Paula Deen’s Corn Casserole

I love this recipe!! I am definitely making this for our big feast. Surprisingly, it adds to the wonderfulness of cornbread dressing instead of takes away. It isn’t cornbread overkill! Is there such a thing? Good stuff!

Kats' Kitchen

 

corn-casserole

If you have never watched Paula Deen on the Food Network, you’re missing out.  She is always making recipes that are full of butter, sugar & chocolate, and doesn’t she say those are her major food groups or something? 

One year from today was my first post on Kats’ Kitchen, I posted a recipe called Savannah Bow Ties, which is one of Paula’s recipes.  Today, I am posting her Corn Casserole, which I made for our mini-church Christmas party this past weekend.  Those who like this type of dish loved it!  It’s almost as good as the Cottage Corn Bread you can get at Northwoods.

On the Anniversary of Kats’ Kitchen, I want to say thank you to everyone who checks my blog on a weekly basis and those who just discovered it!  Thanks to the hub for being a great guinea pig and putting up with all my…

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Momou’s mac and cheese

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Momou with my precious first born…the woman loves her grands and great grands…

If you have been following Cajun Mama Cooks for a while on facebook or have known me any amount of time, you know about the entity that is Momou’s Mac and Cheese.  My kids knew about this stuff as soon as they could eat solid food.  My babies all love it and ask for it on a monthly if not weekly basis.  This is the epitome of comfort food.  Nothing else comes close.  If you know me at all, you know all about Momou. Momou is my dad’s mom.  Her name is Narcille and I am not sure there is anyone on this Earth whom I adore as much as her.  I share a birth month with her.  Our birthdays are 5 days apart and I love my birthday, but I love that we share that even more.  She is one fine lady and I love her so much.  My husband loves her so much.  My kids love her so much.  Everyone who knows Narcille, or Nar, or Nice as my grandfather called her, loves her.  I again am beyond blessed to be able to call that woman my grandmother.  And can she cook.  Boy can she ever!!  And loved to do it.  She made this macaroni  and cheese for almost every occasion and just regular old Sunday dinner. You knew when she had the pyrex dish out and she had some of those luxury noodles boiling, you were about to be in for a treat.  When I first got married, Momou, my Nana, Aunt Lee and my mom came to my house and they taught me how to cook Momou’s mac and cheese.  That is one of my fondest memories as a grown up.  I cherish that night always and on cold days when I feel uprooted and out of place, that memory gives me comfort like a warm blanket.  This mac and cheese has spanned generations and now has been made famous in my own kids’ minds.  They know the story behind it and that it belongs to Momou.  They have not been a part of many of dinners at Momou’s because since they have been born, she has slowed down some and now lives in a nursing home.  But they know.  I love that when I cook this macaroni and cheese, they talk about their Momou and what they love about her.  It shows me that even if they have not eaten this dish at her house, per say, they associate this wonderful dish with the wonderful woman who has passed it down to us.  That is what matters most to me.  I have been reluctant to share this recipe because it is very special to my family.  But, after soul searching, I know that Momou would be so glad for me to share it.  She is above all things, a giving, loving person who wants to make others happy.  So I will share.  This is truly love in a 9 x 13 dish.  It is a perfect partner for a pork or beef roast and rice and gravy, an excellent side for turkey and dressing, and a delicious accompaniment to chicken fricassee.  I have never made it for anyone who did not love this stuff and ask if I would be serving it the next time they came to dinner.  I have had several people ask for this recipe and if you are one of them…here you go!! Now, the noodles…as far as I am concerned, these are the only noodles to make Momou’s mac and cheese with.  You can of course make it with any noodle, but I refuse.  I don’t care to change this recipe up one bit.  It is perfect as it is.  Just like Momou.  You don’t mess with something this wonderful.  Well, I don’t.  I have the most luck finding these noodles at our local target.  They are Luxury brand long macaroni noodles.  I have found them at some Wal-Marts.  When I do find them, I buy at least 5 packages of them at a time.  Just a suggestion.  Because you should always be ready to whip up some Momou’s mac and cheese.

