Friday, April 13, 2012

The Youth of a Nation...And Meatball Lasagna

"We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, 
yet we forget that he is someone today." 
 ~Stacia Tauscher

Is anyone else concerned about the youth of this generation today? 
Is anyone else alarmed?

I came across some nationwide statistics that I had jotted down a few years ago 
when I heard Ron Luce from Teen Mania Ministries speak, 
and let's just say it is BEYOND troubling.

This is the largest generation of youth that has ever been.
33 million teenagers in America.
Larger than any other generations before them, 
and they are struggling, big time.

1,500 of them kill themselves each year.
1 out of 5 have thoughts of suicide. That's staggering.
1,000,000 of them are pregnant.
750,000 of them had abortions last year.
½ of them are no longer virgins.
9 out of 10 have viewed porn online. That is a lot.
8,000 of them get an STD EVERY SINGLE DAY – 
that blows my mind.
The most common STD is gonorrhea of the throat 
(because teens today don't think that oral sex is really sex)

This generation views 16 to 17 hours of television each week 
and sees on average 14,000 sexual scenes 
and references each year. 
That's more than 38 references every day.

This generation spends 3 hours a day online 
and is the first to grow up with the point and click pornography. 
90% of them say that they have viewed porn online 
while doing homework. 
(there is estimated to be at least 300,000 adult websites)

Teenage girls wear "sex beads" that tells boys, 
depending on the color of beads they are wearing,
what they will do with them in the bathrooms at break.

Is anyone else troubled by this? 
Is anyone else noticing a serious moral decay of a generation?

Friends, a battle is waging for our youth. 
The casualties are mounting.

If things are this bad now, 
what will it be like when your toddlers are teenagers?

We can't just sit back and not do anything about it. 
We have to get involved with our youth of today. 
We need to get out there on the battlefield ourselves 
and start mentoring these youths. 
Get out of our comfort zones and really step it up a notch.

We have to try to make an effort to win back this generation.

These kids are struggling with 
purpose and meaning in life....
and many many other things....

We must try and capture their hearts before it's too late......

Don't you think???????????

Invite a youth over, reach out, make a connection, 
make them a meal....
make them meatball lasagna...
I mean hey, who doesn't love meat-a-balls?
Meatball Lasagna
I make my sauce in so many different ways, it all depends on the mood. 
Sometimes I use a mirepoix, other times I use red wine, 
other times I use meat...but this time I made a very simple marinara,
and I doubled the batch so there would be enough sauce for the lasagna. 
Here is the way I make a single batch: 
I start with a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes, I add 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 
appx. 2 TBSP worth of fresh basil, 
1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper,1/4 teaspoon of freshly 
cracked black pepper...AND THAT'S IT! 
I heated that over low heat for about 15-20 minutes, 
stirring occasionally, while I prepared the meatballs.

I also make my meatballs many different ways, 
sometimes I use a 3 part meat mixture, sometimes I use cream cheese instead of egg, but this time, I used:
1/4 cup of bread crumbs, 1/4 cup of chopped italian flat leaf parsley, 2 large eggs
lightly beaten, 2 TBSP of whole milk, 
1/2 cup of grated parmigano reggiano,
a generous pinch of salt, probably almost 1 tsp worth, and the same amount of freshly ground black pepper. 
I mixed all of these ingredients into a medium sized
bowl, and then added 1 lb of ground turkey into the mix, incorporating gently, always
being careful not to over-work the meat. 
I rolled them into golf ball sized balls, and
then browned in a skillet with olive oil, appx. 3 minutes each side. Then removed and drained on a paper towel, and set aside.

I took a small container of ricotta cheese, 
and mixed in 2 handfuls of freshly chopped basil,
1 clove of minced garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper.

I have never made my own pasta, 
one of the things on my bucket list for sure, 
so even though I'm a lover of those no cook lasagna sheets, 
this time I used regular lasagna sheets, and boiled them
for about 8 minutes, putting them into the pot one at a time, 
waiting for it to soften enough to submerge
into the pot. Because I used a smaller pot, 
I cooked 6 at a time and made it in two batches. 
Once the noodles were ready, 
I laid them on a dry towel until I was ready to begin layering, 
this helped the excess water drain off, and was easy to grab.

In my 9 x 13 baking dish, I ladled some sauce on the bottom, enough to gently cover the entire surface.
Then I layered three sheets side by side. 
I spooned 2 heaping tablespoons of the ricotta mix onto each 
noodle, and gently spread until they were covered in a thin layer. 
Then I grated more parmigano reggiano 
to cover the ricotta entirely. 
Then I placed 6 meatballs on each sheet, for a total of 18.
Next, ladle more sauce over to cover the meatballs. 
Then, repeat that process one more time: noodles,
ricotta mix, parmigano reggiano, meatballs (18), sauce. 
Then, put one more layer of noodles on top,
followed by a very generous layer of sauce, you want to make sure all the noodles are covered otherwise
they will dry out inside the oven. 
Finally, I cut up fresh buffalo mozzarella 
into little slices and covered the 
sheets, you can use shredded mozzarella if you want. 
I sprinkled some dried oregano on top and put it
in the oven at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. 
Serve with garlic bread and a green salad. 


  1. The statistics are enough to make you want to lock your kids in a bubble. Unfortunately I doubt this scratches the surface. I think you have a fantastic idea though of inviting kids in and sharing with them a meal and some of your wisdom. I had meatballs on the brain yesterday. I know those stats are scary, but you are still the biggest influence and I know you will do a fabulous job raising your little loves. Hope you have a great weekend.

