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PGF: Pasta with Sausage & Spinach

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This 20 minute, 7 ingredient dinner is perfect for a busy day. Pick a sweet or spicy sausage to fit the flavor to your own tastes.

Pasta w Sausage and Spinach

This dinner was birthed out of Christmas chaotic-ness. It was about 7pm and I’d spent all of my cooking energy on cookies. I’d meant to go grocery shopping but ran out of time. I checked for leftovers, but there weren’t any in the refrigerator. My next thought was to make pasta and sauce, but I didn’t even have any pasta sauce in the house! So I scrounged through the near empty refrigerator, found a bag of spinach and some uncooked ground sausage that was nearing the expiration date and got to cooking.

In the time it took to cook pasta I actually ended up with a really delicious dinner. I took a few bites, and was pleasantly surprised, so I snapped a few photos before I devoured the entire plate.

Pasta w Sausage and Spinach 2

This is a PGF (portionally gluten free) recipe. Reflective of how I cook at home, I’ve written this recipe to make half a batch with GF pasta and half a batch of wheat pasta. The recipe calls for 1 pound of pasta total and that pound can be split up in whatever combination of GF/wheat suits your situation.  Like I said, I usually do half and half, but there are lots of options. If you have just one person out of a family of 4 or 5, make just 1/4 of a pound of GF pasta and up the wheat pasta to 3/4 (or vice versa). You can make a full pound of GF pasta, a full pound of wheat pasta, etc, etc.

Pasta w Sausage and Spinach 3

When you’ve finished cooking the pasta it’s time to stir in the sausage and spinach. Don’t worry about measuring out the exact right proportions of spinach and sausage to match the two batches of pasta. Just eyeball it or do a rough measurement; this is not the type of recipe that requires an exact measurement!

Pasta w Sausage and Spinach 4

Pasta with Sausage & Spinach

Although this recipe is written to split half and half between GF and wheat you can easily vary the amount of either type of pasta. See the post above for more info on doing that.
 
Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound GF pasta
  • 1/2 pound wheat pasta
  • 1 pound ground sausage
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, cut into thin slices
  • 3 cups chopped spinach
  • 1/4 c shredded asiago cheese (may use parmesan)
Directions
  1. Fill 2 pots with water and bring to a boil. When water is boiling add the GF pasta to one pot and the wheat pasta to the other. Cook each pasta for time listed on the package. If/when you stir the pasta, be sure to use a separate spoon for each pot. Drain pasta when it has finished cooking (I drain the GF pasta in a colander and the wheat pasta using the lid of the pan it was cooked in to avoid contamination) and return to the pot.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and sautee for 3 or 4 minutes, until the onion is soft.
  3. Add the sausage into the skillet and brown, breaking up into small bits.
  4. To the GF pasta, stir in half of the sausage, half of the spinach, and half of the cheese. Add the other half of the sausage, spinach, and cheese to the wheat pasta.
  5. When serving, be sure to use two separate spoons.
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Bangers & Mash Casserole

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This is a healthy casserole. It sounds like it should be unhealthy, it tastes like it should be unhealthy, but it is actually good for you.

Bangers and Mash is a delicious British dish made of sausage and mashed potatoes. Whenever I’ve seen it at restaurants its been very simple; a few sausages on top of a bed of mashed potatoes. There may be some gravy poured over it or a side of veggies, but nothing much different from that.  Bangers and Mash is actually a pretty good meal option for someone on a gluten free diet because most mashed potatoes and sausage are naturally gluten free. I’ve even been surprised at the number of restaurants that make all of their gravies with cornstarch, making that naturally gluten free, too.

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Sausage and mashed potatoes are not exactly the healthiest foods in the world so I made a few swaps to get this casserole up to a more healthy level. For the sausage, I used all natural chicken sausage. Both Al Fresco and Aidells have a full line of flavors in their natural chicken sausages. I’ve tried a few flavor varieties and the best results have been with a cajun flavored sausage. The spicy sausage against the smooth and creamy mash is a great combination. Of course, with all of the sausage flavor options out there I am sure that there are some other great combinations. I just happen to be a fan of spicy foods.

To healthify the mash part of the casserole I swapped the potatoes for cauliflower. Cauliflower is much healthier than potatoes and mashes up to be just as smooth and creamy in texture. There’s a bit of a taste difference between the two, but with all of the other flavors going on in this casserole any flavor from the cauliflower is overpowered.

If the cauliflower wasn’t healthy enough for you, there’s also a quiche layer on the very bottom of the casserole filled with eggs, spinach, and onions. Sure, there’s a little mozzarella cheese in there, too, but what would a casserole be without just a little cheese?!

Surprisingly, with three layers, this casserole won’t take all day to prepare. While the cauliflower is boiling you’ll whip up the quiche layer and brown the sauages. Once those are laid out in the casserole pan you drain and mash the cauliflower, spread it on top, and pop the whole dish in the oven.

