Spicy Sausage and Peppers – Some Delicious Italian Comfort Food!!!


, , , , ,

Yesterday I got some spicy Italian turkey sausage on sale at the grocery store. I knew I had some orange bell peppers, so Sausage and Peppers came to mind. I didn’t have any sandwich rolls and we hadn’t had mashed potatoes in a while, so I decided to serve it with the potatoes. This was a great combo! The sausage and peppers had tons of flavor and the sauce was great with the mashed potatoes. My husband said the dish reminded him of Shepard’s Pie with an Italian spin on it. This would be a great, hearty winter comfort food!!!

I thought the spicy sausage gave it just the right amount of spice without being overwhelming. If you really don’t like spicy foods you could substitute with sweet sausage and the dish would be just as good.

I can’t completely take credit for this recipe. I started by looking at one of Giada de Laurentiis recipe on the Food Network site, but I altered it based on what I had (or didn’t have) on hand.

Spicy Sausage and Peppers

1 pound spicy Italian turkey sausage

3 tbsp olive oil

2 medium bell peppers, sliced – I prefer red, orange or yellow over the green.

1/2 white onion, sliced

Salt and pepper

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped

2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 – 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained

1/2 cup red wine – I used Ménage A Trois Midnight (It’s nothing fancy, but it’s a good, affordable table wine). Giada used Marsala wine in her recipe. I’m curious to try this. It would completely change the flavor of the dish as Marsala wine has a very distinctive flavor.

Add olive oil to frying pan and brown whole sausages over medium heat. When browned and almost cooked through, remove sausage to a cutting board and allow to cool a bit. Meanwhile, brown your peppers and onion in the frying pan for about 5 minutes. Then add your basil, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for 2 more minutes. Slice your sausage into 1″ slices. Add tomato paste, tomatoes and wine to frying pan and stir until mixed well. Add sausage back to the pan. Cook another 5-7 minutes until sausage is cooked through and sauce is thick and bubbly.

This was great served with the mashed potatoes. It would also be good over pasta or served on sandwich rolls.

Mangia bene!

Cheesy Broccoli Rice Bake – A Tasty Way to Get Your Family to Eat Their Broccoli


, , , ,

I’m not usually a fan of the broccoli cheese combo, but for some reason I got inspired to make this dish. I had some reduced fat Velveeta on hand and thought I would make a cheese sauce to go with my broccoli and rice. This dish turned out so delish!!! Let’s just say the casserole dish was clean as a whistle after dinner! The cheese sauce was a nice add. It added great flavor without overwhelming the dish and weighing it down. It was a great side dish in that it provided both a starch and a veggie all in one. Good stuff!!!

This could even make for a great vegetarian main dish!

Cheesy Broccoli Rie Bake

1 1/2 cups brown instant rice

1 1/2 cup water

1/2 red onion, chopped

2 tbsp butter

3 small heads broccoli, stemmed and chopped

2/3 cup fat free milk

8 oz. 2% milk Velveeta Cheese

1 – 14.5 oz can of reduced fat cream of mushroom soup

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine rice and water and cook over medium heat in a sauce pan until rice is cooked through. Melt butter in a large frying pan and then saute onion until tender and then add broccoli and cook until tender. In a small sauce pan, combine milk, Velveeta and soup and heat until cheese is melted. Pour cheese mixture over vegetables, add rice and stir. Spray a glass casserole pan with non-stick spray and pour all combined ingredients in. Bake for 30 minutes.


Butternut Squash and Zucchini Soup – Another Low Sodium Choice


, , , , , , ,

I’m still on my quest to make tasty, low sodium meals for my inlaws. In cooking for others, in addition to my own brood at home, I’ve found the slow cooker to be an immense help! I load it up in the morning and let it cook all day and by dinner time, I’m still up for cooking dinner for our household. Today’s meal was a delicious, hearty squash soup that would be a great autumn meal! I love the warm, fresh flavor of butternut squash and that beautiful orange color makes for stunning soups! This recipe is very low sodium. You can add some, if that’s not an issue for you, but this was pretty tasty as is. As I always like to say, play with your food! This soup is a perfect opportunity to play with your herbs and spices.

I didn’t happen to have any carrots on hand, but those would have been a great add to this soup! This recipe coud easily be adapted to be vegan friendly.