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This a package of those noodles..if you find them…buy several packages.  Trust me.

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Love in a 9 x 13 dish I tell you…

Momou’s Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

1 16 oz. box of Velveeta

1 stick of butter

1 can of Pet Milk or evaporated milk

1 package Luxury long macaroni noodles

1/2 cup of sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Get your 9 x 13 dish out.  No need to grease it.

Bring about 8 cups of  salted water to a boil in a large stock pot or pasta pot.  Add your long macaroni noodles to the boiling water.  I break my noodles in half before adding them to the boiling water because it makes it easier for my kids to handle it, but it does cut down on the slurpability (is that a word?) that you get when the noodle is long.  Ah decisions.  Boil the noodles until they are tender.  These noodles take a little longer to boil because they are so long and thick.  If you prefer your pasta al dente, then by all means, pull them sooner.  Drain your pasta.  Now, just leave it long enough to drain because I have found (because Aunt Lee and Momou taught me) that this is easier if the noodles are still warm.  That helps everything to combine and melts the cheese and butter.  Ok, pour your boiled noodles into your 9 x 13 dish.

Now, you are going to cut your stick of butter into “pats” (that’s how Momou would say it…cut the butter into pats, my Doo :))  Take a stirring spoon and don’t stir, but sort of push the noodles around to let the butter circulate and make friends with the noodles.  Ha ha!  Ok, now, Cher, you are going to add chunks of Velveeta to the noodles and butter.  Do the same thing.  Don’t stir, but push the noodles around gently and let the Velveeta chunks come to the party.  Introduce them to the noodles and butter. Next, you are going to sprinkle some sugar ALLLLL over the noodles.  Gently push that around to let the sugar get up in there.  Now you will open your PET milk by poking a big hole on each side.  I suppose you can open the whole can with a can opener, but we have never done that.  It makes it easier to pour it slowly over the noodles.  I use one of those bottle opener thingies.  It has a point edge on one side and I poke it into the can.  Do ya’ll know what I am talking about?  I don’t know the technical term, so excuse my lack of formality.  Though at this point, I hope most of ya’ll are aware that formalities are not my thang.  🙂  Ok, slowly pour the PET milk over the noodles.  I use the whole can.  Gently push that around and let the noodles and all the other ingredients spend some time together.  Now…take a tasting spoon and get a taste of the milk.  If it tastes sweet, but not too sweet with a hint of butter and cheese, it is perfect.  Just add sugar to your taste.  It is supposed to be sweet.  That’s what makes it special!

Cover the pan with foil  and put it  in your preheated oven.  Cook for about 30 minutes and then check it.  Remove foil and using a spoon, gently stir the noodles.  You want there to be some “juice” left.  Be careful not to let the noodles dry out because they will also dry up some once you take the dish out of the oven.  Usually about 30 minutes does it for me.  All of the cheese should be melted, but if not, giving it a good stir will help with that.  The milk mixture should be thicker than it was and clinging to the noodles.  If it is still runny, put the foil back on and bake it for another 5 or 10 minutes.

Now, I really hope I have done this recipe justice.  If you have questions or need something clarified, please ask questions.  Don’t be afraid.  As I have been typing, my 5 year old aka the bull in a china shop has been asking to make goo repeatedly and I have been distracted.  So, let’s be honest, I make mistakes.  I hope you will give this truly wonderful mac and cheese recipe a try.  Just please call it Momou’s mac and cheese and when someone says “who is Momou?” you can tell them all about her.  She is one special lady!   I have given ya’ll 3 very special recipes for you to make for Thanksgiving or whenever you choose.  Since my kiddos are off for Thanksgiving and I have some cooking and baking to do, I am going to sign off for the next few days.  I want to spend some time with my family and friends.  I really hope you all savor every moment of your Thanksgiving celebrations to the fullest.  See you all next week with a fresh batch of delicious recipes!  Enjoy!! ~AMB 

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Can of PET milk…regular ole evaporated milk…but where I am from, all evaporated

milk is referred to as PET milk.  I love that.

