Leftover Italian Sausage With Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Pepper Pizza

13 08 2014

You’ve heard me say this before, and you’ll hear me say it again…and again…and again. Leftovers don’t have to be boring! It takes mere minutes to use up last night’s leftovers, but in a completely different dish. And this is the reason I make meals that serve 3-4 people, when primarily I’m only cooking for me and the hubby…for the leftovers baby!

Italian Sausage With Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Pepper Pizza

The following makes 2 pizzas (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

Preheat oven to 400.

Place naan on a pizza stone side by side. Distribute the leftover onions and peppers between the naan, evenly spreading all over. Next, top with the sliced sausage.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the sausage and peppers are heated through. Remove from the oven, top evenly with cheese and place back in the oven. Bake for a few more minutes until the cheese melts.

Remove from the oven and top with some red pepper flakes and basil to garnish before serving.

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Italian Sausage With Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Peppers

12 08 2014

Given my Italian heritage, I should be able to make you a sausage, onion and pepper dish in my sleep. And…I pretty much can! The best thing about this recipe is that you really don’t need a recipe, you can just wing it! As long as you don’t burn anything, this will turn out savory and delicious.

You’ll typically find sausage, onions and peppers on my family’s go-to party menu, but we don’t normally use as many ingredients as I have in this meal. But thanks to my CSA share from Fresh Fork Market, I had more produce to use up. So I threw in some extras like tomatoes and fennel fronds that I normally wouldn’t add. And that’s what makes this meal versatile. Add what you like, remove what you don’t – it won’t make a difference. Just get a nice caramelization on the onions and peppers, and you’re good to go!

Italian Sausage with Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Peppers

The following serves 3-4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 4 Italian sausage links
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small candy onions, or whatever onions you like, sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, whatever color you like, sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Granulated garlic
  • 3 small tomatoes, diced
  • Good handful of fennel fronds
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken stock
  • Fresh basil ribbons

Preheat grill to medium, try to keep the grill around 300 degrees.

Preheat oven to 350.

Poke two-three holes in the sausages with a knife – don’t poke all the way through. Place sausages on the grill and close lid but keep it slightly ajar. Grill until brown all over, a few minutes on each side. Remove from the grill.

In a large non-stick oven-proof skillet, heat 3 Tbsp or so of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until beginning to soften, tossing occasionally. Add peppers and continue to saute until onions start to brown and peppers soften, tossing occasionally. At this point add the tomatoes, fennel fronds and season with salt, red pepper flakes and granulated garlic – all to taste. The salt will help the onions and peppers give off some of their natural liquid. Saute for another few minutes.

Next, deglaze the pan with some balsamic vinegar, a good turn of the pan, about 2 Tbsp or so. Let the vinegar cook down, tossing with the onions and peppers. Next, add some chicken stock, just eyeball it, about 1/4 cup, and cook for another minute or two. You’ll notice the liquid start to thicken into a sauce. Remove from the heat.

Nestle the grilled sausages into the onions and peppers and cover the skillet loosely with foil. Transfer to the oven and bake 10 minutes. Remove foil and finish baking uncovered, another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Serve sausages along with the onions, peppers and some of the sauce from the pan. Garnish with fresh basil. I like to enjoy this meal with a big salad of baby greens dressed in red wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and granulated garlic.





Chorizo With Black Beans and Cheddar Polenta

13 06 2014

Tonight’s yummy Mexican dinner was made with nearly all Fresh Fork Market ingredients from our share this week, and was a labor of love! While not too complicated, there are multiple parts to this which did take some time. Like the black beans for instance….I used dried for the first time and am now converted! The most time-consuming part of making dried beans is soaking them, so just plan ahead, and either soak overnight or in the morning before you head to work.

