Something about a slow cooker full of sauce filled with meatballs and sausage seems to heal the soul on even the cloudiest and coldest of days.
When I was a little girl, my mom suggested making spaghetti and meatballs for my dad on Father’s Day. Together, we whisked and measured and poured and rolled trays of meatballs in the kitchen, and I was never so proud to sit down at a dinner table in my life. It was AH-MAZING. And I was a part of it.
Years later, six kids later, and my metabolim and waistline were at war with who I wanted to be. Enter Trim Healthy Mama, and I learned about all the different fats and carbs in our lives, which ones were good and bad, and how to get more fruits and veggies and nutrients in my life.
I started practicing how to tweak my favorite recipes in the kitchen so I didn’t have to give up the soul food things I loved even while I tried to make better choices for me and my family.
It took many times in the kitchen to get it where I wanted, but this batch of meatballs got rave reviews from my entire crew, and my husband (who had sneaked a meatball in the pre-dinner simmer process) officially announced, “These are hands-down THE best meatballs you have ever made.”
So now I share with you.
I will put up a whole other post on the Spaghetti and Meatballs and Sausage Dinner, but here we start with the magical meatballs.
There are nine people who live under my roof right now, and a couple of them are teens, so there is no end to the amount of food we go through. I also recognize that our family is larger than the average family, so I have adjusted the recipe to accommodate a normal family for 1-2 meals. This looks like approximately 24-36 meatballs, and they also freeze beautifully if you don’t care for the same dinner two days in a row.
Here it is:
2.5 pounds of your favorite ground beef
2 large eggs
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. salt (I prefer himalayan, but only had coarse regular on hand)
2 Tbl. grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbl. Italian seasoning
You literally throw all of those ingredients in a large bowl and mix it all up. I prefer to mix the beef and eggs until the mixture is even, then add all the spices, but you can do whatever works for you. (I also throw that banana masher on the counter and dive in with my bare hands after a few minutes to really make sure the meat is well mixed. Just make sure you have lots of your favorite dish soap on hand because, well, raw meat…)
Since my hands are already covered in meat, I usually just go ahead and start rolling the meatballs from there. I use regular cookie sheets lined with parchment paper so I never have to scrub the pans afterwards. (Do Not try to swap parchment paper for wax paper! It is not the same. I will share a story about that some other time. Or maybe not…)
If you are not the type of person to “get your hands dirty” in the kitchen, you can always mix the meat mixture using the banana masher the entire time, and then switch to a melon baller scooper or ice cream scooper, depending on the size of meatball you are looking for. No matter how hard I try to make small meatballs, they always end up really big. The scoopers help with portion sizes and shaping. Click the scoopers below to order this set of 3 from Amazon for $12!
Once I have a few trays ready to go, I put them in the oven at 375 degrees to bake for 12-15 minutes. If I know they are getting transferred into sauce to simmer all day, I just make sure they are firm and and brown and then move them into the sauce. If I know we are eating in the next hour or two, I cut one open to make sure it’s cooked, and either add a few minutes cooking time or switch to broil for a more browned finish. (You would also want to do this if you were serving them without sauce so the browned finish makes them look great.)
If you decide to double or triple the batch in sauce, you are going to want to upgrade from a regular crockpot to a roaster oven. I have two of these Osters, and my favorite thing to do to “catch up” in the kitchen is make 10 pounds of meatballs, add mild and hot Italian sausage to the sauce and eat and freeze for dayssssssssss. The sausage can also be pre-cooked on those trays with parchment paper and be done in 15 minutes. I can give you exact instructions on the roaster spaghetti in another post.
Tip: Cut all the mild sausage in half and leave the hot sausage whole. Then you will know which ones your Littles can have, and your cutting time is already reduced. 😉
One roaster fits all the goodness I have mentioned, and this can simmer all day while you are gone or just busy doing all.the.things around the house. It has become a tradition in our house to quadruple the batch when the forecast calls for some snow days, and all the ways you can use and reuse the sauce, sausage and meatballs keeps you sane during the snowy shenanigans. Once you have one, you will wonder how you lived without one.
I hope you have enjoyed this little piece of our crazy life at home and how we make our big family work for us. I would love to see your successes and memories you create with our famous home made meatballs!
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