food amongst family and friends

Fast and easy tagliatelle with Italian sausage, roasted red peppers and arugula May 21, 2013

Filed under: Mains,Pasta,Pork,Quick and easy,Sausage,Uncategorized — blisteringlydrunk @ 2:07 pm
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I love pasta. I love especially love that it is fast and easy and everyone in my house eats it up. This recipe, from (surprise, surprise) Fine Cooking, is a nice departure from my usual go-to carbonara while still being super fast and easy. I think next time I will make it with half arugula and half spinach to satisfy my children (the arugula was a little bitter for them), but if you are into bitter greens, then don’t hold back because this is fantastic. Make it soon.

Image2 links (about 1/2 lb) hot (or sweet) Italian sausage, casings removed

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped

1/2 cup whipping cream (I think coffee cream would be sufficient if you are trying to lighten things up)

10 oz dried tagliatelle or fettucine

4 cups baby arugula (or spinach/arugula mixture)

1/2 cup freshly grated Grada Padano

1 big handful of fresh basil, thinly sliced

Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and fill a large pot with salted water, setting it on to boil. Add sausage to skillet and cook until browned, breaking up with a spoon into small pieces as you go. Make sure you have about a Tbsp of fat in the pan (you can top up with olive oil if needed), then add the garlic and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds. Add the peppers and cream and allow it to simmer over low heat for about 8 minutes. I added a little chicken broth here as well to stretch the sauce further, but its up to you.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well, put back in pot and toss with sauce, arugula, basil and cheese until the arugula is slightly wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve immediately.





Homemade chili powder and my ultimate chili February 8, 2013

Filed under: Beef,Make Ahead,Pork,Sausage,Soups,Uncategorized — blisteringlydrunk @ 1:57 pm
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IMG_7150This post has been waaaaay too long coming. I keep promising the recipe to people, but I didn’t want to post it until I had a picture, and I couldn’t take a picture until I made more, and I couldn’t make more until I had time/the season was right/the kids forgot that they don’t like chili so were willing to try it again, and I wouldn’t have time until my children (??? not sure when I will actually have more time)/the season’s almost over (again)/the kids finally forgot. That’s a lot of excuses, huh? I eventually ran out of them and just buckled down one night and made this, at which point I remembered that it takes all of 15 minutes to do and I really should have done it ages ago whether my kids liked it or not. I think I was confused because the last time I made this, I made enough to give a jar each to my 15 favourite people as Christmas gifts, which did take a long time because my coffee/spice grinder just isn’t that big. But it was a hit, hence the recipe requests, so without further ado, here is the recipe (originally found here, but adjusted a lot) along with MY (read: adjust to suit your palate) ultimate chili recipe.

Chili Powder

5 dried Guajillo chilies

2 dried Chipotle chilies (if you are a big Chipotle fan, you could add one more of these and one less Arbol)

3 dried Arbol chilies (if you like really spicy chili, I would add another of these)

1 Tbsp good quality smoked paprika

1 Tbsp coriander seed

2 Tbsp cumin seed

1 big cinnamon stick

2 tsp whole cloves

4 tsp oregano

1 tsp onion powder (your could also add garlic powder here; I like to add fresh garlic to the chili, but if you want to keep the chili prep minimal, that’s one way to cut down)

1 tsp whole black peppercorns

1. Wipe dust off the dried chilies and toast them whole on a cookie sheet in a 200 oven, until the chilies are crisp and fragrant, anywhere from 10-20 minutes, depending on the chilies.

2. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over medium heat and toast coriander and cinnamon for one minute, then add the cumin seed. Toast until fragrant, 5 minutes at the most, being careful not to burn them.

3. Remove the seeds and stems from the guajillo and chipotle chilies, then add, along with remaining ingredients to a spice/coffee grinder. If using your regular coffee grinder, tap out any loose grounds, but don’t worry about it being perfectly clean; the coffee with be a good flavour kick in the chill. Afterwards just run a piece of fresh bread through it to clean up the remaining spices. I usually have to do mine in two batches to start with and then do one big batch once everything is ground down to size.

