Spinach and Turkey Sausage Frittata

spinach and sausage frittata 1

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I used to make this as a spinach and sausage pie, with both top and bottom crust, and it was one of our favorites. Then we started doing the low carb thing and I couldn’t waste the carbs on crust anymore. Voila–this frittata was born! It’s super simple, low carb, and delicious.

frittata 2

Saute half of a medium onion that you’ve diced, with a roll of turkey sausage and a little olive oil til the meat is browned and the onion is soft. Remove from the heat, drain, and let cool slightly.

In the meantime, squeeze the moisture out of a 16 oz package of chopped spinach and put it into a large bowl. Season with salt, black pepper, and one teaspoon garlic powder, then stir well.

 

frittata 3

Stir in one cup of ricotta cheese, six eggs, and two cups of shredded mozzarella, then stir in the sausage and onions. Pour into a greased 13 x 9 Pyrex pan and bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

finished frittata

Let cool slightly, then cut into squares and serve with a side salad, or fruit if you’re serving this for brunch (and aren’t doing the low carb thing).

Variations:  I can’t eat red meat, so I use turkey sausage. I’ve also made this with Tofurkey Brand Italian “sausage”, and it was delicious. You could use any kind of sausage you want, including regular Italian sausage cut into pieces.  You could also use pepperjack, Swiss, or even vegan cheese for the mozzarella, and use egg substitute instead of whole eggs. Like most of my recipes, you can adapt this to suit your needs and your tastes!

What You’ll Need:

One roll Turkey Italian Sausage

16 oz package frozen chopped spinach

1 medium onion

Salt, pepper, and garlic powder

6 eggs

1 cup Ricotta Cheese

2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

 

Black Forest Pudding Cake

black forest 1

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Twenty-fiveish years ago, I worked for a huge living history museum here in Williamsburg, Virginia. We often held breakroom parties in my department for holidays since we probably wouldn’t have had time to eat if we didn’t feed each other–and we worked EVERY. SINGLE. HOLIDAY. I was around 23 and had the energy to bake on a regular basis in addition to my two jobs, so I usually brought a dessert to share. One of my staples was a Black Forest Trifle which was delicious, but once several people had taken servings of it, it sort of collapsed into a pile in the bowl. Still yummy, but not as pretty to look at. In fact, I can remember my boss/friend Suz asking me before one party “You’re bringing Goo In A Bowl, right?” It was a little bit popular…  Layers of chocolate cake cubes, chocolate pudding, whipped cream, and cherry pie filling. It looks lovely in a glass bowl, and I still make it sometimes for a crowd.

This cake contains the exact same ingredients, but about half the quantity, and it’s a lot easier to fit in the refrigerator!

Start with a chocolate cake mix and bake it according to the package directions in a 13×9 Pyrex dish. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes evenly(ish) across the top of the cake once it’s cooled.

black forest 2

Prepare a package of chocolate pudding according to the package directions. Before it sets, pour the mixture evenly(ish) across the top of the cake.

black forest 3

Smooth one tub of whipped topping across the top of the pudding., and then use a spoon to place dollops of cherry pie filling on top of the cream.

Black forest 5

I like to swirl it into the cream a little bit to make it pretty. When I make a trifle instead of a cake, I save a few cake cubes and then crumble them over the top of the pie filling to make it EXTRA pretty! You could also top it with chocolate sprinkles or chopped nuts if you’d like. Slice into squares and dig in! This doesn’t last long in my house, and since it’s dead simple to make, why not make one and see how long it takes for your family, friends, or co-workers to devour it!

Can you make this from scratch? Absolutely! Use your favorite cake recipe. Use sugar or a sugar substitute. Use a gluten-free mix. Substitute almond, soy, coconut, or other milk when you make the pudding. Make your whipped cream from scratch and sweeten with sugar, sugar substitute, honey, or whatever you like. It’s going into your stomach–make it the way you want it!

