Sausage Cheese Balls

I discovered this recipe when I was babysitting for a couple who were planning a party and hired me to make appetizers while they were out at a concert. They brought their friends back after the concert, and I had the appetizers ready for everyone to eat. Since then, I’ve made them many times for friends and family. They’re a simple stand-by that is widely loved (Even Paula Deen has a version of this recipe). Sausage Cheese Balls are the twenty-fifth of my 25 Appetizers of Christmas.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Bisquick
  • 1 lb bulk pork sausage
  • 4 cups (16 oz) shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Spray cookie sheet lightly with nonstick spray.
  3. Combine ingredients thoroughly in a mixing bowl.
  4. Shape into 1-inch balls.
  5. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until brown.
  6. Serve warm.

Variations

  • I have made and frozen the unbaked balls at least a month in advance. Either thaw before baking, or increase baking time to about 30 minutes if cooked from frozen.
  • I have substituted ground beef for the sausage in this recipe for tasty results. I’ve also made pizza variation with Italian sausage, mozzarella or Italian blend cheese, and, if desired, a bit of Italian seasoning.

Brown Sugar Smokies

Here’s another of our family recipes, though I think every family has probably tried some version of this delightful indulgence. Brown Sugar Smokies is the sixteenth of my 25 Appetizers of Christmas.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1 (16 ounce) package Little Smokies
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut each slice of bacon into thirds.
  3. Wrap ⅓ of a strip of bacon around a Little Smokies, securing with a wooden toothpick.
  4. Arrange the bacon-wrapped Smokies on a baking sheet.
  5. Sprinkle the sausages with brown sugar.
  6. Bake until bacon is crisp and the brown sugar melted.

Variations

  • Be sure to secure your bacon with wooden toothpicks, as plastic toothpicks may melt in the oven. Metal skewers will work as well.

Sausage and Cheese Crescent Squares

These appetizers from Pillsbury (original here) look wonderful in the picture (from the Pillsbury site). Better yet, they seem to be quite easy to make. It’s another recipe I’m eager to try out. Sausage and Cheese Crescent Squares are the eleventh of my 25 Appetizers of Christmas.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations® refrigerated seamless dough sheet
  • 1 lb spicy or mild bulk pork sausage
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
  • 2 cups (8 oz) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Unroll 1 can of dough. Place in ungreased 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish; press over bottom and 1/2 inch up sides to form crust.
  3. In 12-inch skillet, cook sausage over medium heat, stirring frequently, until no longer pink.
  4. Remove sausage from skillet; discard drippings.
  5. To same skillet, add cream cheese.
  6. Cook over low heat until melted.
  7. Add cooked sausage; stir to coat.
  8. Spoon evenly over crust in baking dish.
  9. Sprinkle with cheese.
  10. Unroll second can of dough on work surface, and press to form 13×9-inch rectangle.
  11. Carefully place dough sheet over cheese.
  12. Bake 21 to 26 minutes or until golden brown.
  13. Cool 15 minutes. Cut into small squares.

Variations

  • Substitute 2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls for the dough sheets. Simply unroll the dough completely and press together at the seams.
  • You could substitute ground beef for the sausage if desired.

Sausage Dip

Here’s a simple dip recipe from the Cooks.com site (original here) that everyone will scoop up. It can be easily modified to change the spiciness. Sausage Dip is the tenth of my 25 Appetizers of Christmas.

Ingredients

  • 1 package sausage
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • Tortilla chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Brown sausage in skillet, drain.
  3. In a clean skillet, place drained sausage back into pan with tomatoes and cream cheese.
  4. Mix until well blended together.
  5. Place in a baking dish in oven for 20–25 minutes.
  6. Serve with tortilla chips.

Variations

  • Choose the sausage that your family prefers. We go with mild or sage because some family members have acid reflux problems. You could obviously use a hot sausage to spice things up. Chorizo, very well-drained, would work nicely also.
  • I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but I suspect this recipe could go in the crockpot for an hour in lieu of baking.
  • A cup of Mexican or Cheddar cheese would make a nice addition.

Ham Meatballs with Pineapple Sauce

This recipe is listed on the Cooks.com site (original here) as “Ham Balls,” which I found an unusual and not necessarily inviting name. Still I clicked through and found a recipe for ham meatballs that are served with pineapple sauce. Now I’m eager to try them out, though I’ve changed the name so that I’ll be more likely to convince the family to eat them. Ham Meatballs with Pineapple Sauce is the ninth of my 25 Appetizers of Christmas.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ham ground (3 c.)
  • 1 cup soft bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 lb lean ground pork
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 8 oz can crushed pineapple
  • ½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ⅓ cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • ⅓ cup vinegar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine ingredients for ham balls in bowl; mix well.
  3. Shape into 1 inch balls and place in a 9 x 13 x 2 inch dish, and set aside while you make the sauce.
  4. Empty pineapple into bowl.
  5. Mix brown sugar and cornstarch; add to pineapple.
  6. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  7. Pour over meatballs and bake for 50 minutes.

