Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs with Jelly and Chili Sauce

This recipe for sweet and sour turkey meatballs with jelly and chili sauce is comfort food that’s grown up and gone to the big city.

When I was a kid, my grandma used to make those classic grape jelly meatballs. Kind of sweet, but comforting and simple. As my tastes have gotten more sophisticated, I wanted something with more complex and “grownup” flavor: not quite as sweet, a little more sour, and with a bit of a spicy kick.

I replaced the grape jelly with no sugar strawberry jam (it’s sweetened only with juice, there’s no sugar or artificial sweetener), then added chili sauce, a bit of Tabasco and apple juice and got sweet and sour turkey meatballs.

My parents were visiting one day, and decided to stay for dinner. I had ground turkey and the rest of the ingredients in the fridge. I whipped up a batch of these, and I swear you’d think they’d never eaten before. Dad was sopping up the sauce with bread. Heck, he practically licked the plate! Maybe I should have called these “lick the plate clean sweet and sour meatballs.”

You make this recipe in two stages, first the meatballs, and then the sauce.  Put the meatballs in the oven for a few minutes to keep them from falling apart when you add them to the sauce.



Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs with Jelly and Chili Sauce Substitutions and Variations

  • Use beef instead of turkey
  • Replace the oatmeal with breadcrumbs
  • Try cranberry juice instead of apple cider (it will be a bit more tart)
  • Experiment with different jam flavors: strawberry, raspberry, four-fruit, sour cherry (you could even go back to good old grape)

Tools and Ingredients for This Recipe


St. Dalfour Strawberry Conserves

This jam (technically conserves) is sweetened only with juice. There’s no sugar and no artificial sweeteners. The other thing I like about it is that there aren’t any extra thickeners added (like maltodextrin) to bulk it up.


Black & Decker 2-Speed Food Chopper with 3-Cup Bowl

I’m not sure which I use more, this chopper or the immersion blender. If you make the recipe with oatmeal, this little gadget is great for grinding it up. It’s also good for chopping onions, potatoes, or whipping up a small batch of pesto. The bowl doubles as a storage bowl (it comes with its own lid).


OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop

Ever hear of a cookie scoop? I hadn’t, until recently. Ice cream sure, but not cookies. The more I think about it the more uses I come up with.

It would be great for meatballs, cookies, or the perfect scoop of tuna, egg, or potato salad. It has a soft handle that’s easy to grip (it was originally developed for someone with arthritis, but it works well for everyone). Dishwasher safe too.

More Turkey Recipes

Quick and Easy Spicy Leftover Turkey Soup

Easy Leftover Turkey Soup Recipe

Cranberry Chipotle Turkey Enchilada

Easy Italian Meatball Recipe for One (this recipe calls for beef, but turkey would work just fine)




Banana Smoothie Recipe for One

A banana smoothie certainly isn’t a complete meal, but this recipe makes a delicious, refreshing drink. It’s perfect with a crisp strawberry and spinach salad on a hot day (yes, we’re back to summer again).

The nice thing about smoothies is that they’re easy and quick to make.  It’s also a good way to use up extra bananas.  The bunches of bananas look so good in the store, but you get them home, eat a few, and then watch the rest turn brown if you don’t eat them quickly enough. In the winter, I make banana bread, but in the summer I really don’t want to run the oven that long.

So, I make smoothies instead.  This time I just used banana, but you could add strawberries or blueberries (it will turn purply though) if you want to.

Sometimes, I take the extra bananas, peel them, and pop them in a bag in the freezer.  When you want a quick smoothie,  just take out a frozen banana (and reduce the ice in the recipe a bit).

Or, take your banana and drizzle it with chocolate syrup.  Instant dessert!




More Banana Recipes and Smoothies

Watermelon Slush

Cinnamon Sugar Bananas with Brandy

This lemon mango banana yogurt recipe isn’t mine, but I’ve tried it and it’s delicious.  One thing, since I don’t have a food processor (only a mini-chopper), blending the frozen banana is a bit tough.  So I did it the other way around (blend first, then freeze).

 

 




Chili Garlic Chicken Thigh Recipe for One

I love Buffalo chicken wings, but wings are getting increasingly expensive.  The supermarket had a great sale on chicken thighs and legs so I decided to experiment and make a chili garlic chicken thigh recipe instead.

In addition to substituting thighs for wings, I gave the recipe a bit of a twist by replacing hot sauce with chili garlic sauce and making chili garlic chicken thighs.

