Homemade Sausage Balls (No Bisquick!)

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Sausage balls are a super easy appetizer that everyone loves…especially my husband! They’re a Christmas tradition in his family, and I must admit they are really tasty! What’s not to love: sausage + cheese is a tasty combination. Not healthy, but tasty. : )  They really are usually a Christmas-only indulgence, but I wanted to make some for a party a few weeks ago. I found the traditional recipe but did not want to go buy Bisquick, so I went on a hunt for a completely made from scratch recipe. As it turns out, it is SUPER easy to substitute Bisquick! This made me very happy because I now did not have to purchase another ingredient, and we could eliminate another processed food from our kitchen. Win-win!

IMG_20140201_164035454_HDRTo substitute bisquick, all you need is flour, baking powder, and salt. Do you have those 3 ingredients in your kitchen? I bet you do! It’s actually more cost-effective to mix them up yourself than to buy them already combined, plus there’s no added MSG or hydrogenated oil. Once you have that mixed up, you add the cheese, sausage, onion, and butter until really well combined. Form the mixture into little balls, bake them, and enjoy!  These will definitely be a crowd pleaser!

Homemade Sausage Balls (No Bisquick!)

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 16 ounces bulk breakfast sausage
  • ½ large yellow onion, grated
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1). Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.

2). In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Add the cheese and toss to make sure it is evenly coated in flour. Add sausage, onion, and melted butter. Use your hands to mix until thoroughly combined.

3). Roll mixture into 1 inch balls and place them on the parchment paper, about 1/2 inch apart. Bake for 25 minutes at 400F. Enjoy!

Servings: 45 balls. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 63 Carbs: 3g Fat: 4g Protein: 3g Points+:2

Recipe adapted from: http://www.marthastewart.com/326848/sausage-cheddar-balls 

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Classic Guacamole.

Oh, guacamole. It’s great as an appetizer by itself, perfect on tacos or other Mexican fare, and even delicious on a salad. I LOVE a good guacamole, and it’s so good for you!

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Making homemade guacamole is easy: chop, mash, mix, season. Finding the right recipe, however, can be a challenge. Some are too tomato-y, some are too spicy, and some just have no flavor at all. The recipe I’m about to share with you came from Alton Brown, and (not surprisingly) was just right! It has nice thick chunks of avocado and tomato while still being creamy. I opted not to make mine spicy because I prefer it that way, so I omitted the jalapeño, but you can definitely add it if you like your guac with a kick! 

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Want to know a way to avoid your guacamole from turning brown if you decide to make it for a party ahead of time? Press the guacamole into a bowl, making sure there are no air holes. Then, using a measuring cup, carefully pour cold water over it until there is about an inch of water over the guacamole. Before serving, simply pour out the water and give it a stir! Just make sure to use a measuring cup to gently pour the water in the bowl. Don’t use the sink. Trust me. : )  

Now go grab a few ripe avocados and get mashing!

Classic Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 3 hass avocados, seeded and chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • Optional (I omitted): 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and diced

1). In a large bowl place the avocado pulp, lime juice, salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Use a potato masher and mash to your preferred texture.

2). Fold in the onion, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic (and jalapeño, if using). Taste and season accordingly. Allow it to sit at room temperature for 1 hour for the flavors to combine before serving. 

Yield: About 4 cups, or 16 servings of  1/4 cup (4 tbsp) each.

Nutritional Information per 4 tbsp: Calories: 64 Fat: 5g  Carbs: 4g Protein: 1g Fiber: 3g WWPoints+: 2

Recipe adapted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/guacamole-recipe.html 

 

 

Easy Crock Pot Spinach Dip

This spinach dip is the last of the “holiday foods” posts, and I had to share it with you today in case you’re looking for an easy appetizer for a New Year’s Eve party tomorrow night! I’ve made spinach dips before, but the fact that this one is in a crock pot really caught my attention. I’ve made it a couple times for various parties this season and it seems fail-proof! The only way you can mess this up is to leave it in the crock pot for 8 hours without stirring it. Don’t ask me how I know that to be true…

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Anyway, back to the recipe. Like the title suggests, this is EASY. Once you round up your ingredients, you combine them all in the crock pot and let the heat do the rest. It does take a few hours to get everything nice and melted, so make sure to give it a stir about every hour.

One important note: the milk measurement is an estimate. Start with 1 cup and feel free to add more if it’s too thick. Depending on how well you drained the spinach it may not require extra milk. It’s also a matter of personal preference as far as how runny you want your dip to be. And, if you add too much, don’t worry–it will likely get absorbed and/or evaporated via the heat of the crock pot anyway. Just remember you don’t want spinach soup! : ) This recipe is very resilient so feel free to play around with it!

Let’s take one more look at that gooe-y goodness! Yum.

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Easy Crock Pot Spinach Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 10 oz packet of frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
  • 8 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 8 oz shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup milk (I used skim) + more if necessary
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I bumped this up to 1/2 tsp for added kick!)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • cooking spray

1) Spray your crock pot with cooking spray. Combine all the ingredients in the crock pot. Cover and set on low for 1 1/2 hours. Stir. Add additional milk if necessary (see post for details).

2) Cover and cook for an additional 1-2 hours, or until cheese is melted.

Recipe adapted from: http://crockpotladies.com/recipe-categories/dips/crockpot-warm-spinach-dip/

It’s very tricky to figure out exactly how many servings this makes, so I will not include an nutritional information on this post. But, as you can probably tell, this is not exactly “health food”, so consume in moderation!