Freezer Meatballs

January 7th, 2013 · 33 Comments · Dinner, Organizing, Strategizing, Planning

So how’s everyone doing with Seven Days Seven Meals? I had to go out last night after work, so I’m starting with Operation New Dinners tonight. Well, if we’re going to be technical about it, I actually started on Sunday when I made a batch of lamb meatballs for the freezer. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me knowing these are waiting for us to devour on Thursday, when soccer is going to end late, and dinner is going to have to happen fast. Like 15 minutes fast. I’m not sure what meal will be built around them, but below I have a few options.

Keep me posted on your progress, too. Please share your triumphs with us, and remember: Catastrophes are always good for a laugh.

Freezer Lamb-balls with Two Options
Makes 16 meatballs

1 pound ground lamb
1 egg, whisked
not quite 1/4 cup bread crumbs
3 tablespoon chopped fresh mint or 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
zest from 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoon minced onions
1 large garlic clove, minced

What I did Sunday: Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix all ingredients thoroughly but gently, and form into small balls as shown above. Bake on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes. Allow to cool, then freeze in Ziploc. Total time sacrificed for the betterment of my weeknight self? About 15 minutes hands-on, 35 minutes total.

What I’ll probably do on Thursday: Make Lamb Pita Sandwiches. Place frozen meatballs on a cookie sheet and bake 15 minutes at 400°F. While they are baking, I’ll wrap whole wheat pitas in foil and heat them in the same oven for the last 10 minutes of meatball baking. I’ll also prepare sandwich toppings: pomegranate seeds, chopped fresh mint, feta, something green (cucumbers or shredded raw kale), plain yogurt mixed with lemon and a little cumin and salt. When meatballs are cooked, I’ll throw three or four into each pita along with assorted toppings as deemed acceptable by children.

What I could also do: Make Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Dip. Place frozen meatballs on a cookie sheet and bake 15 minutes at 400°F. While they are baking, I’ll mix plain yogurt with a squeeze of lemon, salt, a dash of cumin. I’ll serve lamb balls with yogurt dip (or ketchup if necessary) and some kind of salad with kale, feta, and pomegranate seeds — all of which I have in the fridge from my Sunday shop.

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33 responses so far ↓

  • 1 meg // Jan 8, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Jenny – Question on freezing vs. fridge storage – When I know I’m going to eat something within the week (such as your Sunday meatballs for Thursday) – I would typically keep in the fridge, not the freezer. Am I putting my family at risk for food poisoning? Is the flavor/texture retention better in the freezer? In short, should I change my practice?

  • 2 Amanda // Jan 8, 2013 at 10:21 am

    I ended up making the Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Crispy-Black-Bean-Tacos-with-Feta-and-Cabbage-Slaw-351271 and they were a total hit with the family. I ended up subbing monterey jack for the cheese though because they are not fans of feta (are they nuts?). My husband commented that these tacos tasted like papusas with the yummy slaw. Note to others, make the slaw, it is a meal changer!

  • 3 Andrea // Jan 8, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I am making an “Assemble Yourself” Cobb Salad so everyone gets what they like! A mix of romaine and spinach, avocado, hard-boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, green onions, bacon, left over pulled pork, feta and cheddar. With my sister’s delicious vinaigrette – olive oil, white balsamic, yellow mustard, sugar, garlic, salt and pepper.

  • 4 Melissa // Jan 8, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    We had the tacos last night, too! (But with the mish-mash of soft tortillas and crispy shells that were already in the pantry.) I’m going to make the meatballs early this afternoon for reheating tonight. I am cheating and stretching the ground lamb by adding some ground beef. My son is turning 10 this month, and the two younger kids must be going through some growth spurt–they are all eating so much that I need to adjust how much I cook!

  • 5 Gina Crowley // Jan 8, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    I made the porcupine meatballs last night and they were a hit. I should have made the meatballs the night before because dinner took a while but it was good nonetheless. My daughter even asked to take the leftovers in her lunch thermos today.
    Tonight is the brussells sprouts, sausage and cannellini bean recipe. Not sure what I am serving it with..probably a nice, safe white rice in case anyone turns their nose up.

