Gluten Free Johnsonville Sausage Balls with Spinach

If you have read my blog for any amount of time you will discover one of my favorite brands to work with as an Allrecipes Allstar Ambassador is Johnsonville Sausage. Johnsonville is AWESOME and i’m not just saying that because they have given me some lovely swag over the last few years or how awesome they are on social media. It is because they have a great product. I am complete sausage buying snob and only buy Johnsonville so I have to say I was excited to work with them again!

I decided to make one of our favorite things with Johnsonville, sausage balls! Yes, I have my own recipe for sausage balls but since becoming gluten free I haven’t made them. Sausage balls typically have some sort of flour or biscuit mix in them and I just hadn’t experimented with making them gluten free yet. There is no better time than the present especially with the holiday’s coming up. After all sausage balls are a perfect appetizer for the holidays.

Some notes about the recipe-

I typically do not buy Bisquick, in fact I have never had a box of regular bisquick in my house so I bought my first box to make this recipe. I wasn’t sure how the gluten free baking mix would work in this recipe but to my delight you could not even tell  the difference. While i’m not a Bisquick convert I will say their gluten free version worked very well in this recipe.

The original recipe calls for onions and mushrooms. While i’m not a huge fan of mushrooms, I will eat them. My kids on the other hand will not. Then my oldest has onion radar. I swapped these ingredients out for spinach. I used between 1/2 to 1 cup.  Yes, my kids have no issues with spinach they actually love spinach.

A big question when it came to preparing these were to cook or not to cook the sausage beforehand. The recipe calls for cooking the sausage, allowing it to cool and then mixing in the other ingredients and baking again. If you are lazy like me you can just mix the uncooked sausage with the other ingredients and bake. The recipe turns out perfectly.

Lastly, the type of sausage you use does not matter. The mild sausage works just as well as the hot. It is a preference of taste and in my case laziness won again. I could not find ground hot italian sausage so I used mild. I just didn’t feel like uncasing the sausage.

Now try these pop-able bites of yumminess for yourself and let me know how you like them!

Gluten Free Johnsonville Sausage Balls with Spinach | Country Girl Gourmet


5.0 from 1 reviews
Gluten Free Johnsonville Sausage Balls with Spinach
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 12 servings
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Adapted from a recipe by The Kitchen at Johnsonville Sausage
  • 1 (16 ounce) package Johnsonville® All Natural Hot Ground Italian Sausage
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1¼ cups gluten free baking mix
  • ½-1 cup chiffonade, fresh baby spinach
  • ¼ cup milk
  1. In a skillet, cook and crumble sausage over medium heat until no longer pink and lightly browned; drain. In a large bowl, combine sausage, cheese, gluten free baking mix, spinach and milk; mix well. 2. Shape mixture into approximately 36 walnut-size balls and place on a lightly greased, shallow baking dish.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  3. Serve with barbeque or chutney sauce.
  4. Alternative cooking method-
  5. Sausage can be combined uncooked with other ingredients, formed into balls and baked for 20 minutes if desired.


Spaghetti with Garlic, Red Pepper and Olive Oil

When my husband and I were first married and didn’t have much money I would often throw things together for meals. Sometimes these things were hits and others were misses. One of my favorite hits was simple spaghetti mixed with “butter”, garlic and parmesan. Not the good parmesan though, the stuff that comes in the green can and even at that it wasn’t Kraft. It was some generic version they sold at the commissary. Oh and that garlic was garlic powder, the at the time 50cent a bottle garlic powder. The butter well it was margarine. I remember eating it one day when my sister and her now ex-husband came over and he thought it was the the weirdest thing. Then again he was from Albuquerque, New Mexico so if it didn’t have green chiles it was weird.

The simple spaghetti was something quick and easy I could put together and became comfort food. I even taught my oldest how to make it but now our ingredients are a little different. Now I use real butter, parmesan  and garlic. While working with Barilla this month I was introduced to a even more grown up version of this simple dish and I was hooked. Heck, my whole family was to the point they were fighting over it. Thank goodness I can get gluten free pasta and Barilla makes a pretty good gluten free pasta so I can continue having this for a quick lunch or dinner.

If you are in a pinch and looking for something tasty and quick and easy to make this is the recipe to try. Try for yourself, you will be happy you did. It may become one of your comfort food favorite dishes.

Spaghetti with Garlic, Red Pepper and Olive Oil | Country Girl Gourmet

Spaghetti with Garlic, Red Pepper and Olive Oil

from Allrecipes.com


  • 1 (16 ounce) box Barilla PLUS® Thin Spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes; saute 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Cook Plus® Thin Spaghetti according to package directions.
  4. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Immediately add hot pasta to skillet. Stir in reserved pasta cooking water. Mix well. Add cheese and toss lightly.
  5. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl.

