Spicy Sausage Pasta

I am on a spicy sausage kick lately.  Sometimes I am really good about varying my monthly menu.  And then this month, we have rice 3 times and spicy sausage twice in one week.  I mean, as long as they taste good, who cares, right?  Maybe one day I’ll be perfect.  But until then…

…you should go out to the store right now and buy these ingredients and make this pasta.  IT IS SO GOOD.  AND EASY.  One pan.  No really, you don’t even have to boil the pasta first.  We probably make this recipe once a month now.  Not only are you being introduced to one of the world’s best pasta recipes, you are also getting to know Kevin and Amanda.  You’re welcome.

Spicy Sausage Pasta | Jersey Up!

Yum. Yum. Yum.

Spicy Sausage Pasta
Adapted from Kevin and Amanda

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb smoked turkey sausage
1.5 cup diced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups chicken broth
10 oz diced tomato and green chiles
1/2 cup heavy cream
16 oz pasta (any kind ya like)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese (though let’s be honest, I use more)
1/3 cup diced scallions

1. Heat olive oil in oven-safe skillet.  Slice sausage into bite size pieces and brown with onions in the skillet.  Add garlic and saute for less than a minute.
2. Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and stir in half your cheese.  Top with other half and broil until cheese is melted and browned.  Top with scallions.

To be a little more budget friendly, we use chicken bouillon instead of buying chicken broth.  Since we use it a lot in casseroles and soups, we save just a ton of money.  It’s a little extra prep but well worth the savings.

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Wild Rice & Sausage Casserole

It is unseasonably cold here in Michigan.  As in, it was 40something degrees this morning.  IT IS AUGUST.  Mother Nature, you have overcompensated last year’s 105˚ just a tad.  The weather has me dreaming of all the fall and winter dishes I’ve pinned recently.  But it’s summer!  Everything should be ate outside!  Off the grill!  But, should I really deny myself yummy casseroles just because of the calendar?  No, my friends, the casserole wins.  I don’t care what you say about the casserole; I love her.

So, I’ve had my eye on this recipe for awhile.  Spicy sausage.  Wild rice.  Mushroom soup.  Mmmmm.  But, when I checked out the ingredient list, all the measurements were just too easy.  Everything was a cup!  That can’t be normal.  Ahh, it was Stefanie’s leftover smorgasbord night.

Note: Perhaps I should READ blogs instead of just drooling over pictures before grocery shopping.  Wait, you don’t scroll through Pinterest in the baking aisle?  Oh, just me then.

But the recipe looked so. so. good.  I have never been good at faking it til I made it, but I didn’t think the worst case scenario (take out anyone?) was all that bad.

Wild Rice Sausage Casserole | Jersey Up!

I always look for an excuse to eat cornbread.

Wild Rice & Sausage Casserole
Adapted from Lovely Little Snippets

1lb spicy sausage, browned
2 cups white or brown rice
2 boxes wild rice w seasoning packets
2 cups frozen peas
2 cups frozen chopped broccoli
2 cups water (plus extra if needed)
1 cup milk
26 oz jar cream of mushroom soup
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder

1. Brown sausage and drain fat.
2. Combine all ingredients and stir well.  You should have quite a bit of liquid not mixed in.  This is okay.  In fact, if you have enough liquid that you’re nervous this is a soup recipe instead, you probably have enough.
3. Bake at 350˚ for 45 minutes covered.  Bake an additional 10 minutes uncovered.

*Tip: You could pre-cook your rice before baking the casserole.  I decided this was too much work and risked crunchy rice.  Which serve me right, I got!

*Tip #2: You may want to check your casserole periodically and add water as necessary.  My rice was still a little crunchy and I think if I was patient enough and added more water (or milk) and cooked it longer, it would have been perfect.  Even though patience is a virtue, it runs and hides from me when I’m hungry.  🙂

This recipe is easily freezable – especially if you decide to cook the rice before hand.

Let me know how yours turns out – how much water/milk did you add to make your rice fluffy?  

Stuffed Pesto Chicken

I don’t know about you, but I always have trouble stuffing chicken.  Or any kind of meat, for that matter.  I’m not sure how people get them all pretty and symmetrical looking without the stuffing leaking out.  And then breading it too?!  I’d just as easy buy the frozen ones at the grocery store and call it a day.

But Pinterest, be damned!  You always make things look so easy.  And yummy.  I’ve seen this recipe for Stuffed Pesto Chicken floating around for awhile and decided to try it.  I actually already had all the ingredients – talk about a budget meal!

And, don’t pass out, but I actually followed the directions!  I pounded the chicken to make it flatter.  I even, wait for it, used toothpicks!  But alas, they were a hot mess.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, they tasted deeeeelicious, but the stuffing all leaked out everywhere.  When I tried to roll up the chicken the stuffing squeezed out and I had to stuff it all back in several times.  Even after all that, most of the stuffing leaked out into the chicken juice <shudder> while it was cooking.  Sloppy mess.

Have I mentioned I hate touching raw chicken?  Stuffing and restuffing and rolling and rerolling really tested my comfort zone.

I ended up covering the entire top of the dish with mozzarella cheese and making it a “casserole”.  Extra cheese can fix anything, right?!  They were super yummy, and I’d make them again.  But I need some stuffing chicken advice.  Anyone?  Bueller?

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Stuffed Pesto Chicken
Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Ingredients
4 chicken breasts, flattened
4 tbsp sour cream
4 tbsp basil pesto
4 tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese + extra for sprinkling on top

Directions
1. Pound chicken breasts individually in a plastic bag with a meat mallet until they are as thin as you can get them.
2. Mix together sour cream, pesto and mozzarella.  I used “heaping” tablespoons as well.  The more stuffing the better right?  (Although this might be my issue…!)
3. Spread mixture onto each chicken breast and roll up.  Put some toothpicks in to hold the shape.
4. Place chicken in a greased glass pan.  Mine all fit in an 8×8.  Bake for 25 minutes at 375˚.
Optional: after about 20 minutes, feel free to sprinkle some extra mozzarella on top if your chicken looks ugly.

This would be a great recipe to freeze either as individual chicken breasts, or as a whole dish.  I didn’t do that this time, but definitely would be easy to do!

Another tip that I got from Kalyn was making a batch of pesto with all your garden basil.  We’ve had just a TON of basil this year and I just can’t eat it all.  I was like, well you can’t freeze basil so I guess it’ll go to waste.  Ah, duh.  I  just pinched off all my flowers on the basil plant and hopefully, assuming I did it correctly, it’ll grow more leaves and I can try my hand at making homemade pesto.  Kalyn has a delicious lemon basil recipe on her site that I can’t wait to try!