Stuff and Nonsense: sausage

Showing posts with label sausage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sausage. Show all posts


Improv Challenge: Sausage & Mustard

It's time for September's Improv Cooking Challenge! The ingredients were sausage and mustard and, for all my excited talk of mustard greens on Facebook, I weenied (heh) out and stuck with the condiment ...

When my parents downsized to their "retirement" home a few years ago, I assumed custody of a number of Mom's cookbooks, including two fabulously funky Campbell's Soup cookbooks, Cooking with Soup: 608 Skillet Dishes, Casseroles, Stews, Sauces, Gravies, Dips, Soup Mates and Garnishes and More-For-The-Money Main Dishes. They're loaded with "creative" ways to use tinned soup and frankfurters and sausage crop up unexpectedly in more than one recipe. While it was a toss up between "Frankfurter Skillet Barbecue" and "Southwest Frankfurters" (it's the corn that makes it "Southwest," I guess), I went with "Frankfurter Skillet Barbecue" because "Southwest Frankfurters'" use of relish ... scared me a little. (I'll still try it one of these days, of course).

I did make a few alterations to the original recipe -- I used four Hillshire Farm Polska Kielbasa Links instead of frankfurters and cut them open so they were hinged like a book before browning. I used Gulden's Spicy Brown Mustard as the "prepared mustard" and sriracha instead of Tabasco. I served this dish on slices of hot, buttery toast as if it were a riff on beans on toast, because I simply had a hard time visualizing how else to serve it. On more rice, maybe? Certainly, not on the suggested frankfurter buns ... that just sounded like a disaster waiting to leap down someone's shirtfront. No, this is a definite knife-and-fork dish.

And, bless it, it may look like the dog's breakfast, but it tastes good. Surprisingly good. If you like tomato-based baked beans, I think this might very well be something you would enjoy. It's tomato-y and tangy with just a hint of molasses and heat. If you want it spicier, simply add more sriracha or use spicy frankfurters/kielbasa links. Personally, we enjoyed it just as it was and it's something that will serve well in the deep, dark winter as a quick and comforting supper.

For anyone new to my blog, Improv Cooking Challenge is a monthly blog hop where two ingredients are assigned, participants must make a new-to-their-blog recipe using both ingredients, and publish a blog post about it on the third Thursday of the month. If you think that sounds like fun, click on the Improv Cooking Challenge logo below.

improv cooking challenge logo (aqua rolling pin, spatula, fork, whisk suspended from rack)


Slow Cooker Sausage & Bean Soup

I had half a pound of raw sweet Italian sausage in the fridge, leftover from the "Tomatoey Macaroni & Bean Soup," and while at first I was all "I'll make a slow cooker Italian sausage pasta sauce all chunky with vegetables and heavy on the garlic" I actually ended up making a soup, because soup is definitely in season now ... and I'm not done experimenting with grilled cheese. The Husband picked up a lovely hearty loaf at Brooklyn Baking Company and it toasts up just wonderfully. Vastly superior to the "farmhouse" white I'd picked up in the Stop & Shop bread aisle.

Anyway, this soup tastes pretty great, is easy to prepare, and reheats well. To make it even easier, I did most of the prep -- chopping, browning, etc -- the night before and just dumped everything into the slow cooker the following morning. I had originally intended to throw the zucchini in with everything else at the start of cooking, but then I thought it might go a bit squishy and no-one wants squishy zucchini. Twenty minutes at the end was just enough time to soften (but not squishify) the zucchini.

Slow Cooker Sausage & Bean Soup

Yield:4-6, depending on appetite


  • ½ lb ground sweet Italian sausage
  • ½ finely chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 15.5 oz can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes [Muir Glen]
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • ½ Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups low-sodium fat-free chicken broth [Pacific Foods]
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • Salt & pepper, as desired


  1. Brown sausage in a hot skillet. Transfer sausage to slow cooker. Drain oil from skillet. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until onion is translucent.
  2. Put onions, garlic, beans, tomatoes, carrots, celery, seasoning blend, bay leaf, and broth in with the sausage. Cover and cook on Low for 8-10 hours.
  3. Add zucchini, stir, and cook for another 20 min or until zucchini is desired tenderness.
  4. Remove bay leaf, season to taste, and serve.


Tomatoey Macaroni & Bean Soup

Let's face it, a hearty soup and crispy-yet-oozy grilled cheese is just the best winter food pairing in the world and I'd eat it every day at every meal if I thought I could get away with it. Certainly, last weekend's snow storm was the perfect excuse for getting out the grill pan and experimenting with cheeses to find the perfect combination of melty deliciousness. At the moment, that seems to be a 50/50 blend of Cabot's Colby Jack and Seriously Sharp cheddar -- it's marvelously gooey and sharp.

