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KIDS IN THE KITCHEN

With meatballs, little helpers will be happy to dig in

By Julie Riven
Globe Correspondent / October 5, 2011

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This is the fourth of four parts.

Meatballs are as popular with kids as pizza and chicken tenders. Let them dig their hands in and shape their own dinner. You can fry, saute, or braise meatballs, but baking them in marinara sauce cooks the meat without added fat.

This recipe calls for panko, light, crisp Japanese breadcrumbs. Eggs bind the mixture and ketchup adds moistness. Wet your hands with water before forming the meatballs to prevent them from sticking.

While the meatballs cook, boil some ziti. When you have a little extra time, make and bake a double batch, and freeze half in a single layer. Transfer them to the fridge on a morning when you know the day will be hectic. Remind the kids that they made them.

To find the previous recipes in this series - Tex-Mex lasagna, warm buttermilk biscuits, and stir-fried veggies - go to www.bostonglobe.com/food. Julie Riven can be reached at julieriven@comcast.net.