Mommy’s Super Easy Meatballs

Mommy & Me, Christy's in Coral Gables, 2009.

Happy Mothers’ Day!!

My mother is one of the most amazing women I have ever met.  She worked full-time for decades and still managed to absolutely, 100% be there for me and my big sister, Lisa, and my dad.  She did everything:  she drove carpool; she made breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and loved me even when I went through that phase (ten years is just a phase, right?) during which I refused to do any homework whatsoever…

Mommy and Peyton at our beautiful house.

Reader, did you know that my mother is a Registered Dietitian?  She is!  She’s a genius, basically.  And she worked for the Miami-Dade County Public School system for decades, trying to bring healthy and balanced and reasonable foods into our cafeterias long before Jamie Oliver thought of it.  She championed a new program that made free breakfast available to any student who requested it, because it was the right thing to do, even if it was financially a stretch.  She admirably fought to keep the price of the chocolate chip cookies down, because my mom, while healthy, is a firm believer in this: everything in moderation, including moderation.  Which is why she kept her kids growing and glowing with PBJs on wheat and fresh veggies and fruits and low-fat dairy for snacks… But never deprived me or Lisa (or Daddy!) of our God-given rights to strawberry yogurt shakes after the doctor, or pumpkin pie for breakfast in late November (“but you have to have it with a glass of milk, Lauren!“), or a random slice of carrot cake bought from the bakery on a whim, just because, or these perfectly gooey, enormous cinnamon rolls from the Amish farm that were just waiting for us in the trunk of her champagne-colored Volvo station wagon when she picked us up from school on Friday afternoons… She also did a locally televised exposé on the awfulness of Lunchables, which all the cool kids were eating those days.  Mom, I still hate you a little for that one.

But here’s the thing.  My mother is the most gracious, kind, and understanding person in the whole wide world and all the years I lied to her and ran from her and cursed her were just a function of my being immature and foolish and blind.  I didn’t realize how strong she was, or how hard she worked, or how all she wanted in life was to make things good and simple and easy and wonderful for her two daughters.  Mommy, I love you, you are my best friend, and I’m so glad I realized it now, and not years down the line, because I need you in my life… and I wish I could be with you today.

Mom’s Quick & Easy Meatballs

This recipe is great and adaptable and great when you are low on time or money or the desire to make butternut squash risotto.  I am usually low on all three of these things, and thus find myself eating a whole lot of spaghetti linguini and meatballs.  (I don’t really like the roundness of spaghetti, it gets too watery for my taste.)  Point is, Ryan and I love this dinner, and I think in March we made this six times in, like, a five-week span, which is absurd and we had to take a little break, because oh my God…  Anyway.

Guys, for whatever reason, the only picture I could find of these meatballs happened to be this one, in which the meatballs are, well, totally raw. But they still are cute, huh!?

Guys, it doesn’t get any easier than this.  I have been eating my mommy’s spaghetti and meatballs since forever and they are not particularly fussy or Italian or hearty or haute-cuisine.  They are light and fluffy and simple and foolproof.  You can make them in minutes with minimal damage to your kitchen.  You can make them while you supervise two kids and their friends and homework and the phone and the local news and your work beeper buzzing and your hungry, hungry husband on his way home… And while you make them, you can nuke some broccoli and boil a pot of water and call it a day.

Ryan and I make them a little differently than my Mom does, because we are San Marzano tomato snobs and stick with our simple tomato sauce approach, because it works for us.  In honor of my mother, who likes good food almost as much as she likes a clean kitchen and people not telling her what to do, I will not be a snob for this one paragraph and encourage you to use whatever tomato sauce you like.  Even if it is gross and from a jar.  Actually, I forbid you from using Ragu.  I repeat:  Ragu is not an option.  Everything else is maybe okay.

Here’s the recipe.  And no, your eyes are not failing you, that’s really a four-ingredient list you’re looking at.


