“Since hunger is the most primitive and permanent of human wants, men always want to eat, but since their wish not to be a mere animal is also profound, they have always attended with special care to the manners which conceal the fact that at the table we are animals feeding.” - John Erskine

24 August 2011

Nancy’s Family Favorite Meatballs and Cherry Delight

Life in our house this past week has been a crazy mad rush.  School started and we took a weekend trip with family.  Throw in a birthday, several doctor’s appointments (for several family members), haircuts, lunch with friends and a much-needed pedicure and dinner this week looked an awful lot like this:

Still, since it was my husband’s 45th birthday, and since his mom died a couple years back, I decided to celebrate him by making his favorite foods: his mom’s meatballs and Cherry Delight.  No cake, just Cherry Delight.  It’s what he wants every birthday.  Hard to put candles on, but hey.  Can I just say, I really really  really really hate making meatballs.  The only good way to mix up meatballs or meatloaf is to get your hands in there and get squishy.  Kind of similar to a mud pie!  Meatloaf I can handle because you just end up plopping all that squishy goodness in a bread pan and you’re good to go.  But meatballs... They require standing, rolling, plopping, washing cookie sheets...  All of that is just NOT my bag baby.  (Sorry Austin Powers.)  Still, the hub only turns 45 once, and I like to think his mom was right there with me and my oldest as we rolled and plopped.  It was actually kind of fun.

Now I’m going to admit something horrible.  This is a huge secret, so please try to keep it to yourself.  I hate hate hate making Cherry Delight too.  Not quite, but almost more than meatballs.  There has even been a birthday or two where I clearly intended on making it but procrastinated for so long that I finally just gave up.  When my husband’s mom was still here she took care of these things for me.  All I had to do was stop by Baskin Robins for the ice cream cake.  (Yes, he does like cake, and it made me feel like I was doing my part.)  I really miss her when birthdays come around.  Ok, maybe my reasons are a little more selfish than I like, but they are no less heartfelt.  Cherry Delight is a very simple dish – no baking, all you have to do is melt the marshmallows.  And maybe that’s the kicker for me.  I hate making Rice Krispy treats too...

My husband’s mom was great at making meatballs and Cherry Delight every birthday and letting me get away with buying the cake.  She even gave me a gallon freezer bag full of her meatballs not too long before she died.  It was a nice surprise to pull them out on his next birthday and give him a little taste of his mom’s cooking.  Maybe one of the reasons I hate making her meatballs so badly is because I’ve never managed to get them right.  The first time I tried he told me that they just didn’t taste like hers.  Ok, I hate onions (have we established that sufficiently yet?) so I left that part out, but I poured in a generous amount of onion powder!  The next time I made them, I added the onions (and ate cold cereal that night), but they weren’t chopped right.  Can you understand why I finally gave up and started serving him these?  So this year, when he caught my oldest and I plopping meatballs (we really wanted it to be a surprise, but they took longer to make than we had planned and he walked in on us mid-plop) I warned him that if he complained even a little bit it would be the last time I would ever make his mothers meatballs.  (Yeah, right.  Only consolation for me was that my oldest said it was fun making meatballs.  So I’m passing the meatball baton.  Hooray!)  And good man, there were no complaints to be heard.  Maybe that was because his mother was there guiding me and my oldest this time...?  Anyway, here’s the recipe.  Followed it as truly as I possibly could.

Nancys Family Favorite Meatballs

2 pounds ground beef
1 onion, chopped fine
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup bread crumbs
¼ teaspoon sage
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 eggs
dry pancake mix or Bisquick

Mix all ingredients thoroughly.  Form into balls approximately the size of a 50 cent piece.  Roll in pancake mix.

Bake at 400° for 15 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Use immediately or freeze for up to 1 month.

To serve in sauce, place desired amount in a 9x13” baking pan.  Cover with cream of mushroom soup mixed with water.  Cover and bake at 350° for 25 minutes.

My mother-in-law always made these with cream of mushroom soup and water.  Before I met her I didn’t even know you could make cream of mushroom soup with water, let alone that anyone actually would.  (We always made it with milk.  Cream of mushroom soup, right?)  It actually says you can use water on the back of the can!  (Ever read the back of a soup can?  I hadn’t either.  Who doesn’t know how to make soup?  Kind of like reading the back of a shampoo bottle.  And sorry if I’ve offended anyone who actually had to read the back of a soup can.  Or a shampoo bottle.)  So whenever making meatballs for my husband I use cream of mushroom soup and water.  But you can also heat them up in spaghetti sauce, bbq sauce, whatever kind of sauce you like, or eat them dry.  (Caught my oldest popping a couple that fell on the floor into his mouth rather than into the garbage can.  I just looked the other way and tried to tamp down on my germaphobia.)

And since it was part of the birthday feast (even though I didn’t actually get it made until the next day) here’s the recipe for dessert.

Cherry Delight

18 large graham crackers
1 square melted butter
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
24 large marshmallows or 3 full cups small marshmallows or 13 ounces marshmallow creme
½ cup milk
1 package Dream Whip
2 cans pie cherries

Mix together graham crackers, butter and powdered sugar.  Set aside.

Melt marshmallows in milk over low heat. Allow to cool and add Dream Whip.

Push graham cracker mixture into bottom of flat pan.  Layer with cherries and top with marshmallow mixture.


Ive seen this with the cherries on top, but this is the layering order my husband likes best, with a little of the graham cracker mix sprinkled on top.  Anyway you layer it, it’s pretty good.  I also tried Cool Whip instead of Dream Whip once.  It does not work! - too thick or something.  Stick to the Dream Whip.
Hope you enjoy!


  1. I don't like making meatballs either. I love eating them though. Happy Birthday to Steve!

  2. Have to give these a try! I give you a big high five since you hate making these, but what a wonderful wife you are since you know how much your husband loves them! Mwuahh! <3