Today is National Kids in the Kitchen Day. Originally created by the Young Chefs Academy to encourage children of all ages to take an active role in planning and preparing the family meal, those skills have become essential.
When the pandemic first broke here in America, and restaurants all across the country closed, the first wave of panic came not from a fear of a virus but from a fear of finding ourselves alone in the kitchen So ingrained into our way of life were the convenience of restaurants that drive through and curb side pick up was considered essential, as essential as grocery stores themselves. Oh my, I have to cook? Well thank God there are frozen foods and microwaves! That rush for convenience created a shortage of prepared foods and a surplus of “from scratch” ingredients.
When I was a girl, home economics was a required class in high school. While we did learned to cook, the class was more about the economics and skills of running the home than the meals themselves. Now children are taught neither. Why bother? Pick up your smartphone, press the appropriate ap and like magic food is on the table. No need to shop or cook or plan ahead. Kids in the Kitchen has taken on a whole new importance. Teaching our children life skills such as cooking not only feeds their bodies, it feeds their minds and builds a sense of accomplishment that selecting an ap will never bring.
What a wonderful day to gather in the kitchen. Let’s cook!
Spaghetti and Meatball Muffins
6 oz Spaghetti Pasta
12 (1 oz) Meatballs
1 (24 oz) jar Tomato-based Pasta Sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Cooking Spray as needed
Parmesan Cheese as desired
Fresh Basil as desired
Note: While shredded, shaved or grated fresh Parmesan would be nice, this is one of those rare times when the stuff in the can that we sprinkle over a pasta works well.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, about 7 minutes.
As the water comes to a boil and the pasta cooks, place pasta sauce into a stockpot. Add 12 frozen meatballs. Heat through to coat meatballs in sauce and allow meatballs to thaw. Let meatballs and sauce cool to room temperature.
Once the pasta is cooked al dente, drain well. Toss cooked pasta in a bowl with just enough pasta sauce from the meatballs to lightly coat the noodles. Refrigerate until cooled, about 15 minutes. Lightly beat an egg with olive oil. Pour beaten eggs over the cooled pasta, toss to blend, set aside.
Note: The eggs will help pasta hold its shape once baked.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 12 muffin cups with cooking spray. Divide spaghetti between the prepared muffin cups, pressing pasta in each cup to create “nests” for the meatballs.
Layer each “nest” with 1 tablespoon pasta sauce, 1 meatball, and 1 more tablespoon pasta sauce.
Bake in the heated oven until pasta is heated through,about 20 minutes. While the spaghetti bites bake, ribbon cut a few fresh basil leaves and set aside.
Cool muffin bites slightly before transferring to a serving platter. Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese and basil.
Great with a simple salad and warm bread.