What You’ll Need:

1 Chocolate Cake Mix, prepared according to package directions

1 Package Chocolate Pudding Mix, prepared according to package directions

1 Tub of Whipped Topping

1 Can of Cherry Pie Filling

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

lasagna ingredients

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Being half Sicilian, I grew up eating a lot of pasta. A LOT of pasta. Spaghetti, penne with Italian sausage, lasagna, all with red sauce, at least once a week. As an adult, I rebelled against red sauce, until I started making my own (but that’s a whole ‘nother post).

I became a much bigger fan of garlic and olive oil (preferably over penne with broccoli), Alfredo, primavera, vodka sauce–anything except marinara. So when I found a recipe that loosely resembled this one, I jumped on it. Of course, I have to tweak, and change, and do things my way, so after some trial and error, I came up with this creamy lasagna that my family LOVES.

Now, I know the package says no-boil lasagna noodles. I know this. I also know that if I parboil them, they still maintain their integrity, so they’re easier to set in layers, but it also cuts the baking time in half. It’s entirely up to you whether or not you want to boil them, parboil them, or just lay them in the pan straight out of the box. Just adjust your baking time accordingly.

lasagna step 1

Start by pouring enough Alfredo sauce into the bottom of a 13×9 to just cover it, then lay down your first layer of noodles and cover with another thin layer of sauce.

onions and mushrooms

Saute a small onion and a package of sliced mushrooms in a little olive oil until lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper, then spread over the noodles and sauce. Lay down another layer of noodles and sauce.

Squeeze as much water as you can out of a 20 oz bag of spinach and combine it with garlic salt and pepper to taste. Spread this mixture over the noodles and sauce, then top with two cups of shredded mozzarella, pepperjack, or a combination of whatever cheeses that you like. Build the final layer with another layer of noodles and sauce, and the last two cups of shredded cheese.

final before oven

It should look something like this when you’re finished building it, and before it goes in the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the noodles are tender.

lasagna slice 2

Serve with a simple green salad and garlic bread for a hearty comfort-food dinner.

What You’ll Need:

One package of lasagna noodles–you’ll use about 12 noodles

Two jars of Alfredo sauce

20 oz package of frozen spinach

small package of mushrooms, sliced

one small onion

salt, pepper, and garlic salt to taste

4 cups of shredded mozzarella, or other cheese

Olive oil to saute vegetables

 

What’s your favorite pasta and sauce combination? Let us know in the comment section below!

 

 

 

 

Israeli Couscous Salad

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Since Stephan and I just moved into a new house and I had to pack, move, unpack, and re-shelve all of our pantry items, I decided to use up some things before making a trip to the grocery store. This simple salad is filling and delicious, and is perfect for hot summer weather, but can be enjoyed year round. You can serve it with hot crusty bread, but it’s also a fine stand-alone meal. The leftovers are even better the next day, because the flavors have time to meld.

couscous salad ingredients

Start by cooking a 12 oz package of Israeli/pearled couscous according to the package directions. For those who haven’t used pearled couscous, it’s firmer and more versatile than the fluffy couscous that you may be more familiar with.

plain couscous

As you can see, it looks a bit like tapioca when cooked. Let it cool for about ten minutes–though I like to throw in a little oil so that it doesn’t clump together while it cools.

mixing 2

Stir in four sliced mini cucumbers, three medium tomatoes, chopped, a six ounce can of ripe olives (any size you want), and approximately half of a bottle of Italian salad dressing. You can use any brand you want, or you can make your own. Stir together and chill for several hours.

couscous salad

When you’re ready to eat, crumble a package of feta cheese over the top and dig in. If you do have leftovers for the next day, you might want to add a little more dressing since the couscous will soak it up, but it should be perfectly fine without adding more. It just depends on how much dressing you prefer.

Israeli Couscous Salad:

12 oz package of Israeli/Pearled Couscous, prepared according to package directions and slightly cooled

6 oz can ripe olives, drained

4 mini cucumbers or 1 medium cucumber, chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/2 bottle Italian Salad Dressing

1 package feta cheese, crumbled

Combine the cooled couscous with the tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and dressing. Chill for several hours and top with feta.

