Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Mini Meatball Casserole

Every week when I take GG to dance class I spend most of the time perusing recipes, planning meals for the week and making a shopping list.  This past week I had Mason with me and he requested meatballs.  I have a go-to meatball recipe, but decided I wanted to mix it up and decided to try Pioneer Woman's Mini Meatball casserole.  Ree is yet to steer me wrong and this was no exception.

Here's What You'll Need...
- 1.5 lbs meat (I used half sausage, half ground beef)
- 1/2 cup regular oats
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- 1 whole egg, beaten
- fresh minced parsley
- salt and pepper
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
- 1 can (8 oz) tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 cups hot water
- basil leaves
- 12 oz ziti pasta, cooked al dente
- 16 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed

Here's What You'll Do...

Step 1 - Mix the meat(s), egg, 1/2 cup grated parmesan, 1/8 cup parsley, oats, and salt and pepper to taste together with your hands.  Shape into 1/2 inch balls.  

DISCLAIMER - this is a total labor of love.  We made about 80 meatballs.  Seriously.

This is where it REALLY helps to have a cute kid helping you out.  I've found that most of the time my kids totally surprise me with what they can do when I give them instruction and the opportunity to try.  

Step 2 - Cook the meatballs in a skilled until they're browned.  I did batches of about 12 at a time.

I used my dutch oven and it was covered in delicious crispies by the time I was done.  At any given time we had meatballs cooking, meatballs waiting to be cooked, meatballs cooking and meatballs waiting to go into the sauce :)

Step 3 - Throw the onion and garlic into the same pan.  Cook them until clear and soft (about 3-4 minutes)

Step 4 - Pour the tomatoes, paste, sugar, 2 cups hot water, and salt and pepper to taste into the pan with the onions and garlic.  Bring the sauce to a simmer and then toss in the meatballs.  Bring it back to a simmer and let it cook for about 20 minutes.


I tossed in some parsley as well.

Step 5 - While the sauce is simmering, chop up the mozzarella and grab and wash a few basil leaves.

Step 6 - Once the sauce has simmered, let it cool and throw in a few basil leaves.

Step 7 - time to layer!!!
- half the noodles
- half the chopped mozzarella
- 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
- meatball sauce
- half the noodles
- half the chopped mozzarella
- 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
- meatball sauce

Step 8 - Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.  Serve hot!

Y'all.  Look how yummy!!!  Luke was so proud of what he made and I think that if he could serve all of y'all a bowl he totally would :)

This was a homerun in our house and leftovers are ready to be packed in thermoses for school lunch this week.  Luke and I had an absolute blast putting this together and watching him proudly tell Dave, his siblings and my parents all about it was just about the most precious thing ever.

Happy Tuesday, Friends!  ENJOY!!!

PS - this post contained affiliate links which means that if you clicked on a link and made a purchase I may receive a small commission.  THANK YOU!!!


  1. Cooking with the kiddos is such a great learning experience. I think my household would love this recipe!


  2. Yuuuuuuum!! Totally going to make this one weekend and have my kiddos help!

  3. That's so sweet!
    I agree. Ree has never steered me wrong either. My family loves all her recipes.

  4. That looks incredible!! Thanks for sharing!

  5. That looks amazing!!!!
    Cutest part is Luke though! I'd have Luke cook for me anytime!

  6. This looks like a must-try for my fam! Thanks for sharing!

  7. That looks so good! Now I need some little helpers to roll all those meatballs!!

  8. Thank you for posting that salt pepper holder! I saw that in one of your previous posts and have looked and looked! LOVE IT!

  9. Yum-o! I love having my kids help in the kitchen

  10. Just a tip.....put all those tiny meatballs on a sheet pan (on a piece of parchment paper to make clean up easy) and pop them in the oven at 350. Shouldn't take long, but depends on the size of the meatballs. SO much easier than all those batches in the pan on the stove. My brother turned me on to this method years ago, I'll never do them any other way!

  11. That looks so good! Now if only there was someplace I could pick it up pre-made and avoid rolling all those teeny tiny meatballs myself. Ahhh... a girl can dream!

  12. Yum! I could def get down with this this week!


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