Sausage Cacciatore

I make this dish often and especially when I have guests over. Very easy and versatile. I often use different types of sausages with this dish to create a diversity. The prep time is simple. This is excellent with a simple green salad. Sometimes I use purple potatoes mixed with baby red potatoes. When using fresh ingredients, the flavors are incredible. 

Sausage Cacciatore
First made in October 2016

sausagecacciatore
Ingredients
1-pound sweet Italian sausage links, bulk or patties. If use fresh sausage, remove the meat from casing and break up into bite-size pieces. If using pre-cooked flavored sausages from brands like Applegate or Al Fresca already cooked, just cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces.
2-3 lbs. baby red potatoes cut into cubes. If small potatoes, just half them.
1/2-pound mushrooms, quartered or halved, depends on the size big or small. Can use either button or crimini, or both.
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 – 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 28-ounce can crush tomatoes with Italian herbs, or 1 pint of halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 bunch, flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes, mushrooms, onion, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet or 9 x 13 baking dish and cook, tossing occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Add the raw sausage and cook for another 10 minutes. (see notes). Toss the 1 tablespoon of olive oil with the tomatoes and/or pre-cooked sausage (see notes) to the vegetables and stir to coat.

Arrange the mixture in an even layer and continue cooking for 15 minutes.
Take out of oven and sprinkle with the fresh chopped parsley (optional).

Notes
If using raw sausage from links, patties or bulk, break up meat and the cook time is 10 minutes (no olive oil, then add the tomatoes with the 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook for another 15 minutes.

If using pre-cooked sausages from brands like Applegate or Al Fresca, add the sausage with the halved tomatoes and 1 tablespoon olive oil and the cook time is not as long as the raw sausage time.

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Kale and Mushrooms Baked Spaghetti

I am always looking for good healthy recipes to test. This recipe is very easy to make and the pasta choices can be gluten or rice free. I found this on another food blog I follow called http://www.hummusapien.com and I tweaked and added to the recipe only because I know that I want these flavors in this dish. What is so great about this is there are no eggs or cheese needed. I loved the idea completely. My next dish will be with spaghetti squash instead of pasta. Watch for that one. Enjoy!

Kale and Tofu Baked Spaghetti
Created on 3/10/15

Kale and Tofu Baked Spaghetti

For the Tofu Filling
16 oz. extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
½ cup of hummus (I made a huge batch in the beginning of the week so I used that)
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of dried basil
½ fresh squeeze lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of the zest

Press and drain the tofu for approximately 15 minutes. You can put the tofu on top of the colander, and put a plate with a heavy can to press all the water out of the tofu. Crumble the tofu in a medium size-mixing bowl. Add the hummus, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano and basil, and lemon juice and zest. Mix using your hands or a fork, the mixture will look like ricotta cheese. Set the bowl aside.

For the Baked Spaghetti
12 oz of spaghetti pasta (Gluten Free, Corn, Wheat or Rice Free whichever works for you)
32 oz jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I used Simply Organic Tomato Basil from Kroger)
2-1/2 cups of water
8 oz button mushrooms sliced
½ onion sliced
½ bunch of kale, chopped
2 tablespoons of water or olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium sauté pan over medium-high heat up water or oil and add mushrooms and onions. Sauté until the onions and mushrooms are soft.

In a greased 9 x 13-casserole dish, layer the uncooked spaghetti on the bottom. If using a stone, no greasing is needed. Break the noodles in half and cross over the pasta so the noodles do not stick while baking. Add the spaghetti sauce and water. Use a spoon and mix on top of the spaghetti. It will look very watery. Top with the cooked mushroom and onion mixture and the chopped kale. Sprinkle the tofu filling on top evenly.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour, remove from the oven, and let the dish set for 10 minutes before serving.

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Vegan Corn Zucchini Stuffed Shells

Stuffed shells are one of my favorite foods. But, they often tend to be on the unhealthy side with the different cheeses and sometimes meat. Because I am slowly changing my eating habits, I decided to try and make vegan stuffed shells instead. I have to admit I was a little skeptical. The stuffed shells to my surprise were delicious. I used organic vegetables, non-GMO tofu and whole grain pasta. At first, I thought that maybe the extra-firm tofu was not a good idea, but the tofu worked well in the recipe. Enjoy!

