Monthly Archives: January 2019

Italian Sausage & Peppers Pasta

For years, sausage and peppers has been such a favorite in my family. My father loved it. My whole family loves it. It’s a rather easy dish that is full of flavor and can easily feed a crowd. It’s definitely one of my favorite comfort foods. Over the years we’ve tweaked the recipe slightly. Sometimes, not adding tomatoes and putting in potatoes or using different color peppers verse the typical green peppers. The dish is rather easy to make your own.

I decided I’d make some Sausage and Peppers pasta. Being Italian I really don’t make pasta dishes as much as you’d think. Mostly for dietary reasons as I try and keep from having so many carbs.

However, sometimes a girl just needs a delicious bowl of pasta with a nice chunk of bread. That’s the Italian girl in me for sure.

I made this pasta and it came out so good and got such rave reviews. It’s rather simple and the flavor is on point and really is a great way to change up such a classic dish. The flavors are even better the next day, which make for the best leftovers of all time!

Italian Sausage and Peppers Pasta

Ingredients:

6 Italian sausage links, mild or spicy
3 large peppers, any color (or 8-10 mini peppers), cut in strips
1 large onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 T olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
1 T butter, optional
2-3 T pesto, homemade or store bought (more or less depending on taste)
2 t salt
2 t pepper
2 t garlic powder
2 t onion powder
2 t Italian seasoning
3 T grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, (+ more for sprinkling)
1 cup arugula, loosely packed ) (optional)
8-10 oz pasta noodles, any kind cooked

Directions: Preheat oven 350°. Bake Italian sausage for 35-40 minutes turning sausage over half way through. Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat 2 minutes. Add in garlic and onion and sauté 3-4 minutes stirring often. Add in the peppers and cook until soft and slightly browned. This may take about 8-9 minutes. Next season the mixture with Italian seasoning, garlic and onion powder, and salt and pepper.

Cut sausage into slices and add to the pan. Add the diced tomatoes with liquid, pesto and the cooked pasta and mix well. Let simmer about 5-7 minutes stirring often. Next remove pan from heat and mix in the arugula, cheese and butter if you are using. The butter will give it a nice silk finish. Season pasta with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese for serving.

Chef Notes: You can make the peppers in the oven for more of a char on them. Just roast in the oven at 400° for 35-35 minutes, stirring halfway through.

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Cauliflower Chowder

It’s been a cold and snowy last week or so in Chicago.  The weather is only about to get worse, unfortunately.   We are looking at more snow and super cold temperatures by the middle of the week.   I keep reading articles talking about coldest temperatures in 25 years.  I hope it doesn’t get that cold. However, what is better on a cold winter’s day but a nice bowl of a hearty soup.

Today I made cauliflower chowder.  It’s hearty but light at the same time.  I made this soup as a healthier alternative to traditional cream soups.  It’s very easy to even turn this into a Keto recipe. Check it out.  See cook’s notes below to make Keto.

Cauliflower Chowder

Ingredients:
3 T butter
1 T olive oil
3 T flour
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1  large red pepper, diced
1 cup gold potatoes, diced
3, 16 oz bags frozen cauliflower
3, 32 oz boxes unsalted or low sodium chicken broth
2 cups fat free half and half
8 oz reduced fat cheddar cheese (more for topping)
1 large bay leaf
2 t dried rosemary
2 t dried thyme
2 t garlic powder
2 t onion powder
2 t chili powder
2 t salt (more to taste)
2 t pepper (more to taste)
1 t crushed red pepper

Toppings (optional)
Shredded cheese
Chopped Bacon
Green onion

Directions:

Heat a large soup pot on medium high heat.  Add in the olive oil and let heat a minute before adding in the garlic and onion.  Once garlic and onion are added cook about 3-4 minutes until the onion is translucent.   Next add in the red pepper and cook another 3 minutes until soft.

Add in the butter and let melt completely.  Slowly add the flour and mix well.  Cook the roux for about 4-6 minutes.  Add in the chicken stock, potatoes and frozen cauliflower and mix.  Add in thyme, rosemary and bay leaf.  Simmer on medium high heat about 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.   Check potatoes and make sure they are soft.  Remove the bay leaf.   Remove from the heat and use an immersion blender to break up the cauliflower, but leaving some chunks.

Once blended put back on the stove and add in the 2 cups of fat free half and half and mix well.  Season the soup with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, crushed red pepper and chili powder.  Mix well. Let simmer 15 minutes once the cream is added.

Remove the soup from the heat and add in 8 oz of cheese and mix to thoroughly melt the cheese.  Make sure to put the spoon to the bottom of the pot to make sure the cheese isn’t all fallen to the bottom.

To serve, ladle soup into a bowl and top with a sprinkle of shredded cheese, bacon and green onions.

Chef Notes:  For Keto recipe, replace 3 T of flour with ¼ t of xanthan gum.  Do not add in with the butter.  Make a slurry with the xanthan gum some liquid and add into the pot.  Replace fat free half and half for full fat heavy whipping cream. Omit potatoes entirely.

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Mushroom, Spinach & Mozzarella Egg Muffins (Keto Recipe)

Happy Monday everyone!! It’s officially time to get 100% back on track. I thoroughly enjoyed the holidays but it’s a new year and time to start fresh. Be prepared to see a lot of new recipes. I’m hoping to work in the kitchen on some new things that are healthy and make it easier to stay on track.

That brings me to this new recipe. I’m not a real big fan of eggs. I’d much rather something else besides eggs for breakfast but with having a lower carb/keto diet eggs are a big part of that. I have to make eggs taste like something completely different for me to enjoy them. So, here’s a take on some egg muffins I made. They are super simple and you can definitely add whatever ingredients you want. Note, that if you aren’t doing a low carb diet you can use just regular milk in place of the heavy whipping cream.

Mushroom, Spinach & Mozzarella Egg Muffins (Keto Recipe)

Ingredients:

6 eggs
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped (I used baby portabellas)
¾ cup shredded mozzarella
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Extras:
Cooking Spray
Muffin Tin

Directions: Preheat oven 375°. In a medium bowl whisk the eggs and the heavy whipping cream together. Season with salt and pepper. Spray the muffin pan well with cooking spray. Add the mushrooms and spinach to each opening. Top the veggies with an even layer of cheese. You can use more or less of both the cheese, mushrooms and spinach. Feel free to use different ingredients for inside the muffins. Evenly add the egg mixture to each opening. Fill ¾ of the way full.

Bake the muffins in the oven for 13-18 minutes. Check the muffins to make sure a toothpick or knife comes out clean and they are set. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before removing from the pan. Note: These are great to make ahead of time and have for the week. Just heat them in the microwave for 30-45 seconds for a quick on the go breakfast.

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