Sausage with lentils, onions, peppers and tomato gravy.

Yesterday afternoon cooled off a lot with an approaching thunderstorm. I got a great deal on Italian sausage at my grocery store, and was in the mood for something hearty and spicy.

This dish was satisfying and nutritious. My 8 year old enjoyed it as well, obviously hers wasn’t spicy. I like Texas Pete on just about everything, and this was no exception. This meal also only took about 20 minutes, which is super important on week nights.

I started by boiling some lightly salted water for my lentils. I do a 1:1 ratio of water to lentils. And in a separate med-high heated pan, I added my sausages, and covered it. I let them sear for a minute or two until one side is brown and then I flip them to the other side, add a few tbsp of water, and cover them again. I then added my bag of frozen pepper/onion tri color mixture to the top, and recover. I let this cook all the way down until the veggies are tender, and the sausage is about to pop with greasy, delicious juice.

Making the tomato gravy: In the same pan, I cut down the middle of the sausages allowing the juice to drain into the peppers and onions. I move everything to the sides leaving a clear spot in the middle where I add a slice or two of butter. When the butter is melted, I add it a couple tbsp of flour, salt and pepper. I stir this in tiny circles in the middle until the rue is cooked, and add in an entire can of diced tomatoes, juice and all. Stirring this around in the middle until well combined then tossing in the rest of the veggies and sausages. I do remove the sausages just before serving and slice them, then toss them back in. This dish was SO PRETTY before I hastily added the lentils. The lentils were mushy and creamy, but they belonged on the bottom of this colorful tomato/sausage/pepper mix. But I, not thinking ahead, just piled them all in the same pan and stirred.

I served this with bread, butter and topped with a lot of Texas Pete. It really hit the spot. This amount made enough for 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 kids. Try it out! It won’t disappoint, and without the rue mix, its gluten free!
Ingredients:

  • 1 pack Italian sausage, any flavor
  • 1 bag frozen tri color onions and peppers
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 1 cup water and salt to taste
  • TEXAS PETE -as much or as little as you like

How do you like your lentils? They are one of my favorites, and I under utilize them. Help me out with some recipes!!

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Turkey Cauliflower Tacos

This is a pretty simple one, so naturally I’m going to blog about it. I love turkey meat in tacos because its much leaner and healthier. And also a frozen block of turkey meat thrown into a med hi pan and covered cooks all the way through in about 10 minutes. Frozen solid beef however, takes about twenty. I also like that it can be easily ground into smaller bits, especially for tacos.

Adding in cauliflower is an easy way to sneak in a few extra veggies for my family, and they are cheap and stretch my taco meat into making more for everyone!

First lets talk about how I freeze my ground meats. I buy 3 or 5 pounds at a time. 1lb of meat will fit in a sandwich sized ziploc bag. I put them in the freezer flat and thin like books. And no I don’t buy the “freezer” bags. They only stay in the freezer for a week or two before we eat them all, so no need for pricey bags as theres not enough time for freezer burn anyway. I find this saves me a little money, and a little time.

Okay so one brick of turkey meat, frozen in a covered med-hi heated pan. I cover it with chopped onions, salt, pepper and either salsa or a can of diced mexican tomatoes. I love to add Herdez Salsa Casera, its seriously the best salsa too cook with because it has very little sugar. I also add my blend of seasonings instead of a taco seasoning packet, that again has who knows what and unneeded salt and sugar. Here is the list of things I toss in, and is always delicious in anything mexican.

Salt, Pepper, Chili Powder, Cumin (loads), Paprika, Cayenne (very small amount), Garlic, and Tajin. If you don’t know what Tajin is, you’ve got to try it! Its a bit of spice with lots of dehydrated lime in it. It adds a zing to any dish or is fantastic in a margarita.IMG_20170714_205119_602

After I have added all of the above in the pan with the onions, I then add the frozen cauliflower cover and walk away. Everyone juices right up, and in about 15mins the meat, onions and cauliflower are cooked through.

