Sausage Balls – On Fire!

It may be no surprise to people that I got my love of food, or the kind of food in particular, from my family. My father likely had the most influence as I would definitely not be a chilihead if it weren’t for him. I’m working on passing that passion on down to my own son.

And one of those passions beyond the taste factor includes what kinds of food I like. While breakfast may be my all-time favorite meal of the day, I would gnaw down on some apps any day of the week. It was not uncommon in my household to see us eating the insanely good cheese dip. However on truly special occasions, my Mom would pull out the sausage balls.

Her recipe was very similar to this recipe, but I want to say she used Velveeta in that recipe as well. And I had not even thought about the recipe until someone posted a similar recipe elsewhere. Like the dip, this is my version of a classic appetizer that dates back to the 70s. Not everything ancient has to be bad for you or contain Gluten – cause we can make almost anything GF! #GFNotTasteFree!

Sausage Balls – On Fire

1 lb (450 g) raw pork sausage
10 oz (300 g) Jalapeno Jack cheese
2 C Gluten Free Bisquick

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (convection or none) while you cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine your sausage, cheese and Bisquick in a large bowl. Note: I like to use Johsonville Hot Italian Sausage. And as always shred your own cheese to remove the possibility of Gluten contamination from the factory’s shredding process. Add a little milk to the mixture to get it to combine into one big ball. The last time I did this I added close to a quarter cup of milk.
  3. Now comes the fun – you could use a scoop to get the size consistent, but you will need to roll them into balls about the size of a loonie (or Susan B. Anthony!) Put em on your baking sheet with a little bit of space – they won’t spread out that much.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. I liked doing mine for about 25 minutes on convection and it makes them a little crispy.

Sodium Calculations

As I wrote about a month and a half ago, I have to watch my intake of sodium. The biggest thing with watching your sodium comes from how much of that salty goodness is in pre-packaged food. Unfortunately, there is still sodium in almost every food you imbibe.

I am still working my way through the processed food in my house. But at this point, the processed foods that I consume is getting less and less.

That said, deciphering how much you eat on a daily basis is like trying to keep track of how many breathes you take in a minute. You have to pay attention to the point of distraction – of enjoyment of life.

The biggest distraction from that is how much are you actually supposed to have since every bottle or package gives you the serving dosage based on mg & percentage of daily diet. So in order to combat that issue, I have done a bit of research.

According to Health Canada, adults and teens should not eat more than 2300 mg per day, compared to the recommended of 1500 mg. Supposedly an average Canadian typically consume about 3400 mg daily. After calculations, I was consuming close to four times that amount – WAS being the primary word there.

Now I am much more aware.and have one cheat day a week, but am doing my best to keep it in check.

So the interesting thing about that is something like 358 mg being 16% is wrong … that would be closer to the 2300 at the upper limit. Therefore, keep in mind 1500 mg, not percentages!

Over the next few weeks, I will be trying to do some rough calculations and putting in how many grams of salt are in servings – if it can be considered something like low sodium. Unfortunately most of recipes are not normally that way and they will not be labeled as low-sodium obviously.

I will try to re-post recipes when I figure out the sodium in a serving AND it will be tagged with a new Low Sodium label. And I will start the development of some low-sodium recipes as well. Some of those include stuff like naturally low-sodium salad dressing or home-made stuff burgers.

As always remember, GF does not mean Taste Free!

Life without …

So it’s been a long, long time since I’ve had a chance to write anything. You know what happened? Life … fancy that!

Living in Canada means that my kids don’t get out of school until the end of June. So the school year’s end is a truly hectic time with all those closing events, then we roll into summer and all kinds of different events. You would think we would be used to this over the summer and other times throughout the year. I mean over the last few years I’ve had to bow out of writing during the holiday season due to having absolutely no time for anything other than work, sleep and trying to figure out how to fit in all of the extra stuff beyond kids’ activities.

And that’s another thing that kills me, this summer should have been easier to deal with because we didn’t have school activities three nights a week. Nope, not the case. Why? Life and more importantly – life with medical issues. I am not going to bore you with the details because of privacy for myself and my family. But there is one thing that has come out of this summer that has meant a major change in my eating habits.

I am now supposed to be eliminating all sodium. SHOOT ME NOW!

Seriously, life without cheese?! I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I like cheese. I mean, really, really LIKE cheese. Let’s see if we can add insult to injury – how about no eggs? WTF! Hmmm, bacon’s gone. OMG! Who did this to me?! I will hunt you down and … oh wait no doctor’s orders due to some of those medical things, what are they called? Conditions!

I can’t do it.

For one, I will not give up meat or cheese. For me, I realized it was going to be all about moderation once I started looking at my salt intake. And for me it’s not really salt intake, it really is the sodium in food, particularly cheese. I figured out I was eating about 4-5 times the normal daily amount when most people eat about twice as much. Yeah ok, I’m a big guy, but I guess that really doesn’t give me a pass on that.

This new directive came about within the last two weeks along with a 30-minute walk a day. The things you do when you are pre-diabetic, pre-heart disease. So now not only do I have to be really picky about what I eat due to Gluten, but now I get to be really picky if I don’t know what I’m getting when I eat something I don’t prepare.

Over the last two weeks, I have taken stock of all the foods in my house that I typically eat and I have a bit to work through before I can really start doing more and more changes. What that means for me at this point is really portion control and ensuring that I am not overloading something, say a salad, with bacon bits, cheese and salad dressing, because they all have so much sodium. I have to really look at what I eat throughout the day while knowing what I am eating at night so I don’t blow that daily allowance.

