Crispy Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs and Simple Marinara Sauce

If you're planning on staying home for Valentine's Day this year, I've got the perfect meal for you. Something that both you and your significant other will love.  Because who doesn't love anything stuffed with cheese?

These meatballs are decadent and totally worth the extra bit of time they take to make. We were over the moon for these babies and the marinara sauce is my new go-to.
I served these flavorful meatballs alongside some parmesan pasta that was simply some cooked spaghetti, pasta water, butter, parmesan and pepper thrown together in a pan. It was all incredible and I felt like it was restaurant worthy.
If you want something to wow your family or friends this year, this is the perfect dish to do just that! 

Crispy Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs and Simple Marinara Sauce
Adapted from The Cozy Apron
Makes about 30 meatballs
1 cup breadcrumbs
4 Tbsp. milk or half & half
1 lb. ground beef (85/15 ratio)
1 egg
3/4 cup grated parmesan, divided
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried parsley 
2 mozzarella string cheeses, chopped into 30 small pieces
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
canola oil
Simple Marinara (recipe below)

1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, add the breadcrumbs and milk (or half & half) and stir until moist; next, add in the ground beef, egg, 1/2 cup parmesan, garlic, salt, Italian seasoning, pepper, red pepper flakes and parsley.
2. Using your hands or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine all of the ingredients until well mixed. Next, using a 1 1/2-inch cookie scoop, measure out 30 portions.
3. Take each portion of beef and flatten them out in the palm of your hand (like a mini burger patty), laying one piece of the pea-sized mozzarella in the center and fold the meat over the mozzarella piece. Gently roll between your palms to create a round ball.
4. Chill the meatballs for about 20-30 minutes in the fridge.
5. While your meatballs chill, preheat your oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
6. Once the meatballs are chilled, combine the remaining 1/4 cup of parmesan with the panko breadcrumbs and roll each meatball in the mixture.
7. Place a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle in a little oil; working in batches, add some of the meatballs into the pan and allow them to brown, turning them on all sides, for about 2-3 minutes. Place the browned meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and repeat the process with the rest of the meatballs.
8. Once browned and on the baking sheet, bake the meatballs for 10 minutes until gooey and cooked through.
9. Serve warm with simple marinara sauce.

Simple Marinara Sauce
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 tsp. dry oregano
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. olive oil

1. In a small saucepan, add all of the ingredients and whisk to combine.
2. Place the saucepan over medium heat and once the sauce begins to simmer, reduce to low and allow it to gently simmer, uncovered and undisturbed, for 10 minutes.
3. Serve while warm, or allow to cool and keep covered in fridge.


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