Christmas Meatballs

 No, we don’t have meatballs as part of our Christmas dinner, or even part of our Christmas eve dinner (which is usually mostly seafood and fish)…But they are part of our Christmas traditions.  A number of years ago, when the kids were still very little, we began having spaghetti and meatballs for supper on Boxing day.  Tthe Holidays can be full of very rich food and while much of it tastes good to children, it isn’t what they are accustomed to on a daily basis.  Celebrations during other times of the year include rich foods as well, but few of them go on for days and days like the week between Christmas eve and New year’s day.  Multiple turkey dinners, or other rich meals can leave little ones fed up with eating.  Or (as has been our case more than once), they pick and choose and only eat what they recognize…Our daughter one year, at nothing but blueberries and chocolate on Christmas day…I am sure you don’t want the details of the end of the day.  (altho she will gladly tell you if you ask her!)

 When my daughter was one and my son three, we made Boxing day a family day.  It didn’t mean that out of town guests couldn’t join us, but what it did mean was that we were doing Kid Friendly activities (that our children were accustomed to doing) and eating Kid Friendly meals.  It has become an almost annual tradition: a walk around Pipers Lagoon, and some time on the Beach and then home for movies and spaghetti and meatballs for supper.
Since then, we have added a couple more Family oriented activities that we do over the holidays, including an evening of bowling with our very close family friends, that involves an early evening of bowling (usually Boys against the Girls) followed by dinner at a Kid Friendly restaurant.  We also try and include a trip to the ice rink (because we don’t spend enough time there already!) or the swimming pool.

After 7 years of making other people’s meatball recipes, this year I spent some time perfecting my own recipe.  I don’t like the taste that can come from using bread crumbs, so I use a slice of whole wheat sandwich bread torn into small pieces.  I find that using milk makes the mixture mushy and it adds nothing to the flavour.  The addition of ricotta cheese, mixed with fresh ground parmesan is awesome.  Even my kids appreciate it (“ooh Mumma, they taste all creamy and cheesy and yummy” according to my daughter).  
And inspite of the fact that I have spent 35 years avoiding eating veal (yes, anyone who has known me that long will attest to that, even my husband who once witnessed me send back my plate at an Italian restaurant, because it didn’t say on the menu that there was veal in the meatballs…Poor Rob!) 

I still don’t use veal…I just couldn’t bring myself to.
So instead, equal parts ground sirloin, medium ground beef and ground pork.  This recipe uses 1lb of each.  And of course, some good olive oil.  Yes, my children may never get to Disney Land, but they know what good Olive oil tastes like and they know that parmesan cheese doesn’t come from a can!

Preheat oven to 400F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchement paper.

  • 1 lb each: ground sirloin, medium ground beef and ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 slice whole wheat sandwich bread , torn into small pieces.
  • 6 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1tbsp rubbed oregano
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 1/8 cup fresh parsley chopped

Combine ground meat, eggs, bread pieces, ricotta cheese, parmesan, and spices in a bowl and set aside.  Put olive oil in medium skillet and heat until just shimmering.  Add onion and cook over medium heat for three minutes, add garlic and continue cooking, carefull not to burn the garlic (otherwise start all over again), for another 3-4 minutes.  Once onion and garlic and soft and fragrant, remove from heat and stir in parsley and basil.  Add onion mixture to meat mixture.  (some at this point may want to use gloves).  Mix, by hand the meatball mixture, ensuring even distribution of the onion mixture and

the bread.
If making ahead, at this point, you could stop and refrigerate up to overnight.
Using a food scoop (I use the 1/4 cup size), scoop out meatball mixture and place on prepared cookie sheets.  My cookie sheets (I have large ones) hold about 15-18 large meatballs.
Bake for about 20 minutes.  I usually check the first batch after 18 minutes.  Remove from cookie sheets to platters lined with paper towel.  Let sit on platters for 5-7 minutes, then either use with your marinara sauce or freeze for later!
Makes up to 65 meatballs, depending on the size of scoop you use.  (I get about 48).

These can be used for spaghetti and meatballs, or for meatball subs or they go great in soups for adding protein.

