Baked Buffalo Chicken & Quinoa Meatballs

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tonight's inspiration... Buffalo wings!  We crave chicken wings all the time and it's probably safe to assume you do as well.  It's that finger-licking good sauce that we can't get enough of.  But here's the downfall, most restaurants make their 'buffalo sauce' out of half butter/half hot sauce.  Now that's just ridiculous and simply not worth the calories.  Trust us that hot sauce alone will do the trick and take care of that sneaky craving!  We thought we would mix it up a bit and turn this craving into healthy buffalo meatballs, yum! 

We thought we would make these meatballs a little less 'meaty' and add in a bit of whole grain quinoa, the texture of quinoa blends really nicely with ground meat... the hubs couldn't even taste it!   Flavor is one thing these meatballs are not lacking, we mixed in tons of hot buffalo sauce (which has zero calories!!), lots of fresh cilantro and parsley, egg whites, 1 tbs of light ranch dressing, panko bread crumbs and just a hint of reduced-fat mozarella cheese!  These meatballs are baked in the oven until golden brown and turned out juicy and delicious! 

We gave these cooked buffalo meatballs a final toss in the pan with even more hot sauce.  You will see that this ZERO calorie sauce takes care of that wing craving.  We served these meatballs over a bed of fresh spinach and alongside carrot and celery sticks.  Hope you enjoy this healthy dish!

Baked Buffalo Chicken & Quinoa Meatballs
3/4 pound lean ground chicken
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1 cup and 4 tbs buffalo hot sauce (we used Frank's)
1/4 cup reduced fat mozarella cheese
1 cup whole wheat panko
1 tbs light ranch
1 egg white
1 handful fresh parsley
1 handful fresh cilantro

Let's get cooking!
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2.  Cook quinoa according to package directions.  Add 2 tbs hot sauce to water as the quinoa cooks to absorb buffalo sauce flavor.  When fully cooked add to a mixing bowl
3.  Add ground chicken to mixing bowl
4.  Chop parsley and cilantro and mix into bowl
5.  Add cheese, ranch, 2 tbs hot sauce, egg white and panko and fold into bowl
6.  Form mixture into small balls, approx 1inchx1inch.  Should make approx 20 meatballs
7.  Spray pam onto baking sheet and arrange meatballs onto tray
8.  Bake at 4000 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through
9.  Add remaining cup of hot sauce to saute pan on stove at low heat.  Toss all meatballs into pan to coat with hot sauce.  Cook for an additional minute to fully coat all meatballs

Serves 6!  Arrange 3 meatballs over a bed of fresh spinach and serve alongside carrot and celery sticks!
Feel free to use an additional tbs of LIGHT ranch for dipping!  Enjoy :)

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