I wanted to make spaghettios with mini meatballs, so I used this recipe from Allrecipes. I didn't have any breadcrumbs, so I had my daughter crush some goldfish crackers and we used that instead. I used a melon baller to make little tiny meatballs. My daughter scooped up the mixture, I took it out, and kind of squished it together with my fingers to make a ball. (I wouldn't let her touch the raw meat.... maybe next time. I'm passing on my squeamish-ness to her). We made a whole jelly-roll pan full of mini meatballs, and then made the rest of the mixture into larger meatballs, using my cookie scoop. I didn't manage to get a good pic of the mini ones. It was kinda hectic in the kitchen, with my 3-year old crying because he wanted to have a "special cooking day", and my one year old baby crying and hanging on my pant leg just because I wasn't paying attention to him. Therefore, I didn't get as many pics of everything as I wanted. I did get some "aftermath pics" though, and I'll have to share those in a minute.
I looked around the web for a homemade spaghettio recipe, and one really stood out. I found a great recipe on the blog Feed Your Vegetarian. Of course, mine were non-veggie with the meatballs, but this recipe would be delicious without them, too. (And take way less time!) The only changes I made to that recipe were to omit the onion, use a little less cheddar, and add a handful of Italian 3-cheese blend.
The sauce is easy, starting with a roux. It was almost like making mac and cheese with tomato sauce thrown in! When the tomato and dairy mixed, it got a little curdled-looking, but it all worked out in the end. The taste was great. It was like spaghettios, but way better. My daughter had a second helping. She said "I didn't know if I was going to like this, because I think spaghettios from the can taste kind of funny. I like this a whole lot better!" I think she's only had "real" spaghettios one time, and it was over 2 years ago, BTW. My one-year old couldn't get enough of this; I finally had to cut him off! We had broccolini with it; keeping with the mini theme. (Well, just mini meatballs, I guess nothing else was mini!)
This is how my two little guys finally managed to entertain themselves. In my house, it's a good idea to wash cookie cutters before usage. And the garlic press, egg slicer, funnel, etc. After we ate dinner, my baby reached up to the open bag of pasta on the counter and pulled it down, spilling the rest of it on the floor. Little O's, everywhere.... I'm kinda sad because Trader Joe's is an almost 2-hour drive from here. I did get a pic of that but it's not very good, so you'll just have to imagine it.
adapted from Feed Your Vegetarian
1/2 lb ring shaped pasta
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cup milk
6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 8-oz can of tomato sauce
1 6-oz can of tomato paste
1/2 medium onion, finely diced, optional
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp parsley
salt and pepper to taste
cooked mini meatballs, optional
1. Cook pasta in boiling water, according to package directions, until al dente.
2. While the pasta is cooking, melt butter under medium flame in a saucepan. Add flour and stir about 2 minutes. Add onion to the saucepan, and stir to combine. Cook for 2 more minutes.
3. Whisk in milk, oregano, basil, and parsley. Bring to a gentle boil.
4. Whisk in the tomato sauce and tomato paste. If the sauce is too thick, add a ladelful of pasta water. Bring to a simmer. Stir in the shredded cheese. Salt and pepper to taste
5. Finally, add the cooked, drained noodles and stir to combine well. If using meatballs, add them with the pasta and heat through.
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