Porcupine Balls and Why I’m Still Learning from my Mother

Pin this Post on Pinterest Share on Facebook Yum

I’ll be the first to admit I over think things.  Totally.  And having a child certainly takes it’s toll on someone who over analyzes like me.  I’m always trying to look at things in terms of how they will affect him in the long run.  I’m afraid making him clean his plate will make him fat, I’m afraid not making him eat his vegetables will give him a life-long hatred of vegetables, I’m afraid that giving him juice at night might rot his teeth, I’m afraid if he plays outside without his shoes he’ll hurt his feet.  And it’s odd for me, because I never really felt like this before he was born.  I guess you can say I’m a little over protective.  The great thing is my wife is totally the opposite.  She throws caution to the wind and basically runs at things without a plan.  I wish I could be more like that, especially with Jack.

Last night I had a little reminder from God, that I need to lighten up.  And it has been one of the most profound things to happen to me recently.  Each night a bedtime, I read a story with Jack (sometimes two, sometimes three) and last night as we were picking books to read, he pulled out a book that my mother had given him not long after he was born.  The book is titled “On the Night You Were Born.”  It’s a beautiful story that tells about how the animals celebrated the night you were born.  But in the back of the book, my Mom had written nearly two pages to my little boy – two pages of her handwriting that I’m sure were meant to inspire him and teach him about life.  But reading her words last night struck a chord with me.  I realized that he has to get a splinter to know that he needs to wear his shoes outside.  He has to be cheated to learn about the value of truth.  And he has to have his heart broken to learn the power of love.  I realized that I do take things too seriously and I do try to protect him to the extent that he’s going to miss out on something magical, something wonderful.  I get too caught up in daily life to to realize how special every moment is with this little guy.

So this morning, at 5:30 when he woke up crying for the 4th time, rather than being angry with him as I had the 3 times before, I remembered Mom’s words.  I didn’t yell at him or tell him to go back to sleep.  I just climbed into my little boy’s twin bed with him and we laid there talking and laughing for nearly an hour.  He was late for daycare and I was late for work.  But today that didn’t matter, because this morning I just got to be a daddy – and nothing else.  And that’s just what my little boy needed… and I did too.


When I was a kid, this was one of my most favorite things my Mom would make.  The recipe was great, now don’t get me wrong, but there was something about eating something called porcupine balls that was so neat.   Hopefully you and your family will love this simple and easy recipe just the same!


  • 1.25 to 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • ¾ cup instant rice
  • ½  small onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 3 cups V8 juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper




  1. Combine ground beef, rice, onion,and garlic in a large bowl.  Mix to combine, but do not over work the mixture.
  2. Roll into 1 1/2 to 2 inch sized balls.  (I got about 15 good sized balls.)
  3. In a hot pan, brown meatballs on several sides and remove from pan.  Drain grease and return pan to heat.
  4. In the pan add V8 juice, tomato paste, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Bring to a simmer and add meatballs back into the pan.
  5. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked throughout. 

Porcupine Balls
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 1.25 to 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • ¾ cup instant rice
  • ½ small onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1- 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 3 cups V8 juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  1. Combine ground beef, rice, onion,and garlic in a large bowl. Mix to combine, but do not over work the mixture.
  2. Roll into 1½ to 2 inch sized balls. (I got about 15 good sized balls.)
  3. In a hot pan, brown meatballs on several sides and remove from pan. Drain grease and return pan to heat.
  4. In the pan add V8 juice, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Mix well. Bring to a simmer and add meatballs back into the pan.
  5. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked throughout.

Don't miss a single recipe! Subscribe to my email list.

Read Newer Post
Read Older Post


  1. Charlotte says:

    What a sweet story, thanks for the reminders! Oh, and the recipe is something I think my gkids would love!

  2. Stacey, those sound wonderful! This may sound stupid, but do I cook the rice prior to mixing it in? And do you serve them over anything or on their own? I am so going to try these. Ps- MY baby is almost 13 and I still snuggle up in bed with her every so often :) love this post!

    • No, the rice goes in without cooking it. With the instant rice, it cooks while the meatballs cook. I like them on their own being that you have the starch from the rice in there, but you could totally serve them with pasta or even mashed potatoes. I imagine I’ll be doing the same thing at 13 – but I’m sure he won’t like it then!

  3. Jennifer says:

    Loved your story, makes me wish mine were little again.
    I think as I’ve grown older my taste buds need more flavor and I’ve started using the Spicy V8 instead of tomato sauce in many of my recipes for some extra kick. I’d recommend using half Spicy and half regular V8 if you are afraid it will be too warm for you. And the kiddos might find it too hot. Keep up the good work.

  4. Sue Martin says:

    I’m eating these now, and they’re very good. I added a box of Zatarains Black Beans and Rice to mine though. YUM!!!!

  5. Stacey, all I can say is Thank You for sharing all your wonderful recipes. I made the porcupine meatballs for dinner tonight. Delish! Hubby really enjoyed them, too.

    • Sabrina, you are SO welcome! I love doing it and the wonderful comments just like this make it even more worthwhile! I’m so glad you and your husband enjoyed the porcupine balls!

