Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Sausage, Squash, and Spinach Penne

It's time to start spring cleaning!  In my house this often means finding what I put in the freezer months ago.  Yesterday, I found some frozen butternut squash. (Don't worry if you don't have the frozen squash; you can replace it with canned pumpkin) I started searching for recipes to use my squash and my new Mulay's Italian Sausage.  I settled on a baked pasta dish which would use some fresh herbs.

I have noticed I am a lot more particular about what types of products that I purchase lately. Sometimes I leave stores that don't have the products that I want.  Mulay's Sausage is antibiotic free, supports sustainable farming practices, and is allergen free.  Simply put, it's pork and spices.  I was pleasantly surprised with how nicely it cooked on the skillet, and I had to taste it since it looked so good; it tasted delicious!



INGREDIENTS:

  • Mulay's Mild Italian Sausage
  • 1 pound of penne pasta
  • 2-3 cups of mashed, cooked squash or 1 can solid packed pumpkin (15 oz)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • Fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 2 T Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 t minced garlic
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1/4 t red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese 
  • Thyme leaves


DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Cook sausage in skillet.  Remove sausage and set aside.  
  3. Add squash, tomato paste, pepper, salt, red pepper flakes, basil, and Italian seasoning to the skillet.  Mix and allow to cook 5-7 minutes.
  4. While squash mixture is cooking, prepare pasta.  Drain.
  5. Add sausage to squash mixture.  Cook for 2 minutes.  
  6. Add pasta to skillet.  Mix well.
  7. Place half of pasta mixture into baking dish.  Add a layer of  spinach.  Place remaining pasta on top. Cover with foil.  Bake for 12 minutes.
  8. Remove foil.  Cover with cheeses and leaves of thyme.  Cook uncovered for an additional 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.


DIFFICULTY: Medium 
TIME: 45 minutes
SOURCE: Modified from Pinterest




Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Chorizo, Potato, and Roasted Veggies Bowl

With the craziness of life these days, get togethers with my girlfriends feel way too few and far between.  But a few months back, two friends and I managed to carve out some time on a Sunday for brunch.  The menu options at the restaurant were amazing but I finally settled on a dish similar to this one.  I couldn't believe how delicious it was...and how happy I was that the portion size was huge so that I could take some home for lunch the next day.  I raved about it and thought about it for weeks until I decided that I needed to reproduce it somehow.  Right around that same time, we were contacted by Mulay's Sausage to give their products a try.  When I saw that one of their products was a minimally processed chorizo, my immediate reaction was to make this meal, and I couldn't wait.  (Incidentally, I loved every product of theirs that I tried and everything about their company - like their compassionate farming standards and the fact that their products have no artificial ingredients and are minimally processed.)  I tried a couple of variations of this simple recipe until I settled on this one that is pretty similar to my brunch memories.  I cannot express to you how much my family loves this meal.

P.S. When I ordered this at the restaurant, there was a poached egg on top, which was awesome.  I do not include that when I made this for dinner for my family, but it is an option to consider.

INGREDIENTS:
  • Chorizo (Mulay's ground chorizo is awesome if if is sold near you; if you can't find ground chorizo, using links with casings removed works, too)
  • 2 red or orange peppers, chopped
  • red or baby potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • goat cheese (an absolute must!)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a large baking sheet with foil sprayed lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, drizzle potato wedges with olive oil.  Add garlic powder, oregano, and a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper; spread on 2/3 of the baking sheet.
  3. In the same bowl, toss the chopped peppers and onions with a drizzle of olive oil and some sea salt and pepper, spread on the remaining 1/3 of the baking sheet (or a second baking sheet if there isn't room).  Roast veggies for 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are golden, checking and gently rearranging veggies after about 15 minutes.  
  4. In the meantime, cook sausage over medium high heat until browned.  
  5. Gently mix the roasted potatoes and veggies; Serve in bowls topped with chorizo and goat cheese.

Time: ~40 minutes total
Difficulty: easy
Source: inspired by a restaurant brunch

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Savory Deviled Eggs

'Tis the season for finding ways to use hard boiled eggs! I have made these Deviled Eggs for a few Easter Sundays in a row, and this year the tray was gone within 5 minutes of arriving at my parent's house. My mom happened to have some hard boiled eggs on hand and asked me to make another batch! Needless to say, this recipe is a hit and a great way to use up some of those colorful eggs you may not know what to do with!

