Welcome to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks


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It’s supposed be 119 degrees today. Welcome to sunny Phoenix, or as I call it at this time of year – Hades. Doesn’t 119 degrees sound awesome? Aren’t those of you in cooler clients so jealy? 

119 degrees means that we will not be leaving the house. It means that it will be too hot to enjoy the pool while the sun is still out. It means that clothing will be optional in our house. It means that our air conditioner will run non-stop and we will likely have to take out a bank loan to fund our electric bill at the end of the month. Now are you jealy?

The inferno will last until October, yes, it might cool down to 115 at times but we will be wilting/sweating/crying/whining/sweating/sweating/sweating for another three months – ugh!

Oh well, at least we don’t need to worry about freezes, or floods, or earthquakes, or tsunamis, or tornadoes, or hurricanes…we just worry about the constant threat of heat stroke and possibly spontaneous combustion. Good times.

Hooray for summer in the Valley of the Sun. Wish us Phoenicians luck. 

YUM! Spaghetti with Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs


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We love pasta at Casa de Jax and I make a pretty killer simple tomato sauce and my meatballs aren’t bad either. I haven’t made either in quite some time and while I was thinking of Jax-friendly meals I thought about them.

My tootsie-girl loves noodles and I knew she would love my meatballs too. So I got started whipping up dinner.

I was right – she ate two meatballs and loved her spaghetti so much she dumped it on her head! Crazy girl.

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Spaghetti and meatballs will be a staple in our home again. The recipes for my sauce and my meatballs are below. I hope you will give them a try. Mmmmm!

ImageMeatball ingredients

ImageI like to grate my onions to avoid large offensive chunks, and the onion juices help keep the balls moist. 

ImageMeat mixture, ready to be mixed and squished with your hands. 

ImageAll mixed up and ready to be stuffed with cheese.

ImageBe careful to seal up that cheese within the meatball. I got lazy and careless and some of the cheese oozed out of my meatballs into the sauce. It was still delicious, but you do want that melty, cheesy, yummy center. 

ImageReady to be submerged in the sauce. I like to cook my raw meatballs in the sauce. It makes for a tasty robust sauce and the meatballs stay super moist.

ImageI got 15 meatballs about 2 inches in size out of my meat mixture. You can make them as big or as small as you like, but be sure to adjust cook time accordingly. 

ImageIngredients for the marinara sauce. Let’s see how long I can keep that basil plant alive! I’ll let you know. 

ImageI like to use whole, peeled canned tomatoes and liquefy with my immersion blender, then add a can of diced tomatoes for a nice chunky texture. The meatballs will add even more chunkage so you don’t want a sauce full of tomato chunks. 

ImageCareful when you are dropping your meatballs into the sauce. You don’t want to burn yourself or make a huge mess. 

ImageBe sure all the meatballs are completely submerged in the sauce so they cook evenly. Turn the heat on low. You really can’t stir after they are in because you will break them apart and the pot will be pretty crowded. So keep the heat on low to prevent burning. 

ImageEnjoy!

ImageJax did…a lot!

Spaghetti with Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Ingredients for Meatballs:

  • 3/4 pound of ground beef
  • 3/4 pound Italian sausage (I usually use hot but since Jax was partaking I switched to sweet – both work great)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (I usually use Italian bread crumbs but only had panko so used those instead)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 large yellow onion – I like to grate it instead of chopping
  • 1/2 brick of mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
  • Salt and pepper taste

Directions:

  1. Remove sausage from casings and add to bowl
  2. Add all other ingredients, except mozzarella, together in the bowl
  3. Mix together with your hands, ensuring that beef and sausage blend together
  4. If meat mixture is too wet or sticky from the egg you can add more bread crumbs
  5. Once meat is well mixed start forming the meatballs, about 2 inches
  6. Press a whole into the center of the meatball, creating a crater
  7. Push a cube of mozzarella into the crater and seal back up with the meat
  8. Lay stuffed, raw meatballs on a sheet tray until ready to cook in the sauce

Ingredients for Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 – 28 ounce cans whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 – 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 5 sprigs fresh rosemary – you can either tie the rosemary sprigs into a bunch and fish out later or remove the leaves from the sprigs 
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, grated or chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Meatballs, raw –  from recipe above

Directions:

  1. In large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat
  2. Add onions and garlic, stirring until onions become translucent, do not let the garlic or onion brown
  3. Add the 2 cans of whole, peeled tomatoes and puree with an immersion blender
  4. Add the diced tomatoes and bring to simmer
  5. Add the herbs and bring to a low bubble
  6. Turn heat to low and add the raw meatballs
  7. Cover and cook for about 45 minutes
  8. The meatballs will be cooked through but you can test them by cutting one open and checking the color. A cooked meatball is firm with no pink
  9. Serve over spaghetti or in crusty rolls for a fantastic meatball sandwich

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The Mission Continues – Best Pizza in AZ


ImageThe Dolce Diavolo at La Piazza Al Forno

Over the weekend my bro Tommy, Jax and I continued our mission of eating our way through local joints that have been featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and/or Travel Channel’s Man Vs. Food. The jaunt took us to La Piazza Al Forno in Glendale, AZ.

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For the love of all that is delicious – I’ve been before and apparently was not ordering the right things, I’ve always enjoyed the fare but this trip was a revelation! We started with fried ravioloi (skip it to save room for the pizza and dessert). Tommy and I each ordered our own pies and swapped a slice to sample each other’s.

ImageThe Italian Stallion – magnificently meaty and addictively awesome.

I had the meat fest on a crust called The Italian Stallion. It was wondrously wonderful and featured an impressive selection of Italian meats, including pepperoni, Schreiner’s sausage (Schreiner’s is a local sausage company), prosciutto di Parma, and sopressata. The crust was perfection, chewy without being rubbery and the slight char from the brick oven married perfectly with the robust meats and sweet San Marzano tomatoes. Fan-friggin-tastic!

Tom ordered the Dolce Diavolo (pictured at top of post) and when he read the description aloud I kinda wanted to gag – San Marzano tomatoes, house-made mozzarella, sopressata, calabrian chiles, basil and HONEY!

“Gross”, I thought, “who puts honey on a pizza?”

La Piazza Al Forno does and they are geniuses for doing so. The chiles were pretty hot and the honeyed sweetness melded beautifully with that heat. I only had one slice of this pizza and I was smitten with it. I can’t say I liked it more than my meaty pie but I am definitely going to order a Dolce Diavolo all for myself next time. And I can’t wait to be selfish with it.

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Jax enthusiastically ate our scraps – the spiciness of the sausage on my pizza was a bit too much for her and she would have keeled over if she even had a sniff of Tommy’s, so I grudgingly gave her my “bones” (crusts). She loved them and had not a care she was eating table scraps.

I was ready to pop after devouring the goodness but I didn’t stop there, we splurged and had cheesecake too. Creamy, lusciousness with a buttery crumb crust and caramel drizzle. It was divine. That’s all you need to know about that.

ImageUm, yes. please. 

This little mission of our is pretty awesome and I just may gain 15 pounds by the time the tour de taste ends – but I’m doing it for you, people, my readers. The sacrifices I make (heeee).

La Piazza Al Forno is by far the best pizza I have ever had in AZ or anywhere for that matter. If you live here or are planning a visit (wait until October or risk dying of heat stroke) to AZ it should definitely be on your list of places to gorge!

ImageJax would like to order one of everything on the menu!

 

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way to write this post. All opinions are 100% my own.