4. Pat yourself on the back, you’re done.

My Ultimate Chili

OK, this is the way I like chill; it’s rich and flavourful, with a slight kick (in deference to my children. As it is I still have to add a big spoonful of yogurt to theirs to mild it out a little) and a subtle sweetness. I have my favourite chili veggies in here and all my favourite beans. Make sure when you make it, you do the same; if you prefer green peppers to red, switch it; if you don’t like mushrooms, or don’t like them from a can, switch it; if you want to burn your mouth with heat, add more chilies or hot sauce; make it your own, but trust me and try the chocolate, vinegar and brown sugar, they make this recipe!

2-4 cloves garlic (to taste), finely diced

2 medium onions, diced

1 lb extra lean ground beef (I love bison or ostrich here as well)

1 lb good quality chorizo sausage, casings removed (I use a chicken one I love, but pork is also fantastic, just make sure you have eaten the sausage on it’s own and like the flavour of it, as that’s what will come out in the chill, more than the type of meat)

2, 28 oz cans diced tomatoes

1 24 oz jar passata (strained tomatoes)

50 grams dark (the darker the better; 70-85%) chocolate

3 Tbsp dark brown sugar

2 Tbsp vinegar (I just use white, but white wine would work too)

2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp Chili powder (this is assuming the homemade stuff above; if using store bought, you will need a lot more, I would say double to start)

2 dashes Worcestershire sauce

2 10 oz cans whole mushrooms, halved

2 sweet red bell peppers, diced

4 19 oz cans beans (I usually use 2 kidney beans, one chick pea, and one either black bean or black eyed peas, depending on what’s in my cupboard)

1. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat and add beef, sausage, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring and breaking up large chunks of meat, until beef and sausage are just cooked.

2. Add tomatoes, passata, chocolate, sugar, vinegar, salt, chili powder, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes, until thickened to stew like consistency.

3. Add beans, red peppers, and mushrooms. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes, or until peppers are cooked to your liking. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary, keeping in mind that the flavours will enhance over time. I prefer to make my chili a day or two before I plan to eat it, to give the flavours time to bloom.



PS A friend told me to try giving my kids taco chips to scoop up the chili with; worked like a charm, now everyone loves chili!


Italian Sausage and Chickpea Soup March 6, 2012

AKA March snowstorm and head cold soup. This is one of my all time favourite soup recipes, and I am stunned that it has not been posted yet. The inspiration is from Jamie Oliver , but I have attempted to health it up a little. It doesn’t look like much, but the spicy sausage (and it’s worth getting some good stuff here) brings excellent flavour and heat, good tomatoes provide some sweetness and depth and the fresh spinach really grounds the flavours. Not to mention that the tomatoes, spinach and chickpeas are all excellent immune system boosters, so this really is good for a head cold, plus I find the spiciness clears me up in no time. Also, this is a nice fast soup to make, about an hour start to finish and it freezes beautifully. Just try it already.

2 raw spicy Italian sausages, casings, removed

1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

4 sticks celery, with leaves, finely chopped

500g fresh spinach, washed and chopped (I used 2 bags of washed baby spinach and only chop it if my girls are in a picky mood)

8 large tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped (fresh tomatoes really are better here, but only if they are in season and flavourful, otherwise, good quality tinned tomatoes are fine)

1 19 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1.3 litres chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil as needed

1. In a large soup pot, heat a tsp or so of olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage, cooking through, making sure to break it up as you go. Add in onion, garlic and celery, lower the heat to low and cover with lid. Leave it for 10-15 minutes to let the vegetables sweat.

2. Remove the lid, increase the heat, and let everything brown a little. Add in remaining ingredients and let simmer for 40-50 minutes.

3. Either use an immersion blender to puree about half the soup, or for those of you gadget challenged like me, just use your blender to puree in batches until it’s thickened to your liking. Bring back to temperature and serve.




