Spicy Sausage, Kale, and Potato Soup

A while back, on Pinterest I believe, I ran across a recipe for Kale and Spicy Sausage soup. I decided to check out the blog it came from, The Candid Appetite, and fell in love! Turns out he is a fellow WordPress user, and everything on his blog looks amazing! Not only is he a fabulous photographer (a little jelly there), but his recipes are mouth-watering!
This recipe stood out as something I definitely wanted to try when it got cold out. Clearly, it isn’t cold here in Southern California right now, its about 85° outside but whatever… My grandfather passed away last night and today my brain has been in a daze. He was really old and was battling liver cancer, so it was his time. He lived a wonderfully long and happy life but I digress. Cooking is the only real way I know how to let go and decompress. Everything else disappears, I relax, and I get into the zone. This soup was made with lots of love today.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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In a large cast iron pot heat one tablespoon of oil. While thats heating up I removed the sausage from its casing, then roughly chopped it into smaller pieces. Raw sausage is hard to cut so don’t worry too much about it. It will crumble as you cook it and break it up. Stir the sausage every so often, letting it brown on all sides. Once its fully cooked and brown, spoon out of the pot with a slotted spoon, and set aside. I usually put mine in the microwave so I’m not tempted to eat it all while I do other things. I promise, it’ll taste better IN the soup!

 

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As the meat browns, dice the onion and roughly chop the garlic. We are huge garlic fans in our house, so feel free to use less. I’ve also added garlic and onion powder to this recipe, so do what tastes good to you. I drained the fat out of the pot when the sausage was done, but DO NOT scrape the pot yet! You want all of that flavor to stay.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the butter. While the butter melts use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pot. When you’ve gotten all of the yummies off the bottom add the onion and garlic coating it well with butter and flavor, let it cook for about 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Now you can add the seasonings; salt, pepper, onion, nutmeg (I know it seems weird, but Jon swears by it in his recipe, so do it!) garlic, and chili flakes.

 

 

 

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Kale is an awesome green that I use pretty regularly. Its so healthy for you, and tastes so great with just about anything! There are a bunch of different types, this is the most common.

At this point, you can remove the kale from its tough stems, you don’t want those in your soup. Rinse and chop it up into bite sized pieces then add it to the pot. I know it’ll seem like a lot at first, but kale (like spinach) wilts down tremendously. So you’ll want a LOT of it. Plus, its healthy and tastes yummy in the soup! You may need to add it in batches until you have room for it all. Mix it in with the garlic and onion until it turns bright green.

 

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While the kale wilts, clean the skin of the potatoes and slice into medium pieces. You want them all about the same size so they cook evenly and consistently. Add them to the pot, along with the cooked sausage (you almost forgot it was in the microwave, huh?). Mix everything together and add both boxes of chicken stock. Bring to a boil slowly so the potatoes have time to cook, but not overcook.

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Last, but definitely not least, the holy grail.

Heavy. Cream.

 

 

Serve with french bread, or eat it on its own! I absolutely LOVED this recipe, thank you Jonathan!

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Kale Chopped Salad with Feta and Balsamic Dressing

My friend Jenna has an obsession with the recipes a fellow food blogger posts, and I honestly cant argue with her. Iowa Girl Eats posts some of the most delicious recipes ever!

Every so often I’ll find a new recipe in my inbox that Jenna has forwarded to me. Finally I had some to recreate something she came up with.

I am a big fan of going to the gym, and trying to “eat clean” as people call it. This salad fit perfectly in my wedding-ready-diet! Those of you who havent tried Kale yet, Im not quite sure what you’re waiting for … but its delicious! And soooo good for you.
I have to admit though, I’d never used a shallot until today *gasp* I know, I know..

For this recipe, I made some changes to fit my taste and what the grocery store offered. So, after the gym I swung by the store and picked up these ingredients. Adding fresh avocado, crispy salty bacon, sliced almonds, creamy crumbled feta, and sautéing the shallots and brussel sprouts together made for an amazing, and huge, lunch salad!

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Ingredients

Kale
Shallots – 3 medium
Avocado – 1 large, ripe
Brussel Sprouts – 2 cups worth
Bacon
Garlic
Sliced Almonds
Feta Cheese
Dressing of your choice

My local grocery store didnt have the type of Kale Kristen used in her salad, Lacinto Kale, so I just picked up a large bunch of regular kale. Hey, for .99 you really cant beat that.