Cinnamon Vanilla Granola (Gluten Free)

I have been gluten free for 6 months now and one thing I have learned to do is read label well. There is often gluten in things that you wouldn’t think would have gluten. Many times it is easier to make your favorite store-bought foods so you can know exactly what is in what you are eating with the added bonus of it tasting better.   Granola is now on my list of foods to make myself instead of buy. I have wanted to make granola for a while now and it falls into the category of some are gluten free while other’s aren’t. It is also one of the foods I look at when I am grocery shopping but always put back saying I can make this at home. I am so glad that I finally made it. It is easy to make and taste even better. My family loved it too! We ate it plain and in yogurt parfaits with some fresh local blue berries I picked up at Gillis Hill Road Produce.

Cinnamon Vanilla Granola

Cinnamon Vanilla Granola

adapted from Allrecipes.com

3 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups quick oats
1 cup chopped pecans (or sliced almonds or sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup ground flax meal
1 cup maple syrup, you can use less if desired but may have less clumping
2 tablespoons Mazola® Corn Oil
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
4 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup dried cranberries (or raisins or other dried fruit)

*note* Use real Maple Syrup not “pancake syrup” such as Log Cabin or Aunt Jemima.


  1. Combine old fashioned oats, quick oats, pecans and wheat germ in a large bowl. Combine maple syrup, oil, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl. Pour over oat mixture, stirring to coat. Spread mixture evenly on greased baking sheet.
  2. Bake at 300 degrees F for 50 to 60 minutes, stirring once midway through baking minutes, until oats are toasted.
  3. Remove from oven and stir in dried fruit. Cool in pan on wire rack. Store in airtight container.
  4. Serving suggestion: To make yogurt parfaits, layer 6 ounces vanilla yogurt, 1/2 cup mixed fresh or frozen fruit and 1/4 cup granola.

6 ingredient Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Sausage

This month with Allrecipes  we are working with one of my favorite brands, Johnsonville Sausage. Right now they have a great sweepstakes going on that centers on “Easy Weeknight Dinners with Six ingredients.” They want all of you awesome Pinterest users to find recipes that you would be made better with their awesome sausage products. All you need to do is pin any recipe with 6 or fewer ingredients, tag it with the hashtag phrase #6IngredientsOrLess with #JohnsonvilleSausage, then register the pin URL(s)  HERE for a chance to win an awesome Simply Calphalon skillet. Sounds easy huh? Well it is! Unfortunately for me but good for you I cannot enter the contest but I was challenged to find a recipe to remake and make. I remade Allrecipes Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Cubed Ham subbing Italian sausage for the cubed ham. I wanted a recipe that would work with my gluten free diet and wasn’t the traditional italian fair that most associate with italian sausage. This recipe fit the bill and my family loved it! Then again what is there not to love about Johnsonville sausage, mashed potatoes and cheese!

What would you make with Johnsonville Sausage with 6 ingredients or less?


Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Italian Sausage | Country Girl Gourmet


Cheesy Mashed Potatoes and Italian Sausage

adapted from Allrecipes.com


  • 5 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound  italian sausage, browned and grease drained (I used ground but sliced links would work well also)


Place potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. Transfer potatoes to a bowl; add butter, garlic powder, and parsley. Mash with a potato masher. Stir in Cheddar cheese and sausage.

Johnsonville Amazing Muffin Cups

Easter is almost here! Although it is later this year how can it be that it is time for Easter already? I know many people who are having their oh crap moments and wondering what are they going to do for the day.  From putting together Easter baskets to planning Easter Brunch and dinner. This year I can say I am thankful for Johnsonville Sausage.  If you have read some of my other social media postings  then you may already know that my family loves Johnsonville Sausage. It is seriously some awesome sausage.  Well, I have discovered yet again another Johnsonville recipe that my family loves and it is perfect for Easter brunch! Johnsonville’s Amazing Muffin Cups are the perfect addition to any Easter brunch. They have a base of hash browns that are topped with sausage, cheese, red pepper, green onions and eggs. Sounds pretty good, huh?  Add some fresh fruit and you are all set to go with an amazing Easter brunch.

Amazing Muffin Cups | Country Girl Gourmet


Amazing Muffin Cups

from Allrecipes.com


  • 12 links Johnsonville® Original breakfast sausage
  • 3 cups frozen country style shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups shredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • chopped fresh chives or green onion


  1. Prepare sausage according to package directions. cool slightly and cut into 1/2-inch pieces; set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine hash browns, butter, salt and pepper; divide evenly into 12 greased muffin cups. Press mixture onto sides and bottom of muffin cups.
  3. Bake at 400F for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven, divide sausage pieces into muffin cups.
  4. In a bowl, combine eggs, cheese and bell pepper. Spoon mixture evenly into muffin cups. Sprinkle with chives or onion. Return to oven, bake 13-15 minutes or until set. Serve.

