Sweet and Simple for a Monday – Sausage and Bean Dutch Oven Stew

I don’t know about you, but for me Monday is the busiest day of the week. even though I work from home, the bulk of my assignments come in over the weekends or on Monday so I spend most of the day doing research and writing, trying to get as much done as I can. this often means that Monday tends to be a leftover day or one where we have made something for dinner the night before and can cook it quickly and easily Monday night. this recipe for today could really fit into either of those categories. It is easy enough to do with leftovers right on the spot or you could put it all together the day before and simply heat it up for a great meal. The idea for the recipe comes from, but I did change it a little bit to fit my needs since their original version is designed to be cooked when you are camping and cooking over an open flame. I changed it slightly to fit into a nice, home-cooked meal of an easy sausage and bean Dutch oven stew.

Sausage and Bean Dutch-Oven Stew

2 cans (15.5-ounce size) each cannellini beans and chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced

1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced

1/2 orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced

1 onion, sliced

1 poblano chile or jalapeno, seeded and sliced

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 1/2 pounds cooked Italian sausages, cut into 1-inch chunks

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon dried oregano

In a Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and heat until it is shimmering. Add in the red pepper, yellow pepper, orange pepper, poblano or jalapeno and the onions and saute until the vegetables have just softened, stirring occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and heat until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. add the cannellini beans and chickpeas, the rosemary and the Italian sausage pieces, along with 3/4 cup of water, and stir until the mixture is incorporated. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat until the stew is simmering. Cover the pot and continue cooking until the sausages swell and all of the vegetables are cooked through, checking the pot every 10 minutes and adding more water if the stew gets dry, until it has cooked for about 30 to 40 minutes. Season the stew with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle the top with the oregano before serving.

It is very simple and quite tasty. The sausage and beans go very nicely together and the peppers and onions help round it out with the poblano giving it just a hint of heat, which is nice. I think this would be even better with kielbasa or a smoked sausage instead of the Italian sausage, but it all works really well together and gives you a nice one pot meal in under an hour that does not take a lot of work. If you have leftover Italian sausage they are perfect for this meal (which is what I did) but if you don’t you can cook some up quickly before putting them in with the other ingredients. I really liked the beans used in the recipe, but you could use other beans if you prefer them as well.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!



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Fun and Frightful Halloween Recipes : Cooking Channel

Fun and Frightful Halloween Recipes : Cooking Channel.

Halloween is just around the corner and if you want to make some tasty treats that are fun and Halloween themed, Cooking Channel has put together 31 fun and frightful recipes perfect for Halloween fun.Check it out!


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Simple and Satisfying – Butternut Squash Polenta with Sausage and Onion

I always seem to forget about polenta. It’s not something I do on purpose, it’s just not a dish that I think of very often to make and then I realize just how versatile and great-tasting it can be. Sean was just saying to me the other day that we had not had polenta in a long time and he was right. I couldn’t even remember the last I made it and we always have some around the house to make. Polenta, much like it is with rice, oatmeal, grits and the like, is so great because you can add lots of things to it to bring out even greater flavors. That’s what I really liked about this particular recipe from the New York Times for butter nut squash polenta with sausage and onion. It makes great use of one of my favorite fall vegetables by incorporating it into the creamy polenta, adding another great layer of flavor and texture to the polenta itself.

Butternut Squash Polenta with Sausage and Onion

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed

1 bay leaf

1 cup fine polenta (not quick cooking)

1 cup seeded and peeled butternut squash, coarsely grated

3 tablespoons butter

Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed

1 1/2 pounds sweet or hot Italian pork sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

2 teaspoons minced rosemary

2 onions, peeled, halved and sliced into 1/4-inch half moons

1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)

Rosemary sprigs, for garnish (optional)

In a large pot set over medium-high heat, combine 4 1/2 cups of water, the kosher salt and the bay leaf. Bring the water to a boil and then slowly whisk in the polenta. Stir in the butternut squash to the polenta. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the polenta and the squash are very tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. If the mixture is getting too thick while cooking, add a little bit more water to the pot to thin it out. Stir in the butter and the black pepper. Taste the polenta and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if it is needed.

While the polenta cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the Italian sausage, the rosemary and the fennel seeds (if using). Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is golden and cooked through, about 7 to 10 minutes. You can cook the sausages in batches if necessary, adding more olive oil to the pan if the pan looks dry. Transfer the sausages to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Add more olive oil to the skillet if it looks dry and then add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and golden, about 10 to 15 minutes. Return the sausage to the pan and stir it together with the onions to heat the sausage through. Spoon the polenta into bowls and top it with the sausage and onion and garnish with the rosemary sprigs if you like.

