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Remember that old campfire song, sung to the tune of "On Top of Old Smokey"?   

"On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed."

(See fascinating  S. Florida story to set the record straight about the origin of this variation in our Forum.)

Everybody loves meatballs, nobody more than kids, especially when they get to sing the song.  From the usual meatballs with spaghetti, or minestrone with meatballs, through Swedish Meatballs (recipe soon) to Hispanic "Albondigas", they are ancient favorites.   Kids love to make them, but they're a pain to sauté, and if you put them raw into sauce or soup, they fall apart.   Here's a delicious, tender recipe that's so easy kids can make them, start to finish, by themselves.  And guess what?  You've "extended" the meat, saving money, and also cut the fat!

Easy Meatballs

1 pound lean ground beef  (Note #1)
1/2 cup dry bread or cracker crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
(Note #2)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 TBS. dried parsley (or 2 TBS. chopped fresh parsley)
1/2 teaspoon ground bay leaf
2 large eggs
cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Mix all ingredients very well with a fork, actually beating to mix thoroughly.  This should make a very soft mixture that will hold its shape.  If not, add a few drops of water or pinches of crumbs to thicken or thin as necessary.

Spray a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan thoroughly with cooking spray.  Form mixture into meatballs, placing them on the pan without touching.   Make them all about the same size.  Small ones are better than large ones, as they cook quickly without drying out or browning too much.   (Note #3)  They are also easier and more attractive for small children to eat.

Bake for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size.  They should be lightly browned on the bottom and dry on the top.  Break one open to be sure the inside is no longer pink (if it is, put back in the oven for a few minutes).

Add to sauce or soup as you wish.  Enjoy!

Note #1: For a tasty alternative, use half lean beef and half lean pork.

Note #2: Seasonings may be varied for different dishes; this one is for Italian recipes.

Note #3:  If for some reason you want large meatballs, you may need to reduce the oven temperature to 325F or 350F and bake them longer. 

The Sneaky Kitchen
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