Tag Archives: meat substitute

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!

An Interview with Carlo Besozzi

A few weeks back (yes, I’m a little behind on getting this up), I mentioned that I was interviewing Carlo Besozzi, creator of WhateverFood.com.


Screen Shot of WhateverFood.com

Carlo was gracious enough to grant me an interview, and was excited to talk about his project.  Carlo is passionate about food and a lot of that stems from his upbringing.  Born and raised in Milan, Italy, he moved to the U.S. late last summer.  He has been a vegan for many years now and is looking to tackle an issue that all vegans deal with – trying to determine which packaged foods are suitable for consumption.  Remember the pork enzymes in the Cheetos?  That’s the kind of stuff he’s worried about.

And he’s right.  We know very little about what’s in the packaged foods we buy at the grocery store – what the heck is in a Pop-Tart?  What are Gushers?  What about Jello?  Carlo’s site started out as a project to help vegans, but after encouragement from his girlfriend/partner-in-crime Carole, the site expanded to include all foods and many different types of restrictive diets – including vegetarian, celiac, kosher, halal – as well as addressing allergy concerns.  Foods on WhateverFood.com can also be broken down into eggs-free, milk-free, nut-free, gluten-free and other subcategories.

And his site is a wiki – which means you can help with his project.  It’s still undergoing beta testing, but feel free to jump on in and look around.  If you are interested in beta testing, create an account using the box in the left toolbar and Carlo will be in touch.

Here’s an audio version of our interview.

Or, here’s a transcript of the above audio:

Well, tell us a little about your site, Whateverfood.com.

It’s a kind of wiki where people can share their knowledge, but its all focused on packaged food so that everybody can share their common knowledge on foods and ingredients and special diets that need special kind of foods. Like celiacs, lactose intolerants, vegan kosher, halal. There are a bunch of people who are choosing for whatever reason not to eat stuff. It’s really hard. I see on lots of forums that people are trying to communicate with each other but I thought maybe a wiki where you can just search for vegan strawberry cupcakes and you could get all the results – it would be awesome. So I made it.

What have been the big challenges when making this site?

Thinking about everything cause nothing is standardized and I’m just one person. I have to think of two thousand aspects from the structure to the graphic appearance and sometimes you try to do your best, but you just don’t know. The users will tell me if it’s good or not.

How long have you been working on this site?

I think that if I summed all the days probably two months, two months and a half.

Where do you hope to go from here with the site? If you could look years down the road at how it’s going to expand, what would your hopes be for that?

My hopes are to build some kind of packaged food, community-driven site. I mean, a place where people can talk about – you can do at your home a lot of stuff but not all the people have time and patience and knowledge to prepare a lasagna or vegetarian hamburgers, so a lot of people go to the grocery store [to get it]. So I think that a place where you can talk and you can share this type of knowledge is important and I want it to be as social as possible – a kind of “food Facebook.” But that’s the goal, I mean, get people talking about food.

So you’re going to have it integrated into all different forms of social media?


And you’re going to try to integrate it into the blog world as well?

Yeah, I would love to be able to maintain on the same platform a couple of blogs. There are a lot of different topics about foods – a lot about packaged foods – that I think are so wide and it’s interesting. If you look at the average kitchen, you see so many packages and our knowledge about these packages is so small that there is room to write for a lifetime.

When do you hope to launch the site?

I hope in one month. I want to go on beta test and I think as many people with patience and will to help and give feedback as possible for one months, two months and we’ll see what happens and then find sponsorships to try to maintain it with donations.

Meatless Biscuits and Gravy

Biscuits and Gravy

Biscuits and Gravy | Photo by HealthyandLazy

I’m channeling my inner Paula Deen today and whipping up an authentic southern-style breakfast.

In my pre-vegetarian days, biscuits and gravy was my favorite Saturday-morning breakfast.  It wasn’t something we made at home, though – more of a road-trip-stop-at-Cracker-Barrel kind of thing.  For those of you north of the Carolinas, I’ll let you in on the secret.

Biscuits and gravy is the ugly duckling of breakfast foods.  Regardless of where you order it, it’s pretty much served the same way – a few simple biscuits and a hefty scoop of slop gravy dumped on top.  It isn’t a pretty dish and, unless you add food coloring, it’s pretty much just several different shades of brown.

BUT, it’s delicious, and unlike anything else on your typical breakfast menu.  This recipe is extraordinarily simple and I’ve used vegetarian sausage (Gimme’ Lean brand, again), but if you prefer the real thing, the recipe works just as well with true sausage.

This recipe is so easy it’s almost funny.

This recipe makes enough for two (3 biscuits and a big scoop of gravy per person).

Here’s what you need:

(for the biscuits)

  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • A few shakes of salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

(for the gravy)

  • 1/2 pound ground vegetarian sausage
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • A few shakes of salt
  • A few shakes of pepper

(cooking stuff)

  • mixing bowl
  • cookie sheet
  • large pan

Here’s what to do:


Dough ready to bake | Photo by HealthyandLazy

Step 1) To make the biscuits, mix the flour, baking powder and salt together and then add in the melted butter and milk.  Stir and it will magically turn into a dough.  Scoop the dough into 6 small blobs on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 10 minutes at 450 degrees.

Step 2)  While the biscuits are baking, place a half pound of ground vegetarian sausage into a pan and begin to cook.  When the sausage has browned to your liking, add in 2 tablespoons of butter and stir.

Step 3) Sprinkle half of your flour onto the sausage and immediately add in half of your milk.  Stir.  Then, add in the rest of your flour and the rest of your milk.  Stir.


Biscuits fresh from the oven | Photo by HealthyandLazy

Step 4)  Don’t panic if your gravy looks really soupy, just keep stirring.  After a few minutes, it will begin to thicken up.  I usually let the gravy simmer, with an occasional stir, until my biscuits are done.

Step 5) Place a few biscuits on a plate and top with gravy.

Step 6) Eat.

Rigatoni with (veg) Sausage and Goat Cheese


Pasta with sausage and goat cheese

Pasta with sausage and goat cheese | Photo by HealthyandLazy

I can’t help but love pasta.  I come from an Italian family, with Italian grandmothers, and an English mother who has forsaken her own culinary tradition (can’t really blame her for moving away from English food, right?) and has joined the cult of the Italian.  I grew up on Italian food, and am delighted to roll out another Italian recipe today – and from the most authentic Italian establishment around, Carrabba’s.

Okay, so maybe it’s not authentic, but this pasta is darn good.  They don’t serve it there anymore, but there was a time, several years ago, when this was the dish to get.  I’ve never seen anything like it in any restaurant in Italy, and I’ve been to a bunch.  Oh well.  The concept is simple – pasta with Italian sausage (non-meat sausage in this case) and goat cheese.  The execution is just as simple.  This is a great weeknight dinner, quick and easy.

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Fakin’ Bacon Spaghetti Carbonara

Vegetarian Spaghetti Carbonara

So good it should be illegal.

Here’s a family favorite for you.  Growing up, this was my go-to birthday dinner – only now, years later, I’ve learned to adapt the recipe to make it veg-friendly.  It’s not a light, summery pasta by any stretch of the imagination.  It’s moderately heavy and extremely flavorful.

In my travels, I regularly order it just to see how it stacks up against momma’s.  So far, my mom wins every time.  In Italy, it’s usually even egg-ier than the recipe here, but they typically use a lighter meat (prosciutto instead of bacon, usually).  So, experiment.  Try more eggs, less eggs, more parm, more bacon (or veggie bacon) – that’s what cooking is all about.  This is my favorite carbonara recipe, but it certainly doesn’t have to be yours.

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