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Tag Archives: comfort

Sausage Minestrone


I’ve been making the most amazing soups this winter.  My secret? I finally gave up following recipes! I never thought I could cook without a recipe, as I’ve never been what I think of as a “natural cook” – someone who can just keep adding things to a dish or pot until it tastes amazing. But I decided to give it a shot, and have surprised myself with the results.

Sadly, a lot of the delicious things I’ve made, I didn’t measure anything and didn’t take notes, so I can’t share recipes or even make them exactly the same way again.  But this one turned out so good that I immediately wrote down exactly how I made it so I could duplicate and share it.  I’ve made it twice in the past month – we love it so much! It’s also quite nutritious and low in fat, which is a big bonus in my book, as many of my favorite meals are huge calorie bombs. Not this one. Enjoy the flavor, guilt-free. :)

Sausage Minestrone

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1 (8 oz) package baby portabella (“bella”) mushrooms, sliced
1 (20 oz) package Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
8 chicken bouillon cubes*
8 cups water
1 (15-16 oz) can white cannellini beans
1 (15-16 oz) can dark red kidney beans
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with basil, garlic & oregano, undrained
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large zucchini, cut in half & sliced
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 cups kale, hard stems removed and chopped into small pieces

Cook the mushrooms in olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until they are cooked down and soft and a darker color. Scrape into a stock pot. In the same skillet, brown the turkey sausage, breaking it up as it cooks to make crumbles. Once cooked, add to the pot. Add the remaining ingredients except for the kale, and bring to a boil over high head. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, 15-30 minutes.  Add kale and cook another five minutes.

*Veronica’s notes: you want the smaller size bouillon cubes, the ones that need only one cup water each for broth. If using the bigger ones that need two cups, use only 4 cubes. You can use 8 cups chicken broth instead, omitting the water from the recipe, and add salt to taste.  The second time I made this, I added in 3 stalks of celery and a pound of fresh green beans. Feel free to add what you like, and just add more seasoning to taste, if necessary.

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Last-Minute Lasagna


This isn’t the greatest lasagna of all time, but it’s really good (quality does depend on the products you use), and it’s really FAST!  And that makes it a winner in my book. I served this to company (Nana Donna, AKA Momma Donna), and she said she had no idea it wasn’t real lasagna and she really enjoyed it a lot! So if you ever need a meal in a hurry, this one’s a great one to try.

Last-Minute Lasagna

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1 (24-26 oz) jar pasta sauce
2 (16 oz) containers frozen large, cheese or beef ravioli
1 (10 oz) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed dry
8 oz mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup (2 oz) grated Parmesan
Fresh basil or parsley for garnish, if desired

Heat oven to 350° F.  Coat a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray, spread 1/3 of sauce to cover the bottom of dish. Cover with half of the ravioli, half of the cheeses, all of spinach, 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat with another layer of ravioli (not all the ravioli may be needed), spread with remaining sauce and top with remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes. Uncover and bake until bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes more. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe source: Real Simple, as seen on Nutmeg Notebook

Other Italian favorites…

Lasagna & Garlic Bread – really good stuff! Possibly my favorite lasagna recipe.

shrimp-scallop-scampi-4-6-10Shrimp & Scallop Scampi with Linguini – a restaurant-worthy meal.

Really Great Spaghetti & Meatballs – this is the easiest way to make spaghetti and meatballs, and it’s just fantastic!

Butternut Squash Lasagna

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My friend, Lynn, shared this recipe with me in the early fall when my grass was still green, and as you can see from the green in my photos, I made it immediately.  I’m so glad I’m finally getting around to sharing it before winter squash and hot comfort meals are forgotten in favor of salads and meals that can be cooked without turning the oven on.  This is definitely one to try before winter gives way to spring.

Lynn said she makes it every fall, and sometimes adds Italian sausage and caramelized onions to hers. Well, those additions didn’t sound optional to me and I’m so glad I found the time to add them.  This is a rather involved recipe but definitely worth the time. Utter deliciousness! Slightly sweet & creamy squash, gooey cheese, with layers of flavor from the onions and sausage…a big winner with our whole family.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

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3-5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 (1 1/2- to 2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large onion, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1 lb. Italian sausage
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
Pinch of nutmeg
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a heavy, large skillet over medium heat. Add the cubed squash and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour the water into the skillet, cover, and simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer the squash to a mixing bowl or food processor and mash. Season the squash purée to taste with more salt and pepper; set aside.

Heat 3-4 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onions slowly turn brown and caramelized, adding additional oil if necessary, about 30-40 minutes. Stir into the squash.

Cook the Italian sausage in a skillet over medium heat, breaking it up and crumbling it with a spatula until cooked through. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Add the nutmeg. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly butter a 13×9 glass baking dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Cover the bottom of pan with one layer of lasagna noodles. Spread half of the squash purée over the noodle, then half of the sausage. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup of sauce over the cheese. Repeat layering once more, finishing with a layer of noodles covered only by white sauce.

Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove cover, sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna and continue baking until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

Recipe source: Mother Earth News with adaptation by Lynn S.

More squashy favorites…

Sausage & Spaghetti Squash Breakfast Pie – yes, you can have your breakfast casserole without all the carbs! A creation of my own that I’m pretty proud of. Seriously yum.

Garlic Chicken & Bacon Spaghetti Squash Alfredo – I don’t like pasta alfredo, but this…is heaven.

Slow Cooker Moroccan Turkey Stew…seriously one of my top favorite things I’ve eaten in the history of ever.

Shredded Chicken with Noodles

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I made this two years ago, it’s about time I shared it!  This is basically chicken noodle soup but with sauce instead of broth. As I’m all about chicken noodle soup, especially with homemade egg noodles, I love it with or without the broth (forget that my “sauce” looks more like broth, I obviously messed up by not thickening it enough, but you’re not going to, right?), and this is one of those hot comforting meals that seem essential during cold winter months.

In other news, today is the last day to enter my Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil giveaway, and I also posted my announcement about February’s Sweetest Swap a lot later in the day than usual (after staying up until 6 AM on Monday so I could get all the details worked out and schedule the blog, I forgot to schedule it! Of course.) , so if you missed it, please check that out as well.  Now let’s scare the chill out of our bones with some savory chicken and noodles shall we?  And if you’d like to make your egg noodles from scratch, it couldn’t be easier, you can snag my recipe here.

Shredded Chicken with Noodles

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1 whole cut up fryer chicken
2 whole carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
½ whole medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoons turmeric
¼ teaspoons white pepper (more to taste) (I used black)
¼ teaspoons ground thyme
2 teaspoons parsley flakes
16 ounces, weight frozen “homemade” Egg Noodles or same amount dried large egg noodles
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1. Cover chicken in 4 quarts water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Remove chicken from pot with a slotted spoon. With two forks, remove as much meat from the bones as you can, slightly shredding meat in the process. Return bones to broth and simmer on low, covered, for 45 minutes.
3. Remove bones from broth with a slotted spoon, making sure to get any small bones that might have detached. Add the carrots and celery and onions to the pot, followed by the herbs and spices. Stir to combine and simmer for ten minutes to meld flavors.
4. Increase heat and add egg noodles and chicken. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
5. Mix flour and a little water. Stir until smooth. Pour into soup, stir to combine, and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until broth thickens a bit. Test and adjust seasonings as needed.
Recipe Source: The Pioneer Woman via Framed Cooks
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