Two and a Half Years Old!!

Expressive4Evie gets a write-up every month, so I thought it was only fair to catch up on the life of Abigail.  This will have some bits and pieces of her life that I want to remember.  Those little things that her Mama holds dear. 🙂
Our GirlSneaky

She is now almost 3 feet tall (35 inches) and weighs 26 lb 7 oz.  She wears a lot of legging type pants and tight shorts because nothing else will stay up on her!  Most of her pants/shorts are 2T.  Her shirt size is a variety of 2T and 3T.Leopard Babe

Abby is a perpetual bundle of chattering energy.  This picture sums our tot up pretty well. hahaCrazy Child

Our girl does very well with full sentences and has recently started to use her pronouns correctly.  For a couple months, we were getting pretty used to hearing things like, “Evie is playing with his toys,” “Mama needs she book,” and “Daddy wants her lunch.”  With her more appropriate speech, I am just reminded yet again that she is growing up on me. *sniff*  Stay my little girl forever, please.  I love how expressive she is with her face and hands when she talks (this definitely came from yours truly haha)!
ExpressiveExpressive1Expressive3

Here are some favorite quotes Abby phased through over the past 6 months:

Mimicking everything I model for her…… When I hand Evie a toy – “You’re such a good helper, Mama!  That was so kind of you!”

After I finish singing a song for the girls – “Good job, Mama!”

“I love you even when you’re naughty, Mama.”

“You’re killin’ me, Mama!”

Every time we say anything ever, “Cuz…?”  It’s her equivalent for the notorious “Why?”

Apparently I said, “I love you, buuuut you need to go to sleep (or, you need to eat your food or other similar endings one too many times because now Abby quotes those constantly.

Every meal or snack time, after I put hers down in front of her – “How did you make this, Mama?!” said in an amazed tone.

“Are you kiddin’ me?!”

This was one we had to train out of her, but it was nonetheless extremely hilarious.  Sometimes after asking her a question – “I don’t want to have this conversation.”

When Abby is in the basement or somewhere away from me she will sometimes yell out nervously, “I love you, Mama!”  And I need to yell back, “I love you, Abby!”  I guess it’s our own version of Marco Polo. 😉

Making sure to use “please” and “thank-you.”  She especially enjoys emphasizing “thank-you” after someone gets her a tasty snack or something equally exciting.  There are times she forgets her manners though…. we had spaghetti for supper last night and afterwards Abigail was inevitably sitting in a mound of noodles.  She screeched, “Clean up my mess, Daddy!!”  Caleb replied, “Oooh, that’s not a nice way to ask,” and Abby was quick to more politely say, “Will you please clean up my mess, Daddy?”  She also helped with the cleaning, which was a positive. 🙂
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“I love you forever Mama!  And I love Daddy forever!  And I love Evie forever!  And I love me forever too!”

Daddy's Girl“Really?!” used as both an excited exclamation and for question emphasis.

No matter how mundane the happening, she always wants to “Tell Daddy about it!!” when he gets home from work.

Abigail thrives with one on one attention.  She enjoys parent interaction and activities the most.  She absolutely loves it when Caleb or I play with her or let her help us with something.  It’s super cute when she is excited and happy because she does this little jig/bounce/hop around thing as she chats.  It’s like she can’t express her happiness with just chattering, so she bounces around too.  I love it so much. haha  This is Abby enjoying her cup of “cappuccino” along with Daddy while he studied.
Cappacino

Some things Abby enjoys most:

