Italian Style Chicken Sausage with Roast Vegetables

Italian Style Chicken  Sausage with Roast Vegetables and Rigatoni

Italian Style Chicken Sausage with Roast Vegetables and Rigatoni

I wish you could taste how good this dish is!  But since you can’t, you’re going to have to take my word for it.

This baked dinner came about as a result of having roast vegetables left over from when I made the Roast Vegetable Subs.  It’s everything I love in a meal and it’s all ready in about an hour.

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I used spicy chicken sausage to give it a little kick, but if you want it to be milder, simply swap it for sweet Italian sausage. The pasta I used is a large size rigatoni and I chose it so it would be compatible with the chunks of roasted vegetables.  For sauce I used a small jar of prepared pizza sauce mixed with a can of diced tomatoes with garlic and oregano.  Grated Italian blend cheese sprinkled on at the end of baking time gave it a nice melty topping.  We added more grated cheese at the table.  There wasn’t much conversation going on at this meal;  all we kept saying was  “MmmmmMm, Wow, this is So good”!!

If you’d like to Wow your family, here’s the recipe……

ITALIAN STYLE CHICKEN SAUSAGE WITH ROAST VEGETABLES (and Rigatoni)

Yield:   Serves  6

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups roast mixed vegetables (refer to Roast Vegetable Subs for directions)IMG_9390
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 12 ounces uncooked rigatoni
  • 1 jar (15-oz.) pizza sauce
  • 1 can (14.5-oz) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
  • 1 package (12-oz) Italian style Chicken Sausage, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup shredded Italian blend cheese, plus more for the table

Directions:

1.   Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and keep warm in the  pot.

2.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil and sauté the chicken sausage just to brown a little;  add the roast vegetables and stir to combine.

Saute sausage with roast vegetables.

Saute sausage with roast vegetables.

Add the pizza sauce and tomatoes with their juice.  Heat the mixture thoroughly.

Add pizza sauce and tomatoes.

Add pizza sauce and tomatoes.

3.  Preheat oven to 350*F.   Spray a large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

4.  Pour the sausage mixture over the cooked pasta and stir well to combine.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish and cover with foil.

Transfer to baking dish and cover with foil.

Transfer to baking dish and cover with foil.

Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

5.  Uncover and sprinkle with the cheese.

Sprinkle with grated cheese.

Sprinkle with grated cheese.

Bake uncovered, an additional 5 minutes until cheese is melted.

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Comfort food….Yes!

Comfort food….Yes!

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Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.  It’s a day that revolves around family and food;  a time to think about all the blessings in our lives and to remember all the things for which we are thankful.  The menu that gets served for Thanksgiving dinner is pretty traditional.  Although I like to get creative, Thanksgiving is not the time when I want to have dishes on the table that contain unrecognizable ingredients.

Sweet potato generally is not a vegetable that my family serves, although once in a while we do have a small bowl of them mashed.  This year however, I am making a baked casserole in the Southern tradition.  I auditioned it in advance to see how it would come out before springing it on my family.   It passed the test big time!!   Mr. D. pronounced it “fantastic”.   This is not the usual sweet potato casserole with marshmallows melted and toasty on top.  This one has a crumb topping with pecans in it.  It is so yummy, I would be happy eating it for dessert.  I think this dish is about to become one of our new traditions…..

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Please note:  in the pictures that follow, the quantities you see are reduced from the recipe as I made a smaller version using only 2 large sweet potatoes.

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

Yield:   Serves 12

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 – 5 large), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes.

    Cut up sweet potatoes into small(ish) cubes.

    Cut up sweet potatoes into small(ish) cubes.

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
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Directions:

1.  Put sweet potatoes in a large saucepan with water to cover.  Bring to a boil, and cook over medium heat until tender, about 25 minutes.  Drain and mash with a potato masher.  Add 4 Tablespoons butter to hot potatoes and allow it to melt while you prepare the egg mixture.

Add butter to hot potatoes so it can melt in, then mash.

Add butter to hot potatoes so it can melt in, then mash.

2.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Coat a 13 x 9-inch baking dish ( or similar size) with cooking spray and set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, mix together white sugar, eggs, salt,  milk, and vanilla until smooth.

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Add to mashed sweet potatoes and stir well to blend smooth.

Add milk/egg mixture to sweet potatoes and blend well.

Add milk/egg mixture to sweet potatoes and blend well.

