Sausage & Broccoli Pasta

“I hope you are going to blog about this; it is delicious” “I am going to have this for lunch on Monday; maybe even tomorrow too” just a couple of quotes from my fam after eating last night’s dinner. So here I am going to share it with you. Though a little back story, it was NOT what I had intended on making at all. I had some chicken thighs that needed to be cooked and I wanted to do a sheet pan chicken thigh and veggie dinner; until I opened the package; damn they had been in the fridge too long and went right into a sealed bag into the trash. So this was a back up plan as I also had some sweet Italian sausage in there that needed to be cooked. Thankfully they fared far better and made a great quick simple meal.
IMG_3999.JPGI am still trying to go through the freezer; I know; how deep is that damn thing that I am going on what 2-3 months of trying to use up what is in there. I had seen enough progress so that I took everything out the other day and placed it on the counter. Then called my husband out of his office to “come and pick something out for dinner” he picked arancini (fried Italian rice ball) and egg rolls – Um no thank you! That night was arancini; the next night was the egg rolls. It’s a good thing he is cute!

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I spy in the upper right hand corner my Godiva bottle*Chocolate Martini’s was also on the menu 

Back to how my Italian sausage and a few things from my freezer turned into a quick, simple and blog worthy dinner. When I laid everything out on the counter from the freezer I noticed the broccoli that I put in there from my garden was getting beat up a bit. Apparently being in there since September and getting knocked around a bit it was turning into smaller and smaller pieces. So I thought it best to use it or lose it. I have homemade chicken stock in there majority of the time; thankfully so I added a little pasta and voila dinner.
IMG_3995The best tip I can give you is brown the sausage; without browning it in the pan and letting the pan get all dark in coated with the yummy bits, I am not sure my fam would have been raving about it. The browned sausage made all the difference in the world. The chicken stock helped to deg-laze the pan which gave such a deep rich flavor to the otherwise boring pasta.
IMG_3996I didn’t and usually don’t measure anything so I am going to ballpark it for you!

3 links of sweet Italian sausage – casing removed
1 pound broccoli
1 pound penne pasta – cooked to the packages direction
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup or more Parmesan cheese – grated plus more for serving
Olive oil

Add a little olive oil to your pan and let it get warmed up, add the sausage; breaking it up and letting it get brown. Remove and set aside.
IMG_3997Add the broccoli and let it get a little browned on each side. Add the red pepper flakes and a little salt and pepper to taste. Add the sausage and pasta back into the pan. Add the butter and Parmesan cheese and let it meld.
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Serve and enjoy!

Chicken Gnocchi Soup – Crockpot

We have finally gotten to the weekend free to do what you have ignored for the last 2 months because of the holidays. 99% of the decorations are put away, I still have the porch looking a little festive but I am down with that. Plus its too early for the Spring look and I don’t really have anything for the in between and I don’t want it to be naked; it would look too depressing.
IMG_3891.JPGYesterday was also the first time I have done a “normal” grocery shopping. Basically meaning I didn’t need to pick up anything for a particular dessert, casserole or a dinner in general. I can get back into a somewhat normal routine. Which in itself can be very calming at least in my world.
IMG_3879.JPGToday I figured; well most Sundays I try to prep for the week ahead; as best I can anyway. I figure I can at least take care of breakfast, lunches and snacks; for the most part. Dinner is usually whatever I have in the fridge or freezer. More often than not I look in the fridge and see what I need to use up or clean out and that dictates what we are having for dinner.

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The soup I am going to share with you literally was because I bought a huge bag of gnocchi from my favorite farmers market in Montreal over New Years; if you are ever in Montreal, Quebec please visit Atwater Market or Jean Talon Market – you won’t be disappointed. I also had a larger than we normally buy half and half that will most definitely go bad before my husband has enough coffee to use it all up. Plus I had just made some chicken stock the night before so instead of freezing it I thought I could make a soup. Add a few more ingredients and voila dinner or lunch is ready.
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I need to give a shout out to my sister-in-law for the bay leaf – she brought me a baggie full from her bay leaf plant that she has growing at her house. Yeah I didn’t even know that was a thing. Let me just say that the ones I buy from the spice aisle in the grocery store is lets just say less than stellar in comparison. Her’s is SO easy to find and pull out of whatever I added it to. the ones from the store if I can find a whole one are a whole other story.

