Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Sausage Balls

print recipe card posted in Appetizers and Snacks by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

These savory Sausage Balls are great to serve to company! They are a hearty snack or hors d’oeuvre. This is not a light and delicate dish, so you might want to serve them with some fresh-cut vegetables and a healthy dip just to balance out the decadent versus healthy options you provide to your guests!

The original recipe for these savory treats has been around (supposedly) since the mid 1960’s. As a consequence, there are hundreds of variations to the recipe, which I’ll discuss at the end of this post.

For startcooking.com’s version of Sausage Balls you will need:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 pound of hot sausage
  • 10 ounces of cheddar cheese, extra sharp
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 can of non-stick cooking spray

I recommend using hot sausage because it adds a really nice zing to these sausage balls, but you could use a sweet Italian sausage, or even a spicy breakfast sausage. (Not all sausage meat has the same fat content which in turn does influence the final texture of these sausage balls.)

Be sure to bring the sausage to room temperature – it will make mixing these ingredients a lot easier.

Begin by mixing (with a whisk in a large bowl) the flour, the baking powder and the salt.

Now, remove the casings (the skin) from around the sausage meat and put the sausage meat into the mixing bowl. It is not necessary to pre-cook the sausage meat.

Shred 10 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese. You can use either white or yellow cheddar; just make sure it is “sharp”.

Then dice 1 medium onion. That will make about 1 cup of onions. (I describe how to Chop, Dice and Mince Onions here.)

Add the shredded cheese and the diced onion to the mixing bowl.

With your (clean!) hands mix everything together with both hands. The mixture will feel dry and could take about 4-5 minutes to get everything well mixed.

Spray a baking sheet with sides with non-stick cooking spray.

Scoop out about a tablespoon of the mixture with your fingers, or a measuring spoon. Roll it into a ball about 1 inch in diameter. This recipe will make approximately 5 and 1/2 dozen sausage balls. (This sounds like a lot, but I promise you they will go fast.)

You will have to bake them in two batches.

Set the balls on the baking sheet about 1 and 1/2 inches apart from each other.

Bake them in a 350-degree preheated oven for 15-18 minutes in total. Set the timer for 8 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and with a spatula or a pair of tongs, turn them over. Return the tray to the oven and continue baking the sausage balls for another 7 minutes.

(They can be a bit delicate to turn. You may need to gently loosen them with a spatula before turning them over.)

Remove the tray from the oven, and if need be, with a spatula, loosen the sausage balls and place them on a plate lined with a paper towel to drain off some of the fat.

The sausage balls are now ready to be served as finger food, warm from the oven.


Preparing in Advance

Once these sausage balls have been made, you can freeze them before you bake them. Roll the mixture into balls as described above, and place them on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

Cover them with plastic wrap and…

…freeze for several hours until they are hard. Remove them from the baking sheet and put the sausage balls in a freezer bag.

When you are ready to serve them, place them on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Let them defrost for 15 minutes and then bake them according to the instructions above.

Variations

Some sausage-ball recipes recommend adding 1/3 cup of milk or water, or 1 egg.

Other recipes call for garlic powder or fresh garlic, chopped green chilies, rosemary, thyme, oregano, or Tabasco sauce.

Some suggest that you serve the sausage balls with red pepper jam, or a mustard-mayonnaise sauce, or barbeque sauce.

Then there are some recipes that do not ask you to turn the sausage balls over half way through the cooking time. I think that they tend to get a bit over-cooked on the bottom this way.

Instead of the flour, baking powder and salt, 1 and 1/2 cups of Bisquick can actually be used for this recipe. Bisquick is a pre-mixed base for making things like biscuits, pancakes, and other baked goods. If you are new to cooking and do not have flour and baking powder in the cupboard, a small box of Bisquick may be the thing to purchase. You can always make pancakes with the leftovers! (Be sure to buy the “Heart Smart” version as it is free of trans fats).

Many recipes call for 3 cups of Bisquick, 1 pound of sausage, and 12 ounces of cheese. That’s it. I tried making these and found them to very dry and hard.

