Lazy Genius Ingredient #1: Frozen Meatballs
When I had a part-time job and no kids, I cooked like I was Gwyneth Paltrow's best friend - pasta from scratch, red snapper roasted in parchment paper, seared pork medallions with three intricately prepared vegetables on the side. Fancy organic pants. Now I have almost three children, a business to run, and free time that presents itself in five-minute increments. That person cooks spaghetti for her family more than once a week because of course. Gwyneth would've dumped me a long time ago.
My stage of life right now feels like I'm on Survivor. I deal with complicated emotions, juggle assignments and challenges when all I want to do is sleep in peace, and bargain and bribe to get my people to eat things they don't want to. Are you on the island, too? When those days come, we need help. We need tools. Y'all, we need frozen meatballs.
The biggest obstacle to cooking dinner quickly is meat. Our freezers are probably full of all the chicken and all the ground beef, but if we don't decide "what's for dinner?" before 4pm, it's just too hard. Literally frozen hard. The solution? Frozen meatballs. They're already cooked, portioned, and taste out-of-the-pan delicious after a few minutes in the microwave.
Seven Ways to Use Frozen Meatballs
Start by heating them in the microwave for a couple of minutes until they're tender. Then go forth and dinner.
1. Spaghetti and Meatballs
Duh. Cook your noodles, cook/heat up your sauce, and simmer the meatballs in the sauce for a couple of minutes for extra flavor.
2. Meatball Subs
Drizzle some split sub rolls with olive oil and toast them. Then layer on meatballs, homemade or jarred red sauce, top with a lot of mozzarella and/or provolone, and pop back in the oven until the cheese is melty and bubbly.
3. Pizza Grilled Cheese
Slice your meatballs into discs. Layer them into a grilled cheese made with a fresh tomato or tomato sauce, mozzarella, and any other already-cooked vegetables you like on a pizza. When cooking grilled cheese, go low and slow. Or put them in the oven to get about the same effect.
4. Meatballs and Rice
Cook some rice. Heat up/cook some red sauce that's simple and plain or laden with vegetables. Layer it all in a bowl with the meatballs.
5. Kinda Sorta Stroganoff
Boil some pasta. In a skillet, sauté carrots and onions until soft. Add chicken stock and a little heavy cream to make a sauce. Simmer with the meatballs and some fresh rosemary and sage. Stir in the cooked pasta, and go to town with the black pepper.
6. Italian Meatball Soup
Start a soup with whatever you like. Sauté onions, carrots, bell peppers, celery, zucchini... anything. Add crushed tomatoes and chicken stock. Stir in the meatballs as the soup simmers along with leftover rice, Israeli couscous, or any other tiny pasta. Or skip the tomato, go with all stock, and turn it into chicken noodle soup except with meatballs.
7. Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes
Make mashed potatoes with plenty of butter and fatty milk please and thank you. Serve alongside microwaved meatballs and simple green beans. If you want to get fancy, top with a pan gravy or a dollop of cranberry sauce.
Nothing I cook requires more than two pans, and often there is nary a dirty dish because I cover my baking sheets with foil or parchment paper so I don't have to run a sink of water hallelujah. All of these ::ahem:: recipes (hilarious) require 23% of your brain power and way less of your dishes. Find a meatball brand you love (CostCo's is baller), and keep them around forever and ever amen. This is how you win Survivor and get Gwyneth back.