Category Archives: italian sausage

Lightened Up Lasagna Soup

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TGIF!! It has been a long week here. Well, a long couple of weeks actually. This flu that is flooding the country found it’s way to my house and,even though I had the shot, I got hit hard by it. Kevin on the other hand, who didn’t get the shot, was fine. Although there was quite a bit of hand washing, Purell usage, and banishment to the sofa for a few days. It’s OK, I was as comfy as I could be considering the circumstances. A trip to the ER, IV fluids, and Tamiflu helped me to kick the worst of it. But the residual cough is a killer. My heart and prayers go out to everyone that has/is suffering from this! 
Now, on to the good stuff, the food! I was so happy when I was able to (and had the desire to) cook again. It seemed strange to be back in my little kitchen after so long away. But cooking is like riding a bike right? So I jumped back on and peddled away.
I had been eyeing a recipe by Paula Deen for Lasagna soup before my desire to eat anything more than jello and popsicles kicked in. So that was the first thing I wanted to make when I felt better. However, and I do so love Ms Paula, it was packed full of fat and calories! So I tackled the challenge of trying to remove a bit of both from the recipe. 
I am so very happy to announce that even though the fat and calories were reduced, the flavor was not. This is some seriously good soup guys! Even Mr “Soup is not a meal” raved about it and ended up finishing his bowl and part of mine. He was also very happy to package the leftovers in a freezer bag for a future meal. I was, as you cam imagine, very pleasantly surprised! 
I myself referred to this soup as a little bit of heaven in a bowl, so you know how I felt about it. Seriously though, give this soup a try, you will not regret it I promise!!
Lightened Up Lasagna Soup

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound Italian turkey sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I used 1 teaspoon)
6 broken whole wheat lasagna noodles
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, packed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese, plus some for sprinkling

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large sauce pot  Add the sausage, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is crumbled and browned, approx 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salt, and crushed red pepper. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the noodles, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in mozzarella, basil, and the Parmesan. Ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle with a little extra mozzarella cheese if wanted.

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Sausage, Tomato and Spinach Pasta Bake

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This was one of those pantry/fridge clean out recipes. I hadn’t made it out to the store and Kevin was too tired to stop on the way home. When he came in the door he said he was starving and asked what was for dinner. I was quick to begin the search through my supplies to see what I could come up with. I have certain things I keep stocked so I always have them on hand. Canned tomatoes (crushed, diced, and whole), pastas, and sausage (in the freezer) are pretty much always on hand. I had some leftover baby spinach from salads a few days before. Plus of course I am never without several different types of cheeses.
After about the third time of Kevin asking was was for dinner I told him to hush, I mean I never let him go hungry right? Sheesh all the pressure! I still think it is funny when he gets nervous about what I am making. He has told me several times that I have never made a bad meal. Where is the faith and the love? I mean come on, really?
After this was all done and put on the table all he could say is “Wow that looks and smells really good” *sigh*thank you! Seriously, I think he just loves making me crazy but I keep telling him it is a quick trip and he doesn’t want to push it too far too fast!

Anyway, back to the food. This is a great quick casserole for a busy weeknight. It really takes very little time at all and tastes wonderful. Kevin took the leftovers to work for his boss and himself the next day. That always lets me know he liked it!

Sausage, Tomato and Spinach Pasta Bake
8 ounces short cut pasta (I used Penne)
8 ounces Italian sausage (sweet or hot)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup red wine
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1 can 14.5 ounce diced tomatoes
5 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup Italian blend shredded cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta, and set aside.
  3. Add olive oil to a large skillet and cook sausage over medium high heat, stirring to crumble. When sausage is browned add onion, cook until translucent, add the garlic and cook for an addition 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and scrape up the browned bit from the bottom of the pan. Cook for 2 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in fresh spinach. 
  4. Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, and basil. Place half of the pasta mixture in a small (2 quart) casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Top with the half of the mozzarella and Italian cheese blend. Cover with remaining pasta and top with the remaining cheeses. Bake at 350° for 25 minute.
ENJOY!

