Happy Meatballs

One of my cheap, go-to dinners is spaghetti.  A box of noodles + a jar of sauce = food that everyone in the family will eat, and it all comes together in less than 20 minutes.  Toss in some rolls and add a side of salad or frozen veggies, and it’s a fairly healthy meal.

Lately, though, it’s seemed a bit lacking.  I made my own sauce, but that didn’t help.  I tried adding Parmesan cheese.  Nope – that wasn’t the issue, either.  I had to be realistic – it’s spaghetti, for crying out loud.  There’s not much you can do to it to improve the end result, right?

Well, except perhaps add meatballs!

2014-04-09 17.11.11I’ve generally steered well away from making meatballs for two reasons: (1) they seem complicated, and (2) I can remember making them as a child and feeling as though my hands would freeze off thanks to the barely thawed beef.  I’ve only made meatballs once before as an adult and I didn’t like the end product enough to repeat the process.

2014-04-09 16.15.18I was inspired to try again when I saw a recipe in one of my new favorite cookbooks, “Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook” by Jessica Fisher.  Jessica’s is a basic version that makes a bunch.  I like that these meatballs can be dressed up (with BBQ sauce) or kept as is for a simple, filling add-in for pasta night.  The recipe was quick.  It was easy.  It was tasty.

2014-04-09 16.26.31My only moment of panic came when I realized I was short by about 1/3 of a cup of breadcrumbs.  Well, shoot.  Then, I remembered the bag of bread heels I had stashed in the freezer.  I don’t mind the heels – Chris, Joe, and Jack won’t touch them.  Rather than toss them (such a waste!) I put them in a Ziploc bag, stored it in the freezer, and figured that I’d eventually find a use.

Today was that “eventually”. I followed a recipe onlineet viola! – breadcrumbs.

2014-04-09 16.17.06I knew there was a reason to save those unwanted pieces of bread.  Now they’ve found a yummy home in meatballs.

A very yummy home, judging by the looks of the kiddos.  Joe and Jack gobbled up the meatballs..  I couldn’t believe how quickly they downed them.

2014-04-09 17.15.04Reaching for more meatball

2014-04-09 17.14.19“No time for smiles, Mom – I must eat more meatballs!”

Even Chris, who doesn’t usually order meatballs when he gets spaghetti at a restaurant, consumed them with a rapidity that would have impressed any competitive eater.

And yes, they’re freezer-friendly and yield a bunch – 6 dozen.  If you figure it as 3 meatballs = 1 serving, then a dozen meatballs = 4 servings.  That means for my family of 4 (and yes, Jack ate all of his serving) then 6 dozen meatballs means 6 easy spaghetti + meatballs nights.  That makes my boys happy.

Happy boys, happy pocketbook, happy mama 🙂  You’re welcome.

Here’s a link to the recipe on Jessica’s blog, Life as Mom.  Click over there for the instructions on how to make these yummy meatballs.  I highly recommend her book, too.  I borrowed it from our local library at first (I hate buying a cookbook only to discover that I won’t use it, so I’ve started borrowing them from the library first).  I was bookmarking so many of the recipes that I realized I should just go ahead and buy the thing.  I’m so glad that I did – I make her drop biscuits every other week, or so it seems, and the tamales?  Delicious.

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