School – I have been slacking a bit as I prepare for a garage sale in a few weeks, but ooooooooh boy!  When we have time for school, her happiness overflows.  She LOVES it!  Lately, she likes to point out letters in her books and tell me the sound they make and list off some words that start with the letters.  She can make a few letters on her own now and is always so proud when she does (A, M, W, N, O, V are the ones I remember).  Her new computer (50 cent garage sale bargain!) is a recent toy obsession that is at least educational for those days I don’t fit in school time.
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Evelyn – Abby is so sweet with her baby sister!  They are already best friends.  Abby sings to Evelyn when she cries, “Don’t you cry, Evie Grace! I am here with you! I love you!”  She gets toys for her when I’m busy.  She talks to her, makes her laugh, and in general is a huge helper for me!  Although I haven’t let her yet, Abby is always begging to help change Evie’s diapers. haha  I do let her help wash Evie at bath time though. 🙂  She is also very good at running to bring me a fresh liner and cover whenever I need one.  We think Abs is the best big sister!Best Friends and SistersSisters2Sisters1

WalkingOutside – Anything and everything outdoors is Abby’s favorite!  Ever since she was about 18 months old, Abby has been doing a lot of walking with me.  She often walks a few miles each day and loves it!  Although Abby almost always walks when we go places, I did find this fun ride a couple weeks ago at a garage sale (only $4, so I couldn’t pass it up!).  And if she has already done a lot of walking, she occasionally gets the special treat of an evening stroll in this bad boy.  With a little cup holder for her water, she is all set.
Car Ride

Abigail always has fun playing at parks.  Daddy went down a slide on his tummy once when Abby was about 1 1/2 and ever since she will often do the same.  Swinging is tolerated, but not one of her favorites.  She is such a busy, energetic tot that she finds the climbing, sliding, exploring part much more to her liking.Tummy SlideSlidingSwinging

One of our favorite parks has a big fountain that provides plenty of excitement by shooting up and spraying us every couple of minutes!  It also has a big pond with interesting ducks and geese to watch.
FountainDuck Watching

Animals of all kinds continue to be Abby’s joy.  She still dreams of the day we will be able to get our own puppy (me too, me too….) and she will be able to take care of it.  She loves all of the animals at my parents.  Feeding dandelions to the goats is the best!
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Recently, she was able to feed Jill’s big horse, Classy, some grass and feed which was a major highlight as well!
Feeding GrassFeeding Classy

Helping Mama garden is something Abs takes very seriously.  Although, she is still trying to learn the difference between our plants and the weeds.

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“Mowing like Daddy” is great fun!  Daddy does such a good job with his reel mower that we all want to join in when he’s out mowing. 🙂MowingMowing1

We still can’t get over how much Abby LOVES playing frisbee golf!  There can be parks along the course that look so fun Caleb and I want to go play, and she will firmly want nothing to do with them if they interfere with her beloved frisbee golf.

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Mississippi River 1We all have fun with outdoor family adventures.  Here we are enjoying an evening by watching barges, boats, etc. on the Mississippi River.

Mississippi Watching

ReadingBooks – Ohhhh, how Abigail looooves her books!!  Multiple times a day, I will find her sitting in the midst of a colossal pile of her favorites reading away.  She is usually carrying at least one book around with her, and her bookshelf is frequently emptied by the end of the day.  Abby has a few tricks for getting me or Daddy to extend our read-a-loud periods.  She will hold two books out to us and ask, “Which one would you like to read?”  If that doesn’t work, she will open a book up to read it “on her own,” but will point to each page as she turns it, asking us, “What does this say?”  She’s a sneaky one, she is….

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Abigail has a huge amount of her books memorized and never fails to impress us with her book quotes.  She loves to quote something from a book that will fit the moment.  It always makes us laugh.

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Her collection of Biscuit stories is a favorite and for a long time it was one of her nightly picks (she gets 2 books in bed every night).Biscuit

Babies – Abby’s dolls get played with every single day.  She loves acting out whatever I do with Evelyn, whether that’s feeding her babies, laying them down for naps, reading them stories, giving them toys, carrying them in her “K’tan,” etc.

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While she loves all her dollies, her first one, Baby Rose, continues to hold a special place in her little heart.  It’s a rare night that Baby Rose doesn’t get picked for bed.