It’s a very simple meal that packs some great flavor and is very satisfying. I love the way the squash and the polenta worked together here and it gave the polenta great texture and color. The sausages went really well with the polenta and the whole meal only takes about 30 minutes to cook. If you have polenta left, it sets really nicely when it is chilled and you can cut it into squares and saute it up as a side dish for all kinds of meals if you like. This is a great easy meal for a busy weeknight when you want something quick to put together and I think it would work well with just about any type of fall squash that you might want to use.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!


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Posted by on October 17, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Pork, Vegetables


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Take a Try at Turkey Meatloaf

I have been using a lot of ground turkey lately for different things. The price has been right for it at the supermarket or at BJ’s where I can buy large packages of it and try different things. I have used it before in chili, turkey burgers, meatballs and even on nachos but I realized that I hadn’t given a turkey meatloaf a try. I am something of a meatloaf nut and love different meatloaf recipes so I was happy to take a look and see what I c ould find for turkey meatloaf, but to be honest I wasn’t bowled over by any one recipe that I saw anywhere. I then decided I would just do it on my own and see how it would come as far as flavor. To me ground turkey is one of those meats that needs seasoning and moisture, so I ended up putting a few things together and came up with this particular recipe of my own.

Turkey Meatloaf

1 shallot, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup fresh bread crumbs (about 2 pieces of white bread, crusts removed)

1/3 cup milk

1 egg

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon ketchup

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon tomato paste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, add the vegetable oil and heat the oil until it is shimmering. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the shallot has softened and is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and allow the mixture to cool.

In a large bowl, add the bread crumbs and the milk and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes. Add the cooled vegetables, the egg, the ground turkey, the Worcestershire sauce, the 1/4 cup of ketchup, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Mix the ingredients together by hand until they are just blended. Form the mixture into a loaf and place the loaf in a baking pan or on a baking sheet. Mix the remaining ketchup and tomato paste together in a small bowl and spread over the top of the meatloaf to coat it well. Bake the meatloaf in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a thermometer inserted into the meatloaf registers 170 degrees. Remove the meatloaf from the pan to a platter and allow it to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

As is the case with any meatloaf, you can always add different ingredients that you like to give it some extra flavor. If you are going for something leaner, you could certainly add different vegetables, like grated carrots and onions. If you want a different flavor, try topping it with bacon or putting crumbled up cooked bacon into the meatloaf. You could also add a cup of mushrooms you have processed in the food processor to give the meatloaf another layer of flavor. There are a lot of things you can do, but this one was pretty basic and came out with really good flavor. We even made a little gravy out of some  chicken stock and had it with the turkey and mashed potatoes. Of course, the turkey meatloaf is great for meatloaf sandwiches for lunch or dinner in the following days.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!



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Posted by on October 16, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Poultry, Turkey


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A New Way to Try Pulled Pork – Asian Oven Roasted Pulled Pork

We are big pulled pork eaters in our house. I make mine in the oven most of the time (though I have tried the slow cooker as well) and have a standard recipe I have used in the past that makes a nice, spicy pulled pork with a great barbecue sauce, but sometimes I like to try things a little different to spice things up a bit. I have a couple of recipes for pork that I had been holding onto and when I saw pork shoulder on sale the other day I decided to pick it up and give one a try. I chose to use this recipe, which came from White on Rice Couple, for an Asian oven roasted pulled pork. It was easy to make, used some great spices and created a great tasting meal for us.

Asian Oven Roasted Pulled Pork

4-5 pound pork butt or pork shoulder

1 onion, diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

5-6 garlic cloves, minced

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger

1/4 cup fish sauce or soy sauce

2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce

1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and heat the oil until it is shimmering. Add the onion and the garlic and cook until the onions are soft and fragrant, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, ginger, fish sauce or soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, brown mustard, brown sugar and black pepper. Gently stir the sauce and simmer the sauce on low heat for about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.

Heat a large cast iron pan or deep ovenproof skillet on medium-high heat. Lightly coat the pork butt or pork shoulder with olive oil and season the pork on all sides with salt and pepper. Sear each side of the pork in the skillet until the pork has browned all over, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the tomato sauce mixture over the pork to coat it completely. Cover the pork with aluminum foil. Bake the pork for about 3 to 4 hours or until the pork is tender and easily shreds when a fork is inserted into the meat.

Allow the pork to rest on a  cutting board for about 15 minutes before shredding the entire piece of pork. Keep aluminum foil over the pork to keep it warm until you are ready to serve it.

You get some tremendous flavors from the pork thanks to the fish sauce, ginger and chili sauce in this one and the mustard and brown sugar set in with their own sweetness and spiciness as well. I used a boneless pork butt for my meal but I think you could use either one if you prefer the flavoring you get with the bone in. I would recommend using fish sauce over soy sauce if you have it since it adds a completely different type of flavor, but soy sauce will work well if that is what you have around.Also, I did place the pork under the broiler for a couple of minutes to crisp up the outside just a little bit before I shredded it to add some extra crunch. This dish is perfect on rolls for pulled pork sandwiches, or to serve for tacos or quesadillas or even just by itself with some rice, which is what I did with it when we first made it and then used leftovers for tacos. It’s a nice twist if you want something a little different from the usual pulled pork.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!


