The RV Chronicles — Oh, what a July it’s been! (Recipe: Sweet Black Pepper Meatball Sandwiches)

I had a feeling that July 2016 might be one of my best. And when I wasn’t coerced into attending a fireworks display early in the month, I knew there’d be a happy ending come the 31st.

Sure, I managed some bucket list stuff this month – riding the Amtrak from Texas to Chicago, staying in a historical hotel on the Magnificent Mile and watching my Texas Rangers play at Wrigley Field – but July has been a blast for more important reasons.

For starters, the love of my life finally made her move to the Jimmy Rockford. We’re as cramped as we can be, and the only way to privacy is by locking myself in the car with the radio blasting. Still, I’ve long missed waking up next to her and having our all-too-common squabbles about what’s for dinner. Not to mention, her eyes look so much better in person.

And though her arrival brought me contentment when I needed it most, it was two simple words that brought me as much joy as I’ve ever experienced. Catherine uttered them somewhere between St. Louis and Chicago.

‘I passed,’ she softly said as I dozed in our tiny room on the train. ‘I passed.’

Even without my glasses, I could read the disbelief and jubilance on her beautiful face. Her eyes were wide with elation and her grin involuntary.

As the story goes, my love will begin a new career in about a week — as a teacher. Not only did she pass the state exam to teach medical occupations to high school students (she is a career nurse who earned her bachelor’s degree this past December), she also passed the certification exam to teach elementary-aged children through sixth grade. She worked to make her dream come true and I have been blessed to watch her journey from the front row.

I could write a book detailing her challenges through the years. It would include at least a handful of chapters on raising a family, working multiple jobs and experiencing plenty of self doubt. But it would have a very happy ending, indeed.

Sure, I’ve been known to believe that baseball is life and that Wrigley Field is Mecca for such rabid horsehide fans as myself. But Catherine is my life, and the success she experienced – along with those two little words – have made this July one I’ll fondly remember.



My train traveling and jet setting ways as of late have allowed me a lot less time in the Jimmy Rockford’s tiny kitchen. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because prepared foods have come a long way. This recipe combines some prepared (frozen) meatballs and Stubb’s Sweet Black Pepper Anytime Sauce™. Toss them in the slow cooker on your way out to work and you’ll have the makings of a seriously delicious sandwich when you arrive home. It tastes even better with homemade pimento cheese, but use cheddar or even American, if you prefer.

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Sweet Black Pepper Meatball Sandwiches

Sweet Black Pepper Meatball Sandwiches — Easy and delicious

Sweet Black Pepper Meatball Sandwiches — Easy and delicious

5.0 from 3 reviews
Sweet Black Pepper Meatball Sandwiches
Cook time
Total time
Sweet Black Pepper Meatball Sandwiches — Easy and delicious
Recipe type: Sandwich
Serves: 8
  • 32 oz – Frozen (plain or 'homestyle') meatballs*
  • 1 – 12 oz bottle Stubb's Sweet Black Pepper Anytime Sauce™
  • ½ cup – Water
  • 8 – Submarine or bolillo rolls
  1. In a slow cooker, place meatballs, Stubb's Sweet Black Pepper Anytime Sauce™ and water; toss gently.
  2. Cook on 'low' setting for 8 hours, or on 'high' for 5 hours.**
  3. Serve on rolls with other toppings, as desired.
*- Most frozen meatballs come in 1-inch and ½-inch (diameter) sizes. Though the 1-inch size is a little easier to work with on a sandwich, either one will taste just as good.
** - If you're using ½-inch meatballs, cook on 'low' for 6 hours, or on 'high' for about 3 hours.



  1. Wow. As I am considering retirement from public education in the upcoming few years, I applaud your wife for jumping in. Especially if she does elementary….those people are truly a special and gifted group. 🙂 I know things are MUCH better in TX for teachers so I wish her much success and happiness!

    As for the sub—excellent and I am looking for these easy dinner choices as school starts up again!

    • adamjholland says:

      Thank you, Debra. She’ll be teaching high school students (health science occupations). I’m not sure how great things are for teachers in Texas, but I guess it’s all relative. 🙂

  2. How much you love your wife and express it is so sweet! Made me smile to read this. I think I’d rather make my own meatballs yet I’m putting the Stubb’s sauce on my shopping list! Thank you for sharing!

