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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Lemon Alfredo Veggie Pasta (& one strawberry)

Now that I am actually getting fruit from my garden (no, really!) I am trying to find new ways to eat them fresh.  I realize at some point I’m going to have to can/freeze because I’ll (hopefully) get too much to eat.  But for now I’m enjoying eating what I’ve grown.  It’s really, really cool.

The other day, Norah and I were playing outside and I realized my strawberry plant had the most perfect cutest red strawberry on it!  I really didn’t expect it to fruit this year, so I was shocked.  We picked it, and ate it warm right from the plant.  YUM!

Strawberry Plant | Jersey Up!

Guessing by the face, it’s a little tart.

I also had some crookneck squash to eat, though I wouldn’t recommend eating that right off the plant.  😉  Since I’m not sure if the squash is dying or not, I wanted to rescue the few that “came of age” recently to eat.  (I just made up that gardening phrase, but I really like it!)  We have been eating on a budget lately and I’ve been trying to eat what we actually have in the cabinets (I know, right?) and buying only what’s on sale – with a coupon if we’re lucky.  So I had some lemons, alfredo, pasta and some veggies of course.  This pasta dish I came up with is super yummy!  I love the lemon and alfredo together.  It could easily be a hot or cold pasta dish – main or side.  And of course you can really use whatever kind of veggies you’d like.

Lemon Alfredo Veggie Pasta | Jersey Up!

I love sweet and savory dishes, don’t you?

Lemon Alfredo Veggie Pasta

1lb pasta of your choice
3-4 summer squash and/or zucchini, chopped into even chunks
1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
16 oz jar alfredo sauce (store or homemade, whatever ya got)
1 lemon
1 tbsp oil (I used coconut, but you can use whatever you like)*
Salt & pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese for garnish

1. Boil pasta, drain and set aside.
2. Zest and juice the lemon (wouldn’t want to be wasteful) and add to your alfredo sauce.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, until flavors meld and sauce is hot.  (I also doctor up my alfredo sauce by sautéing some garlic and Italian seasoning before adding the sauce.)
3. Chop up your veggies into even chunks.  Heat up some oil in a nonstick pan and throw the veggies in.  I sauteed the squash and zucchini for awhile before adding the tomatoes since they take much longer.  I also sprinkled them with salt and pepper.
4. Mix it all together with some parmesan cheese.

*Have you ever used coconut oil before?  I hadn’t, but a friend lent me some.  I honestly loved it!  The oil doesn’t burn as quickly in case you have distractions in your kitchen (baby? dog? cats? anyone?) and it doesn’t taste any different than using other vegetable or olive oils.  I will say that it definitely smelled like coconut while cooking, but not while eating.  It is high in saturated fat though, so be sure to use in moderation.  (Just like all the other good stuff.)  Just in case you wanted to try something different – now you know!

Hope you enjoy the lemon alfredo sauce – I will definitely be making it again!

Creamy Gnocchi with Turkey Sausage and Peas

It’s funny how your expectations of what a gourmet meal is changes over the years.  This meal I’m about to share with you I now consider a “cheat” meal.  But in college, gourmet to the extreme!!!  I mean, it’s not a frozen pizza or anything.

Creamy Gnocchi with Turkey Sausage and Peas | Jersey Up!

Creamy Gnocchi with Turkey Sausage and Peas

Ingredients:
1 pkg frozen gnocchi
1 lb smoked turkey sausage
1 cup frozen peas
1 jar alfredo sauce

Directions:
1. Cook gnocchi according to package directions.  Set aside.
2. Slice up sausage and brown in a bit of olive oil.  Throw in some onions if you’re feeling fancy.
3. Heat up jar of alfredo sauce.  (If you feel like I do in that jar sauce doesn’t taste the same, sprinkle in some fresh parmesan cheese, oregano, garlic (or really any spices you like) and you wouldn’t believe the improvement in flavor!)
4. Add peas to sauce and stir until warmed.
5. Combine all ingredients…and eat!

