Sage Sausage and Leek stuffed mushrooms

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Awww the 80’s what a magical time for appetizers! When I was a kid sausage and boxed stuffing mix, stuffed mushrooms were all the rage. Some of the recipes I was reading were rather funny, cook sausage, add cream cheese, add eggs, add more fatty stuff to your already fatty bowl of fattitude and stuff some shrooms…haha! So I set out to make a version with less steps, less fat, and more visual appeal. I also wanted to use some Papa George’s Sage infused sausage and figured some leek would pair well with the other ingredients. I was pleased with the result and was also pleased to revive a nostalgic recipe without the processed ingredient list.
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You will need:
1 8 oz package of mushrooms, I used plain old “button” shrooms, but crimini would be good.
Clean with a damp cloth, remove stems, and use a small knife or spoon to dig out some of the innards to leave room for maximum stuffage….not a word…yet! Dice up the innards and stems to put in stuffing.
12 oz roll Papa Georges Sage flavored sausage
1 tsp soy sauce
1 small leek, tough outer leaves removed (save those for stock), cleaned well and sliced.
2 T olive oil
2 T butter
3 T dry white wine
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 T fresh chopped, parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T panko breadcrumbs
2 T grated Parmesan

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place mushroom caps in a medium sized casserole dish, sheet, or cake pan, drizzle with 1 T olive oil, and place 1 T butter cut into chunks next to caps. Over medium heat, in a skillet place rest of olive oil, stem and mushroom innards, leeks, and garlic, saute until leeks are tender about 5 minutes, add soy and wine, cook another minute. Remove from heat, add raw sausage, stir well to combine. Stuff each cap generously with filling. Place stuffed mushrooms in oven cook 20 minutes, melt other 1 T of butter, add panko and parm, remove mushrooms from oven add panko topping, return to oven cook another 15 or 20 minutes until golden. Serve at your next dinner party or anytime you wanna relive the 80’s!

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Pork sausage Ramen with collard greens

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So I have been loving the “Momofuku” cookbook, but not having a brigade of cooks available to perform some of the tasks necessary, not to mention the time it takes to prep, and a two and a half year old, tiny tyrant ransacking the joint some recipes are not always plausible for the home cook although not impossible, maybe when my kids are in college in 15 years…haha! The book is totally inspiring though and I love his unique techniques, storytelling, and of course obsession with ramen. This week I have teamed up with Papa George’s sausage to create some recipes with this fabulous product. The sausage is 55% less fat then conventional sausage and upon tasting them and cooking with them realized that they have all the flavor without the grease! Ramen is on my mind of late and David Chang’s ramen broth has bacon, so I figured why not turn it on its head and use sausage to make a “quick” weeknight version? Collards are often used as well so I stuck to that but I just boiled them with my stock instead of doing a separate preparation. It ended up great and it was done in an hour!

You will need:
12 oz roll Papa George’s regular variety
1 inch knob fresh ginger cut in half
4 shitake mushrooms
1 bunch scallions
2 quarts chicken stock
1/4 cup mirin
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 bunch of collard greens, stripped off of stems and coarsely chopped
In a large saucepan or stock pot place crumbled sausage over medium heat, when the sausage begins to render add ginger, and white parts of scallions (save the green part for topping bowls), add shitake, add collards, when wilted and shrunken in size, add stock. Bring to boil, reduce to medium, add soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. Simmer. Skim any oil off the top.
Noodles:
4 portions Ramen noodles, I used a fresh variety from my local Asian market, but you can you those dried ones as well.
Boil as per directions on package, this all depends on what you end up using, fresh cook fast mine were done in about 1 minute.
Toppings:
1 cup of corn, use frozen, canned, or if its in season fresh!
1 cup bamboo shoots, if you can’t get the fresh one’s canned work fine.
Green parts of scallions sliced
4 soft boiled eggs or fried eggs are good as well, your choice.
sesame seeds
Assembly:
Divide noodles up evenly into four bowls, fish out your mushrooms and remove stems, and slice, place in bowl, add corn to each bowl, fish ginger out of broth and discard. Using tongs or chopsticks remove some of the collards and mushrooms(remove woody stem)slice, place on bowls, do the same with sausage using a slotted spoon, add broth, sliced scallions, eggs, bamboo shoots and a bit of sesame seeds or ramen pepper. Enjoy! A whole new way to get your sausage and eggs!

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Gluten free, creamy polenta with rotisserie chicken cacciatore

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Do you have those days where you fully intend on making a full meal for the family, but then once dinnertime hits you find that your plan was never put into action?  Between school, soccer, and basic “Mom” functions in general I have really been trying to stretch my pantry staples into hearty, fresh, meals that can be cooked in less than 30 minutes (Oh geez, that was a corny line circa 1956, I need to read “The Feminine Mystique” apparently).  I have a two and a half year old, and if you or someone you know has one you could understand why even trying to shop at the grocery store is totally impossible on most days.  I think that there are a few pre-made items that are totally acceptable to use and actually make delicious homemade meals quick and easy.  One of my “go-to” items is rotisserie chicken, depending on where you shop, some are better than others, but most times they are good, as is or as I like to do, removed from bones, skin removed, shredded and used as the protein in your dish.  Another thing to have on hand that is a never a bad idea, is a good, high quality, no sugar added, jarred marinara.  I’m kinda picky with what I will use, but there are some really good ones, buy your favorite.  I also like to have dried mushrooms in my pantry and grains of all sorts.  Right now I love polenta, its rich, filling, easy, and just happens to be gluten-free for those of you who try to avoid gluten.  So here is a quick weeknight meal that your family will love, easy to be vegan as well, skip the animal products all together and it is still yum.