I serve this with rice and beans or even just chips. Its delicious and a family favorite.

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How do you make your ingredients stretch? What do you put in your tacos? I’d love to know! Follow me on Instagram! Link above!!

Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

I love this recipe. It takes a little longer to cook, but its one you can walk away from. I hate babysitting the oven. This is also a GREAT alternative to pasta, which I eat way too much of anyway. And for me to say its a good alternative says something, because I do LOVE pasta.

First lets discuss the spaghetti squash. It’s the YELLOW one shaped like a small oblong watermelon. There are several usually grouped together, but this one in particular is more of a SUMMER squash, thus its light texture and flavor vs the butternut or acorn squash that are WINTER squashes with dense heavy flesh, and more of a sweet potato taste. All great. But obviously the SPAGHETTI SQUASH is for SPAGHETTI. Duh.

All of these are cooked the same way in my house. First I grab a BIG knife. And I cut it down the middle long ways. These squashes do not saw like pumpkins!! I kind of stab it and move it a little down and stab it again, and wiggle the sturdy big knife to make it crack a little, and move my knife further down. So stab and crack, stab and crack. Eventually you’ll make it all the way around, and be left with two oblong halves. Scoop out the seeds and the slimy bits, doesn’t take very long, and a soup spoon works great. 20170712_22295520170712_22304820170712_223124

 

I season these clean halves with a small drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, then place them face down in any dish. I like to cover mine with aluminum for easy clean up later, and about a half cup of water in the bottom. Basically the water steams up, helping keep the skin and flesh soft to scoop out.

 

I bake this at 400ºF for around an hour. I know its done when the top of the squash skin is sagging down into the squash and when I poke it, its soft. Like a baked potato.20170712_223158

 

And wham! Done! There are a thousand things you can do with this beautiful roasted squash. The spaghetti and meatballs is one of my family’s favorites.

While that’s roasting in the oven, I go about making my spaghetti sauce. I’m sure most people have their own special way of doing it, but this is mine. Keep it simple.

I take a generic jar of sauce. I really strive to buy the cheapest one–WITH the least amount of sugar. Some of those sauces have 10g of sugar per 1/2 cup serving. ??? I’d rather save my sugar intake for dessert. So I get a jar of decent sauce. I also keep canned tomatoes and minced garlic around, and onions, peppers and zucchini’s and mushrooms depending on my grocery store selection. I also buy pre-made meat balls. I’m sure they’re gross, and here I am preaching about sugar in the sauce and god only knows what the hell is in those frozen meatballs. But I’ll be damned if they aren’t quick, tasty and cheap. Judge all you want, but I can’t afford to be top shelf on everything.

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I love to make sauce in my dutch oven pot thing. I always wanted one of these, because every chef on TV uses one, for just about everything. But any pot will do. The rest is simple. In a medium heated pot goes the olive oil, to cook the onions and peppers, then the softies like zucchini, squash, and mushrooms. When they’re almost done, in goes the super wimpy softie, garlic. Then when they’re all happy and mostly cooked, I like to add butter, because why not. And some salt and pepper. I then add those frozen balls of  mystery meat deliciousness. I let them get pretty warmed up, and pour in my sauce and a can of Italian tomatoes. I also then fill the sauce jar with about half cup of water, shake it up, and pour that in too. You wouldn’t believe how much sauce your wasting by throwing out that un-rinsed jar! And the extra bit of water seems to really help my sauce. Sounds weird, but it works. Then they just cook along on med -low stirring less than occasionally until the squash is done.

I just added the sauce on the squash and baked it with the cheese until melted. It was so easy, the foil was already lined in my pan! After I melted the cheese I just scooped out heavy portions for everyone in a bowl, served salad and called it a night. Delicious, mostly nutritious and CHEAP.