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Kitchen – We have a toy kitchen (garage sale find for the win) that is another favorite.  We have it set up next to our kitchen and whenever I am cooking, Abby is usually busy “cooking” as well.  It was definitely worth the purchase as it has provided hours upon hours of fun.  I will often find Abby’s cookware/food items in my kitchen, put in the same places I keep mine.  For example, she keeps her potholder in my potholder drawer, her syrup bottle next to mine, etc.  What a little goof. 🙂Cooking

She adores helping me with the real cooking whenever I give her the chance.  She is the best helper!Helping Cook

Duplos1Evening Play Time with Daddy – Normally, Abby will take a 1 1/2 – 2 hour nap in the afternoon.  She went through a couple month stage where she would keep herself awake, but we’ve (thankfully!) since moved on.  She knows that if she lays down and takes a nap she gets to stay up half an hour later and play with Daddy and that definitely encourages her to get it done. haha  Some things she enjoys playing with him are building with either Duplos or Legos, her Pet Shop (the old school kind from my childhood), and board games.  Daddy definitely enjoys the Duplo/Lego department… often it’s more difficult to pull him away than it is to get Abby upstairs to bed. 😛

Duplos

MemoryShe really gets into board games, which we both appreciate!  She ranks them right up there with school time.  The other night, Caleb and Abby came upstairs for bedtime and I asked what they had done.  Abby cheerfully shouted, “Dolls!!”  And I laughed at Caleb, saying, “You’re such a girls’ dad!”  He quickly responded, “Ya, we played with dolls… after we finished saving the world in Forbidden Island!!”

Forbidden Island1Forbidden Island

Hy-VeeHy-Vee – We shop at Alidis for the bulk of our groceries and Wal-mart for the few things Alidis doesn’t have.  This is because we like cheap groceries.  However, every now and then we make a special trip to one of the local Hy-Vee stores for the sake of our two year old.  She thinks shopping at Hy-Vee is the best thing ever because…. they have little girl sized shopping carts and she gets to push one all around the store!!  The other reason we go is because they have AE yogurts and let’s be honest… those are the best yogurts around.  We usually let Abby pick out two or three yogurts to eat as snacks/breakfast.  She takes her decisions very seriously.  So far she has tried Key Lime Pie (a favorite), Lemon, Black Cherry (wasn’t overly fond of this one), Orange Cream, Raspberry Vanilla, Peach, and Blueberry.

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HugsA few last things….  Abigail’s favorite color is purple.  She has never been a picky eater and continues to eat a wide variety of foods.  She doesn’t mind spice (raw onions and peppers are still favorite munchies for her) and is opposite from a lot of kids we know.  She tends to shy away from breads and crackers while she loves her fruits and vegetables!  Homemade popsicles are the best!

Popsicle Time

Abby likes to dress up and be a “Fancy Nancy!” (a character from some of her books).  She still gets a little stressed around other people, but now does much better with just hanging out by Mama or Daddy for a bit until she’s comfortable – rather than starting to cry.

Fancy Nancy

The other day I gave Abby a little bag of squares and within a few seconds (and no prompting!) she was chattering, “Look, Mama!  I am making squares!”  She went on to make me some rectangles as well.  I thought that was pretty smart! 🙂

Making Squares

There was a couple month stage where Abby absolutely freaked out when I would pull up the bathtub drain.  She thought it was going to suck her up because I once (unwittingly) said something like, “Hand me your toys so we don’t lose them down the drain.”  We have since, gratefully, moved on.

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Bedtime routine consists of a Bible story & prayer, Mama and Daddy each reading a book of Abigail’s choice, and a few cuddles and songs.  This starts at 7 when she doesn’t nap and 7:30 when she does.  I love how this little girl looks at her daddy.  He is definitely her hero!

My Daddy1My Daddy

Abigail wears me out and makes me laugh, all at once and all the time.  She likes singing along with the Air 1 radio station, which is always cute.

Cutie

We sing her the “Chin Up” song from Charlotte’s Web whenever she’s being growly – our word for a grumpy mood.  Here she is demonstrating her “growly face.” haha  She couldn’t hold it for long though.

