To Iowa With Love

In honor of my home state hero this weekend, Kurt Warner, I thought I would chime in with my thoughts about the big game and then with some recipes from one of my favorite Iowa menus.  Oh yeah, I know people, brace yourselves for a rockin Friday night with Stephanie!!

As you can see, we will be cheering for the Arizona Cardinals this weekend, and specifically for #13.  Why is that?  Simply because we LOVE Kurt Warner.  Not only is he an Iowan like me, but he's also a fellow alumni.  That's right, we both graduated from the same college, the University of Northern Iowa.  In addition to those two important facts, he also happens to love the Lord and has very faithfully and consistently walked with integrity despite the roller coaster of fame and fortune in the NFL.  He has quite a story, which I'm sure will be re-told in all the pre-game coverage, but he's also the real deal in "real life."  He is someone who has done "celebrity" well.  
Plus, he also has a beautiful family, as seen above, and a great wife.  So we will be cheering him on and hoping that the Cardinals will upset the favored Steelers.  Of course you are free to choose whomever you'd like to cheer for, but if you're not cheering for the Cardinals, I don't want to hear about it!!  You can read a great article from the New York Times here about Kurt and Brenda Warner and their family.  And below I have posted his personal bio from the official Arizona Cardinals website.  Go Kurt!!

Full name Kurtis Eugene Warner … he and his wife, Brenda, have seven children: sons Zachary, Kade and Elijah and daughters Jesse, Jada and twins Sienna and Sierra … graduated with a degree in communications … attended Cedar Rapids Regis High in Iowa, where he lettered in football, basketball and baseball … Des Moines Register all-state selection in football during his senior season ... established the First Things First Foundation in the spring of 2001 with wife Brenda to promote Christian values and bless the lives of those less fortunate with projects such as trips to Disney World for ill children, building recreation centers in children’s hospitals, helping single moms achieve the dream of homeownership and teaching Special Olympians the football basics. All projects are centered on Kurt and Brenda’s life theme: faith and family come first … official website is

Ok, on to my "Ode to Iowa Menu."  Before I begin, I feel I must mention that many people do not know very much about Iowa, so I will enlighten you about one of our best by-products: pork!  We are one of the country's largest pork producers and thus we have lots and lots of great dishes that involve pork of some kind.  I heard someone say once that there are more pigs in Iowa than people....I don't know if that's true or not, but I do know that if you want a good pork chop or a wonderful juicy ham, Iowa is the place to get it!  So, in honor of our abundance of pork, I would like to introduce you to a family favorite....

"Sticky Iowa Hamballs"

Is that not the worst title you have ever heard of??  I know, it's not a good name and it doesn't sound appetizing, but for the sake of your loyalty, I am asking you to trust me because actually, they are wonderful!!   And they feed a big crowd.  They would make a yummy dish on a cold Super Bowl night in fact...I'm just saying... 

You will need the following ingredients:  1 lb. ground ham, 1 lb. ground pork.  I have no idea what the difference is, but that's what the recipe calls for.  You need to get this at a meat counter with an actual butcher.  They will have it.  Sometimes, they'll offer you a "hamloaf" which is the same thing.  Just make sure to get 2 lbs and have it ground together.  You also need 2 C of fine graham cracker crumbs, 2 eggs (slightly beaten) and 1 1/2 C of milk.  
Combine the meat, crumbs, eggs, and milk in a bowl and mix well.  As with all things that taste good, the best way to do this is to actually mix it with your hands.  Then you make 1" balls and place them in a 9x13 pan, pictured below.
This is how many hamballs 3 lbs. of meat makes, 60 balls.  The original recipe calls for 4 lbs of meat, but that is crazy unless you have 10 or more people to feed.  I chose 3 lbs for 6 of us and we had PLENTY left over.  Next time I would definitely use 2 lbs.  
For the sauce that goes over the hamballs, you need the above ingredients.  1, 10 oz. can of tomato soup, 1 1/2 C of brown sugar, 1/2 C of vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar), and 1 tsp. of dry mustard.  Combine all the ingredients and mix well until creamy.  Pour over the hamballs.  Because I used 3 lbs. of meat, I needed more sauce to cover all those hamballs.  I just made two batches of the sauce and that was enough.  
Bake at 350 for approximately 1 1/2 hours.  Cover for the first half hour, then baste and uncover for 1 more hour.  Baste again before serving.  They will smell so sweet and so good while they are in the oven!  They could be called Bar-b-que Hamballs, because essentially that's what they taste like.  Remember that pork is still pinkish when it's fully cooked.  An hour and a half is plenty of time for them to be done however, so you'll be fine.    
Hamballs are best, served over wild rice.  The combination goes so well together.  I also like to serve them with a green bean casserole and cinnamon apples.  Do you know that easy, kid friendly recipe??  Here is it below...