    • adamjholland says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Connie. If you’re making your own meatballs, please share. 🙂

      • Super simple meatballs – 1lb hot Italian sausage, minced garlic, minced onion [both minced by hand] an egg and a bit of panko all mixed together. Make meatballs about 1″ diameter and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Brown in a dry skillet in batches or I have baked them with good results – depends on where we are at the time, our motorhome or the stationary home! My convection oven in the motorhome isn’t big enough to put a sheet pan of meatballs in it! It just occurred to me that they would be good grilled too!

  3. Congratulations to Catherine! I know this past year or so have been difficult but wow o wow – it’s time to reap the benefits now!

    I love the recipe – it’s what I call half-way homemade (using some convenience foods) and perfect for any busy household. And you know I LOVE Stubbs!!

    • adamjholland says:

      Thank you, Kelli. I suppose many of us do half-way homemade on a regular basis, but not very many folks write about it on their food websites. I think I’m gonna start writing more about my regular shortcuts. 🙂

  4. What sweet, wonderful words about Catherine. Congratulations to her and kudos on her choice of career. I’m sure the two of you will rock this next chapter of your lives together and I can’t wait to get a peek in on what’s going on every now and again.

    As for the semi homemade fare….thank you! That’s about all I can manage with life as busy as it is this summer!

    • adamjholland says:

      Thank you, Christiane. Truth is, most of us go with semi homemade fare. I mean, let’s be honest — I’m a hot dog addict. It’s not like I’m here at the ‘Jimmy Rockford’ baking buns and stuffing sausage … although now I have an idea. 😉

  5. So happy for Catherine!! Love your sandwich – you know how I feel about this sauce. I could drink it! Good job, Holland.

    • adamjholland says:

      Thank you, Shea. That sauce is the bomb. What I didn’t mention was I made this for my work peeps and sold a few extra bottles of Stubb’s in the process. It’s funny, because we have some people who are straight up picky eaters (no veggies, non-spicy, etc.) and others who brag about eating at the newest family-owned Greek joint in town. Everybody loved it. And that’s good enough for me.

  6. I was just thinking as I read your post, I need to take a batch of these to work. We are separate from the rest of the clinic, the bookkeeping dept. We have more opportunity to have occasional potlucks. I could bring pot full of meatballs in Stubbs, (*drooling*) Travels well.
    I made the guacamole pasta salad again the other day. I did not use the serrano pepper as they did not look as good as I would like. I opted for a jalapeno and it was not quite as good. There was no heat at the end of a yummy taste. However, it is always a hit no matter what.
    Glad your sweetie passed her exams. What a wonderful thing. It makes me smile. Go girl!

    • adamjholland says:

      This is an outstanding potluck thing, Jill. I’m in love with this sauce — my addiction is right up there with my childhood affinity for Lea & Perrins Worcestershire (I drank it). — Thank you for your kind words. 🙂

  7. Three cheers for Catherine, One for figuring out what she wanted to do, two for making it happen, and three for making you so happy.

    And kudos to you. I’m not a huge meatball fan but had nearly forgotten about pimento cheese, which my Northern palate discovered in my grandfather’s girlfriend’s Kentucky kitchen and I adore. I will be making some very soon. I am drooling at the thought.

    • adamjholland says:

      First, thank you. 🙂 I was never a huge meatball fan either, except for the porcupine variety (a menu staple growing up). My opinion started to change when I met my bride and she started cooking old school NY Italian for me. And then.. I started grinding my own meat.. But this is a prepared thing and I understand your hesitation. As for the pimento cheese.. It makes everything better.

  8. Catherine says:

    YOU melt my heart ❤️❤️❤️

  9. Glad you managed to bucket list some stuff! I don’t think I crossed anything off mine.. unless it had to do with food. lol. LOVE these sandos! Those sweet black pepper meatballs look crazy delicious!! NEED! Cheers!

  10. So excited for you and Catherine – on so many levels! I can only imagine how happy you must be to finally be living under the same roof again and to have such major accomplishments under your belts. Thanks for the reminder, by the way… I need to re-visit my Bucket List! And thanks (in advance) from my husband – he’s a meatball sandwich fanatic, and I just know he’s gonna love these! Cheers!

  11. Congratulations on that big July! Everything about it. These meatballs look fab. Now I know what to do with that Stubbs Sweet Black Pepper Sauce.

  12. I love your ongoing love story. Ahhhhh…

  13. What wonderful news! Congratulations to Catherine and best of luck in this next life chapter. I love stories of people having success after working hard for their dreams.

  14. Kathryn @ anotherfoodieblogger says:

    Huge congratulations to Catherine! And oh man, I LOVE that Stubb’s Sweet Black Pepper Sauce. The bottle you sent me is long gone, but we like it so much I think I’m going to have to hit up the online stores.

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