Growly FaceHappy Girl

Abs is always our little joy and growing up way too fast.  So thankful for her and everything she brings to our lives.  She makes life so much more wonderful!

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Mexican Lasagna

This recipe edited from Taste of Home provides a fun alternative to using lasagna noodles and it’s deliciously healthy!

Mexican LasagnaMexican Lasagna 2

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 – 2 bell peppers chopped*
  • 3 – 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 jar (24 ounces) chunky red salsa
  • 1 can (16 ounces) refried beans
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans rinsed/drained
  • 1 can (10 ounces) tomato sauce + 1/2 can water
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 whole wheat flour tortillas ripped in half
  • about 4 cups shredded cheeses**

* I used one green and one red, but any colors would work great!

** I used cheddar & mozzarella, but a Mexican blend would probably be tastier.  We just like to get the cheapest kinds, and they worked fine. 🙂

Brown your beef and onion over medium heat until cooked through.

Add in the bell peppers, minced garlic, and frozen corn and cook for a couple minutes longer.

Stir in the salsa, beans, tomato sauce/water, chilies, taco seasoning, and pepper and heat through.

Grease your baking dish and arrange 3 of your tortilla halves on the bottom like so.Mexican Lasagna

Spread half of the meat mixture on top, followed by half of the cheese.  Repeat layer.

Cover and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.  Top with tortilla chips if desired and try to let it sit about 10 minutes before digging in.  We had these corn muffins with honey as a tasty side.Mexican Lasagna 1

P.S. You could definitely halve this recipe if you don’t need such a big batch.  Also, I used a 13″ x 9″ baking dish, but it would probably work out a little better in something slightly bigger.

Buttery Corn Muffins

This comforting side is slightly edited from Once Upon a Time.  These muffins were delicious with honey drizzled on top and served alongside some Mexican Lasagna! 🙂

Buttery Corn MuffinsButtery Corn Muffins

  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter melted/slightly cooled

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease muffin tin.  Mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, honey, and milk.  Add egg mixture and melted butter to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Spoon into 12 muffin cups.  Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or tops are lightly golden and toothpick comes out clean.  Let them sit about 3 minutes and they’ll pop out of the muffin tin easier.  Serve warm with honey for best results! 🙂Buttery Corn Muffins 1

Motherhood

Mother's Day6EMother's Day11very day since I became a mother I have thanked God for the unspeakable gift.  I am so, SO very grateful – teary-eyed, heart filled to overflowing grateful – that I have been given  the two most precious little girls, beyond what I could have ever imagined.  They inspire me to seek the Lord anew every day, to love more, to laugh more, to be more patient and gentle, to slow down and enjoy the little wonders in life, to busy myself in the best ways possible, and to keep up with all of their messes and antics.  Even though I am a mother full of flaws, I will love my daughters so much forever!!Mother's Day14

I feel incredibly blessed that I get to be with my little girlies each day.  It’s not always easy, but there’s nothing I love more than just being with them.  Everything from waking them up in the morning, our days filled with playing, learning, cooking, cleaning, and your occasional bout of insanity.  There are moments when things can feel both completely crazy and monotonous, but even in those times I truly wouldn’t want to be anywhere else without them.Mother's DayMother's Day2Mother's Day1

Mother's Day7I love that I am the one to answer Abby’s constant questions and listen to her incessant chatter.  I love that I can hold Evie when she cries.  I love that I can be with my babies when they’re sick.  I love hugging them when they just need extra cuddles.  I love that I don’t have to miss them!  Being a mom is my favorite, favorite job and I can probably never appreciate it enough! 🙂Mother's Day12Mother's Day13Mother's Day3

These are my precious baby girls.
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Thanks to my sweet husband for snapping some memories for me on Mother’s Day.  He is always my best!
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Baked Spaghetti

Apparently I’m on a spaghetti role lately….  to ease your mind, the Spaghetti & Meatballs and this recipe were actually made weeks apart. 🙂

Although you have to factor in about 30 minutes for baking, the prep time for this option is definitely comparable to your average spaghetti meal.  Plus, it has the added benefit of extremely easy leftovers.  You don’t have to blob sauce on or add cheese the next day – simply cut a hunk out and throw it in the microwave.  BAM.  Also, it is delicious.

