Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs Recipe

Meet your new best friends, the slow cooker, and meatballs. Save some time, and enjoy the convenience and great taste of this tender, easy, slow cooker Italian meatballs recipe! Read on for directions and ingredients.

Ingredients:
To cut the fat in this recipe, use 90% ground beef or higher, and use 1 egg with 2 egg whites.
* 2 pounds ground beef, 85% or higher
* 1 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
* 3/4 cup grated cheese
* 5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
* 3 eggs
* 2 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
* 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
* 1 small can tomato paste
* 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes

Directions:

1. Combine the ground beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, grated cheese, and basil into a large mixing bowl. Thoroughly combine with a wooden spoon.

2. Roll the combined meat mixture into 1.5"-2" balls. Roll thoroughly to smooth the meatball into a perfect sphere, so it won't crumble during cooking.

3. Pour the minced garlic, crushed tomatoes, and diced tomatoes into the crockpot slow cooker. Heat the crockpot on medium heat. Add the meatballs to the sauce, covering entirely with the sauce. Cover and cook 8 hours, or until the middle of the meatball reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

4. Add a tablespoon of the tomato paste to the sauce if it needs to be thickened. (Grease from the meatballs will enter the sauce). Also add grated cheese, salt, and pepper to taste.

Other recipes you might like:

* Chicken Parmigiana Recipe
* Spaghetti with Bell Pepper Marinara
* Healthy Eggplant Parmesan
* Homemade Italian Balsamic Fennel

Slow Cooker Homemade Crockpot Minestrone Soup

minestrone soup
Minestrone is a staple not just for Italians, but for restaurants, chefs, moms and dads all over the world. This recipe can be made in a slow cooker if you're short on time, or over a stove top. Here's how to make this slow cooker homemade minestrone soup in just a few minutes!

Ingredients:

* 1 can canellini beans
* 2 cans beef broth
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 2 chopped onions
* 1 sliced carrot
* 4 celery stalks, sliced
* 1 tablespoon minced garlic
* 1 can (28 oz) plum tomatoes
* 2 Tablespoons dried parsley
* 2 small diced zucchini
* 2 potatoes, scrubbed and diced
* 1/2 cup small pasta (like ditalini or tubini)

Directions:

1. Saute all of the chopped vegetables along with the olive oil in a skillet. Soften the veggies until lightly cooked, about 10 minutes.

2. Add all of the ingredients except the pasta to a crockpot. Alternatively, add to a large soup pan and place on low heat. For the crockpot version, cook for 4 hours on low heat.

3. Check the soup to see if the vegetables are soft. Add the pasta if soft, and cook for approximately 15 minutes. Check often to see the firmness of the pasta. Serve immediately when pasta is tender, remove from heat to avoid cooking the pasta further.

Italian Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells Recipe

spinach stuffed shellsRicotta cheese tastes wonderful in many Italian recipes ranging from lasagna to ricotta cheesecake. The richness of ricotta is from the density and high fat content. Fortunately, there are part skim varieties that can help cut the fat in your recipes. To further reduce your fat intake, spinach is a tasty addition that will add a whole lot of flavor! Read on for directions and the ingredient list of this Italian spinach and ricotta stuffed shells recipe.

Ingredients:

* 1 Box Jumbo stuffed shells
* 2 Bags fresh spinach, washed
* 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup low fat mozzarella cheese
* 1/2 cup marinara

Directions:

1. Cook the shells according to directions. While the shells are cooking, prepare a pot of boiling water for the spinach. Remove the stems, then bring the water to a boil. Boil the spinach for approximately 10 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly.

2. Combine the ricotta, salt, and cooked spinach in a bowl. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. In a large glass baking pan, arrange the shells. Fill each shell generously with the ricotta-spinach mixture. Top with the marinara and then mozzarella cheese.

3. Bake the shells for approximately 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Homemade Healthy Baked Eggplant Parmesan

eggplantsEggplant Parmesan is a great way to get your fill of an unusual vegetable, but traditionally contains a high amount of fat and calories (like any dish high in cheese, eggs and breading will do). To cut the fat, and even reduce the workload on your recipe, skip a few steps and cut out just a couple of ingredients. Read on for the full homemade, healthy baked eggplant parmesan recipe!


Ingredients:


* One whole eggplant, washed and peeled, sliced into 1/2 thick slices (coin shaped)
* 1 teaspoon sea salt
* Homemade marinara sauce
* Fat free or low fat mozzarella cheese (lowfat as opposed to fat free usually melts better)
* 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
* 1 Tablespoon dried basil

Directions:

1. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the peeled eggplant on a baking sheet spaced out. Sprinkle the slices with half the amount of salt (1/2 teaspoon) salt, and bake the eggplant slices for 20 minutes.

2. Remove from the oven, turning the slices, and sprinkle the other side with the remainder of salt. Bake the slices for 10 minutes.

3. Allow the slices to cool slightly, then mist the slices with water, or lightly brush them with water. Alternatively, you can use a small amount of olive oil (but the recipe will be slightly higher in fat). Combine the basil with the Italian breadcrumbs. Dip each slice into the breadcrumb mixture, turning and coating each side.

4. Arrange the slices in a glass baking pan overlapping. Top the first layer of eggplant slices with marinara, then cheese. Repeat the layers until the eggplant is used. Bake the eggplant mixture for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese melts and the entree is fully heated. Serve immediately.

Homemade Italian Balsamic Fennel

fennel recipeThink you haven't tried fennel before? Fennel flavor is also known as anise, which you can find in cookies, liqueur, and many candies. It's an Italian favorite, and a healthy root vegetable that hits its peak stride in the fall and winter months. This homemade Italian balsamic fennel is a great dish to have as an appetizer or side salad. Known for its digestive properties, fennel is often served in Italy at or near the end of the courses to aid in digestion.

