Beef/ dinner/ Healthy/ Pasta/ Sauces/ Weight Watchers

Happy Birthday Tony!

Oh how I wish he was here.  While he didn’t ever want to make a big deal out of his birthday, that just wasn’t an option when you are married to me.  I’d think long and hard on the menu, the gifts, etc.  When I think back to his last birthday, I obviously didn’t know at the time that it would be his last.  I’ve just recently started to read my old blog posts from that summer of 2014 when we were back and forth to Mayo Clinic.  What I can’t believe is that even though he hadn’t had an appetite for the longest time, and even the smell of cooked food sometimes turned him off, I somehow decided it would be a good idea to make him lamb chops because they were his favorite.  I think he maybe ate two bites of one chop, and was apologetic about not eating more.  And as I was clearing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen, I remember hearing him snore because he fell asleep at 7:00 p.m. like his did. 


Maybe next year will be easier to sit outside without the constant reminder that he isn’t sitting across from me with his cigar and Grey Goose on the rocks.  Yesterday when I was trying to decide what to make for dinner that all three of us would eat, Jacob said that he loved a vodka tomato sauce.  Suddenly the idea for pasta and meatballs was on the menu and as I was going to the grocery store to pick up a small bottle of vodka for the sauce, I realized I hadn’t bought vodka at all since the summer of 2014.   I am not sure Tony would have approved of my $8.99 choice though!

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This is my version of a vodka sauce with meatballs.  I love buying what my store calls “chili meat” which is just a thick ground chuck of 85/15. 

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Vodka Sauce with Mini Meatballs
Serves 8
I love having mini meatballs because it feels like you are eating more than you really are. Each meatball comes in at 1 smart point.
Write a review
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
35 min
270 calories
12 g
69 g
12 g
13 g
5 g
171 g
684 g
2 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 270
Calories from Fat 103
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 12g
Saturated Fat 5g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 69mg
Sodium 684mg
Total Carbohydrates 12g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 2g
Protein 13g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  2. 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  3. 1 cup vodka
  4. 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  5. 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  6. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  7. 1/4 cup heavy cream
  8. pinch of salt and pepper
  9. 1 pound ground chuck
  10. 2 ounces of chopped stale Italian bread
  11. 1/4 cup 1% milk
  12. 1 egg
  13. 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  14. 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  15. 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  16. 1 teaspoon salt
  17. 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  18. 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  1. In a stock pot, heat the olive oil and add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Add in the vodka, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the vodka has been reduced by half.  Add in the Italian seasoning, crushed tomatoes, crushed red peppers, salt pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the heavy cream.  Taste for additional salt.
  2. In a large bowl, put the stale bread and the milk together and mix until the milk is absorbed into the bread.  This is called a panade and keeps your meatballs tender while cooking.  Add in the ground chuck, 1 egg, bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic salt, salt, pepper and dried parsley and mix just until combined, careful not to over mix the meat mixture.  I got 45 meatballs about the size of a marble out of this recipe – each meatball comes in at 1 smart point each.
  3. Heat a skillet with Pam – there is enough fat in the meat that you don’t need to add any additional fat to the pan.  Cook over medium high heat so that there is a nice crust on the outside of the meatball, but not yet fully cooked.  Throw the meatballs into your sauce and put the pan back on a low simmer to let the meatballs cook through, about 10 minutes.
My Bizzy Kitchen
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I ate 6 meatballs for 6 smart points, 1 point for the sauce and 5 points for the cooked pasta for a filling 12 point dinner.   I may be having a mini meatball sandwich for lunch today.

My goal for the day is not to binge eat just because I am feeling sad that Tony isn’t here on his birthday.  Luckily today is a workday – a private party for just 5 people which should be interesting because I haven’t worked a small party like that before.  And I love the chef I am working with and know I can learn a lot from her.  It’s a California Wine Country Menu today:  artichoke focaccia; arugula, avocado and orange salad with a pistachio vinaigrette; roasted chicken with fig balsamic glaze; fennel and new potato salad with whole grain mustard and lemon cheesecake with whipped cream.  Doesn’t that sound delicious?!

So my only request today is to give your spouse or significant other an extra hug and a kiss today.  Hugs!

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  • Thekitchwitch
    September 22, 2016 at 10:35 am Big, big hugs to you, my friend. I know it will be a hard day, so be gentle with yourself. xo
    • Biz
      September 24, 2016 at 11:33 am Thanks Dana - I appreciate the virtual hugs! :D
  • Carol at Wild Goose Mama
    September 22, 2016 at 10:42 am It is very hard, my darling girl. My husband's birthday was the same day as mine. Kind of puts a different spin on it. You are doing so well. But there will always be what I call grief pockets.
    • Biz
      September 24, 2016 at 11:34 am That's a good way to describe it Carol - "grief pockets." It comes out of nowhere sometimes! Hugs to you too :D
  • Randi MacDonald
    September 22, 2016 at 10:56 am ((((hugs)))). I still can't even imagine. Hindsight is always 20/20 isnt it?
    • Biz
      September 24, 2016 at 11:37 am Yep, wish I would have known that was his last birthday, but that's how it goes. It just makes me appreciate my life all the better and finding this job is helping me with the next chapter of my life.
  • Lori
    September 22, 2016 at 1:35 pm Hugs to you, Biz.
    • Biz
      September 24, 2016 at 11:37 am Thanks Lori - I feel the virtual hugs :D
  • Shelley B
    September 22, 2016 at 3:57 pm Thinking of you today, Biz - hugs.
    • Biz
      September 24, 2016 at 11:38 am Thanks Shelley - I appreciate it. It was an emotional day, but I got through it. Not sure it will ever get easier?
  • Kelly B.
    September 22, 2016 at 9:49 pm Thoughts and big hugs to you today (and for your & Tony's family), on this tough day. I know, it doesn't seem to get easier, but I'm certain the memories grow fonder and eventually it overcomes the painful grief....never completely, but enough to feel peace....I hope you are on your way there. No rush, only happiness wished. Hugs!
    • Biz
      September 24, 2016 at 11:39 am Thanks Kelly! I hope I am on my way there and laughter will replace tears when I think of him.
  • Fran
    September 23, 2016 at 7:26 am Hope you survived the day yesterday. I read it on FB yesterday and you have been in my thoughts. Big hug for you. That pasta dish looks delicious! I have to say that when I use alcohol in a dish I never use very expensive stuff.
    • Biz
      September 24, 2016 at 11:40 am Thanks Fran, I got through it. I was happy it was a work day so I didn't wallow in a bottle of wine! And I think that is the rule of thumb with alcohol vs. wine - you can go with the cheap stuff to cook with, but never use a wine you wouldn't drink in a dish. Just about to get my walking shoes on!
  • ashley | the pike place kitchen
    October 12, 2016 at 5:55 am hugs and kisses from me! I'm SURE tony is proud of you.