Amazing Muffin Cups | Country Girl Gourmet

Sweetheart Cookies

I may not be big into Valentine’s day but I do try to make the day special for my kid’s. This has meant in the past making treats for the classes. Usually this includes things like cookies and cupcakes. If you are still looking for a treat to make then I have a sweet treat for you, Sweetheart Cookies. Sweetheart cookies are a yummy mix of a chocolate chip cookies and M&M cookies that my chocolate loving children and husband loved and I am sure you will too!

Sweetheart Cookies | Country Girl Gourmet

Sweetheart Cookies


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar (you can substitute light brown sugar)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup Valentine M&Ms  or other holiday candy coated chocolate candies
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Beat butter, shortening and sugars together until fluffy.
  3.  Mix in eggs and vanilla until combined well.
  4. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt and combine until dough forms.
  5. Stir in M&Ms and white chocolate chips.
  6. Drop dough by the tablespoon onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. If desired add a few M&Ms on top of the dough.
  7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden.
  8. Cool on a wire cooling rack if you can*all butter or all shortening can be used but it will change the texture of your cookie*

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies -Gluten Free

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies -Gluten Free | Country Girl Gourmet

Valentine’s Day, a holiday celebrating love or just a commercial holiday. How do you feel about it? Once upon a time I was the hopeless romantic and loved Valentine’s Day but then I got married. My husband is rarely home on Valentines Day. He is usually deployed or away training, it is always something. It is ok, we are used to it. I make they day special for my kids. I make heart shaped food, cupcakes and even more cupcakes for class parties and a special Valentine’s Day dessert with dinner. Simple and sweet is how we celebrate the day.

This year I have decided to try a Gluten Free diet. Not to lose weight or any nonsense like that but to see if it would help with some autoimmune issues I have. I have done pretty good so far. Just a minor blip where I had to stop for a few days. The blip showed me that yes, my body does react to gluten. I could feel the difference when I had eaten gluten and I was determined to get back to my gluten free lifestyle.

 I do get cravings for all the sweet gluten filled treats like for cookies, cupcakes and brownies from time to time and I have been determined to figure out gluten free baking. I bought some King Arthur Multi Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend a couple weeks ago and a craving for brownies seemed like the perfect time to try it out. I didn’t make just plain regular brownies though. I kicked it up a notch and made Cherry Cheesecake Brownies.  Oh my goodness is all I could say! They were delicious! I fed them to my family and they loved them and none knew they were gluten free. We tried them warm and later after being in the fridge a few hours. They were great both ways but especially cold. I think I have our Valentine’s Day Dessert!

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies -Gluten Free | Country Girl Gourmet

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies


for the brownies-

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

2t vanilla extract

2/3 cup cocoa powder

1 cup gluten free multi purpose flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2t baking powder

1/4t salt

for the cherry cheesecake mix-

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened

1 egg

1/3 cup sugar

1 21oz can of cherry pie filling


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9×13 pan.

2. In a microwave safe bowl melt butter, once melted stir in sugar and then cocoa powder. Then mix in eggs and vanilla and then finally beat in remaining dry ingredients, flour, salt, xanthan gum and baking powder.

3. Pour and spread batter into prepared 9×13 baking pan.

4. In another bowl use an electric mixer or whisk, beat together the cream cheese, egg and sugar until smooth.

5. Dollop the cream cheese mixture on top of the brownie batter.

6. Dollop cherry pie filling (focusing on the cherries not the cherry gel) on top of cream cheese mixture.  Note- some brands are more cherry gel than cherries, you want more of the cherries than cherry gel. Leftover cherry gel is ok.

7.Swirl together using a knife.

8. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until brownies are set and pulling from the sides of the pan. If checked with a toothpick  it will come out with fudgy crumbs.

9.Cool thoroughly, then cut into bars and serve warm or cold. Store in the refrigerator.

***NOTE- These can be made with regular All Purpose Flour instead of Gluten Free Flour Blend if desired***

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies -Gluten Free | Country Girl Gourmet

Are you making something special for Valentines Day? What are you making?