Of course the biggest question as you’re reading this will likely be, what about your recipes? What that means is that over the next while, I will likely be looking at them to see how I can alter them for a low-sodium alternative, such as my Cajun Rice Stuffing. I was able to alter it and change it so that I didn’t lose the flavour since Gluten Free does not mean Taste Free. Some that I won’t be able to alter include any of the ones that include baking – so most desserts and even some of the stuff like the pizza dough.

Again portion control. And I know I will be giving myself a cheat day, because I have to. I have an addiction to cheese and I will try to reign it in, but I want a day to really enjoy my food.

And I will be looking at creating some dishes that will be as close to zero sodium as possible. Thoughts for recipe include a homemade salad dressing without the added salt. I’ve seriously got to look at some recipes for broth now that is truly low sodium not the stuff that’s store bought that still gives you 40% of your daily allowance with one serving.

As I start trying to do those alters, I will re-post them and I will definitely post those new recipes as well. I still have some older recipes that I have been working on and want to still get those out. As with all of my recipes, you should be able to filter them for most allergies now including sodium!

Until next time, have a plate of nachos with extra bacon, cheese and Doritos!

Reese’s Peanut Butter Pancakes

ReesesPancakesBeing a breakfast junkie, I am always into trying new foods for my favourite meal of the day, which also happens to be my favourite meal to cook. Who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner? Come on! If you don’t, you’re on the wrong site. I’m only partially kidding.

Despite that, I do love a good French Toast more than pancakes. Granted I worked at an IHOP for years and that might have something to do with my general disdain of pancakes, I always found them to be lacking in flavour without the syrup and butter. Come on they’re flour, eggs, milk and maybe some sugar – if you make them from scratch!

Alas with Celiac Disease, my options for non-breakfast burrito options shrank drastically until I could find alternatives. And this alternative kind of hit me out of nowhere.

Simple backstory – I’ve always loved peanuts or peanut butter and chocolate in just about any combination. Peanut Butter cookies happen to be one of my favourite cookies that you can make completely flourless – add in a few chocolate chips and I will finish the batch before my kids can figure out that they were baked.

So when I was trying to figure out a good recipe for a special breakfast of pancakes, I remembered the Reese’s Peanut Butter in my cupboard and that I could do peanut butter pancakes – GF of course. Because as we all know Gluten Free Not Taste Free!

Reese’s Peanut Butter Pancakes

1 cup (240 g) GF flour
2.5 tsp (13 g) baking powder
.5 tsp (7 g) salt
.5 cup (120 g) Reese’s Peanut Butter
2 tbsp (30 g) sugar
2 tbsp (30 ml) vegetable oil
2 large eggs
a bit over 1 cup (270 ml) milk

  1. While your griddle heats to about 300 degrees mix your peanut butter, sugar and oil until smooth, then the egg and milk.
  2. Next mix in the rest of your ingredients. BTW – typically you are supposed to do dry separate, then wet and mix together; too many bowls in my opinion!
  3. Assuming you’re using a non-stick griddle, you shouldn’t need anything to get these flippin’ flapjacks to, er, flip. Just wait til you see a bubble and then flip.
  4. Remember you are only supposed to flip pancakes once, so make sure they are done on the top before you flip them.

As always, I use a store bought mix for GF flour up here in the Great White North. But if you are interested in trying your own, you can visit Gluten Free on a Shoestring. Nicole has some amazing mixes for different flour needs.

Calzone Pie

CalzonePieThere was a time when not only was I enamored by pizza, I was enamored of calzones as well. Of course, that was when I could have a soft, gluten-filled crust making that gooey & delicious shell around all that cheese and those toppings.

Sadly there came a time that I could no longer safely consume pizza, calzones or anything else like it, unless I evolved – just like the pizza into the calzone! And evolving is just what I did with this recipe.

Pizza has been called a pie before and that is where I took my inspiration. Why not make a calzone pie? I haven’t really been able to come up with a crust recipe that has the elasticity of a gluten crust – chemistry and stuff. So why not use the Brazilian cheese crust recipe as a base and then put the toppings in the middle with more cheese and top it with more cheese crust. Bake it together and Bob’s your uncle, er, pizza’s yer pie? Calzone is your pie?

Whatever you call it – I’m calling it Calzone Pie since it’s my recipe – this once again proves that Gluten Free is Not Taste Free! One slice of this and you will wonder who needs gluten!

Calzone Pie

2 recipes Brazilian Pizza Crust
1 package Italian sausage – preferably hot
1 red onion
2 tbsp (30 g) minced garlic
1 tbsp (15 g) each of Oregano & Chili Flakes
Cheese for the filling – Jalapeno Jack or Mozzarella

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, while you dice your onions and then fry them together with all the spices and the sausage. Make sure to brown and crumble all the sausage.
  2. After that part is cooked, make your two recipes of the crust.
  3. Line the bottom of a greased 9-inch cake pan with half of the crust.
  4. Put all of the drained sausage & onions in the middle – spread it evenly and then add the shredded cheese.
  5. Top with the remaining crust and cook the pie for about 10-15 minutes until it’s golden brown. Warning – you might want to put a cookie sheet under the pan in case it overflows as mine has a number of times.

For other ideas, I have done this recipe without meat and added Mexican spices. You could try a Jerk Chicken filling. Or a Cajun steak. Or how about a seasoned chicken with bacon, green onions, tomatoes and a bit of ranch? The possibilities are awesome and endless!