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s pretty easy, and you don’t have to fuss with it.  You get great flavor without a lot of ingredients, no chopping, and very little mixing.
Using the chili garlic sauce is best (here’s an image so you can see what it looks like), but if you don’t have it I’ve listed substitutions below.

Since the weather has reverted back to March (brrrr), I baked the thighs rather than cooking them on the stove (I wanted an hour of heat!).  However, you can, if you prefer, or you are in a hurry, cook this in a pan (see below).




I served it with microwaved broccoli (cooked for two minutes and seasoned with lemon pepper) and fried potato wedges (parboiled, then fried in a pan like home fries).

Chili Garlic Chicken Thigh Substitutions and Variations

  • Frying instead of baking: Heat some neutral oil, like canola or vegetable oil and cook the chicken for 10 minutes, skin side down. Turn it skin side up, pour the sauce over the chicken, and then cook for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Use sriracha.  If you do, I would reduce or eliminate the apple cider vinegar, since the sriracha already has vinegar and sugar, and add some minced garlic.

  • If you don’t have either of those, use hot sauce, the cider vinegar, and garlic.

P.S. My apologies for the awful ad that was appearing earlier.  Those responsible have been sacked.

Tools and Ingredients for Chili Garlic Chicken Thigh Recipe


Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce, 8 oz

I love this stuff. I put it on chicken, add it to hamburgers, or mix some with scrambled eggs. Basically, use it to add extra kick (and a hit of garlic) wherever you’d usually use Tabasco, sriracha, or ketchup.


Huy Fong, Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, 17 Ounce Bottle
If you prefer a bit of sweetness with your heat, use the sriracha instead of the chili garlic sauce. It’s also more spreadable than the garlic sauce (the consistency is closer to thin ketchup, while the garlic sauce is more like salsa).

 

More Chili Chicken Recipes

honey sticky garlic chickenHoney Sticky Garlic Chicken

Delight your taste buds and clear your head with this spicy chicken.  And, the marinade comes entirely from your pantry.

 

sichuan chinese chicken and eggplant with garlic sauceSichuan Chinese Chicken and Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

Spice up your life with this easy version of a takeout classic. Make it as is, with chicken, or skip the meat and have it purely vegetarian. Delicious either way.

 

stir fry chicken peanut sauce recipeStir Fry Chicken with Peanut Sauce

Peanuts, honey, hoisin sauce, and a generous squirt of lime.  The lime brightens the sauce, and the honey adds a hint of sweetness.

 

szechuan chili noodlesSchezuan Chili Noodles

Easier and faster than takeout, this version of dan dan noodles is streamlined for home cooking. Spicy, vibrant, and easy too.

 




 

Summer Pasta with Green Olives and Feta Cheese

After a rather chilly spring, summer is suddenly here in full force. It’s hot, it’s sticky and I do not want to stand over a hot stove for one second longer than I have to. That means it’s time for salads, pasta, eggs, and other quick meals that require as little cooking time as possible.  So, with that in mind, today’s dish is a simple, but delicious summer pasta with green olives and feta cheese.

The feta cheese and olives are slightly salty, while the tomatoes add sweetness.  And really, fresh summery tomatoes (and strawberries) are the best!

I ate my pasta hot, because I was hungry and didn’t want to wait for it to cool, but I suspect it would work just as well as a cold pasta salad. It would probably be great for a picnic. Since there’s no mayonnaise it will travel well to a park or the beach.

It’s easy to make too. Just boil the water, cook the pasta, and chop up a few ingredients. Perfect when you don’t want to cook, but you still have to eat. And it’s a lot easier and cheaper than going out or ordering in to get something.

I kept it simple with just the olives and tomatoes, but you can change that if you want. Don’t fuss too much about measuring the vegetables. It’s hard to mess this up!

 




Summer Pasta with Green Olives and Feta Substitutions and Variations

  • Add extra vegetables like spinach, bell pepper, or mushrooms
  • Try goat cheese instead of the feta (plain or herbed)
  • Use Boursin cheese instead of the feta

More Pasta Recipes

pasta olives tomatoes capersPasta with Olives Tomatoes and Capers Puttanesca

Spicy sauce, briny olives, and sweet tomatoes, a classic combination that’s flavorful and ready quickly too.

 

quick and easy summer pastaQuick and Easy Summer Pasta

Summer in a bowl, with fresh veggies, tomatoes, and pasta. This works hot or cold too.

 

spaghetti with green olives and lemon pankoSpaghetti with Green Olives and Lemon Panko

A dish packed with zesty garlic, earthy fresh spinach, tangy capers, briny olives and a burst of citrus. Crispy, golden-brown panko crumbs mixed with dill and lemon zest add a finishing touch.