 

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Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash per 3-4 people, 2 people if you’re really hungry
  • 1 jar of your favorite sauce
  • 1 can of Italian tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 green pepper (or a cup of frozen peppers – try these. cheap and EASY)
  • 1 pkg mushrooms
  • 2 small zucchini’s
  • 2 small yellow squash
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil, for roasting the squash and for starting the sauce
  • 1 tbsp butter – not required, just can’t seem to help myself
  • frozen meatballs – I used a fourth of a very very large bag. probably half a regular grocery store bag.
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

What are some of your favorite healthy substitutes?? I’d love to try them!! Follow me on Instagram Link on my page!

Coconut Chicken Curry

I love Thai food. I love Indian food. I love to combine them!! My small town grocery store has a tiny international section and an extremely limited selection of curry pastes and sauces. So I like to pick one and make a combo dish. So Indian curry paste with coconut milk, ginger and basil. And quinoa because I was out of rice.

I started by sauteing frozen chicken on high in olive oil with salt, pepper and curry powder, covered in a deep skillet. Meanwhile I peeled and chopped a sweet potato, 2in ginger root and yellow onion. I added the sweet potatoes and onions on top of the sizzling chicken and replaced the cover. After a few minutes I added minced garlic, and ginger to the top of the sweet potatoes and onions. A few minutes later I pushed everything to the sides of the pan, and placed 2 big globs of the curry paste into the hot oil in the center, stirring in tiny circles for a minute or so keeping it in the center of the pan. Then I stirred everything heavily mixing it all together and turning down the heat to med-high. After a couple of minutes I threw in the basil leaves and poured over a half a can of WELL SHAKEN coconut milk.

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I then closed the lid and walked away. 10 minutes later the basil is dark and wilted, the coconut milk is well combined with the veggies, and chicken, put with steamed quinoa it made a delicious Thai/Indian Sunday Dinner.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Large Sweet Potato
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion
  • 2 Tbsp any Curry Paste
  • 1/2 can Coconut Milk well shaken
  • 1 handful fresh basil
  • 2 inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 4 frozen chicken breasts
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp generic Curry Powder
  • 1 cup dry quinoa steamed with 2 cups water, salt and pepper

I hope you all enjoy this recipe and I would love to try yours!! Please follow me on Instagram and I will follow you!

 

 

Hot Bacon Spinach Artichoke Dip

spinach-dip-with-logo.png.pngAnother football food post! Buckle up!! This morning as I stumbled around the grocery store as a pre-coffee zombie I pondered dip. The basis to any good football dip is sour cream or cream cheese or both, and cheese.  And what to season this cheesy cream dip? Mmmm Ranch. Ranch packets aren’t very “clean” but this Saturday I had already decided to scrap the health kick for the day. Cheat day!!  What else should I add to this hypothetical dip? Well I was going to have bacon leftover from the breakfast I was also shopping for, so far so good. Creamy, cheesy, ranchy, bacon dip. But who could be the star of the show? As I was grabbing a bag of frozen chopped onions (one of many shortcuts I made today) I saw the frozen spinach!! YASSS!! I would make creamy, cheesy, ranchy, bacony, spinach artichoke dip. And it was amazing and easy, hallelujah.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bags frozen spinach or 1 big bag of fresh spinach
  • 1 bag frozen diced onions
  • 4oz cream cheese
  • 4oz sour cream
  • 1 packet ranch seasoning
  • 1 tiny jar pimentos
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2  can artichoke hearts
  • 4-5 slices of crumbled bacon or 1 package of real bacon pieces
  • 1.5c mozzarella cheese
  • 1.5c shredded pepper jack cheese

Directions:

I simply placed the spinach, onions, pimentos, garlic, artichoke hearts (I just tear them apart with my fingers), and bacon all in a big pot. I heated them thoroughly, then I mixed in the sour cream and softened cream cheese with the ranch packet. Then I melted in the cheese! Super Simple, Super Easy! And made enough to fill a 9x13in casserole dish.