Sausage and White Bean Soup

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Yesterday was a cold, drizzly, windy day here in Western Washington. I know you are thinking “cold, drizzly, and windy in Washington? NO WAY!” But yes dear friends, it was miserable. On top of mother nature bringing me down, I felt like I was coming down with a cold. I wanted to curl up under the covers in my jammies, I wanted to watch cheesy 80’s movies,I wanted my Mommy! But my jammies were in the laundry, and there were no 80’s movies on TV so I knew I would have to settle with something warm and yummy in my tummy. I took up the challenge and I ransacked my pantry. I was very happy with what I found.

Ahhh soup, glorious soup. As you all know I am a lover of all things “soupish”. Stews, Chowders, even Chili’s make me such a happy camper during the cold dreary months here in the Pacific Northwest. Which by the way last pretty much from October to July so I have tons of soup days!
I know I have mentioned that Kevin does not share this love of mine. In fact it is quite the opposite. He looks at soup as maybe and appetizer? He is looking for the real meal that goes with it. Many a time he has to walk away disappointed, or with a grilled cheese sandwich to supplement his meal experience. 
This evening though was much different though my friends. On this evening he was not only perfectly content with the idea of this soup as the main meal, he went back for seconds and thirds!! I was afraid to get between him and the pot for fear of being stabbed with his spoon!!! I have to agree though, this really is one of my favorite soups. You have the meatiness of the sausage, the creamy white beans, and just enough heat to make your mouth warm and tingly but it doesn’t blow the top off of your head. 
When a soup warms me, fills me up, and makes me want to curl up on the couch and purr with contentment, well I am just a happy happy camper!!
Sausage and White Bean Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage
1 large sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
4 stalks of celery with leaves, diced
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
3 teaspoons dried oregano
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
1 cup dry white wine
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 15-ounce cans cannellini beans 
1 quart chicken stock
In a deep soup pot heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage and  brown well, breaking it up into little bits. Remove sausage from pot and reserve.

To the pot add the remaining olive oil, onions, garlic, chili peppers, celery, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Add the white wine, scrapping the bottom of the pan to release any brown bits there might be. Return the sausage to the pot. Add the crushed tomatoes, cannellini beans, and chicken stock.

Bring to a boil, once boiling reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot and let it cook for 30 mins stirring occasionally.

ENJOY!!!


Italian Style Skillet Pie

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The other day I was watching Symon’s Suppers on The Cooking Channel. I adore Michael Symon! I love his sense of humor, his talent, how energetic and caring he is. WOW am I gushing? Ya, I think he is pretty sexy too, but that might just be a foodie thing.
Anyway, I love watching his show. I am always finding things I want to make as soon as possible. He always seems to mix up flavors and give you little surprises here and there. When I saw this dish on his show I liked the sound of it. I had made the potato/cauliflower mash he used for the topping of the pie before and loved it.  I loved the idea of cooking in my cast iron skillet, something I have been wanting to try more and more, and I also loved that it was a “One Pot” meal so I wouldn’t have a ton of dishes to do after dinner. Also, it is a bit of a twist on Shepherds Pie, which is a favorite here.

I have been trying to lighten things up a bit where I can. In this dish I try by using turkey sausage in place of ground beef. The potato/cauliflower mashed topping already did that for me, but if you wanted to sub all cauliflower for the mix of potato and cauliflower you could and that would save more carbs for you. I just prefer the mix as we aren’t big fans of the strong cauliflower taste. I do use butter in this but you just can’t sub anything else in my mind.
It was a fun dish to make for me. I was kind of winging it a bit and when it came out so good, and got Kevin’s stamp of approval, I was a happy camper. He even took it for lunch the next day and I ate the last of it yesterday for lunch, so no waste with this meal at all! 
Italian Style Skillet Pie
Adapted from Michael Symon’s Cast-Iron Ground Beef Pie
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 package Italian style ground turkey sausage (usually come in 1 1/3 package)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 head cauliflower, core removed and quartered
1 cup chopped celery, plus 1/2 cup celery leaves
1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning blend 
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup of red wine
1/2 cup packed fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped (some reserved for topping if wanted)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons room temperature butter
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Fill a large pot with cold water and add the potatoes, cauliflower and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook over moderate heat until tender, about 20 minutes.