Enjoy with crusty bread, crackers, or use it as a side dish with a cup of soup or sandwich.

 

 

Basque Garlic Salad Dressing

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Several years ago when I lived in Las Vegas, I had to make a few trips north for work, to a small mining town called Elko, Nevada. You have to fly into Salt Lake City and then drive several hours, or take a small plane from SLC. I was working as the buyer for the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association at the time, and one of our locations was the California Trail Interpretive Center. It was a nice little museum, and I had to go up a few times a year with the executive director and the director of retail.

The highlight of these trips was dinner at the Star Hotel. Built in 1910 as a hotel and restaurant, it now serves as a Basque bar and restaurant. The people are nice, the food is good and plentiful, and everything is served family style except the entrees.

Each diner orders their entree, then the food starts coming to the table. First, they bring out cabbage soup, bread, and salad with garlic dressing. Then with the entrees, they bring out beans, spaghetti, french fries, and a vegetable (the three times I ate there, it was green beans, but it may vary). Seriously–tons of food. If you leave the Star hungry, it’s your own fault.

To be honest though, my favorite was always the salad. It was just iceberg lettuce in a creamy garlic dressing. Believe me–I know. It looks like nothing special, but oh boy. Once you try it, you’ll be hooked.

I made this for Stephan last week and he couldn’t believe how good it was.

basque dressing

It’s also incredibly simple to make. In a mixing bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon olive oil, 4 garlic cloves, chopped, 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 cup mayonnaise. Stick it in the fridge overnight to chill and let the flavors meld.

When you’re ready to serve, cut a head of iceberg lettuce into squares and dump it into a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the lettuce and toss it together. It will look like there’s not enough dressing to coat the lettuce, but unless your head of lettuce is particularly large, it will be fine. Once all of the lettuce is coated, you’re finished! Serve with bread and soup or pasta. Could you add vegetables and other salad fixings? Absolutely! But do yourself a favor and try it this way first.

finished salad 2

Basque Garlic Dressing:

1 T olive oil

4 garlic cloves, chopped

3 T apple cider vinegar

1/2 t salt

1/4 t garlic powder

1/2 c mayonnaise

1 medium head iceberg lettuce

Whisk the first six ingredients together and chill in the refrigerator overnight. Cut lettuce into squares and toss with dressing. Boom–dead simple.

 

What Makes Someone A Foodie?

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food·ie

/ˈfo͞odē/

Vegetarian Pasta e Fagioli

 

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If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know that I was a vegetarian for over four years due to an allergy to meat. While I am now able to eat poultry and seafood, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat red meat again. This recipe is a go-to for me when I want a big pot of comforting soup, and it’s super versatile! Want to use ground beef, ground turkey, or Trader Joe’s Beefless Beef? Go ahead! Want to use a different type of pasta? I’ve used shells, elbows, bowties, and others. Want to add more vegetables? I’ve added sauteed bell peppers, and mushrooms, but you can add whatever you want.

pasta e fagioli ingredients

Start by chopping one medium onion and sauteeing it in a large pot in a few tablespoons of olive oil. When the onion is soft and translucent, add two 14.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes, one 15.5 ounce can of cannellini beans, 32 ounces of vegetable stock, one tablespoon of Italian Seasoning, eight cups of water, salt and pepper to taste, and one cup of TVP (textured vegetable protein). Seriously–just dump it all in the pot and bring to a boil, then let simmer for 20 minutes.

I usually buy my TVP from Bob’s Red Mill, but I found a great deal on it at The Cheese Shop in Stuart’s Draft, VA. It’s a soy protein and soy flour product that works as a meat substitute in any recipe where you would use ground beef.  It has a similar texture, but almost no flavor, so you’ll want to season it before using in other kinds of recipes. In the soup though, you don’t need to season it separately.

pasta e fagioli pot

After 20 minutes, add 2-3 cups of dry pasta (I used elbow noodles this time). Simmer another 20ish minutes until the pasta is cooked.

pasta e fagioli bowl

Serve with rolls, garlic bread, or saltines. This recipe makes a HUGE pot of soup, so you’ll have leftovers for days. After the first night, the pasta soaks up a lot of the broth, so you can either add more broth, or enjoy the leftovers as they are.

