Sunday, January 29, 2012

Meatball Sub Cups & Butternut Squash Bake

Recently for dinner I made a fun version of the meatball sub. Now I'm not so great at making my own meatballs- I frequently use Harris Teeter's turkey meatballs. They are so tasty and easy. Whenever I want to make spaghetti and meatballs, or a meatball sub, I just open the package and put said frozen meatballs into a pot and simmer with a jar of red sauce. Perfection. I've also been known to throw meatballs into a crock pot with BBQ sauce to serve as appetizers. So whether you buy them premade or make your own, this meal is a winner.

I got the idea from It's a Bake-Off winning recipe called Jumbo Burger Cups, which basically takes all your favorite burger fixins and encloses it all into a muffin-like cup. I saw that and thought "Awesome! I'm going to do that as a meatball sub!" And I did.

Meatball Sub Cups

These were really yummy! Since I used a jumbo muffin tin, instead of cutting 6 biscuits in halves I used a dozen- 2 for each cup, a top and a bottom. The biscuits were thawed and flattened and placed into the muffin tin with the dough pushed up the sides to create a cup. I only used 1/2 a jar of red sauce to simmer the meatballs in because there really wasn't much room for extra sauce in the cups- though serving extra sauce on the side is an excellent idea. I then placed 2 meatballs into each cup and topped with a little shredded mozzarella cheese. provolone would work well, too. Place the second biscuit on top, sort of molded over to replicate a muffin top, and shake some sesame seeds to give it a "bun" appearance. Bake at 350* for 20 minutes.

Butternut Squash Bake

This recipe came from Better Homes & Gardens magazine. The recipe was split between pages and I did not save the very last bit of instructions, so when it came to cooking it I relied on my own experience. I assumed it should bake at 350* (doesn't everything?) and I eye-balled it to see when it was done. It took about 20-25 minutes to heat through, since everything was essentially already cooked.

Preheat oven to 425*. Peel, seed, and cube squash. Toss with olive oil and place into greased baking dish (recipe called for 1 1/2 lb. squash = 3 cups and a 15 x 10 inch pan. I used 2 small squashes, have no idea how many cups it was but it fit perfectly into a 8 x 10 pan.) Roast, uncovered for 30 minutes, until lightly browned and tender, stirring twice (I forgot to stir. Still came out okay.) Cook 6 oz. whole wheat, extra wide noodles according to package. Drain and set aside. In same pot melt 2 tbsp. butter and add 6 chopped shallots, cook for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until shallots are tender and butter is just beginning to brown. Stir in 1 tbsp lemon juice. Add noodles to shallots. Stir in 8 oz. mascarpone cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan, 1 tbsp dried parsley (or 1/4 cup fresh), and 1/4 tsp of salt and pepper, each. Stir until cheese is melted and all ingredients are blended. Add squash and combine everything. Transfer back into baking dish but make sure you've allowed the oven to cool down to 350* (I baked the meatball cups during this time). Top mixture with 1/4 parmesan cheese. Place dish in oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until heated through.

This was really, really good! I've never used mascarpone cheese before, and not sure I will again soon. It cost $5.79 for 8 ounces! I know there has to be a cheat out there somewhere with regular cream cheese, so if anyone knows it please share! I also had to buy the wide noodles. I could have used something else that I already had but I really wanted to experience this recipe the way it was written- and I wasn't disappointed.

Overall the added expense wasn't bad (except for paying almost $6 for an item when my weekly budget is $60.) I already had all the ingredients for the Meatball Cups (which is why I didn't mind using white flour biscuits- wanted to use them up in some way), and only had to buy pasta, shallots, and mascarpone cheese. I feed 5 people last night and still have 1 Meatball cup leftover and 1/2 pan of Butternut Squash Bake. So we're looking at 6 full meals, and about 3 other servings of the squash (about 10 total servings) all for $9.58. That's $.96 a serving. Yeah, I can live with that.

If you love butternut squash you will love this recipe! And if you are not sure if you would like butternut squash or not, this is the perfect recipe to start with. You can't loose! Happy eating!

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