homemade marinara + Italian turkey meatballs

This past weekend we had a storm hit us on the pacific west coast (PNW as the cool kids call it), you might remember me getting prepared for it last week with soups and baked goods. Well let’s just say it was a bit of a disappointment. It wasn’t nearly as bad as they said it was going to be, at least here in Victoria. I did hear up island further (I live on Vancouver Island) got hit worse. But there were no power outages around me or any fallen debris, which is always a good thing. Although I was secretly hoping I would have to light some candles and maybe even cook dinner on our wood stove…I almost did it just for fun, but then realized the stove is a lot easier and I wanted to watch a movie so power won that game.

It was quite windy, rainy and grey though so I spent the entire weekend indoors (except for a little hiking adventure on Sunday morning) in my kitchen creating some yummy upcoming posts for you guys. I am super excited about these two posts; I think you guys are going to love them! But this week it is all about the marinara and meatballs…

I have had this meatball recipe and photos done for some time now, I was actually going to wait until next summer to share them with you guys because I kinda let the ball drop on sharing and figured that tomato season would be over, BUT I was at the market on Friday and it was filled with so many local, no spray, beautiful tomatoes still. I was so excited because I really didn’t want to have to wait to share but at the same time I wanted you to be able to make it right away and now I know you can!

I made this marinara with meatballs all summer long, literally at least once a week and sometimes twice and I have made them a few times this fall season too. The meatballs are hearty yet light, filled with an abundance of fresh herbs to give them lots of flavour. I also added some red wine, which really brings out the tomatoes and gives the marinara some richness.

The marinara is so simple but it really gives you that accomplished feeling making it from scratch and the flavour, well you can’t get that kind of freshness from a jar. Really the hardest part is cutting the tomatoes, other than that you just let everything simmer so it really doesn’t take much effort, contrary to what may seem. I suppose you could always buy a jar and make the meatballs but where would the fun be in that?

homemade marinara + Italian turkey meatballs

marinara ingredients

4 pounds of small vine tomatoes

2 onions

6 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp of olive oil

2 tbsp of butter

1/3 cup fresh oregano

1/3 cup fresh basil

1/3 cup fresh thyme

1 cup red wine + 2 tbsp 

1 tsp Himalayan salt

1 tsp fresh pepper

turkey meatballs

2 pounds of turkey

1 onion

4 cloves of garlic

1 egg

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/3 cup fresh parmesan

1/4 cup fresh oregano

1/4 cup fresh basil

1/4 cup fresh thyme

2 tsp of Himalayan salt

2 tsp of pepper

3 tbsp of butter

2 tbsp of olive oil


preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

for the marinara:

cut the tomatoes in half, roughly chop the onion and garlic and finely chop the herbs. heat a large deep set  oven safe pan on medium heat and add in the olive oil and butter, next add in the tomatoes, garlic and onion. cover and turn the heat down to a simmer and let the tomatoes soften and simmer for at least an hour.

once the tomatoes have completely softened add in the cup of red wine and herbs. let this simmer for another 10 minutes. with an immersion blender, blend the tomato mixture until it is completely smooth. turn the stove down between 1 and 2 and let sit while you make the meatballs.

for the meatballs:

finely chop the herbs, mince the onion and garlic. add all of the meatball ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands. I made my meatballs quite large as I was making them a meal but you could make smaller ones if you wanted to have this dish with pasta. roll the meatballs into large balls and place on a plate. 

on medium to high heat add 3 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of olive oil to a pan. brown the meatballs on all sides. once browned add all of the meatballs to the marinara, pouring the pan drippings over top along with the extra splashes of red wine. mix the meatballs into the sauce, making sure they are completely covered.

place the pan in the oven for 40 minutes, turning the meatballs over after 20 minutes. serve with a side baguette for soaking up all that extra marinara or alternatively you could serve these meatballs over your favourite pasta. 

honey garlic roast chicken + creamy butternut squash

This is one of those homey comforting meals that these chillier fall days are made for. It is humble as chicken is but its flavour is impeccable with notes of ginger, garlic, honey and thyme taking centre stage. It came about because I was craving honey garlic chicken wings one Sunday and thought why couldn’t I just make one whole chicken instead of a bunch of different wings. The butternut squash was added to keep the chicken moist as well as to make it an entire meal.

It is perfect for those afternoons you don’t want to have to worry about dinner, you just throw everything into a roasting pan and call it a day. Throw on your mittens and scarf, walk around the neighbourhood and come back to the warmest, most fragrant home on the block. That actually sounds like my perfect Sunday, full of ease, simplicity, and comfort. The butternut squash really does do an amazing job at keeping the chicken super moist and adds a whole lot of flavour as well and it pairs perfectly with the garlic and ginger, a sweet and creamy combination.