What’s your favorite go-to winter warmer?

Sweet Potato Muffins

 

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Those of you who have been following this blog for a few weeks know that Stephan and I bought a box of sweet potatoes in early November at Powell’s Farm Market in North Carolina. Thankfully, sweet potatoes keep for a LONG time, which is good because it seems like no matter how many potatoes we use, the box never seems to get any emptier. It’s a magic box of sweet potatoes! Now could I have a magic box of money that never gets any emptier?!? Please?

Anyway, the other day, I decided to make a batch of sweet potato muffins to use up a couple of the small ones. I’ve had the recipe for years–it’s based on the recipe from a certain living history museum that I worked at for ten years, eight months, and nine days of my life…not that I counted or anything… *cough*

I’ve tweaked it to suit my taste and you can too. Don’t like raisins? Use dried cranberries. Don’t have pecans? Use walnuts. Don’t like or can’t have nuts? Leave them out. Don’t have pumpkin pie seasoning? Use nutmeg, cloves, allspice–whatever sweet spices that you like and have on hand (although if you use cloves, use half the amount). It’s pretty versatile. I also used an extra large muffin tin, but you can use a regular tin and get smaller muffins, but more of them. You can also double the recipe if you want tall bakery-style muffins in those extra large tins. I was just going for flavor instead of making them fancy, but you do whatever makes you happy!

sweet potato muffins ingredients

Start by boiling a couple small sweet potatoes and letting them cool. When soft, peel and mash them, then set them aside. In a mixing bowl, cream 1/4 cup of butter with 1/2 cup sugar, then add the mashed potatoes. In a separate bowl, combine 3/4 cup all purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie seasoning. Add this mixture alternately with 1 large egg and 1/2 cup milk (whatever kind you like). When it’s just blended, mix in 1/4 cup chopped pecans and 1/4 cup raisins. Don’t overmix or the muffins will be tough. This is what it will look like:

muffin batter

 

Spoon into greased muffin tins and top with chopped nuts, coconut, cinnamon sugar, or anything else that you want–or just leave plain on top.

muffins ready for the oven

Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the muffins are done and starting to pull away from the edges of the pan.

sweet potato muffins

As I said, if you want taller muffins, double the recipe or use smaller tins. Either way, the muffins will be moist and yummy, and won’t last long!

Recipe:

2/3 cup mashed sweet potato

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

3/4 cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon each: salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup each: chopped pecans and raisins

Grease muffin tins and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook, peel, and mash sweet potatoes (or just use canned ones) and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg, half of the dry ingredients, the milk, and the rest of the dry ingredients. Stir in the nuts and raisins and spoon the mixture into the muffin tins.  Sprinkle with additional nuts, cinnamon sugar, or whatever you like. Bake 25-30 minutes and enjoy!

 

What’s you favorite way to use sweet potatoes? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

 

Potato and Leek Soup

potato and leek soup

 

 

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During a recent cold snap, I decided to call on the Irish part of my roots and make some potato and leek soup for dinner. This rich, hearty soup is awesome served by itself, or with some Irish Soda Bread on the side. It’s wonderful on a winter day, it’s a natural choice on or around Saint Patrick’s Day, and it’s still great on a warm day–especially if you work in an over-air conditioned office! It’s also super simple to make–you’ll have dinner in less than an hour, start to finish.

soup ingredients

Start by washing, quartering, and evenly slicing 8-9 medium sized red potatoes. You can use russets, but I prefer the red potatoes (and you don’t have to peel them!) Set those aside and grab three leeks, then slice those into rounds. Use both the white and the green parts. Fill a large bowl or pot with cold water and drop in the leeks. Use your fingers to separate the rings and let them sit in the water for five to ten minutes to let any dirt and grit that might be between the rings settle to the bottom. Drain and set aside.