Variations

  • The sauce is similar to a sweet-and-sour sauce. You could easily add some rice and veggies for a full meal.

Slow Cooker Barbecued Beans and Polish Sausage

Here’s a Betty Crocker recipe (original here) that is perfect for a chilly night, and since it’s a crockpot meal, you can serve it up as soon as you get home.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (15.5 oz each) Green Giant® great northern beans, drained, rinsed
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) Progresso® black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 ring (1 to 1¼ lb) fully cooked smoked Polish sausage

Directions

  1. Spray 3- to 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Mix all ingredients except sausage in cooker.
  3. Place sausage ring on bean mixture.
  4. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 5 to 6 hours.

Variations

  • To simplify serving, remove the sausage ring and slice into chunks then return to the crockpot to keep warm.
  • Substitute your favorite sausage. We like kielbasa.
  • Chunks of bacon would also be a nice addition to the crockpot.

My Sausage Stuffing

After watching enough Thanksgiving specials on Food Network, I created my own recipe for sausage stuffing. It’s influenced by Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, and Bobby Flay.

Ingredients

  • Nonstick spray (Pam)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup shredded carrot
  • 1 pound maple sausage
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 to 4 slices whole grain bread, torn or cut into ½ -inch cubes or chunks
  • 1 cup chicken stock (or bouillon and water)

Directions

  1. Spray skillet with nonstick spray, and saute onion and celery.
  2. Add sausage, breaking apart, and cook until no longer pink.
  3. Drain any fat.
  4. Add poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste.
  5. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  6. Add torn bread to pan, and stir to combine.
  7. Allow to warm through and serve.

Variations

  • I prefer the rustic look of torn bread, so I simply tear the bread as I throw it into the pan.
  • To simplify the vegetable prep for the recipe, I often gather my onion, celery, and carrots from the grocery store’s salad bar.
  • Use the sausage of your choice. I like the sweet and savory taste of maple sausage in this dish, but I’ve also used sage sausage.

White-Bean and Sausage Stew

The photo of this recipe, with chunks of sausage and lots of beans, has me ready for a soup night. From the October 2006 issue of All You (original here), this crockpot soup is bound to fill the house with a wonderful aroma!

Ingredients

  • 6 (3 oz.) Italian sausages
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans white beans (Great Northern or navy), rinsed and drained
  • 1 (28 oz.) can chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Poke holes in sausages and put in a large nonstick skillet.
  2. Add 1/4 cup water; bring to a boil.
  3. Lower heat and cook sausages, turning, until lightly browned and water has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a plate.
  5. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
  6. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add beans, tomatoes and thyme.
  8. Put half of bean mixture into a slow cooker.
  9. Arrange sausages on top, followed by remaining beans.
  10. Cook on high for 4 hours.
  11. Check after 2 hours and add water if mixture looks dry.
  12. Remove sausages; slice thickly.
  13. Season beans with salt and pepper.
  14. Return sausage to stew. (Stew can be kept, frozen and tightly sealed, for up to 1 month.)

Sausage, Spinach, and Provolone Pizza

From the October 2009 Real Simple (original online), this tasty pizza is a rustic alternative to the normal delivery pizzas we have. Once I saw the photo of the pizza in the magazine, I knew it was a must-have.

IngredientsPizza photo from magazine

  • cornmeal for the pan
  • 1 pound pizza dough, thawed if frozen
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 links Italian sausage, casings removed (about 3/4 pound)
  • 1 small bunch spinach, thick stems removed (about 3 cups)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/3 pound thinly sliced provolone

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 425º F.
  2. Sprinkle a rimmed baking sheet with the cornmeal.
  3. Shape the dough into a 14-inch circle, and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Brush the dough with 1 tablespoon of the oil and bake until puffed and golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  6. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes.
  7. Add the spinach and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, tossing, for 1 minute.
  8. Top the partially cooked dough with the sausage mixture and cheese.
  9. Bake until the crust is crisp and the cheese has melted, 12 to 15 minutes.

Orecchiette with Broccoli, Tomatoes and Sausage

A recipe from the February 2011 issue of All You (original here). The note with the recipe explains that “Orecchiette ("little ears" in Italian) works well in this dish, but you can substitute penne if you’d like.”

Ingredientsfrom All You

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces hot or sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • Salt
  • 1 pound orecchiette or pasta shells
  • 4 cups small broccoli florets (from one head)
  • Shredded Parmesan, optional

Directions

  1. Warm oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add sausage and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until it loses its pink color, about 6 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes with their juice and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of juice has evaporated and sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.
  5. While sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
  6. Stir in pasta and cook according to package label directions.
  7. In last 2 minutes of cooking time, stir in broccoli and continue to cook until pasta is al dente and broccoli is tender.
  8. Drain, return to pot and toss with sauce.
  9. Serve immediately, with shredded Parmesan on the side, if desired.