Easy Peasy Bisquick Free Sausage Balls

From the time I heard of Sausage Balls I knew I wanted to make them. I had one problem though, I never had Bisquick in my house. I just never buy it or think to buy it. I do keep self rising flour in the house though and I wondered if I could somehow use that. After a bit of trial and error I created some Easy Peasy Bisquick Free Sausage Balls and my family was in love. These little balls of cheese and sausage heaven are the perfect addition to your brunch and make awesome appetizers for game day parties. Try them out for yourself! One bite and you will fall in love with them yourself.
Easy Peasy Bisquick Free Sausage Balls | Country Girl Gourmet

Easy Peasy Bisquick Free Sausage Balls


  • 1 pound ground pork sausage (regular or hot)
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup self rising flour
  • 2 cups Cheddar-Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded


1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2.In a large bowl mix sausage, cream cheese, flour and shredded cheese.
3.Once well combined form into walnut size balls.
4.Place sausage balls on a parchment lined baking sheet.
5.Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the sausage balls are browned and no longer pink inside.

Potato Soup

It is winter and on those extra cold days there is nothing better than a big bowl of homemade soup. I love to have a big pot simmering on the stove or in your crockpot on those especially on those extra cold days. I don’t know what it is, the smell that lingers threw the house or if it is just the fact that soup is the perfect thing to warm you up but it is pure comfort food for me. One of my favorites is Potato Soup. When I worked at a Darryl’s in Orlando, Florida a few years back it was my staple lunch or dinner when I was working. After moving away I was always looking for a recipe that came close and I finally found one a couple years ago and have tweaked it a bit over the years. The recipe is a simple easy recipe for your crockpot. I have shared it with friends and they agree that this soup is the best. If you are a Potato Soup lover this is a must try!

Potato Soup | Country Girl Gourmet

Potato Soup
A simple to make and delicious potato soup
  • 5lbs red potatoes,sliced
  • 8 cups chicken broth (homemade or store-bought)
  • 6-8 cloves garlic,minced (add more or less based on your personal taste)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 1 TB Season Salt ( I eyeball this..use more or less to your personal taste)
  • fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 16oz cream cheese (any type works), softened
  • additional toppings- cheese, bacon, parsley, etc.
  1. Add potatoes, onion, garlic, bacon,season salt, pepper and chicken stock to crockpot. If needed add water to make sure potatoes are covered.
  2. Cook on high 6-8 hours. Some crockpot's cook hotter than others. You want the potatoes to become fork tender.
  3. Once potatoes are done place ½-3/4 of potatoes in a bowl and mash with the cream cheese.
  4. After the potatoes are mashed return them to the crockpot and stir until well combined. Cook for an additional 30 minutes.
  5. Serve and garnish with your favorite toppings.

adapted from Crockpot365


Cocoa Can Fudge

Growing up I did not live near my one set of grandparents and every Christmas a package would come our way. In the package there was usually chocolates and chex mix. Once I was older I learned it was my grandpa who made the candy. This is my grandpa’s cocoa can fudge. Truth be told years ago on the side of the Hershey’s cocoa can there was a fudge recipe and that is where this recipe get’s it’s name, Cocoa Can Fudge. It is just as easy and taste better than easy fudge or magic fudge that is made with marshmallow cream. I definitely recommend trying it out!
Cocoa Can Fudge

This is a candy recipe where you will need your candy thermometer.
Cocoa Can Fudge

but it is easy enough that my 7 year old daughter did most of the hard work.

Cocoa Can Fudge

I was in charge of making sure the temp was just right.

Cocoa Can Fudge

Once your temp is right you add the butter and vanilla and remove from the heat and allow to cool to 110*. This may take a couple hours. DO NOT STIR.

Cocoa Can Fudge

Once at 110* your job is to stir until the shiny chocolate “soup” in the pic above turns into a thicker dull looking chocolate “soup”

Cocoa Can Fudge

Once you achieve this pour into a foil lined square pan and allow to cool.

Cocoa Can Fudge

Once cool cut into small bite size squares.

Cocoa Can Fudge

Then all that is left is to enjoy for yourself or package up and give to friends and family.

Cocoa Can Fudge

Cocoa Can Fudge

originally from Hershey’s


3 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup real butter, no substitute
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Line 8-or 9-inch square pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Butter foil.

2. Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in heavy 4-quart saucepan; stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to full rolling boil. Boil, without stirring, until mixture reaches 234°F on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water, forms a soft ball which flattens when removed from water. (Bulb of candy thermometer should not rest on bottom of saucepan.)

3. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. DO NOT STIR. Cool at room temperature to 110°F (lukewarm). Beat with wooden spoon until fudge thickens and just begins to lose some of its gloss. Quickly spread in prepared pan; cool completely. Cut into squares. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature. About 36 pieces or 1-3/4 pounds.

Cocoa Can Fudge

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