Meat and Poultry

Sweet and Sour Meatballs (and a cookbook review)

Loreto June 19, 2019

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Sweet and Sour Meatballs (and a cookbook review). I am so happy that we had the opportunity to get to review this wonderful cookbook “The Prairie Table” by Karlynn Johnston, filled with great stories and colorful photos that take you on a journey of a time when gathering and family dinner was not an option but a norm. The recipe we chose to make is wonderfully delicious, very easy to prepare, and for me a great hit in the texture and flavor profile. 

Song of the day: “So Happy Together” by The Turtles.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs (and a cookbook review). Sweet, sour, and so juicy, these meatballs are the perfect small plate to start a meal. The kids will love the ease of eating these plump full of flavor morsels and even the adults may go for seconds and thirds. Karlynn’s passion to re-ignite a time when dinner was  a time together is one that is dear to my heart also, and a book full of family recipes is a real bonus!



The Author………….

Karlynn Johnston is the author of the popular blog The Kitchen Magpie and a great first cookbook “Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky”, that we also have. Her second cookbook, “The Prairie Table” (Appetite by Random House, 2019), is dedicated to the kind of comfort food meant for social gatherings such as picnics, pot lucks, and parties. It is divided into 8 chapters:

  1. Ukrainian dishes
  2. Breads, Buns, and Baked Goods
  3. Small Bites and Nibbles
  4. Salads and Vegetable Sides
  5. Main Dishes
  6. Dainties and Cookies
  7. Portable Desserts
  8. Libations

We decided to try a recipe from the chapter Small Bites and Nibbles: Sweet and Sour Meatballs. Yum.

Meatballs a family affair………..

I love making meatballs and it is such a social affair. Nicoletta and I made these together and I had to capture the moment. This would be a wonderful time to recruit the kids and make some family fun time. I know I would have loved to form meatballs when I was a kid.

The meat mixture is really easy and it is Karlynn’s mom recipe, tested many times: 

  • Firstly you need lean ground beef.
  • Secondly eggs, and an array of breadcrumbs and seasoning.
  • Thirdly white onion, garlic puree, and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Lastly, some loving hands to blend, manipulate and finally form the lovely little meatballs. 

Incredible Aroma…….

While the meatballs were in the oven, I was busy making the sweet and sour sauce. The combination of the roasting meatballs and the edginess of the sauce produced the most hunger evoking and mouthwatering aromatic experience.

The sweet and sour sauce is a recipe Karlynn perfected and which compliments wonderfully her mom’s meatballs. You will need ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, flour, and water, however, I did use a corn starch mixture to thicken the sauce just a tad more. 

Similar to an Asian Sauce I remember……….

This sauce evoked a memory of the first time I had ever tried a sweet and sour sauce. I was 12 or so and my uncle invited us for some takeout Chinese food. There was one particular dish: sweet and sour pork. You have to understand we were pretty sheltered from foods like this. My father was one not to want to go out to eat much and enjoyed the joys of cooking at home. That first taste of that sweet and contrasting sour had me won over and even my father who from that day on became a lover of Chinese food. Consequently, this sauce wins us over once again in Karlynn’s recipe for Sweet and Sour Meatballs.

Just One is not Enough………

The aroma and that wonderful sheen and caramelization on the meatball have me so excited to try. I added a bit of color with the toothpicks and boy does it make it easy to grab and eat. Not only one, okay maybe two of these amazing morsels found their way to my mouth. Busted….. try 5 meatballs, maybe more. I even ate them cold when cruising the fridge later on that night.

Flavor Flavor…….

My first bite reveals this subtle acidic backdrop combined with a subtly sweet sauce. The meatball itself has this wonderful surface and all those roasted juicy flavors. The hint of Worcestershire, grated onion and crushed garlic sure does add some wonderful notes on the palate. I love the juicy plumpness of the meat combined with this moist tenderness, as a result of the two-stage cooking process. 

Final Thoughts……………

We live in a Country that has many cultures and tradition, a Country called Canada. I am no stranger to Ukrainian food as my parents had many friends from this European background. Many a time I witnessed the making of hundreds of homemade perogies, cabbage rolls and so much more. We spent many a weekend at a farm close to Smoky Lake. It was there that I really got to experience this gathering that Karlynn describes, one that even us Italians are advocates for. The food, the conversation, and finally the great outdoors, makings for lovely memories and amazing food.