  2. The statistics can frighten you big time ... and you're so on the money when you advise mentoring and the simple act of reaching out to a child or teen in your neighborhood. I would bet, though, that teen stats for those criteria mirror the adult stats for the same ... the only way to break the cycle may well be improving our mental health approaches for those in the throes of loneliness, depression, and cycles of distructive behavior and offering children better examples of happy and healthy behavior through mentoring and social networking. Thanks for a thought provoking and delish post!

  3. After years of working with and mentoring teens, my husband and I can attest to that. The simple act of reaching out, listening, encouraging, and engaging with them absolutely makes all the difference. We're involved with a few teens now, and hope to continue to make connections in the years to come...

  4. Those statistics are frightening, especially since I have 8 grandkids, 1 that is a teenager and is struggling (our grandson)—two that are already 20 and doing well in life already. We’ve tried to encourage and engage our grandson, but some teens are going to head the wrong way no matter what you do as their mentor and with having social interactions with them. Their everyday home life has so much to do with how they turn out and is not something you can change in most cases. But letting them know that they can turn to you with also reaching out to them is something we can all do for teens. As Susan said, thanks for the thought provoking and delish posting Bella!

  5. Mangiabella - Thanks for the very nice comments on Family Fountain about the Respect article. It is always niceto hear how an article registers with readers.

    Your article here is very insightful. I knew there were some pretty bad statistics out there, and some here that I'd never seen before. Yes, I am worried about this generation.

    My wife and I do mentoring with a number of kids in the public schools and in our church. Since our own three are gone we have some more time for that. Recently two elementary age brothers told me some of the moral advice their dad had given them - it was totally reprehensible. I tried to counter some of his advice, but it is going to take many years.

    There is a lot of work out there to help this generation. But the good news is: we have God on our side!

    Great post. wb

  6. I am in the trenches daily working in community mental health for children and families. I see so many awful things that are going on in the lives of those that come in to the office daily. With everything that I am exposed to via my job, it is still shocking to read the statistics in black and white. I just spent the day with my precious and very innocent granddaughter and cannot imagine what this world will look like for her going forward. Maranatha!

  7. OMG! I have a 14 year old and we were just discussing (I was discussing and he was rolling his eyes)some of these topics. I plan to use this post as a springboard for another conversation about the things I know are going on. I am ready to go to battle. What is frustrating is that other parents are completely fine to turn a blind eye. I had to laugh at the Meatball Lasagna. My son and his friends have been here for more than one dinner (meatballs included).

  8. @Candace ~ Maranatha! @Warren, so true, the harvest is plenty but the workers are few! I pray so often that I can make an impact in their lives in some way, and hope to be a lighthouse for these youth that I've come into contact with, both over the years and present day, that when they are "out there" and no matter how far they go, they can look back and see that light shining brightly guiding them in. @AnnMarie it's very sobering and more important now then ever to stay relevant and stay involved. I bet your son and his friends will look back years from n ow and remember those meals at your table, it really is those simple things that get stored in their memory banks.

  9. Startling! I never thought it would get to this and it all comes back to the family. I pray for those kids who don't have the family to train them in the way they should go and I'm grateful for people like you who are reaching out to mentor the youth and show them that there is a better way. Self esteem is lacking in these kids...they don't value the beautiful creation they are and the God who made them...and they are giving themselves away for what?!!! To be accepted???!!! By who? and Why?! It is all very sad! A spiritual battle which persists by the enemy who desires to devour them! Our prayers of intercession are so necessary! Keep up the good work, sis! Feed them some great food while you're at it...your meatball lasagna looks delightful! xoxo

  10. What a post! I work with children in my church it is amazing to see that all these issues are now starting to show up even among kids... Just recently, I heard about a 6 year old who attempted suicide! We have a great responsibility towards the kids and youth in our own countries... the biggest of which is to pray for them! Thanks for this post!

    And that lasagna looks really yummy! :)

  11. The statistics do make me really sad. But this is why my husband and I are so active in working with teenagers. We love our teens and refuse to let those stats be true of the kids we work with!

    Also, that meatball lasagna looks amazing!

  12. It looks quite delicious. Thanks for stopping by my blog on my SITS day!

  13. Oh, man...I shouldn't have looked at this delicious pasta at 10 I'm hungry! So, so irresistible.

    PS...scary stats about kids today.

  14. Bella, as much as I love meatballs, on pizza, I love meatballs in lasagna even more. You did an amazing job on it, I'm so hungry right now...and it's late. Can't start drooling at this late in the evening for a serving of this amazing creation of yours!

    The statistics of the kids are really shocking, and scary, at such a young age, so many things are happening to them and with them. The best thing is to focus on the kids and their activities outside the schools, especially. A lot of it depends on their home environment! Thanks bella, for sharing such an "eye opener" reality, which needs to be addressed!
    So glad to see that you are involved with more cooking posts now...although, I love each and every post you post on your blog:DDD

  15. As a parent of a teen those results are pretty scary. This post has opened my eyes up to a lot. Thanks for sharing along with your delicious looking lasagna.

  16. As the parent of a preschooler, one who's had a very rough week, I'm completely ignoring (for now) the content of the beginning of your post, and focusing on the meatball lasagna, which looks absolutely DELICIOUS.

    Perhaps next week I will be back to tackling more serious topics.

    I'm not kidding though... I kinda wanna eat my laptop screen right now. Yum.

    {{ stopping by from SITS }}



Share |
Related Posts with Thumbnails