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Posted by on October 15, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Pork, Sandwiches


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Make It Easy with Low-Maintenance Risotto

I find that I have become a big fan of risotto. I really like the creamy texture and you can do so many different things with it, add in vegetables that you really like, poultry, seafood or really anything your heart desires. The big drawback for risotto is, of course, that it not only takes a bit to make it takes a lot of you being involved in the process. You need to make sure it is stirred so the broth, wine, or water is absorbed properly and added in the right amounts if you want the risotto to come out well. It can be a bit tricky and it can be a pain to cook with all of the constant stirring you have to do for 30 minutes or so. So when I saw this recipe from PureWow for a low maintenance risotto, I figured I would give it a try and see if it really was low-maintenance and came out nicely.

Low-Maintenance Risotto

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely minced

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 cup arborio rice

1/3 cup dry white wine

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until it is shimmering. Add the minced onion and garlic and cook until the onion softens and is translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the arborio rice and stir to combine the rice with onion and to coat it, about 1 minute. Add the white wine and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer until the liquid is nearly absorbed, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the broth to the mixture 1 cup at a time. Bring the first cup to a simmer and cook until the rice has nearly absorbed all of the liquid, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the next cup of broth and allow it to simmer until it is nearly absorbed, about another 10 to 12 minutes. Repeat a third time with the last cup of broth and allow it to be absorbed, about another 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the butter and stir the rice vigorously until the mixture is well combined and the butter has melted. The vigorous stirring brings out the natural starches in the rice, which makes the risotto creamy.

Add the Parmesan cheese and mix well to combine. Season the risotto with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, spoon the risotto onto plates and top with any sautéed vegetables you like. Serve immediately.

I have to say that the risotto does turn out nicely and it is creamy and tasty. As far as the dish being low-maintenance, I guess it depends on your definition of low-maintenance. It’s true you do not have to constantly mix the risotto with this method and leave it to absorb the liquid, but you still must do vigorous stirring when the butter is added if you want it to be creamy. The recipe still takes just as long to cook as other risottos I have made, and you aren’t constantly stirring but there is still work involved. All in all, I think you could use this method or any other recipe and get quality results. Of course you can always add any vegetables or anything else you like at the end for added flavor.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of the day and enjoy your meal!


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Posted by on October 14, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Rice, Side Dishes


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Back to Cooking with a Great Fall Side Dish – Cider-Glazed Root Vegetables

Now that my oven is up and running again I was able to do some actual cooking over the past weekend and a few different things that I can share on the blog. One of my favorite things about fall cooking is all of the great root vegetables that seem to go so well with fall meals come out. You can do great things with carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, turnips, beets and more and while I personally love to roast all kinds of vegetables, I also thought it would be great to bring all of these flavors together and use another great piece of fall produce – apples. Apples are pretty plentiful in this area of New York this time of year so it’s a great time to take advantage of them as well. This particular recipe for cider-glazed root vegetables was in the latest issue of Cook’s Country magazine and uses the cider to give the vegetables some added flavor and punch. The original recipe uses hard apple cider in it, which I did not have on hand. Instead I used some local apple cider as a substitute.

Cider-Glazed Root Vegetables

4 tablespoons butter

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

12 ounces parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

12 ounces turnips, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

3 shallots, peeled and halved

2 1/2 cups hard cider or regular cider

3 tablespoons sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 apple, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, parsnips, turnips and shallots and cook until lightly browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the apple cider, sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and the remaining 3 tablespoons of the butter and bring the entire mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the skillet. Cook the vegetables until they are just tender, about 7 to 10 minutes, stirring the vegetables occasionally.

Uncover the skillet and increase the heat to medium. Cook the vegetables until they are fully tender, about 13 to 15 minutes, stirring them occasionally. Stir in the apple and continue to cook the vegetables until the cider starts to become syrupy and the apple is just tender, about another 2 to 3 minutes. Take the skillet off the heat and stir in the chopped tarragon and the apple cider vinegar. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the vegetables to a serving dish and pour any of the remaining glaze over the vegetables before serving.

Other than substituting regular apple cider for the hard apple cider, I also used golden beets instead of turnips since I already had the beets on hand. You can use pretty much root vegetables that you really like and I think they would work pretty well here. The original recipe as it is posted here is also designed to serve 8 people, so I cut the recipe in half when I actually made it for just the 3 of us and we still had plenty of leftovers. You get some really great flavor with all of the vegetables mixed together with the cider and the apple, though I have to admit that using the regular cider probably creates a bit of a weaker tasting glaze than if you use the hard cider, but it was still really good. I made this as a side dish to go with meat loaf, but I think it would go really well with any pork or poultry dish as well.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!


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Posted by on October 13, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian


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