Baked Spaghetti

  • About 12 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 pound ground beefBaked Spaghetti
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 jar (24 ounces) spaghetti sauce
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 – 4 cups shredded cheeses*

*I used 1/2 mozzarella & 1/2 cheddar

Break spaghetti noodles in half and cook according to package directions.  Meanwhile, brown your beef.  When the beef is a couple minutes from being done, throw in your onion and pepper and cook until meat is done.  Turn off the heat and stir in the jar of sauce.  Pour about 1/3 cup of water into the sauce jar, shake it up to get all the saucy goodness, and add into the meat mixture.  (I hope you didn’t forget to put the lid on prior to shaking….)

Whisk together the parmesan, egg, and milk.  Drain the noodles when they are done and stir in egg mixture to coat.

In a greased 13″ x 9″ pan, layer half of the noodles, half of the meat, & half of the cheese.  Repeat layers.  Bake uncovered at 350° F for 30 minutes or cooked/heated through.Baked Spaghetti 1

Seven Months Old!!!!!!!

IMG_5033IMG_0420aWe now have a seven month old little sweetie!  And the highlight is

……(wait for it)…….

she is now sleeping close to 10 hours in a row!!!!!!!!!!!  GLORY BE!  I’m a little excited about this.  The change came with switching her to stomach sleeping.  She started it by going crazy with her rolling and when I found she slept way better that way, I went with it.  The extended wait between feedings doesn’t happen every night, but it does happen enough that I can call it her “norm” now. 🙂IMG_5072

Nap time has been consistently awesome.  Evs still takes 2 naps a day in her car seat.  The morning nap is anywhere from 1 – 1 1/2 hours and the afternoon is 2 – 2 1/2 hours.  And the best part is, Evelyn and Abigail’s afternoon naps are now in sync!  IMG_5005

IMG_5150Evie is typically nursing 5 times a day now, along with one early morning feed.  I give her small bits of mushed up fruits and applesauce here and there, but nothing too substantial.  I finally got around to having her try gnawing on a green pepper like Abby used to (and still does) love doing and, uh, it didn’t go over too well.  Her face says it all….  When she first bit into it, she looked up at me completely aghast that I would give her something so revolting.  She eventually threw it down in disgust.  I think I’ll give it a try again tomorrow. 😉
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Although this child has never once experienced a bottle, she likes to chew on Abby’s doll bottles like she’s a pro.  I don’t know why, but I think it’s funny.IMG_5027

I’ve lost track of how many people have guessed our little Evelyn is 3 months old.  She’s just so very teeny tiny! haha  She weighs 13 lb 3 oz now, so we had a small gain from last month.  Evie is just starting to outgrow her 6 month clothes (meaning, her limbs are getting too long…. weight-wise she has yet to outgrow anything ha!).IMG_5076IMG_5041

IMG_4992Although Abby was sitting up really well on her own by seven months, Evie is not too interested.  She has made a very small amount of progress in that department since six months. haha  That’s one of those skills that develops quickly once they figure it out though, so I’m sure it will happen soon!  However, Evs has become incredibly mobile over the last month.  She now can get just about anywhere she wants between rolling, dragging herself, and scooting.  She is especially enjoying rolling.  Her favorite thing to roll after is anything Big Sis is playing with (of course).IMG_3299

The other day, Evelyn made her way over to Abby’s doll stroller and got SO intensely excited over it.  She had that frenzied “chew as fast as you can before Mama takes this away” look.IMG_4807IMG_4805