Pour the olive oil into a preheated 8-inch cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Allow the oil to heat up, and then add the turkey sausage, salt and pepper. Press the meat into the pan and cook until caramelized, about 5 minutes, and then flip and caramelize the other side.

When the sausage is caramelized, remove it from the pan and set aside. Add the celery, celery leaves and onions and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. Return the cooked sausage to the pan and stir in the parsley. Add a red wine. Remove from the heat and set aside. Adjust seasoning if needed.

When the potatoes and cauliflower are done cooking, drain and mash well. Stir in the Parmesan and butter until thoroughly combined.

Spread the potato mixture over the beef mixture in the pan, and smooth the top to seal in the sausage mixture.

Bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool 10 minutes. Top with chopped parsley leaves if desired. 

ENJOY!


Shared at the Lady 8 Home

Baked Spaghetti

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I know this isn’t the prettiest dish I have presented to you, but it sure was a tasty one! I had no plans whatsoever to make this dish. It came about because I have been trying to be a good girl and use up all of my leftovers. I had marinara sauce left over from making the Caprese Meatball Subs, and the Pizza Balls, and I wanted to use it up. So into my fridge I went, digging for some ingredients to cook up a meal that Kevin would enjoy. Out I came with Italian sausage, mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan cheese. I knew I could do something with that.
I had heard of baked spaghetti before but had never tried it. I do however love pasta carbonara and I figured I would go along those lines to try my spaghetti baking experiment errr experience. I wish there had been some parsley in my fridge, but it came out really good without it.

Again, I think Kevin was a bit skeptical when I told him what we were having. I think it was kind of like;
Kevin – What’s for dinner?
Me – Baked Spaghetti.
Kevin – What?
Me – Baked Spaghetti!
Kevin – What in the heck is that?
Me – It is spaghetti mixed with lots of ingredients and baked in an oven *annoyed look*
Kevin – Smart a……
Of course, as usual, he had to eat his words (pardon the pun) because he really liked it. In fact he liked it so much he took it to work the next day for lunch and took some extra so his boss could have some too. I love it when that happens!!
If you want to make this recipe a bit quicker you could use jarred marinara sauce, but my recipe is so easy and I just love the fresh flavor better. Either way though, I hope you give it a try!!
Baked Spaghetti
16 ounces (1 package) spaghetti noodles
1 pound Italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
4 cups Marinara Sauce (see recipe below)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 ball of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
For the Marinara Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (Recommended San Marzano)
2 6 ounce cans of tomatoes paste
1 cup water
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Mix in half of the minced garlic and cook one more minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomatoes paste, water, half of the chopped oregano, and the bay leaf. (Add more water if sauce seems too thick). Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer. Leftovers can be frozen if needed.

Meanwhile cook the spaghetti per package directions. 

Crumble Italian sausage into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until no pink remains. Drain fat if needed. Stir in Marinara sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs, Parmesan cheese, and butter together. Drain spaghetti and toss with the egg mixture. Spray the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish with  non stick spray. Place the spaghetti in the casserole dish. Top with meat sauce and sliced mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and cook an additional 5 minutes or until cheese gets bubbly.

ENJOY

Shared at The Lady 8 Home

Pizza Balls

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This is another one of those recipes I saw on Pintrest and just felt like I had to put my own spin on it. Actually my daughter found it. She lives in California now so we both have boards on our Pintrest accounts for each other. If we find something we think the other one would like we pin it to those boards. It is kind of like a Pintrest Christmas. You open it up and SURPRISE look what I found for you!
So I took a look at this and thought it sounded like a good idea, I just wanted to change it up. I have told you all I am not a baker by any means, but I have had really great luck with my pizza dough so anytime I get a chance to make it I jump. The original recipe called for refrigerator biscuits and, although it is much simpler to do it that way, I though pizza dough would taste so much better. I mean garlic pizza dough vs biscuit dough? In my mind there was no question. 
Then the original had no sauce in it. You dipped the finished rolls in sauce, but there wasn’t any inside. I had just made a huge batch of homemade marinara sauce so I figured I would give that a try. If you don’t want to make the sauce you could use jarred pizza sauce, but I will say that the marinara is super easy, it tastes better, and you can make a big batch and freeze it for another day like I did.
Another thing I switched was the meat. They used two pieces of pepperoni but Kevin is a sausage lover. I actually wish I had put a slice of mush room inside as well, but the sausage was really good. I switched the cheddar jack cheese for fresh mozzarella. I just love fresh mozzarella and use it when ever I can. 
Kevin wasn’t home to take pictures of the dough making or cutting process, but that is pretty straight forward. But I can show you the process of constructing the balls.
After you cut the dough (I used a large mouth glass but if you have a bigger biscuit cutter it would work well)
Spread it out with your fingers a bit.
Add a small dollop of the sauce.
Place a bit of sausage in the middle. I used a quartered slice of link sausage but a scoop of bulk sausage would work as well.
A little chunk of fresh mozzarella.