  • 1 pound of ground meat (beef, turkey, veal, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs (Mom says Progresso, we say homemade or Whole Foods, you do whatever you want!)
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • 1 egg


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the milk to the breadcrumbs.
  3. Beat the egg and then add it to the milk-softened breadcrumbs.
  4. Mush the egg-milk-breadcrumb mixture into the meat until combined.
  5. Cover a large cookie sheet with a greased/non-stick-sprayed sheet of aluminum foil.  Clean up will be a joke.
  6. Form little golf-ball sized meatballs and place them on the cookie sheet.  They will look very dainty.  The recipe should yield around 20 t0 22 meatballs.
  7. Bake for about 25 minutes, checking to make sure they are cooked.  Especially if you are using turkey, because raw turkey is not okay.
  8. Simmer them in tomato sauce, or freeze them for another day.  Or eat them standing up in front of the hot, open oven like a champion!


  • Mommy says:  This recipe also makes meatloaf.  Just dump the whole mixture into a greased loaf pan and bake it at 350ºF for about 55 minutes.  Make sure to spread some ketchup and onion powder and stuff on top.
  • Lauren says:  Ryan is the meatball maker in our home.  We like to season our meatballs a little more than Mom does, so we add extra garlic powder, crushed dried red pepper flakes, pepper, oregano, dried parsley, and sometimes a little bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano to our mixture to keep it exciting.  We also like to simmer the meatballs in our San Marzano sauce for a while to share that extra wonderful tomato flavor with the meatballs, which is a pretty American (read: awesome) thing to do.
  • In general, this meal is cheap and filling and fast and so easy it’s absurd.

Happy Mother’s Day! Oh, and I have so many amazing things to share with everybody from the past few days.  Such as everything I learned at the Santa Monica Farmers Market Panel on Thursday evening.  And the ridiculous grilled veggie and pepperoni pizzas Ryan and I made for dinner a few hours ago…  So look for that stuff, either Sunday night or Monday morning.  It’s late, guys!  Good night!!

10 Responses to “Mommy’s Super Easy Meatballs”
  1. Ilona says:

    I love your mom too! Her yearly gift of brownies at my parents’ Boxing Day party were always appreciated. You really are a sweet daughter. I thought I did well ordering a massive arrangement from Hirni’s florist but you outshined that with the nicest blog post ever. Yay for your mom!

  2. Monet says:

    Lauren, what a beautiful tribute to an amazing woman. You both are stunning, by the way, just a gorgeous family. Your mom sounds like the type of mother that makes the world go round, the kind of mom the world needs.
    I wish that Ryan and I ate meat…because I would love to make these meatballs. I really miss meatballs and spaghetti…soy crumbles just don’t cut it. So your next mission…BAKING WITH YOUR NEW KITHCEN AID! I’m so excited for you. You are going to rock the socks off of that thing.
    I wish we could go the Farmer’s Market together this week. If you go, take a bite of a strawberry for me.

  3. jenna says:

    Judy, you raised two great girls. Lauren, the post was awesome… even got me a little teary eyed. love you all.

  4. Mo says:

    Awwww. Your mom sounds great, as do the meatballs. I’m sure your mom is better, but I can’t be the judge of that. 😉

  5. This is such a sweet post and a very very easy recipe! Great to always have on hand. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Mom says:

    Thank you Lauren for the beautiful Mothers’ Day blog! I knew I would have emails from both girls before I even had my Fresh Market coffee. Today is a bittersweet Mothers’ Day. I am happy to share it with Grandma Leaty but sad my Mom, Ruth, has missed so many happy days.
    Lisa and Dave will be at brunch(hooray) and you and Ryan will get all the details as soon as you answer your phone!

    As for the meatball recipe that you and Ryan have taken upon yourselves to change, I say this:
    Perhaps the meatball recipe is a metaphor for life. You get four basic ingredients from your parents. Add a little spice to those basics as necessary for your own lifestyle and you can’t go wrong! Love ……Mommy

  7. Lisa says:

    Oh, way to outshine me agiain, little one. I’m going to buy mom an ipad with a bulldog cover and then we’ll see who’s the favorite!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] discussed here on Lauren’s Little Kitchen, so whatever.  But I do finally have a picture of Mommy’s Super Easy Meatballs, and the little guys aren’t raw in this […]

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