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I rinsed and dried my kale before cutting the hard veins out of each stalk. Then chopped the greens into bite sized slices. Setting that aside in a large mixing bowl, I got to work on my shallots.

Shallots, if you dont already know, are from the onion family. Very good flavor, and easy to use. I peeled and sliced them as thin as I could get them. Now, Kristen fried hers crispy, but I decided to keep mine just sautéed and only cooked in a very tiny bit of oil.

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Start those in a sauté pan with a very small amount of oil. Add a little sea salt for taste if you’d like. And then start on the Brussel Sprouts and Garlic. Cutting the hard ends off and, again, slicing them as thinly as you can. So they’re similar to shaved, like a mandolin would give you. As you get through each one, pick out the hard core pieces, those aren’t too tasty unless they’re cooked much longer. Mince the garlic as small as you can, I use a miniature food processor for mine – wayyyy easier!

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Add both minced garlic and brussel sprout “shavings” into the pan with your shallots and stur until everything is coated with “juice” from the onion. Turn heat to low and let it all wilt together for about 3-5min, depending on your stovetop.

As for the bacon, I precooked that and sliced it into bite size pieces. And the almonds were purchased pre-sliced. Im not looking to chop any fingers off just for some crunch in my salad lol Cut your avocado in half, and take the seed out. Peel and slice however you would prefer it for your salad.

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When your shallots and sprouts are tender, add them to your mixing bowl of kale. Toss so that the warmth of the onion/sprouts/garlic helps wilt the kale somewhat. You dont want it sad and droopy, but just enough to make it less tough.
Toss in the desired amount of toppings, drizzle with your favorite dressing, and enjoy!

This salad really was amazing. All of the flavors and textures combine so well together, and it is bangin healthy!!

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If you’re interested in the original recipe, from Kristen, you can find it here –> Kale Chopped Salad with Maple Almond Vinaigrette 

Miniature Peach Pies

Image♥Thanks Nana for leaving me this beautiful plate♥

 

Yay for wedding gifts! My bff, Amanda, got me this awesome Breville Electric Pie Maker that makes 4 miniature pies at a time. She also got me the Recipe Book and Pie Lifter. So amazing! You can make sweet and savory pies, or even both at the same time! Since my fiance is on his vegetarian kick still, I can easily make 2 veggie, and 2 with meat.

The recipe book comes with some great recipes to help start you out. It also talks you through the dough types, cutting tools, handling etc. Very awesome

 

Peaches

Peach Pie Filling

2 large peaches, ripe – cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons corn starch
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
Pinch of salt
Sprinkle of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

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You can make your own pie crust, but I chose to use a pre-made crust from the refrigerated section of my local Trader Joe’s. I should have gotten puff pastry for the top of the pies, but I forgot. Next time for SURE though! You’ll want to top these with puff pastry, not regular pie crust.

The pie maker comes with a dough cutter that cuts your bottom and top dough to the perfect size. Use the larger one for the pie crust, bottom. And the smaller one for the puff pastry, top.
Plug your pie maker in and let it pre-heat.

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In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the peaches, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla.

After you’ve cooked the filling, you sort of need to work quickly. Your pie maker will be hot, so be careful. Lay the dough in each pie area, lightly using your fingers to mold it in place. Using a 1/3 measuring cup, add filling to each. Top with puff pastry and close the lid! Pies will be cooked and ready in about 10min.

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I made my pies much earlier than I needed them, which is fine. You can easily plug the pie maker back in and reheat your pies in about 3min! Its such an easy and fun thing to use! I cant wait to try making some savory pies!

The crust was flaky and delicious (even with regular pie crust on top), the filling was warm and sweet (not overly). Would have been even more awesome with some vanilla ice cream 🙂
Great present, thanks Amanda!!

 

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Braised Chicken with a Veggie Spiral

Chicken can get old and boring, fast. Sure there are so many recipes for it, but its still chicken… lol Ive roasted, fried, stuffed, diced, shredded, and spun various cuts on a rotisserie, but Ive never braised anything. I had no idea how simple it was, and how juicy and flavorful the meat would end up being. And the spiral is a great twist on simple, healthy veggies! Enjoy!