And started to fold it over into a ball. One side..
Two sides….
Three sides…
A ball…TADA!
Pinch it’s little bottom and then place it pinched side down in a baking dish sprayed with non stick spray. Bush tops with melted butter and then sprinkle with a bit of garlic powder and dried basil.
Someone is patiently waiting for his Pizza Ball…who said he was getting one? I don’t know.

I made a half batch so that is why the dish isn’t full, but don’t they look pretty all toasty and golden brown out of the oven?

Add a bit of the warmed up marinara sauce on the side for dipping and you have got yourself some seriously good balls!

Pizza Balls
Adapted from recipe found at Riches to Rags
2 links of Italian sausage, or 1/2 pound bulk sausage, cooked
4-ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
Marinara sauce (see recipe below), or jarred pizza sauce
Garlic pizza dough (see recipe below)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Garlic powder, for sprinkling
Dried basil, for sprinkling
For the Pizza Dough:
1 1/8 cup warm water
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, honey and olive oil. Mix with a spoon, then let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add in 2 1/2 cups flour, salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and dried basil, stirring with a spoon until the dough comes together but it still sticky. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball and work the additional 1/2 cup flour (you don’t need to use all if it is not needed) in to the dough, kneading it on a floured surface for a few minutes. Rub the same bowl with olive oil then place the dough inside, turning to coat. Cover with a towel and place in a warm place to rise for about 1 1/2 hours.

After the dough has risen, punch it down and place it back on the floured surface. Using a roll pin or your hands, cut into desired size discs. Place the towel back over the dough and let sit in the warm place for 10 minutes. 
For the Marinara Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (Recommended San Marzano)
2 6 ounce cans of tomatoes paste
1 cup water
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Mix in the minced garlic and cook one more minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomatoes paste, water, chopped oregano, and the bay leaf. (Add more water if sauce seems too thick). Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer.


Form pizza balls as per pictures above and bake at 425 for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
ENJOY!!





Farfalle with Sausage and Tomato Cream Sauce

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Funny little story. There once was a food blogger that jumped into blogging with both feet. She was so excited to find something that made her so happy, she really felt she had found her calling. She cooked many many meals making her family feel as though they might burst at the seams. She typed her little fingers off creating post after post that she hoped would not only entertain her readers (all 50 of them) with her words, but with her recipes as well. She had no method to her madness. Just cook, cook, cook, write, write, write, post, post, post. And then one day she decided to organize her photo files, you see she had become much more organized in her meal planning and posting, and felt it was past time for the photos to be organized as well. When what to her curious eyes appeared, but several photo’s of food she had cooked that she had never posted. ARRGGG she thought cursing at her computer screen, “How could I have missed posting these?”. Moral to the story? Be more organized and also, don’t talk to your computer screen because if someone hears you you might end up heavily medicated!

Yes my darling foodie friends, that crazy absent minded blogger is me, and the oh so lovely (that would be sarcasm my friends) photo is one of the very first photos I took for my blog. It is nice to see I have improved just a bit. The recipe though, it is still fresh and new, and just as good as it ever was. 
My friend Ann from Sumptuous Spoonfuls told me yesterday that I am the Queen of pasta. It made me giggle a bit. I don’t know if I am the Queen but I sure do love to eat it! I also love quick and easy recipes that your whole family will love. I think this one fits into that category quite nicely. I hope you agree!!
Farfalle with Sausage and Tomato Cream Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage (sold in bulk or links with casings removed)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can of whole Italian tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cup heavy cream (can sub fat free evaporated milk)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt
1 box farfalle (bow tie) pasta
Grated Parmesan for garnish

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the post.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage until it is no longer pink. Add the onions, garlic, and crushed pepper flakes. Cook until the onion is soft, and sausage has browned. Add the tomatoes and using a potato masher smash them to break them up (or squeeze them in your hand, just be careful of squirting juice). Then add the cream and salt to taste.

