Chicken Sausage with Yams and Apples

Hey there!  Good to be back after a long hiatus!  There’s snow on the ground in New England where I am, but the calendar says there’s still 5 days of fall left.  This recipe has some great fall ingredients in it, but really it’s just a good comfort dish to enjoy all winter, too.  I used an organic chicken sausage with roasted apples in it, but you could use any variety you choose.  The toasted pecans are really the MVP here, however.  They really just kick up and round out the dish.

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Chicken Sausage with Yams and Apples

Ingredients   serves 4

  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 3 tsp butter, divided
  • Cinnamon
  • Ground nutmeg
  • 4 large sausages
  • 2 small yams or sweet potatoes
  • 2 apples
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar or honey

Preparation

Toast the pecans in a dry, hot sauté pan for about 3-5 minutes, shaking the pan frequently to prevent burning.  When the nuts are about done, add 1 tsp butter, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp nutmeg, stirring to combine.  Remove the nuts from the pan and set aside.

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In a large pan with 1 tsp of olive oil and 1 tsp butter combined, cook the sausages, letting them brown evenly.  As the sausages cook, peel the yams and slice into rings about 1/8″ thick.  Peel and core the apples, slicing them about 1/4″ thick.  When the sausages are heated through, remove them from the pan and keep them warm in a low oven.

Add another tsp of butter to the same pan, then add the yams and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Sauté for about 5 minutes, covered, stirring frequently.  Add the apples, some more cinnamon, some ground nutmeg, and the brown sugar or honey.  Continue to sauté in the same manner for another 15 minutes or so, testing the yams for doneness often.

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Plate the yam-apple mixture with one of the sausages, topping the dish with a portion of the toasted pecans.

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For pairings, if you like hard cider, that would be a good match.  For wines, go with a semi-sweet Riesling, a Gewurztraminer, or a great wine that’s local to me, but growing in popularity – Ballet of Angels by Sharpe Hill.

The yam-apple mixture could work as a side dish with pork chops, pork tenderloin, or even chicken, too.  Either way you serve it – enjoy!

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Asparagus Bruschetta

Hey again! My wife and I had this in a restaurant recently and it was fabulous. I know asparagus is usually a spring vegetable, but it looked really good in the store this weekend so I decided to make an attempt to recreate it. I think mine came out a little zestier, but you can adjust the amount of garlic and pepper to your taste. Either way, this is a quick appetizer or hors d’oeuvre nice enough for a dinner party or just as a side dish for a weeknight dinner.

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Asparagus Bruschetta

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped asparagus (1/4″ slices)
  • 9 slices ciabatta bread
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil
  • dash salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove or 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 18 thin slices parmesan cheese (see picture)

Preparation

Warm up the broiler while you lay out the bread on a baking sheet.  Brush the bread with the tablespoon of olive oil and place under the broiler for just a couple minutes – the bread should just start to brown but not fully toast. Take the bread out of the oven but leave it on the baking sheet.

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In a large skillet, melt the teaspoon of butter with the olive oil. If you’re using a garlic clove push it through a garlic press or chop as finely as you can. Add the asparagus, salt, garlic and black pepper to the pan and sauté for just 2-3 minutes – keep it crisp.

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Divide the asparagus evenly over the bread slices. Slice the parmesan cheese off the block with a vegetable peeler and top each bruschetta with a couple pieces.

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Return the bruschetta to the oven and broil for just 1 minute to melt the cheese. Serve immediately.

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I hope you give this a try and love it as much as my family does!

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Sausage and Kale Soup with Beans

Hey there! Fall is definitely taking hold here in Connecticut, but the soup pots are warming up in my house.  This is a hearty cold-weather soup – a hot bowl with a good hunk of bread can definitely be made into meal.  I really love the flavors in this soup, too. I’m looking forward to my lunches this week already!

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Bean and Kale Soup with Sausage

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 6 oz. fully cooked sausage
  • Ground pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) small cannellini beans
  • 24 oz. chicken broth
  • 2 cups chopped kale (or escarole)

Preparation

For the sausage, if your links are large in diameter, slice them lengthwise first before chopping into about 1/8″ thick slices. I used a linguica this time, but you could use an Italian sausage, a chicken sausage, or a chorizo, too.

Melt the butter with the olive in a large soup pot. Add the onion and sauté for a minute or two before adding the sausage. Add some black pepper and garlic powder and sauté for another 5 minutes or so.

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Add the beans and chicken broth, stir to mix in the bean starch, then simmer for at least 10 minutes or so. Add the kale and stir it in gradually while it wilts. Give it a taste for seasoning and add some pepper or other spice if you like some heat.