Pasta with Tomato Artichoke Sauce Recipe

A fresh change from the usual tomato sauce, this dish has marinated artichokes, a generous helping of oregano, and red pepper flakes. Spicy, fresh, and delicious.

 




Moroccan Chicken and Bean Soup

The first time I made this Moroccan chicken and bean soup it was “surprise soup.” It was a cold day, and I looked around in my fridge, saw beans, chicken, and carrots, and thought, there must be a soup in here someplace!  So, I started paging through my cookbooks.  I found a recipe for harira, which is Moroccan bean and vegetable soup, in The Book of Jewish Food (a wonderful cookbook which is part recipes and part travelogue).  The recipe called for lamb (but I had no lamb in the fridge) and lentils (no lentils in the pantry), but I figured I could adjust it.

I replaced the lamb with chicken and the lentils with white beans.  The carrots, well they had to wait for another day.

I used soaked beans (since I already had them; you can use a can instead, or try my quick soak method to speed up the process.

It’s technically spring as I type this, but at 57 degrees it sure doesn’t feel like it. Time for soup!




Tools and Ingredients for this Recipe


Calphalon Classic Stainless Steel Cookware, Dutch Oven, 5-quart

I have a similar pot in a smaller size, but I really lust after the bigger one. Mine also doesn’t have the built-in strainer (which seems very handy). It does have the glass lid, which is great because I can easily see how close the food is to boiling without lifting the lid and getting a face full of steam. It’s great for soup or chili or a big pot of pasta when company is coming.


Frontier Turmeric Root Ground, 1.92-Ounce Bottle

Turmeric is related to ginger and has a warm, peppery flavor. Like ginger, it can be savory or sweet, and can be used in both dinner and dessert recipes. It’s great in soups, on chicken, lamb, or mixed in with scrambled eggs. It’s also an anti-inflammatory.

 

More Bean Soup Recipes

pasta e fagioli soupPasta e Fagioli Soup (Small Batch)

The Italian classic, scaled down for one person. Fragrant with garlic, rosemary, and tomatoes.  The beans and pasta make it both delicious and filling. Perfect for a chilly day.

 

easy italian wedding soupEasy Italian Wedding Soup

Want soup, but feeling super lazy? This soup takes only minutes to make (with pre-made meatballs). Just heat and eat.

 

easy spicy turkey soupQuick and Easy Spicy Leftover Turkey Soup

Turkey soup with a south-of-the border kick. It’s got beans, lime, and cayenne and cumin for heat, warm/spiciness and a wonderful fragrance.

 




Quick Creole Cabbage and Sausage

This creole cabbage and sausage recipe is quick and easy to put together. Just the ting when you want a quick dinner. Don’t be intimidated by the ingredients list.  The creole seasoning and the mustard are fairly easy to find.

If you can’t find them, or don’t want to buy a whole jar of something for one recipe, it’s pretty easy to make both from ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.  There are links to recipes for each of them further down on the page. I keep a repurposed jam jar of the creole seasoning in my cupboard so it’s ready when I need it.

I used a spicy chicken sausage here, but you could use andouille sausage or hot Italian sausage if you prefer.  Just cook it a bit more, and eliminate (or reduce) the first tablespoon of oil.




Here are links to recipes for the creole seasoning and the mustard. Just toss (or mix) ingredients together and you’re done.

Creole Seasoning Recipe

Creole Mustard Recipe

More Sausage and Cabbage Recipes

bibimbap rice bowlBibimbap Rice Bowl with Meat and Vegetables

Bright, colorful and packed with flavor from tender veggies, warm/spicy ginger and garlic, ground beef and a spicy sriracha-infused sauce.

 

asian chicken salad with cabbageSingle Serving Asian Chicken Salad with Cabbage Recipe

Get your veggies and make yourself a one bowl, no cook meal with leftover chicken, cabbage, peppers, and a gingery vinaigrette.

 

unstuffed cabbage roll recipeSmall Batch Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe

Standard stuffed cabbage is great, but it’s a lot of work. This is much easier. Don’t stuff, layer instead.

 

Polish sausage with cabbage and potatoesOne Pot Polish Sausage and Cabbage with Potatoes

A meal in a bowl. But don’t let the easy prep fool you. This dish is full of flavor from buttery potatoes, rich sausage, braised cabbage, and sweet carrots.  Great taste doesn’t have to be hard.

 




Pistachio Pesto Pasta

This pistachio pesto pasta recipe is a bit different from standard pesto recipes. Most standard pesto recipes use basil and pine nuts.  A great combination, but it’s tough to use up a whole bunch of basil when cooking for one.  Either you have to make a big batch of pesto and freeze it, or it spoils.