Butternut Squash and Zucchini Soup

2 zucchini, thickly sliced

1 medium butternut squash, cubed

2 potatoes, peeled and cubed

1/2 large white onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, mince or pressed

2 tsp garlic and herb Mrs. Dash

1 tsp Table Blend Mrs. Dash

2 tsp fresh thyme, removed from stems and chopped

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp cardamom 

1/4 tsp Chinese five spice

5 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used some of my homemade chicken broth, so I know there was no salt)

1/2 cup fat free half and half

Add all ingredients except the half and half to your slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until all veggies are tender. Add half and half for the last 15 minutes of cooking time. I have an immersion blender, so I used this right in my slow cooker pot to blend this up and make it a smooth texture. You can also transfer to a blender or food processor in small batches and blend until smoot. As always, be extremely careful when transferring and blending hot liquids. Hold that lid in place, so hot liquid doesn’t explode into your face!!!

Be careful and enjoy!

Broccoli Beef – An Easy Homemade Version of a Take-out Favorite!


, , , , ,

Earlier this week, I was trying figure out what to make for dinner and I noticed I had about a pound of leftover BBQ tri-tip roast and maybe a 1/4 pound of left over shrimp. I was in the mood for Chinese food, so I decided to put these two leftover meats to good use and make some shrimp fried rice and broccoli beef. I’ve made fried rice several times before. This was my first time taking a stab at broccoli beef. I impressed myself! This dish turned out really good! The meat stayed tender, the broccoli was still firm and not over cooked, and the sauce had a great flavor and texture. These dishes really weren’t difficult to make, but they were certainly delicious and a great way to make use of leftovers.

If you check out my fried rice recipe, you’ll see how you can also use leftover rice to make this dish.

Broccoli Beef

3 tablespoons cornstarch, divided

1⁄2 cup water, plus

2 tablespoons water, divided

1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 lb boneless round steak, cut into 3 inch strips (I used left over BBQ tri-tip roast cut into strips)

3 medium heads off broccoli, cut off stalks and separate florets

1/2 red onion, chopped

1⁄3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 tablespoons water and garlic powder until smooth.

Add beef and toss. This goes for raw or pre-cooked beef.

Spray large skillet with non-stick spray and heat to medium high,  stir-fry beef until beef reaches desired doneness or if using pre-cooked beef until heated through, remove and keep warm.

Give pan another spray on non-stick spray if needed and Stir-fry broccoli and onion for 4-5 minutes.

Return beef to pan.

Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and remaining cornstarch and water until smooth; add to the pan.

Cook and stir for 2 minutes.


15 Bean Soup – Keeping it Lean and Low Sodium


, , , , , ,

Lately I have taken up the challenge of cooking low sodium meals. My mother-in-law, who has congestive heart failure, just had open heart surgery. She’s not yet well enough to cook for herself, so I’ve been trying to help out. She is supposed to eat less that 2000mg of sodium a day; that’s one teaspoon!!! Eating out or even pre-made food from the store is basically out of the question if you’re going to meet this goal. Making meals that help her meet this goal has definitely been a learning experience! This 15 bean soup has been one of my favorite meals thus far. While keeping the salt level low, it still had lots of flavor, was packed with fiber, was lowfat and was also easy to make. Of course, you can always add more salt, if that is not an issue for you, but in case you are also looking for low sodium, great tasting foods I’ll give the recipe as I made it.

I wanted to add some meat to add to the heartiness of the soup. I looked to see if I could find a low sodium sausage. I was not successful! Even the sausages that said they contained “30% Less Salt”, less than what??? A salt lick??? So I kept scouring the meat section. Ham hocks? Nope! And then I found some unseasoned pork tenderloin that was cut into small pieces, like stew meat. This did the trick! If you can’t find this in your store, you could always buy a tenderloin and cut it up into bite size pieces yourself.

15 Bean Soup

1 pound unseasoned pork tenderloin, cut into bite size pieces

1/2 large onion, diced

1 20 oz bag 15 bean soup mix, found in bean section of grocery store

1/2 of seasoning packet included in bean soup mix (Even with the whole packet the sodium level in the whole recipe was only 70 mg, but I decided to only use half and add some other seasonings)

8 cups water

1 – 14.5 oz can of reduced salt diced tomatoes (luckily most tomato products come in reduced salt versions)

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic and herb Mrs. Dash

Juice of 1 lemon or 3 tbsp of bottled juice

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

Pepper to taste

Spray a frying pan with non-stick spray and brown pork over medium high heat. When almost browned add the onions and saute until tender and meat is browned. Add meat, onions and all other ingredients to a slow cooker, give a stir and cover. Cook over low heat for 8 hours.

As mentioned above, if you’re not watching your sodium some added salt would be a good add.