Pepperoni pizza wrap ups, with my favourite pizza dough recipe January 21, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Breads,Make Ahead,Sausage,Turkey — blisteringlydrunk @ 11:23 am
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Yet another attempt to fill my children with good energy. These are a simple, easy to sell, snack, made by wrapping pepperoni in pizza dough with some jarred pasta or pizza sauce and then sprinkling cheese on top. I used turkey pepperoni and added a healthy serving of spelt flour and flax seeds to the dough to keep things in the good-for-you category and the kids love them. I love it when I can feed them what I want and have them think they are getting something treaty. These also freeze really well, so make a big batch and have them ready to pull out for those, busy, on the go days.

Pizza Dough

This is the pizza dough recipe I have been using for years, although I change it every time depending on what flours, seeds, fresh herbs, etc. I happen to have in the house when I make it. I find that if you are going to go with more than 1/3 whole wheat, you should switch the sugar for honey and double it, but that 1/3 is really as far as you want to go if you want it to retain it’s pizza dough goodness. Feel free to add fresh or dried herbs to the dough for extra flavour, or knead in some cheese; you can also leave out the flax seed if that’s not your thing.

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1/2 tsp brown sugar

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup spelt flour

2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour

1 heaping Tbsp milled flaxseed

1. In a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water and let sit for 10 minutes or until foamy.

2. Stir the salt and oil into the yeast mixture, then add spelt flour, 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour and flax seed. Stir until flour is incorporated and you have a shaggy dough.

3. Either turn out onto a well floured surface and knead for 8 minutes or strap the dough hook on your stand mixer and start it up (you will probably only need to knead it for 5 or 6 minutes in the stand mixer). Either way, you are going to end up adding at least another 1/2 cup of flour, probably closer to 1 cup, before you end up with a nice smooth, elastic dough, that’s still very soft.

4. Transfer dough to a well oiled bowl, turning to coat, then cover and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size. Punch down and form into a tight ball. Let relax for 2 minutes before proceeding.

At this point you can make into two round pizzas or, in my house, two mini pizzas for the girls to decorate for themselves and one cookie sheet sized pizza. I bake my pizza in a well preheated 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden and the edges of the crust are browned.

Or, you can proceed with the wraps.

Pizza wrap ups

1 recipe pizza dough

10 sticks turkey pepperoni (or pepperoni of your choice, or rolled up ham, maybe slices of sweet peppers, whatever you like on pizza really)

1 small jar pizza or pasta sauce (or homemade stuff, if you have it)

1 cup (approx) grated cheddar cheese (I used an old white cheddar, because I had it, but orange cheddar would have made my children happier)

1. Preheat oven to 425 and prep 2 cookie sheets with parchment or silicone. Cut the pizza dough into ten equal portions (you could also double this, halve your pepperoni sticks and have a smaller, snackier size wrap). Using your hands, stretch each portion of dough into an oval/rectangle shape long enough to accommodate the pepperoni stick.

2. Spread about a heaping tablespoon of sauce on each wrap. The sauce really keeps this moist, so don’t be skimpy, but keep in mind that you need to keep the edges of the dough clean or they won’t seal properly and your wraps will open up when you bake them.

3. Place a pepperoni stick in the middle of each wrap, then bring up the sides, one over the other, and pinch them together. Place on prepared cookie sheets a few inches apart and sprinkle evenly with the cheese.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 12-16 minutes, or until cheese is melted, and the dough is lightly browned all over. Let on cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes, but certainly enjoy while warm.

Makes 10 wraps. Good in fridge for 2 or 3 days or in freezer for 2 months.





Bring on the cold: sage-spiked pumpkin and sausage stew January 3, 2012

Filed under: Chicken,Sausage,Thrifty — blisteringlydrunk @ 2:51 pm
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I’ve had two sweet pumpkins sitting on my counter since October. I bought them for the sole purpose of supporting a new stand at the farmer’s market. The new stand consisted of one guy, a pile of onions, a ginormous bin of pumpkins and a hand-written sign that said “Real Farmer”. That sign was bold. I like bold.

