Meatball memories

Sometimes trying something old makes something new even better.


If someone offered to make me spaghetti and meatballs, I would politely decline every time. After my parents split, my father cooked the only dinner dish I think he knew how for us kids — spaghetti, Prego meat sauce, frozen meatballs, accompanied with 99-cent white bread and butter. It’s safe to say I met my life quota for this dinner early on. Never really enjoying it, and never really wanting it EVER again.

What possessed me to make my own homemade meatballs, I have not the slightest idea. It could have been the ground beef I had, the fancy Parmesan cheese in my fridge, or maybe I was just up for the challenge. It turned out to be a fun cooking project, and also an enjoyable writing assignment that I get to share with you.

I took the ground beef, a dash of onion powder, garlic salt, and pepper flakes, an egg, and some crushed Ritz crackers and mixed them all up in a bowl with my hands. I made little balls with the meat mixture, a little smaller than Ping-Pong balls, using the same technique I use when making cookies. Sadly, it was not cookie dough, but I stuck with it. Sometimes I roll my cookie dough in sugar or sprinkles, so I had the thought, “Why don’t I roll these little buggers in something?” I looked around my spice box and found a barbecue rub gifted to me from a family member. I figured I’d give it a shot, and rolled the little meatballs around in the rub, then placed them perfectly on my cooking sheet for baking.

As they baked, the smell of the rub filled my house — and I liked the smell. I cooked the spaghetti, used Ragu sauce instead of Prego, and topped it all with that fancy shaved Parmesan.

For someone who vowed off spaghetti and meatballs, I enjoyed the recipe I came up with. I think you will too. My father, who is no longer with us, would have enjoyed them too. I’m going to tuck this recipe away for when I meet him again. In my next lifetime I’ll make them for him to see what he thinks of my version of spaghetti and meatballs.