Dinner

Garlic Butter Italian Sausage Sandwiches (slow-cooker)

Cooking Italian sausages right in your slow cooker equals the most tender, flavorful and simple supper!  Plus, since there is basically no prep work involved (besides slicing the bell peppers and onions), you simply add the minimal ingredients to your pot, cover and be about your day!  You can welcome yourself home to the delightful smell of a gourmet dinner and it’s also great for a crowd!

*serves about 10 people.  If wanting something other than sandwiches, or for leftovers, you can serve over al dente noodles or polenta.

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 packages Italian sausage links (appx 10 links, sweet, mild or spicy)
  • 24oz jarred Italian diced tomatoes (I love Racconto organic San Marzano’s)
  • 3 Bell peppers, cut into strips (I used red, orange and green)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup pepperoncini’s 
  • 1 tsp each salt, pepper and garlic
  • 10 slices provolone or mozzarella cheese
  • 10 hoagie rolls
  • 1 container garlic butter (often found in deli or bakery section)

To your slow cooker: add in the sausage links and top with the sliced bell peppers, onions, pepperoncini’s and the seasonings.  Pour the jarred Italian diced tomatoes over top and set to low for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5.

On a baking sheet, split the hoagie rolls and generously slather on the garlic butter to each side.  Place under broiler for 1-2 minutes until just golden brown.  Fill each roll with a sausage and your desired amount of sauce and veggies.  Top with the cheese and place under your broiler for another 1-2 minutes.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

ItalianSlowCookerSub

French Onion Meatballs (slow cooker)

Meatballs!  You can never go wrong serving meatballs.  Whether it’s for an appetizer, a hot sandwich, atop a pizza, with lingonberry jam (I can go on and on), it is rarely served with creamy, dreamy, buttery mashed potatoes…and why not??

Given we are still in the middle of winter (those poor people in the 2019 polar vortex right now, I shouldn’t be complaining), I am craving a warm bowl of anything!  When you combine these ingredients together, along with the work of your slow cooker, you end up with tender meatballs and a rich, onion and mushroom gravy that pairs perfectly with mashed potatoes.  I always like to add that extra touch of the melty Swiss cheese for a more authentic French Onion flare, but feel free to omit if desired.  Just don’t tell me or I’ll deem you crazy. 😉

 

*If you’d like, and have the time, sauté the onions on low with a couple of tablespoons of butter and a pinch of salt until caramelized.  Add these to the slow cooker, along with the other ingredients, in the beginning versus rawEither way, it’s delicious! 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 ( 30oz) bag homestyle meatballs, frozen
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced thick
  • 12 oz container fresh mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 cans low-sodium cream of mushroom soup, plus 1-1/2 can milk
  • 1 packet dried onion soup mix, low-sodium if possible
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper 
  • 1 package sliced swiss cheese
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

Spray your slow cooker with non-stick spray.  Layer in half of the onions and mushrooms, followed by the frozen meatballs and then the remaining onions and mushrooms.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cream of mushroom soup, dried onion soup mix, milk and pepper.  Pour overtop the meatballs.  Set to low for 6 hours, stirring once or twice.

30 minutes prior to eating, layer the swiss cheese overtop.  Recover and allow to melt.

Serve in a bowl with buttery mashed potatoes or wide egg noodles and a sprinkle of parsley, enjoy!

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Shrimp Scampi Fettuccine

This will appear as an impressive main dish to your guests, but it’s really a quick and easy 20-minute meal that works great for weeknights!  Simple ingredients, simple to prepare, but feels so indulgent!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb fettuccine noodles (can also use gluten free or even “zoodles”)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (i.e. pinot grigio) or chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake (plus more for serving)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon (to taste) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (plus extra wedges for serving)
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

Prepare noodles as directed, opting for more al dente texture.  Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add in the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.  Pour in the wine (or broth), red pepper flake, salt and pepper.  Allow to reduce by half (2-3 minutes).

