I am going to start this series off with my Ace-in-the-hole.
You know those meatballs that show up at New Years parties? The ones in the crock-pot that are warm and sweet and savory and, judging by how you keep hovering and tooth-picking them onto your plate, likely laced with crack?
I make a meal out of them.
An easy, fast, hearty, child-approved meal.
My daughter’s birthday is this week, and when I asked her what she wanted for her birthday dinner it was, “MEATBALLS AND RICE’ – no question. (She actually shouted it, but then, she shouts most things.)
Here is what you’ll need:
-1 bag of frozen meatballs (Technically, you could make your own meatballs, but if you are the kind of person who wants to spend time making your own meatballs, then you’re missing the point of this recipe – and this blog.)
-1 jar grape jelly
-1 jar chili sauce
-Mandatory green vegetable of choice (Not pictured. This time, mine was spinach salad – as per the birthday girl’s wishes.)
A few notes here. I’ve never used Swedish meatballs before. In fact, I don’t even know what a Swedish meatball is. **Note to self: Wikipedia Swedish meatball.** I’ve used both Italian and Homestyle before, but because I am brain damaged, I decided NOT to go with what works and risk screwing up the easiest dinner ever. Also, Kroger is not paying me for this post – but they do give me fuel points (the last time I filled up I got .20/gallon discount), and a .20/gallon is about all it takes to buy my undying loyalty.
This is how we do it (I hope you sung that like Montell Jordan):
1. Dump both jars of condiments into a big pot.
Heat them over medium-high heat until the jelly is more liquidy than clumpy. I never time things, but today I paid attention – as a courtesy to you lovely people. This takes about 6 minutes. (Sometimes I add a pinch or 2 of red pepper flakes if I’m feeling snazzy, but I don’t know that it makes that much of a difference.)
2. While that’s heating up, stick a pot of water on the stove so it can get to boiling for your rice. As you know, it takes water about 5 hours to boil.
(Look at me go! Planning [4 minutes] ahead! 2 pots at once! No fires!)
3. Add meatballs.
Heat them up until they’re nice and hot. Nothing happens if you leave them on the stove for a while. I know this because sometimes I forget to start my rice-water because I am doing important things like petting the cat, tweezing my eyebrows, or Tweeting. Have no fear, you cannot ruin these.
4. Cook your rice according to the package directions. Use brown rice, use white rice, use jasmine rice, use instant rice, use that 10-minute success rice-in-a-bag. Use whatever rice tickles your fancy; it’s going to be smothered in crack-sauce anyway.
5. When both are finished, ladle that sweet, savory, meatbally goodness over a bed of warm rice. Serve it with whatever mandatory green vegetable you’ve selected, so as to avoid “bad parent contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic” guilt.
THAT. IS. IT. It has the dump & heat ease of a crock-pot recipe, but requires none of the planning. Add reindeer plate, festive placemat, cute little juice glass of milk (not pictured) and you have a meal fit for a birthday girl.
Things I love about this recipe:
1. Everyone eats it, no threats of violence required.
2. It makes a ton of leftovers which keep well.
3. It’s fast – 20 minutes start to finish.
4. I do not have to chop or dice anything.
5. Minimal dish-count.
6. My husband can make it.
I will share my spinach salad recipe with you in a future post. It is THE BOMB. There are candied almonds involved.
-1 large pot. Mine fits in the top rack of my dishwasher, so it’s no biggie. AND the sauce doesn’t have any chunks in it so I can just rinse the remnants down the drain without having to worry about fishing anything foul out of the little drain catcher. WINNING.
-1 rice pot. This pot is really not even dirty, just starchy. (I don’t add salt or butter for this recipe. The rice is really just a vehicle for the meatballs, and there’s no sense in the sodium and calories if you’re not even going to taste them.) I usually just rinse my starchy rice pot down and plop it back in it’s cabinet. Dishwasher space is precious, folks.
-Measuring cup (for the rice). Another rinse & plop back in the cabinet guy.
-1 wooden spoon (for stirring/serving the meatballs)
-Plates & silverware.
(The left side of the sink is spinach salad dishes and two travel mugs. Because those suckers are hand-wash only, and, let’s be real, this means they sometimes sit there for a while.)
Perfect for a cold night, a busy night, a husband-or-child-cooking night, and in our home, a big, celebratory, birthday bash night. Happy 5th birthday, my dearest wild one.
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