Sausage Balls

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Here’s a nifty little appetizer that basically requires only three ingredients, but if you have time, inclination and resources, you can jazz up the recipe with all sorts of flavors.  I used my stand mixer with the dough hook to mix everything together, which made it a breeze.  If you need appetizers for a large crowd, you can make a couple of batches ahead of time.  Just form the balls and freeze them, and then bake as needed.  They also go well with a cup of soup for lunch, and make a great after-school snack for the kids.  Provide some dipping sauces (ranch, sweet chili sauce, ketchup(!), etc), your kids will love ya’ !

Sausage Balls (the basic recipe)

1 lb sausage meat (your favorite kind)

3 cups Bisquick mix

4 cups grated cheddar cheese

1/8 – 1/4 cup milk, if needed

Mix all ingredients together.  If mixture seems too dry to stick together,  add some milk, a bit at a time.  Form into 1″ balls.  Place on baking sheets lined with parchment.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes until golden brown.  Serve immediately. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.

Variations

– add 1/2 cup grated parmesan or asagio cheese

– stir in a little something for heat:  red chili paste, some red pepper flakes, or cayenne pepper

– choose one or two of these in small amounts:  sage, marjoram, poultry seasoning, thyme, cumin, chili powder

– sprinkle in some onion or garlic powder

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Three-Cheese Pasta

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Thank you, Aunty Janet for this great recipe;  it has definitely been on our favorites list for a long time!  It’s a good make-ahead  or make-and-take dish and can easily be doubled to feed a larger crowd.  We add a bit of red chili paste or hot sauce for a hit of heat.   Also, the leftovers improve with a night in the fridge to really let the flavors develop.  What more could you ask for in a pasta dish?

Three Cheese Pasta

3 cups penne  (or fusilli or rotini)

700g (1 1/2 lb)  extra-lean ground beef

½ large onion,  chopped

1 tbsp minced garlic (more or less to taste)

2 1/2 cups  marinara sauce

1/2 tin (generous cup) petite-cut stewed tomatoes, garlic & olive oil or similar flavor

2-3 cups grated cheese (use some of each of colby, cheddar, monterey jack)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper (more or less to taste)

1/2 tsp dried, crushed oregano

Crumble ground beef into hot frying pan.  Sprinkle with  salt, pepper and oregano.  Add chopped onion and stir and and fry beef until no or very little pink remains.  Add garlic and cook for a minute more.   If necessary, drain meat.  In a large pot, stir together cooked meat,  marinara sauce and canned tomatoes.  Simmer sauce about 15 minutes.  While the meat sauce is cooking,  make pasta according to package directions.  Drain and keep pasta warm. Taste the meat sauce and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Remove from heat.   Stir in drained pasta and  1 ½ -2 cups of the mixed, grated cheese.  Pour into a 9″x13″ greased baking dish or casserole.  Top with remaining cheese, cover lightly with foil and bake for about ½ hour at 375 degrees F, till mixture is hot and bubbly and cheese is melted.  Remove foil for the last 5 minutes or so if necessary to melt the cheese sufficiently.  Allow pasta to stand  5-10 minutes before serving.

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