Braised Chicken

3 chicken quarters, leg & thigh – bone in, skin on
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 large carrot – roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic – roughly chopped
6 Cippolini onions – quartered
1 pack sliced crimini mushrooms
1 tablespoon EVOO
2 tablespoons of your fav seasoning mix
salt and pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
1 can chopped tomatoes

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In a deep cast iron skillet, or dutch oven, heat oil until glassy. Rinse your chicken, pat dry, season generously with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides, about 10min total, and set chicken aside.

Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic to the pan. Sautee until tender, about 3min. Add tomatoes and carrots and bring to a simmer. Add wine, broth, and seasoning, mixing everything together so it is all incorporated and bring to a boil. After about 3min, add the chicken back to the pot, skin side down. Make sure to shimmy the chicken all the way under the veggies, so that its covered in broth. Put a lid on and let it simmer, untouched, for 1 hour.

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Veggie Spiral

2 green zucchini
2 yellow zucchini
2 russet potatoes
1 large onion
1/2 cup cheese (I used a blend of Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago)
1 tablespoon garlic herb seasoning mix, or whatever you prefer

I dont have a fancy baking dish, so I used a round pie pan. *shrugs*
(you can prep all of this while you’re browning the chicken, and while “sauce” is coming together)

In a skillet, sauté onions so they are translucent. Meanwhile, slice zucchini and potatoes into thin disks. After the onions are cooked, spray baking pan with non-stick spray and fill the bottom of the pan.

 

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Arrange the zucchini and potatoes on top of each other, at an angle going in a circle, around until you’ve filled the whole pan. Cover with cheese and seasoning mixture.
Bake at 400°F for 1 hour

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Teriyaki Salmon and Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

This is a recipe I grew up on that my daddy used to make all the time. I was such a picky eater when I was little, but salmon was something I loved. I still am not too much of a seafood fan, but I dont think I could live without salmon. It is so good, almost every way you can think of making it!

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This is possibly the easiest recipe Ive ever made, seriously. There arent too many ingredients, and the prep takes about 10min. Feel free to marinate your salmon as long as you’d like beforehand.

Salmon

2 Salmon Filets (or 4, or 10.. depends on your dinner size)
1/2 cup Kikoman teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon onion powder
fresh cracked pepper

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First and foremost, you want to debone your salmon. The grocery store wont do this for you, unfortunately. It really isn’t too hard, and all you need is a pair of tweezers. Take your fingers and slowly rub your fingers along the top of the flesh, you can feel where the bones are. Using the tweezers, grip the bone as hard as you can, slowly pulling the bone out. This isnt like doing your eyebrows where you want to go quickly, fish is slippery, and you’ll lose the grip with the tweezers if you go too fast.

If you’re not into deboning, and your family is cool with bones and knows how to avoid them, keep them in. Its ultimately up to you.

In a sealable container, add filets skin side up. Pour in teriyaki and soy sauce, chopped garlic, onion powder, and cracked pepper. Put the lid on and refrigerate for however long you want before wanting to cook your salmon.

When you’re ready to cook the fish, heat your oven to 400°F and cook for 20min. Personally, I prefer my fish one extreme or the other; completely raw or very well done. Cook to your liking…

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Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

1lb green beans
1 pack of thick cut bacon
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon favorite seasoning

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Take about 8 green beans and bundle them, wrapping the bacon around the center of each bundle. Arrange on a baking pan, one with sides so grease doesnt get all over your oven. Heat oven to 400°F. While the oven is heating, melt butter in a small saucepan and add your favorite seasoning to the melted butter. I used McCormick’s Garlic and Herb blend. Spoon mixture over each bundle and you’re ready to go!

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I put the bacon bundles in the oven first since they take a little while longer, 10min early. Then I added the salmon and let them both go. Dinner was delicious and easy! Served with white rice on the side, and some nice white wine. 🙂

Pinwheel Skirt Steak with Spinach and Feta


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Ive always wanted to make a pinwheel something or other.. So I decided to make this recipe I found on Pinterest. I normally dont trust recipes from pinterest, but what they hey.. I made some changes to this recipe, you will see as follows. It actually turned out really really well.

