Spicy Sweet & Sour Chicken Quinoa Meatballs

IMG_6324 (2)Ground chicken…. I bought some about a month ago because it seemed like it was a good price and it’s been in my freezer ever since. Any time Jack asks me what I’m thinking about for dinner and I mention using the ground chicken, he kind of turns his nose up and I make something else. Tonight, however, I didn’t give him an option!

I took a package of the ground chicken out of my freezer this morning and let it thaw while we were working outside in our yard. In the middle of the afternoon Jack asked me the dreaded question…”What are you thinking about for dinner”? There really was no way around the fact that we were going to have some of that ground chicken tonight. What was I going to make with it, though? I decided on some spicy meatballs, and Jack thought it sounded like it might be kind of good. Whew! I dodged that one! What I didn’t tell him was that I was going to add some quinoa (it’s good for you and makes a nice binder for the meatballs) to the ground chicken to stretch it a little and make it easier to work with. After all, have you ever used ground chicken? It doesn’t have the same texture as other ground meats and when it comes right down to it, it’s actually a little slimy and icky feeling by itself.

Just when I thought I didn’t have to think anymore about dinner for awhile, Jack asked if I was going to make some sauce with the meatballs and, if so, what kind of sauce I was going to have. Oh heck! I hadn’t thought that far ahead! Really? What kind of sauce? A little fast thinking led to me come up with an idea to have sweet and sour sauce, which is easy to make. Then, amazingly, the whole meal came together! I thought since we’re having spicy chicken meatballs with sweet and sour sauce, I might as well go ahead and use some pineapple, green peppers, and onion and serve the whole thing over rice. Voilà! My meal was planned!

Just a note…These are good by themselves, so you don’t need to add the sweet and sour element to them if you choose to have them plain.

IMG_6300 (3)I cooked my quinoa ahead of time and had it cooled and ready to go. I made extra to use later in the week, but if you’re only making enough for this recipe, use 1/2 cup raw quinoa plus 1 cup water to yield 1 1/2 cups cooked. Basically, cook it like you would rice.

Open two cans of pineapple chucks and drain them over a bowl so you can use the juice later. You don’t need to do this if you want your meatballs plain.

Begin with 1 1/4 lbs ground chicken. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper (this is fairly spicy, so if you don’t like so much “heat”, you may want to only use 1 1/2 teaspoons) over the top of the chicken and mix it in. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper over the chicken.IMG_6302 (3)

Spoon 1 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa over the chicken and mix it all together until well blended.IMG_6307 (2)

Roll into meatballs and coat with flour. Place into a heated pan that has a little oil in it. Turn meatballs several times while they’re cooking so they’re evenly browned. If you want your meatballs without the added sauce, green peppers, onions, and pineapple, you can finish cooking them and stop here.IMG_6309 (3)

While meatballs are cooking, cut 1 1/2 green peppers and 1 onion into bite sized pieces. Heat a large pan, pour a little oil into it, and cook/stir fry the green peppers and onion until they are done to your liking. I like them crisp-tender, not mushy! Add the pinepple chunks and stir. By now your meatballs should be done, so push them into 1/2 of their pan and dump the green pepper/onion/pineapple mixture into the other half. Cover and keep on low heat.IMG_6314 (2)

Using the pan you stir fried in, heat 2/3 cup cooking oil until it’s very hot. While it’s heating, mix together the pineapple juice (you should have about 1 3/4 cups), 1/2 cup ketchup, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/3 cup vinegar, and about 3 Tablespoons cornstarch. Whisk together until thorougly blended. Add this to the very hot oil, stirring quickly. Continue to stir until mixture thickens and is well-blended. This will only take a few minutes. IMG_6317 (2)

When sauce is done, spoon the vegetable/pineapple mixture back in and stir. You can add the meatballs to the sauce if you choose or serve them on the side. I served it over rice, with the rice on the bottom, the sauce and vegetables/pineapple next, topped with meatballs. Enjoy!IMG_6324 (2)

Spicy Sweet & Sour Chicken Quinoa Meatballs

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy/medium
  • Print

1/2 cup raw quinoa (to yield 1 1/2 cups cooked)

1 1/4 lbs ground chicken

1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper (this is fairly spicy, so if you don’t like so much “heat”, you may want to only use 1 1/2 teaspoons)

1 teaspoon each salt and pepper

a little flour for rolling meatballs in

***** If you only want the meatballs and not the green peppers, onions, pineapple, and sauce, you can stop your ingredients here*****

1 1/2 green peppers

1 onion

2 cans chunk pineapple (reserve juice for sauce, you should have about 1 3/4 cups)

2/3 cup cooking oil

1/2 cup ketchup

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1/3 cup vinegar

3 Tablespoons corn stasrch

rice – if desired

Cook quinoa ahead of time and have it cooled and ready to go. Use 1/2 cup raw quinoa and add 1 cup water. Cook as you would rice.

Open pineaplle chucks and drain them over a bowl so you can use the juice later.

Begin with ground chicken. Sprinkle crushed red pepper over the top of the chicken and mix it in. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the chicken. Add cooked quinoa to the chicken and mix it all together until well blended. Roll into meatballs and coat with flour. Place into a heated pan that has a little oil in it. Turn meatballs several times while they’re cooking so they’re evenly browned.

*****If you only want the meatballs and not the rest of it, stop here. Meatballs are done when they’re evenly browned.*****

While meatballs are cooking, cut green peppers and onion into bite sized pieces. Heat a large pan, pour a little oil into it, and cook/stir fry the green peppers and onion until they are done to your liking. I like them crisp-tender, not mushy, so only for a few minutes. Add the pinepple chunks and stir. By now your meatballs should be done, so push them into 1/2 of their pan and dump the green pepper/onion/pineapple mixture into the other half. Cover and keep on low heat.

Using the pan you stir fried in, heat cooking oil until it’s very hot. While it’s heating, mix together the pineapple juice (if you don’t have quite 1 3/4 cup, you can add a little water to it), ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, and cornstarch. Whisk together until thorougly blended. Add this to the very hot oil, stirring quickly. Continue to stir until mixture thickens and is well-blended. This will only take a few minutes.

When sauce is done, spoon the vegetable/pineapple mixture back in and stir. You can add the meatballs to the sauce if you choose or serve them on the side. I served it over rice, with the rice on the bottom, the sauce and vegetables/pineapple next, topped with meatballs. Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “Spicy Sweet & Sour Chicken Quinoa Meatballs

    • David – That’s good to hear! I’m glad that you think the recipes sound like something that you would want to eat. Hope you’re trying some of them. I really like the meatballs and they’re good for you, too.

      Like

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