Chorizo with black beans and cheddar polenta

The following serves 2-4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 cup organic dried black beans
  • Water
  • 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3 smashed garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 can (4 oz) diced green chilies
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 pound bulk ground chorizo
  • 1 bell pepper, whatever color you like, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic scapes, chopped or garlic cloves minced
  • 1 small head fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 cups low-sodium, reduced-fat chicken broth, plus more for deglazing
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • Fresh salsa
  • Corn crackers or tortilla chips for garnish

Rinse black beans well, in a strainer. Soak 1 cup of dried beans in 3 cups of water for 6-10 hours. You can either do this overnight, or in the morning before you head to work. After 6-10 hours, drain the beans, add to a medium pot and add 3 cups of water or chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the cumin, oregano, bay leaves, smashed garlic cloves, and 1/4 cup chopped onion. Cook over medium heat for 60 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally. If your liquid starts to evaporate before the beans are done, just add some more water or stock. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the diced chilies, juice of 1 lime and salt to taste.

Start the chorizo part after the beans have been cooking for about 30 minutes. In a large cast iron skillet, heat a little olive oil over medium-high heat and add the small chopped onion and bell peppers. Saute for a few minutes until beginning to softened. Add the garlic scapes or garlic, cook until fragrant about a minute. Add the chorizo, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Saute until the meat crumbles and starts to get a nice brown on it, stirring occasionally. Deglaze the pan with a little chicken stock, a turn or two of the pan. Be sure to scrape up any brown bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan. Add spinach to the chorizo and cook until wilted. Season lightly with salt to taste.

Next make the polenta, just note it cooks fast. Also note this portion is for about 2 people. Bring 2 cups chicken broth to a boil. Slowly whisk in the corn meal. Reduce heat to low and continue to whisk the polenta constantly for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and vigorously stir in the cheddar cheese until fully melted and incorporated.

Right before serving, garnish both the chorizo mixture and the black beans with some chopped cilantro.

To serve, dish out the polenta, the black beans and the chorizo mixture onto plates. Top with a dollop of fresh salsa and some corn crackers or tortilla chips for some crunch and for scooping.





Creamy Tuscan Beans With Mushrooms and Kale

21 05 2014

This rustic Tuscan bean side dish is deliciously creamy and loaded with both flavor and nutrition! It whips up pretty quickly too. Get some chicken or steak on the grill while you prepare this, and before you know it you’ll have a lovely weeknight meal ready to enjoy.

Creamy Tuscan Beans With Mushrooms and Kale

The following serves 4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Pinch kosher salt to taste
  • 1 (8 oz) package sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup of low-sodium, reduced-fat beef stock
  • Kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • 2-3 oz fontina cheese, cubed (you want to use fontina because it melts really well)
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

In a medium saucepan, heat a few Tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until beginning to soften, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring, a minute or so. Add rosemary, red pepper flakes and just a pinch of salt. Next add the mushrooms and cook until beginning to brown, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans, stock, olives and cheese. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The cheese will melt nicely into the stock, creating a nice creamy dish.

Meanwhile in a large saute pan, heat some oil and saute kale until wilted and cooked, 5-10 minutes. You can make as much as you like, I filled the pan (remember it shrinks when it cooks). Transfer sautéed kale to the beans and finish cooking together the final 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Dish out beans, top with parsley and enjoy alongside a protein of your choice. I served with grilled chicken breasts.





Chicken Cacciatore With Lemon-Herb Pasta

19 05 2014

Cacciatore refers to the way this chicken dish is prepared, which is typically braised in tomatoes, onions, peppers, spices and wine. In Italy, the wine used depends on the Region you’re in. The south uses red wine while the North tends to use white, making this versatile…and of course, tasty! Use the crockpot to help make Sunday supper or your weeknight dinners much easier.

Chicken Cacciatore With Lemon-Herb Pasta

The following serves 2-3 (adapted from Cuisine Slow Cooker Menus):

  • 2 whole pieces of quartered, bone-in chicken (leg/thigh), skin removed
  • Salt and pepper
  • Whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for pasta
  • 3/4 cup dry wine, either red or white will work
  • 1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • Handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 package (8 oz) sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • Half a pound of whole wheat wide egg noodles
  • Lemon zest and juice
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter or butter substitute
  • Fresh herbs, such as parsley or oregano
  • Parmesan, grated

After removing the skin, season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Dredge in flour, shaking off any excess. Brown chicken on both sides in 2 Tbsp hot oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat, about 8 minutes. Transfer chicken to a slow cooker.

