Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Things I love about SLC

If you haven't noticed, Salt Lake City is growing on me. I don't even know if "growing on me" is the right phrase because I was thrilled to be moving here ever since we got the news. And I have not been disappointed. I find myself praying "Lord, please don't make me move back to Texas!" (Even though I love a lot of people in Texas, to borrow a phrase from my mother, Texas is "too hot to live".)

One thing I love about SLC is the trax system. It's an above ground metro rail. It's not nearly as extensive of a system as somewhere like Manhattan, but there are several lines. And it's very convenient for us because we only live two blocks away from one of the stops. Also, conveniently, we both work only three stops away from our duplex. So I take the trax to work and Peter rides his bike. And we save a ton on gas! And public transportation makes the environmentalist in me happy. Also, we get free metro passes since we both work for the University. Overall, its a win, win, win situation. (Can anyone tell me that reference???)

But today I used the trax to go the the library and a wine store. I'll write more about the library later because it is fabulous. Regarding the wine store, I think they really want to discourage drinking here because they do not sell anything above 3% alcohol in grocery stores. I think tap water might actually have about that concentration of alcohol, but I digress. This wouldn't bother me in the least execpt that I frequently cook with wine and liquor.

So I went to a wine store to get some red wine. I also wanted to buy some Kaluha for a desert that I plan to make but they only had name brand Kaluha and I wanted a cheap version. A store worker told me that I needed to go to a liquor store for that. Oh, silly me. So there's even a separate store for liquors.

So I didn't bother with the Kaluha today but I did get the wine. It was kind of awkward because I got on and off the train at the library stop. So there were all these mothers and their little kids going to the library and there I was with a bottle of alcohol in a brown bag. I felt so unwholsome. I had the urge to proclaim "I'm using this for cooking! Well, I might have a glass also, but I'm not a wino! Also, they sell this at grocery stores in Texas. Just saying."

Anyways, that brings me to my next point. I was buying the wine to make Peter's and my favorite spaghetti and meatball recipe. Actually, it's the only spaghetti and meatball recipe that I've ever made but we both love it. I've made this twice for big groups and each time people raved about it.

The great thing about it is that the recipe makes a lot so you'll definitely have leftovers (unless you're feeding a big group). Peter loves to eat the leftover meatballs in a meatball sub. And since I'm just making it for the two of us tonight, I plan to freeze half so that I'll have a quick, ready-made dinner for some night when I don't want to cook.

I also like it because you can pretty much add whatever you want to the sauce. Last time I added fresh bell peppers from my Grandma's garden. I also think mushrooms would go well in it. You can play around with the spices as well.

I made some balsamic roasted asparagus to go with it. Here are the recipes. Bon apetit!

Red Sauce and Meatballs

Spray your hands with a little cooking spray for perfectly round meatballs that don't stick to your hands.


Makes 10 servings


  • 1 1/2 pounds extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 small onion, grated
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced and divided*
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley, divided
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 (16-ounce) package linguine


Combine extra-lean ground beef, next 5 ingredients, half of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon each of basil and parsley, 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Shape mixture into 32 (1-inch) balls.

Place a rack coated with vegetable cooking spray in an aluminum foil-lined broiler pan. Arrange meatballs on rack.

Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until meatballs are browned.

Sauté chopped onion and remaining half of garlic in a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add red wine, tomatoes, sugar, and remaining 1 tablespoon each of basil and parsley, 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and add meatballs. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and oil. Serve tomato sauce with meatballs over hot linguine.

*Bottled minced garlic may be substituted; 1/2 teaspoon equals 1 clove.

Note: To reduce sodium, choose low-sodium canned tomato products and omit added salt.

Note: Red sauce and meatballs may be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated for a day or frozen for up to a month.

Balsamic Roasted Asparagus


4 servings


  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 425°.

Snap off tough ends of asparagus. Place in a jelly-roll pan. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar; sprinkle with salt, garlic, and pepper, tossing to coat. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes, turning once.


Anonymous said...

I believe there is already a very descriptive word for your abdication of the Great Lone Star State of Texas, (now minus one truely bright star YOU) and that word is TURNCOAT....I guess I could not expect anything else from someone born in Boston!!! Love Your MOM

Anonymous said...

Your mom is right, it's way too hot in Texas.... But where else are ya gonna get decent Mexican food?? Don

Peter and Leslie said...

You of all people should know that it is possible to live without Mexican food! We carry on somehow. And actually there is a Mexican food place near us that is pretty good. You have to come visit us! You will love our cats. Theodore reminds me of Pushkin. :o)