What’s life without a quick and easy go to recipe for Gluten Free Classic Beef Meatballs? These babies are halfway homemade, using spruced up good old Prego sauce as a base.
You know what? I’m a terrible mother when it comes to my kids being sick.
I’m not very compassionate.
I get annoyed when they start to whine.
I think more about what I’m missing out on that day rather than focusing on being able to spend one on one time with them.
And the most neglectful of all, I still take them out in public when they get too darn restless from being couped up inside all day.
Yep, I’m that mom that every other mom looks at with the glare of daggers, thinking (or sometimes saying out loud), “Why the heck are you bringing them in public?!”
It’s just that my kids never settle down. Even when they are sick, they are up and at ’em, asking me minute after minute what our daily agenda entails.
Like this weekend, BOTH my kids had pink eye. Braelyn got it on Friday in her right eye, then woke up with it on Saturday morning in her left eye. Which then Emry also woke up with it in her left eye Saturday morning, and by the next day it had traveled to her right eye. Basically we were playing ping pong with pink eye over here.
But the funniest thing happened on Saturday morning when I actually decided to be responsible and kept Emry home from soccer, which was a big mature mommy step for me. Both girls were sitting at the counter top wanting to color. Emry started folding a piece of paper and making a card for me.
Braelyn jumped on the card bandwagon and was deciding who she should make a card for when all the sudden she exclaims, “I’ll make a card for Emry! I’ll make her a sorry note for giving her pink eye.”
Following that statement, Emry thought it would be a wonderful tribute to cover my card with pink eyed monsters. Just what every mother wants.
I about died when I saw their artwork. Emry’s little gang of sickly stick figures looked like big old meatballs on toothpicks. Or maybe that’s just what I see since I imagine food all day long. Regardless, if I wasn’t dealing with goopy nasty pink eyed girls, that picture probably would have left me longing for some classic spaghetti and meatballs. Or maybe a meatball sub. Or heck, even just plain old meatballs.
Do you see where I’m going here? I’ve turned a story about pink eye into a platform for meatballs. That makes perfect sense, right?
Speaking of meatballs, remember how I said I was actually being responsible with this pink eye sickness? Well, I gave up tonight and took our family to a church potluck. We just quarantined Emry at our own private dinner table and didn’t let her touch a thing besides her own food. Someone brought meatballs and she loved them. The end.
See, I’m a terrible parent. Next thing you know, the entire congregation is going to wake up tomorrow morning with swollen goopy eyes, cursing my name.
Oh well, if that’s the case I’m just gonna make a big saucy batch of these Gluten Free Classic Beef Meatballs and distribute them throughout the neighborhoods, requesting forgiveness and salvation for my soul. I’m pretty sure once they try these meatballs, they’ll forget about the pink eye anyway.
These meatballs are fairly simple and extremely tasty. They can be made ahead of time and refrigerated up to a day before cooking, which makes for an easy weeknight dinner. Plus, once they’re done cooking, I just simmer them in some spruced up Prego sauce. Hello, EASY!
Now I know Prego sauce on it’s own is just fine and dandy, but with a little extra herby and red wine vinegar love, you can take that sauce to the next level. Just saying.
Aside from the sauce, these meatballs are full of flavor on their own. They’re tender and moist from the egg, carrot, and onion and have a little bit of heat from the black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes, which you can totally adjust to your taste preference. Adding a splash of red wine vinegar to the meat mixture also adds a boost of flavor to these nuggets. Wait, these are the opposite of nuggets. Nuggets are chicken and these are BEEF BABY!
Both my girls, and especially Ben, enjoyed these meatballs. We ate them in a traditional spaghetti and meatballs dish the first night and then slapped them on top of some Udi’s Gluten Free French Baguettes for meatball subs the next night.
Ben loved these meatballs so much that he was literally drooling over the computer a few minutes ago when I was asking his opinion on which pictures to use in this post. He wants me to make them again tomorrow. Haha! I’ll get right on that babe.
But in all honesty, these meatballs are a great, versatile family friendly meal that will leave everyone feeling happy and full…pink eye or not. But if anyone asks, you didn’t get it from my kids!
How do you stay sane when your kids are sick?
- 1½ pounds lean ground beef
- 1 small carrot
- 1 small onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon pepper, depending on taste
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
- ⅓ cup gluten free cracker crumbs (I used Milton's Craft Bakers' Crispy Sea Salt Crackers from Costco) or gluten free bread crumbs or gluten free crushed tortilla chips
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cups Prego original spaghetti sauce
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- 1 package Barilla's gluten free spaghetti noodles (12 oz.), optional
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- To make meatballs, place crackers in a food processor and turn into fine crumbs. Remove and set aside.
- Roughly chop carrot, onion, and garlic and place in the empty food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium sized mixing bowl. Add egg, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes (optional), Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese, cracker crumbs, 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar, and ground beef. Using your hands, mix to combine all ingredients.
- Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. While oil is heating, form meat mixture into golf sized balls and set onto a baking tray.
- Once oil is hot enough that drop of water sizzles, place meatballs in an even layer in skillet. Brown meatballs on each side, about 2-3 minutes.* Place skillet into 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.
- While meatballs are cooking, begin boiling a pot of water for pasta.
- In a large pot, eat Ragu sauce and add 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, rosemary, thyme, and basil. Allow to simmer while meatballs are cooking.
- Once meatballs are done, put pasta into pot and cook according to package directions.
- Place meatballs in sauce and stir to coat. Cover and simmer while pasta is cooking.
- Once pasta is done, drain, and serve with meatballs and sauce.