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Kara's Sights & Bites: Make your own meatballs and roasted chicken

By Kara Kimbrough

Kara's Sights & Bites: Make your own meatballs and roasted chicken
Cinnamon Pepper Chicken has been one of the most utilized and favorite recipes of Come On In! a Junior League of Jackson cookbook, since it was published in 1991.

    Saying anything negative about local supermarkets goes against my beliefs. The 12+ years I worked for a supermarket chain still rank near the top of best work experiences of all time (flying around in the private jet didn’t hurt) and gave me a lifelong appreciation for neighborhood grocery stores. Fast forward to today and I’m happy to see shoppers in local stores instead of buying food online. So, advising against purchasing supermarket products – in this case, frozen meatballs and rotisserie chicken – is a little shocking. But hear me out before you judge too harshly.

    First, I have valid reasons for preferring not to buy rotisserie chicken. In the interest of staying off supermarkets’ bad list, I won’t share them here. I know they’re popular with some shoppers and that’s perfectly fine. Additionally, I don’t care for frozen, premade meatballs, probably because the homemade ones are so easy to make and taste, well, much better. And here’s another reason to make your own – they can be used as the base for tons of delicious recipes instead of boring browned ground beef.

     Personally, I love having extras in the freezer that I can pull out and defrost when I’m in the mood for spaghetti and meatballs. I make a few dozen at a time and freeze them in small batches. While this may sound very similar to using frozen meatballs from the supermarket, there’s a big difference between the two. I made them, I know what’s in them and unlike some (not all) products, all my ingredients are pronounceable.

   The Junior League of Jackson’s Come On In! cookbook published the recipe for Cinnamon Pepper Chicken over 30 years ago. It’s withstood the test of time and remains a favorite of many to this day. In fact, one friend says her family will revolt if she doesn’t make the dish weekly for dinner.

     I hope I’ve convinced you that making your own meatballs and baked whole chicken is worth the time and effort. Trust me, the taste alone will sway you if I haven’t. In the meantime, try these recipes - I can almost guarantee you’ll need no further encouragement from me to make meatballs and chicken at home.

Cinnamon Pepper Chicken

1 whole chicken (4 pounds)

1-1/2 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

     Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Clean chicken and season well inside and out, with salt, peppers, cinnamon and allspice. Bake, uncovered, 2-1/2-3 hours, basting occasionally with pan juices

Recipe from Come On In! by Junior League of Jackson

Favorite Homemade Meatballs

1 pound ground chuck

1 large egg, beaten

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup finely chopped onion (can substitute packet of Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix instead)

2 teaspoons minced garlic

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

     Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the meat, egg, breadcrumbs, cheese, onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and parsley.

     Use a medium cookie scoop or spoon to scoop the meat mixture. Form into 1 1/2-inch balls and place on the baking sheet. Bake uncovered 17 to 20 minutes, or until no longer pink in the middle. Turn halfway through to brown evenly.

Americanized Crockpot Swedish Meatballs

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can beef broth, low sodium

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 packet Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix

20-25 meatballs (I prefer homemade, but you can use frozen version; defrost before using)

16-ounce carton sour cream

Large bag of wide egg noodles

     Place first 5 ingredients into a Crockpot and cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

     At the end of cooking (and when meatballs are done if using frozen variety), add sour cream. Stir and replace lid; cook 15-20 minutes while boiling egg noodles. When noodles are done, drain and add to Crockpot, stirring to combine.

Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer and travel agent from Mississippi. Email her at



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