Add in the shrimp and sauté until they turn a bright pink (3-4 minutes depending on size).  Stir in the lemon juice and parmesan and then add in the cooked noodles and chopped parsley; toss to coat.

Serve with a simple side salad or classic Caesar and warm crusty bread, enjoy!

shrimpscampifettuccine

Southwest Flank Steak Chili & Grits

My days growing up in hot & spicy Arizona has met our southern grit life here in the south with this one!  All of the flavors of a traditional chili soaked up into yummy, bacon and cheese loaded grits.  The juxtaposition of textures and flavors is on point with this recipe!

*If the flank steak cooks a bit longer and shred’s apart, that is just as yummy too!!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1-3/4 lbs flank steak
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 14oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles
  • 15oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4oz can green chilis, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 4 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 1 cup American-cheddar blend cheese, shredded (pepper jack or cheddar works too)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen fire-roasted corn
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • Prepared grits (I loaded ours up with green onion, bacon crumbles and cheese)

 

To your slow cooker, whisk together the chicken broth, 2 Tablespoons of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of cumin, the tomatoes, pinto beans, green chiles and jalapeno.  Roughly tear 2 of the corn tortillas up and add to the liquid mixture.

Butterfly the flank steak horizontally, without cutting all the way through (opening like a book).  Lightly pound the steak until about 1/4 inch thick.  Season with salt, pepper, 1 Tablespoon of the chili powder and 1 teaspoon of the cumin.  Press the cheese over the steak in an even layer, followed by the cilantro and arrange the last 2 of the corn tortillas over top, overlapping if needed.  Starting with the long side, roll up into log-form/pinwheel and tie with kitchen twine; tuck ends in and tie lengthwise as well.  Transfer your steak pinwheel to the slow cooker and spoon some sauce over top.  Cover and set to low for 7 hours.  *Add corn in 30 minutes prior to eating.

Remove the steak and allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Slice into pretty pinwheel medallions and serve over loaded, bacon’y, cheesy grits with a ladle of the slow cooker juices and vegetables over top!

*If the flank steak cooks a bit longer and shred’s apart, that is just as yummy too!!

ChileGrits

Pumpkin, Bacon & Sage Alfredo Gnocchi

This creamy, smoky recipe is the ultimate Fall-inspired adult dish.  We all have seen pumpkin used in just about every which way (after all, it’s Fall y ‘all!), but I’d like to incorporate its savory side to the mix.  So what a better way to introduce it than to fluffy pillows of gnocchi and crispy bacon and sage!

So before you’re on the couch this Thanksgiving, enjoying that pumpkin pie and the 5th replay of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation that day (I know I’m not the only one), try this dinner out.  You will impress!

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 (17.6oz) packages gnocchi, cooked to package directions (or a 16oz pckg pasta of choice)
  • 8 strips bacon
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 12 sage leaves, fresh/chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/4 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 cups Half & Half
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup pasta water (optional, to thin)

 

Cook your gnocchi (or pasta preference) to package directions, drain in colander and set aside.  *Keep a 1/2 cup of pasta water before you drain, in case the sauce gets too thick.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, crisp up the chopped bacon.  Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

In that same skillet, add the butter and onions, sauté for 6-7 minutes.  Turn to medium-low and add the garlic and sage leaves for 1-2 minutes, careful not to burn.

To the onions and herbs, spoon in the pumpkin puree, plus the half & half and parmesan cheese; whisk until smooth and creamy.  *Add pasta water, if needed.

Lastly, add in the cooked gnocchi/pasta and most of the bacon (reserve a bit for garnish); gently combine.  Serve with the extra bacon crumbles, sage and parmesan cheese.