 

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, melt 1/2 cup of butter (I like unsalted, but that’s up to you) over medium heat. Add the leeks and potatoes and stir just to coat the vegetables, then cover and cook six to seven minutes to let the vegetables start to soften without browning them. Uncover, then add eight cups of chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

 

 

Add salt and pepper to taste, then stir in two cups of half and half. You can serve the soup at this point, but I like it a little creamier. If you do as well, use an immersion blender to partially blend the soup. Don’t puree all of it–you want a thick, creamy texture, but with plenty of chunks of the potatoes and leeks.

potato and leek soup

We get approximately six to eight large servings out of this recipe, but we serve it as a main course with bread and/or salad. If you’re serving it as an appetizer, you’ll have lunch leftovers for days (which is a great thing, in this case!)

The Recipe:

1/2 cup butter

8-9 medium red potatoes

3 leeks

8 cups chicken broth

2 cups half and half

salt and pepper to taste

Wash, quarter, and slice the potatoes and slice and wash the leeks. Melt the butter in a large soup pot and add the potatoes and leeks. Stir the vegetables, then cover the pot and cook 6-7 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add the half and half. Serve as it is, or partially blend with an immersion blender to get a thicker consistency and creamier texture.

What are your favorite cold-weather meals? Comment below and let us know what you’d like to see in future posts!

Scalloped Sweet Potatoes Recipe

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Back in early November, Stephan and I took a quick, one-night trip down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to read, walk on the beach, eat, drink, and RELAX. Between his schedule and mine, two days and one night was all we could fit in, but it was exactly what we needed. Because we’re foodies, we love to explore farm stands, and there are several along the way to choose from. Our favorite is Morris Farm Market, but we also picked up a huge box of sweet potatoes at Powell’s Roadside Market.

Sweet potatoes are full of fiber, vitamin C, beta carotene, B Vitamins, and calcium–and they’re delicious! We used some of them for sweet potato casserole on Thanksgiving. We had baked sweet potatoes. We had sweet potato fries.  Eventually, I wanted to make something a little different, that would also maybe put a little dent in the box that never seems to empty….

I served these with baked salmon fillets and buttered broccoli, but they would go nicely with almost anything that you’d serve with potatoes, rice, etc.

sweet potatoes prep

Start by peeling 4-5 sweet potatoes and slicing them into 1/4″ thick rounds (roughly–no one is going to get out a ruler and measure them–just make sure they’re all about the same thickness so they’ll cook evenly). Then, grease a 13×9 pan or a large casserole, and place a layer of potatoes in the bottom of the pan.

In the meantime, peel and mince three cloves of garlic and put into a saucepan with two cups of cream and two tablespoons of butter. Heat to a simmer, then take off the heat.

Combine one teaspoon of salt with 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and sprinkle some over the layer of potatoes. Sprinkle Italian Seasoning over them as well. Continue layering the potatoes and seasonings until you’ve mostly filled the pan, then pour the cream mixture over the potatoes. Bake for 30-40 minutes in a 400 degree preheated oven until potatoes are tender. Sprinkle on 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese and 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or more if you’re a cheese fan like me). Bake another five minutes until cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and let cool 10-15 minutes to let the sauce thicken, and to prevent burning the heck out of your mouth!

scalloped sweet potatoes

 

Recipe:

4-5 medium sweet potatoes

2 cups cream

2 Tbl. unsalted butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. Italian Seasoning

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese and 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella, or more to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 pan or large casserole dish. Peel and slice potatoes into 1/4 inch slices and layer in pan. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and Italian Seasoning over potatoes, and repeat until the pan is almost full (leave some room for the cream).

Heat 2 cups of cream in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons butter and the minced garlic, then pour over the potatoes.

Bake 30-40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, then top with the cheese and bake another 5 minutes. Let rest 10-15 minutes and enjoy!

Yield: 4 large servings, or 6-8 small ones

 

What’s your favorite way to use sweet potatoes? Leave us a comment!