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Getting into the spirit of things at the Polar Express  

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Gobble till you wobble…cutest little turkey I know 

 

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my friends!!!  

            

Pappaw’s sweet potatoes

So Pappaw was Big Daddy’s grandfather.  His daddy’s daddy. He was a very big man in stature (very tall) but he had a meek, quiet demeanor about him that made him so lovable.  He had a way of laughing that was absolutely endearing and boyish.  He was a bossy fellow at times and yet always remained humble.  How that is even possible I don’t know.  That man was something else.  He was 94 when he passed away last Thanksgiving day and he is still missed so much.  He was a wonderful cook.  I spent a good bit of time with him and he taught me quite a bit.  I can still remember when his friend would bring him a big ole box of sweet potatoes.  Boy was he ever proud of those babies.  They were a certain kind and I cannot remember the name…I just know he would get very excited.  After he passed away, Big Daddy went up to the Lodge with his brother and brought back his sweet potato pot. That thing is probably one of my most treasured possessions.  But what I treasure more are the memories of the time when Pappaw would stand in front of the stove and cook his delicious sweet potatoes.  These sweet potatoes are in many ways just like Pappaw was…sweet, simple but yet just enough.  These sweet potatoes are not bothered that they are simple…they rather it that way.  They are equally at home on your holiday plate next to turkey and dressing as they are next to pork chops.  My precious mother in law took over making these when Pappaw finally relinquished his role well past 90 and she does a great job.  Still, Pappaw is missed.  We make them very much like Pappaw, but still…he is missed.  My kids absolutely love this side dish and request for nearly every holiday meal.  They are as much of a staple at our house as Momou’s mac and cheese.  I have always been a candied yams with marshmallows kind of gal because that is what I was raised on.  I still love them and I cannot promise you I won’t be making a small dish of these as well on Thanksgiving day, but Pappaw’s sweet potatoes are really something special.  I hope you will try them and smile when you think of Pappaw.  Such a great man who made such great sweet potatoes.  Pappaw…another one of the many blessings in my life.

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Pappaw listens intently as his great grand tells him all about it…

Pappaw’s Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin

2 Tablespoons vanilla

2 sticks of butter (yes 2 sticks)

2 1/2 cups of sugar (Pappaw would say make sure the package says Pure Cane Sugar…I always do)

1 heaping Tablespoon cinnamon

Instructions

In a big ole skillet or pot, melt your butter over medium heat. Add your peeled and sliced potatoes to the melted butter.  Stir in the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.  Make sure the potatoes are coated with the butter, sugar mixture.  Over low fire, with the lid on, cook the potatoes until they are tender.  Stir the potatoes almost constantly to ensure they don’t stick.  When you can stick a slice with a fork and it breaks off, they are good and done, about 20-30 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Serve hot.  Repeat every time you want a good heaping helping of down home cooking.  Oh and Pappaw always liked to serve these with purple hulls and  cornbread.

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Pappaw’s trusty sweet potato skillet…lots of delicious food cooked in there. I am so honored to have it.

Momee’s cornbread dressing

I have already mentioned my feelings about Momee’s cornbread dressing but let me say this again…as far I am concerned this is the BEST cornbread dressing recipe in the world.  The woman who gave me the recipe was beyond the best. Momee was my mom’s mom.  Her name was Beulah Mae and she was beautiful and funny and kind and so many things all rolled into one.  I am so blessed to have called her my grandmother and know that part of her lives on in me and in my kids.  She was a diva before I ever heard anyone called a diva.  She was the hardest working woman I ever knew and always knew how to look on the bright side in any situation.  She passed away in 2002 and I still miss her every day.  But she wouldn’t like me dwelling on her absence and would fuss at me for even mentioning that, so let me stay focused.  She believed in looking ahead you, not behind.  I would like to believe she is the one who ingrained that in me.   She was a strong, feisty spirit who lives on through  my sisters and I, my cousins, their kiddos, my kiddos, my nieces and nephews, and every single time I make this most delicious cornbread dressing, something I know she would really like.  I actually had the foresight to ask her to write down her recipe many years ago and I have a framed copy hanging in my kitchen.  She is never very far from me.  When I am running around the kitchen like a chicken with its head cut off, I can so hear her whispering to me “ma petite (which sounded like mop tit and my sisters and I thought that was what she was saying for years  until she corrected us lol!) calm down.  Stand up straight my baby.  Smile.  You’ll get this all done.  Take your time baby.”  That thought makes me tear up and smile at the same time.  So if you are looking for a wonderful cornbread dressing to make this Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years (we had had it at all 3…thank God) give this one a try.  Momee would like that.