  • 6 Scheherazade // Jan 8, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    I made the BA orange broccoli beef thing last night. I’ve got my week’s menu up on my site and am using a tumblr tag “seven days seven meals” to make sure I keep myself on track and don’t slump into my usual rut.

  • 7 Eileen // Jan 8, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Meatballs in the freezer are one of my favorite tricks! Especially lamb–super tasty and versatile. :)

  • 8 Nicole // Jan 8, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    I made the Olympic Seoul chicken last night and served with sesame green beans and TJ’s kimchi fried rice for the adventurous and plain for the not. Huge, huge hit. I swear you will never know it has 10 garlic cloves (which, I did take from a jar, sacrilege and all!). Black bean burgers and sweet potato fries tonight, 2 weeks of meals planned! I feel so adventurous and prepared!

  • 9 bernalgirl // Jan 8, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    I made the Serious Eats Scampi with artichokes — frozen wild shrimp and frozen artichoke hearts from TJs made it a very easy weeknight meal. Served it over Barilla Plus spaghettini, everyone was happy.

    Next up: 101 Cookbooks lentil chard tomato soup with saffron yogurt — looks easier than it sounds.

    Love this challenge!

  • 10 sallie // Jan 8, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    I made flounder poached in fennel-tomato sauce from this month’s BA. It was the perfect weeknight meal because you use jarred marinara sauce. I made some orzo to go with it. Easy and yum! Making the meatballs this weekend.

  • 11 Amy // Jan 8, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    Just started reading this site recently and got the book (and read it basically straight through) over the holidays…love the 7 new meals challenge. I am
    “backdating” it to Dec 31, when we made Pork Ragu for a stay-in NYE. Have since also made the Chicken w/ Bacon Brussels Sprouts and Kale, Sausage & White Bean stew (with about 1/3 the sausage to make it a little lighter!) from the book, as well as an herb frittata from How to Cook Everything. Would do all of them again and nothing was very difficult. Very motivating!

  • 12 Melissa // Jan 8, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    I made porcupine meatballs last night and they were a huge success! I had to fight the family off to keep a couple back for some lunch leftovers today. :) DALS butternut squash soup tomorrow.

  • 13 Wendy // Jan 9, 2013 at 1:27 am

    We had tacos tonight, but I threw in the towel on the rice side I had planned to go with it. My most anticipated meal of the week (because it cooked in the slow cooker)–chickpea stew–was met with silent looks of grim determination. I liked it a lot, but that’s probably because I like garbanzos. I made it up to them with leftover birthday cheesecake for dessert.

  • 14 Katie // Jan 9, 2013 at 3:12 am

    I also made the black bean/feta tacos tonight (with DALS coleslaw- yum!) and they were a big hit. I also sauteed some red pepper to add to the beans, which added nice color and flavor.

    I made the pulled chicken over the weekend, and we ate it last night as sliders. SO awesome. Thanks for the inspiration to try new recipes!

  • 15 Stephanie // Jan 9, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    We had the orichette with peas and ham – except with pancetta instead of ham, along with some caramelized onions. no mint, but maybe some extra parm to compensate :-) And lots of black pepper. It was a HUGE hit with me and my husband, and the kids will be feasting on the leftovers (we’re still pre-sit-down-together for meals – but there is light at the end of the toddler tunnel. . .)

  • 16 Krista // Jan 9, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Is there a reason you didn’t use pomegranate molasses as you mentioned in a previous post? Just curious as I too have a bottle of the stuff that I would like to put to use.

  • 17 Jenny // Jan 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Krista – I’m glad you brought that up. Yes, there was a reason I didn’t use pomegranate molasses: I COMPLETELY FORGOT. Maybe try stirring in 2 T to the meat mixture before baking. Or brush on top for a minute of broiling at the end of their reheating time? Let me know what you decide and if it works! But how could you go wrong?

