Easy Crockpot Meatballs – A Freezer to Slow Cooker Recipe

This last recipe for the next freezer to slow cooker meal plan is probably the most time consuming.  Don’t worry though, it’s not THAT bad, it’s just because you’re rolling out little meatballs (or in our case, slightly bigger than they should be meatballs!).

The original recipe called for you to cook the meatballs in the slow cooker with spaghetti sauce over the top.  But, I just happened to use the 70/30 meat mixture and I knew I’d have a lot of grease if they aren’t precooked.

There was no way that I was cooking my sauce in all that grease.  Blech.  

I had a choice to make.  I could cook the meatballs in the crockpot by themselves OR I could precook them in the oven and then mix them up with the sauce.  I decided to do an experiment and try both ways.

The Verdict?  

They taste a lot better when cooked in the oven!  The ones cooked in the slow cooker without any sauce over the top while cooking, had a weird aftertaste that ground beef tends to get when it’s slow cooked by itself.

The Moral of this Story?

If you want to cook them immersed in sauce within your crockpot, make sure you get a package of ground beef that is low in fat, so that you won’t have a lot of grease floating to the top, that is, unless you like the grease.  I don’t!  (Oh I guess I already told you that, didn’t I?)  But in all seriousness, I think that you’ll NEED to be putting the sauce over it while it’s cooking so that it doesn’t have as much aftertaste.  That way it will take on more of the tomato-y flavor.

If you prefer to precook them in the oven, you could do that before you freeze them, and then all you have to do is put the frozen meatballs in the slow cooker when you’re ready to cook and cover them with spaghetti sauce.  Your choice.  Do whatever sounds easiest to you!

After all that, are you ready for the recipe?  Here goes….

Easy Crockpot Meatballs Recipe

Ingredients:

1.5 pounds ground beef (low fat content if you plan to cook with sauce)
1.25 cups Italian bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 egg
2 28 oz jars of spaghetti sauce
Spaghetti Noodles (for cooking before you serve)
 

Directions:

Mix first 5 ingredients together.  Shape into 16 meatballs.

Either precook them as described in paragraphs above OR place sauce in slow cooker and then put meatballs over the top of the sauce, allowing it to cook for 6-8 hours on low.

Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles.

Freezer to Slow Cooker Instructions:

We rolled them into balls and placed them onto a cookie sheet.  We then placed the cookie sheet into the freezer so that they wouldn’t stick together when frozen.  Once they were all frozen, we threw them into the bag, making sure the bag was labeled.  Of course, if you plan to precook them before you freeze them you wouldn’t have to worry about it.  Always be sure to label your bag with the date and the name of the meal.


Crock Pot Freezer Meal – New Orleans Red Beans & Rice

Oh yay!  Crock Pot Freezer Meals get dinner for the week done!  We’re getting closer to adding that shopping list.  One more recipe to share and I’ll do it!

We lived in Louisiana for a couple of years.  In fact, my 2nd born child was born there.  We keep telling her she’s Cajun, but she’s not buying it.  She was almost 2 when we moved, so she doesn’t even remember it there.  When we talk about our previous Cajun life, it gives me reason to start practicing the way to say New Orleans.  Growing up, I’d say it, [Noo - Or lee unz] but now I know that you’re really supposed to say Nawlins.  Of course, that way of saying it is only acceptable when you’re actually around others from Louisiana.  The rest of the country may look at you like you’re crazy!

Every now and then I get the desire to make some Red Beans & Rice in honor of those Cajun memories we made.  We don’t have it often and this was the first time I’ve tried it in the slow cooker, but I was pleasantly surprised at my husband’s reaction!  He loved it!  That’s always good news to this wife’s ears!  When daddy likes his supper, mommy’s doing something right!  (Not that he complains much anyway).

New Orleans Red Beans & Rice

1 pound dried red kidney beans
7 cups of water
1 green pepper chopped
1 onion chopped (medium)
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pound smoked sausage (or kielbasa)
3T. Creole seasoning
Cooked Rice 

Directions:

  1. Chop veggies and sausage
  2. Place first 8 ingredients in slow cooker.
  3. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 5-6.
  4. Cook rice about an hour before serving time and serve the beans over the rice.

Freezer to Slow Cooker Directions:

  • Chop veggies & Sausage.
  • Place everything but kidney beans, water and cooked rice into a gallon size freezer bag.  Label & Freeze.
  • On cooking day, remove from freezer night before (or throw it in frozen that morning).  Add kidney beans and water and cook as directed.
  • Cook rice about an hour before serving time and serve the beans over the rice (or mix it up like I did).

Food for Thought:  I wasn’t loving the texture of the smoked sausage, but my husband didn’t mind it at all.  I’m thinking about precooking it (browning it a little) before I freeze it and then throwing it into the crockpot in the last hour.  It seemed to get a little mushy after cooking in liquid for so long.  My husband who is normally sensitive to meat textures didn’t mind it at all, so it could just be a weird preference of mine.  The only drawback to doing it in the last hour would be that it wouldn’t be flavoring the beans the whole time they’re cooking.  It may not matter though with the green pepper, onions and seasoning.  Just something you may want to think about with this recipe.


Marinara Chicken & Vegetables Recipe for the Crockpot

This meal was wonderful.  Let me just tell you, I am usually not a fan of zucchini.  But when it’s added to tomato based dishes, I really enjoy it.  This meal was chock full of yummy vegetables and smelled wonderful while it was cooking.  For the chicken, I put in the whole pieces of chicken and then cut it up after it was all the way cooked.  Our whole family raved about the recipe, although the more picky eaters did pick out the green chunks!

Marinara Chicken & Vegetables

Ingredients:
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 cloves garlic
1 can of diced tomatoes & green chiles
4 ribs celery, chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 green pepper, chopped
2.5 cups of spaghetti sauce
1 t. basil
bowtie noodles (or another version of your favorite)
 

Directions:

  1. Chop Vegetables.
  2. Place all ingredients into slow cooker and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 4 hours.
  3. Cook noodles about 10 minutes before dinner.
  4. Shred chicken with a fork
  5. Mix cooked noodles with the chicken marina mixture
  6. Top with cheddar cheese and/or parmesan cheese.
  7. Enjoy!

If you’re planning to do this in the Freezer to Slow Cooker way, you’ll first chop the vegetables and then mix all of the ingredients into a freezer safe bag (except noodles).  Be sure to label it.  Freezing it flat takes up the least amount of room in your freezer.  I thawed mine in the microwave long enough so that it would come out of the bag and then tossed it into the slow cooker.  The chicken wasn’t all the way thawed at the beginning, but it still turned out wonderful.