Italian Sausage and Peppers

My friend Megan and I went undergrad and were in the band at Southwest Texas State University together. Through our sisterhood in Tau Beta Sigma, we got to know each other quite well and are still friends to this day. There was one winter that was particularly cold and we spent a bunch of time at Megan’s apartment. One day, she decided to make Italian sausage and peppers and I’ll never forget how much I loved it. This recipe isn’t exactly what she made that day but I make it as an homage to our friendship.

Italian Sausage and Peppers

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 package of Italian Sausage (I’ve used both mild & hot before but today, I used mild), 4 or 5 links come to a package.
  • 4 bell peppers – 2 green, 2 red, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced and quartered
  • mushrooms, quartered
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt
  • 1 Tbs dried oregano
  • 1 Tbs dried basil
  • olive oil
  • pasta sauce
  • pasta
  • parmesan or similar cheese

I start by mincing the garlic and slicing the onions and sweating down in some olive oil and salt. I add the oregano and basil and cover.

Next, I slice and halve the bell peppers (after seeding). They go in the pot as well to sweat down. Stir regularly.

In a separate pan, I brown the sausage on two sides. Just let them sit in the pan for a while then turn and do the same to the other side. They won’t brown nearly as well if you’re moving them around the pan.

  

I then quarter the mushrooms and add them to the pot.

Once the sausage is browned on both sides, pull them to rest then cut them into 1 1/2″ pieces. I use a touch of the sauce or sometimes red wine to deglaze the pan.

So in the ingredients, I list “pasta sauce”. Often, I make it from scratch but because I’m in grad school, always have a ton of homework and little time to cook, I used store bought sauce today. I won’t name brands but my favorite is one that donates all its proceeds to charity in roasted garlic flavor. Let simmer about 15-25 minutes.

Cook the pasta of your choice (I like capellini) to the doneness of your choice and serve. Shave some cheese on top.

Enjoy!

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Easy Chicken Pot Pie

I try to decide my weekend cooking project sometime the week before, actually, something during the week tends to inspire me, but this week was tough with a Thursday game and TONS of study for my midterm next week. So, I polled Facebook and the first suggestion was chicken pot pie. It wasn’t quite this recipe but it also included rotisserie chicken and as much as I like that, this is my recipe for easy chicken pot pie.

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs Boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Poultry seasoning
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 package Frozen Mixed Veggies
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken soup
  • Water
  • 1/2 package of Frozen Puff Pastry

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Sauté in your pot with the poultry seasoning, salt & pepper and minced garlic until chicken is cooked through.

I even like to make the outside a little browned. Stir in frozen veggies, cream of chicken soup and water to cover all the ingredients (or even a little more).

Let simmer for about an hour and a half.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut puff pastry into thirds (fold lines) then those into halves. Bake for 15-18 minutes at 400 degrees until they puff up and are golden brown.

Fill bowl with soup and top with a puff pastry rectangle. Enjoy!

Red Beans & Rice

A while back, I decided I was going to make red beans and rice today. I scoured the interwebs to find just the right recipe and nothing quite looked right. So, I asked Carol R., who works in the UH Band office and is from Louisiana and this is the recipe she gave me. Enjoy!
~C

Ms. Carol's Crock Pot Red Beans and Rice

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • garlic to taste (I used 5 large cloves)
  • 1 Cup celery, sliced
  • 1 bag small red beans
  • 4 Cups chicken broth
  • 3 Cups water
  • 1 package (~14 oz) Andouille sausage (look at where it’s made – it needs to be in Louisiana or Beaumont, Tx)
  • Salt, Pepper, Cajun seasonings to taste

Dice and slice the veggies.

Sauté the onion, bell pepper and garlic, adding a little salt, pepper and cajun seasoning. I tend to not sauté celery unless a recipe calls for that flavor.

Cut sausage into thin slices.

Add all ingredients into crock pot. Let cook on high for 7 hours.

Cook rice to package directions.