Pour sweet potato mixture into prepared baking dish.

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4.  In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and flour.  Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cut in with a pastry cutter or two knives until mixture looks like coarse sand.  Stir in pecan pieces.

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Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture.

Sprinkle topping over sweet potato mixture.

Sprinkle topping over sweet potato mixture.

Note:  if you are making this ahead, cover it with foil and put in the fridge at this point.  Then uncover it, put it in the oven, and bake it on Thanksgiving day.  Or you can bake it in advance and just reheat it when you want to serve it.

5.  Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, or until mixture is heated through and  topping is lightly browned.

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SOURCE:   All Recipes Magazine

 

Texas Corn Casserole

Texas Corn Casserole

Texas Corn Casserole

Things in Texas are big!  That’s what we always hear isn’t it?   The state is big, people live big, and they eat big!

This corn casserole is well named for Texas.  It’s big in every way.  The recipe makes a 9″ x 13″ casserole, but the flavor is fantastic.

Sweet with corn, savory with peppers and scallions and spicy with seasoning.  Oh, Yeah!

Sweet with corn, savory with peppers and scallions and spicy with seasoning. Oh, Yeah!

I made this recently to take to a large gathering that included people of all ages from 2 year olds to folks in their eighties.  Not one person had anything but compliments to say about it.  A young boy came up to me and said, ” I really liked your cornbread.  Could you give the recipe to my dad?”   Wow, that made me feel so good!   I know something about children who are picky eaters, so when a youngster likes a particular food that is somewhat out of their “comfort zone”, I know it’s a keeper.

There’s just a little bit of sweetness to this that the corn and corn bread contribute, but enough variety in flavors to make it really interesting.  The recipe calls for Creole seasoning which I didn’t have, so I used Cajun seasoning instead, putting in only 1 teaspoon.  The resulting spiciness was apparent, but not too much, for my taste and the children’s.  You can adjust the spice/heat level to your liking, but do try this unique cornbread casserole.  It’s great to bring to a pot-luck picnic, or as a side dish to a summer meal.

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TEXAS CORN CASSEROLE

Yield:     Make about 10 to 12 servings, or more if cut smaller

Uses convenience foods for fast preparation.

Uses convenience foods for fast preparation.

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1  ( 14 1/2-ounce) can whole-kernel corn, drained
  • 1  (14 1/2-ounce) can cream-style corn
  • 1 (7-ounce) box corn bread mix
  • 6 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 green pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, plus more to sprinkle on top

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 400*F.  Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

Transfer batter to prepared pan.  Sprinkle top with Creole seasoning.  Bake casserole until golden brown, about 40 minutes.

Golden brown on top, moist inside.

Golden brown on top, moist inside.

So Good!

So Good!

 

SOURCE:  Country Living Magazine

 

Bacon-Cheddar Chicken Tenders

Bacon-Cheddar Chicken Tenders

Bacon-Cheddar Chicken Tenders

Kids love chicken nuggets or chicken tenders, but how about adults?  Do you love them, too?  I know I do, yet I hardly ever think to make them.   With the laid-back holiday weekend just past, I wasn’t doing any heavy-duty cooking.   I just wanted to eat foods that were easy, and able to lend themselves to a picnic on the back porch.   No fancy serving dishes, or china plates with this meal.

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So with a package of boneless chicken breasts on hand,  I cut them into “fingers” and came up with this way of cooking them in the oven that resulted in crispy cheesy chicken dippers that were so easy to make and seriously delicious to eat.  These are friendly to kids and adults alike.  They can be used for snacking or as the basis for a whole meal, as I did here.  They were served with my mashed potato salad, celery and carrot sticks and ranch dressing to dip them in.  Mr. D. thought they were wonderful, and claimed the left-overs for his lunch this week.   What was the perfect dessert with this meal?   Brownie sundaes, of course 🙂

BACON-CHEDDAR CHICKEN TENDERS

Yield:   4 servings

Ingredients:

Line up pans in the order chicken will be dipped.

Line up pans in the order chicken will be dipped.

  • non-stick pan spray
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup plain panko crispy bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese, about 2 oz.
  • 1 (3-0z.) jar cooked real bacon bits
  • 1 pkg. uncooked chicken tenders, or skinless, boneless breasts, cut into strips
  • Ranch dressing for dipping, or make a chive and sour cream sauce, or
  • For sauce with a kick to it, try equal amounts mayo and sour cream plus add some sriracha sauce to it.

