When I was a kid I remember going to Sunday football game parties. Do I remember who was playing? Nope! Do I remember actually watching the game? Nope! What I do remember is running around the house, playing games with my friends and hanging out in the kitchen eating. Because as kid I had this crazy high metabolism and I constantly had to eat!!!
I remember in high school I went to either a big football or a boxing match party (see, I paid NO attention to the sports :) and I was in the kitchen when I heard the mom start to lose it while I was grazing on all sorts of goodies. You see, she couldn’t wait for this dang thing to be over because it was so. much. work. And she was tired of keeping the drinks flowing and the food coming. And I remember that for the rest of the party I did everything I could to help her. I felt so badly. Here we all were having a good time and she was trying not to melt down under the pressure to keep her guests happy and well fed. Ugh. That sucks!
As an adult I’ve since had many parties. And tons of those have revolved around football. Because even if I don’t really watch it in Oklahoma it’s a big stinking deal and I’m at least going to celebrate it! One time it was sort of an impromptu party and I ran to town and bought all sorts of food to cook and the whole thing was a disaster. I was constantly in the kitchen trying to keep up with the appetites of my guests and failing miserably. I remembered that mom in that kitchen and thought, this is totally how she felt. And on that day I swore that all party stuff would be make ahead stuff.
So in advance of a big party, like the upcoming Big Game (and no, I don’t even have a clue who might be playing but I did Google it enough to know that nobody else does, yet, either :) I figure up a menu, go and buy up all of the ingredients in bulk at Sam’s Club so I can save some dough, and then do a test run for dinner.
Sometimes we wind up having appetizers and desserts only but Game Day is a big thing. It can be a whole day type of a big thing and so we need real food. And so real food is what’s on the menu. Pizzas are fabulous to make ahead and my favorite is meatball pizza! We’re going to snag up some Ragu® sauce from Sam’s Club and make some super tasty meatballs that you can use as pizza toppings PLUS I have some other ideas to fix them up on game day. The greatest thing? Meatballs TOTALLY freeze well so you can make these well in advance of the big day. You can even get your pizzas all ready to go and freeze them, too. You’ll have an amazing buffet set up and nobody will know that you just popped a few pizzas in the oven and thawed out a whole mess of meatballs. Yeah, Ragu® and I have got you covered!
Make Ahead Meatballs
These meatballs are full of flavor and reheat beautifully. Whether you put them on pasta, hoagie buns or pizza dough the result is so tasty your guests will be begging for the recipe!
- Ragu® Traditional, 45 oz jar (available in a 3-pack at Sam’s Club)
- 32 oz. ground pork/beef
- 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
- 1 small white onion, chopped
- 2 T. Italian seasoning
- 1 T. garlic salt
- 1 c. bread crumbs
- 2 eggs
- Combine all ingredients until well incorporated. Feel free to get your hands in and really get after it.
- Roll into 24 large meatballs. To form into football shapes roll out a bit more and pinch the ends.
- Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes at 350°.
- Place cooked meatballs and jar of sauce into a large pot. Place heat on low and allow to simmer for several hours or until the sauce has decreased to approximately half.
- Meatballs can be immediately used or frozen for future use.
Look! They’re kind of football shaped :) Allowing the sauce to cook down so much is good for a few reasons. The sauce and the flavor of the Ragu® really get into the meatballs and you can taste that long standing quality and tradition. It’s the kind of flavor you just can’t add without a good, long simmer. And you get that lovely, red color like you do with meatballs at restaurants!
This long simmer also helps to thicken up your sauce, which makes a great pizza sauce! Double score!
You can either make your own pizza crusts or you can buy ready made. Since we’re gluten free it’s so much easier to go with store-bought.
Top the pizzas with your thickened sauce, lots of mozzarella cheese, and your football shaped meatballs sliced in half. Add any other toppings your guests might like to finish them up. You can cover the pizzas with plastic wrap and then tin foil and freeze for about a week or prepare immediately.
Isn’t that amazing? Gah! It’s so good. Our practice pizza was made and served with a healthy selection of sides :) Rob has declared it his favorite pizza, even better than our favorite local joint which is amazing (not just gluten free amazing, just plain ol’ amazing) but very pricey. Looks like we’ll be saving quite a bit of dough by making these guys at home from now on! And my Rob isn’t terribly easy to please. He’s a bit of a food snob and as such I know that come The Big Game Day these pizzas are going to be such a hit!
But no worries! I used only 3 of the 24 meatballs I made and have currently stashed in the freezer and I’ll be able to quickly make more pizzas on game day. PLUS I have a few other ideas up my sleeve for a meatball game day buffet. That’s right a meatball buffet!!!
You can have a make your own meatball sub station with meatballs warm and ready in a crock pot. Also using a crock pot you can make a ton of noodles (I’m thinking like ziti or something as spaghetti might get a bit messy) and people can have spaghetti and meatballs. If you have a third crock pot you can also have a cream sauce, like Alfredo for a little bit of pasta diversity! If it’s especially cold you can make spaghetti and meatball soup! Just thin out your Ragu® with water or 1/2 and 1/2 for something creamier. Add in cooked spaghetti noodles and meatballs and keep warm in the crock pot. And last of all, you can always just have meatballs and toothpicks along with other finger foods like chopped veggies and cheese cubes!
So, what do you say? Looks pretty tasty and incredibly easy and versatile, right? Get ready to get the game day cooking off of your plate and hit up Sam’s Club and grab that big ol’ 3 pack of 45 ounce jars of Ragu® Traditional sauce and get ready to wow your crowd no matter who winds up playing!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Ragu®. The opinions and text are all mine.