Prep: 20 minutes
Roast: at 425°F for 25 minutes

Ingredients:

2 thin skirt steak (2 pounds)
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, I used the garlic herb kind
1 jar (7 ounces) roasted red peppers, drained and chopped (NO.)
2 tablespoons seasoned dry bread crumbs (NO)
1 egg yolk (NO)
2 fresh garlic cloves, diced small
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Meat ties/twine

I rubbed the meat down with a black peppercorn rub about 2hrs before I wanted to make it and set it aside. When time came to make dinner, I flattened the meat out on a cutting board, one at a time.

In a small bowl mix together spinach, garlic, feta, and whatever spices you want. I added salt, pepper, a little onion and garlic powder.

With the meat flat on the board, use a spoon and put half of the mixture on top of the meat. Spread the mixture to all ends, and make sure its pressed in. Start rolling your pinwheel from one end of the steak, not the side. You want this to resemble a log once its rolled.

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After you’ve gotten both stuffed and rolled, tie them with your meat ties or twine. I have ties that came with my rotisserie, so I use those.

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Spray a baking sheet with a small amount of PAM or whatever you have on hand, and roast at 425° for 25min. This makes for a perfectly crusty outside, and pink inside! Remember to let your meat rest for 10min before cutting into it so you dont lose all the juices/flavor.

I served this with Roasted small golden potatoes, and bacon brussels sprouts! Mmmmm… Definitely something I’ll make again!

Chili Cheese Beer Dip

Im super late posting this recipe, but whatevs. Super Bowl was awesome! Our team won, woohoo Ravens! We spent the day at a friends house eating all kinds of fattening food and betting on various parts of the game. Hubs asked me to make something “guys would like” lol So I decided on a cheesy chili beer dip! I mean, what man wouldn’t like that?

Chili Cheese Beer Dip

Ingredients

1 large can kidney beans, drained
1lb Velveeta Cheese
1lb ground beef
1lb spicy italian sausage
1 can sliced olives
1 large onion chopped
1 12oz jar thick and chunky salsa (I used hot)
3 garlic cloves diced small
salt and pepper to taste
1 bottle of your favorite beer (I used an IPA we had handy)

Directions

In a large skillet combine chopped onion and garlic and one tablespoon of oil. Let them sweat together for a good 3min. Add all meat and brown, about 10min. Break up the sausage and beef as you go along, remember you can use a potato masher to make this much easier.  Add your bottle of beer and let it simmer until the alcohol has cooked off.

While the meat is cooking, take out your crock pot and add the cheese, beans, and salsa. Set to medium and let it melt while the meat is cooking. When the meat is done, add to crock pot and mix well.

When everything is melted and fully combined, you’re ready! I unplugged the crockpot and brought it with us to the party.

Rainy Day Chicken Pot Pie

One of my favorite childhood meals was chicken pot pie; Marie Calendars frozen ones were such a treat after school. So comforting and delicious, and in a pie crust – yum. I have always loved them but never really thought to make one, Im not sure why. This was one of the easiest things Ive ever made!

I chose to stick to pre-made pie crust, since it was my first time and I wasn’t about to be stressing over making dough.. I bought a frozen pie shell, and a pack of refrigerated pie crust for the top. Easy peasy.

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Pie Filling

1 small white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped small
1 pack pre-sliced crimini mushrooms
1 large boneless/skinless chicken breast
1 bag frozen peas and corn mix
3 teaspoons corn starch
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 egg, whisked (set aside)

I used a pre-cooked chicken breast I had in the refrigerator from the other night. I tend to cook a pack and use them throughout the week for salads, in meals, whatever. But if you don’t have one already cooked, season your chicken and cook it thoroughly. Let it cool and then shred it, or dice into small cubes and add it back to the skillet.

Turn heat on medium-high, add a little oil and the chopped onion. Let them cook for about 2min together, add mushrooms and cook for 4 more min then add garlic.

**Preheat oven to 395° and take pie crust out of the freezer**

While that is simmering, mix together corn starch and 3 tablespoons of the chicken stock. Add remaining stock and the carrots/peas to the pan and bring to a boil, let it cook for about 3min then add the corn starch mixture and cream. Stir well, letting it thicken to desired consistency and then remove from heat. While you’re letting the filling cool, take your refrigerated pie topping out of the fridge and unroll.