INGREDIENTS: 
  • 6 hard-cooked eggs, halved (instructions on hard boiling can be found here)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 12 sprigs fresh dill to garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Cut eggs in half length-wise. Remove yolks and add them to a bowl. Set the whites aside.
  2. Smash the yolks and thoroughly mix in remaining ingredients. Spoon the mixture into the egg whites, top with additional dill and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Difficulty: Very easy (my 9 year old daughter made them with no problem!)
Time: 10 minutes, not including the time to boil the eggs
Source: modified from a recipe from allrecipes.com

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Pork and Mushroom Stuffed Shells

I was grocery shopping with my daughter and out of the blue, she asked if we could have stuffed shells for dinner.  We hadn't had stuffed shells in a very long time, so her suggestion sounded like a good idea to me.  I didn't know what recipe that I wanted to use, but I grabbed a box of jumbo shells off of the shelf anyway.  As I went to put the box in the cart, I noticed that it had a recipe on it.  Upon closer inspection, the recipe looked pretty awesome.  I decided right then and there that we would have them for dinner, so using the recipe on the box, I purchased all of the ingredients and made them that night.  Needless to say, they were a hit.  I don't know that I had ever had stuffed shells with sausage as an ingredient before, but I loved the addition.  I will say that the type of sausage that you use will greatly affect the flavor of the meal, so choose one that you love!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 32 jumbo shells
  • 8 oz ground pork
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 jar (15 oz) pasta sauce of your choice (the original recipe calls for Alfredo but I preferred a marinara sauce)
  • 1 container (15 oz) whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with garlic and onion, drained
  • 8 oz package shredded Italian style six cheese blend, divided
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Meanwhile, in large skillet over medium-high heat, combine pork, mushrooms, onions, garlic and Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until pork is no longer pink.  Drain.
  3. Spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce in bottom of a greased 13x9 baking dish.  
  4. Add ricotta cheese, drained tomatoes and 3/4 cup of shredded cheese blend to pork mixture; stir to combine.  Divide among cooked pasta shells.  Place in baking dish.
  5. Cover with remaining pasta sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake, covered, for 20 minutes.  Remove cover and continue baking until cheese is melted and bubbly (about 15 minutes).

Difficulty: medium - just a bit of a pain to stuff the shells, but not really a big deal
Time: 20-25 minutes prep, 35 minutes to cook
Source: modified slightly from a recipe found on the box of Essential Everyday pasta shells


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Acorn Squash and Apple Soup

Every now and then I try a recipe with no expectations and it shocks me with its deliciousness.  I had no idea what to expect with this soup - I am a lover of soups, but usually they are thick and filled with chunky veggies and meat and pasta or rice.  This one fell far from my typical choice, but I happened to have the ingredients on hand and no plans for lunch on a Saturday.  I threw the veggies in the oven while I was doing my usual Saturday morning cleaning and finished it up at lunchtime.  When I took that first spoonful, I was shocked at how amazing it was.  I finished that bowl.  And then another.  My kids were skeptical at first, but they did the same.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 medium acorn squash (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 medium tart cooking apples (Granny Smith, Greening or Haralson), peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) chicken broth (4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper
DIRECTIONS: 
  1. Heat oven to 350°. Cut squash in half; remove seeds and fibers. Place squash, cut sides up, in rectangular pan, 13 x 9 x 2 inches. Pour water into pan until 1/4 inch deep. Bake uncovered about 40 minutes or until tender. Cool; remove pulp from rind and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion in butter 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender. Stir in apples, thyme and basil. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in broth. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered 30 minutes.
  3. Remove 1 cup apples with slotted spoon; set aside. Place one-third of the remaining apple mixture and squash in blender or food processor. Cover and blend on medium speed about 1 minute or until smooth; pour into bowl. Continue to blend in small batches until all the soup is pureed.
  4. Return blended mixture and 1 cup reserved apples to saucepan. Stir in half-and- half, nutmeg, salt and pepper; heat until hot.

Difficulty: easy
Time: about an hour and 20 minutes, though much of it is hands off
Source: www.bettycrocker.com