And what soup did I pair with all those grilled cheese sandwiches? A hearty-but-not-heavy tomato and bean soup. It went together all easy-peasy, was extremely yum, and the leftovers (little as there was) reheated really well. It's just my preference, but I mashed half the beans in this soup to thicken it up for real stick-to-your-ribs-ness. You could leave them all whole, but you'll have a thinner soup. Either way is good for dunking grilled cheese, though.

Tomatoey Macaroni & Bean Soup

Yield: 4-6, depending on appetite


  • ½ lb ground sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
  • 32-oz carton low-sodium fat-free chicken broth [Pacific Foods]
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni [Hodgson Mill Ultragrain Elbows with Quinoa]
  • 2 15 oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes [Muir Glen]
  • Grated parmesan, if desired


  1. Brown sausage over medium heat in a large French/Dutch oven. Remove browned sausage from pan, draining off the oil.
  2. Add the onion and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes or until the onion is translucent and everything is very fragrant.
  3. Add the seasoning blend and chicken broth to the pot. Heat broth to boiling. Add the macaroni and cook for 5 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.
  4. Pour one can of drained beans into a bowl and smoosh with a fork or potato masher. Add to the pot along with the other can of drained beans, crushed tomatoes, and sausage. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until everything is heated through and soup is thickened.
  5. Serve garnished with grated parmesan, if desired.


Farfalle with Swiss Chard & Kielbasa

I was full of good intentions when I picked up a bunch of beautiful looking Swiss chard at the Newington Farmers Market last week ... but then days passed and the chard was still in my fridge and I knew something had to be done asap before the stuff started to compost in the crisper drawer.

I've made a dish similar to this with spinach and chicken sausage, so I knew my idea would work, but I forgot how much the red chard stems can bleed when cooking and so it's not as pretty as it could be. Maybe? I kind-of like the muddied ruby red.

Unfortunately, while I carefully wrote down all the ingredient amounts as I made this dish, I've lost my notes -- probably recycled them in a mad fit of tidying on garbage day -- so what follows is my best guess!

Farfalle with Swiss Chard & Kielbasa

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, washed and rinsed
  • 2 smoked sausage links
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 4 servings mini farfalle
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Shredded Parmesan, if desired


  1. De-stem the chard. Chop the stems into very small pieces. Sliced the leaves into ribbons. Set aside.
  2. Chop the kielbasa, onion, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes into small pieces. Set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent. Add the chard stems and sun-dried tomatoes.
  5. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the stems begin to soften. Add the chard leaves and kielbasa and cook until the sausage begins to brown and the chard leaves have wilted.
  6. Add the pasta to the chard and stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve with shredded Parmesan.


Improv Challenge: Pork & Rice

Baby, it's cold outside! And blustery! And greygreyGREY. What better time of year for a big spicy pot of carbs and meat? I kept thinking I had more time for January's Improv Challenge (pork and rice), than I did ... and then it was Tuesday and I realized I'd been so obsessed with Good Cheap Eats' pantry challenge and reading library books that I'd completely forgotten about the Improv. I knew no-one would hold it against me if I skipped January, but I felt that the ingredients were so basic I should be able to come up with something.

(On the plus side, except for the chorizo, all the other ingredients were already in-house. So, yay for that!)

I used Supremo fresh Mexican chorizo for this recipe, because I knew I wanted loose meat and not chunks of cured/dried sausage and that was all my grocery store had for fresh. It's packaged in inedible plastic casings and I just cut off the ends and squeezed the meat out like toothpaste. That sounds kind-of disgusting, I know, but it cooked up delicious.

Chorizo Rice & Bean Pot

Serves: 6


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 14 oz fresh Mexican chorizo [Supremo]
  • 1 cup medium grain white rice [Goya]
  • 14½ oz can no salt added diced fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained [Muir Glen]
  • 1½ cups low-sodium chicken broth [Pacific Organic]
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 14½ oz can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, sauté onion, garlic, and chorizo, bashing the meat with a spoon to break it up as it cooks, until onion is tender and chorizo is cooked and crumbled (about 8 -10 minutes).
  2. Drain off most of the fat, leaving approximately 1 tablespoon behind. Stir in rice and sauté for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and broth. Bring pot to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Stir in beans and corn. Cook 10 minutes more or until heated through. Season to taste.
I didn't add any seasoning to this -- not even salt and pepper -- because I found the chorizo added enough flavor on its own, but YMMV. Also, while we ate this dish in bowls with a little salsa and sour cream on top and found it good, it was even better the next day mixed with a little cheese and used as filling for burritos.