Directions:

1.  Heat oven to 400*F.  Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray.

2.  In a shallow foil pan or bowl, place the flour;  in another similar pan or bowl, place the egg.  With a wire whisk, lightly beat the egg with 1-2 teaspoons of water.

3.  In another deeper container, place the panko crumbs, cheese and bacon bits.

Panko, bacon, cheese mixure.

Panko, bacon, cheese mixure.

Dip the chicken first into the flour to coat, then the egg, and then into the crumb mixture, turning to cover all sides.  Place chicken on the cookie sheet.

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4.  Bake 15 – 20 minutes, turning once, until chicken is no longer pink in center and bread crumbs are golden brown.  Serve with dipping sauce.

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SOURCE:  A major adaptation of a recipe from Pillsbury

Broccoli-Cheddar Oven Risotto

Broccoli-Cheddar Oven Risotto

Broccoli-Cheddar Oven Risotto

Risotto is one of those old-time comfort foods that I grew up on.  It was prepared by my Northern Italian grandfather who was so fussy about how it was made that he didn’t trust anyone to get it right except himself.  My mother’s sister, my aunt, watched him carefully as he made the risotto in a big copper kettle, and after my grandfather passed on, she was the keeper of the “secret” of how to make a good risotto. And she was the one who continued the tradition of making it for us.

By watching my aunt make this simple rice dish I too learned how to make a “good” risotto.  Without a lot of details here, let me just say it required lots of stirring, and adding the hot chicken broth in small amounts until it was absorbed, then adding a little more, and so on…. Risotto also needed to be flavored with saffron which gave the rice a light yellow color, and enticing aroma and flavor.

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Although we all loved risotto, it was not made frequently, because it was labor intensive beginning with stewing a whole chicken to get the rich broth needed to cook the rice.  All the meat was saved and stirred into the rice at the end of its cooking time, making this dish very filling and hearty.   My Dad particularly loved my aunt’s rice,  rather unusual for a Swede, but you can’t account for a person’s taste, and like him, I love it too.

With this back story in mind, you can imagine my delight when I came across this recipe for risotto, baked in the oven, and no lengthy stirring required.  Well, I was all over that recipe like flies on a dead pig!!

I made it for the first time this week.   Mr. D. thought it was marvelous and I thought it was great, too.  The addition of broccoli that is roasted in the oven while the rice bakes, then added in at the end with cheddar cheese, produces a tasty, cheesy and filling main dish. I treated it as a side dish, and served it with sliced ham.   Not quite the same as the risotto I remember, but certainly a rendition that I plan to make again.

Baked risotto with ham.

Baked risotto with ham.

Times and cooking methods change.  More and more of the old ethnic dishes are being modernized and fused with new ingredients, so that what was once old is new again.  I, for one, like this trend.

BROCCOLI-CHEDDAR OVEN RISOTTO

Yield:    Serves 4

Ingredients:

Use Arborio rice which produces a very creamy risotto.

Use Arborio rice which produces a very creamy risotto.

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version)
  • 1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 oz.)

Directions:

1.  Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 425*F.    Bring chicken broth to a low simmer in a saucepan.

Warm the chicken broth.

Warm the chicken broth.

Toss the broccoli with the olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet.

Prepare the broccoli for roasting.

Prepare the broccoli for roasting.

2.  Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large Dutch oven or ovenproof pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes.

Sauté onions in butter.

Sauté onions in butter.

Add the rice and stir to coat.

Add the rice to butter and onions and stir to coat.

Add the rice to butter and onions and stir to coat.

Pour in the wine and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute.  Add the hot both, 3/4 tsp. salt, and pepper to taste;  bring to a boil.

Add the wine and chicken broth all at once.

Add the chicken broth all at once.

3.  Cover the pot and set on the bottom oven rack.  Place the broccoli on the upper rack.  Bake, stirring the rice and broccoli once halfway through cooking, until most of the liquid has been absorbed in the rice and the broccoli is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

4.  Remove the rice and broccoli from the oven.  Add 3/4 cup hot water, the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter, and the cheese to the rice and stir until creamy (add a little more hot water to loosen, if necessary).  Stir in the broccoli.

Add cheese to baked rice.

Add cheese to baked rice.

Stir in roast broccoli.

Stir in roast broccoli.

Incredibly good served with ham.

Incredibly good served with ham.

SOURCE:    Cooking Light