Ingredients
2 pounds chicken breast
½ cups shredded carrots
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 package approx 16 ounces potato gnocchi
1 cup chopped fresh spinach

Directions
Place the chicken in the bottom of your slow cooker. Add carrots and garlic. Along with the spices. Cover with the chicken broth or stock, whatever you have on hand. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.

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Remove the bay leaf and discard. Remove the chicken and once cooled a bit; shred or dice whatever you like. Make a slurry with the half and half and cornstarch and add it along with the gnocchi to the pot. Place the chicken back in the pot. Cover and place on high for about 30 minutes or so. You want to make sure the gnocchi is cooked through and the soup thickens. 
img_3890Add the spinach just before serving and allow it to wilt a bit. Adjust the salt and pepper to your taste and enjoy!

 

Recipe adapted: www.fivehearthome.com

Cabbage Soup – EASY

I don’t know about you but I have already been thinking about the plants I am going to put in my garden this year.  It might have had something to do with the warm February we had but them mother nature had a different plan and decided we really needed another foot of snow. If nothing else it was absolutely beautiful around here.

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I added the Edamame as I had a small bag in the freezer – cleaning out the fridge kind of soup

I literally made this soup because I had a hunk of cabbage left in my fridge since harvesting it in from my garden sometime in the Fall or Autumn whatever you call it. I needed the space but I would never throw away perfectly good food. It’s not in my nature to waste but we don’t really eat a lot of cabbage but I grow enormous ones and they last once wrapped in plastic wrap for a VERY long time.

IMG_2592Believe it or not I still have some red and yellow onions, shallots and garlic that we are still using from my garden. If you have never grown any vegetables or herbs you should try; at least grow some herbs in a pot, or a patio tomato. It doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming a little soil, sun and water and you are good to go.
IMG_2629Cabbage Soup with ingredients on hand

2 stalks Celery – diced
2 Carrots – peeled and diced
2-3 Tomatoes – chopped
1 large Onion – diced
Head of Cabbage – chopped
2 cloves Garlic – minced
1 cup Edamame
2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 Bay Leaf
Kosher Salt & freshly cracked black Pepper – to taste
Sriracha – to taste
Chicken Stock – enough to cover veggies

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I added a little sweet Italian Sausage that I browned and added at the end – Just a little more love

In a slow cooker I chopped and added it to the pot, set it on high and left it for about 4 hours.
You can make it on top of the stove as well using the same method.

Easiest Chicken Stock

With only a few weeks left in the year 2017 I can’t be the only person trying to fit in extra shopping, 3 holidays, a few birthday’s a couple of holiday parties and try to remain sane. I think I mentioned having a pretty significant birthday coming up. While you are reading this I should be sitting on a beach hopefully enjoying the sunshine on my face, a book in one hand and a tasty adult beverage in the other. * I meant to  post this one next week – oops! I will be on a beach this time next week! While my husband and I love going on vacations together; it does take it’s toll trying to fit one in this time of year, but I didn’t choose my birth month nor did my husband; his is a month from mine. Oh and let’s throw in our wedding anniversary too.
IMG_5533Sounds like I am complaining but I really am very fortunate to be able to get a break from reality once in awhile. Life gets very hectic around here at times; especially this time of year.
IMG_5532This is probably too simple to blog about but it is SO worth mentioning and I know many people that have never made their own stock and I don’t know about you but I can never have enough chicken stock on hand. I use it for not only soups, stews and gravy; it is a great addition any night of the week. After pan searing chicken breast; it’s a great way to deglaze the pan. You can also flavor pasta and rice by using your homemade stock instead of plain water to boil them in.

This is a great thing to do today so you have some stock on hand that you can use on Thanksgiving!

Simple Chicken Stock
Chicken carcass or bones
2 celery stalks
2 carrots
1-2 onions
Season with salt and pepper to taste

After removing all the meat from your chicken; whether you made it or bought one of those roasters your local grocery makes and sells. Place the carcass in your slow cooker.  Cover with water and add a few stalks of celery; the leaves have flavor too. A couple of carrots roughly chopped and an onion.  Turn it on low before you go to bed and in the morning you have stock.
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Throw away the carcass and veggies and let the stock sit. I cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge so the fat will congeal on the top, I remove the fat and then put the “liquid gold” in containers and place in the freezer.