Nicoletta made these Lemon Cheesecake Squares from the cookbook, perfect for a dainty tray. For us, anything lemon is something to be excited about. After all, you can’t have a gathering without dessert!

I highly recommend getting this cookbook “The Prairie Table” by Karlynn Johnston aka The Kitchen Magpie. The stories, the pictures, and the recipes will surely ignite memories, thoughts and of course hunger. The pictures, the memories, and the recipes shared are memory provoking.

If the play between the sweet notes and those vinegar undertones are your thing, then trying these Sweet and Sour Meatballs may be just the thing to do and let’s re-ignite a time when dinner was family time and a time of gathering!

Thank you, Karlynn Johnston and Appetite by Random House for the great opportunity.


Song of the day: “So Happy Together” by The Turtles.


Sweet and Sour Meatballs (and a cookbook review)

  • Author: Loreto and Nicoletta
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4-5 dozen meatballs 1x
  • Category: Main, Meat
  • Method: Baking


Sweet and Sour Meatballs (and a cookbook review). Sweet, sour and so juicy, these meatballs are the perfect small plate to start a meal. The kids will love the ease of eating these plump full of flavor morsels and even the adults may go for seconds and thirds. Karlynn’s passion to re-ignite a time when dinner was a time together is one that is dear to my heart also, and a book like “The Prairie Table” full of family recipes is a real bonus!


Mom’s Meatballs

  • 4 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup seasoned dried breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated white onion (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp garlic puree (found in a tube in the fresh grocery section)
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Karlynn’s Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp all-purpose flour or cornstarch
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 6 Tbsp light soy sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F or set out a slow cooker.
  2. To make the meatballs, place all the meatball ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until everything is well combined. Form 1 1/2-inch-wide meatballs and place them on rimmed baking sheets, half an inch apart, until the meat mixture has been used up.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a 13-to15-inch roaster or a slow cooker, shaking off any grease first.
  4. To make the sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Once the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove the pan from the heat.
  5. Pour the sauce over the meatballs.
  6. If using the oven, bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the meatball reach an inside temperature of  165°F.
  7. If using a slow cooker, cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, until the meatballs reach a temperature of 165°F. Serve hot -a slow cooker will keep these warm throughout a party.
  8. These can be stored, sauce and all, in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 2-3 days, or frozen in a freezer-safe container or bag for up to 3 months.


Excerpted from The Prairie Table by Karlynn Johnston. Copyright 2019 Karlynn Johnston. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.

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  • Avatar
    Reply penelopi June 19, 2019 at 9:57 am

    Love these meatballs! It’s a typical Greek dish and we accompany it with french fries. 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply Katherine | Love In My Oven June 20, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    Meatballs are the best for freezing, so I can make a delicious dinner in no time for the fam! I will definitely try this recipe, since sweet and sour is always a hit here!!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto June 24, 2019 at 12:12 pm

      Thanks Katherine. Yes these pre done would make for a quick dinner and there is enough sauce that rice would love the addition!
      Haopy cooking!

  • Avatar
    Reply Jacqueline Debono June 23, 2019 at 1:18 am

    These meatballs would be great for a party too! Love the sound of the cookbook. Have to look out for it!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto June 24, 2019 at 12:10 pm

      Hi Jacqueline you are so right. These meatballs have such an amazing aroma and they are so easy to eat on the toothpicks. Might have to plan a party!

  • Avatar
    Reply Mimi June 24, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    I didn’t know about the blog or the cookbooks, so thank you! This meatball recipe sounds really good and is definitely unique. A chapter on Ukrainian dishes sounds wonderful as well!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto June 25, 2019 at 4:40 am

      Hi Mimi, being Italian one would think that Ukrainian food would be the least experienced, however my mom had lots of Ukrainian friends and we were blessed with many a day of making homemade perogy and cabbage rolls. The recipes in this book have many memories and love how family came forward to share those cherished recipes.
      Thanks for checking this out!

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