Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sweet & Sour Meatballs {freezer friendly - makes 6 meals}

Becca here with a really tasty meal that you'll love having in the freezer.  Even better, you can just pour it into the slow cooker to heat up, so it couldn't be easier!  Honestly, meatballs aren't my favorite thing to make, but my family and I do like to eat them, and the ones you can buy at the store are full of fillers & other things we try to avoid.  Plus, the homemade ones taste SO much better!  I like to make a huge batch at a time, so all of the messy work is done at one time.  In fact, this is our very favorite meatball recipe, and I often make two huge batches of meatballs at a time, one for this Sweet & Sour, and one for the Stroganoff Meatball recipe I posted last week.  My inspiration recipe that I follow fairly closely is from Fix, Freeze, Feast.  I like to serve the meatballs & sauce over brown rice or noodles, with stir-fry veggies on the side.  I use a rice cooker so I just add the rice & water and let it do all of the work, but you can prepare either rice or noodles ahead of time and freeze it to go with the meatballs as well if you prefer.  Enjoy!

Sweet & Sour Meatballs
{freezer friendly - makes 6 large meals}

6 pounds lean ground beef
3 cups dry bread crumbs (whole wheat homemade preferred, I buy them if I don't have any made though)
2/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 medium/large minced onion
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon black pepper

2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 huge can (106 oz) pineapple tidbits
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 1/2 cups red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 500.

In a large bowl (really large, the largest one you have) combine all meatball ingredients (beef, bread crumbs, milk, eggs, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper).  Start stirring to combine.  I usually start with a large wooden spoon, and then use my hands to make sure everything is thoroughly blended.

Form into meatballs approximately 1 - 1 1/2 inches in size, and place onto large rimmed baking sheet.  Bake at 500 for 15 minutes, or until no longer pink inside (a meat thermometer inserted into the center should read 160).  Allow meatballs to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, drain pineapple tidbits juice into a large pot.  Add in remaining sweet & sour sauce ingredients (brown sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, and red wine vinegar) but NOT the actual pineapple tidbits!  Stir well to combine.  Cook on medium level heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.  Allow sauce to cool to room temperature.

Divide pineapple tidbits, meatballs, and sauce evenly among freezer containers (I use 6 gallon freezer ziploc bags, each with about 20 meatballs in them). 
When ready to serve:  Thaw in refrigerator overnight.  Add contents of bag to slow cooker & cook on low a few hours, until heated through and sauce is bubbling, or bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 until heated through and sauce is bubbling.  We enjoy them served over brown rice, with stir-fry veggies on the side.

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