vacations and baked meatballs

Our first family vacation for the year is just around the corner, and it can not get here soon enough. It’s true that we just came back from a mini-vacation – an incredible, child-free long-weekend in New York City. After three days and nights filled with an abundance of wonderful food and drink – all in the company of some pretty great people – and hours and hours of walking the bustling sidewalks of Manhattan, I’m a tad weary.

Yep, you heard me. All of that fun wore me out.

Next week we’re spending a few days at Walt Disney World followed by a few days at the beach. While the Disney experience is never a restful one, it’s a trip that I’m really looking forward to. Both of the kids are terribly excited about going to the parks, seeing their favorite characters — Eeyore is high-ranking this year — and riding the fast rides that make me and Sam dizzy and nauseous.

The beach part of the trip is the part that I’m counting on to bring the mental and physical rest that we all need after the last handful of months. Sitting on the sugary white sand beach, making lopsided sandcastles with the kids, listening to the waves crashing on the beach and the seagulls crying….pure heaven.

Let’s get to the meatballs. Meatballs have nothing to do with vacations or Disney or the beach, but they are a great family dinner. Assuming you can get your kids to eat them, of course. Madeline loved these meatballs baked in crushed tomatoes, but Oliver has a thing against anything that may have a speck of tomato in it. Which means that he is enthusiastically opposed to most things red. I blame Sam for the tomato-phobia, but I’m confident that with a few more years of brainwashing the child I can get him to come around.

Baked Meatballs


1 pound ground round (15% fat)
1/2 pound ground pork
1/3 cup Italian-style dry breadcrumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat Italian parsley
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes in heavy purée
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
ground pepper to taste


Remove meats from refrigerator 30 to 60 minutes prior to cooking.

Place bread crumbs in a large bowl and stir in 1/3 cup water. When absorbed, blend together with eggs, garlic, 1/4 cup cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and minced parsley.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Add meats to breadcrumb mixture and combine well with a fork. Form into 12 even balls and lay evenly in 1 layer in a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish.

Season crushed tomatoes with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Pour tomatoes over and around meatballs. Sprinkle tops with remaining 1 1/3 tablespoon Parmesan. Bake in the center of oven until meatballs are cooked through, about 18-22 minutes.

Slightly adapted from Gourmet magazine, October 2005.

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18 Responses to “vacations and baked meatballs”

  1. 1
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — March 23, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

    I used to love meatballs and will sometimes make my own using TVP (textured vegetable protein)… I like to fool my friends… most of whom have no idea there’s anything different.

    Have so much fun on your vaca!

  2. 2
    Lana @ Never Enough Thyme — March 23, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

    Here’s wishing you long, slow walks on the beach, peace, quiet and rest!

  3. 3
    Rachel @ Baked by Rachel — March 23, 2011 @ 4:52 pm

    Totally jealous of your vacation plans – have a fantastic time!

    I’m a big fan of spicy meatballs but w/o sauce… yeah I’m one of those people who can’t stand tomatoes. My hubs on the otherhand would love tomato covered meatballs 🙂

  4. 4
    Jenn S. — March 23, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

    This is practically the exact recipe that I use to make my spaghetti and meatballs. One glaring difference? My boys demand that the meatballs be “baseball-sized”! Yep, the actually call it Mom’s spaghetti and baseball meatballs! Have fun @ Disney and the beach! 🙂

    • 4.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — March 23, 2011 @ 7:56 pm

      Baseball sized? You are feeding a crowd of boys, after all, so it makes sense. 🙂

  5. 5
    Tracey — March 23, 2011 @ 8:55 pm

    Enjoy your vacation! Combining Disney with the beach sounds perfect 🙂 The meatballs look great, you can never go wrong with spaghetti and meatballs in my opinion! My husband won’t eat veggies for the most part, but tomatoes are the one thing he isn’t opposed to – so long as they’re in sauce form and not just sliced on a plate.

  6. 6
    Aggie — March 23, 2011 @ 8:56 pm

    I had to laugh at the baseball sized meatballs in the comment above, too funny. have a wonderful time at Disney and the beach. always a good time to spend with the kids. And yes, meatballs are a family dinner of choice in these parts. looks delicious!

  7. 7
    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — March 24, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

    Yum! Those meatballs look amazing… Definitely have to add them to the menu soon. Hope you enjoy your vacations!

  8. 8
    Chris @ The Peche — March 24, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

    So happy we finally met in real life. Travel safely and have a blast at WDW!

    And thanks for reminding me that I don’t have to fry our meatballs. I always throw them in a pan with some oil, and yours look tasty and not so unnecessarily fatty.

    • 8.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — March 25, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

      Loved meeting you & Karen in real life finally!
      Don’t get me wrong – I love a good meatball fried in oil. For everyday consumption, though, my metabolism prefers baked. 🙂

  9. 9
    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — March 25, 2011 @ 8:41 am

    I can totally relate to needing a vacation after a vacation – it’s the sign of a good one! These meatballs look wonderful – I have never heard of a baked version before but bookmarking for SOON! Have a wonderful family trip and get some much needed R+R! xox

  10. 10
    Mary @ Delightful Bitefuls — March 25, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

    YUM! I need that for lunch… 🙂 My hubby will love this!

    Great blog; happy I found you!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls

  11. 11
    Megan — March 28, 2011 @ 10:53 am

    Oohhh, meatballs!
    Have a great time on vacation!

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