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Such a beautiful lady…inside and out…

Momee’s Cornbread Dressing

Ingredients

1/2 stick of butter

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3 boxes of corn muffin mix

1 onion, diced

3 stalks of celery, chopped

1 large bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 bundle of green onions (I say at least 5 or 6) chopped, green parts only *

salt and pepper to taste

sage, to taste

3 or 4 boiled eggs, sliced

1 pack of turkey wings (I usually have the best luck finding these at Kroger, in the frozen meat section)

Directions

Make up your corn muffin mix according to directions.  So to prepare three boxes, just add 3 of whatever 1 box calls for.  Got it?  Now, I am sure I don’t have to specify which kind of corn muffin mix I use…but just in case…Jiffy my friends.  I am not even sure there is any other kind.  Bake your cornbread in a prepared 9 x 13 pan.  Bake at 350 until done.  Set it aside.  (I like to do this at least the night before so that the cornbread can stale a bit before I put the dressing together.)

Fill a stock pot halfway full with water.  Add about 3 tsp. salt to the water.  Add your turkey wings and bring to a boil.  Boil until very tender and the turkey meat just falls off the bone.  Remove the turkey wings from the water and put them on a plate.* *Do NOT Discard the stock!!! Set aside the wings and let them cool.  When they are cool enough to handle, take all the meat off of the bone.  Discard the bones.

** SAVE the water.  Do NOT drain.  This is your stock for the dressing or will be when we are done with it!  Keep the stock at a low simmer until you need it.  Just put  the stockpot on a back burner and set the heat to low and just let it simmer away.  We will come back to that.

In a skillet, melt butter and then saute the celery, bell pepper, onion, green onions and garlic over medium heat until “wilted” (that is a Beulah Mae term..this means until tender). Add a pinch or two of kosher salt and a sprinkle of black pepper.  You can also add a little bit of Tony’s at this point too. *my best friend, Lolly, taught me to cut the green onions by using a pair of kitchen shears.  Her mother in law, Mrs. Fern, taught her this trick and she passed it on to me.  I am so grateful.  That trick has made things much easier as green onions can be hard to cut with a knife.  Hope that helps!!

To your simmering stock, add kosher salt and pepper to taste.  You want it to have a good flavor to it, but not too salty.  I will tell you what I do.  I add a tablespoon of turkey bouillon base to this stock to give a deep flavor.  It normally comes out perfectly.  My dear friend, Lisa, turned me on to bouillon base a few years ago for my gravy making, and I have never looked back.  It can usually be found near the cans and boxes of broth, and other soups on the very top shelf.  It is in a short wide glass jar and is some “good stuff” as Lisa is fond of saying.  Anyway, whisk in tablespoon of this base to your simmering broth.  You may want to use a little more, depending on your family’s tastes.  It is definitely optional, but you won’t regret it.

