Thursday, September 15, 2016

Baked Italian Meatballs

First day of 3rd grade, kindergarten, and preschool
Girls U6 - Purple Pandas

Girls U10 - Tangerine Surfers

We're only two weeks into school, and I haven't started teaching yet, but I'm feeling the pressure of two girls with homework, two AYSO teams, and my involvement on two USTA (tennis) teams.  I'm going to be teaching a night class this term and we've decided that with soccer that evening, we'll pick up food.  But, other than that, I'm committed to still cooking at home the other evenings.  I tried this new recipe which was delicious and popular with the kids.  I made a double batch in the afternoon and put half in the refrigerator to bake after soccer practice and the other half in the freezer so we have a meal for another night.  

You can use all ground beef (I did the 93% lean), all turkey, or a combination of both.  I imagine that regular Italian sausage would be yummy as well.  You can make your own sauce or buy it (like I did) and adjust the other seasonings to your family's liking.  I left the cheese off of some of them because one of my kids has been struggling with dairy.

Italian Meatballs (makes about 3 dozen / 8 servings)

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground turkey sausage
1/2 cup panko  bread crumbs
2.5 cups marinara (divided)
1 T chopped garlic
1-2 T Italian seasoning
3/4 c. grated or shredded parmesan cheese (divided)
1/2 T dried onion flakes (or 1/4 cup diced onion)
1/2 - 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, combine the ground beef, ground turkey, bread crumbs, 1/2 cup marinara, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, garlic, italian seasoning, and onion.  Stir until well combined.  Using your hands, roll into small meatballs and place on a foil lined cookie sheet.  I ended up with 3 dozen small meatballs.

Place cookie sheets in the oven and after 10 minutes, use tongs to turn the meatballs.  Cook for a total of 15-20 minutes or until the meatballs are just cooked through.  You don't want them crisped or browned, just so that the meat isn't pink anymore.  You can make them more on the rare side if you use all ground beef.

Remove from the oven and let cool.  At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze the meatballs if you're not ready to eat right away.  I froze half and put half in the refrigerator to finish at dinner time.

When you're ready to eat them, put 2 cups of marinara in an oven safe pan or skillet.  Add the meatballs in a single layer.  Top with mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until the marinara is bubbly and the cheese is melted.

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