Chicken and Apple Sausage with Primavera Pasta

Last night was a little crazy, and fitting dinner in to an already full night didn’t help matters. But I did, with much help from my hunny. A few weeks ago, I had a bought a chicken and apple sausage from Sam’s Club that looked absolutely scrumptious and I needed a way to use it. There was a picture… somewhere… that I saw that had sausage mixed with pasta with broccoli. Inspiration turned on the little lightbulb above my head.

So dinner was born: Chicken and Apple Sausage with Pasta Primavera. Here’s the ingredient list (I didn’t include a lot of measurements because it adjustable to how much of each item you like.):

  • Chicken and Apple Sausage (duh.)
  • Pasta – I used penne rigate because of the ridges, I needed it to hold as much flavor as possible.
  • Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
  • Broccoli, cut in to just smaller than bite size pieces
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Spinach leaves
  • 1/4 White Onion, sliced in to ribbons. Would also be good with red onion.
  • 1 can Artichoke hearts, quartered
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt / Pepper
  • Dried herbs, including: Dill, Sage, Garlic Powder and Thyme
  • Feta Cheese

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Put your sausage on a sheet tray and cover loosely with foil. Once the oven is preheated, put the sausage in and cook for 10 minutes – the sausage is already fully cooked, you’re just warming it up.

Get your water boiling for the pasta, and when it’s a rolling boil, add sea salt and olive oil. You can’t really skip this step because this pasta doesn’t have a sauce, and this will add flavor to the noodles themselves.

While this is boiling, get the onions with some salt going in a pan with olive oil. Cook for about 3 minutes and add broccoli. Season with your spices – I went heaviest on salt and dill, and then the sage and garlic powder, and light on the thyme and pepper. Remember, there are a lot components, so don’t be afraid to season! Cook this for about 5 minutes until the broccoli starts getting soft.

Add in mushrooms and cook down a little longer – about two minutes. Then add in tomatoes and spinach leaves. Cook until the spinach leaves start to wilt. Add in feta cheese and stir around to incorporate and get melting.

By this time, your pasta should be ready. Drain it, but not entirely, leave about a tablespoon of cooking water. If you use penne rigate, a lot of that cooking water will be inside the pasta anyway. Add in your veggie mixture. I hope you used a large pot because there are a lot of ingredients here! Mix together to further melt the cheese. Serve with your heated sausage sliced up and some crusty buttered French bread.

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Tropical Rum Glazed Porkchops

Oh the wonders of cooking with alcohol. If I really enjoy the flavor of liquor in a cocktail, then why in the world would I NOT enjoy that flavor in a home cooked meal? The major benefit is that I can enjoy the flavor without the hangover the next morning. Kitchen experimentation is one of my favorite pastimes.

So I knew that I wanted to make a Captain Morgan glaze for pork chops. Try googling rum glaze and the first and most common thing that comes up is pineapple rum glaze. And yet I feel like no one has tried it with spiced rum. Why is that? It was delicious! I used the black Tattoo spiced rum, and I used a mix of pineapple juice and mandarin orange juice because I didnt have enough pineapple juice. But I definitely would like to try it again with the classic spiced rum and straight pineapple juice. Flavor combinations are bouncing around in my mind. What about rum lime on chicken? Does cranberry and rum go together? What if I mixed orange and pineapple? Or how would it turn out if I used a juice with a thicker consistency?

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So the process was relatively simple. Although a little time consuming and exhausting. The worst part about making a glaze is that it has to boil and be whisked for like TEN minutes! My arm wanted to fall off. It’s like making a meringue without an electric mixer. Definiteky worth it though. This glaze has a half-cup of the rum, 12 ounces of fruit juice, two-thirds of a cup of dark brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon. It ends up being a thick syrupy texture with very bold and prominent flavor.

When I worked with my pork chops, I put some AP flour on a paper plate, sprinkled some seasoning salt on top, and the put the porkchop in the flour on bkth siees. Then I put it in a preheated pan with about two tabelspoons of olive oil. This helps create a nice crust on the pork chop and gives the glaze something to stick to. Let it cook a couple more minutes each side before spooning some of the glaze that has cooled slightly over the top. As it’s cooking it will create even more of a syrup that you may just want to pour over a waffle because it smells that good. Flip only twice, as you dont want to lose any of that yummy crust, and baste each time with a spoonful of glaze. You will have leftovers to cook with that chicken for your salad tomorrow, I promise.

I served it with rice and may have licked the plate. Try it, you wont be dissapointed.

To make the glaze:
● 1/2 c rum (spiced, dark, dark spiced – your choice)
● 12 oz fruit juice (pineapple preferably at this point.)
● 1/2 c butter
● 2/3 c dark brown sugar
● 1 tsp cinnamon

1. Pour the rum and the fruit juice in a pot at room temp. Whisk together and turn on the heat to low. Add the butter and sugar. Keep on low and whisk frequently until the sugar is completely dissolved and tbe butter is completely melted. Have patience, this will take about 7-10 minutes on low.
2. Bring the heat up so that you get a rapid boil. Let boil for 7-10 minutes, whisking constantly to cook off the alcohol. BE CAREFUL! Alcohol is highly flammable.
3. Pull off the heat, and let sit for approximately 10 minutes while you get your meat ready and begin cooking it.
4. Baste the meat approximately twice a side, and serve. So far, this has been tested on pork by me, and on chicken and salmon by the person who wrote the recipe originally. (It was in a forum)

Butternut Squash Soup

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Late last week I bought a butternut squash. It’s getting cold here in the south, and soup sounds really good pretty much all the time. Especially with some crusty bread. I haven’t had a whole lot of time to do any major cooking recently so I had to wait until the weekend to really get my cook on. And my hunny isn’t around this week so I knew I could make soup and not wonder if he was going to be full or not.

This soup was really good. I haven’t ever had butternut squash – I wasn’t even sure what it tasted like. Come to find out, it tastes like pumpkin. Which means rich spices that I would normally consider only for baking like cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg taste delicious in this soup.

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To make this soup, first chop up a small onion, a medium carrot, a stalk or two of celery, and your squash. To back it up a little bit, poke holes in the squash with a knife, and microwave for about 5 minutes on a paper towel. Then you shouldn’t have any trouble cutting it up. Oh and make sure you peel it first… This will soften the squash and make it easier to chop as well as getting a head start on the cooking process.

Melt two tablespoons of butter in a large pan, and the add all of these ingredients. Brown them up for about 3 minutes. You will know they are good to go when it smells delicious. The onions should be softening and fragrant. Then cover the veggies with chicken stock. Bring the stock up to a boil and then turn the heat down and simmer for 40 minutes. Your vegetables will be soft at the end of the 40 minutes.

Either use an immersion blender (one of my favorite kitchen gadgets) or transfer your mixture to a food processor to blend until smooth. Add some more chicken stock if the soup is too thick for you. When all is said and done you should have used most if not all of a 32 oz container of chicken stock. Once blended, season with salt, pepper, allspice and cinnamon. I served mine with sourdough bread and I probably would have dipped a whole loaf of it in this soup given the opportuity. It gives me a hankering for a bread bowl.

I originally got this recipe from allrecipes.com and added the cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.