Now, you should have some cooked cornbread, sauteed veggies, some stock and some turkey meat.  Ya’ll ready?  Ok…now I take my big ole silver bowl and I crumble the cornbread into the bowl.  Now, add your sauteed veggies to this.  Now, add your turkey meat.  Ok, get your hands in this bowl, and mix it all up really well.  That’s it!  You’ve got it!!  Beulah would be so proud!!  Ok, now, little by little you are going to ladle some of your stock into the cornbread mixture.  Ladle until this is the consistency of cream of wheat.  It is not too moist, but not too dry.  Use your judgement.  You just want to make sure that it does not dry out when it cooks.  Now, season with rubbed sage to taste.  I really cannot tell ya’ll how much sage I use.  When I make my dressing in a few days, I will try to update this with an approximate amount.  I would definitely say at least 1 1/2 tablespoons of the stuff.  What makes this dressing unique is the sweetness of the corn muffin mixed combined with the savoriness of the sage so don’t hold back, unless you dislike sage…in that case, you may not like this.  🙂  Once you are satisfied with the moistness and savoriness of your dressing,  add this mixture/concoction to your prepared 9 x 13 pan that you prepared by spraying with cooking spray or rubbed butter all over.  Now lay your boiled egg slices all over the top of your dressing.  I rather it with the eggs.  I am not sure where this came from or if it is a Southern thing, but I love boiled eggs on top of my dressing.  Some of my cajun mama facebook friends and I had a discussion about this and it seemed pretty common to add boiled eggs to your dressing.  Of course, if this is not your thing, just omit this step.  Also, if you find the adding boiled eggs to your dressing odd please feel free to leave me a comment.  I would like to hear from you.

Ok, now you cover your pan of dressing with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes.  It may take about 50 minutes or so, depending on your oven.  I would definitely check it after 30 minutes or so.  Once the dressing is almost done enough, you can uncover it so it gets nicely browned.  Cook it about 5-10 minutes uncovered then remove from oven and let cool.

Get ready to slap hands and “tasting spoons” away from the pan.  My cousin Robin and I would sneak as many bites as we could before Momee noticed and shooed us out of the kitchen.  Momee’s kitchen on Thanksgiving morning was warm, full of love, and smelled like cornbread, turkey and sage.  Some of my best memories were made in there.  Every Thanksgiving just about, Robin and I manage to text each other and say “hey making Momee’s dressing and thinking about you.”  I think Momee would love that.  No, I know she would.  I hope your kitchen is full of warmth, good smells, and lots of love on Thanksgiving morning.  May you have many blessings to count and many memories to be shared and made.  Love from Cajun mama’s kitchen to yours. ~AMB

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I cherish this almost more than I do the picture above.  It is like she is right here with me.  

Slow Cooker French Onion Soup

Ya’ll know I love soups already right?  That is a well established Cajun Mama fact at this point.  Split pea and ham soup, vegetable beef soup…I LOVE SOUP!!!  Know what I love more?  Soup that cooks in the crock pot.  And french onion soup is probably my favorite of them all.  Outback Steakhouse had the best I had ever eaten, but it seems like last time I went they didn’t have it anymore.  Then darkness fell all around me.  Mostly I am kidding, but I do love me some french onion soup.  I have never attempted to make it before…until last night.  I came across a recipe on pinterest for a version made in the slow cooker and I just could not pass it up.  I am very glad I didn’t because it is simply AWESOME my friends!!!  So I will end the chit chat and just give up the goods.  AKA the recipe.  I know that is all ya’ll want anyway.  Right?

First, a few things about this recipe.  I halved it.  It made plenty for me and Big Daddy.  There is enough for at least 4 or 5 nice sized servings with the recipe cut in half.  Also, I need some individual crocks or oven safe soup bowls for the next time I make this.  I made do with what I had, but to get that beautiful brown baked in color on the top of the cheese you need to stick this in the oven before you serve it.  Just a suggestion.  So I will give you the recipe cut in half and you can double it if necessary.  Also I used my 4.5 quart crock pot for this.

