It’s a Meatball and Meatloaf Variation Nation.

This is the sixth installment of The Pioneer Woman Cookbook Challenge

Meatballs and meatloaf depending on who makes them are usually made of the same consistency. For instance I grew up with my mom’s meatballs and meatloaf using bread crumbs and egg as the binder for both. To be quite frank, that is how I thought everyone made their meatballs and meatloaves. Because I even use that same bread crumb and egg binding for both of mine. On top of that I add sausage and if I can afford it veal. While doing this challenge learning that not everyone makes their meatballs and meatloaf the same way. Throughout Ree’s books her meatball recipes vary in the way the meat is bonded together. Some use the bread crumbs & egg mixture, some oats & egg, and another uses bread & milk as the binding. Even though I have not made every meatball related recipe from Ree’s books I am trying to make some head way in doing so.

Ready-to-Go-Freezer Meatballs Recipe No. 18

This recipe of Ready-to-Go Freezer Meatballs (Dinnertime, pgs: 102 – 103) was the first recipe that I spotted out of all the meatball recipes that Ree has in her books. Then I freaked out. I freaked out over the fact that this recipe requires five pounds of ground beef and it makes a butt load of meatballs that we do not need. Alls I wanted is one simple serving (25 meatballs), not a 125 meatballs (five servings). Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely understand the huge quantity and the reason why there are so many but if you do not have the luxury of a spare freezer (like we do living in an apartment/townhouse) around and you just want a basic meatball recipe on hand. Since I did not see nor remember any other basic meatball recipes throughout Ree’s books, I had to figure out how to break down the measurements for one serving. And yes, I was freaking out over this too. What did I do? I turned to my mom for help on this one. After sitting down with my mom we came up with the measurements for a single serving (25 meatballs).

A single serving of Ready-to-Go Freezer Meatballs
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of grainy mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley (I used dried parsley. Either dried or fresh works)
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

The breaking down of the single serving allows you to make meatballs that day or make a head for one or possibly two meals depending on your lifestyle. Not to mention the single serving will save you the cost of not having to buy a huge quantity of ground beef unless you really do need that quantity of ground beef for other purposes. In the end I did make the full 125 (five servings) at a later time to use in other meatball recipes from Ree’s books.

Swedish Meatballs Recipe No. 19

I grew up eating Swedish Meatballs (Dinnertime, pg: 107) and I like them. To me they are apart of the repertoire of winter comfort food. So you could probably imagine my excitement when I saw this recipe in Ree’s book. Yep, it brought back those warm childhood memories again. However, the only thing that caught me off guard with this recipe was adding mustard to the sauce. To be honest, I never knew mustard was ever in the sauce at all. I never tasted any hint of mustard in my mom’s sauce growing up. So yeah, I was a little bit taken back on this one. However, I would go forth and try it anyway.

With my meatballs already done, I then made the sauce and cooked off the noodles. When everything was ready, I assembled my plate and took my first bite. The first thing that got to me was the mustard. I like mustard. I just learned from that first bite that I do not like it in my Swedish Meatball sauce. Even TW who is already a picky eater, walked away from it.

The next day was the first day of my work week and I asked my coworkers if they ever had mustard in their Swedish Meatball sauce. Every reply was no. I even had gotten —“Black people don’t eat Swedish Meatballs!” In which my reply was, “I was asking you as a person, if you ever put mustard in your Swedish meatball sauce not your race. My coworker’s reply was, “No, I don’t eat that stuff!” I said thank you to my coworker and moved on. Nonetheless, this wouldn’t be the last time I would hear that statement come from my coworker. In another conversation about food the same coworker made the same statement of “Black people don’t eat….” and after she said it I looked her in the eye and asked, “Isn’t so and so and others in you family black?” She said yes. I then asked, “Did they eat said item at that party?” “Yes,” she said. “Then why are you speaking for an entire populous of people of not eating an item that they are not supposed to like or eat?” I asked. My coworker looked at me straight in the eye and then said, “Okay, I don’t like that!” Ever since that conversation race has been removed from my coworker’s way of speaking when it comes to her likes and dislikes. I have to say that it has been nice talking to a person and not a race factor.

TW and I may have not liked the Swedish meatball sauce from Ree’s book but even I can not speak for an entire populous of people of the way something should be made or cooked. I finally asked my mom if she ever put mustard in her Swedish meatball sauce? Her response was no too, but she said that she has heard of it being done. She told me that some people do like the extra punch of vinegar with the sauce but you do have to watch how much you put in it or it will over power the meal. Then she asked me how much mustard was put into Ree’s sauce. I told her 1/4 of a cup. Oh, Jesus! She said. No wonder why that mustard was so over powering.

Meatball Sliders Recipe No. 20

There is no big story to tell when it comes to these Meatball Sliders (Food From My Frontier, pg: 103). Except yay recipe number 20! And it was nice to have them ready after a long day at work. I remember it was one of “those days” and was glad to come home to something simple.