Delicious Leftovers

Using Up Leftover Ingredients

I had some ingredients leftover from this month's Improv Challenge and decided to make a lazy sausage parmigiana. First, I cooked the sausage patties in a skillet with a double handful of sliced mushrooms. Then I removed the sausage to a broiler-safe pan, topped them with thick slices of fresh mozzarella, and broiled them until the cheese was all melty and gorgeous.

Meanwhile, I added some leftover bruschetta to the still-hot skillet and stirred it 'round until everything was heated through. Plated the sausage, topped it with the mushroom and bruschetta mixture, and garnished it with fresh basil. Served it with a little penne in tomato sauce and it was pretty darn good (and pretty!) for something that took less than 20 minutes to prepare!


Improv Challenge: Sausage & Mushrooms

When I saw that March's Improv Challenge ingredients were mushrooms and sausage, I immediately thought of sausage-stuffed mushrooms. However, I knew I didn't want to make something fiddly or that wouldn't serve as a meal so I set about to create a meal-sized non-fiddly stuffed mushroom. Portobello mushrooms were the obvious choice and sausage had to be in the filling so ... why not use a sausage burger? Et voilà, these elegant-looking (and pretty darn tasty!) sausage and mushroom stacks were born!

Sausage & Portobello Stacks

I topped my stacks with fresh mozzarella and a commercially-prepared bruschetta, but you could easily use sliced provolone and chunky tomato sauce. Or make your own bruschetta. (Or sausage patties, for that matter).

I've not included any amounts in this "recipe," because it depends on how many people you're feeding and how much sauce or cheese you want. I cook for two, so used two caps and patties. We like cheese, so I was generous with the cheese. Didn't want to drown the stacks, so used about two tablespoons bruschetta per stack.


Remove stems from mushroom caps. Gently clean caps with a damp paper towel. Place, gills down, on a large broiler-safe pan. Place sausage patties next to mushrooms. Broil for 5 minutes.


Flip and broil for 5 minutes more.


Meanwhile, slice some fresh mozzarella.


And chiffonade some basil.


Your mushroom caps may have fluid pooling on top. Gently tilt to drain onto the pan. Top caps with sausage patties and fresh mozzarella.


Broil for about 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.


Plate. Top with bruschetta and basil. Serve immediately.

Sausage & Portobello Stacks


Lazy Sunday Sausage & Mushroom Soup

We couldn't be bothered leaving the house on Sunday for nonsense like food when there were chunky books like The Crow Trap to be read, but it's hard to concentrate on who might be a murderer when your insides are full of rumblings and grumblings.

So, I made soup. A warming, comforting soup that was sure to quiet any body's rumblings and grumblings. And, more importantly, a fast soup that didn't take me away from Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope for too long.

Lazy Sunday Sausage & Mushroom Soup @ Savory Tart

Lazy Sunday Sausage & Mushroom Soup
Serves 6

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb loose-pack sweet Italian pork sausage meat
1 large carrot, quartered and sliced
2 large celery ribs, halved and sliced
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 bell pepper, roughly chopped
8 oz sliced mushrooms
5 oz small twist pasta
40 oz lower-sodium fat-free beef broth
8 oz chunky tomato sauce
1 Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in the bottom of a large heavy pan like a Dutch or French oven. Add the sausage and cook, bashing about with a spoon to break up the sausage, until no pink remains.

Remove sausage to a paper towel-lined colander and let drain. If there's a lot of fat at the bottom of the pot, pour it off until only a tablespoon remains.

Add the carrot, celery, onion, peppers, and mushrooms to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until softened.

Add in the broth, tomato sauce, and pasta. Give everything a good stir and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the pasta is tender.

Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Portion into bowls and sprinkle with grated Parmesan, if desired.
You could use a a can of diced tomatoes instead of the chunky tomato sauce. I just happened to have leftover tomato sauce that needed eating up. The variety I used, Simply Enjoy (Stop & Shop's house brand), was ridiculously chunky -- more like a big jar of diced tomatoes someone had added a little puree to. It worked fine in the soup, but was too chunky for the pasta dish I'd originally meant it for and I had to smooth it out a bit with my immersion blender. The flavor was good, though. A fresh, bright tomato flavor with lots of garlic bits.

