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 cause cavities. 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 thoughtful words last night struck a chord with me. The note was filled with her wishes for him for the future, but a few of those stood out. Mainly it was the idea that sometimes bad things happen so that we understand the good things. We have to have those bad things happen to teach us lessons, too.
I realized that sometimes he has to get a splinter to be reminded 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 also realized that I do take things too seriously and I do try to protect him to the extent that it’s going to force him to miss out on something magical, something wonderful. I get too caught up in daily life 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 or tell him to go back to sleep. I just climbed into my little boy’s twin sized 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. I requested it quite often. And fear not, there’s no porcupine in these meatballs. They get their funny name because they’re studded with rice which makes them look like, well… porcupines! And rather than some plain old tomato sauce, Mom made a super delicious sauce with V8 vegetable juice and tomato paste. It’s so good and so delicious! Hopefully you and your family will love this simple and easy recipe just the same!
- 1.25 to 1.5 lbs lean ground beef
- ¾ cup instant rice
- ½ small onion, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- 3 cups V8 vegetable juice
- Combine ground beef, uncooked rice, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Mix well to combine.
- Roll the mixture into 1 1/2 to 2-inch sized balls. (I got about 15 meatballs.)
- Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Brown the meatballs for 3 to 4 minutes each on several sides and remove them from the pan. Drain grease and return the pan to the heat.
- In the pan add V8 juice and tomato paste. Mix well. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to low. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the meatballs back into the pan. Spoon the sauce over the meatballs.
- Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked throughout.
our cafeteria at school served porcupine balls.. I really liked them. I am happy to see this recipe. Thank you, Dianne
Hope you’ll enjoy them!
My mother used a can of tomato soup for the sauce, just added water to it as needed. I add tomato soup to mine, plus a can of tomato sauce. And I use a little sprinkling of each of basil and dill (both dried, from the spice jars). My mother would also use crushed up potato chips or crumbs sometimes in place of or in addition to the rice, and she might use a cup of leftover already cooked rice instead of any instant rice. For me, I sort of use a recipe as a starting point. I have wondered, you are the professional chef, would a little cornstarch help hold the meatballs together? I don’t like using an egg, myself, so just use nothing. Same with my meatloaf, and it is looser than most folks’ meatloaf. Thanks for your stories too!
Thanks so much, Danielle! I’ve not ever used cornstarch as a binder like that, so I can’t say for sure.
I love the recipe can’t wait to try it. Meatballs
Hope you’ll enjoy!
This brings back such sweet memories. Mama made this often but her recipe called for tomato soup. I’m anxious to try your recipe.
Hope you’ll enjoy them!
Stacey-does she mean garlic cloves? I thought she meant the whole cloves that you put on your baked ham with pineapple and brown sugar-some people also put them in tomato sauces to spice them up.
Great question! I have no idea.
I have used bloody mary mixer in the sauce. It has the spices we like and no alchohol.
I use it often in things like meatloaf and chili, so that sounds perfect!
My Mom made these in the 60’s when I was growing up. Her recipe called for a few whole cloves in the sauce. Gave it a different flavor, but we had to pick them out before eating. One of my favorites too.
I’ll never be mad about adding garlic! 🙂 Sounds great!
I’ve never seen the recipe with V8 – what a great idea! It is my husband’s favorite and he always requests it for Father’s Day!
It adds some great flavor! Hope he’ll enjoy it!
What a fantastic story! I came across while looking to find an actual recipe for a beloved hand written one that I currently possess. I make these frequently. Using the old hand written recipe. Over the years I have wondered about it’s original origins. I’ve scoured aged cookbooks, the internet, and just about all community cookbooks….this is the first time I have found a recipe close to the one I possess. The lovely woman who made these for me has passed on, but her recipe lives on and fills a special spot in my heart Everytime I make them ..the secret ingredient in all of these recipes that is never listed but always shared is Love. Thanks for sharing.
Thank YOU for sharing, Deana!
Could you please send me a copy of your recipe for Porcupine meatballs – I would really appreciate it!! Thank you so much!!
This is funny I use to make this too. Thought I mace up something. Lol I did my sauce a little different. I added grape jelly to tomato soup. I also baked it .Like your way.
Love to hear about the variations on this recipe!
I’ve made these before in my electric pressure cooker. I want to try your recipe (all of your recipes I’ve tried so far have been a hit with my family. My question is can you use regular par boiled rice verse the instant rice and what modification would you suggest?
You can use the parboiled rice, it will just require a longer cook time. Hope you enjoy them!
Hi Stacey. We love porcupines in our house but somehow they fell out of the rotation. Thanks for the reminder, and thanks so much for the lovely story about your son. Beautiful!
Thanks so much, Phyllis!
Oh my gosh, this is one of my family’s all-time favorites! I still make it for one of my sons and his family sometimes when they visit, and now my DIL and grandson love it too. Two things were mandatory……we always have it with mashed potatoes and green beans, lol. I saw the recipe in a little book that came with a Presto pressure cooker I bought yearsssss ago, so that’s how I cook them. The only difference with your recipe and theirs is condensed tomato soup and water mixed together for the sauce. Easy breezy and so good!
We had mashed potatoes and green beans with our last night, too! How funny!
I’m sure your recipe is a 5-Star winner! I loved the story. My oldest son, now 43, loved Porcupine meatballs when he was little. Next time I visit him, I’ll serve him your recipe. Thank you for sweet memories!
So sweet! Thanks, Pamela!
My mom used to make these all the time when was a kid and I totally thought it was something she had made up and was something only we knew about! LOL!!
Loved this post!!
Ha! Thanks, Jennifer!!
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.
I love to hear when folks can make sense of my ramblings! 🙂
hey Stacey i was wondering can you cook these meatballs in the pressure cooker??
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!
Thanks so much, Mary! I hope you’ll enjoy these!
Kimberly Leverett Osburn
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. 🙂
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.
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…
Sounds delish! I’ve made the sauce before but used store-bought meatballs! Great idea!
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.
I know how you feel. Sometimes it’s just so hard to let go, but I know that learning that way can be so advantageous. Good luck!
My Mom used to make those too. Love them
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!
Angela, I’m so glad this recipe brought back memories for you!
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. 🙂
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!
Thanks, Tina! I sure do appreciate all of your sweet comments on the blog!
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 !!!
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. 🙂
W David Griggs
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.
Hey David, thanks for the suggestion about boiling the meatballs! I usually use extra lean ground beef, but in these difficult times I have to take what I get. So this idea will come in handy, no doubt. Thanks much!
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!
I’m eating these now, and they’re very good. I added a box of Zatarains Black Beans and Rice to mine though. YUM!!!!
Look at you gettin’ all creative! Glad you’re enjoying them!
I use Rice A Roni when I make my porcupine meatballs. I use the flavor packet (the Spanish one is to die for) mixed into the V-8 juice.. Yummy. Has anyone ever used ground turkey or chicken to make their meatballs?
What a neat and delicious idea! I’m anxious to see if anyone tried the turkey or chicken.
I have made them with ground turkey and absolutely loved them. I also stirred in some fresh parsley for color!
Thanks for the tip!
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.
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!
What a sweet story, thanks for the reminders! Oh, and the recipe is something I think my gkids would love!
Thanks! I hope they do love it! I still do!