Monday, February 18, 2013

Homemade Spaghetti O's

Hello my little childrens. It's early on a Monday morning as I write this, and my husband has the day off, and we're going to the aquarium today, and I just have this general good feeling about life.

Plus, there's this awesome recipe to share with you!

I babysat for a certain family for 5 full years as a teenager. They had two darling girls whom I adore still, and a chihuahua, whom I didn't so much adore as tolerate. But I digress. I loved babysitting those girls -- I did it every Saturday night through my Senior year of high school when they were both much too grown up for babysitters, but nobody wanted to admit it.

They always seemed to have Spaghetti O's with meatballs in the cupboard. I had never had them until I warmed them up for the girls' dinner one night, but once I tasted them, I was hooked. It bordered on obsession, actually. I couldn't tell you why, but I honestly couldn't get enough of the mushy pasta, the tangy sauce, the overly-processed meatballs. I'm sure if I had them today I wouldn't see the appeal, but we did have a moment way back when.

I also had a moment with The Swan Princess, so, you know...


When I was greedily flipping through the America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook a few Christmases ago, when I received it as a gift, I was drawn to the homemade version of this canned delight, for obvious reasons. And it really does stack up! It's different, true, but it has the essence of the original. Plus, no mushy pasta here, and everything is so much fresher-tasting! My toddler gulped it down. Gulped.
And, a little guiltily, so did I!

Now, who wants to watch The Swan Princess with me?



Homemade Spaghetti O's with Meatballs
from The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

6 oz. ground chicken or ground turkey (not ground breast meat -- there should be some fat)
3 Tbsp. plain breadrumbs -- I used panko
3 Tbsp. prepared pesto
salt & pepper

1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small rib celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 c. chicken broth
1, 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 c. ditalini or alphabet pasta

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine ground chicken/turkey, breadcrumbs, and pesto, along with a dash each of salt and pepper. Divide into 3/4" balls (should be about 28 or so), and set aside.
In a large pot, heat about 1 Tbsp. of oil over medium heat. Add onion, caarrot, and celery, along with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Saute until onion is softened and translucent -- about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds or so more.
Stir in the chicken broth and diced tomatoes, scraping up any bit from the bottom of the pan as you do. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and continue to simmer until carrot is fork tender. Blend this mixture CAREFULLY. I use my immersion blender, but it did splatter quite a lot. Puree until smooth and return to pot (if you used a regular blender or food processor), and bring back up to a simmer over medium heat.
Gently stir in reserved meatballs and pasta. Continue to simmer until pasta is tender and meatballs are cooked through -- about 12-15 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasoning to taste. Serve warm.

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