Reduce heat and simmer until the mixture begins to thicken a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the pasta and continue to cook until the pasta is thoroughly heated through. Ladle into deep bowls, garnish with chopped parsley and grated cheese.

ENJOY!!



Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli #SundaySupper

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It has been a while since I have had school age kids but I still remember the rush of getting kids to soccer, football, getting homework done, and getting a good meal on the table as quickly as possible. I mean if it wasn’t for quick school night meals we would have all been eating at 10 PM!
There of course was always the problem of not only getting a meal on the table quickly, but trying to make it a balanced meal that the kids would eat. That can really be the tough part right? I used to be good at hiding the “good stuff”. A wonderful way to do that is by making things like meatloaf and then grating up some zucchini, carrots, squash, etc. and mixing it in. You can freeze the meatloaf and then cook it on the night you want. But this is about those nights when you need/want to get meal from stove to table in under 30 minutes. For those nights I loved one pot meals. You have your protein, vegetable, and starch all together. Cook it all up and Bing Bam Boom dinner is served!!

This one has been a favorite in our house for quite some time. It is actually one of the dishes that got my kids to actually like broccoli. It is also a dish that, because it is so simple, you could have the kiddos in the kitchen helping out and still get it done quickly. I know I used to love it when my kids got into the kitchen with me, it just made it more about family and less about just trying to rush to get something on the table. I think that is why my kitchen is really the heart of my home and I love having the family with me while I cook, chopping, tasting, and talking about their day. 
You can use many different type of pasta for this dish. I prefer the tube shaped pasta with lines like penne or rigatoni, but farfalle is a great one for little ones because it looks like little bow ties and if you are trying to distract them from the fact that they are eating broccoli this can do the job.

Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli
1 pound pasta (penne, rigatoni, farfalle, etc.)
1 pound bulk Italian sausage (can be bought in links and the casings removed)
2 heads of broccoli cut into bite sized florets
1/4 cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon
Kosher salt
Cracked black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, zested and the juice of one half reserved
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top
In a large pot of boiling salted water (pasta water should taste like the “ocean”), cook the pasta according to package instructions adding the broccoli florets to the pot for the last 3 minutes of cooking time. Reserve 1 cup of starchy pasta water and then drain.
While pasta is cooking have one of the kids whisk the 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and garlic together in a small bowl. Salt and pepper to taste.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high. Add the sausage, crumbling as you drop it into the skillet. Cook sausage until browned, stirring to break it up (although the kids liked chunky bites you can break it up as much as you like). Remove from the heat. Add pasta and broccoli to the pot. Toss with the oil mixture, using pasta water if needed to make a thin sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.
ENJOY!

Just take a look at our line up of other awesome recipes.

Please be sure you join us on Twitter throughout the day on Sunday. We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 p.m. EST for our weekly #SundaySupper live chat where we’ll talk about Back to School Meals and ways to make meal time easier!
All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us throughTweetChat! We’ll be sharing great recipes and tips all afternoon, and we’ll be talking all things Back to School Meals during our chat!
We’d also love to feature your Back to School Recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers!

Food Star Friday – Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

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For Food Star Friday this week I decided to go a bit small, as in appetizer small. With my household being huge football and Nascar fans, it is nice to whip up a few nibbles to have around so when the mood strikes you there is something tasty to put in your tummy. Football + beer + good food = the perfect Sunday right? To all my non football friends out there, don’t worry I am not obsessed with any other sport so once football season is done I will be back to normal, well normal for ME hehe.

There are so many great appetizer recipes out there  by all of our favorite food stars I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to make. Then I ran across these babies by Ina Garten. I love stuffed mushrooms and haven’t had them in forever. The last couple of times I made them with crab and cream cheese. I liked the whole sausage idea and the fact that she used mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese. I am really becoming quite the fan of mascarpone cheese VS cream cheese. Oh I am not hating on the cream cheese or anything, I just like the change of pace. It is lighter and a bit sweet, can be used in sweet and savory dishes, just a nice new taste.