The pasta will keep absorbing liquid so, when you take any leftovers out of the fridge, you may find your soup is now a stew. Just add a little broth to the pot when reheating or, if (like me) you enjoy stewy soups, leave it as it is.


Polish-Mexican Hot Dogs By Way of Martha Stewart

There's a really nice Polish market in New Britain called The Roly-Poly Bakery and, nearly every time we visit, we leave with a car filled with semolina pudding, chocolates, pickles, and sausages. Our latest trip was no different and we came home with three kinds of sausage -- Bacik kielbaski pyszne (label says "barbecue sausages" but Google Translate says "beautiful sausages" and they certainly are that) and parowki cieleco wieprzowe (veal and pork wieners), as well as Pulaski kielbasy links.

Sunday Dinner
Salatka jarzynowa with pan-fried Pulaski kielbasy links & cucumber salad.

Martha Stewart has a recipe for "Mexican Charred-Corn Dog" I've been eyeing for a while and as the purchase of the wieners meant I finally had all the ingredients on hand, I decided to give the recipe Friday when it was too wet to garden and I could not be bothered with house work. Why wash dishes when I could simply dirty more?

Polish-Mexican Hot Dogs By Way of Martha Stewart

I admit I cheated a bit with this recipe -- I used feta instead of Cotija and heated up some of Trader Joe's frozen fire-roasted sweet corn rather than browning fresh corn. Despite my cheats, we really enjoyed these dogs and I will definitely make this recipe again. With Cotija and fresh corn (when it's in season here, of course).

Mayonnaise on a hot dog may sound a bit weird, but it works well when you take all the other ingredients into account. We'd picked up a small jar of Hellmann's Babunu majonez at Roly Poly and it's much more like Heinz salad cream than mayonnaise. I find I like it a great deal and, while it won't replace the light Hellmann's already in our fridge, it's a good addition and I bet it would work well in a cold lobster roll or salatka jarzynowa. Certainly, it paired very nicely with the lime juice in Stewart's recipe.

Polish-Mexican Hot Dogs By Way of Martha Stewart


The Blizzard of 2013: What We Ate

My cupboards and fridge always have food in them. My mother raised me to keep a little extra laid by in case Something Bad Happened and I didn't think this was unusual until I stopped at a grocery store Wednesday night to pick up cat noms and was bewildered by the number of people zooming up and down the aisles, their carts overflowing with food as if they might lose access to the grocery store for a week or more. Aside from the people whose regular shopping days fell on Wednesday and Thursday, I have to wonder ... do you all not have food at home? Is there nothing in you cupboards or fridge that could tide you over for a few days?

From our preexisting food stocks, I made:

Vegetable Beef Barley Stew

A fabulous pot of vegetable beef-barley stew we ate over three days with buttery slices of toasted home-baked bread.

Ingredients: thawed beef (cut into thumbnail-sized cubes), pearl barley, sliced mushrooms, red onion, garlic, carrots, frozen corn, frozen peas, canned diced tomatoes, marjoram, thyme, bay, Penzeys beef soup base, water, leftover Layer Cake Malbec, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper.

Mushroom Barley Pilaf w/ Smoked Lamb Sausages & Green Beans

"Byrdhouse Mushroom Barley Pilaf" with smoked lamb sausages and green beans. The Husband liked this so much he had seconds! I used a combination of pearl and quick-cooking barley, simply because I did not have enough pearl barley left, and the quick-cooking gave the dish a comforting creaminess while the pearl barley remained slightly chewy. It was a good combination and I must remember to do it that way again.

Ingredients: thawed smoked lamb sausages, pearl barley, garlic, red onion, sliced mushrooms, dry sherry, low-sodium fat-free chicken broth, Penzeys herbes de provence, black pepper, parsley, garlic oil, fresh green beans.

Making Pumpkin Oatmeal

"Pumpkin Pie Steel Cut Oats in the Crockpot," because oatmeal is the best comfort food for consecutive snow days and pumpkin is full of good nutrition.

Ingredients: steel cut oats, pumpkin puree, coconut milk, Penzeys baking spice, pumpkin oil flavor. (I sweetened each individual portion to taste with maple syrup and drizzled it with Barlean's flax oil for extra goodness).

I made pancakes and waffles, as well, but was too hungry at breakfast time to faff about with the camera. Not a morning person, anyway. Food and hot tea must go in my belly before I can function properly.

I heated up a frozen lasagna, too, but since it was made by Marie Callender it does not count as real cooking. It was, however, pretty darn good and I will be stocking up on more "Three Meat and Four Cheese Lasagna" the next time they go on sale. (I know, I know ... "Making and freezing your own is so much healthier/thriftier").