Obviously it only being Paul and I we had leftovers so the next morning we made butternut squash patties with chicken, gravy and an egg on top, baked it and called it breakfast. It might have even been better than the meal the night before, maybe, well I don’t know actually both were pretty outstanding. But seriously if you do want to make them just mash some of the leftover butternut squash into a one inch thick patty, in a large cast iron pan with some butter places the patties down and brown on each side. Chop up some of the chicken and add it on top of the patty, bake it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. While its baking fry an egg separately and add after the patty and chicken are warmed up. Its really a great breakfast and a great way to use up the leftovers. Or you know you could just throw them in a container as is and bring them for lunch.

I have done a lot of roast chickens in my day but I must say this one is my favourite thus far. The butternut squash is creamy and fragrant, the chicken, like I said is moist and full of gingery, garlicky flavour. The honey and thyme meld everything together and the gravy, the gravy might just be the star. All of these flavours once simmered and sautéed together into the gravy make it extra extra special. I know most pan dripping gravies are good but this one, this one is really really good. It’s hard to explain but I think the ginger, just adds a lil’ some’em some’em.

It was actually so good we ended up making this back to back weekends, which we don’t do very often. I also made a version of this dish for Thanksgiving (just this past weekend) but instead of using a chicken we used a ham and it was equally as delicious, so can you switch them out one for one. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your ham. We cooked our 5 pound ham for three hours at 325 and added in the squash into the roasting pan during the last hour. 

We are supposed to be getting a huge storm here on the west coast this weekend, which I am weirdly excited about. It was supposed to start this morning but so far it has been slightly disappointing (I may be eating my words come Saturday when it is supposed to be at its strongest), with just a touch of rain. But I am preparing anyway with some soups in mind and maybe some comfort baking. I want to remake those plump peanut butter cookies I shared on Instagram a couple of weeks ago

I absolutely love storms, I grew up in Alberta and we would get the best storms. Ones where thunder would rock the entire house and lighting with hit and the entire sky would be lit. There is something so romantic about them (as long as no one gets hurt of course) they make me want to just live by the fire, wrapped in a cozy knit, sipping hot cocoa and playing board games by candlelight or watching old classic movies, if the power is stable. For some reason our power goes out every time there is a huge windstorm, which is kinda weird because we don't live in the total boonies, but I suppose we are up on a higher hill so maybe it is guster. Either way I prepare for both scenarios. 

If you do have power though this chicken would be the ultimate in comfort eats over the weekend and you will have leftovers for the next day making it easy peasy if the power does go out! 

honey garlic roast chicken + creamy butternut squash


1 whole roasting chicken

1 large onion

4 cloves of garlic

5 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 inch ginger

¼ cup butter

Salt and pepper

Butternut squash ingredients:

2 small butternut squashes

2 tbsp honey

2 shallots

4 tbsp fresh thyme

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

Sauce ingredients:

5 cloves of garlic

½ inch ginger

1/3 cup honey

2 tsp soy sauce

2 tsp rice wine vinegar


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Stuff the inside of the chicken with the onion (chopped), garlic, ginger and thyme sprigs. Gently loosen the chicken skin and evenly stuff the butter under the skin. Season with a generous amount of salt and pepper.

On the stove in a large roasting pan or cocotte on high heat, melt some olive oil and butter (about 2 tbsp of each) brown all sides of the chicken. Turn the chicken top up and place in the oven uncovered.

Peel the butternut squash with a potato peeler, de-seed it and cut it into large chunks. In a large bowl add the squash and toss with all of the other ingredients. When there is about 30 minutes left on the chicken place the seasoned squash around the sides of the chicken.

This chicken will take between 50-60 minutes.

for the sauce:

Finely mince the ginger and garlic. In a small sauce pan add all of the ingredients and bring to a slight boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until it thickens slightly.

15 minutes before the chicken is ready pour the sauce over the chicken making sure to get all the ginger and garlic bits onto the chicken. You can pour some of the sauce onto the squash as well. 

for the gravy:

Once the chicken is done, take it out of the roasting pan and let it rest for 5-8 minutes. Scoop the butternut squash out onto a serving dish and place the roasting pan on the stove burner on medium heat. 

Mix 3 tbsp of cornstarch with a cup of water and whisk into the pan drippings. Keep whisking until the drippings and cornstarch mixture start to make a thick gravy. Simmer for about 5 minutes then pour into a serving dish.