You will need:

1 rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, meat shredded

1 big jar of your favorite marinara, or use 4 cups of homemade

½ green bell pepper diced small

1 palmful dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in ½ cup hot water, I love these because they add instant flavor and can are cabinet safe, if you prefer you can use 1 cup diced mushrooms of choice.

For polenta:

4 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
1-3 tablespoons butter (optional)

Bring stock to a boil, add salt, reduce heat to medium-high, add polenta, whisk vigorously and often for about 12 minutes, turn down to medium and whisk every few minutes while you make your sauce.

Place sauce ingredients in a saucepan, heat over medium until simmering, cook 15 minutes or so until green peppers are tender.

Add butter to polenta if you are using it, stir until melted.  Top a scoop of creamy polenta with Cacciatore sauce and top with parmesan and fresh parsley.

 

 

Spanikopita Grilled cheese

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Spanikopita is a delicious spinach and feta savory pastry that is wrapped in crispy, butter laden, phyllo. Several different cultures have their own version of this treat, we are Greek so ours is very Mediterranean. A great thing for lunch or a snack, it isn’t always easy to find the time to make the whole pie, or work with the phyllo or even pre-heat the oven for that matter. I found a way to have all the flavor of the original with the ease of a sandwich, I was inspired by when I was in Rome and went into a panini shop where they had paninis filled with just cooked spinach and buffalo mozzarella, they were a cheap and delicious lunch on the go for the broke, American, back packer. With that in mind, I decided that Spanikopita grilled cheese would be a no-brainer for a recipe.
Makes two
You will need:
4 slices of good quality bread, I used a Sicilian loaf studded with sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon softened butter
1 10 oz bag of baby spinach, or if you buy in bulk two big handfuls
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, sliced thin
1 teaspoon dill
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
4 thin slices of provolone
pinch of salt
a few cranks of fresh cracked pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Plug in panini press, I’m ghetto fab so I use my default early 2000’s wedding gift “George Foreman grill”, you can also heat a skillet over medium heat and grill it that way your choice. Divide butter evenly between four slices of bread, spread thinly on one side of each slice. In a medium skillet heat olive oil over medium high heat, add garlic and shallots, cook four minutes or so till the garlic is golden brown. Add spinach, pinch of salt and pepper, cook a few minutes till spinach is wilted and most of the moisture is cooked out, add dill and feta, turn off heat, mix. Assemble sandwiches by placing two slices of bread butter side down on your press, or pan, add one slice of provolone to each, next divide spinach mixture in half and place on half on each slice, top with other slices of cheese and slices of bread, making sure butter side is up. Put the lid down on the panini press and cook about five minutes or until golden and bubbly or if using a pan flip after about five minutes, cook other side for three. These are a fun alternative to replace the usual grilled cheese and tomato soup you know and love.

20 minute one-pan Mediterranean shrimp and couscous

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Ahhh January! Mine and many other peoples least favorite month of the whole year! It’s dreary, holiday bills are coming due, and those ten pounds of “holiday merriment” are giving me a nice muffin atop my jeans. Eating better in January is hard because most of us want comfort food, but still want to detox from the holiday gluttony. So this dish is a quick, healthy, and comforting way to serve comfort to your friends or family. Using couscous, spinach, and shrimp makes it quick, and a bit of feta and tomatoes makes it delicious.
Serves 4
1 1/3 Cup whole wheat couscous
¼ Cup Kalamata olives, haved.
1 pound good quality large shrimp, peeled and clean, at whole foods they have some great ones that are cleaned for you!
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, sliced “Goodfella’s” style, if you haven’t seen the movie, you should, but just slice them as thin as possible.
2 handfuls, baby spinach
1 cup diced tomatoes, canned works fine, just use a good San Marzano variety.
½ cup dry white wine
Pinch of dried oregano
2 T fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
4 oz Feta
1 T olive oil
A few lemon wedges
In a medium skillet or thick bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat, add shallot and garlic, cook three minutes, add shrimp seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper, when first side turns pick flip and, add tomatoes, oregano, and white wine. Cook for a minute or so then add 1 cup of water and ½ teaspoon of salt, when boiling add olives, couscous and spinach, stir, cover, remove from heat. After five minutes remove cover and top with crumbled feta, you can put it under the broiler at this point to melt the feta (optional but tasty), chopped parsley, and squeeze of lemon, serve! This dish is awesome because not only is it easy, it is cooked and served in the same pan, elegant enough for guests and done in 20 minutes!
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