Meatball Tortilla Soup Recipe No. 21

Earlier I had mentioned the various ways meatballs and meatloaves can be bonded to together. In this recipe of Meatball Tortilla Soup (Come and Get It, pgs: 181 – 183) the binding in which holds these meatballs together is with egg and bread crumbs. The way I would make them. I am going to take a wild guess that the reason for this type of binding is because it holds the meatballs better in a liquid. You can let me know in the comments below of what you think. I am open to your thoughts!

If there is one thing that I have not been big on this entire challenge so far are garnishments. In the workplace I would go to the extra mile of making your food look amazing. At home, I just want to put my day at rest and sit down to eat. I am not worried of how pretty my meal looks just so as long as it is good and TW loves it. I was surprised with all the spices involved with this soup that TW did like it. He even went back for seconds. And yes, I like it too. It’s a keeper!

Now Ladies & Gentlemen…Meatloaf!

Meatloaf Recipe No. 22

Ree’s Meatloaf (Pioneer Woman Cooks, pgs: 150-151) is different from any other meatloaf I have ever eaten or made. Since I am not afraid to try new things, I gave this one a go.

I’ve never been one to shy away from fancy things because I grew up around them. No, my family was not wealthy, nor were we poor either. We are just part of the working middle class, the backbone of America. And yes, meatloaf is not just a meal it is part of the lifestyle. All the same Ree’s meatloaf for me goes into the “fancy” way of making meatloaf, and it is sure not the way my Mama or I myself would make it. Then again as I keep reiterating over and over again, people make the same meals differently.

Never have I ever put bacon on my meatloaf. Never ever have I put parmesan cheese in it either. Now that’s fancy…lol! Another new adventure for me is using a panade, a milk and bread mixture to bind the meatloaf together. Which, now after using this technique I can see why and how meatloaf got a bad wrap back in the 1980’s for being called Alpo. All the same, I dove in an tried Ree’s version of this American classic.

At first I liked it even though the texture kind of had me a bit taken back. It was different in flavor. The bacon and the parmesan were the most prominent of all the ingredients I could taste. So I packed it for my lunch the next day. When lunchtime came around I reheated the slice of meatloaf that I had and continued to eat it. From the first bite it didn’t taste right like it did the night before. No, there wasn’t any bad food handling on my part. What happened is that the parmesan cheese in the meatloaf had gotten more predominate as it reheated. I know for myself, I am not crazy about a stinky cheese flavor taking over a good meal.

When I returned home that evening, I told TW that the rest of the meatloaf was all his. He asked why and I told him. He then said, “I like that meatloaf! Heck, I like any meatloaf, but I especially my mom’s! Can you make that the next time you make meatloaf?”

Mini Turkey Meatloaves. Recipe No. 23

For the Mini Turkey Meatloaves (Come and Get It, pg: 192) Ree uses the same panade, parmesan cheese, and bacon technique with these minis as she with her regular size meatloaf, which there is nothing wrong with with doing so. Except for this time around she uses ground turkey instead of ground beef and there is nothing wrong with that either. Again I gave them a try and again I didn’t like them. Even though they were made from ground turkey, TW on the other hand loved them! I never told him that they were made from ground turkey and he didn’t seem to care. Most manly men would if they knew they were eating ground turkey instead of ground beef.

Easier Way to Cook Off Meatballs

When Julie Powell started her challenge with Julia Child’s book, she wasn’t exactly form my understanding some one who knew how to cook complex meals or beyond the basics of cooking. I on the other hand, have spent my career in the food service industry. I believe that I have said it before that just because I have spent my time in the industry doesn’t mean that I get to cook a whole lot. Or if I do get to cook, its on someone else’s terms. My third reason to start this challenge was to build up my confidence back into cooking. As TW and my family have pointed out that under the circumstances as they are and what I have been through in the past, I am afraid to make a mistake with my cooking. Now that I am amidst this challenge I find myself questing Ree on a lot of her methods while at the same time finding my confidence in cooking once again. Yes, I do have the understanding that Ree’s skills are geared for the home cook and there is nothing wrong with that. For me it is seeing a bigger picture.

Now I stated a title that said, An Easier Way to Cook Off Meatballs, so here it is.

Instead of rolling out 125 meatballs by hand, use an one inch retractable handle ice cream scoop. You can find them on Amazon and food service stores such as Gordon’s Food Service (GFS). Yes, the meatballs will have a flat bottom but you can roll them out much more quickly With the ice cream scoop and their size will be consistent.

Then place the meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. You can get 20 meatballs on a pan.

The next step is to bake them off in the oven instead off browning them in a stove top skillet and cooking them through.

Bake the meatballs at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until they are cooked all the way through. Ovens do vary with temps and how long an item will cook. So please take note of that.

When the meatballs are cooked all the way through, allow them to cool if you are storing them or place them in your meal right away while they are still hot.

Yes, the fat pool or the fat render will pull away or fall off from the meatball when you pick them up off the pan. Best to use a set of tongs when removing the meatballs off the pan.

Okay, I am done telling you how to cook off meatballs!

Thanks for stopping by!

Go about life Victoriously,

Alex Victoria

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