Vegan Corn Zucchini Stuffed Shells
Created 7/10/14

corn.zucchini.stuffedshells

1 cup of organic corn (cut off the cob, or frozen and thawed)
1 large zucchini, chopped into bite size pieces
½ of a medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of vegetable stock or olive oil
1 garlic clove minced
1 package (15.5 ounce) organic non-gmo extra firm tofu
1 (8 ounce) bag of Dayia shredded Mozzarella cheese
¼ cup of fresh minced parsley
Zest of a lemon and the juice
3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
1 jar of tomato basil marinara sauce
Salt/Pepper for flavor
28 large pasta shells cooked and drained

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a pot of boiling salted water, add the pasta shells and cook for approximately 6 to 8 minutes. The shells need to be firm and not soft as they will continue to cook in the oven.

It is important to drain the tofu well. Otherwise the filling will be very watery. I used an upside down colander and put the tofu on top, then a small plate weighed down with a heavy bowl to drain a lot of the liquid out. Drain for approximately 10 minutes.

In a large sauté pan, heat up the vegetable stock or olive oil over medium heat and add the onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes, add more stock if needed. Add the corn and cook for another 3 minutes. Then, add the zucchini and cook for about 5 minutes, remove from the heat and add the minced garlic. The heat from the vegetables will cook the garlic. Set aside and cool.

In a large bowl, crumble the tofu up with your fingers and add the nutritional yeast. Add ½ of the cheese, sautéed vegetables, zest, lemon juice, and parsley. Mix well.

In a 9 x 13 casserole dish, spread 1/2 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish. Set aside. Stuff the shells with the tofu mixture and lay in the casserole dish. After all the shells are stuffed, cover the top of the shells with the balance of the marinara sauce. Sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella cheese on the shells.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese has melted. Remove the foil and turn on the broiler for a few minutes to brown and bubble the cheese. Remove from the heat when done.

Serve with a lightly seasoned arugula or green salad.

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Tex-Mex Lasagna

I think that Mexican food is everyone’s favorite, but we do know that sometimes Mexican food can be high in fat, calories, and carbs if we make the recipes with flour tortillas, beef, and lots of cheese. I found this recipe years ago in a magazine called Taste of Home “Light & Tasty” and modified the recipe to suit me. I love my vegetarian version. I do plan to try to make this recipe using Nutritional Yeast instead of cheese soon. I have an addiction to cheese and am working on weaning this out of my diet. The vegetarian recipe is excellent and so is the beef version. Enjoy!

Tex-Mex Lasagna

Click on the photo to see a larger image

1 lb. Lean ground beef or if you want to make vegetarian recipe (use Morningstar or Simply Organic Crumbles)
1 can (16 oz.) Refried black beans
1 can (15 oz.) Black beans drained and rinsed well
¾ cup Organic frozen corn
1 Jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped (this is optional – will depend on how spicy you like your Mexican food)
1 envelope Taco Seasoning (I suggest you make your own because of too many preservatives and additives in the packets)

Pam’s Home-made Taco Seasoning (sometimes I make a lot tripling the recipe and then I store in a glass container with tightly covered lid this lasts me about 2 or 3 months)
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of Paprika
1 teaspoon of Cumin
1 teaspoon of Chili Powder
½ teaspoon of salt and pepper each
Mix well in a bowl and season your meat or vegetarian crumbles to your taste

1 can (15 oz.) Muir Glenn tomato sauce (or your favorite brand)
2-1/2 cups Salsa (your favorite brand) Mild/Medium/Hot flavors
12 Soft Corn tortillas
3 cups Low-Fat Monterey Jack/Colby cheese blend or your favorite Mexican Cheese blend (shredded)
Optional: Low-Fat sour cream, avocado, green onions as toppings

In a large skillet, brown the beef until cooked thoroughly or the crumbles are heated through. Stir in the refried beans, beans, corn, jalapeno, taco seasoning and ¾ cup of the tomato sauce. Mix well.