I do have a basil plant, but cutting enough off to make pesto would leave me without much of a plant! This is a good compromise.

Plus, pine nuts have gotten awfully expensive.  It does have some basil, but I replaced most of it with broccoli. Then I substituted pistachios for walnuts or pine nuts.

Actually, to be entirely truthful, I ‘stole’ this idea from one of Robert Parker’s Spenser novels. Shhh, don’t tell anyone. He seemed to like food as much as he enjoyed mysteries and books (my kind of author).

You get the sweet, summery taste of basil, the earthiness of  broccoli, and the crunchiness of the pistachios (use the unsalted kind).  You can use walnuts too, if you prefer.

Not to mention, the broccoli keeps better than basil. And, if you want, you can buy it frozen. That also means less prep time, and less cooking time.

It’s also quick and easy to make (which is always a plus).




 

Pistachio Pesto Pasta Substitutions and Variations

  • Use spinach in the pesto instead of broccoli
  • Skip the greens entirely and make a walnut pesto with walnuts, olive oil, parsley, parmesan, salt, and pepper
  • If you like your pesto spicier, add some chiles
  • Make it with walnuts instead of pistachios

Tools and Ingredients for Pistachio Pesto Pasta

Roasted Unsalted Pistachios

These are freshly roasted (unlike the stale bags you often get in the store), and already have their shells removed, so you don’t have to fuss with cracking them open. Just pour, measure, and eat.

More Pasta Recipes

pasta with broccoli, mushrooms, and chicken sausagePasta with Broccoli, Mushrooms, and Chicken Sausage

Salty sausage paired with crispy-tender veggies and pasta. An easy summer meal that’s also versatile. Switch the peppers for snap peas, or asparagus, or whatever other veggies you like.

spicy sesame noodlesSpicy Sesame Noodles Recipe for One Person

Takeout without takeout. Make this restaurant standard easily at home, with ingredients you likely already have.

 

pasta alla norma with eggplantPasta alla Norma with Eggplant

Rich, tender eggplant in a zippy tomato sauce that’s ready quickly.  Served with a caprese salad.

 

linguine with garlic and olive oilLinguine with Garlic and Olive Oil

Pantry-friendly and works with either upscale or budget-friendly ingredients. Just a simple, flavorful meal of linguine, some garlic, olive oil, and a touch of broth.

 

 




Three Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich

It seems almost silly to write a recipe for a grilled cheese sandwich.  This was just too good, gooey, and cheesy not to share.

Grilled cheese and a hot bowl of tomato soup (if not homemade, then Pacific roasted red pepper and tomato soup) is one of the best comfort food lunches ever.  Well, maybe a tie with macaroni and cheese.

OK, OK, I am a cheeseaholic. I must be part mouse.  If something has cheese (not bleu cheese though),  I will probably want to eat it.

Back to the recipe, I had a few slices of whole wheat bread which I had to use up quickly because they were going to go stale.  Plus Passover was coming (so no bread allowed for a week).

I love grilled cheese and this is where buying cheese ends comes in handy.  I had some cheddar, some monterey jack, and some Swiss cheese left in the container, plus I had just bought some fresh mushrooms and spinach.




Three Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich Substitutions and Variations

  • use olive oil instead of canola oil, or a mixture of butter and oil
  • swap the three cheeses for mozzarella and replace the spinach with eggplant (this would work even better with ciabetta instead of whole wheat)

More Sandwich Recipes

chicken caprese salad paniniChicken Caprese Salad Panini Sandwich

Transform a side dish into lunch by adding a few ingredients. The result is crisp, golden-brown, gooey and delicious.

 

bacon spinach tomato aioli sandwichBacon Spinach Tomato Aioli Sandwich Recipe

The BLT with a twist. Skip the lettuce, make it spinach instead, and use aioli instead of ordinary mayo.

 

vegetarian eggplant sandwichVegetarian Eggplant Sandwich for One Person

Another upcycled side dish. This time it’s Israeli salad, plus creamy eggplant, and smooth garlicky hummus. All wrapped up in a pita.

 

strawberry balsamic grilled cheese

Strawberry Balsamic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Tangy vinegar and sweet berries take this childhood favorite to a whole new level.  The combination adds complexity and depth to a simple sandwich.

 




Easy Chicken Curry Recipe

This easy chicken curry recipe is a quick and delicious way to get the taste of Indian food without a lot of work.  The original recipe came from The New York Times (I think), but I had to put my own spin on it. It only requires a few ingredients and a small skillet and you can put the whole thing together in fifteen minutes. Just perfect when you’re hungry and in a hurry!

