Tag Archives: sausage

Custard-filled cornbread – dinner or dessert?

When I first read the recipe for custard-filled cornbread in Molly Wizenberg’s book, A Homemade Life, I wondered why it lacked a warning label.  Two cups of whole milk, one cup of heavy cream, corn meal, flour, sugar. The fat warning zoomed straight to red on this one.

But oh, is it worth it. Molly discovered the recipe in Marion Cunningham’s The Breakfast Book.  You can find the recipe here. I was relieved to see that a square is only 213 calories; it tasted to be at least twice as much. Consider reducing the sugar by half if you’re serving it for dinner as I did.  But take Molly’s advice and replace that sweetness with a spoon of maple syrup.  The sweet gooey cake-like bread was the perfect side for the spicy main attraction on a weeknight: Louisiana Greens with Andouille Sausage, a recipe on the package of Trader Joe’s bagged greens of kale, mustard greens and chard.

We enjoyed more of the cornbread the following night with paprika-spiced pork chops and roasted cauliflower with red pepper and caper vinaigrette. Trader Joe’s came to the rescue again, allowing me to substitute the roasted red peppers in the original recipe with a few dollops of its Red Pepper spread.  I love this zesty mash of red peppers, garlic and eggplant on most anything that benefits from a kick just before serving: scrambled eggs; artichoke dip; chicken burgers.

With my husband out of town, I took advantage of short cuts on Wednesday (baked penne with marinara sauce and sausage) and skipped the kitchen altogether on Thursday with teriyaki take-out. No complaints from the guys on this plan!

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Mac ‘n mess, thanks to Madonna

A scapegoat comes in handy when dinner flops. Tonight I had a couple – Madonna and a conniving character named Sue Sylvester.

http://www.fox.com/watch/glee

Glee's homage to Madonna = dinner disaster

I had decided to catch up on “Glee” while making dinner. The whole episode was devoted to Madonna songs – much to this material girl’s delight – and the highlight was a highly-styled black and white video of the evil Sue doing “Vogue.” It was a  major distraction that turned my effort at homemade macaroni and cheese with ham into a curdled mess.  “Is this soup?” Son #1 asked innocently.

I confess, I should have read the directions more carefully.  A reviewer mentioned stirring the cream sauce constantly to avoid curdles. It’s hard to do that and keep a beat. And I was reading the recipe on my iPhone — my first effort to use the Epicurious app. Another excuse. Waah! Diligent and focused cooks could give the recipe a spin.  I, however, will return to Annie’s boxes next time.

This week hasn’t been a stellar experience in the kitchen.  Last night I was crashing on a deadline so my husband wrestled together hot dogs and beans. God love him! Monday night’s highlight was round two on a yummy salad found on Epicurious:  Roasted Red Peppers and Cauliflower with Caper Vinaigrette.  However, the online recipe is missing the first couple of steps. A kind reviewer retrieved her print copy of Gourmet and provided the missing info, but it’s buried deep in the reviews. The recipe is worth the effort to patch together the steps so here are the missing details:

Preheat broiler. Quarter bell peppers lengthwise and discard stems, seeds, and ribs. Broil peppers, skin sides up, on a broiler pan about 2 incehse from heat until skins are blistered, 8 to 12 minutes. (Alternatively, roast whole peppers on their sides on racks of gas burners on high, turning with tongs, until skins are blackened, 5 to 8 minutes.) Transfer to a bowl and let stand, covered, 10 minutes. While peppers stand, preheat oven to 450 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Peel peppers and cut each quarter lengthwise into 2 or 3 strips.  (see rest of recipe here)

The cauliflower was a nice side to pan-grilled Aidell’s Chicken Sausages with Roasted Garlic and Gruyere.  We added an iceberg salad with grapefruit, avocado, blue cheese and pecans plus baked potatoes. At least the week started off decently!

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Recycling menus on the meal plan

Now that we’ve passed the 12-week mark on my commitment to maintain a weekly meal-plan for a year, it’s inevitable that some meals would begin to reappear.

