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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

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

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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Sausage & Spaghetti Squash Breakfast Pie

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I created this recipe earlier in the year, when I was Somersizing, and not combining carbohydrates (other than from vegetables) with protein.  Although I was thinner during that time than I have been for years, it wasn’t sustainable for me.  I mostly chose to eat protein meals because those were the meals where fat was allowed, and therefore more fun.  If I wanted carbs, I had to eat carbs only and without any fat.  That was just way too boring, so I chose mainly protein/fats meals and ended up basically doing Atkins and calling it Somersizing. :)

Although I’m no longer keeping my carbs separate from fat and protein, I plan to make this casserole throughout the winter because it’s incredibly delicious and satisfying.  One thing I’m going to try next time is cooking 1/2 cup of onions with the sausage instead of using chives.  I love the chives, but I think a stronger onion flavor would be nice here.  I know fresh herbs are harder to come by in winter if you don’t have pots of them indoors or want to pay an arm and a leg for a little tiny bunch of them at the supermarket, so you can totally substitute dried–just use half the amount called for.

And for those wondering what movie the quote from yesterday came from, it was Herbie the Love Bug, in the scene where, during the race, Peter Thorndyke stops for gas at Chinese camp.  Fast forward to 8:00 to see the reference.

Sausage & Spaghetti Squash Breakfast Pie

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 (3 lb.) spaghetti squash
8 ounces bulk sausage
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
5 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh cracked pepper
1 cup cheddar cheese

To cook spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise, and use a spoon to rake out the seeds. Place cut side down on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with oil. Bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees or until tender. Set aside to cool a bit. Rake the flesh from the shell and refrigerate in an airtight container until you’re ready to make the pie.

Cook sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat, breaking apart with spatula so you have crumbles. Stir in the sage and chives, then stir in the spaghetti squash. If the squash is very watery, you can cook the mixture a little to help it evaporate. Butter or spray a 9” deep dish pie plate with oil and spread squash mixture in dish. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, and pepper, then pour over the squash and sausage mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Sprinkle cheese over the top and cook another 5 minutes, until melted.  Serve hot.

Baked Pasta with Spinach & Sausage


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So much for meatless Mondays!  I was so excited about trying this recipe that I totally forgot that Monday is supposed to be our meatless day.  I wonder how hard it will be to convince Dennis that this means two meatless days next week to make up for it?

We both really enjoyed this and it’s fairly simple.  I liked it so much, in fact, I’m thinking about trying it with mushrooms in place of the meat next Monday!

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Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound rigatoni (I used whole wheat rotini)
10 ounces frozen baby spinach, thawed and drained well (I used a pound)
12 ounces precooked smoked chicken (or turkey) sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I used 3 links of spicy Italian sausage, cooked on the grill)
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, 4 ounces cut into 1/2-inch cubes and 4 ounces shredded
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic. Cook for another minute.

Stir in tomatoes, oregano and basil; simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add cream; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. (If using fresh spinach, add it to the pot of boiling pasta right at the end and cook until wilted.) Drain, and return contents to pot.

Add tomato sauce, sausage, spinach and cubed mozzarella to the pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Scoop pasta into lightly greased 9X13-inch pan (or divide evenly between two 8X8-inch pans). Top with grated mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

*Freezable Meal: Prepare recipe right up until the baking step and then cover with a double layer of aluminum foil. Freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. To bake, increase baking time to 1 to 1 1/4 hours. If baking from frozen, bake covered for 1 hour and 15 minutes, uncover and bake 30 minutes longer. Makes a heaping full 9X13 pan.

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