That cartoon-like light bulb went on over my pointy-little head one day while talking to Hayley about sausage cheese balls. She said her family always likes her to make them, but she hatest doing so because the process leaves her with achy hands. I could relate. Then my eyes spied my Kitchen Aid stand mixer sitting on the counter looking totally up to the challenge of saving our manos. (Stick with me, kid. You’ll learn a little Spanish word now and then, too.)
Our version was pioneered by my friend Deloris, who is the Sultana of Substitutions. I have no idea what led her to think “Using ground almonds as a binder with fresh sausage and shredded cheddar makes perfect sense,” but I’m glad something did, because the result is genius!
1 pound of your favorite sausage
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups almond flour (finely ground almonds)
1/2 cup sliced jalapenos, from a jar (Entirely optional, but you ought to try including them — and the result is not overly spicy)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and pray that you have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer. If you do, put the ingredients in, in the following order: sausage, cheese, almond flour, jalapenos slices (if you are using any). Lock the mixer down and mix the ingredients together on speed 2. In no time at all, you can say to the ingredients, “Oh, yeah. Like you blend.” (Trivia question: Who said that line, and in what movie?)
If you don’t have a muscle mixer, put on your big rubber gloves (similar to putting on your big girl panties) and dig in. Honestly, doing a single batch won’t send you to physical therapy. It’s when you’re gearing up to make boatloads (or whatever you call a large quantity of these little roodies) that the dull ache commences. The Kitchen Aid, on the other hand, won’t experience fatigue or pain when you throw one batch after another at it.
Once your ingredients have their act together, it’s time to move along. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. You are now at another fork in the culinary road: you can either roll walnut-sized balls by hand, or you can use a well-made stainless steel cookie dough scoop that has a spring and a mechanism that kicks each ball out when it’s time for it to be on its own. I prefer the scoop method and the photo above shows how easy it is to make balls so uniform your cousin Wanda will accuse you of buying them if she isn’t there to see them made. (Ha! Just let Wanda try to find something this fabulous in her local freezer section!)
Gently slide your baking sheet of round lovelies into the preheated oven and leave them in there for 30 minutes. They are best served warm, but around my place they’re eaten hot or cold.
Sure, you can heap these balls onto a platter or a bowl, but these are dense and filling. It’s not like a person is going to eat mass quantities (unless they’re Kyle, but he’s an Army staff sergeant who runs and ropes cattle for fun). As an alternative to the heap and pile approach, I turned them into pops — balls on sticks, giving them something non-greasy to be held with.
Cute paper straws always manage to find their way into my shopping basket, but has anyone ever craved drinking through one? They just do not feel good on the lips. So, here I was with a supply of the silly things until it occurred to me they are much better-looking than skewers or the kinds of sticks you see on cake pops. Cut in half to make them a practical size, these straws slide into the sausage cheese balls after them come out of the oven and turn them into “pops.” At different times of the year, you will find different colors and patterns of the straws. These came with a Halloween grin.
I lined the platter with food-safe fall leaves from Becky and scattered on some little shishito peppers. The sausage cheese balls on sticks by themselves aren’t terribly attractive, so one does what one needs to do with the platter. Looking at the pictures now, I would definitely l) use a black serving try and 2) lose about half the peppers. Live and learn, my pretties. Live and learn.