This was only almost homemade because well, I didn't grow my own veggies or make my own noodles. Other than that, this was about as from scratch as I get
The bread sticks were a recipe I found on My Kitchen Cafe. I was a little scared they wouldn't turn out because the dough was almost too sticky to knead. They got much less sticky after they were allowed to sit and rise.
I wasn't sure what size these bread sticks were supposed to be so I cut my dough and twisted 2 pieces together. These bread sticks were really thick. That was OK since we like to eat a lot of bread. If I was making them for a crowd I'd make them long and skinny.
I did, as you can see from the photo, over flour my work surface. The bread sticks have a lot of flour on them. I was afraid they would stick and was quite heavy handed with flouring the table. I think they needed a fair amount of flour to prevent stickage, just not quite as much as I used. Eventually, I'll find the happy medium for flouring my work surface.
Bread stick grade: B+. I'll make these again.
The baked-meatball recipe hailed from Crepes of Wrath. They would have been better if I followed the recipe. I used only 1 lb ground beef, omitting the ground pork. I didn't want oodles of meatballs. I thought an extra half of a pound of meat would be meat overkill. Mrblocko told me I had to add it next time because the thought the meatballs would have a more depth of flavor with the 2 types of meat. Yeah, he was right. I also screwed up and forgot to save some Parmesan cheese for the topping.
meatball grade: B with the potential for an A+ if I follow the directions next time.
Finally we have the tomato sauce with butter and onions from Smitten Kitchen.
This pasta sauce is one of those things that everyone on the food blogosphere has been raving about for quite some time. Perhaps it was all the hype, but I thought this sauce was just OK.
The sauce was on the acidic side, and I prefer a sweeter red sauce. I used a can of regular whole tomatoes, not San Marzano. I guess the San Marzano tomatoes are what really makes this dish. I had a hard time justifying the purchase of a can of these fancy tomatoes, when I can get 2 jars of pre-made pasta sauce for the same price. Should the San Marzano canned tomatoes ever go on sale, I'll pick up a can and give this recipe another try. I'll also add at least one clove of garlic. Red Sauce without garlic just ain't right.
We had to add Italian seasoning and lots of Parmesan cheese to counter act the acidity of the dish. I think it's worth giving the recipe another go when I feel like splurging on the fancy tomatoes.
Sauce grade: As is C+, but I'm sure it will be much tastier with the changes listed above.
Overall grade: B. I'll have to give all these recipes another whirl. I'm sure the meal will be even better the second time around.
Divine Breadsticks from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
1 ½ cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
Butter for the pan
Mix all ingredients (except butter) and knead for 3 minutes. Let stand 10 min. Heat oven to 375F. Melt a few T butter on baking pan. Roll out dough about 1/8-inch thick and cut into strips. Place in butter and put close together. Sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan cheese. Cover and let rise 30 min. Bake 20 min.
Baked Meatballs from Crepes of Wrath
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 cup Parmesan
1 1/2 teaspoons dried or fresh (and finely chopped) basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried or fresh (and finely chopped) parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon (or more if you like ‘em spicy) red pepper flakes
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Parmesan, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a big bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, 1/2 cup Parmesan, egg, basil, parsley, garlic powder, salt, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 c bread crumbs. Mix all ingredients with hands til everything evenly distributed. Place leftover 1/4 c bread crumbs into a smaller bowl. Using hands, roll meatballs into balls ( little smaller than a golfball), roll meatballs in bread crumbs and place meatballs on a greased/lined sheet. Sprinkle with a bit of extra Parmesan . Bake 20 min til cheese bubbly and meatballs look golden brown.
Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions from Smitten Kitchen
28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes from a can (San Marzano, if you can find them)*
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
Salt to taste
Put tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan over med heat. Bring sauce to a simmer then lower heat to keep sauce at a slow, steady simmer for 45 min, til droplets of fat float free of tomatoes. Stir occasionally, crushing tomatoes against side of pot with wooden spoon. Remove from heat, discard onion, add salt to taste and keep warm while you prepare your pasta.