Bangers and Mash Casserole

Ingredients
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 Tbs plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 fully cooked, cajun flavored chicken sausage
  • 5 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbs all purpose GF flour
  • 2 c chopped spinach
  • 3/4 c shredded mozzarella
  • 1/3 c green onions, sliced
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into florets and place in the large pot of water. Bring to a boil, and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until very soft.
  3. While the cauliflower is cooking whisk the eggs together. When the eggs are combined whisk in the baking powder, salt (3/4 tsp), and flour. Stir in the spinach, mozzarella and green onions.
  4. Spray a 2 qt. baking dish with cooking spray and pour the eggs mixture on the bottom.
  5. Cut each of the sausages in half length-wise. If desired, cook the sausages for a few minutes on each side over medium-high heat, until they are lightly browned on each side (Since sausage is already fully cooked, this step isn’t necessary).
  6. Place the sausage in a row on top of the egg mixture. They may sink down into the eggs – this is okay.
  7. When the cauliflower is soft drain it and then return it to the pan. Using an immersion blender or beaters, whip the cauliflower until it is very smooth. Add the greek yogurt and salt and whip again until the yogurt is totally mixed in. Spread the cauliflower on top of the sausages.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the bottom quiche layer is cooked through.

GF Sausage Stuffing

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Last Thanksgiving my Dad found a box of GF stuffing mix at the grocery store. It was the first Thanksgiving without my grandparents, who had been in charge of making the stuffing in the past. We weren’t sure how exactly to make stuffing (and I wasn’t totally crazy about Grandma & Grandpa’s stuffing. It was so dense and had no taste.), so we just followed the recipe on the box.

Stuffing usually tastes bland to me, and I slather it in gravy to make it more palatable. This stuffing, though, was anything but tasteless. It was bold, a bit spicy, and didn’t need any help from the gravy to get some flavor. Everyone else tried some of the GF stuffing and apparently it was significantly better than their regular stuffing.

The secret to this delicious stuffing? Sausage!

 

I did some research on how to actually make stuffing and then worked on recreating the recipe. The box from the stuffing mix is long gone so I  just did my best from memory. The results have been very tasty, and I’ve enjoyed the stuffing with and without gravy. I have used a spicy sausage, but I’m sure this would be delicious with a mild, or even sweet-ish sausage. Pick whatever sausage variety you enjoy the most!

In my recipe research, I also learned that putting sausage in stuffing is actually kind of a normal thing. I feel a little bit embarrassed – here I thought I had this brilliant stuffing discovery and then I found out it actually wasn’t a big discovery at all. Opps! Now, I’m just hoping that by sharing this recipe I can introduce a few other people to the world of stuffing that is good enough that you actually want to eat it.

Gluten Free Sausage Stuffing

Ingredients
  • 12 oz gluten free bread
  • 1/2 lb. ground sausage
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 celery rib, diced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2c chicken stock (this makes a soft stuffing. Reduce the amount of liquid to make a crispier stuffing)
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Dice the bread into small cubes and spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until the cubes are totally crisp, like the consistency a crouton would be. The time will vary depending on what type of bread you are using. It should take somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes.
  3. While the bread is in the oven, brown the sausage in a frying pan over medium high heat, breaking it up as it cooks.
  4. When the sausage has cooked, move it to a large mixing bowl. Add the diced onion and celery right into the pan the sausage was in. Turn the heat down to medium. Cook the vegetables until soft, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the vegetables to the bowl with the sausage in it, along with cooked bread cubes. Stir in the egg and the thyme and mix until the egg is distributed throughout the mixture.
  6. Turn the oven temperature up to 400° F. Put the stuffing into a greased baking dish (I used a 3 qt dish) and pour the chicken stock into the baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and cook for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and cook an additional 5 – 10 minutes, until the top is crisp.

Egg & Sausage Breakfast Crepes

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Since I’ve posted two recipes for making crepes on this blog it’s about time for today’s post, which is a recipe for a crepe filling!

These breakfast crepes are loaded with scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, and cheddar cheese. It’s just like those breakfast sandwiches that are usually served on a bagel or English muffin, but instead it’s all wrapped up inside a warm gluten free crepe.

When I make breakfast crepes I almost always make the actual crepes ahead of time (It’s actually quite convenient to have a few crepes in the refrigerator ready to turn into a quick breakfast or lunch). If you have your crepes already made you can make this breakfast in just a few minutes more than it takes to make scrambled eggs! I scramble up some eggs, get my premade crepes and fully cooked chicken sausage out of the fridge, and then just heat each crepe individually in the frying pan. Add some cheddar cheese, which melts to hold everything together, and the crepe is done!

By the way, the filling for this crepe is totally customizable. I like to use a spicy cajun sausage, but a mild breakfast sausage or some leftover bacon would also be delicious. The cheddar cheese could easily be substituted with anything that melts easily; mozzarella or colby jack would both be wonderful. Also, the options for adding veggies are endless: onions, spinach, bell peppers, green onions, just to name a few!

Egg & Sausage Breakfast Crepes

 
Ingredients
Directions
  1. Cut the sausage and any vegetables you are using into bite sized pieces.
  2. In a nonstick skillet, scramble the eggs over medium heat.
  3. Empty the cooked eggs out of the skillet and lay a crepe down flat in the same skillet. If the skillet is mess from the eggs, you can use a clean one, too. You’ll want to turn the heat down just a hair. The skillet should be warm enough to heat up the crepe and filling, but not so hot that it burns the outside of the crepe. With my stove, this falls right under medium.
  4. When the crepe has heated up, add the toppings in a line down the center, ending with the cheese. Fold each side over the center.
  5. Allow the crepe to cook until the cheese is soft and melting.
  6. Repeated this process with the remaining five crepes.
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