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.