Deglaze pan with wine, cooking until liquid is reduced by half. Transfer wine to the slow cooker.

Add tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, garlic, Italian seasoning and bay leaf to the slow cooker. Cover cacciatore, cook until chicken is tender 3 and 1/2 hours. During the last 30 minutes, add bell pepper, season with a little salt to taste and cover. Cook until pepper is tender.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add noodles and cook to al dente, according to package instructions. Drain pasta, add back to the hot pot and toss with 1 – 2 Tbsp of lemon zest and juice, red pepper flakes, the butter, a good drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and chopped parsley.

Serve up the pasta with the chicken cacciatore and sauce on top. Garnish with more fresh herbs and parmesan.





Whole-Wheat Spaghetti With Chicken Sausage, Peppers and Onions

7 02 2013

This rustic pasta dish is an Italian classic, found on many Italian restaurant menus. It’s fairly cheap and easy to make at home, and by switching up a few ingredients (like using whole-wheat pasta and chicken sausage) you can make it healthier too! 

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti With Chicken Sausage, Peppers and Onions

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti With Chicken Sausage, Peppers and Onions

The following serves 4 (compliments of This Girl):

  • 1 package chicken sausage (use sweet/mild, hot or a combo of both)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 small bell peppers (whatever color you like), sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • Couple cloves of garlic, minced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 box whole-wheat spaghetti
  • Kosher salt
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Place sausages in a medium skillet and prick each one a few times with a fork. Add water to the pan, cover and bring to a boil over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Drain water, add some olive oil (enough to coat the pan) and continue cooking sausages over medium heat until well browned all over. Be sure to watch they don’t burn. Remove sausages to a cutting board and rest a few minutes. Cut into 1-inch pieces.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove to cook the pasta. When the water boils, season it liberally with salt and drop the pasta – cook to al dente.

In another large skillet, heat some olive oil over medium-high heat and add onion and peppers. Cook until softened and starting to brown. Season with salt and add garlic and pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook for another minute until the garlic is fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and add the sausage pieces. Season sauce with salt – taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain and immediately add to the large skillet with the sauce. Toss pasta well and continue to cook with the sauce for another minute or so.

Serve with parmesan cheese and a glass of red!





Chicken Sausages, Carmalized Onions and Baked Sweet Potato Fries With Garlic and Rosemary

24 01 2013

Cooking sausages with a little water before you brown them is a tip I picked up from Rachel Ray. It helps to ensure that the sausage is cooked all the way through, followed by a good sear on the outside. Choosing chicken sausage over pork sausage, and sweet potatoes over white potatoes, make this a lighter meal too!

Chicken Sausages, Carmalized Onions and Baked Sweet Potato Fries With Garlic and Rosemary

Chicken Sausages, Carmalized Onions and Baked Sweet Potato Fries With Garlic and Rosemary

The following serves 2:

  • 1 package chicken sausage – I like to use hot, but you can use sweet / mild if you prefer
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and dried
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Couple of cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1/4 tsp Rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Slice each sweet potato lengthwise into 8 or so pieces. Crush a few cloves of garlic and add to a Tbsp or so of oil along with some rosemary, either fresh or dried – whatever you have on hand. Let the garlic and rosemary flavor the oil for a few minutes. Toss fries with the oil mixture and season with salt and paprika.

Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned on the bottom, about 15 minutes. Turn slices and bake until bottom is browned and potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes more.

While the potatoes are baking, add the sausages to a large skillet and pierce the casings with a fork. Add 1/2-inch to an inch of water to the pan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the water and return skillet to the stove. Raise heat to medium-high and add a little oil to the skillet. Brown the sausages until outsides is crisp all around. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile in another large skillet, heat a little oil over medium-high heat and add onion. Cook onions, turning occasionally for 10 minuets. Season with salt and continue cooking until they start to brown, turning occasionally (you don’t want to turn too much or they won’t brown).

Add sausages to the onions. Cook for another few minutes.

Serve sweet potato fries along-side the sausage and carmalized onions.