So I bought myself two small, sweet pumpkins thinking that I would make pie or soup for Thanksgiving. As of January 2nd, I still had both pumpkins. I chopped one open and it was still lovely and fresh inside. The shelf life of squash is seriously incredible.

I made one of my pumpkins into a pumpkin and sausage stew following this BBC recipe. I wanted to keep things light, so I replaced half the sausage with chicken sausage and reduced the amount of butter. I think I could have reduced the butter further, but I will write the recipe exactly as I made it because it was pretty delightful. We ate this with skillet corn bread – recipe to come, once it’s perfected!

There are many substitutions you can make in this recipe to suit what you have on hand or to reduce costs. The biggest cost is the sausage, so shop around for something that works with your budget, or consider reducing the amount of sausage by a third. Dry beans could replace canned if you cook them ahead of time (I like the slow cooker for this). Dry sage can replace fresh. Boullion cubes and water can replace the broth. Fresh or frozen tomatoes can replace the canned variety. Butternut or acorn squash could easily replace the pumpkin – I find the small sweet pumpkins often cost 2-3 times more than other varieties of squash. Full cost information is provided below: all prices reflect the ingredients I purchased, not the suggested substitutions.

Overall, this is a lovely, versatile meal that I will certainly be making again. Enjoy!

serves 5-6 adults

40 g butter (3-4 T) ($.50)
6 Spolumbos chicken-blueberry sausages (the mini breakfast ones), cut into big chunks ($4)
2 Spolumbos spicy Italian sausages (the big ones), cut into big chunks ($7)
1 onion thinly sliced ($.30)
3 shallots, finely chopped ($.35)
2 garlic cloves, minced ($.07)
1 T chopped sage (fresh or whole dry leaves) (these were free for me, as I had dried some from my garden)
1 small sweet pumpkin or squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed. You will need about 2 lbs of squash before peeling and deseeding. ($2.50)
1 T white wine vinegar, white wine or  any good quality vinegar ($.10)
7oz can low sodium chopped tomatoes ($1)
19oz can low sodium white kidney beans, drained and rinsed ($1)
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock ($.80)
salt and pepper to taste
chopped fresh flatleaf parsley – optional ($.20)

  1. Heat half the butter in a dutch oven or large oven proof skillet over medium heat – add the sausage and fry until golden brown (4-5 minutes).
  2. Add the remaining butter, onion and shallots, frying until soft. Add the garlic and sage leaves for another three minutes, stirring.
  3. Add the pumpkin and give everything a good mix. Turn the heat up to high and add the vinegar, stirring until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Dump in the tomatoes, beans and stock; season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to boil, then transfer the pot to the oven for about an hour, or until the pumpkin is tender.
  6. To serve, ladle the stew into individual bowls and sprinkle with the parsley. Add a big slice of sourdough or cornbread on the side.

The total cost of this meal as I made it is $17.82. Serving 5 adults, the per plate cost is $3.56. I spent $11 on sausage for this meal, which could easily be reduced to $5, bringing the per plate cost down to $2.36. If you sub in butternut squash for pumpkin, boullion cubes for broth and dry beans for canned, you could probably knock another $3 off the top, reducing the per plate cost to $1.96.


Creamy potato, sausage and kale soup November 18, 2011

Filed under: Sausage,Soups — blisteringlydrunk @ 2:49 pm
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I happened upon this recipe while taking a quick look at a site Meagan had recommended to me (based entirely on the amazing kitchen this women has) and knew that I would be making it soon, as it seemed somewhat fated considering I had just received two cases of sausage from a friend’s fundraiser. It was late and dark by the time I took this picture, so don’t judge this entirely on that; this was spicy and rich, with an earthy balance in the potatoes and kale. All round a lovely soup, and I’m not usually inclined towards creamy soups. That said, I could not bring myself to use the sheer amount of cream in the original recipe, and opted for whole milk instead, which is how I’ve written it here. Also, choose your sausage carefully, as it’s flavour will permeate and define the whole soup. I used Spolumbo’s spicy Italian, which turned out to be a little too spicy for my children, but perfect for me. I think I will probably go for half spicy Italian and half chicken apple in the future. Unless you know of a nice, sweet mild Italian sausage (Missing Link at the Calgary Farmer’s Market makes an excellent chicken one), which would be perfect for a not so spicy version of this soup. Whatever you choose, just make sure you like the sausage. This should serve 6, heartily, with a sweet bread to tame the spiciness, we had this one.