Combine the salsa and the remaining tomato sauce. Spread ¼ cup of the salsa tomato sauce mixture into a greased 13”x 9”baking dish. Layer 4 corn tortillas (these will overlap each other). Spread half of the meat or vegetarian mixture on top of corn tortillas, then spread 1 cup of the salsa mixture over meat or vegetarian mixture, 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Repeat the layers, top with remaining corn tortillas, salsa mixture and cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake @ 350° F for about 45-5 minutes or until the edges are bubbly and the cheese is melted.(IMPORTANT) Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting, if don’t wait 10 minutes the lasagna will break apart and be messy.

Serve with Sour Cream, Avocado and onions. Makes 12 servings and the leftovers freeze very well.

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Sweet Potato Mushroom Casserole

As always, I am trying to cut down on eating a lot of potatoes. I came up with this recipe on one of my searches for good healthy food. I found a recipe on the blog of “Joy the Baker” and I tweaked quite a bit of it as I wanted to be really careful with the fat content of this recipe and add more vegetables. I was shocked at how wonderful this recipe turned out. The first thing that popped in my mind is how warm and hearty this recipe is and what a great side dish or main dish for a Potluck or Thanksgiving dinner. The original recipe used biscuits / dumplings; I chose Arrowhead Organic Herb Stuffing instead. The stuffing had whole grain bread and lower carbohydrates than the biscuits. I imagine you can really use anything for a topping. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Mushroom Casserole
Created on March 11, 2012

3 medium sweet potatoes or yams (about the size of your fist) to equal roughly 2 cups, diced
6 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
10 oz of Crimini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
3 oz of button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
2 medium sized organic carrots or 4 small sized carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup of organic fresh or frozen baby peas
1 cup of organic corn
3 to 4 teaspoons of fresh Thyme, roughly chopped to release the oils
3 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
1/8 cup of flour or corn starch
3 teaspoons of Balsamic vinegar (I did not really accurately measure I just used 3 generous dashes)
1 (10 oz) package of organic Arrowhead Savory Herb Stuffing (or use some type of your favorite topping)
4 cups of Mushroom broth (you could use vegetable broth – Mushroom Broth really puts out the flavor)
Salt/Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large pan, heat up the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes until the mushrooms begin to become soft and caramelized. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan and add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Add carrots and sweet potatoes and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes until the sweet potatoes and carrots are soft but firm. Be careful not to cook for a long time because the sweet potatoes will become mush. Add the cooked mushrooms back to the pan. Add the flour or corn starch and stir. Cook the flour for about a minute and then add the 2 cups of mushroom broth to the filling slowly, stir until thickened. Add the peas and carrots. Season filling with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the Balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and Thyme.

Prepare the topping. Put the herb stuffing in a bowl and toss with the balance of the mushroom broth. Mix well with a fork, the stuffing should be crumbly.

In a 9 x 13 pan, layer the mushroom and sweet potato filling and top with the stuffing. Lightly sprinkle the remaining olive oil so that you will get some crunchy effect when you bake the casserole. Bake casserole for 30 minutes until the mushroom broth is bubbly and seeping of the top of the stuffing. The stuffing should be a deep brown.

Serve with a nice mixed green salad seasoned with fresh herbs and balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing

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Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

I have been searching for some decent vegetarian or vegan Shepherd’s Pie recipes because the meat Shepherd’s Pie is extremely high in fat and is really not good for me. I have not found anything that seemed interesting or appealing to me so I decided to make my own after endless searches. Many of the recipes that I found seemed to be really high in carbohydrates which I felt came from the potatoes. I made mashed potatoes with cauliflower and 5 red skinned potatoes instead of the whole topping being mashed potatoes. Next time I think I will try the sweet mashed potatoes on top for the crust – I can picture the flavors or even try butternut/acorn squash mashed topping. I loved the lentils in my Shepherd’s Pie; it was loaded with this awesome hearty flavor – I was so thrilled that my recipe came out amazing! What is so great about this recipe is that you can omit or add the vegetable ingredients to suit your taste. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
Created on 02/09/12

