Easiest and Tastiest Cocktail Party Meatballs



Having everyone over our place is a fairly regular occurrence. I always make our friends’ and family’s favorites but I also like to make something new. Don’t want it to get boring now.

One of the challenges of entertaining in a small space, though is making sure you don’t need a lot of ingredients to make a dish (limited cabinet and fridge space) and making sure the preparation isn’t too elaborate (1 pot or pan preferred).

Over the summer we went to our neighbor Nancy’s for a big Labor Day bash. She had these incredibly addictive little spicy meatballs. Bingo. There was my something new for this party.

But Nancy and her husband are in the restaurant biz. Those meatballs could be tough to recreate.

So I put in a call.

And Nancy let me in on the secret to the meatballs.









Yup. You see that correct. Grape jelly and heinz chili sauce. Pour into a pot and add in frozen meatballs. Yup. Frozen meatballs. Just regular old, unseasoned frozen meatballs. Let them simmer away in the grape jelly and chili sauce. I used 2 jars of each for 2 pounds of meatballs. Three ingredients. One pot.

Your guests will never be able to guess what’s in the sauce. And you will be one calm, cool and collected hostess!




I know this is a few days late. But I hope you will cut me some slack. I wrapped, I cooked, I cleaned, and then Iumped around.

That’s right. I cooked!

Christmas dinner came out of the Itty Bitty City Kitchen this year!

And there was no skimping on the food just because it’s a small space, oh no! It’s Christmas! There needs to be an overabundance of food. I mean, I’m Italian. And my fiance is Greek and Armenian. It’s all about the food on both sides.

So I have to admit, I was a little nervous to cook the big holiday dinner. I mean, you get one Christmas dinner a year. Talk about pressure!

And I knew this year would be a little harder without meme here with us. So instead of worrying and stressing, I took a deep breath and decided to do Christmas my way. I talked to meme about it first. She told me not to worry and to do it my way.


I tend to talk to her when I’m in the kitchen. Cooking was a passion we both shared. That and our love for family, especially for Christopher. My god, I’ve never seen a grandmother love her grandsons so fiercely.

But anyway. The food. We decided to do a combination of Greek and Armenian mezze and Italian antipasto, a fusion of our families.

It started with meme’s hummus. That is the only hummus recipe you will ever need.


Then we added pita, olives, salami, prosciutto, and basturma (a seasoned and cured meat)

The we brought out the brie (the Armenian side of the family went to France after the genocide so there’s a mix of French and Armenian there), mozzarella, provolone, kasseri (a Greek sheep’s milk cheese) and Armenian String Cheese (no, I did not make that up)


We left this array of munchies out and everyone picked at it while we relaxed, drank some wine and, of course, opened presents!


After gifts were exchanged and thank yous were said, I got started on dinner.

I actually started dinner a few days prior by making a big pot of meatballs and gravy. I just doubled my usual recipe. I also fried up some sweet Italian sausage and added that to the pot of gravy as well.

I stored it in the fridge for three days, so the flavors could, okay dad’s word all together now, fester. Then on Christmas morning I pulled out the pot and pot it over a low flame, stirring occasionally, and filling the whole apartment with that awesome smell of meatballs and gravy.

To accompany the meatballs, I went with stuffed shells. They don’t require boiling. You throw some gravy on them and throw them in the oven, so you’re not standing at the stove and then draining pasta and dirtying another pot like you would if you were making raviolis say.

Instead, preheat the oven to 350 (or follow the directions on your package), pull out an aluminum baking tray, and layer gravy, shells and then more gravy in the pan. Top with mozzarella (because we didn’t eat enough cheese) and bake for about 45 minutes.



The cheese will get bubbly and melty.


And despite the amount of mezze/antipasto consumed, everyone will find room for a meatball or 2 or 3 and a few shells.


And as if that wasn’t enough, for dessert we had fruit salad, chocolate chips and Dad’s Favorite – the Cheesecake Thing

So, don’t be intimidated. Cook what you love. Cook what makes you happy.

And you can have an Itty Bitty City Kitchen Christmas too!


Buon Natale

Kalá Christoúgenna

Shnorhavor Surb Tsnund

Joyeux Noël


Mom’s Meatballs

Sundays at my house always meant two things: football and meatballs.

Mom would get up early and the whir of the blender would reach my ears through the blankets. The smell of gravy would make its way up the stairs and under my bedroom door. It would follow me to the shower and mingle with the smell of my vanilla body wash.

The smell of meatballs and gravy would take over the whole house, and, no matter how chilly or rainy of a fall day it may be, it would give the house a cozyness. A warm blanket wrapped around you as you padded around the living room.

And a bowl of meatballs with some bread was the perfect food to cheer on your team or to drown your sorrows when the Giants start the season at 0 and 5.

So at long last, here they are, mom’s meatballs.

My mom makes the  best meatballs. Period.

I know there’s these trendy places like the Meatball Shop that do all sorts of combinations of meats and ingredients. But you know what, mom’s are better. You know why? Because they are simple and simple food is always the best.

Mom’s meatballs have just three ingredients: ground beef, Italian seasoned bread crumbs and an egg.

Her gravy has two ingredients and one secret (I’ll get to the secret later): 1 can of tomato puree and 1 can of crushed tomatoes.

The only other thing you need is vegetable oil for frying the meatballs. No baking allowed here!


Get out a big pot and have it ready on the stove.

Pour your can of crushed tomatoes into the blender and buzz. Why buy crushed tomatoes only to blend them up? I don’t know. Never questioned my mom on this. If you had her gravy you wouldn’t question either.

Pour the blended crushed tomatoes into the big pot with the can of tomato puree. I usually add like a 1/3 of a can of water if it looks to thick.

Okay, that stays in the pot while we make the meatballs.



In a large bowl, add 1 pound of ground beef and one egg and mix to begin combining.


Make a well in the center of the meat and pour in some bread crumbs.



Now, this is really not a measuring recipe. This is a feel recipe. You want enough bread crumbs to soak up the egg, but not too much that the meatballs are dry and dense. Start with a small amount and add as you mix.

Also, be careful not to overmix, because you’ll get a tough meatball.

When the meat is mixed, roll into balls and place the meatballs in a frying pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Meatball rolling trick: slightly wet hands with warm water.



Fry the meatballs over medium heat, turning to brown all sides. You aren’t  going to cook the meatballs all the way through, that will happen in the gravy later.



You just want the meatballs nice and brown on all sides.



Go in batches if you need to. You don’t want to overcrowd the pan. As the meatballs are browned, drop them into the pot of gravy.


When all the meatballs are added, turn the heat to medium low and let the meatballs cook in the gravy.

Also, here’s the secret.

See that?



That’s the oil we fried the meatballs in. And all the little brown bits from the meatballs. That goes in the pot of gravy with the meatballs. Stir.

Let the meatballs cook in the pot of gravy for a few hours. Figure 5 or 6. Stir occasionally so the meatballs don’t drop to the bottom and burn.

The longer the better. The next day is even better. Though I’m not at all suggesting you wait an entire day to eat them. Nobody has that kind of willpower.

You can make pasta and top it off with the gravy and some meatballs. Or you can just fill up a bowl with meatballs and gravy and grab some crusty bread.