When I’m trying to get my kids to try something new, I tend to pair it with something old — something they’ve tried before and liked. It’s a trick that’s worked well for me in the past, and I used this trick again tonight.
Creamy, Cheesy Polenta with Tomato Sauce and Meatballs
If I had to put a finger on it, I’d say our family’s favorite dinner is homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs. But I didn’t feel like having spaghetti tonight. So I made our favorite dinner with a twist: Polenta.
I’ll admit: I’m not a huge fan of (firm) polenta and have, therefore never made it for my kids. In fact, the last time I tried to make polenta, I set it on fire under my broiler. True story.
But I’ve been wanting to give it another try, so I looked online for a recipe for creamy polenta. This Creamy Cheesy Polenta I found on www.barefeetinthekitchen.com screamed out ‘TRY ME!’ tonight. Talk about comfort food!
But while I love grits, my family does not. That’s why I paired it with the sauce and meatballs. I make homemade sauce at least twice a month because it’s so very easy to make and, personally, I can’t stand jarred sauce. Plus, I can make a huge batch of it and freeze half for a future meal.
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 glove garlic chopped
- 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 6oz can tomato paste
- 1/2 of the 28oz can of water
- 2 Tbsp fresh basil, torn
- 2 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves
- splash of red wine
- pinch of salt and pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a small pan and sauté the onion and garlic until they’re translucent
- Put the onion, garlic, and remaining ingredients into the crock pot and cook on low for 6 hours. (enlist your children to help if you’re so inclined.)
- Enjoy the comfy way your house smells.
- Serve on spaghetti, polenta, spaghetti squash, sauteed zucchini — whatever your heart desires. Dip Italian bread in and eat it straight out of the crock pot (this is my favorite way.)
Tonight, I hit the freezer and grabbed some meatballs I made a couple of weeks ago. I love making meatballs in batches and then having them one night and freezing the others for 2-3 more meals…
- 2lb ground beef
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- salt pepper
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- bread crumbs (about 1/2 cup, but I eyeball it and add it as needed to bind the meatballs.)
- Put all ingredients in huge mixing bowl and mix them with your hands.
- Form into 1 1/2 inch balls and place onto baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. (a great thing to get the kids to help you with!)
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes (you want them cooked, but left a little pink in the middle so you can then put them into your sauce to heat them up an hour before serving.)
As expected, my 7yo complained about not liking ‘grits and gritty’ things, but that he liked the sauce and meatballs. But the rest of the family really liked it. My 5yo even had seconds!! So did The Hubs, who grimaced when I told him we were having polenta for dinner. (I think he was remembering the aforementioned Polenta Fire of 2004.) But when it was all said and done he really liked the meal, even though he wanted spaghetti.
Ah well… whatcha gonna do? I’m gonna keep trying… that’s what.