Happy packing!


This post is linked to 33 Shades of Green Tasty Tuesdays


Christmas Countdown

At this point, December 10th, I would say we are officially in “Countdown mode” in our house.  Especially since everyone (except for me) is off for a two week Christmas Break as of this coming Friday.  So they are all walking around the house, counting down, “5 more days”…”5 more days”!
   Argh!  Five more days and they are all off and then I am tripping over them for full week while still getting ready for Christmas.  Not sure why the school district couldn’t have kept them in until the 23rd.  That would give us a week to recover, after the holidays, before sending them back to school.  Maybe next year.

Rather than wasting any more precious time complaining, it is time to get on with the list!  There is still so much to be done, and I am really hoping there might be someone else interested in doing it…I have enough to do.   The Dance show (finally!) is today, but there are still skating practices, the Bethlehem walk, a skating Christmas party, Christmas cards for school and skating friends, Teacher presents, Family Christmas cards (and I discovered this past week I have misplaced the kids’ school pictures)…Oh well, I still have next weekend to get things in order…..No, I don’t…Somehow Grandma’s Christmas party got left off the calendar.  So, that means there are officially no weekends left before Christmas to get things done…Okay, Rob, get ready, your list is gonna be long!  Typically, he gets the Costco Run and the Seafood Market Run and the Liquor store run…I think there just might be some Christmas Card writing on that list, as well as at least a dozen other things I cannot remember at this very moment…
   In the midst of all this chaos that is approaching, we still need to eat!  I have to say, this is where the Freezer comes in handy!

  • Sunday: This is Dance show day…I am really hoping we are going out for dinner!
  • Monday: Cheese tortellini and spaghetti sauce(all from the freezer!) with spinach salad
  • Tuesday: Vegetable Soup and sandwiches before heading off to the Bethlehem Walk
  • Wednesday: Ginger Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry (except for the little kids, who will be having hot dogs at the skating club Christmas party!)…such a great and easy recipe, I had to share
  • Thursday: Slow cooker Chili and salad
  • Friday: Sushi, Pizza and Brownies (the only homemade item on the menu) and the first sleepover of the Holidays!  Welcome, Tracy and Hailey!
  • Saturday: Skating show day…do we get to go out two nights in one week? 

However, the last week of school before the Christmas holidays deserves some fun lunches…

  • Monday: Turkey, spinach and cream cheese pinwheels , with fruit salad.
  • Tuesday: Spaghetti sauce Shepherd’s pie
  • Wednesday: Eyeball soup (because my 10 year old asked) Your favourite meatballs in any clear soup, but its fun to use Udon noodles or rice noodles that are really long as it makes the meatballs look like they are “peering” out of the bowl.
  • Thursday: Buffalo Chicken wraps with lettuce and ranch dressing (instead of blue cheese)…This is an Eating Well recipe, and the only change I make to it, to make it more kid friendly is replacing the cayenne pepper with Chili powder and a tbsp of brown sugar.
  • Friday: Appetizer Lunch (what we used to call “bits and pieces”), inlcuding veggies and dip, rice cakes and salsa and perogies.

Turkey and Cream Cheese pinwheels are kind of fun… Basically a roll up, but because they are cut, they look “different” and somehow with kids, when things look different, they taste different.  If your kids don’t like spinach, you could use regular leaf lettuce.

  • 1/2 of 1 package (3 ounce) cream cheese
  •  1 teaspoon cream-style horseradish 
  • 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
  • 1 green onion sliced lengthwise and then chopped fine
  • 1/2  cup spinach leaves
  • 3 (8 inch) whole wheat tortillas
  • 6 slices Oven Roasted Turkey Breast

  1. Combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, green onion and  horseradish in a small bowl.  Mix well. Spread cream cheese mixture onto tortillas.
  2. Cover each with 2 turkey slices. Spread the spinach leaves on top. Roll up jelly-roll fashion. Refrigerate 2 hours or until serving time.
  3. Slice each tortilla into 8 pieces.

    This makes enough for 3 lunches.

    Happy Packing!