Sunday Dinner: Oven Baked Meatballs


I debated on whether or not to write this for a while.  Mostly because I don’t think that anyone really needs (another) recipe for meatballs – but you seemed to like this Instagram photo, and I wanted to talk about Sunday Dinner, again.

I meant to go into that concept more here, but I rambled about a lot of other happenings instead.  I am glad I did though, because that post is kind of close to my heart.  This one is going to be too.

While I’ve mentioned it at least 20x in the history of this blog, here is the full scoop on what Sunday Dinner meant to me when I was growing up:

Each week at noon, my parents, sister, and myself, as well as my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins – along with anyone else from the neighborhood that had been invited along the way – were required to be at my Grandma’s house.  You had to be “dressed”.  Not as in fancy dressed, but the leggings and loose tops that I throw on most days now, probably wouldn’t have passed muster then.  No one really had a cell phone at that time (Save for the Zack Morris style clunker that my Dad kept in his car), but even so, there was no technology allowed.  If the land line rang, you didn’t answer it, and the TV definitely wasn’t on.  I vividly remember my Dad and Uncle begging to “just check the scores” of football games on many occasions.  They never won out.

None of that was because my Grandma was super strict or uptight.  She was anything but, and to this day remains one of the kindest, most generous, sweetest people I have ever met.  She was first and foremost a “lady”.  She deeply valued tradition and her goal in starting this one with us was simply to get everyone together to prepare a meal, share it, and connect.



I learned a lot of things at those dinners.  One being how to roast a chicken, as that was typically what we ate.  Even though I have yet to try it on a guy, I’ve read that knowing how to do that can elicit wondrous things relationship-wise (See:  Engagement Chicken!).  Being a part of the cooking (and eating, obviously), I learned how to take care of myself, and how to nourish my body with good, clean, food.  You always, always, had to eat your vegetables.

I loved listening to my Dad and Grandma talk business, politics, and stock market matters because my Grandma was so well versed on the latter especially.  My sister and I were expected to participate in those conversations where we could – and even though I can still be pretty awkward when hashing those topics out, it at least taught me to have an opinion.

As I got older and did (stupid) kid-type-things, disappointing the people at that table was worse than any punishment anyone could have ever handed down.  I might be overly naive in saying this, but I think the world would be a better place if we collectively had to sit down to meals like that with the people we care about.  I think that your “family” can be the one that you create with friends, as well.  I also get that it isn’t always possible to do these things; life is crazy, we live far away from one another, and so on.

I hope that none of that sounds preachy.  I wanted to talk about all of this because it has been an influential part of my life, and because I figured that even if we can’t all have Sunday Dinner with our loved ones, then maybe we can at least do it virtually here.

I am going to start a series then, where I share some of what my family has been eating at those meals over the years.  Since that series would last for maybe five posts, I am also going to try to share the recipes that require a little bit more TLC (like these short ribs), on Sundays too.  I just read a good piece in the latest issue of Bon Appetit called “On the Seventh Day We Cook”, so I feel as if this idea is on trend.  : )

I am aiming for doing this once a month, but hopefully more.  I promise I won’t always write this much either!




Next to roast chicken, meatballs were the next logical choice in what to share.  After my Grandma passed away, my Dad took over the Sunday cooking and these are one of his specialties.  I would have made it spaghetti and meatballs to match the photos, however, I am pretty sure you all know how to make spaghetti, and the marinara sauce we have is the one my Dad serves at his restaurants.  Being one of the most requested menu items there, my father isn’t giving up the secret recipe just yet, but I am working on him!

Happy Sunday!






Oven-Baked Meatballs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
These oven-baked meatballs are incredibly versatile. Eat them plain, drop them into a pot of tomato sauce, or swap out the ground beef for Italian sausage for a new twist on a classic!
Serves: 30-35 meatballs
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (I prefer grass-fed.)
  • ½ cup fresh white bread crumbs (Approximately 4 Slices Pulsed in a Food Processor)
  • ½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • ½ tablespoon chopped fresh nasil
  • ½ tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Pinch grated nutmeg
  • Pinch salt & pepper
  • 2 tablespoons milk (I actually use unflavored almond milk and that works just as well as plain milk!)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Combine the ground beef, bread crumbs, cheese, herbs, egg, nutmeg, salt & pepper, and milk in a large bowl. You may need to adjust the amount of milk you need, based on how dry the bread is, etc. The mixture should be wet enough to stick together, but not loose.
  4. Using a teaspoon (for uniformity) or your hands, roll portions of the meat into approximately 1-inch balls, and drop them onto a baking sheet. You should end up with 30-35 meatballs.
  5. Bake the meatballs for approximately 30 minutes, turning once, so that the meat is cooked through and all sides are browned.


8 Responses to Sunday Dinner: Oven Baked Meatballs

  1. katelon says:

    I love your family stories. We ate together every night, but it was so tense, and silent, that I don’t have the fond memories you have about family meals. I did have meals with my son every night though, and I loved those.

    And I’ve never made meatballs, so thanks for the recipe!

    • jjbegonia says:

      You’re welcome! I’d say that any meal with someone you love is a good one, and I am sure your son valued that as much as you did! : )

  2. Colleen says:

    So glad you’re doing this. I have been wanting to start a Sunday dinner post of my own, especially after reading about The Sunday Supper Movement. Have you heard of it?

  3. Cecile says:

    I have to confess…. I’ve been a BIG SLACKER for a good while now!! I think I started slacking off on both working on my own blog – and keeping up with the wonderful blogs I follow – this past spring. I’m really, really making an effort lately to keep up… with both categories.
    I so enjoyed reading today’s because Sunday dinners were pretty much ‘a must’ when I was growing up and they certainly do, as you said, shape who you are and who you will become. I also agree how important it is for family to be together AND how – pretty much – NO ONE wants to know their grandmother, aunt or uncle etc. is disappointed in them – which does help young people to make better decisions. (I, pretty much, agree with everything you said today!)
    And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this recipe for oven baked meatballs. I think I make a pretty darn good meatball but I honestly think I’m going to like your recipe even better than my own.
    I’ve missed reading your posts – they are always beautifully photographed and well-written. Of course, your recipes are always excellent!! ; o ) Cecile

    • jjbegonia says:

      Thank You so much, Cecile! It’s hard to keep up with all of this blog stuff, but I am glad you came by! And I am sure you make a delicious meatball!!! : ) XO

  4. You had me at oven baked meatballs. With your Sunday dinner tradition, wondering if your family has Italian heritage? 🙂 Thank you for the delicious photos and recipe, as always.

    • jjbegonia says:

      Thanks, Stacy! No, my family is not Italian but my Dad grew up in a small Italian-American community, so I think some of that rubbed off on him! : )

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