Cheesy Italian Meatballs

Cheesy Italian Meatballs

Cheesy Italian Meatballs

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Cheesy Italian Meatballs are tender flavourful beef meatballs nestled and baked in a rustic tomato sauce and topped with plenty of cheese for a delicious family-style meal. These meatballs are great over pasta, but my favourite is simply serving them with toasted bread to sop up the amazing sauce.

Let’s talk meatballs! Beef meatballs are great, but adding Italian sausage makes them fantastic. Adding ground Italian sausage adds all the wonderful flavours of the sausage like fennel, oregano and basil, plus it adds pork and a little bit of fat. The combination makes a superb meatball and the same theory applies to meat sauce.

Meatball tips: 
-Use a cookie scoop to portion the meatballs so they are the same size and cook evenly.
-Use a dab of water in the palm of your hand when rolling the meatballs. The water prevents the meatballs from sticking to your hands.
-Don’t over-mix the meat.
-Brown on all sides to get the most flavour.

The sauce couldn’t be more simple. Crushed canned tomatoes married with herbs, wine and broth. But what makes it great is the gentle simmering reduction of it with the meatballs while the dish is baking. The tomatoes reduce to just the right consistency and get flavoured from the juices from the meatballs. Top it all off with a generous handful of cheese and you’ve got a great meal the whole family will love.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

Cheesy Italian Meatballs
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Cheesy Italian Meatballs

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 16 ounces lean ground beef
  • 6-8 ounces mild Italian sausage
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil

Sauce

  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 20 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

Meatballs

  • Add all ingredients except olive oil to a large bowl. Mix gently with a wooden spoon or clean hands until combined well. Scoop meatballs onto a clean tray using a 2 tbsp scoop. With lightly dampened hands roll meatballs smooth.
  • Heat oil in an oven-safe skillet and add meatballs in a single layer. Cook meatballs until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes. Remove to a clean plate and set aside.

Sauce

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Add diced onion to the same skillet as the meatballs and sauté for several minutes until starting to soften. Add minced garlic and continue to cook for an additional minute.
  • Add white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any cooked bits on the bottom of the pan. Add chicken broth and simmer liquid for about 2 minutes to reduce slightly.
  • Add tomatoes, oregano, paprika, and chili flakes. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
  • Add meatballs by tucking them into the sauce. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, stir and bake for another 20 minutes.
  • Stir once more and top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese has melted, 5-10 minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped Italian parsley if desired and serve with pasta or crusty bread.

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Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Chicken

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Chicken

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta

with Chicken

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Weeknight cooking may seem daunting at times when trying to juggle feeding your family, appointments and activities.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, some of the best dishes are quick and simply. Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Chicken is a fantastic combination of garlic, sun-dried tomato pesto and cream.   This gloriously creamy pasta dish is a perfect family meal yet delicious enough for company. 

I enjoy boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this recipe but you can easily use boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead if that is your preference.  Shrimp is also a fantastic combination as well. Or skip the protein all together for a great meatless meal option. Using store bought sun-dried tomato pesto helps to make this recipe quick and easy.  There are plenty of brands out there to choose from and I cannot say that one is better than the other is, so find one you like and keep it at the ready.  You’ll want this gorgeous dish on repeat!!

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Chicken

Cook Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces fettuccine
  • 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs 3-4 depending on size
  • as needed salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomato pesto
  • as needed freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions in well-salted water. Drain well, reserving a cup of pasta water.
  • While the pasta is cooking, season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add chicken and cook until browned on both sides and cooked through. About 5-6 minutes per side.
  • Remove the chicken to a clean dish and cover it with aluminum foil to keep it warm.
  • To the same skillet add the minced garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes over low heat.
  • Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up the browned bits left in the pan and allow the wine to reduce slightly.
  • Add chicken broth, stir and reduce for 1-2 minutes.
  • Stir in heavy cream and reduce for 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened.
  • Add sun-dried tomato pesto and stir over low heat until combined. Remove from heat.
  • Slice cooked chicken into strips.
  • Add chicken and pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a generous splash of pasta water. Toss to combine well over low heat.
  • Serve immediately with extra Parmesan cheese if desired.

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Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna Noodle Casserole

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Baked golden Tuna Noodle Casserole in a yellow serving dish on a wooden trivet.

Tuna Noodle Casserole is one of my favourite family casseroles.  It has just the right ratio of noodles to sauce and is topped with buttery panko breadcrumbs. It’s also cheesy, hearty and comforting and a one scoop meal with the peas baked right in. It does take a little extra time to make the sauce, cook the noodles and bake, so I would say it’s a nice weekend casserole.  The recipe is simple and uses everyday ingredients, which means there are no unnecessary trips to the grocery store.  The kids will love it and you’ll likely get leftovers as it makes a 9”x13” pan. 

Cheese sauce in a stainless steel saucepan with a metal whisk in preparation for Tuna Noodle Casserole.