Standing (with help) continues to be a favorite.  She likes to take a few little steps now as well.  Yes, I know this picture is goofy – she was attacking my camera!!IMG_0371

IMG_5047Abigail is greatness itself as far as Evie is concerned.  If Abby has it, Evie wants it.  If Abby is being funny, Evie is laughing hysterically at her (not so much if the parents try the same antics).  When Abby appears, Evie’s face erupts in a gigantic smile.  Abigail is obviously an extremely fascinating little person.  It’s so much more fun (in our opinion) having two little tots be-bopping around.  We love watching the dynamic between our girlies.  They love each other so very much and are often playing together.
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This little “chew on lips” face has been a go-to expression for Evie the past few days. hahaIMG_5141IMG_4986

Lately, Evelyn has taken quite an interest in books.  She will frequently roll, pick one up, and look at the pages.  Of course, there are other times she likes to “sink her teeth into a good book” and we have to remove it. 😉
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This good ol’ bouncer is where Evie gets to hang out while the rest of her family is occupied with meal times.
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IMG_4896I love all of the different holds we can do with our K’tan.  This facing out position is what we’ve been using for the most part now.  Evelyn is still in love with this carrier and shows almost as much hyperventilating excitement when she sees it as she does when it’s time to nurse.  She would probably be thrilled to spend the majority of her current life in it.  Mostly, she loves being held, which generally works out well because I love holding her! 🙂
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There can never be enough hanging out with Daddy time!IMG_4936

Something Evie recently discovered is her ability to complain.  Obviously she whined prior to this, but she now understands how to, if that makes sense.  It is definitely a thing.  One of the best ways she does this is to make short, angry grunts as she pounds her fists against the floor.  So far, I think it’s hilarious.  We’ll see how long I can maintain that perspective…..
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IMG_5013Random fact about Evie: She has extreme bath paranoia.  Yup, I should have probably started giving her actual baths earlier so she would have gotten eased into it, but wash rag baths were just SO MUCH easier.  I think part of the problem is that she is so scrawny.  I have one of those little baby baths, but she doesn’t even come close to fitting in it and it makes her super nervous flailing around in there without anything cuddling her.  I kind of gave up for the time being and just do sponge baths.  I’m thinking I’ll give it another try once she is sitting up on her own and I can use the little baby bath chair thing I have.  Also, that shocked expression is my favorite crazy Evie face so far….

Singing a couple songs and praying with bedtime snuggles – our usual nightly routine.  I love my sweet baby so much.  This is always one of my favorite times.
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P.S. Have you noticed what I’m doing with the exclamation points in the titles of these monthly updates?  I just wanted to make sure my little OCD fling wasn’t going unnoticed…. thanks.IMG_0320

Spaghetti & Meatballs

This is probably going to sound pretty sad, but today was my first time ever making this classic dish!  I know, I know…. what?!  Maybe it was because I didn’t grow up eating it.  We always had spaghetti with a beefy meat sauce which gives you a similar taste without the work of forming meatballs.  Whatever the case, I am pretty sure the first time I ate meatballs in my spaghetti was at college (good ol’ baked spaghetti from Sufficient Grounds at Bethel… haha).

The recipe I used is anything but complicated.  It’s actually from Kraft, although I “cheated” (aka “won”) and used off-brand parmesan because that’s how I roll.

Spaghetti & MeatballsIMG_2696a

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 (24 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
  • shredded mozzarella cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix the first six ingredients (it works best with your hands) and shape into roughly 18 meatballs.  I like to have a small bowl of water nearby.  If you dip your hands in the water after every couple meatballs, it really keeps the mixture from sticking all over you and makes the process much quicker!

Place the meatballs onto a couple of greased pans and bake about 15 minutes or done (heated to 160ºF).

While your meatballs are in the oven, cook your spaghetti and heat up the sauce.

Stir your cooked meatballs into the sauce and serve over spaghetti noodles.  Top with shredded mozzarella cheese!  We’ll definitely be repeating this meal! 🙂