Our regular shopping day is usually Sunday so we're a bit low on milk and I've switched over to green and white teas to save what remains for The Husband's tea. Otherwise, we're in fine kip and could avoid the shops until next weekend. Which would be great, because here's the thing: while I like eating and enjoy cooking, grocery shopping does not fill me with joy. And, yes, we use Peapod quite heavily, but there are things Peapod can't be trusted to supply properly. What I really need is a replicator.


Simple Saturday Supper: Sausage Sandwiches

It's Saturday -- time to eat up all the odds and ends lurking in the fridge. I had fully-cooked chicken sausages, bell peppers, red onion, sliced mushrooms, and a very old open packet of shredded Parmesan. Sandwiches seemed obvious.

Sausage Sandwich

(Sliced provolone or mozzarella would work better than the shredded Parmesan, but it was what was in the fridge).
Italianesque Chicken Sausage Sandwiches

2 fully-cooked chicken sausage links [Al Fresco Sundried Tomato & Basil]
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
½ red onion, sliced
4 oz white mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic gloves, sliced thin
1 Tbsp olive oil
splash of balsamic vinegar
2 crusty sandwich rolls, sliced
Shredded Parmesan

Slice sausages lengthwise, but do not cut all the way through, leaving them hinged like book.

Sliced Sausages

In large nonstick skillet, heat olive oil until fragrant. Add onions, peppers, mushrooms, and garlic. Saute until soft and caramelized.

Add a splash of balsamic and cook until vinegar has evaporated. Remove vegetables from pan and set aside.

Add sausage to pan and heat until sausages are browned on both sides.

Divide the sausage and vegetables between the rolls. Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan and broil until cheese is bubbly and golden.


You got cheesy blasters!

Alright! Cheesy blasters! You take a hot dog, stuff it with some jack cheese, fold it in a pizza, you got cheesy blasters!

Yes, I made cheesy blasters. It wasn't particularly hard -- just follow the song -- and making them just amused the heck out of me. Would I make them again? Maybe. If I were hosting a LAN party in, say, 1996.


  • Pillsbury "Classic" Pizza Crust
  • Sclafini "Home Style" Pizza Sauce
  • Kraft "Pizza" Mozzarella Cheddar
  • Cabot Monterey Jack
  • Hebrew National Quarter Pounder Beef Franks
  • Price Chopper's Central Market Salsa Con Queso
Cheesy Blasters, Ingredients

A lot of my ingredient choices came down to size/geometry. I wanted large franks, because I didn't want to make many cheesy blasters -- four at most. I used block monterey instead of shredded because the block was just slightly shorter than the franks. I used refrigerated dough because the tube was just a little longer than the franks.

I preheated the oven to 425°F. While it preheated, I cooked the franks as their packaging instructed and then set them aside to cool down a little (stuffing hot franks with cheese is not a good idea).

I rolled out the pizza dough, spread it with sauce and cheese, and then set it aside while I prepared the franks.

Cheesy Blasters, Stuffed Dogs

I cut a thick strip the length of the cheese block and then halved that strip lengthwise to make what was essentially a cheese stick. Then I cut a deep slit in two franks to within a ½ inch of their ends and inserted the cheese into each slit.

Cheesy Blasters, Layout

I arranged the two franks in the middle of the pizza to make sure they would both fit, then cut the pizza in half. I rolled each half around a frank and put them on a greased jelly roll pan (pizza stone and less dough would have been better, I think). I put them in the 425° oven and baked them for about 18 minutes.

Cheesy Blasters, Insides

(When The Husband saw them, he thought they looked like pasties or calzones and he's quite right. They're like calzones stuffed with a cheese dog).

While I had purchased nacho cheese for the cheesy blasters, I hesitated to use it as it wasn't in the song. In the end, we did not end up using it at all as the cheesy blasters where plenty cheesy and good all on their own.

Did we like them?

Cheesy Blasters, Remnants

Oh, I think we did!

Now, of course, I have a lot of leftover ingredients! Extra Cabot cheese is never unwelcome in our house and will be quickly nibbled away. As for the franks, they will go into tomorrow's scrambled eggs -- my mother used to do this a lot when I was a child and it remains one of those comfort foods I crave every once in a while. The extra pizza sauce, pizza cheese, and nacho cheese will get used up in the turkey stuffed peppers I was planning for Sunday dinner.

I shared this post for Gold Star Wednesday on 23 February 2011, because that is just how proud I am of my little project!