This soup will look and taste best if served immediately – the kale will stay bright green and crispy. Alternatively, if you need to make it ahead, omit the kale until you reheat it for serving.

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I hope you give this soup a try; with different types of sausages and different greens, you can change things up all winter long!

Paleo variation: omit the beans or substitute carrots or another vegetable.

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Tea-crusted Salmon

I have to confess, I’m not very adventurous when it comes to fish.  There are only a few varieties I cook regularly.  Salmon, however, is one I absolutely love and thankfully my kids love it, too. My wife picked up a Salmon Tea Rub in a spice store in Newport, RI a while back and we decided to try it out. You can check it out here, but it would definitely be easy to make up a similar version on your own with some loose-leaf black tea. I served the salmon with the Golden Beet and Arugula Salad I posted the other day.  Great combination!

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Tea-crusted Salmon

Ingredients  serves 4-6

  • 1.5-2 lbs salmon
  • olive oil
  • 1 oz. Salmon Tea Rub, or the following:
  • 1/4 oz. loose-leaf black tea
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp whole coriander seeds

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

If preparing the tea rub on your own, combine the tea and the salt in a small bowl. Put the peppercorns and coriander seeds in a Ziploc bag with as little air as possible. Crack the seeds roughly with a meat mallet or other “blunt instrument”. Add this mixture to the tea and salt and stir to combine.

Lay the salmon out skin side down in a large baking pan and brush with olive oil. Coat evenly with the tea rub and press the rub into the fish with the back of a spoon.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes, until your desired doneness.

Some basmati rice with thyme and a salad makes for a really good combination and a great healthy meal!

Wine pairing – go with a nice Pinot Noir for this dish.

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Peanut Butter Banana Bagels :)

Hi, it’s Ginny again! Check out my new post on Kid’s Corner – Peanut Butter Banana Bagels!

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Golden Beet and Arugula Salad

Hi everyone! I have a great salad recipe today. Beets are becoming one of my favorite fall vegetables and I’m trying to find new fun ways to use them. This salad is topped with golden beets, but you could certainly use the red ones. I like the crisp texture they give a dish like this, and the color is just great, too. The earthiness of the beets mixed with the peppery taste of the arugula and the tartness of the cranberries gives this simple salad a great complex flavor. We had this salad with a delicious salmon recipe which will be coming to Dad vs. Dinner soon!

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Golden Beet and Arugula Salad    serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 medium golden beets
  • 4 handfuls of baby arugula
  • Parmesan cheese (enough to shave about 16-20 slices)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • White balsamic vinegar

Preparation

Peel the beets and chop into about 8 pieces or 3/4″ chunks if your beets are larger. Steam for about 8-10 minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool a bit.

Fill 4 salad bowls with the arugula.  Top each with 1/4 of the beets, then shave 4-5 pieces of the parmesan with a peeler over each salad. Sprinkle the cranberries over next, then season with salt and pepper, as desired. Drizzle with olive oil and a nice white balsamic vinegar – keep it simple so you don’t overpower the flavors of the other ingredients.

Of course, you could do this as one large salad and serve family style, too.  Hope you give it a try. Let me know what you think in the comments!

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Italian Ratatouille

I love this stuff! Yet another stop at the local farm stand last weekend, this time culminating in my version of a ratatouille. This recipe can really be made with whatever vegetables you like, in any proportion you like, but here’s how I made it. I generally serve this as a side dish, but it’s great as an hors d’oeuvre or as a bruschetta topping for a quick healthy snack.

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Italian Ratatouille

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 small yellow squash
  • 1 green or red bell pepper or 2 small sweet peppers
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup tomato sauce, or more if desired
  • 2 tsp Italian herb mix, or about 1/2 tsp each of dried oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, and rosemary (as desired), or 1 tsp each if using fresh.
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

Peel the eggplant and chop into cubes (about 1/2″). Quarter the zucchini and yellow squash lengthwise and chop into 1/4″ slices. Chop the pepper and onion into a medium dice. Finely chop the garlic or push through a garlic press.  Add all these ingredients to a large skillet with the butter and olive oil. Saute for a couple minutes.

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Add the herbs, black pepper, and salt if desired. Saute for just another 2-3 minutes or so – I don’t like the vegetables to get too soft.

Add the tomato sauce slowly and see how the proportions look. I don’t like a lot of extra sauce in this dish, so I use just enough to coat everything. You could add a lot more if you wanted to, though. Let it simmer for a couple minutes and you’re good to go!

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