Be sure not to overcook the noodles as they will continue to cook slightly while baking in the sauce. I will generally cook them a minute or two less than the package instructions. To save time and be efficient, I like to start cooking the sauce while the water comes to a boil and the noodles cook. Get the kids helping by grating cheese and flaking the tuna. Enjoy!

Tuna Noodle Casserole served on a glass plate with a wooden fork on a wooden surface.

Author:  Compelled to Cook, adapted from Food Wishes

 

Baked golden Tuna Noodle Casserole in a yellow serving dish on a wooden trivet.
Tuna Noodle Casserole
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    6-8 people 30-35 minutes
    Cook Time
    35-40 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    6-8 people 30-35 minutes
    Cook Time
    35-40 minutes
    Baked golden Tuna Noodle Casserole in a yellow serving dish on a wooden trivet.
    Tuna Noodle Casserole
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      6-8 people 30-35 minutes
      Cook Time
      35-40 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      6-8 people 30-35 minutes
      Cook Time
      35-40 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: people
      Instructions
      1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
      2. Cook noodles for slightly less time than package instructions so they are al dente (firm to the bite). Drain well.
      3. While noodles are cooking, melt the 1/4 cup of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until combined. Slowly add a cup of hot milk whisking constantly until the mixture is smooth and starts to bubble. Continue adding hot milk and whisking until all the milk has been added and the mixture is smooth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, whisking often.
      4. Remove sauce from heat and whisk in mushroom soup, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Stir in half of the cheddar cheese, tuna, and peas until combined. Add drained noodles and stir to evenly coat.
      5. Spray a 9"x13" casserole dish with non-stick spray and pour casserole into the dish, spreading out evenly. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.
      6. Stir together breadcrumbs, melted butter, parsley and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Spread evenly over casserole and bake on the centre rack for 35-40 minutes until bubbly and the top is golden. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

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      Stroganoff Meatballs

      Stroganoff Meatballs

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      Stroganoff Meatballs in a red casserole dish resting on a wooden tray lined with a white kitchen towel.

      This a casserole that I’ve made time and time again. I love it because it makes enough for six people or provides plenty of leftovers, which is important for me as a shift worker. It’s also a comforting, family-style meal that is fantastic served over mashed potatoes. Stroganoff Meatballs is a great fall/winter recipe that you’ll want to make over and over.

      Raw beef meatballs rolled and arranged on a baking tray in preparation for Stroganoff Meatballs.

      For this recipe, you’ll notice that I insist you use a beef soup base such as Knorr OXO Beef in a Mug and not regular beef bouillon powder. This is not a sponsored post, but I’ve tried both beef bouillon cubes and regular beef bouillon powder. They just don’t have the same beef flavour that the soup base does, and it makes all the difference. I do hate to be so particular on an ingredient, but for this recipe I must insist that you use beef soup base such as Knorr OXO Beef in a Mug.  It’s worth the little bit of fuss, enjoy!

      Ingredients for Stroganoff Meatballs arranged on a small wooden board on a white kitchen towel.

      Author: Compelled to Cook, adapted from Companys Coming Casseroles cookbook 1985.

      Stroganoff Meatballs
      Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      6 people 55-60 minutes
      Cook Time
      35 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      6 people 55-60 minutes
      Cook Time
      35 minutes
      Stroganoff Meatballs
      Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      6 people 55-60 minutes
      Cook Time
      35 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      6 people 55-60 minutes
      Cook Time
      35 minutes
      Ingredients
      Beef Meatballs
      Stroganoff Sauce
      Servings: people
      Instructions
      Beef Meatballs
      1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
      2. In a large bowl combine all ingredients and mix until incorporated. Roll into 1-ounce meatballs (about 2 tbsp each) and arrange on a large baking tray lined with parchment. Will yield about 38 meatballs.
      3. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from oven. Reduce heat to 350°F.
      Stroganoff Sauce
      1. While meatballs are cooking, heat oil in a large dutch oven. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté until most of the liquid has evaporated and starting to brown.
      2. Add 2 cups water and OXO soup base and heat to a simmer, stirring to dissolve. Whisk together the cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water. Add to pot, whisking constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and whisk in mushroom soup until smoothed out. Stir in sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, paprika and pepper.
      3. Add meatballs to the sauce and stir gently to coat with sauce. Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately over noodles, rice or potatoes.
      Recipe Notes

      -It is a must to use beef soup base (preferably Knorr OXO Beef in a Mug)  I have tried to use regular beef bouillon cubes and powder, however, they do not have the same level of beef flavour and are not recommended for this recipe.

      -Meatballs can be made and cooked up to a day ahead.  Keep covered and chilled until ready to use.  Cook casserole for 40-45 minutes if using cold meatballs.

       

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      Skillet Chicken and Orzo

      Skillet Chicken and Orzo

      Skillet Chicken and Orzo

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      Weeknight cooking can be hard!

