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.

Breakfast on the Go

My hunny is in the Army. That means he gets up before the sun comes up and comes home after it’s gone down. At least in the winter time. Not allowing himself a lot of time in the mornings to get ready to go in the name of sleep, he doesn’t always grab something for breakfast and ends up spending money. This isn’t going to work for me. So I made him a solution. Two actually.

The first one I made is essentially an Egg McMuffin, but it took a tenth of the time to make the batch, and I can freeze it! The second one is essentially a hot pocket with sausage, hashbrowns and egg inside. And I can freeze that too!

Both of the recipes I got from my new addiction, Pinterest, as links to others’ cooking blogs. The breakfast pockets (the first picture) was from BudgetGourmetMom.com, and the sandwiches were from Macheesmo.com.

So here’s the skinny on them:

The egg sandwiches are so simple. Get 12 english muffins (2 packs), slice them and lay them out on cookie sheets so they can be toasted. You need 12 large eggs and a muffin tin next. Crack one egg per pocket in the tin. Bake the muffins at 350 for 10 minutes, and the eggs at 350 for 20 minutes. Meaning, cook them at the same time and take the muffins out first. Grate up some good cheddar cheese, and when they’re done, combine the three – muffin, egg and cheese. The tricky part that I wouldn’t have figured out: If you’re going to freeze these for on the go breakfast like I did, put the finished muffins on a sheet tray and put them in the freezer uncovered  and unwrapped for one hour. Then take them out and wrap them in foil. And if your hunny happens to have a toaster oven at work, he’s all set! A microwave works too, they just stay crispier when you do it in a toaster oven.

The breakfast pockets were a little more complicated, but worth it. Basically, you make a dough – let it rise. Cook up sausage and onion, then put in milk, egg, frozen hashbrowns and spices. Once your dough has risen, cut off little chunks, and roll them out flat on a floured surface. Put goodies in the middle, then fold and pinch them closed.  Bake at (you guessed it!) 350, for about 20 minutes until they get golden brown on top. The recipe that she uses for the dough is perfect because it’s just a little sweet to offset the savory of the inside goodness. And if you’re going to freeze these ones too, then do the same thing. Line them up on a sheet tray and put them in the freezer uncovered  and unwrapped for one hour. Then take them out and wrap them in foil.

Now lets see how long these last me before I have to make more to satiate his big appetite.

By the way, go to my recipes page for the breakfast pocket recipe.

Taste of Summer

I went on a little shopping excursion yesterday, because the roomie and realized that while we had stuff in the fridge, freezer and pantry…we didn’t really have any food. There was a lot of stuff that was some good ingredients, but no complete meals to make. And it was either pork or chicken in our freezer…I needed a break from that.

Well, when I went to the store, I found some bratwurst on sale. Normally reserved for summertime parties, they sounded really good. The last time that I had watched them being prepared was at a friend’s house. He boiled them in beer first (hence the name beer brats?). Given as I’ve never been the one to prepare them…that sounded like a good plan.

Let me just say, beer at room temperature or hotter for long periods of time gathers some pressure. Those lids made a very loud pop when I twisted them off.

Anyway, so I boiled the brats for about 5 minutes in a mixture of 24 ounces of beer, approximately 4 ounces of chicken broth and 12 ounces of water. Just enough to balance out the flavors. I then threw them on a griddle, flipping a couple of times. By time it was all said and done, they were probably grilling for about 15 to 20 minutes, until they weren’t pink in the middle anymore.

Serve with some cheesy seasoned fries and top with mustard…voila! The taste of summer.

Crock-Pot Chili

The much anticipated post about the chili! It’s taken me a while to catch up here, mainly because of spring break traveling. So I decided I wanted chili. The trick was finding a good recipe for chili. Ah hell, who needs a recipe? Make it up as you go!

My want-to-be-Texas-Chili.

I gathered bits and pieces from friends and family and then did my own experimenting. The whole crock pot thing made it unbelievably easy though.

So I fried up some ground turkey and some ground mild Italian sausage. Then I added that to the crock pot. Let me just say now that this recipe is a layering of flavors. Next went in a can of pureed tomatoes, then a can of diced tomatoes, and a can each of drained pinto beans, kidney beans and black beans. Let me thank the dollar store for those.

I followed the canned ingredients with a diced jalapeno (seeds removed because I’m a wimp when it comes to too much spice), minced garlic and half a diced onion. Finally, comes a whole slew of spices. I added in a bay leaf, a beef bouillon cube, parsley, paprika, thyme, chili powder, garlic powder, sage, cilantro, oregano, and cayenne.

Mix it all together, let it cook on high for about 3 hours, then down to low for another two hours and served it up with cheese and sour cream. I was told Italian sausage doesn’t belong in chili, but I kind of liked it. It could use some tweaking, but as the roomie put it, it’s “a good experiment chili.” Here’s the recipe.

Chicken Gumbo from a crockpot

So I was lazing around the couch two days ago, and of course I had the Food Network on. And I was trying to figure out what exactly I was going to do with those chicken thighs I had just pulled out of the freezer. Well, Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller came on, and she was talking about using a slow cooker for her show. Then she added celery (got that…), green bell peppers (got those…), onion (definitely got that…), chicken (yep), and whole slew of spices to the crockpot. She said she was making Chicken Gumbo. Gumbo. Hmm…I wonder what that tastes like? Until last night, I’d never had gumbo.

So the only ingredients that I was missing were the andouille sausage, so I used smoke turkey sausage. And then I had to go get the chicken broth and tomato juice. So all in all, I spent like 3 bucks on this meal because everything was something I already had. How awesome is that??

Chicken Gumbo

This is the gumbo after it's cooked for six hours and is ready to eat.

The only other snag I ran into was I wasn’t entirely sure if my crock pot worked or not. For some reason, mine doesn’t have a light to tell me if it’s on or not? So after I had left for work, I asked my roomate to tell me if it was warm. It was. Probably a good thing because I don’t think it would have been as good if I was only letting it simmer in a pot for two hours after I got home. What was really nice is that I prepped all the ingredients the night before, put them in a bag and put them in the fridge, then just dumped the bag and the juices in the pot with the liquids, stirred it up and turned it on. After 6 hours it was ready to go.

I think I have some ideas for variations now that I know what the good stuff tastes like, but those are in the future.

Recipe to come…

Credit to Robin on my bibliography page.

Masterful Creation – Spicy Sausage and Penne

So after not cooking for a long, long stint, I’ve finally picked up my wooden spoons and pans again…and the result was amazing. Born of necessity (the best inventions always are), my Spicy Sausage and Penne was delicious and my loyal “guinea pigs” (roomie and boyfriend) begged for more.

Pasta

This is the pasta in the best serving bowl - the pot it's made in.

The ingredients were simple and versatile, it just took a little time and knowledge of what flavors work well together. I think it probably helps that I have experimented so much. I think this meal could probably be made for under $15 – the most expensive part are the spices (oregano and sage). Most of the ingredients can be bought at the dollar store.

The recipe for this yummy, scrumptious pasta is on my recipe page. Adjust to taste, as always.