  • 18 SML // Jan 9, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Made Sprouted Kitchen’s Roasted Cauliflower Capellini — super yum! I didn’t have lemon pepper or the hazelnuts but it was still delicious and very simple to put together. I did make twice the amount of capellini, worried that half a pound would not serve 4, yet it was still flavourful, balanced and I have leftovers!

  • 19 LisaH // Jan 9, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Made shrimp tacos tonight
    Next time I’ll toast the corn tortillas and go for tostada style
    Forgot to set out the feta, bummer
    Thinking it also kuldip have benefitted from the slaw having just oil and lime juice
    Want to add radishes and Avacado slices next time too

  • 20 katylady // Jan 9, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    the pretzel chicken was sooooooooo good!! it went from my evernote notebook “recipes to try” to notebook “recipes to keep” next up is next up is bistro meatballs from my favorite restaurant.

  • 21 Abbie // Jan 10, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Made Martha’s 4 ingredient grilled shrimp, and cheated by using just straight spicy chili sauce that we always have in the fridge so really, 2 ingredient grilled shrimp. Delicious and easy!

  • 22 bernalgirl // Jan 10, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Checking back in about the lentil soup because it was such a hit!

    Without the saffron yogurt it’s a bit bland, but my daughter loved it. Lentil soup is generally a hit with her, and this one is packed with veggies.*

    But with the saffron yogurt? Incredible! I’d never guess that a pinch of saffron in some yogurt would make such an impact. You must try this!

    http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/lively-up-yourself-lentil-soup-recipe.html

    *Since I knew she wouldn’t go for the yogurt, I punched up the soup a bit by adding the chopped chard stems with the onions, 2 cloves of garlic and a bay leaf, and added the water and lentils to cook with the onion mixture for a 1-pot meal.

    Thank you for this challenge! I’m finally moving on my “To Try” list! Now I just need to move the Pretzel Chicken into next week’s list.

  • 23 Jenny C // Jan 10, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    So far, we’ve made 1 new breakfast dish (pumpkin oatmeal bars), 1 new side (Local Kitchen curried roast cauliflower) and an AWESOME shredded chicken that we used in quesadillas.

    All three got the thumbs up, and the chicken scored a perfect “10″. If you are doing another list of suggestions for Week 2, you might want to include it. Recipe is written to be used in tacos, but you can obviously use the chicken for anything, and it would be very easy to double it, freezing some for later. Ours was flavorful but not at all spicy (the jalapenos gave the sauce a fruity depth). Since we like spicy, next time I’ll leave in some of the seeds. The chicken comes out deliciously tender, and it couldn’t have been easier to make, especially since my husband did the shredding (my least favorite part)! http://www.oprah.com/food/Tomato-Braised-Chicken-Tacos-Recipe

  • 24 Devon // Jan 10, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    We are in the sweet spot between sport seasons so I cooked Sun, Mon, Tues and tonight. Sunday I tried your book pizza recipe and it was fantastic. Even snuck in 1c whole wheat flour and nobody noticed. Monday I did the pretzel chicken, which my 10 year old son declared “the best ever.” If you knew him you would know what a victory that was! (Actually the only other time he ever said that was for your yogurt marinated chicken so I am eternally grateful.) Tuesday I made a version of the pasta with peas and ham I found on epicurious which is much like the one you posted today with the addition of cream. Yum. Tonight we did the meatballs. But I just tossed in the ingredients listed in the previous post–with the molasses!–and am sad to report we ended up eating grilled cheese instead. I think perhaps we are not a lamb loving family after all. It wasn’t the meatballs, it was us. :)

    Still. So, so glad to be cooking along with y’all. Such a great way to start the year. My kids are picky and it’s easy to get beat down by it all. So thank you, Jenny, for the inspiration. Your book is the one that always seems to be open on my counter.