*The same amount of gnocchi produces about half of the volume of pasta.  Hence the 2 packages of gnocchi vs 1 package of noodles.  ….science…

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Pot Pie Potatoes

I am fairly certain that baked potatoes were made for ‘stuffing’.  Growing up with Midwest roots, we had this side dish quite often, and always, always loaded up with butter and sour cream.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing un-tasty about that, especially accompanied with bacon, cheese and chives, but why not something else?!  Let’s change it up!

Since it has been quite rainy here in Texas and the weather has cooled to proper Fall temps, all I have been craving is good, old-fashioned, comfort food!  Given my husband and oldest son are suckers for chicken pot pie, I just had to put the two together!  I chose our favorite, standard pot pie vegetables, but feel free to add green beans or corn or heck, buy a large bag of frozen veggies and be done with it!  *Just add the frozen veggies towards the end.  The other ‘best part’ of this meal is not having to worry about the crust!  If you MUST, feel free to serve it alongside warm biscuits (very yummmmmmy), but I actually liked just the warm potato for a change.  Plus the potato skin crisp’s up beautifully in the oven!

This delicious, home-style recipe is even easy enough for the work week!  Just throw all the ingredients into your slow cooker and set to low.  When you return home in the evening, bake the potatoes and bam!! dinner is served!

 

*If you have the time, by all means make your own “cream of” soup with flour, butter and cream/milk and add to the slow-cooker.  They also make great gluten-free cream soup’s now that can be substituted as well! 🙂 

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 6 large, russet potatoes, baked (scrubbed clean, coated in extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt – baked directly on rack in 375 degree oven until fork tender, about 40-50 minutes.)
  • 2-3 lbs chicken breasts, cut into 1-1/2′ cubes
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 8oz baby bella mushrooms, halved
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 26oz low-sodium cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf *remove prior to serving
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • *cornstarch/milk slurry to thicken at the end, optional

 

Spray or line your slow cooker for easy cleanup.  Lay in the prepped vegetables (besides the frozen peas) and the cubed chicken breasts.  Pour in the soup and the chicken broth, stir together.  Lastly, stir in the seasonings.  Set to low for 7 hours.

About 1 hour before dinner, preheat your oven and bake your potatoes till for tender.  You can also stir in the frozen peas to your chicken pot pie mixture.

When the potatoes are ready, slice vertically, careful not to cut all of the way through.  *I like to scoop out a bit of the potato flesh, but to each their own.  Ladle a large helping of your pot pie mix into the hot potato and enjoy!

PotPiePotatoes

 

Shiner, Kielbasa and Potato Cheese Soup

This recipe just screams Texas hill country…Shiner, sausage and a hearty dish?  Our German ancestors would be proud!  This hearty, creamy soup sings Fall in our home and I’ll gladly take the lead!  This dish is fantastic around the table with warm bread and is even better come winter around the fire.

I will say this though, please do not use a light “sissy” beer her.  Please, please go out of your way, if needed, and by the famous Spoetzl Brewery concoction!  So worth that deep, yet tangy, flavor!

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 4 large russet potatoes (about 3 lbs), baked
  • 8 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1 package Kielbasa sausage, halved and sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 12 oz bottle Shiner Bock beer
  • 2 cups chicken broth, low-sodium
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Garnish

  • Crumbled bacon
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Sour cream
  • Jalapeno slices, fresh

 

Begin by baking your potatoes (oven or steamed in the microwave), once cool to the touch, chop up.  The skin is optional.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the chopped bacon until crisp.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a bowl, reserving the bacon grease in pot.  Add the onions and kielbasa to the hot grease and allow to sauté for 5-7 minutes.  Transfer to the bowl of cooked bacon.

Back to the same pot, add in the flour to form a paste/rue, followed by the Shiner Bock and chicken broth.  Whisk until smooth.  Next, add in the chopped, baked potatoes and slightly mash up with a hand-held potato masher.  Stir in the cheese, milk and reserved cooked bacon, onions, and kielbasa.  Bring to a low boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes until thickened.  Serve with your garnish of choice and warm, crusty bread for dipping.  Enjoy!

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