Mangia Mondays:: Italian Meatballs

Welcome to Mangia Mondays!  I hope you had a magical weekend.
If not magical, then at least relaxing?  Fun?  Productive?

THANK YOU to everyone who took a moment to comment on my board & batten project – I can’t tell you how much that means to me.  The fact that a few of you feel inspired to try something like this for the first time is what makes blogging so worth the time and effort and I love all the sharing, support and encouragement in the DIY blogging community.  You rock!

As you know, when I’m not obsessing over my latest house project, I’m thinking of what to eat next!
If you’re new to Mangia Mondays, it’s a blog hop I co-host each week with the dynamic Kristin of Delightfully Dowling!  Have you seen her Christmas gift list for the cooks in your life?  So much fun {I’m dying for an ice cream maker}!!  We’d love for you to link up or share in comments any recipes, kitchen tips and tricks, restaurant reviews – just about anything food-related!

I was thinking about posting Christmas recipes for MM the whole month of December, but the reality is that in between going to holiday parties and having your family visit, there’s a whole lot of real life that you still have to live in the month of December, including eating dinner on a nightly basis after work and school and sports.  The last thing you need on a busy Tuesday night is to cook a dinner that requires a lot of effort, right?

What’s easier and more tasty than spaghetti and meatballs when you’re in the mood for a comfort food-carbfest??  We kicked this standard fare up a notch for our Sunday night dinner by making our own sauce and adding steak, sweet Italian sausages and of course, homemade meatballs.  Now, if you’ve been around here for a while you may know that my husband’s Sicilian family recipes are top secret and I am forbidden to share them.  However –  I can give you a big tip for making a red sauce even more delicious:
add meat to it.

Here’s a peek…..that’s liquid gold right there!

Before Mark made the secret sauce, he parcooked a sirloin steak and sweet Italian sausages in the sauce pot until they rendered some fat, and then left them in there when he added the sauce ingredients.  The steak and sausage slowcooked with the sauce and were deliciously tender and flavorful come dinnertime, and the sauce of course had the juices from the meat incorporated into it.  If you don’t make your own red sauce, you can use this trick to jazz up jarred sauce.  I do it all the time when we are busy.  What a difference the juices of the meat make!!  {We like Classico Four Cheese or Classico Tomato and Basil as a basic jarred sauce.}  We also make large batches of homemade sauce and freeze it.  I strongly recommend making your own sauce – so easy and economical!

Of course, a sauce meal in my house requires meatballs!  Everyone in my house loves them, they can me made into sandwiches the next day, and along with the sauce, meatballs freeze well.

Italian Meatballs
2 eggs
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/4 green pepper, finely chopped (optional – I omit because me kids don’t like it)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. ground beef (85/15)

1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

{Do you see a theme with “finely chopped?” That’s because I find kids are less likely to object to a food if they can’t pick it apart, and the meatballs wouldn’t be the same without these ingredients.}

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk the eggs with, garlic, parsley, celery, pepper, Parmesan, salt and pepper.

Add beef and use your hands to combine.

Add breadcrumbs.

Roll into 2″ balls and place on baking sheet.

Parcook in your oven* for about 10-15 minutes until browned.  Don’t overbake them or they’ll be hockey pucks!!  They do not need to be cooked all the way through as they’ll be added to your sauce later.
*You can also use the traditional method of pan frying the meatballs but they spatter, make a huge mess on the stovetop, take forever to cook, and we find that they taste just as good baked.

Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool completely, about 30 minutes.  Once cooled, add to red sauce and simmer for 30 minutes before serving over pasta.

Add a green salad and of course a big loaf of freshly baked Italian bread to mop up your sauce with, and you’ve got a satisfying meal made in heaven!  Oh that white bread is so naughty and good!

Of course the making of meatballs would not be complete without singing {or teaching your kids} the
  meatball song!

On top of spaghetti, 
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed.
It rolled off the table,
And on to the floor,
And then my poor meatball,
Rolled out of the door.
It rolled in the garden,
And under a bush,
And then my poor meatball,
Was nothing but mush.
The mush was as tasty
As tasty could be,
And then the next summer,
It grew into a tree.
The tree was all covered,
All covered with moss,
And on it grew meatballs,
And tomato sauce.
So if you eat spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
Hold on to your meatball,
Whenever you sneeze.
Go on and sing it out loud – really loud! – it just brings on the happiness!

What culinary delights do you have to share?  We’d love for you to play along in this week’s Mangia Mondays.  Now off with you and have a good day!