planning thing. I like the idea of writing the meals on the ‘fridge and not being a strict “on monday we will have x, on tuesday y” plan. I will def be doing that!

    • amiekanen says:

      My best friend has been doing meal planning for years, and to be honest I thought it was so weird at first. But now I completely understand how great and important it is! I spend waaaayyyyyy more money if I don’t plan my meals ahead. She picked the food for the day, but making a “Menu” works so much better for us.

  4. Janie Reinart says:

    Hi! Stopping over from the OBSwap. The recipe looks great! I wonder how gluten free noodles would work? I planned menus when my kids were small. (now all five are grown and married.) I still plan menus for when everyone comes over for extended stays for the holidays or vacations. I love being able to sit down with all of my family for a meal! Keep up the good work! Stop over at http://www.loveyoumorethanyouknow.com to see the swap continued.

    • amiekanen says:

      Janie, alas I have zero experience with gluten free noodles. I have no idea how they hold up compared to traditional noodles. Is the texture the same? Thank you for your sweet words!! I am definitely popping over to see you!

      • Janie Reinart says:

        Thanks for stopping by! Gluten free noodles are usually made of rice or corn. I will experiment.I wonder if they will get “mushy”? Love the recipe idea. :)

      • amiekanen says:

        I was wondering about the mushy factor too. Maybe if you cook them more toward the al-dente end so they can finnish in the oven? Let me know! i have a lot of gluten free readers.

  5. Jody Morgan says:

    Awesome ideas – can’t wait to put some of them to use!

  6. Diana says:

    I never have enough leftovers for spaghetti pie, though I suppose if I planned ahead and hid the extras, we’d have it. I like the way this is layered

    • amiekanen says:

      I never make this with leftovers, although you could! I just cook and make it the day we are having it.

      • Diana says:

        Well, then that’s different, though it might take convincing to make people wait after the spaghetti and meatballs are ready to construct a pie and bake it – by that time, they just want to eat it now. It looks so good though it would be worth the wait.

    • amiekanen says:

      I never make this with leftovers, although you could!! I prepare this the day we are planning on having it.

  7. findtimeforfun says:

    I also grew up with a mother who cooked meals for us each night and I strive to do the same with my family. For me, meal planning is a must.

    Thanks for the recipe, it looks like something my kids would really enjoy!

    • amiekanen says:

      I notice the older I get and the older my children get the more and more i want to implement the same practices my mom did for us kids. She was a wonder woman and oh how I love her so! Cooking every night for my family is a big one for me. So glad you believe in it too! Everyone in my house LOVES this. I hope your do too! Please let me know!

  8. Becca says:

    I don’t eat much meat, but that recipe looks like such a great idea! I want to try something similar. Awesome Amie!

    • amiekanen says:

      Oh Becca, you definitely could do this vegetarian! I don’t always add meat. i work with what i happen to have in the house or am in the mood for. Just make up an extra hearty spaghetti sauce and leave out the meat. Or do it with vegetarian meatballs or the soy crumbles. I love the soy crumbles! This is a recipe they would work awesome in!

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