I was never a replace beef/pork with turkey kinda girl.  Never.  The fat gives it all the flavor, guys!  Eww, turkey burgers!  Until I met Butterball and their smoked turkey sausage.  It tastes JUST LIKE REAL MEAT!  (Wait…)  Anyway, it honestly is fantastic.  Maybe if you’re a true sausage connoisseur you will not enjoy it as much.  But for us regular people, it satisfies just fine and is a healthier alternative to beef or pork.  I suppose the alfredo sauce takes care of that, but who’s counting?

The variations of this recipe abound.  Ravioli, tomato sauce and basil?  Tortellini, vodka sauce and ham?  And it’s so easy…even a college student can do it.  (Please do pair with a $5 bottle of wine.)

Let me know how it turns out, and if you put any of your own spin on it.  I’m always looking for new ideas!

Mac & Cheese with Roasted Vegetables

Mac n Cheese with Roasted Vegetables | Jersey Up!

I used to not be a big fan of vegetables.  Sure they’re good for you but they just tasted so blah.  Maybe that’s because I always ate them from a can?  Either way, I discovered a new love for vegetables when they’re grilled.  Seriously.  Sprinkle some olive oil, salt and pepper on any vegetable and pop it on the grill.  Instant delicious.

I’m also a huge fan of frozen vegetables.  They are just as flavorful and healthy as fresh, and often come pre-chopped.  Can’t beat that if you’re in a time crunch.

This mac and cheese recipe was pretty good, and pretty easy to follow.  I do love me some “fake” mac and cheese from the blue box (who am I kidding?) but homemade sauce really can’t be beat.  This recipe contains no butter so it is certainly healthier for you (not to mention all the vegetables).  But I was missing the butter.  A lot.  Hey, I’m honest.

Mac and Cheese with Roasted Vegetables
Adapted from The Comfort of Cooking

Ingredients:
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 diced red pepper
1 cup sliced carrots
1/4 cup olive oil (plus some for sprinkling veggies)
2 cups of your favorite pasta (I did shells.  Mac and cheese always has to be shells.)
1 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1.5 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar (or really, any cheese you like)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp breadcrumbs (if you’d like to bake it)

Directions:
1. Combine broccoli, red pepper and carrots in a grill basket and sprinkle with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Grill until cooked through.  (Or you can bake at 400 for 20 minutes if you’re not a grilling person.  Or it’s raining.)
2. Cook pasta according to package directions.
3. Start heating your oil in a nonstick pan.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
4. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly add milk, stirring until sauce has thickened.
5. Take sauce off the heat and add cheese, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper.  (Salt and pepper too if you like.)
6. Combine sauce, pasta and veggies.  Eat outside with a glass of wine or a beer…or you can put everything into a 13×9 baking dish, cover with breadcrumbs and bake for just a few minutes in the broiler.

I thought this was a great seasonal transition meal.  Get to use the grill to celebrate summer, but still has a comfort food taste of winter.  Enjoy!

Chicken Alfredo Roll-Ups

I’m assuming you’ve seen this on Pinterest?  They looked delicious in the picture (doesn’t everything?) and didn’t seem too hard.  Plus they included melty cheese and alfredo sauce.  How can you go wrong?  Still, they didn’t turn out as I imagined.

I followed the recipe but not the advice in the article to not use jar alfredo sauce.  I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to melt cheese (which I’m not good at, turns out).  Maybe it was the cheap store-brand alfredo sauce I got?  Or perhaps my lack of measuring ingredients.  (Read: lazy).  Either way it left something to be desired.  Was kind of flavorless.

I’m guessing I could have put more effort into the dish to make it better: season the chicken before cooking, make my own alfredo sauce, and probably actually FOLLOW the recipe.

I even skimped on the garlic bread.  Who am I?

Pictures can, in fact, be deceiving.

Probably will file under “do not make again” – there, now you don’t have to try it!