Last week, my Lincoln got to pick his very first night-before-the-first-day-of-school dinner. He’s been riding a gas-powered 4 wheeler since he was 2, shooting a Red Ryder since he was 3 and firing a bow and arrow for a year now. He’s not scared to camo up and take off through the pasture until I can’t see him anymore or push a 1000 pound quarter horse out of his way. So it should have been no surprise that I was only allowed to walk him in the first day. But man, he looks so little walking those big ol’ halls.
While I miss him and his antics at home, I know it’s time to share his awesome with the world. Or at least with our little Small Town, U.S.A.
Lincoln’s not much into sweets. He’s a solid meat and potatoes kind of guy already. He does, after all, need to nourish all those big adventures of his. So he didn’t ask for anything fancy; just spaghetti and cheesy meatballs…emphasis on the cheesy meatballs.
Now, we all know I’m not one to skimp on flavor for the sake of a few calories, but I always make these with Italian Turkey instead of beef or sausage. I’m sure they would be excellent with either of them, but our whole carnivorous family loves them with the turkey. And then I don’t feel quite so guilty when the kids go back for seconds. Or thirds.
This is one of our simplest and most favorite recipes. Easy prep and crock pot cooking makes it great for busy school days. And you can even make the meatballs ahead of time and freeze until the day you need them.
So from our table to yours….Cheese Stuffed Meatballs.
- 1 lb ground sweet Italian turkey sausage
- 1 c Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1 Tbs mayonnaise
- 1 egg
- 20-30 cheese cubes
- 1 – 2 c. Mozerella cheese
- Big jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (~40 ounces)
- 12-15 oz of your favorite noodles
- Lots and lots of napkins – at least if you have toddlers
1. Spray the inside of a crockpot with nonstick cooking spray
2. Mix your turkey sausage, mayonnaise, egg and breadcrumbs. Why mayo, you ask? Because turkey cooks a lot drier than pork or beef, so the mayonnaise helps keep it moist. Just like my meatloaf, I use my KitchenAid mixer, but you can certainly do it by hand.
*If you can’t find ground Italian turkey sausage (like me this time), you can buy the Italian turkey sausage links in the fresh meat section. The casings open very easily…just squeeze the meat out right into your bowl. It’s not pretty. But it works!
(I’ll spare you the picture)
3. Form about 2 Tbs of your ground turkey mixture loosely into a meatball. It should be about the size of a golf ball.
4. Insert 1 cheese cube into the middle and reform your meat around the cube to make a meatball. Drop into the bottom of your prepared crockpot.
5. Repeat until all of your meat is formed and stuffed into meatballs.
6. Pour the entire jar of spaghetti sauce over the top.
7. Cook on low for 3-4 hours.
8. When your meatballs are fully cooked and you start to see cheese ooze out, turn your crock pot off. Top with mozzarella and/or Parmesan cheese, and put the lid back on. Let them sit while you prepare your noodles (as directed on the box).
9. You can either dump your noodles into the crockpot and stir into the sauce and meatballs -OR- you can serve each plate individually. Just top a pile of noodles with spaghetti sauce and meatballs and dig in!
Lincoln’s first day was an enormous success! I hope these put as much pep in your step as they did his 🙂