vegetables

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

Chiles Relleno Breakfast Casserole

Classic chiles rellenos are a bit tricky and time consuming to make, especially if making for a crowd.  Now while this may not be the traditional dipped, battered and lightly fried at the perfect temperature, this recipe gives you the same flavor and is a breeze compared!  Plus, it is still served with that perfectly seasoned thin tomato sauce that is a must have and is a bit lighter given the “no fry” here.

So give this a whirl for your next brunch or south-of-the-border craving!

The Starting Lineup

  • 8 fresh poblano peppers
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup white onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 28oz can tomatoes
  • 1 lb breakfast sausage (can sub chorizo), cooked
  • 1 cup cotija cheese (can sub feta)
  • 1 tsp each: cumin, Mexican oregano, kosher salt
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups Monterey Jack/ and or cheddar cheese, shredded

 

STEP 1:  Char the poblano chiles over an open flame or under the broiler.  Transfer to a paper bag (close) or a bowl topped with plastic wrap and allow to steam for 15 minutes.  Once done, gently remove the blackened skins, slice vertically (without cutting all the way through) and scrape the seeds out.  Set aside.

STEP 2:  Meanwhile, in a sauce pan over medium-high heat, sauté the onions in the olive oil till softened, about 5 minutes, then add in the garlic for another minute.

Next, add in the tomatoes, gently breaking up with your hand or a wooden spoon.  Stir in the cumin, Mexican oregano and salt to taste.  Bring to a simmer, set to low for 15-20 minutes and remove from heat to cool.  The sauce should be the consistency of a thin spaghetti sauce, not too thick.  If so, add a bit of chicken broth or water to thin.

STEP 3:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish ladle in the prepared and cooled sauce.  In a large bowl, mix together the cooked breakfast sausage/chorizo with the cotija cheese and 1 cup of your shredded cheese. Stuff each poblano chile with the sausage-cheese mixture, it’s ok if it spills out a bit.  Place your stuffed poblano peppers overtop the sauce.

STEP 4:  In a large bowl, beat the dozen eggs and then whisk in the flour, baking powder and a hefty pinch of salt.  Pour the eggs over top the stuffed chiles and sauce.  Top with the remaining shredded cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes at 375 degrees until eggs are just set.  Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Serve with fresh fruit and warm tortillas if desired.  Enjoy!

ChileRellenoCasserole

 

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…

PumpkinBaconSageGnocchi

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

 

The BEST Roasted Potatoes

Friend!!  These potatoes are like a religious experience…they’re also like a science experiment. lol  “What?” you say…Yes, though easy, they have a couple ingredients you’ve probably never added to make roasted potatoes.  Which is why they’ve never turn out quite like these!  These roasted potatoes have a crunchy coating on the outside and are warm and tender in the center with a beautiful golden brown color, every single time.

A few things you want to remember when making the perfect restaurant-style roasted potatoes are:

  • You MUST parboil.  If you only roast in oven, your potato will almost always be overcooked or undercooked and not be too pretty to look at.  Plus the baking soda in the boiling water creates an alkaline pH that helps break down the potatoes surface, resulting in a starchy paste like exterior that will help make that crunch you’re after.
  • Please cut them in 2-inch (or even 3″) pieces for maximum surface area.  You always want the have a good exterior/interior ratio with roasted potatoes.
  • Russet potatoes are the best choice for this given they will make the crispest crust and fluffiest interior.  Save the Yukon Gold’s for mashed potatoes.
  • Please feel free to play around with the amount of baking soda and cornstarch as you make this recipe through the years.  Also, every oven operates a bit different, so just always watch to see if they need taken out sooner or need to roast a bit longer.

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 2lbs russet potatoes, cut into 2″ cubes
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 hefty teaspoon+ baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (bacon drippings too if you have it)
  • 1 Tbsp+ cornstarch
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • Fresh or dried herbs for garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (400 if using a convection setting).  Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, along with the 1 Tbsp kosher salt, the baking soda and 2″ cubed potatoes.  Boil for roughly 10 minutes, until a fork can just pierce them.  You don’t want them overdone as they’ll finish in the oven.

Drain the parboiled potatoes in a colander and allow excess moisture to evaporate (a minute or two).  Transfer to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper, drizzle with the oil/a bit of bacon grease and sprinkle the cornstarch over top.  Roughly toss around in the bowl and a thick “mashed potato-like” paste will seem to build up over the potato cubes.

Finally, transfer to a baking sheet, lined with foil or nothing at all (parchment paper will not allow it to crisp up on the side touching the potato).  Spread them out evenly and place in the oven to roast for 20 minutes.  At this time, shake the potatoes around (you may need a thin spatula to release any stuck potatoes from pan) and return to oven for another 15-20 minutes and your potatoes are a beautiful golden brown and crisp all over.

Season with more salt and pepper or herbs and serve immediately, enjoy!

RoastedPotatoes

 

 

GameDay Jalapeno Popper Piggies

Break out of your typical, grilled jalapeno-popper rut and try this out for size!  It has all of the flavors we love, fresh and spicy jalapenos, creamy cheeses and crisp bacon, BUT it also has another level of smokiness with the beef sausage while all wrapped in a warm, pretzel like pastry dough.

So whether your an avid football fan, need a new Thanksgiving appetizer or you just want to curl up on a cool day with a movie and snacks…these rock, my friend!

The Starting Lineup

  • 3 sheets puff pastry dough, thawed
  • 1 package (36) Lil Smokies
  • 18 jalapeno peppers, halved
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Flour (for dusting); Kosher salt (garnish)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees; line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Cut off each jalapeno pepper top; halve and discard the seeds.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, combine the cream cheese, shredded cheddar and crumbled bacon.  Fill the halved peppers with the cheese and bacon mixture.  Press a “Smokie” on top of the filling.
  4. Lightly flour a clean surface and unfold the thawed puff pastry dough.  Cut each dough rectangle into 6 equal strips vertically and then in half crosswise, to create 12 pieces.  *you may have to gently roll out each dough piece a bit to wrap around filled pepper.
  5. Wrap each stuffed pepper in one of the cut puff pastry strips and seal with a bit of egg wash; seam on the bottom.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  Once finished with all, brush the remaining egg wash overtop and sprinkle on a bit of the kosher salt.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, till golden brown; serve warm.

 

JalapenoPiggies2

 

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