If you don’t have Greek yogurt, you can use sour cream instead. As a bonus, sour cream is more heat-resistant than yogurt so you can add it directly to the pan, rather than dirtying a separate bowl. I use the yogurt because I prefer the flavor. Also, it seems more authentic to use yogurt instead of sour cream.

Garam masala is a spice mixture (kind of like curry, every mixture and every manufacturer is a bit different).  It adds warmth and savor to the dish (not spiciness).




Chicken Curry Recipe Variations and Substitutions:

  • If you don’t have jalapeño pepper, add a pinch of red pepper flakes along with the curry
  • Add some ginger
  • If you don’t have boneless chicken, cut up a bone-in thigh, or just start the chicken first, cook it for ten minutes, then add the onions, and follow the rest of the recipe (with the bone-in thighs, the recipe will take about 25 minutes total).

Recommended Books and Ingredients

Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking

I love Indian food, but I used to find it a bit intimidating, because it’s not as familiar to me as a home cook. However, this cookbook made that a lot easier (and I use it quite a bit).

My favorites are quick chicken korma, lamb with spinach, fish fillets in curry sauce, and curried tuna (the canned kind, not fresh). Most of the recipes take less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Indian Cooking Unfolded

Many Indian cookbooks use ingredients that can be hard to find if you don’t live in an area with a large Indian or Pakistani population. I have some excellent spice stores near me, but many don’t.

That’s one reason this cookbook caught my eye. He gives you the standard ingredients, and then tells you how to “cheat” if you don’t have them available. It makes the food much more accessible. The recipes are easy to follow and have 10 ingredients or less.

Rani Garam Masala

An essential mixture for Indian cooking. It’s a blend of 11 different spices, so it’s full of flavor.  Great for chicken (like this recipe), or use it on eggs, lentils, or veggies. It’s got cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and nutmeg so the flavor is “warm” and aromatic, rather than spicy or hot.

More Chicken Recipes for One Person

peruvian roast chicken with green saucePeruvian Roast Chicken in Green Sauce Recipe

I just can’t stop eating this. Crispy chicken skin, juicy meat, and a lip-smackingly delicious sauce. Use it on the chicken, as a dip, or on fish.

 

chicken mango stir fryQuick Chicken Mango Stir Fry

Sweet mango and bell peppers, with a little kick from green or red chile. Don’t have fresh peppers? No problem. A frozen stir fry mix is fine. So is frozen mango. Ready in about 20 minutes.

honey sticky garlic chickenHoney Sticky Garlic Chicken

Crispy, sweet, spicy, and delicious. And all you need to make it is fresh chicken and pantry ingredients.

 

Jewish chicken curry chitarneeJewish Chicken Curry Chitarnee

Not the Jewish food you were expecting! This is from India, so it’s fragrant with warm spices like ginger, onions, and cardamom.

 




Easy Italian Wedding Soup

I’m not Italian, so don’t hit me if this easy Italian wedding soup recipe isn’t authentic. It is, however, quick and satisfying.

There are plenty of recipes out there that require over an hour to make and a long list of ingredients. Sure there are times when I’m perfectly happy to spend an hour or more making soup, but there are other times when I’m hungry and I don’t want to wait!

This soup recipe goes from start to finish in about fifteen minutes.  It hardly even requires cooking at all.  Just dump, pour, and heat and you’ve got a fast, easy soup. It’s great when  you don’t feel like fussing.

Besides, something about soup is just comforting, especially on a chilly day.

All you need are a few simple ingredients: meatballs (frozen are fine, or make them ahead), chicken broth, a can of white kidney (cannellini) beans, parmesan cheese and some spinach.




 

I had some chopped beef to use up the day I made the soup, so I whipped up a few meatballs  with some onion, garlic, bread crumbs, egg, and oregano.  You can use pre-made or purchased frozen ones if you like, it will turn out just fine! If you do buy meatballs, I recommend the Trader Joe’s party meatballs.

Also, there was a bit of cabbage left in the fridge, too little to do much of anything with, so I added that in too for some extra vitamins.

Substitutions and Variations for Easy Italian Wedding Soup

  • Use chicken to make your meatballs
  • Add some cooked sausage
  • Saute some garlic and add that to the soup
  • Use garbanzo beans instead of white kidney beans

More Soup Recipes

Spicy Beef Noodle Soup for One

Easy Ham and Lentil Soup for One Person

Quick Caldo Verde Soup

Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Small Batch)