Pour beans into bowl with a spoonful of rice on top. Many folks also eat with cornbread but I’m not a fan of cornbread in general (I know, *gasp*). Regardless of how you eat it – Enjoy!
~C 

Basic Meatloaf

I really enjoy meatloaf. I have a couple of “fancy” meatloaf recipes (if you can call any type of meatloaf fancy) I’ve tried in the past but I can’t remember the last time I made a simple, traditional meatloaf. Today, I went online to the Food Network website to find Paula Dean’s “Old-Fashioned Meatloaf” recipe and give it a try. I baked it in my Pampered Chef mini-loaf pan so instead of one decent sized meatloaf, I have four small ones! Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures so you’ll just have to take my word on how easy it is and that it does indeed look like meatloaf. Here’s the recipe, which does include a few of my modifications:

Paula Dean's Old-Fashioned Meatloaf

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

Meatloaf:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp pepper
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 1/2 medium bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz can diced tomatoes (with 1/2 juice)
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

Topping:

  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 Tbs yellow mustard
  • seasonings to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine all meatloaf ingredients in a bowl. Place in loaf pan or baking dish (shape into loaf if without loaf pan). Mix ingredients for topping and spread on loaf. Bake for 1 hour.

There you go. Simple, no? Enjoy!

Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo)

My friend Megan posted on Facebook about making these delights. I can’t tell you exactly when I first had them but almost every Brazilian restaurant serve them and they are delicious! You have to be careful though – they fill you up a lot quicker than you’d imagine. I made these for a pot luck and they were a HIT! I now know what I’ll take to many pot lucks in the future because they are so easy to make. Next time, I’m going to try adding roasted red peppers or garlic or jalapeños. What other flavors do you think would go well with this recipe?

Ingredients:
1 egg (have at room temp)
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cup tapioca flour
2/3 to 3/4 cup (packed) shredded cheese – queso fresco is preferred but sharp cheddar works well.
salt to taste (use about 1 tsp the first time)

These will need to bake in a mini-muffin pan. This will make a batch of around 16.

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a blender, pulse all ingredients until smooth. Tapioca flour is much like corn starch and not like flour. It will stick to the side of the blender so have a spatula ready to scrape downy he sides as you blend.

If your muffin tin isn’t non-stick, you will want to grease before filling. When you fill the mini-muffin tin, fill each one about 3/4 or so full. They will puff up while baking so don’t worry about filling each one to the brim.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. When ready, they will be puffy and lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

This recipe originally came from the Simply Recipes website – http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/easy_brazilian_cheese_bread/. What is posted here is the original recipe with my modifications and recommendations.

Krez’s Special Shrimp Wonton Soup

The inspiration

My friend Krez has this Special Shrimp Wonton Soup at a restaurant called Chopstix in McAllen, Tx and posted a picture recently. It looked so good, it inspired me to try to recreate it today. I have NO idea what the inspiration tastes like but I can certainly see what veg and such are included in the soup. I did forget the carrots and onions, though. 😦

So here’s what I included in the soup:

Broth with veg (this makes more broth than one serving) –
1 box low sodium chicken broth
2 or 3 Carrots
Yellow Onion
Broccoli
Napa cabbage
Zucchini
Mushrooms
4 potstickers or 6 wontons, still frozen
1 can (drained & rinsed) of stir fry veggies
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a separate pot:
1 package ramen noodles (do not use flavor packet)
6-10 frozen shrimp or fish or chicken, cut to bite sized pieces
water

Heat the broth to a simmer. Chop veg to desired size and add to broth in order listed above. Add other ingredients and allow the veg to cook down.

In a separate pot, boil water and cook noodles to package instructions. If using chicken, add at the same time as noodles. If using shrimp or fish, add in the last minute of cooking. Strain noodles and protein, add to large soup bowl. Cover with broth, dumplings and veg. Enjoy!

Chicken and Rice Soup – Quick and Easy

After I got back to Huntsville, there was little in my fridge/freezer/pantry to cook but I was hungry and didn’t feel like any more fast food. I had had Schlotzsky’s for lunch on the road and although I enjoyed it, that was enough fast food for me for a while. I found some boneless, skinless chicken thighs, soup veggies and chicken broth so I decided to make soup. I didn’t realize the soup veggies had potato chunks in it so I also decided to make a little rice to make it all a bit more hearty.

I heated the broth to a slow boil, added one piece of chicken, which I had cut into 1 inch pieces and after that was fairly well cooked, added 1/2 the bag of frozen soup veggies. I made the rice in a separate pot according to the instructions on the bag. A little cayenne for zip and tada! It ended up feeding me for three meals.

If you need a quick meal (or three), give this a try. With the exception of the amount of salt it contains between the frozen veggies and broth, it’s fairly healthy, too.
Love you, mean it!
~C