1 bunch kale, cleaned and torn or chopped into bite sized pieces

5 medium to large potatoes (red would be best), thinly sliced

1 medium onion, chopped

2 big Italian sausages (see suggestions above)

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (not chili flakes, unless you are really looking for some heat)

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

2 1/2 cups whole milk

a large glug of coffee cream (for richness, at the end)

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until just soft. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a stock pot, remove sausage from casings and cook over medium heat, making sure to break up the sausage quite fine. About halfway to cooked, add the onions. Cook, stirring, until onions are soft and the sausage is cooked through.

3. Add red pepper flakes, oregano, broth and milk. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

4. Taste here, and add salt and pepper as needed. Add potatoes and cream, then stir in the kale. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until kale is cooked and potatoes are heated through.




Baked Penne with Sausage and Spinach November 1, 2011

Filed under: Mains,Make Ahead,Pasta,Pork,Sausage — blisteringlydrunk @ 5:19 pm
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I keep making this and forgetting to take pictures while it’s pretty, so I keep not posting it, even though this has become a staple in my freezer. So, I decided to just post the ugly leftovers picture and tell you how good this is. It’s good. It tastes fantastic, adults and children both really enjoy it, it’s high in vegetable content and you can easily make it to suit your tastes no matter what they are; use super spicy sausage, or all chicken apple; add extra veggies (think mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, etc), or a pile of fresh basil; I’m stuck on whatever happens to be in my fridge and pantry, that way it’s new every time. Plus it makes enough for 2 good sized casserole dishes and it freezes beautifully, which is something I am always grateful for. Thank you Meagan for recommending this one when I was looking for a frozen casserole to send a friend in the hospital, she loved it, and now so do we!

4 sausages, casings removed (I used 2 Spolumbo’s chicken apple and 2 Spolumbo’s spicy italian, but use whatever suits your tastes the best)

2 onions, finely chopped

8 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I did these in the food processor along with the onion and carrot)

6-8 good sized carrots, finely chopped

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes

1 156mL can tomato paste

2 cups Passata (strained tomatoes)

1/4 cup pesto (homemade if you have it, but the jarred stuff works just fine)

1 tsp salt

fresh ground pepper to taste

1, 1 lb box of penne (I used Smart pasta, but whole wheat would work fine)

1 bag or bunch of fresh spinach, washed and finely chopped (food processor again. Also, I have used mustard greens and swiss chard as well, all with good results, and Meagan said a box of frozen chopped spinach gets the job done too)

1 1/2 cups grated mozza (I love my food processor on this one)

1/2 cup (or so) grated parmesan

1. In a large (and I mean large) skillet, saute onion, garlic, carrots and sausage, making sure to break up the sausage into small bits.

2. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and passata, simmering 15 minutes or until the sauce is thickened, then stir in pesto.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large (again large, I used my stock pot) pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta until just al dente (a little on the hard side is more than ok, it will cook a bit more while baking).

4. Drain the pasta, then put it back in the pot with the spinach and mozza, tossing until well mixed, then add in the tomato sauce and give it all a good stir. Divide between two good sized casseroles (I used a 9×13 glass pan and a 3 quart casserole). Top with parmesan.

5. This is where I froze mine or baked it. If baking straight away, bake at 350 for 1/2 an hour or until bubbly. If freezing, I try to thaw a bit before baking (take it out of the freezer in the morning) and then bake at 375 for 45 minutes to an hour, plus I pour a small can (like the old school little tomato juices) of V-8 over the top first.