Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Deliciously Easy Crock Pot Meatballs and Cheese

Delicious Meatballs with Parmesan and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese over Angel Hair Pasta, a fall favorite. Cookware: Temp-Tations Old World Complete Oven to Table Set
I think nearly everyone has a Crock Pot by now. The problem is, we often don't take advantage of this amazing kitchen time saver! I keep mine on top of the counter and while not everything comes out great in a Crock Pot, some things definitely DO! My Aunt Laura used to set up her slow cooker and let it simmer her sauces all day. Her house always smelled incredible but she wasn't constantly in the kitchen. She had time to entertain us! That's how to do it. If you have to leave the house, the newer slow cookers have timers that will start and stop your meal automatically.  Arrive to the delicious smell of a home cooked meal! Pour some wine, boil some pasta and you're set.

Crock Pot Meatballs and Cheese over Italian made Angel Hair Pasta by DeCecco

So here's one recipe from my Aunt Laura that especially excels in a slow cooker. I've modified it with the addition of ground turkey but even with less fat, it has SO much flavor.

Deliciously Easy Slow Cooker Meatballs

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 large sweet Italian sausage link with casing removed
1 strip of smoked bacon, minced
1 egg
1/4 cup shredded Zingerman's Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Hungarian Paprika
1 teaspoon of Italian Seasoning or an Oregano blend
2 slices of toasted bread ground into bread crumbs
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 Quarts of homemade or jar pasta sauce
1/4 cup red wine

Use Italian cheeses to add flavor and richness to otherwise low fat fare.
Using a stand mixer, combine all of the ingredients completely, (about 2 minutes on medium). Using an ice cream scoop, begin to form tight, small meatballs. Heat your non-stick skillet with about a tablespoon of vegetable oil and begin browning the meatballs until golden on all sides. When you are finishing the last batch, deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of red wine. Add your 2 quarts of sauce and meatballs from the pan to your slow cooker. 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low will give about the same results. Serve hot over pasta with extra cheeses on the side. 
Bonus tip: Store or even freeze the leftovers in the Temp-Tations Cookware which comes with plastic lids for each piece!

Rich Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese from Zingerman's
Give the Gift of Cheese! 
The Parmesan and Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses play a major role in this recipe, adding a LOT of flavor but not a lot of calories. The Zingerman's Parmigiano Reggiano used in my recipe is included in their Cheeses of the World Gift Set, (Beginner Edition) 

This Cheeses of the World Gift Set includes five cheeses weighing in at about two and a half pounds, serving 18-20. Packed in a wooden gift box with large loaf of sourdough bread. Instructions for serving and care are included. This is the ultimate hostess gift. Who knows? They may be so impressed that they invite you back to dinner for sampling!
The beginner assortment is like getting a crash course on fromage and focuses on five great, well-aged versions of familiar cheeses like NY Cabot Cheddar, Farmhouse Gouda and Antique Gruyère.
Nothing crazy, the Beginner Assortment gives you a lovely range of worldly cheeses for cooking, snacking and entertaining.
Zingerman's Cheeses of the World makes a great Holiday Gift and is included in my Lucky Gift Guide this year. Click here to see the other goodies I've chosen!
Temp-Tations Old World Cookware Set c/o QVC
Cheeses of the World c/o Zingerman's

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