For Tuesday’s dinner I was eager to recycle one recipe in particular from Week One: Sausage and White Bean Casserole. The combination of cannellini beans and swiss chard, baked with Italian sausages to flavor the pot, is fabulous.  A time-saving stand-out from Real Simple’s easy recipe collection.

The guys “enjoyed” leftovers Wednesday while I headed to my monthly business dinner (creme brulee for dessert – my little secret now revealed).  I ignored the meal plan on Thursday and dove into the freezer instead for a Costco lasagna. I was ready to hit the kitchen again by Friday.

Salsa Couscous Chicken

For an easy end-of week meal I retrieved the recipe often known as “Million-Dollar Chicken” because a Seattle woman won just that amount for her grand-prize winner in the 1998 Pillsbury Bake-off. (I’m still puzzled why a couscous recipe qualifies for a contest sponsored by a company known for baking products.)  In any case Salsa Couscous Chicken is easy and kid-friendly.  Not a drop left on the boys’ plates.  It’s about time – I struck out with a few meals earlier this week :-/

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Salads sneak into the menu (happily)

One of the ironies of having a meal plan is the freedom it offers to be flexible.  Knowing in advance what you’re going to assemble for dinner on busy weeknights prevents headaches and hassles.  It also seems the mere existence of a meal plan can inspire other ideas, depending on what’s stocked in the kitchen.

Tonight I had planned on caesar salad, one of the few salads my boys will eat, with grilled chicken for day 3 of the “while dad’s away” dinner plan.  Then I stumbled upon a chickpea recipe on Orangette that was similar to the red cabbage salad — both dressed with just lemon juice, olive oil and Parmesan cheese.  Thanks to leftover cabbage salad and the five minutes it took to mix up the chickpeas, we ended up with three salads for dinner.  Plus grilled chicken apple sausages, another switcheroo.

The change in plans moved me closer to one of my New Year’s resolutions: salads and veggies occupying two-thirds of my dinner plate. Tonight’s proportions were closer to three-quarters: a chicken apple sausage was lost among the helpings of caesar salad, red cabbage salad and chickpeas.

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Broccoli rabe, pasta and more

A friend of mine is a dietitian so she always has lots of ideas about what we can (or shouldn’t) eat. She talks about the “mental cookbook,” that little collection of recipes that sits in your brain. They’re the Old Faithfuls, the recipes you reach for on a regular basis because a) you want an easy night in the kitchen and/or b) you love them.  Like Broccoli rabe with sausage and pasta.

I love this recipe.  I clipped the recipe out of a magazine long ago so I have no idea of its source.  It turns out there are many variations on the Web. The New York Times suggests spaghetti (I like penne). Rachel Ray doubles up the greens and skips  the sausage (my boys would hate that). Eating Well also omits the sausage but adds beans. I love sneaking beans into any dish.

I usually try something a little different every time I make broccoli rabe and pasta.  On Thursday night, I used whole grain penne and added a can of cannellini beans.  Bring on the fiber! The guys didn’t complain but there was the quiet question:  “is this whole grain pasta?” so we have more leftovers than usual.

Here’s a Real Simple recipe that comes closest to my version of Broccoli rabe with sausage – without all the extra fiber 🙂

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Meal plan, in flux

This week marked the first time I’ve done a complete meal plan in a long time.  We’re nearly through the week and it has gone fairly well. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday – right on schedule and delish.  Last night I burned out. Opted for frozen pizza and was so scattered I left the cardboard on it while baking.  It was still edible.  And the caesar salad was a nice distraction.

Before I forget, the plan came through:

Tuesday: Sauteed chicken with spinach and mushrooms; polenta with goat cheese and rosemary.  (The polenta was a challenge to meet the 30-min prep test. Thankfully the M-man pitched in to chop the mushrooms and stir the polenta while I threw everything else together. Fresh spinach is wonderful but always a pain.)

Tonight (Thursday): Italian Sausage casserole with White Beans and Chard; applesauce.  Simple and tasty.

At this point I’m not sure we’ll stick to the plan.  I’m usually looking for an excuse to avoid the kitchen on Friday nights.

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