The only downside is that you get to taste that yummy stuffing and then it goes into the mushrooms and has to bake for 50 minutes! Aaahhh I must have been in the bathroom when they were handing out patience when it comes to food I swear. But they are worth the wait. Kevin and I went to work on them as soon as they were cool enough to bite, actually even before then. I burned my tongue a bit, like I said, no patience.

The only thing I would change about this recipe is the olive oil. Of course mushrooms themselves carry a lot of  moisture, but I felt it really didn’t add anything to the recipe and made the mushrooms kind of wet. I would however still drizzle the mushroom caps with the Marsala  wine. You don’t want to cut out ANY of the flavor for these bad boys!

 Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 16 extra-large white mushrooms ( I used creminis)
  • 5 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Marsala wine or medium sherry
  • 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from the casings
  • 6 scallions, white and green parts, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2/3 cup panko crumbs
  • 5 ounces mascarpone cheese, preferably from Italy
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them finely. Set aside. Place the mushroom caps in a shallow bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and Marsala. Set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, crumbling it with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook the sausage for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it’s completely browned. Add the chopped mushroom stems and cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in the scallions and garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the panko crumbs, stirring to combine evenly with all the other ingredients. Finally, swirl in the mascarpone and continue cooking until the mascarpone has melted and made the sausage mixture creamy. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, parsley, and season with salt and pepper, to taste, Cool slightly.
Fill each mushroom generously with the sausage mixture. Arrange the mushrooms in a baking dish large enough to hold all the mushrooms in a snug single layer. Bake until the stuffing for 50 minutes, until the stuffing is browned and crusty.

Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce and Meatballs

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This is another recipe that I have worked on over and over trying to fine tune it the way I want it. I know there are a million spaghetti and meatball recipes out there but I wanted mine to be just that, mine.

When I was a kid my Dad and I both loved Italian food and Mexican food so much. My Dad used to say that if he had been born Italian or Mexican he would be (these are his words) “Two ax handles across”. We drove my mother crazy because we were huge carb junkies. Veggies smeggies give us pasta and we were happy!

Luckily I have learned to love veggies but my love for pasta is just as strong as it was when I was a kid. Growing up my Dad would always make his spaghetti with Ragu and then add some dry Italian spice mix to it along with maybe some salt and pepper. It wasn’t much but just that little bit of “doctoring” the recipe made it better and made it his own.

I continued along the same method into my adulthood, although I used Prego instead of Ragu. I guess switching brands made me feel like I was making it my own I am not sure. Then I started to get really fancy and mix two different sauces together. Ohhh WOW right? I know. But once I had my  gastric bypass and really began this journey into really coming up with my own true recipes. Spaghetti and meatballs was high on my list.

Marinara sauce on its own is very healthy and if you want to make the meatballs lower calorie and healthier use ground turkey and turkey sausage. I will rotate how I make it at home to soothe the savage red meat beasts I have here. I can get away with turkey for awhile and then I can see in their faces that they need some red meat. Trust me I am using turkey more and more *wink* they are starting to not know the difference. Of course if Kevin is helping me cook I can’t exactly sneak turkey in on him.

Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce and Meatballs

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (Recommended San Marzano)
2 6 ounce cans of tomatoes paste
1 cup water
1/2 cup fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
1 pound lean ground beef 
1/2 pound Italian sausage (if your grocer doesn’t have bulk just cut open the link type)
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
2 eggs slightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb spaghetti noodles
For the sauce:
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Mix in half of the minced garlic and cook one more minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomatoes paste, water, half of the chopped oregano, and the bay leaf. (Add more water if sauce seems too thick). Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer.
For the meatballs:
In a large bowl mix the ground beef, sausage, bread crumbs, oregano, garlic, parsley, eggs, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Roll into balls and drop into the sauce. Cook 40 minutes in the sauce.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, generously salt the boiling water and add the spaghetti noodles. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain. 
Serve the meatballs and sauce over the cooked spaghetti. Top with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.