This just so happens to be one of those weeks when a warm bowl of saucy comfort food plays the role of soothing salve, not just for the belly, but for the soul, as well.
A lot has been swirling and swishing around, and it’s left me feeling a bit like I’ve been going through a bumpy and sloshy wash cycle that’s tossing me around a bit before it’s ready to spit me out all sparkly and clean, and ready for a warm fluffing in the dryer.
Life has a way of giving us a jolt sometimes, doesn’t it?
It has a way of shaking us up a little, of waking us up to things in order to make us more aware of what is important and what we do have to be grateful for.
It has a wonderful way of instantly making things seem crisper and clearer, and a way of helping us to weed out what is not needed, or to think twice about how we’ve been approaching things.
The hiccups, or little bumps in the road of life, can create the opportunity to evaluate where we put our priorities, and in turn, to see if those priorities need to be adjusted in some way.
And all of this is what makes the little “earthquakes” in life meaning and useful, rather than seemingly destructive or challenging solely for the sake of being destructive or challenging.
It’s easy to be driving along, attention firmly fixed on getting to wherever it is that we’re trying to get to—our destination—until without any warning, another car pulls out in front of our’s and the two worlds collide.
Then, suddenly, our attention is shifted to putting the pieces back together again—to our present time— and to creating wholeness and healing, if the impact was strong enough to cause some damage.
And sometimes, the impact needs to be that strong, unfortunately.
It’s the only way to get us more conscious in the moment, and asking for mercy and guidance.
It may also be the best way to help us to see the little miracles that surround us, that only become apparent when we get quiet and make the request of our Creator for help.
So as this slightly jarring week, complete with its little bumps and thumps, evolves into a week of healing and wholeness—a week of witnessing mercy, miracles and guidance, may it contain comforting bowls of saucy, pasta love to help sooth not only the belly, but a jolted soul, as well.
And may clarity, awareness, and gratitude for the little miracles that surround us be experienced to give more meaning to life, and deeper flavor to our faith.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Crispy Baked “Chicken Parmesan” Meatballs with Penne & Rich Marinara
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Makes 22-24 meatballs, serves about 6
• 1 – 1 ¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs (a roughly 2-3 ounce french roll, finely processed)
• ¼ cup milk
• 1 – 1 ¼ pound ground chicken
• 1 egg
• ½ cup grated parmesan, divided use
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• 4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided use
• ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
• 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
• Rich Marinara Sauce (recipe below)
• ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
• 1 (16 oz) package penne pasta, cooked and held warm
-Preheat the oven to 425°, and line a baking sheet with foil.
-In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the milk, and using your fingers, mix until moistened.
-Add in the ground chicken, the egg, ¼ cup of the parmesan, the garlic, salt, Italian seasoning, black pepper and 2 tablespoons of the chopped flat-leaf parsley, and using your finger tips, very gently mix the ingredients together just until combined.
-Form meatballs a little smaller than the size of a golf ball (the mixture will be sticky, so just form them as best as possible), and place the meatballs on the foil-lined baking sheet.
-Next, combine the panko breadcrumbs with the remaining ¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese, plus the olive oil, and mix until moistened.
-Carefully and gently roll each meatball in the panko mixture, place them back onto the baking sheet bake, and bake for 15 minutes; after 15 minutes, adjust the oven to “low broil”, and allow the meatballs to brown and crisp a bit more for about 10 minutes.
-Remove from oven, top each meatball with some of the Rich Marinara sauce and a sprinkle of mozzarella, and place them back into “low broil” oven just for a moment to melt the cheese.
-To serve, add some of the pasta to a serving bowl, and top with sauce; then, top with several meatballs and garnish with the remaining 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley.
Rich Marinara Sauce Ingredients:
• Olive or canola oil
• 1 large onion, diced
• 1 ½ teaspoons salt
• 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 3 tablespoons tomato paste
• 2 (28 ounce) cans organic crushed tomatoes
• ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
• 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
-Place a large non-stick pot over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 3 tablespoons of oil; once hot, add in the onion, the salt, Italian seasoning, black pepper and red pepper flakes, and stir to combine; allow to saute for about 2-3 minutes.
-Next, add in the garlic and stir, and once that becomes aromatic, add in the tomato paste and stir to combine; cook for about 2 minutes.
-Add in the crushed tomatoes, stir, and allow to gently simmer on low with a lid partly askew, for about 30 minutes.
-Finish the marinara by stirring in the parmesan, the chopped parsley and the basil; keep warm, or allow to completely cool and keep in fridge until ready to reheat and use.