OK here's one for you...I have a six year-old daughter who is a very finicky eater. To my dismay, my non-cooking husband has turned her on to Stauffer's spaghetti and meatballs, and she LOVES the stuff. Actually, she's started just eating the meatballs out of it and leaving the rest b/c she says she loves the meatballs so much. I have made her meatballs in the past, figuring, "What kid doesn't like meatballs?" She wasn't into them.
This is the recipe is I like, btw, minus the add-ins when I made them for her: http://www.seriouseats...
Well now that she's discovered THESE sodium-riddled, industrially processed, "naturally flavored" meatballs, she can't get enough. So I asked her if I could make a homemade meatballs that tastes like a Stauffer's meatball, would she eat it, and she said yes. Sooo, I thought I'd see if you all had any recipes/thoughts/tricks up your sleeve for making a homemade version that is tasty, but with with something that at least attempts to achieve something of the industrially uniform texture and fake-food crack-effect that frozen processed food (in this case meatballs) seem to have on children (or at least on my child). The fork feel, in case you haven't tried them, is reminiscent to me of the Hungry Man Salisbury Steak TV dinner that I remember from childhood, but not quite as creepy.
I look forward to hearing any ideas you have, except please no advice on child-rearing with respect to the dietary habits of my child. I've heard it all, thought about it a lot, and I do it the way I do it, just like we all do. Thanks in advance!
Make sure you form the meatballs the same size as her current favorite version. Sometimes size does matte. : )
My friend has a daughter whose Pediatrician calls a "super taster". Things taste and smell about 10-20 times stronger to her. It really is a thing. A beautifully roasted chicken has Sophia flying out of her room yelling "what is that gross smell" as she looks around for her beloved plain pasta and butter. Cathy just sighs and puts a lot of water on to boil.
Here is my recipe to try: http://food52.com/recipes/6182-da-meat-a-ball
Good Luck....have fun :)
some additional suggestions to make the session even more useful:
1) in same cooking session, make something from your repertoire that you know she loves, so if the meatballs are NOT a hit, you still have a happy session. Her favorite cake? drink? whatever...
2) cook a batch of the beloved packaged meatballs for same meal and have side by side blind tasting for all at table except the cooks
3) if your daughter does NOT love the home-made meatballs, ask her to explain - as a wine or food critic would - the tastes she finds and doesn't find in them, also compared to the tastes she finds in the packaged meatballs. then, if needed, you'll have info for second round of home-made ones. it will also further develop her sensory awareness and vocabulary.
Here's the ingredient list via a Google search:
Blanched Spaghetti (Water, Semolina), Water, Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Cooked Beef, Tomatoes (Diced Tomatoes, Tomato Juice, Citric Acid, Calcium Chloride), Pork, Onions, 2% or Less of Soybean Oil, Rolled Oats, Modified Cornstarch, Sugar, Soy Protein Concentrate (with Caramel Color), Salt, Whey Protein Concentrate, Romano Cheese ([Made from Cow's Milk], Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes), Bleached Wheat Flour, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Parmesan and Asiago Cheese Blend with Flavor (Parmesan Cheese [Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes], Asiago Cheese [Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes], Enzyme Modified Parmesan Cheese [Cultured Milk, Water, Salt, Enzymes], Whey, Salt), Worcestershire Sauce (Vinegar, Molasses, Water, Tamarind, Flavor, Sugar, Salt, Caramel Color, Anchovy, Onion, Garlic), Dehydrated Onions, Spices, Dehydrated Garlic, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Seasoning (Soy Sauce [Water, Soybean, Wheat, Salt], Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Dextrose, Soybean Oil), Soy Sauce (Water, Wheat, Soybeans, Salt), Cultured Whey, Flavor (Water, Flavor, Maltodextrin, Salt, Caramel Color, Less than 2% of Lactic Acid, Enzyme Modified Cream).
The most glaring differences are the pork in the meatballs as well as the use of rolled oats.
The best meatballs I've had are a combination of beef, veal, and pork, not just beef. The pork will definitely add some flavor/fattiness. I've never had meatballs made with rolled oats, but my guess is that's what is contributing to the industrial texture.
Also, don't use lean ground beef (round or sirloin). Ground chuck (fattier, cheaper) has more flavor which is why this grade is recommended for hamburgers.
My guess is that some of the sugar in the sauce (as well as other ingredients like Worcestershire and soy sauce) are adding additional flavor that your daughter likes.