Pour into a serving dish, put out some tortilla chips and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Creamy Chicken and Bacon Carbonara

Today we loaded up our tiny family and went on an obligatory summer day trip to a Water Park. ‘Nuff Said. We had a great time and we all left sunburnt tired, and hungry. I mean HUNGRY. The only thing that can satisfy that kind of hunger for our family is pasta. Luckily I had some grilled chicken leftover from a few nights before and bacon leftover from an over achiever breakfast( I HATE frying bacon). A quick stop by the store for some cream and parmesan and we were on our way to full bellies and bed.

The difference between carbonara and alfredo is the milk/cream and egg yolk. But I don’t know of anything that couldn’t be made better with cream, so this version is what you would call American.

I made this sauce the same way I would make my standard Alfredo Sauce, but this time at the end I added 2 whipped egg yolks. This plus the bacon and extra pepper made one hell of a pasta dish.

Creamy Bacon Carbonara Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2cups of half and half
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan
  • 2 egg yolks (beaten)
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • salt to taste

Creamy Bacon Carbonara Sauce Directions:

Sauté chopped precooked bacon until greasy on medium heat. Add butter, oil and garlic, sauté one minute. Mix in flour and make a rue, stirring constantly one minute. Add half and half. Stir on medium heat until well combined. Melt in cheese until sauce is thick. Add pepper. Take off heat and slowly add egg yolk, stirring constantly. This should make the sauce good and thick. Add in cooked noodles and let sit for a few minutes. I suggest Linguine or a thicker noodle for a sauce so decedent.

Top with grilled chicken and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

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Ooey Gooey Goodness plus bacon?!? Score.

 

Any other easy go to comfort dishes I should try? Comment below!

 

 

 

 

The best thing I make

I was having friends over to my house for the first time. And they are not only foodies, but one is quite picky. This was a spur of the moment decision which left me racking my brain for the tastiest and relatively quick dish that would impress them. I instantly fell back on my hearty staple: Mushroom Chicken Alfredo, also known as the best thing I make.

Alfredo is something that everyone perceives as decadent, and difficult. But from scratch, it is seriously delicious and insanely easy. Never open a jar of pre-made sauce again.

I started by roasting my chicken, sealed in foil in the oven at 400° with a little olive oil, butter, salt and pepper for 1 hour.  While that is going, I cleaned up the house, grated my Parmesan, got out all the ingredients for the rest of my meal.

While the noodles are cooking in the pot I get started on the Mushroom Alfredo sauce. I start with butter and oil in the pan, sauteing the mushrooms until almost done, with salt and pepper. Then I add in some minced garlic and let that get golden as well, before I add flour, and make a rue. After about a minute, when the flour is cooked through, I add in the half and half, stirring quickly to in-cooperate all the chunky flour in to the cream. When the creamy mushroom mixture is bubbling I add in the grated cheese. Again, stirring continuously until it is all melted and mixed in. This is a beautiful velvety sauce that goes well with so many things.

I used angel hair pasta with my dish this night, because my husband loves skinny noodles, and they cook faster. I don’t like to keep my guests waiting! After adding the chicken and the crusty bread with my basil butter topping, we were ready to eat! And they were happy and it was delicious.

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Ingredients for Mushroom Alfredo Sauce:

  • 1½ cups of half&half
  • 4-6 oz of grated Parmesan cheese (half of a wedge of cheese or more)
  • ½ stick salted butter
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • ½ tsp salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 1 cup or container of sliced mushrooms

Quick recipe:

  1. Oil and butter in pan, medium heat.
  2. Saute Mushrooms with salt and pepper until tender.
  3. Add garlic, saute 1 minute.
  4. Add flour, stir 1 minute.
  5. Add half&half and stir continuously until bubbling.
  6. Add cheese and stir until sauce is thick.

Add to cooked pasta and chicken or even sausage, and enjoy!