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cooking the books 01

If you’ve been following this series at all, you’ll be aware that in my last post I wrote about being very pregnant and not really wanting to cook. If I thought cooking was hard then, it certainly hasn’t gotten any easier since having the baby about a month ago. We were well taken care of for several weeks by kind friends and family, but eventually I knew that I would have to start cooking again, so I decided to turn to someone whose specialty is cooking for families: the Pioneer Woman. 

I honestly haven’t followed the Pioneer Woman that much. I know she has a blog; I know she has a show; I know she has several cookbooks; I know she has a line of kitchenware. After checking out her cookbook, I see why she has all those things. Her cookbook is conversational and relatable, and filled with full color photos of hundreds of recipes that I want to try. This is a cookbook I’m going to put on hold as soon as I return it, because I didn’t get to try everything that I wanted to. THE PIONEER WOMAN COOKS: DINNERTIME offers a variety of yummy dinnertime solutions to make things work for a busy family.

This recipe comes from the freezer section of the cookbook, and operates on the idea that you spend a few hours making meatballs and then have easy dinners ready for later. If you follow the instructions, you really will spend a few hours making meatballs, but it will be worth it! These are nice, subtle-flavored meatballs. We tried them with the Sweet and Sour Sauce (included below! Bonus recipe!), and we’ve also had them with the easy chili sauce/grape jelly gravy that you know from every potluck you’ve been to. Both were delicious!

2.15 Pioneer Woman

 

Ready-to-Go Freezer Meatballs
From THE PIONEER WOMAN COOKS: DINNERTIME
by Ree Drummond
(2015) 

 

INGREDIENTS

5 pounds ground beef
1 ½ cups plain breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 large eggs
2 heaping tablespoons grainy mustard
½ cup whole milk
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup chopped parsley
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Olive oil, for frying 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine all the ingredients (except the olive oil) in a large bowl.
  2. Knead it all together well with your hands until it’s well combined.
  3. Scoop out 1-tablespoon portions of the meat mixture and roll them into neat balls.
  4. Place them on parchment-paper-lined rimmed baking sheets as you got, then put the sheets in the freezer for about 10 minutes to firm them up before frying.
  5. To brown the meatballs, heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large skilled over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add some meatballs to the skillet…
  6. And cook them on all sides until they have great color on the surface and are fully cooked inside, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  7. Drain the meatballs on paper towels when they’re done, then line them up on clean parchment-paper-lined baking sheets.
  8. Place them in the freezer, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes, or until they’re frozen and firm on the surface.
  9. Then just pop them into 5 to 7 separate freezer bags (roughly 25 per bag)…
  10. And freeze them immediately. They’ll be there when you need them! 

FREEZER INSTRUCTIONS: Freeze the meatballs for up to 6 months. To use them in sauces or soups, simply add them to the hot sauce or soup and allow it to simmer long enough for the meatballs to thaw and heat up. Or allow the meatballs to thaw in the fridge for 2 hours, then use them as you’d like. 

BONUS: Sweet-and-sour Meatballs 

INGREDIENTS

2 ¼ cups pineapple juice
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup rice vinegar or white vinegar
¼ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
One 25-count bag frozen Read-to-Go Freezer Meatballs
1 tablespoon sriracha or other hot sauce, more to taste
1 cup drained canned or fresh pineapple chunks
4 tablespoons sliced green onions
1 ½ cups long-grain or basmati rice, cooked, for serving 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large skillet (with a lid), combine 2 cups of the pineapple juice…
  2. With the brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup, and soy sauce.
  3. Stir the mixture around and bring it to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.
  4. To thicken the sauce, make a slurry by mixing the cornstarch with the remaining ¼ cup pineapple juice until smooth…
  5. Then add it to the sauce, whisking to combine.
  6. Add the frozen meatballs…
  7. Then the sriracha…
  8. And toss to combine. Cover the skillet and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the meatballs are heated through.
  9. Stir in the pineapple…
  10. Then sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of the green onions.
  11. Serve the meatballs and sauce over the rice and sprinkle on the rest of the green onions at the end! 

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