Category Archives: Appetizers

Vegetarian Sausage Balls


Sausage Balls

Spicy sausage balls | Photo by HFLP

Oh, the venerable sausage ball.  The friendliest finger food I’ve ever known.

These little guys are simple, and if I do say so myself, delicious.  I could have come up with a more elegant name for them, but it wouldn’t be true to the nature of the food.

A little bit of sausage, a little cheese, a little spice in a small, warm ball of dough – really, what could be better?

They are perfect for pot lucks, parties and hanging-out-watching-the-game…

These have been made for years with regular sausage, but they adapt well to vegetarian sausage.  For the latest batch, we added some dice jalapenos, and it added the perfect zip to complement the sausage (and vegetarian sausage isn’t real spicy, so it’s a good addition).

They are incredibly easy to make, the only un-fun part (and it’s really the only part) is mixing all the ingredients, which I usually convince someone else to do for me.  You can only do it by hand and there’s something unagreeable about sausage squishing through my fingers, vegetarian or otherwise.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb vegetarian sausage (use the ground Gimme Lean brand, trust me)
  • 3 cups Bisquick
  • 2 cups of your favorite shredded cheese (I usually go cheddar, but other kinds work well)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced jalapenos (optional, but recommended)
  • Less than 1/8 cup milk (really just a literal “splash”)

Here’s what to do:

Step 1) Mix the ingredients, by hand, in a large mixing bowl.  When you can’t seem to get all the Bisquick absorbed, just keep going.  If you still can’t, add another splash of milk (a little goes a long way).

Mixing sausage balls

Ali mixing for me | Photo by HFLP

Step 2) Form into mounds roughly the size of ping pong balls on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Baking sausage balls

Cram 'em on the cookie sheet | Photo by HFLP

Step 3) Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes

Sausage balls right out of the oven

Fresh from the oven | Photo by HFLP

Enjoy ’em.  Thanks for reading!

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Creamy Corn Souffle


Corn Soufflet

Creamy Corn Souffle | Photo by HFLP

If I had another, more sinister blog called “Unhealthy Food Lazy People,” I’d probably put this recipe there, instead of here.

But, it’s not meant to be eaten as anything other than a side dish, and for that, it’s a great recipe.  It’s a Paula Deen-ish kind of thing.

I made it last week for a Kentucky Derby party hosted by our good friends and the world’s greatest neighbors (no joke).  It was a smashing success, as it usually is.  (One of these years, the horse I bet on will net me the big prize, but that year wasn’t this year, or any of the last 10)

I call it a souffle because, frankly, that’s what it is.  But also, making things sound french is a good way to make them more impressive.  I mean, would you rather have a beignet or a big donut hole?  A cafe au lait or coffee with milk?  A pizza or une pizza?

It’s incredibly easy to make, just make sure to take it out of the oven at the right time.  It’s not cornbread, despite how it looks in the dish.  The top isn’t supposed to brown uniformly, just a little around the edges, if at all.  A toothpick test in the middle usually lets me know.

EDIT: And I just want to point out quickly, Jiffy brand corn muffin mix is not vegetarian.  I know the Martha White brand is, and they carry that everywhere right next to Jiffy, so go with that one.  Thanks, peppertree.

Here’s what you need:

  • 8oz of sour cream
  • Stick of butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cup of Martha White corn bread mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 can of cream corn
  • 9 x 13 dish, or something similar
Corn Souffle Ingredients

Stir it up, stir it up good, ugh! | Photo by HFLP

Here’s what do do:

Step 1) Mix all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Step 2) Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Uncooked corn souffle

Waiting for it's turn in the oven | Photo by HFLP

Step 3) Bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Step 4) When the edges begin to brown, remove from oven and serve warm.

Now, just don’t sit and eat it all by yourself.

As always, thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to read my little blog.


Asparagus and Parmesan Pastry


Beautiful St Petersburg, Florida

WATER!!! | Photo by HFLP

I’m still relatively new to Gainesville, and I’ve got mixed feelings on the place.  On the one hand, I can walk to school, work, about 30 restaurants and pubs and a park.  Granted, I have to make it through a variety of colorful characters to get to any of those places – affable dumpster-diving can collectors, herds of marauding feral cats and the ever-present tribes of exactly the same similarly-dressed sorority sisters (I’ve ranked them in order of most to least enjoyable).

And the heat is getting rather stifling.

I grew up by the water in a charming little town called St. Petersburg (not really little, or a town).  It’s surrounded on three sides by water and, while it gets hot, it never approaches the depressing oppression of the Gainesville summer.  And when it does get hot in St. Pete, you go to the beach or the pool and relax.

Gainesville is surrounded on all sides by nothing, which is a new sensation for me.  I can drive an hour to the Florida’s west coast and visit Cedar Key (as I will on Friday) or an hour and a half to St. Augustine on the East Coast.  For someone who’s spent all of their life within 5 minutes of a beach/boat launch/kayaking bayou, that’s a tough reality to face.