Slow Cooker French Onion Soup (Adapted from http://www.getcrocked.com)

Ingredient List

3 sweet yellow onions or Vidalia onions if you can find them, thinly sliced

1/4 cup of red wine (I used what I had which was some sweet red and it was perfect)

1/2 stick of butter (or 1/4 cup)

1 Tablespoon flour

1/2 tsp. sugar

1/2 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

2 cans of beef broth

kosher salt and black pepper

1 cup of water

1 French baguette

4 slices Swiss cheese

Directions

Now…melt your butter in your slow cooker.  Just put your stick of butter in the slow cooker and turn it on high, put on the lid and let the butter melt.  This took about 20 minutes for me…I suppose you could just melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl and then pour it into the slow cooker.  Duh.  Lol!  I just thought about that.  Anyway, once the butter is melted,   whisk in the sugar and then stir in your thinly sliced onions and stir to coat the onion slices with the melted butter.  Now cover the slow cooker and let the onions cook for about 2-3 hours on low.  They are basically going to caramelize in the slow cooker and will be a beautiful golden brown when you are done.  Next, stir in the flour into the onion juices.  Then stir in the red wine, beef broth, water, Worcestershire, garlic, bay leaf, and salt and pepper.  Give it a stir and return lid.  Let this cook on HIGH for about an hour and then switch it to low for another hour.  Now, I just left it on low for about 2 more hours and it was all good.

Cut 4 1 inch thick  slices of bread from the baguette.*  Toast the bread on a baking stone or baking sheet at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the bread slices are a nice toasted brown.

Ladle soup into 4 oven safe bowls.  Place a piece of toasted bread on top of the soup.  Next lay a slice of cheese on top of the bread.  Bake in 425 degree oven for 10 minutes or just until cheese is melted and bubbly.   You can put all of the soup bowls on a baking sheet and transfer them to and from the oven that way if that makes it easier.  Definitely keep an eye on them, you will know when they are ready.

I cut 8 slices because my baguette was really thin.  I couldn’t find anything thicker.  I used 2 slices of bread per soup bowl.

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French onion perfection…

Southern Chicken salad

So apparently today is National Sandwich Day so the fact that I was already planning to post a recipe for the MOST DIVINE chicken salad under the sun is simply a coincidence.  A wonderful coincidence, but anyway…this chicken salad is heavenly.  I have made it twice in the past 4 days and both batches disappeared in less than 24 hours.  This stuff is magnificent.  Poor Big Daddy, yesterday he calls me after an appointment and says “I think I have my mind set on one of those chicken salad sandwiches”.  I had to say “babe sorry, there is no more”.  The disappoint in his voice was pitiful but he forged ahead and I promised him I would make more.  And I did.  And now it is all gone again.  So just in case I have any fellow chicken salad lovers out there, I figured I would make this hump day/National Sandwich Day an extra special one.  Ya’ll ready for this?  Yeah I figured.

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So pretty, don’t you think?

Southern Chicken Salad (adapted from Debbie Lawrence @ http://drmommyonline.com)

Serves 6

Prep time 10 minutes

Ingredients

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup Duke’s mayonaisse (she didn’t specify this…that is mine because its the best! But feel free to use whatever kind you want)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 1/2 cups diced, roasted, or boiled chicken

1 cup finely diced celery

1/3 cup chopped pecans (I added about 1 cup total because we really like them)

1/3 cup diced red grapes (again I put more…it makes it even better)

Directions

In a medium sized  bowl, whisk together mayo, lemon juice and kosher salt.  Add in the diced chicken and give it a good toss to let the mayo mixture coat the chicken.  Then fold in pecans, celery and grapes.  That’s it.  Your done.  I served mine on a bakery croissant with a leaf of romaine lettuce.  Perfection!!!

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You want one too, don’t you?  