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After the filling has cooled somewhat, and the oven is heated, fill your pie shell. It is ok if it is heaping, you just dont want it overflowing. Top with rolled out pie topping and pinch sides together.

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In a small bowl, beat the egg and use it to “paint” the outside of your pie. This will help give your pie a golden and crispy crust!
Bake in the preheated oven, for about 20 to 25 minutes, until golden. Serve hot.

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This turned out sooooooo delicious! I cant believe I never tried making it before! Our little family of 3 basically demolished the whole pie tonight. There is only one piece left! Yummmmyyyy! I think I’ll make it without chicken next time. I always find myself picking the pieces out after a while, for whatever reason. I will definitely be making this again. Mmmm!

Jumbo Shells Stuffed With Italian Sausage

I am not much of a red sauce fan, so I tend to steer clear of lasagnas and things of that nature. I ran across a similar recipe to this a while back and decided to try and make it my own.

 

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Pasta Filling

1 12oz box jumbo pasta shells
1 pound spicy Italian Sausage
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup Spinach, frozen or fresh
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano 

 

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In a big enough pot, boil water with a few dashes of salt, add shells and cook per package instructions. When done, place into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, you dont want mushy noodles. In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of EVOO until glassy, add sausage and break up with a wooden spoon. The best trick I ever discovered to helping break up the meat, use a potato masher! After the meat has cooked until somewhat brown, use the potato masher to break up the pieces smaller – it works so well!

Add garlic and cook for about 2min, then add the spinach and chopped tomatoes. Cook on medium heat, stirring every so often to help wilt the spinach.

 

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Once the spinach is wilted, you can turn the heat off and remove skillet from the stove. Add ricotta, salt, pepper, onion powder, and oregano and stir well so that everything is incorporated. 

Pre-heat your oven to 350°

Prepare yourself to be patient. Filling these little buggers is a little time consuming, and annoying as they dont all open up very easily.
Open each shell gently, they’ll be slippery and annoying, but once you get in a groove it’ll get easier. Using a soup spoon, spoon in the filling and arrange in round pie pan or shallow casserole dish. Putting them in the pan with the “end” of the shell “up” will make so they dont fall over and get everywhere.

Once they’re all in the pan, cover with cheese and bake for 30min!

Deeeelish!!

Vegetarian Caramelized Onion Mushroom and Spinach Flatbread

I try not to make the same things over and over again, but there are some things that my family loves. I can’t keep writing the same recipes so I try to mix it up lol But tonight I made another flatbread pizza, my daughter loves them. Tonight I was tired and didn’t feel like making homemade dough, so I bought a whole wheat pre-made pizza crust at Sprouts (grocery store). I promise there will be more adventurous recipes this week 😉

 

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Pizza Toppings
2 Small Yellow Onions, sliced thin
1 package pre-chopped crimini mushrooms
1 pack frozen spinach, water squeezed out and dried
2 tablespoons EVOO
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Pizza Sauce
1/2 cup milk
4oz Cream Cheese
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1 pinch dried thyme

 

You’ll want to start about an hour and a half before you really want to eat dinner. To truly caramelize onions, you need about 45min and some patience. Caramelizing onions is just about the most boring thing ever, seriously. Especially if you have no patience, like me! lol

After slicing your onions, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan, add the onions and coat evenly. Cook on medium-low for about 45min, stirring about every 3min.

When the onions have become nice and soft, and a golden brown color, they’re done. Take them out and put them in a bowl. Add the mushrooms to the pan, there should be a little oil left over from the onions, but if there isn’t add a little. Salt and pepper to taste, cooking mushrooms on medium heat until they’re brown – about 10min. Add onions back to the pan and mix well.

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To make the sauce, add butter to a small pot and melt, add the garlic and cook for about 5min. Add milk and cream cheese and let it all melt. Use a whisk to help break up the cream cheese and mix everything together. Add salt, pepper, and crushed thyme. After about 5min it should be to the consistency you want it, remember it’ll thicken when it stands.

Using a big spoon, or ladle, spread around your pizza dough and top with spinach.

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After you’ve crumbled the spinach on top, you can spoon the mushrooms and onions on top of your pre-made pizza crust, then sprinkle with cheese. I put this directly on the center rack of a 425° oven for about 12min. Let it cool for about 5min, and sliced it up!

 

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