  • 25 Rachael // Jan 10, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    So far, we’ve done Wednesday Chef’s meatballs (pork-hating 6-year-old ate without batting an eye!), salmon with brussel sprouts (2-year-old ate a lot of rice that night), and beef-barley soup. I made the soup ahead in several steps, including a chuck roast in the slow-cooker overnight, and it was delicious, sustaining, and fit easily into a busy week. Olympic chicken planned for tomorrow. Thanks for the motivation.

  • 26 Anne // Jan 11, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Made a beer braised pork shoulder on Wednesday – put it in the oven, went in to the office for four hours, picked up the kids and it was amazing. Picky eater enjoyed some shredded pork with egg noodles and the rest of us had the sauce as well.

  • 27 Leslie-Anne // Jan 12, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    I made 3 batches of the freezer lamb meatballs and have already used some of them – I was so surprised at the moistness and general non-freezer like quality of them! Hurray for that! And my 1 year old loves them!

  • 28 Rosie // Jan 12, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    Last week I made this month’s BA Flounder in Fennel Tomato sauce, DALS black bean burritos, a kale-brussels sprouts salad, and a Moosewood recipe for baked tofu with lemon and herbs. The flounder recipe was pretty good, but next time I’ll use haddock or cod. We used Rao’s sauce and the fennel was a really nice addition. The burritos and tofu were big hits with our three year old (and us!) so they will definitely be in the rotation in the future. The salad is my new favorite!

    Flounder-
    http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/quick-recipes/2013/01/flounder-poached-in-fennel-tomato-sauce

    Salad-http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/11/kale-and-brussels-sprout-salad

    Tofu-
    http://books.google.com/books?id=wsRr9NeYVX4C&pg=PT121&lpg=PT121&dq=moosewood+simple+suppers+lemon+tofu&source=bl&ots=BYpXVmnb3D&sig=FAMJtt1AhsD3Ip2miOsdsp3sIpA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=pg_yUIGHDvLh0wH1qoGADg&ved=0CEAQ6AEwBA

    This week I’m trying three recipes from the Recipes For Health cookbook–huevos rancheros, spinach,tofu, and sesame stir fry, and Buckwheat noodles w/kale.

  • 29 Torrie @ a place to share... // Jan 13, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    so funny! (about the pomegranate molasses)…i delegated the meatballs to my husband, while i worked on the meal for that night… he made them, and last night when we were sitting down to eat them, i said~ “you put the pomegranate molasses in, right??” he replied, “it didn’t say to!!” and then i said, “but that was her whole reason for making them!” :) …but they were delicious anyway, and now, they’ve been added to next week’s (our make-ahead item) menu… now we get to compare :) . {we used hummus instead of the yogurt dip (needed to try smitten kitchen’s *smooth hummus)… next week, i’ll try it with the yogurt!

  • 30 Krista // Jan 14, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    I tried the meatballs with 2 T of the pomegranate molasses and they were a hit (though I didn’t compare with and without…) The molasses means they caramelize a bit when baking, which I enjoyed. Thanks for the recipe! (Incidentally, like Torrie we also tried this with SK smooth hummus, which along with pita, lettuce, and cucumber plus some pomegranate seeds, made for a tasty dinner as well as lunch leftovers)

  • 31 Erin // Jan 31, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Jenny, I’m a little late on the 7 Days, 7 Meals train but I made the lamb meatballs last night for dinner this weekend and they were stupendous! I fried off a little bit after mixing to check the seasoning and they were so good, I ended up sneaking a meatball (or two) while they were cooling. Wonderful recipe!

  • 32 Kristen // Jan 31, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Let’s say I wanted to have these for dinner tonight… what would the oven temp and cook time be? I checked the other meatball recipes in the DALS cookbook for reference but they seemed to involve stovetop cooking methods. I’m vegetarian so I’m not well versed in the ways of cooking meat but occasionally do so for guests/family. Any tips are greatly appreciated!

  • 33 mary // Feb 6, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    my one year old loved these dipped in greek yogurt. thx!

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