2017-01-02-08-04-06

Italian Meatball Sandwiches

I have to start this post by clearing stating that I am NOT a fan of meatball sandwiches…. There are many great sandwich shops that serve them and my family loves them, but I have just never been a fan.  Then there are the frozen meatballs that you can buy and just dump in sauce and heat for a quick dinner… I’m not even going to talk about those because it makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

All that being said, you might wonder why I would write a post about a sandwich that I hate.  The reason?

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Because these sandwiches are awesome!

Yes, I said it.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE these sandwiches.  I originally tried making these just because my entire family loves meatball sandwiches so much, and I love my family.  I honestly did not expect to like them at all and decided it was something to endure.  Then I ate one.  It was delicious.  Suddenly I loved meatball sandwiches.  But only these ones.  I still won’t order them at a restaurant, and if anyone even mentions buying those frozen meatballs I shiver.

So, that being said, whether or not you like meatball sandwiches, you really need to try these.  You will be converted.  I promise.  These are great for hungry teenagers, too.

A couple of good tips

  1. These really deserve a good, chewy bun.  A soft, light bun is just not going to be as good.
  2. Be careful when handling ground beef as you mix the meatballs.  Meat that has been overmixed will start to break down in a weird way.  That’s why the recipe says to crumb the meat as you add it.  Then mix it gently.
  3. The sauce is a must.  Don’t substitute a jar of premade sauce, because…no.
  4. The recipe will make enough meatballs for about 12 sandwiches. If you feel like that’s too many, you can cut the recipe in half, but if you’re making them anyway, I would freeze them.
  5. A toasted bun and some cheese take the sandwich from good to excellent.  Use mozzarella or provolone, whichever you prefer.  I like to toast the bun, then add the cheese before adding the meatballs and sauce.  Keeps the bun from soaking up all the liquid.

A warning

Once upon a time I thought it would be a good idea to make the meatballs and then throw it all in the crock pot.  Don’t do it.  It might sound easier, especially if you’re going to be busy or not home, but this is definitely not a recipe for the crock pot.  Unless you’d rather have meat sludge sandwiches.

The Recipe:

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For the meatballs:

  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. parsley flakes
  • 1 ½ tsp dried basil
  • 1 ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups Ritz cracker crumbs
  • 2 lbs. ground beef

For the sauce:

  • 2 cans tomato sauce (15 oz. size)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 ½ tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes
  • ½ tsp salt

In a large bowl, combine everything except the cracker crumbs and ground beef and mix well.  Crumble the meat over the mixture and add crackers.  Mix gently just until combined.  Shape into balls approximately 1-inch in size and place on a broiler pan.

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Bake for 25 minutes at 350°.  Drain.  Meatballs can be frozen at this point if desired.

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For sauce, combine all ingredients in a large skillet.  Bring to a low boil and add meatballs.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

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Serve meatballs and sauce on hoagie buns and top with mozzarella cheese if desired.

2017-01-02-08-04-06

Crepes! A General Conference Tradition

Several years back, we started a new tradition for Sunday morning before General Conference–we make crepes!

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(I actually make crepes a lot thanks to my handy, dandy crepe maker.)

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I got this handy little device several years ago and love, love, love it.  It’s the  Cucinapro Crepe Maker and <— this is my shamelss affiliate link right here. It’s cordless, so you just pick it up and dip it in the batter, it cooks for about a minute, and then the crepe slides right off.  Some people feel the need to turn the crepe over to cook both sides, but honestly, it’s an extra step that can be skipped.  The crepe is so thin and even it cooks all the way through without it.  Before I got it I was NOT a crepe maker at all.  I don’t have the patience and I’m way too much of a perfectionist for using a pan!

A couple of hints for making crepes super excellent but easy too…

  1. A lot of recipes talk about making a well in the flour and stirring the eggs and milk in slowly, yada yada yada.  I’m all about the blender.  I dump all the ingredients in at once and use the batter mode.
  2. Crepe batter has to SIT so that the bubbles can all go away or you’ll end up with holey crepes.  At least 30 minutes at room temperature will usually do it.
  3. Crepes are actually better if you make the batter the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight.  All of the bubbles will be gone, the batter is nice and cold, and it just seems like it has taken on more flavor.
  4. The directions for this crepe maker say to butter the top before dipping it in the batter.  I have never needed to do that and, in fact, have found that it ruins the first couple of crepes if I do it.

The Process

 

crepe-maker

The crepe maker doesn’t take long to heat up, but if you made your batter the night before, you can go ahead and plug it in.

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It comes with this really great dipping bowl/plate.  Pour your batter carefully so as not to cause bubbles.

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Once you’ve dipped it in the batter, return it to the stand to cook.  It only take a minute or so to be done and will slide right off.  I usually keep the finished crepes on a plate under foil while I’m cooking.  There is no need to separate them with waxed paper or anything, I just slap them all in a pile.  Kind of like this:

crepe-toppings

The toppings are what make great crepes!

The really great thing about crepes is you can do any kind of filling or topping that you’d like.  We have some basic must-haves that always appear, like Nutella and whipped cream.

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This vanilla cream filling is to die for.  I could sit down with a spoon and just eat it.  In fact, I think I actually did when we were done with the crepes.  It’s super easy!

berry-sauce

This year I also made this triple berry sauce and it was delicious too!

The Finished Product

With all the different options, everyone gets exactly what they want!  In the past I have had fresh peaches, strawberries, chocolate sauce and caramel.  The possibilities are endless!  A couple of people in our family are super boring and just want your basic maple syrup and powdered sugar.  But that’s okay too.  I can just privately think they’re weird.  My personal favorite is a thin spread of Nutella with the vanilla cream filling and bananas.  I was going to take a picture but there was no good way to show the insides.  Plus I ate it too fast.  Sorry.

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