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I do hope everyone at your party enjoys startcooking’s version of Savory Sausage Balls!

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How To Make Chicken Noodle Soup

print recipe card posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

There are lots of different things you can make for dinner with leftover (cooked) chicken. My favorite, particularly on a cold night, is a hot bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup. This is one of those soups for which you can find really complicated, time-consuming recipes or – just use this quick version for beginners!

All of the ingredients you will need for this recipe are pretty standard food items:

  • 2 teaspoons of butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 4-6 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of noodles
  • 1 1/2 cups of chicken, cooked and shredded
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Broth is the strained liquid left from cooking vegetables, meat, or fish in water. It is often used as a synonym for bullion.

Stock is basically the same thing but cooked more slowly and has a more intense flavor than broth.

Bullion cubes or granules are compressed stock that needs to be dissolved before using.

For the broth, I’m using a product called “Better than Bullion.” It needs to get dissolved in hot water before adding it to the soup. A can or box of chicken broth or bullion cubes or granules could be used here as well.

My grocery store sometimes has what they call a “Soup Green Mix”. They bundle together everything you might need to make soup.

This mix included a turnip, an onion, a potato, 3 stalks of celery, 1 GIANT carrot, 1 leek, 1 parsnip, some dill and some parsley.

If you like all the vegetables in one of these “starter packs”, great! But I prefer to pick out my own vegetables.

To make startcooking.com’s Chicken Noodle Soup, start by chopping the onion, and slicing the carrot and celery.

Melt the butter in a big pot, on medium-high heat, and add the onions, carrots and celery.

Cook these three vegetables until lightly browned – about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and bring the pot to a boil.

Turn the soup down to simmer.

Cover the pot and let the soup cook for about 10-15 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, chop the parsley and shred the chicken by just pulling it apart with your fingers. You could cut it into chunks but shredding it gives the soup a nice homemade texture.

(You can buy a roasted chicken at the grocery store or roast one yourself. Click here to review how to carve a chicken.)

Add the noodles to the pot and simmer the soup, uncovered, until the noodles are tender. The amount of time will depend on what size noodle you added to the soup. Check the label on the noodle package for cooking times.

Taste the soup to see if it needs any salt and pepper. (Different chicken broth brands have different levels of salt in them, so a taste test is essential to determine how much salt your soup needs.)

Add the shredded chicken and simmer until chicken is warm.

Mix the parsley in the soup or use it to garnish the top.

Dinner’s ready!

P.S.: If you’re a soup lover, you’ll probably enjoy our French onion soup recipe too!

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BLT Sandwich

print recipe card posted in Lunch by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

Sandwiches can be as exotic as you like, with all sorts of fancy ingredients. But, there is nothing quite as satisfying as a classic “BLT.”

Today I’m going to show you how to make a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich, better know as the BLT!

We’ve already discussed how to cook bacon in the microwave.

We have also solved the mystery of how to actually wash your own lettuce!

We still need to slice a tomato. A really sharp kitchen knife or a serrated edge knife will cut the tomato beautifully. (Serrated edge knives are the ones with the jagged edge.)

Be sure to always use a sawing motion or you may end up squishing the tomato!

Then we’ll add all of this to your favorite bread, which of course should be toasted. A dollop of mayonnaise adds the finishing touch to a perfect BLT!

Spread each slice with about 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise. This is not a sandwich you should be eating if you are counting calories!

Add the lettuce, the bacon and the sliced tomato. (It doesn’t really matter what order you follow.)

All of the amounts are adjustable to your taste. And that’s all there is to a BLT!

To slice the sandwich, (optional) use a serrated-edge bread knife , with a sawing motion (as usual with this knife).

Enjoy!

PS. Did you know that sandwiches are named after an actual person, (you guessed it) the English Earl of Sandwich? Apparently, the Earl of Sandwich had an obsession for gambling. Because he didn’t want to be disturbed long enough to eat a big meal, slices of bread with various fillings were brought to him at the gaming table.

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