      You forgot to take something out of the freezer, the fridge is empty, and you only have an hour to get something on the table. This is just a few of the hurtles busy families face daily in the quest to enjoy a family meal together. Skillet Chicken and Orzo is a great weeknight meal that’s easy to prepare, dirties only one pot and can be on the table in about an hour. It’s also super delicious with minimal effort.

      A shallow serving dish with Skillet Chicken and Orzo garnished with fresh herbs by Compelled to Cook. A cast iron skillet with a serving spoon sits in the background.

      Tips to easier weeknight meals

      1. Make a meal plan for the week which can be as simple as writing down what meals you intend to prepare. Have fun with it by including the family in your choices. Including others helps to identify preferences and dishes that everyone likes.

       2. Make only one trip to the grocery store by purchasing the ingredients needed for each meal in advance.

      3. Take items out of the freezer to have completely thawed and ready for use.

      4. Make simple dishes that can be on the table within an hour or so.

      5. Make dishes that other family members can help with such as washing and chopping vegetables.

      6. Make only one meal that everyone can/will eat. So if you have a dish that everyone loves except the “onion” hater, then make the dish without onions and therefore suitable for everyone.

      7. Don’t be afraid to settle for something as simple as eggs on toast for supper.  Eggs are very nutritious and quick to prepare. Make them a great meal by simply sauteeing up a few greens, sausage and/or vegetables.  Top with olives, cheese, breadcrumbs, or chives for a great weeknight meal. 

      8. If you gotta give your 5-year-old a “grilled cheese night” in exchange for eating other meals later in the week, then everyone eats grilled cheese, making it about balance and compromise.  Besides, who doesn’t like grilled cheese!!

      9. Stick mostly to recipes/dishes you are comfortable and familiar with making during your busiest days.  No one wants to fumble around with a new recipe when time is tight.

      10. Make extra when you can and freeze for use later, either as a leftover lunch or a meal for someone who gets home late.

       

      Panfried chicken thighs in a cast iron skillet in preparation for Skillet Chicken and Orzo.
      Sauteed mushrooms in preparation for Skillet Chicken and Orzo in a cast iron skillet on a metal trivet.

      The key to Skillet Chicken and Orzo is to give the chicken and mushrooms a good sear. The mushrooms need a very hot pan and should not be overcrowded. Resist the urge to stir them and you will hear them “squeak”. That is a sign that they are becoming golden on the bottom and starting to release some of their liquid. The chicken also benefits from a good sear that helps to render the fat and crisp up the skin. Taking the time to brown both ingredients lends to a more flavourful dish that you’ll want to make again and again. Enjoy!

      A cast iron skillet with Skillet Chicken and Orzo ready to be served and garnished with fresh herbs by Compelled to Cook.

      Want more great weeknight options? Here are a few of my favourites.

      Tarragon Chicken Cutlets

      Red Curry Coconut Shrimp

      Mushroom and Arugula Quinoa Bowls

       

      A shallow serving dish with Skillet Chicken and Orzo garnished with fresh herbs by Compelled to Cook. A cast iron skillet with a serving spoon sits in the background.

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      A shallow serving dish with Skillet Chicken and Orzo garnished with fresh herbs by Compelled to Cook. A cast iron skillet with a serving spoon sits in the background.
      Skillet Chicken and Orzo
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        3-4 people 50 minutes
        Cook Time Passive Time
        25 minutes 2 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        3-4 people 50 minutes
        Cook Time Passive Time
        25 minutes 2 minutes
        A shallow serving dish with Skillet Chicken and Orzo garnished with fresh herbs by Compelled to Cook. A cast iron skillet with a serving spoon sits in the background.
        Skillet Chicken and Orzo
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          3-4 people 50 minutes
          Cook Time Passive Time
          25 minutes 2 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          3-4 people 50 minutes
          Cook Time Passive Time
          25 minutes 2 minutes
          Ingredients
          Servings: people
          Instructions
          1. Preheat oven to 350℉
          2. Heat oil in a cast iron or oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Pat chicken dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot add chicken thighs and cook about 5-6 minutes per side until skin browned. Remove to a plate.
          3. Using the same skillet, dab out excess oil, reserving about 1 tbsp. To the hot oil add the mushrooms and allow to cook without stirring until bottoms are golden and moisture is starting to evaporate. Once they have browned, give them a stir and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and shallots and cook for about 3 minutes until starting to soften, stirring occasionally. Add herbs and salt and pepper.
          4. Add wine and allow to reduce for about 3 minutes. Over low heat stir in the cream cheese, and half of the broth, stirring until smooth. Add remaining broth and orzo pasta. Add the chicken back to the pan with the skin side up. Push chicken down into pasta as far as they will go. Cover with a lid or tin foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
          5. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover and allow to rest for 3-5 minutes prior to serving.
          Recipe Notes

          I personally like the garden vegetable cream cheese, however you may also like the garlic cream cheese.