Dice 3 or 4 apples, depending on how many people, toss them in plain vanilla yogurt and sprinkle them with cinnamon.  So easy and really, really good.  I always like to serve these apples with pork dishes.  They make a sweet tasting compliment.  

So there you have it!  Hamballs, wild rice, green bean casserole, and cinnamon apples.  A very yummy, Iowa meal!  If you try this, you will be pleasantly surprised at how good it is!  And if you're needing to feed a crowd of people, this is an easy meal to make :) So, enjoy!!  

And go Cardinals!!


Jesse and Stacie said...

Jesse here, let's also not forget where Kurt Warner worked - the same Hy-Vee that yours truly worked at for 7 years. I make sure not to be hungry when I read your posts - yum! Oh, and my Friday night has officially been rocked, thanks to you ;)

Rebecca Jo said...

I love to see celebrities - especially sports stars that take their "celebrity" & use it for good! People in these positions I dont think they realize their influence - especially on the young!

And you are becoming such the chef - aren't you? Thanks for sharing all your yumminess!

Trish said...

Hamballs are my absolute favorite! Did you know that you can get "hamloaf" at the meat counter - it's already the combination of ham & pork mixed together. Not sure if you can get it in MN or not, and unfortunately, they don't even sell ground ham in TN period. My grandpa used to ship it to me just so I could make hamballs once a year :).

petrii said...

We heart KWarner!!! It is so great to see someone show the love of Christ the way that he does in such a hard business.

So totally -- GO CARDS!!

Have a Blessed weekend friend,

Jay & Leta Palmer said...

what is not to love about kurt warner! Go Cards! :) love your recipes that you post steph! :)

Jesse and Stacie said...

hamballs are one of my favorites!! however, jesse doesn't like them. :( booo. Kurt Warners family is gorgeous!!

AmandaHoyt said...

Looks like great food!
Hope you have a wonderful weekend.
Hugs and prayers,

AmandaHoyt said...

Happy Sunday, Stephanie!
I've given you an award - go check it out on my blog.

Conny said...

I kind of "lurk" on your blog which I read via Kelly's Korner when I have time to waste...but now I have to comment!! THANK YOU for the ham balls recipe! My hubby is an Iowa boy (we live in MO though)...and every time we go to Iowa, we bring back 20-25 lbs of ham loaf! I don't know what to do with it so I try to doctor it up - and hubby likes to just eat it plain too.
ALSO: we Love Kurt Warner too -actually met him & Brenda in St Louis at a USO function that honored some soldiers (hubby included) coming back from Iraq in 2004. Soooooo, they totally connected on the Iowa thing, both having worked at a HyVee, and of coruse, being Christians! Ok, please don't think I'm a freak - just had to say something!! :) God bless you all. Conny

all up in each others bizness said...

they do not sell ground pork/ham or ham loaf in colorado or arizona.....have been ham balless for almost 10 was mostly upsetting the first year but i have gotten through it!