Kayaking at Weedon Island, St Petersburg Florida

Kayaking through Weedon Island in St. Pete | Photo by HFLP

In Journalism school, these first few paragraphs would be known as a “false lead.”  This post is really about a pastry, but I couldn’t help spilling my guts on the hometown blues that had been getting me down.

So, with a week off in between Fall and Summer semesters (thanks, grad school), we decided to head home and spend some time with family, which ended up being a nice respite from all the joys of school and dry land.

And (here comes the big transition), while we were in town, we tried out this recipe for Asparagus and Parmesan Cream Pastries.

They were great, although, if you follow the instructions, they make for a somewhat strangely portioned appetizer, in my opinion.  Each piece, it seemed, was larger than what I expected (more than one person could eat as an app or side dish, provided that one person wasn’t me).  So, I’ll recommend cutting them into smaller chunks if you’re having multiple people over to eat.

Asparagus and Parmesan Cream Pastry

Asparagus and Parmesan Cream Pastry | Photo by HFLP

Here’s what you need:

  • 8 ounce(s) of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough
  • 1/2 cup(s) of grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice
  • 5 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 pound(s) of fresh asparagus (16 spears)
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. of shaved parmesan cheese
  • 1 nonstick cooking spray

Here’s what to do (directly from the source):

Step 1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Step 2) Remove pastry dough from freezer and let thaw for 10 minutes.

Any last words, Asparagus?

Any last words, Asparagus? | Photo by HFLP

Step 3) While dough is thawing, wash and trim asparagus so it is 1 in. shorter than the pastries.

Step 4) In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, grated parmesan, chopped basil leaves, and lemon juice. Set aside.

Step 5) Spread dough onto a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Cut into four equal rectangles and spread apart slightly on sheet.

Step 6) Spread cream cheese mixture onto each of the pastry rectangles, not quite to each edge.  Press four asparagus spears onto each rectangle, alternating direction.  Sprinkle pastries with a pinch of sea salt and drizzle with olive oil.

Ready to go in the oven

Ready to go into the oven | Photo by HFLP

Step 7) Bake at 400 degrees for 18-22 minutes until pastries are golden brown.

Step 8) Remove from oven, slice each pastry in half (and then half again) and transfer to serving platter.  Garnish with a sprinkle of shaved parmesan cheese and serve (I skipped this step, for lack of shaveable parmesan)

And I’d like to also note that I didn’t have a proper camera with me, so these pictures are all oil-on-canvas.  Kidding, from my iPhone.

One final thought – best of luck and best wishes to my buddy Grant, who set out this past week to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, from Springer Mountain, GA all the way to Maine.  That’s a really, really long walk.


Easy Cheesy Jalapenos


Baked Stuff Jalapenos

Baked Stuffed Jalapenos | Photo by HealthyandLazy

Jalapeno peppers are nature’s firecrackers.

They’re delicious diced, chopped, baked, fried and, best of all, stuffed! Our recipe today is an easy, cheesy concoction that’s perfect as an appetizer or snack. I saw the recipe over at Tried and Tested, and thought they looked worth a shot – and boy was I right.

The finished product has just the right amount of fire. It won’t blow up your tongue, but it will make you reach for a cool drink – and that’s exactly how you want them.

Jalapeno’s have between 2,500-8,000 heat units on the Scoville scale (that’s right, we’re dropping some science on this blog). The Scoville scale is a measure of capsaicin, the chemical that creates spiciness in a pepper. In tangible terms, the scale runs from bell peppers (roughly 0) at the low end to military grade pepper spray (around 5,000,000) at the top. I bring this up only to remind you that, while jalapenos can be an intimidating food for some, they are actually pretty darn mild.

Continue reading


Simple Sweet Potato Fries


Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potatoes are the best.  There’s really no two ways about it.  They’re packed with vitamins A and C, protein, fiber, iron, calcium, etc.  And, better still, it doesn’t take much work to prepare them.  Before we get there, though, let’s talk about…

Pesticides.

Sorry, the recipe is short, so it’s coming with a shameless plug for your neighborhood farmers’ market.  Potatoes are root vegetables, which means (simply) they grow underground.  They draw their nutrients from the soils around them, soaking up the good stuff they need, as well as the bad stuff we dump on them.  There is overwhelming scientific evidence to show that these pesticides have negative effects on the human body.  One way to avoid this problem?  Buy your fruits and veggies, especially ones with edible skins (root vegetables, grapes, apples, etc), from your local farmer’s market.  Most market vendors are organic, and they are usually at the market to field your questions.  Most times, prices are comparable to your big box grocer, but the food will be fresher and healthier, and you’ll be supporting a local business in the process.  Granted, talking about pesticides before cooking is unconventional, but these choices matter – both on a personal level and a global one.

So, you’ve got your potatoes from the farmers’ market and you’re ready to cook.  Let’s go… Continue reading


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