Friday, March 18, 2011

Sausage, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Penne

Totally missed St. Patrick's day in blog land, hu? This is as festive as I got this year, food-wise:

[ heart cookie cutter + green rice krispies treats = easy st. patty's day treat ]

Last St. Patrick's Day was a total FAIL. I thought, "I'm going to make an Irish meal instead of green food this year." I bought some corned beef and cabbage and got to work. Turns out I can't make corned beef (I cut almost all the fat off it because it totally grossed me out, which made for a very rubbery brick of beef, plus I tried an apricot glaze that probably would have been pretty good if I wouldn't have rinsed almost all the salt off the corned beef). The Irish soda bread I made was ok, although SUPER dense and way too grainy. The best part of the meal was probably the cabbage, which was alright, except I cooked the whole head of cabbage and we had TONS. I think I'll stick to green food from now on, we're Scottish, anyway (although I haven't tried making haggis yet, and don't know if I ever will).

Here's an amazing pasta dish for you instead, how's that? There's green in it...we actually ate the leftovers for dinner on St. Patrick's day.

I had some sweet Italian turkey sausage, so I searched for a recipe that called for it. This recipe looked so delicious, and I'd never used sun-dried tomatoes in my cooking before, so I decided to try it (plus it used spinach, which I had an abundance of). This is probably one of our favorite skillet pasta meals now! Relatively healthy (if you use healthy pasta, sausage, and cut the cream), slightly spicy, and rich taste without fat!

Sausage, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Penne
[ recipe adapted from here ]

1 onion, finely diced
1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
Cayenne Pepper, to taste, if desired
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and diced
8 oz penne pasta
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup fat free half and half, or evaporated milk (substituting heavy cream)
4–5 handfuls of fresh spinach
Parmesan cheese, for serving
Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring large pot of water to a boil for pasta, and add pasta.
Meanwhile, place sausage in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, crumbling sausage, until slightly pink inside. Add onion and cook until softened, about five minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, cayenne pepper, broth, and fat free half and half. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add the pasta, and stir. Stir in spinach one handful at a time and cook until wilted, about two minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top individual servings with Parmesan.

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tortellini Soup

This soup is SO easy! It came together in about 15–20 minutes! I was impressed with the taste, too, seeing the low number of spices! This was great with a nice baguette! I changed a couple things from the original recipe, including using frozen peas instead of fresh spinach, and I added a little heavy cream (leftover from our Dark Chocolate Mousse) to add a little thickness. We loved the peas, and I think I'd use them over spinach!

Tortellini Soup
[ adapted from this recipe ]

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 (15-oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
9 oz. tortellini, any variety, fresh or frozen
12 oz. frozen peas (or 3 cups of fresh spinach)
1/4–1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (or 1 string cheese, snipped)

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until slightly translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Mix in the oregano, Italian seasoning, and diced tomatoes. Add the broth. Bring mixture to a boil. Add the tortellini to the pot and cook according to the package directions. One minute before the tortellini is fully cooked, stir in the peas (or spinach). Remove from heat. Stir in cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with cheese as desired, and with a warm baguette.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mexican Lasagna

In the same family as Tamale Pie, Mexican Lasagna combines flavors and textures found in multiple Mexican dishes into one! We absolutely LOVED this recipe, and enjoyed the leftovers just as much as the first meal! The "casserole" is so moist and packed with flavor! This would be a great meal for dinner guests, and a fun alternative to regular lasagna! I will definitely be making this again!

Mexican Lasagna
[ found the recipe here ]

2 cups unprepared rice (I used leftover cooked rice)
3–4 cups chicken broth
2–4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 onion, diced
4–7 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of black beans
Taco seasoning (or chili powder, paprika and cumin)
1 lb. ground beef, turkey, or shredded chicken
1 (16-oz) jar of salsa verde
8–12 small flour tortillas (I used could also use corn tortillas)
12–16 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
4–8 oz. enchilada sauce
1 can corn, drained
Sour cream, for garnish
Cilantro, for garnish

Cook the rice according to package directions, using chicken broth in place of water. Salt to taste.
In a large skillet, heat 1/2 Tbsp oil or butter over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, onion and garlic to the pan and saute until onion is tender. Add taco seasoning (or 1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder, 3/4 Tbsp of paprika and cumin) to taste. Stir to combine. Add the can of beans and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add cooked rice. Stir to mix well.
In the now empty skillet, brown the ground beef. Mix with taco seasoning (or 1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder, 3/4 Tbsp of paprika and cumin) and salt to taste, as well as 2 oz. of water.
To assemble the lasagna, pour half of the jar of salsa verde in an even layer over the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish. Layer evenly with flour tortillas (I cut mine in half for even layering) to cover. Spread about half of the rice mixture evenly over the tortillas. Sprinkle with a layer of shredded cheese. Add another layer of tortillas. Pour a thin layer of enchilada sauce over the tortillas. Spread all taco beef evenly over the enchilada sauce. Layer one can of corn over the beef. Top with the remaining rice mixture in an even layer. Spread the remaining salsa verde evenly over the rice, and sprinkle with a layer of shredded cheese to finish.
Bake at 375ยบ for 25–35 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and begins to brown a bit. Allow to sit 5–10 minutes before serving. Top with sour cream, fresh cilantro, for garnish.

Now, doesn't that look good?