Click on image to see a larger picture

1 cup of lentils, cleaned and picked through for any debris, discard debris and then cook lentils for one hour or until soft but not really soft to lose its shape and become mush
3 large organic broccoli crowns cleaned and chopped
½ head of organic cauliflower
5 organic red skin potatoes, scrubbed and cubed, leave red skin on
5 organic carrots, peeled and cubed into 1 to 2” chunks
1 cup of organic frozen corn
1 cup of organic Muir Glenn tomato sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (10 oz) package of white button mushrooms, wiped clean and cut into quarters
2 garlic cloves minced well
3 tablespoons of olive oil
½ cup to 1 cup of vegetable broth
½ cup of Tofutti cream cheese (measure based on taste and texture of the mashed topping)
2 tablespoons of Earth Balance butter (measure based on taste and texture of the mashed topping)
Salt/Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large stock pot lined with a steamer, put in the cleaned cauliflower, cubed potatoes and steam over medium high heat until tender – approximately about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the broccoli at the last 5 minutes of cooking, turn of the heat and remove the steamed vegetables to a large bowl. Separate the broccoli from the cauliflower and potatoes because the broccoli will go into the lentil filling.

While the vegetables are steaming, in a 10” sauté pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat, add the chopped onions, mushrooms, and carrots and sauté until the carrots are soft and the mushrooms and onions have a deep brown color on them. Add the frozen corn and garlic and sauté until the corn is heated thoroughly and the garlic is soft.

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Remove the sauté pan from the heat and add the cooked lentils. The lentils will absorb all the liquid from the vegetables. Add the broccoli to the sautéed lentil mixture and stir gently until everything is mixed well. Put the vegetables in a square 8 x 8 Pyrex or stone dish. Mix 1 cup of tomato sauce in the vegetables making sure everything is coated well.

Click on image to see a larger picture

In the bowl with the steamed cauliflower and potatoes mash the vegetables together. Season with salt and pepper and add vegetable broth to bind the vegetables together to make the mashed potato topping. I did not use all the vegetable broth and added some Earth Balance butter to give it some buttery flavor. Add the Tofutti cream cheese. Remember this is what I like in texture and flavor, please adjust the broth, butter and cream cheese as how you would like your mashed topping to be.

Spread the Cauliflower/Potato mash on top of the lentil mixture and spread to cover. Bake @ 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes until the tomato sauce is bubbling out of the top and the mashed topping is lightly browned.

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Red Potato, Onion and Tomato Gratin

I bought too many tomatoes last weekend the farmers market and after a very busy week of not cooking I knew I needed to use up the tomatoes or I would have to throw them in the trash. I went to a local restaurant close to my apartment and had their potato, onion, and tomato dish. It was good but extremely greasy for me. Sunday mornings are my favorite to create something interesting. Instead of the traditional egg, bacon and potato breakfast, I created a similar dish with all the farmer’s market vegetables I bought and the results were fresh, simple and healthy.

Red Potato, Onion and Tomato Gratin, created on 7/3/2011

3 lbs of baby red potatoes, scrubbed well and sliced 1/8” thick

1 large Vidalia onion or red onion – cut in half-moon slices

3 large tomatoes, seeded and sliced in half-moon slices, lightly salted

1 cup of grated tomato basil pine nut cheese – I bought this cheese from the cheese vendor at the market – they specialize in this type of cheese but you can use any cheese you like, a nice sharp white cheddar cheese, or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese are excellent choices

Fresh Thyme

Olive Oil

Salt / Pepper

I used the steamer because it is extremely healthy, low fat and it helps cut down on the cooking time in the oven for the potatoes. I find that steaming the potatoes brings more flavor than par-boiling the potatoes for 10 minutes.

In a steamer, add the sliced red potatoes and steamed for about 5 to 7 minutes until semi-soft. Remove from the heat – set aside uncovered. In a sauté pan over medium heat, heat up about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the half moon onion slices. Sprinkle salt on the onions as it will help make the onions sweat.  Cook the onions for about 10 minutes or until caramelized.

In a casserole dish, single layer the steamed potato, half the onions and half the tomatoes.

Sprinkle with half the grated cheese.

Season lightly with salt and pepper and repeat the 2nd layer with steamed potato, onion, tomato and grated cheese.

Sprinkle the top very lightly with olive oil and with fresh thyme.

 Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for about 40 minutes – the cheese should be melted and brown. The tomatoes have that roasted look.

Enjoy!!

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