Ingredients:

* 2 fennel bulbs, sliced
* 6 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
* 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
* Parmesan cheese wedge
* 1/8 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

Directions:

1. Remove outer layers of the fennel bulb, and halve the bulb. Remove the core, then cut each half into thin slices. Place the fennel in a large salad bowl.

2. Drizzle oil and vinegar over fennel. Slice cheese with a cheese slicer over fennel salad, approximately 12 thin slices.

Serves 4 people, and is great for fall and winter!
Be sure to check out our other Italian recipes:

* Homemade Italian Sausage and Peppers
* Stir Fry Italian Squash
* Homemade Basil Mushroom Spinach Pockets

Homemade Italian Sausage and Peppers

italian sausage and peppersHomemade Italian sausage and peppers is one of the most satisfying, flavorful meals, with robust texture. It's a comfort food you can rely on to warm you up in the fall and winter months without fail. Read on to learn how to make this Italian favorite in just 25 minutes!

Ingredients:

* 4 Tablespoons olive oil
* 3 white onions, diced
* 4 peppers, cut into strips and deseeded
* 1 cup tomato juice
* 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
* 5 sausage links, cut into 1" slices
* 2 whole fresh tomatoes, diced
* 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
* 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, adding the onions and peppers. Saute the peppers and onions until softened, then add the tomato juice, sausage, and garlic.

2. Add the remaining spices. Stir and continue to simmer until the sauce thickens up. Add salt and pepper to taste. If necessary, drain off some of the sauce and reheat to thicken the sauce.

3. Add the sausage and peppers mixture to freshly cooked pasta, or serve it up in a fresh sub roll for a delicious sandwich! Top with grated cheese. Double the recipe for easy sandwiches for the weekends!

Stir Fry Italian Squash Recipe

Throughout the summer and fall months, you can find an abundance of squashes perfect for stir fry meals and sides. The crunchiness of the vegetables is complimented well with fresh basil leaves, garlic cloves, and a high quality olive oil. In their peak, you can find zucchini squash and yellow squash for sometimes under a dollar at farmstands. At the grocery store, you're apt to pay more, and not have that farm fresh taste. Whenever possible, buy from your local farm stand or farmer's market. Read on for an easy, delicious, and healthy stir fry italian squash recipe, suitable as a main course inside of a pocket, or great for a side!

Ingredients:

* 1 yellow squash, washed and peeled, cut into 1/2" thick circles, then halved
* 2 zucchini squash, washed and peeled, cut into 1/2 thick circles, then halved
* 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
* 20 large fresh basil leaves (approximately 3 Tablespoons) chopped
* 1 small garlic clove, minced

Directions:

1. Add the garlic clove and olive oil to a medium saucepan. Heat on low until the garlic lightly browns.

2. Add the squash to the mixture, stirring frequently. Increase the heat to medium and cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until the squash just start to soften.

3. Add the chopped fresh basil to the squash. Cook the squash on low heat, stirring frequently, for an additional 5-7 minutes. Add additional olive oil to the vegetables to avoid burning if the veggies start to stick. Serve immediately with fresh grated cheese or black pepper and sea salt.

Homemade Basil and Mushroom Spinach Pockets

pita pocketsEasy to Make Homemade Basil and Mushroom Spinach Pockets

The soft, thick texture of spinach and the pliable nature and fresh taste of mushrooms seem to go together perfect inside of a pita pocket -- if cooked correctly. Few ingredients make up this easy vegetarian dinner, and you'll be getting a load of vitamin K in your diet. Fresh pita pockets make this dinner even better - try finding fresh baked ones from a local bakery.

Ingredients:

* Two large bags of spinach, washed and stems removed
* 12 white mushrooms, cleaned and chopped into slices
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic
* 1 teaspoon dried basil
* 1 Tablespoon olive oil
* 3 large pita pockets, sliced in half
* 3 slices provolone cheese

Directions:

1. Rip the washed spinach into small pieces. Place all of the spinach into a large saucepan or boiling pot and fill with water.

2. Bring the water and spinach to a boil. Continue to cook on high heat until the spinach is dark green and wilted, approximately 20 minutes.

3. Strain the cooked spinach, pressing the water from the spinach. Add the garlic, basil and mushrooms to the saucepan, along with the strained spinach and olive oil. Over low heat, saute the mushrooms and spinach mixture for approximately 7 minutes, or until the mushrooms soften.

4. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the pita pocket halves on a baking sheet. Rip each cheese slice in half, placing a half in each pita pocket half. Top with the spinach mixture, distributing the spinach mix evenly into the six pockets.

5. Bake the pockets for approximately 10 minutes, until the cheese melts and the pita pockets are lightly browned.

Easy, Quick Homemade Italian Marinara Sauce

marinara sauceA quick marinara sauce that tastes good doesn't have to be poured from a can. In fact, you'll find this version to be much better than most canned varieties! A few basic ingredients and steps, and you'll have a go-to sauce recipe on hand at all times.

Ingredients:

- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic, or 2 medium cloves minced
- 24 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon fresh basil leaves, or 3 teaspoons dried basil
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

1. Saute the garlic and olive oil on low heat. Brown the minced garlic until lightly browned.

2. Drain the diced tomatoes and add to the olive oil and garlic mixture. Heat over low. Using a fork, crush the tomatoes against the side of the pan. Alternatively, you can use a potato masher to pulverize the tomatoes. Crush the tomatoes until slightly crushed, and the tomatoes are no longer in large chunks.

3. Continue to simmer the tomatoes for approximately 15 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add the basil in the last five minutes. Serve immediately over pasta, bread, or cool and freeze for use later.

This version of marinara has diced peppers added for a tasty variation.