Red Beans and Rice – The Easy, Healthy Way!!!!


, , , , ,

I’m sure I’ve never had a truly authentic version of red beans and rice, but I would love to!!! I’ve had it from different restaurants and loved it, so I thought I would try my hand at making my own healthy version. The beans and brown rice provide great sources of fiber, making this dish very satisfying. I was making mine as a side dish to barbecued chicken, so I chose to make this a meat-free version. You could very easily add some sausage or even shrimp to make this a great main dish.

Red Beans and Rice

2 – 15 oz kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 – 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

2 tbsp garlic olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed (or 2 cloves if using regular olive oil)

1/2 red onion, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 tbsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp thyme

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup red wine

2 cups brown rice

Salt and pepper

Optional: 1/2 – 1 pound smoked sausage or kielbasa (I was wanting a side dish, so I left this out, but adding the sausage turns this into a great main dish for a carnivore!)

Add garlic olive oil to pan (I used my Dutch oven) and saute veggies until tender. Add all other ingredients, except rice and simmer for 1 hour on low. Salt and pepper to taste. Add rice and cook another 45 minutes on low or until rice is cooked. Remove bay leaves before serving.


Camp Cutthroat 2 – It’s Back!!!


, , , , ,

For once I’m on the ball and telling you about a food related show BEFORE it starts!!! Camp Cutthroat will be returning to the Food Network on August 24. This summer the show takes the form of Camp Cutthroat 2: Alton’s Revenge! He’s revealing a 5-week diabolical plan to do in the chef campers. Anyway, I really enjoyed last summer’s version of Camp Cutthroat. I found it even more entertaining than the usual Cutthroat Kitchen episodes. I mean, who doesn’t love summer camp and camp pranks!?!? Good times! You should check it out! I know I’ll be watching!

Garden Fresh Salsa – The Perfect Use for Tomatoes From Your Garden!


, , , , ,

One of my favorite foods in the world is salsa!!! And it gets even better when it’s made with tomatoes fresh from your own garden! If you’ve never grown you own tomatoes, you need to give it a try! Store bought tomatoes have a fraction of the flavor as home grown. I had lot of tomatoes on the vine. I had originally planted them with the intention of making marinara sauce, but salsa was calling to me!!! This recipe is easy to make. It just involves some chopping, but it is worth the effort! It is so flavorful and when you’re making your own you can adjust the heat level to your liking. You can’t beat the flavors of salsa made with fresh, garden grown tomatoes, cilantro and peppers!!!

I find the salsa is best made ahead and allowed to chill in the fridge. Letting the salsa rest a few hours to a day, allows all the flavors to mingle and blend together nicely.

Healthy tip: For me it’s all about the salsa! The chips are a vehicle to shovel the salsa in my mouth. Another vehicle I use is sliced zucchini. I put my mandolin slicer to work and slice up a bunch. It’s a great alternative for all kinds of dips.

Garden Fresh Tomato Salsa

4 cups tomatoes, diced

1/2 red onion, diced



Seasoned salt

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1 lime

1/2 tsp Red pepper flakes

1 clove garlic, diced or pressed

1 1/2 Serrano chilies, seeded and diced very finely

1 tbsp olive oil

In a bowl, mix tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lime juice, red pepper flakes. In a sauce pan, saute garlic and chilies in olive oil until slightly browned. Add garlic and chilies to other ingredients in bowl and stir well. Store in fridge for several hours before serving. You can eat immediately, but the flavor is better if allowed to mingle a bit.


Feed The Beast – New AMC Series About the Trials of Opening a Restaurant


, , , , , , ,

My husband and I have really been enjoying the new AMC series, Feed The Beast. I’m a fan of both David Schwimmer (Friends) and Jim Sturgess (Across The Universe) and they are a good combo playing childhood friends that have dreamed of opening a restaurant together. The show is a good combination of cooking, restaurant drama, mob activity, romance and sentimentality. It offers up a little bit of everything!

Without being a spoiler, Schwimmer plays a widowed sommelier who is raising his adorable young son alone. Sturgess plays a big-hearted chef with a drug problem, who is involved in questionable activities. Enter the mob! Schwimmer is trying to raise a kid in a decent environment with a buddy who is going about getting money in the wrong way. 

Anyway, this is an interesting show! The characters are engaging and endearing and the action is plenty. There is a good enough amount of restaurant/kitchen/cooking activity to keep this foodie girl happy!

Check it out and let me know what you think! I think the older episodes are available on on-demand and might also be available on the AMC website.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,583 other followers