Mammaw’s Spaghetti and Baked Meatballs

Now I am quite certain there are many of you out there who have their own tried and true spaghetti and meatball recipe.  I am also quite certain it is absolutely delicious.  This is not your traditional Italian spaghetti and meatball recipe, I wouldn’t think, as neither Big Daddy or I have any Italian roots in our family….just about everything else…just not Italian.  Growing up, my Momou made spaghetti and meatballs for Sunday lunch when we would go visit and my mama made them pretty regularly too.  It was always a big event and my daddy was always, always so excited.  We had these big ole bowls he would eat spaghetti and meatballs from and he did it just right…twirling his pasta in the spoon with his fork.  He taught me and my sisters how to do it as well.  My mama and Momou could sure enough make up some spaghetti and meatballs.  So when Big Daddy and I started dating, his Pappaw passed on Mammaw’s spaghetti and meatballs recipe to me.  I gave it a try as my Momou could never verbalize exactly how she made hers. Magic, I suppose.  🙂  She did try though and I knew there was sugar in it and I had watched my mama enough to know kind of sort of how to do it.  Remember though, I was in college.  I was 19 and needed a dang recipe.  Lol!  So I got Mammaw’s and I got to it.  Well, turns out, her recipe and Momou’s and my mom’s must have been very similar.  It definitely hit the spot.  So for the most part, when I want to do a big spaghetti and meatball dinner, this is the recipe I always use.  My kids absolutely love it, even my oldest picky child.  He nearly licked the bowl clean the other night.  So I wanted to share this recipe with ya’ll just in case you are at a loss how to recreate your mom’s or grandmother’s spaghetti and meatball recipe.  Or you need a good recipe for this in your recipe box.  I hope you enjoy this.  I have definitely shortened it and simplified it to some extent.  I don’t think Mammaw would mind me taking liberties with her recipe as she was a very sensible woman indeed.  She would be a fan of “ain’t nobody got time for that!” if she were here today.  So make up a big pot of Mammaw’s spaghetti and meatballs and share them with someone special.  Sit around the table and laugh while you twirl your spaghetti in the spoon with your fork and then pile it into your mouth.  Just don’t forget the napkins!!!

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Big Daddy, Mammaw and Pappaw making sweet memories….

Mammaw’s Spaghetti and Baked Meatballs

Ingredients

For sauce you will need…

olive oil

3 cans tomato paste

6 cans of water

1 onion, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced,

sugar (about 2-3 Tablespoons depending on taste)

salt and pepper (about 2 tsp. of each give or take…I use kosher salt)

2 bay leaves

For meatballs you will need…

1 pound ground chuck

1 pound ground pork

1 tsp. each of  salt and pepper

2 tsp. dried parsley

milk

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 clove of garlic

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a big wide pot or a deep one (I use my big blue wide pot) over medium heat.  Add finely diced onion and garlic in the olive oil and saute this for about 5 minutes or until onions are tender.  Add in cans of tomato paste one by one, giving a good stir in between each one.  You want to incorporate the onions  and garlic into each can of paste.  Gradually stir in each can of water.  Add bay leave, some salt and pepper and about 1 tablespoon of sugar to start with.   You can taste it and add more if you want at this point or wait.  Now, the sauce should be bubbling a bit at this point, so turn it down to low and let it simmer.  Ok, put the lid on and let this simmer for about 2 hours.  Stir occasionally and adjust heat if needed.  Mammaw made sure to note on her recipe and Pappaw made sure to reiterate to me…”the secret is in long slow cooking!!”…to me that means two hours.  LOL!!

While sauce is simmering, you can go ahead and make your meatballs.  Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Put your meat in a large bowl.  Add in your salt, pepper, parsley, grated Parmesan,  a splash of milk and minced garlic.  Mix it up really well with your (clean) hands.  Really get in there and work that seasoning in ya’ll!  Good times!!  ha ha!!  Ok, once you have your meat well seasoned (feel free to add in more seasoning if you think you need to.  My measurements are approximate). Now, take about 1 heaping tablespoon of meat and roll it gently into a ball.  You want uniformity more than anything so that they will cook evenly.  Put the meatballs on a rack inside of a baking pan (this allows fat to drip away from the meat).  Mammaw called for pan frying the meatballs in her recipe.  I changed it up because baking the meatballs makes them more moist to me, plus it is a healthier way to make them.  Put your baking pan on the middle rack in your preheated oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes.  They don’t have to be completely done as they will cook a little while in the sauce.  You just want most of the pink gone.

Add your meatballs to your sauce one by one.  Give them a good stir and then return lid to pot and let the sauce continue to simmer for about 30 minutes.  Serve over cooked pasta of your choice and you are golden!!  Sunday supper for real!!!

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Big bowl of love!!