  6. Came back to ‘re-lookup’ your Mama’s Chicken and Gravy…. substituting porkchops in it tonight (they were on sale). Had to look around while I was here though. I love porcupine meatballs, well, any kind of meatballs for sure. But I’m a total kluts (sp) when it comes to meatballs. Mine always fall apart or turn out like minature hamburger patties, whether I bake, broil or fry them.
    If anybody is like me, try boiling them. Put some water and much too much boullion cubes in a saucepan and bring to a good simmer. Drop your meatballs in it as you perfect them into a round shape. When they float, scoop them out and continue recipe… ie: brown them in oil and keep on going…. perfectly round every time.

  7. I grew up on these too! Instead of the V8 juice and tomato paste my mother would use an eight ounce can of tomato sauce. I’ve never run into anyone else that grew up on these and then I found your blog. Thanks Stacey for bringing back memories.

    • Thanks, Pam. My Mom did the tomato sauce thing too, but I thought I’d kick it up a notch with this version. So glad I could jog your memory. That’s a big part of what this site is all about. :-)

  8. Glad you reposted this ….. Loved your story all over again. Love you my sweet son. How did I got so lucky to have God give you to me ??? You also teach me something new everyday !!!

  9. I just love this precious story. Time is so precious. Your little one will grow so fast and these sweet moments are a treasure! Your Mom sounds like a very wise Mom and grandma…and a great cook! Looking forward to trying porcupine balls!

  10. Stacey, you and I are two peas in a pod. And your wife sounds like my husband..LOL. I was just getting so teary eyed reading this post. Thank you for sharing such a tender moment with us. I just loved reading it and I’ve certainly needed this reminder a few times along the road of motherhood myself. When Alex just will not go to sleep and I’m constantly telling him he needs to get his rest (for the millionth time), I am reminded that this is when he usually needs time to unwind (like we all do) and this is usually when he is most open to me about the day he had at school. SO I need to just stop and listen and not always be in a rush. It’s these little moments that are precious…
    And I love that you shared this recipe from your own childhood – so special!! Love it!

    • Thanks, Brandie! In the busy world we live in it’s so hard to stop and listen sometimes. I appreciate the little reminders I get now and then. Time is fleeting, we truly have to treasure each moment. Sometimes it’s the little things that end up meaning the most. :)

  11. Thanks for sharing this recipe! My grandmother used to make these for me… Wow at the memories! She used to make them in the pressure cooker and I am scared of those so this I think I can make!

  12. My Mom used to make those too. Love them

  13. We have the same problem and I’m so glad that you shared this story with the world. I think parents are bullied into overprotection by the mainstream nowadays and somehow we’ve forgotten that if our children don’t learn for themselves, they won’t learn at all. That’s like telling a woman what labor feels like but she’ll never know until she actually goes through it herself. The recipe sounds great and I can’t wait to try it! I hope that I can take something away from this story and stop bending over backwards to make sure every little thing runs perfectly and without incident for my children. I’ve lost so much time for real memories because I just couldn’t stop and relax with them.

  14. deborah johnston says:

    hey stacey…had leftover hamburg need to use it…made porcupine meatballs…they are wonderful…but also i have another suggestion…for an appetiser….make the meatballs a little smaller (bitesize) cook exactly same but for the sauce (i know this sounds gross but is really good)….mix 1 jar chili sauce with small jar of grape jelly…heat over the stove until blendad..put meatballs in small crock pot on low…pour sauce over the meatballs…add toothpicks on side and serve…

  15. This recipe brings back childhood memories. I’m going to make it soon.
    Your post today reminds of this article I think you would enjoy:

    • Wow! Thanks so much for sharing that with me, Margy. It brought me to tears and was a great reminder. Thank you for that.

      • Stacey, I am a grandmother, and it brings me to tears also. The thing that my grandchildren do that delights me the most is that they run to greet me, squealing in delight, and hug my legs when I enter their home. This is a reminder that this greeting will not last forever, but I certainly am going to enjoy it while it does.

  16. Stacy thank you for sharing that story from the heart. I try to remember to pray this prayer everyday for my children and grandchildren. (I wish I could take credit for it myself, but I actually found it on another site that I can’t remember right now, but I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me sharing) Lord please bring my child(ren) through whatever they need to go through to be lead back to you. You are right they have to burn their fingers before they realize the stove is hot. We as parents have to be there to kiss boo boos and snuggle late nights into early mornings and listen when they speak. It makes my heart happy when men share their feelings. I hope I haven’t taken too much of your time, because I know you read every post. Thanks for letting me share with you. <3 Kim

    • Thanks so much, Kim! I do read every comment so yours was no exception. Don’t ever worry about taking too much of my time. It’s just a pleasure to be able to interact with wonderful people like you. Thanks also for sharing that prayer with me. I know it will be put to use in our house. :)

  17. My mom used to make these when I was a child MANY years ago. She even changed it up a bit and used cream of mushroom soup or cream of celery soup sometimes instead of the tomato ingredients. I think I’ll make these for supper tonight!!! Loved your story too!

  18. TONY LOVAN says:

    hey Stacey i was wondering can you cook these meatballs in the pressure cooker??

  19. Ellie Smith says:

    I grew up loving “Porcupines” too. My Mom’s were basically the same, but she added about a quarter pound of sausage to a pound of ground beef. She also used half diluted tomato soup instead of the V-8/tomato paste (though I think I will try that combination out next time). And, to try to get more veggies into me, she also threw in several carrots cut up into “pennies”. I still add them, they taste great. Thanks for your kitchen insights…..I’m always nodding my head in agreement with some memory you have written about.

Leave a Comment