Sweet and Spicy Party Balls

Updated: Oct 13

More meatballs, please. I know. But It might be a perfect food…

It’s not, but the tight-knit Italian-American town of Roseto, PA, seemed to think so.

In the 1950s researchers began studying the longevity of its residents. Despite Rosetans eating all kinds of artery-clogging foods, sausages, cheeses, and of course fried meatballs, they had lower levels of heart disease and tended to live longer. 

One Roseto resident said that when he dies, he’s going to die with a meatball in his mouth. I can't think of a better way to go.

He might be gone by now and I feel a little sad that eating meatballs had nothing to do with him living longer.

It was his tight-knit community that kept him alive. Three and four generations lived under one roof, people married inside the community, and the town’s strong traditions and friendships made everyone feel supported and emotionally safe.

No one felt alone. 

The takeaway? 

Never eat your meatballs by yourself. Beef-up your friendships and eat what you want.

That’s hard to do right now (pandemic and all), but it seems that creating as much community as you can, maintaining strong relationships, and supporting one another can make you healthier. After cutting out sugar and practicing intermittent fasting to no avail, maybe I should just rethink my relationship with my mother-in-law.

So invite some friends over, play a round of socially-distant bocce, set-off those illegal fireworks, and eat some sticky meatballs.


I was given this recipe by the owner of Backyard Gardens Market in Ohiopyle, PA, an outdoor stand full of jams and jellies, mustards, and other delightful things. I purchased spicy jalapeño mustard and strawberry-rhubarb jam. I came home and put that mustard on everything, grilled fish, chicken, and spread for sandwiches. I highly recommend a trip to Ohiopyle and a visit to Backyard Gardens Market. So Good.


Sweet and Spicy Party Balls (Heyyyy!)

I’ve only eaten meatballs a few ways: fried, sprinkled with parmesan cheese, or in Sunday sauce. I’ve had it with some sort of pasta, or on a sub with gooey mozzarella cheese, but never in a sweet sauce. I’m glad I broadened my meatball horizons.


  • 2 lbs of 1-ounce meatballs

  • 12-ounce Backyard Gardens Market's Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam (The original recipe calls for orange marmalade.)

  • 6 ounces Backyard Gardens Market's Sweet and Hot Pepper Mustard (I used Backyard Garden's Jalapeño Mustard. The original recipe calls for their habanero mustard.)

  • 6 ounces of orange juice

  • Pretzel sticks


  • Follow the recipe for meatball mix and roll into 1-ounce balls. (Scoopers are helpful for this step.)

  • In a crockpot, add jam, mustard, and orange juice and stir. 

  • Add raw meatballs.

  • Cook on high for at least one hour or until meatballs are hot.

  • Serve meatballs on a platter inserting each one with a pretzel stick.

Cooks notes:

My family said this one is a keeper and it’s so easy to make. I made one modification. I wanted the sauce to be thicker and stick to the meatballs, So I removed the meatballs and transferred the sauce to a pan. Over medium-high heat, I reduced the sauce by half (about 30 minutes) and then I coated the meatballs with the reduction and served. 

*Visit me over at Sticky Couch for more fantastic, sticky recipes!


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