 

 

Soup is On! Cheeseburger Soup

Soup is on and I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it – sorry you’ll be humming that for the rest of the day…hehehe

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Earlier this month we were invited to a soup party. This is our second time attending; last year I brought lobster bisque; only because my husband was bragging about it to the host. Unfortunately I am sworn to secrecy with the bisque recipe. I received it from an ex-employee from a now closed restaurant that we used to frequent.
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This year I decided to bring my gnocchi soup; which is delicious and always a hit; I shared the recipe for that soup last year gnocchi soup July 2015. There was one soup at the party that is made and brought every year because of how popular it is. It is a cheeseburger soup. This is the only place I have seen and tasted this soup. It is delicious and I should have asked for the recipe but I didn’t. I decided to try making it from recipes I saw online. This one might not be exactly like the one from the party but I still like it and wanted to share it with you here.

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I didn’t wait for my homemade chicken stock to thaw from the freezer


I just finished making my second cheeseburger soup in the last 3 weeks. I think I like this one a little better than my last. It asked for cubed potatoes and I think I made the cubes too large last time, so I made them super small this time. I even contemplated shredding them but couldn’t bring myself to do it.
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Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
1 onion diced
¾ cup shredded carrot
¾ chopped celery
1 tsp dried parsley
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups potatoes, cubed
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
4 TBS butter
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
In a large pot, brown the ground beef and onions
Add broth, celery, carrots, parsley and potatoes and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes
Making the roux


In a small saucepan melt the butter and flour, boil for a minute or so. Add the milk stirring until smooth, simmer for 2-3 minutes until it thickens.
Gradually add the roux to the soup stirring constantly,
Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Stir in the cheese until melted and then serve. Make sure that you don’t boil the soup once the cheese is added.

Easy Homemade Ramen Noodle Bowl

For those of you who know how a traditional ramen bowl is made the title might scare you away from trying or even reading this post but I hope you can bring yourself to keep going and I promise you that the recipe alone is worth the couple of minutes it will take you to listen to my little spiel and be rewarded with not only a delicious broth bowl of noodles, it was so easy I will be making it again very soon!

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So my husband has been on a “we need to find a noodle restaurant” kick of late. I’m fairly certain he hasn’t done any research on the subject, and I know I haven’t but I am not opposed to making a noodle bowl. However making a traditional ramen bowl can take many days to make the perfect broth and while I have done it once, yeah only once. I am kind of a instant gratification kind of person and while I have made my fair share of crazy long tedious recipes. They are usually a one and done kind of thing for me. I can appreciate why there are such recipes out there, and again I might even try them, but I much prefer to eat what I am making sometime that day.

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This is also a great way to use up some of those packages of ramen noodles that have been lying around in the pantry, or at least my pantry; minus the salt packet that is included with them of course. But the noodles are wonderful, easy to use and oh so cheap to buy.

 

Dinner for two

2 chicken breasts boneless skinless or whatever kind you have on hand
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Olive Oil or 1 Tbs unsalted butter for browning the chicken

2 tsp sesame oil or vegetable oil
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
3 tsp fresh garlic, minced
3 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs mirin
4 cups chicken stock
1 oz dried shiitake mushrooms or ½ cup fresh

2 large eggs
½ cup scallions, sliced
2 – 3 oz packs dried ramen noodles

Chicken – preheat your oven to 375’ F. season generously both sides of the breast with salt and pepper. Either melt your butter over medium heat or if you are using oil; once hot place chicken skin (unless using skinless) and leave for 3-4 minutes or until it releases from the pan and is nice and browned. Cook on the other side for the same 3-4 minutes and then transfer to the oven to finish cooking through.

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Broth – heat the sesame oil in a large pot over medium heat, until shimmering. Add the garlic and ginger cooking till soft; without burning. Add the soy sauce, mirin and stir to combine. Cook for another minute or so. Add the stock, cover and bring to a boil. Remove the lid and let it simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. If using dried mushrooms add them now and gently simmer for another 10 minutes. Check for seasonings and add salt to taste.

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Eggs – soft-boiled eggs start with leaving them in the fridge and in a medium sized pot put enough water to cover the eggs; noting that you can reuse the water for the noodles in a bit. Once the water is boiling gently drop the eggs in and boil for 7 minutes, removing to a ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Once you can touch the eggs gentle peel and slice in half

Noodles – in the same pot you used to cook the eggs drop the noodles a boil just till soft; 2-3 minutes. Drain set aside.

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Assembling the bowls – slice the chicken into thin strips. Slice scallions. Divide the noodles and broth between two bowls, place chicken slices and eggs on top of the noodles and sprinkle with fresh scallions.

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