Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya

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Jambalaya! It’s a fun word to say, don’t you think? Say it with me! JAM-BA-LAYA!

Jambalaya is basically a thick rice stew filled with sausage, shrimp, beans, veggies, and lots of flavor. My recipe is on the mild side, so my kids will eat it, but you can make yours spicier by increasing the cayenne pepper and adding some of your favorite hot sauce.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound bulk Italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup diced carrots
1 teaspoon paprika
Dash cayenne pepper
1 can red kidney beans, drained, but not rinsed
1 can diced Italian tomatoes, with juice
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups cooked brown rice

Add oil to your largest, heavy skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, onion, bell pepper, celery, and carrots to the skillet. Using a spatula, break the sausage up into bite-sized pieces. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the sausage is browned and the veggies begin to soften. Reduce the heat, if needed to prevent burning.

Add the paprika and cayenne pepper to the skillet and cook for about 1 minute.

Add the beans, tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper to the skillet. Stir to combine, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes.

Stir in the shrimp and rice, then replace the lid and let cook for about 5 minutes, or until the shrimp is thoroughly cooked. Serve hot and enjoy!

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Greek Pasta Salad with Sausage

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I guess I could call this a Mediterranean Pasta Salad since it has Greek and Italian ingredients, but the name isn’t as important as the taste (which is great, by the way!). Tender pasta mingles with olives, feta cheese, tomatoes, chickpeas, and Italian sausage for a main dish salad full of flavor and interesting textures. Be sure to make the pasta salad (not the sausage) in advance, so the flavors have time to develop. 

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 pound corkscrew pasta, cooked and cooled
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 can black olives, roughly chopped
3/4 cup feta cheese
1/3 cup diced red onion
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 package Italian sausage

Wisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic powder, oregano, sugar, and ground pepper in a large bowl. Add the cooked pasta, garbanzo beans, olives, feta, red onion, and tomatoes, and stir gently to combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Add the Italian sausage to a large, cold skillet and add 1/2 cup of water. Cover and place over medium-low heat. Simmer until the water evaporates, and then remove the lid. Brown the sausage, turning frequently, until the sausage is cooked through.

Let the sausage cool slightly, and then cut into slices. To serve, fill bowls with the cold pasta salad, and place sausage slices over the top.

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Pasta with Broccoli and Sausage with a Ricotta Surprise

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I haven’t always been a fan of Rachel Ray’s recipes, but she got this one right! The flavorful sausage and broccoli are wonderful with the pasta, but it’s the lemony-peppery ricotta that makes it amazing. I really was surprised at how good this was!

You can find the original recipe in Rachel’s Express Lane Meals cookbook (another 30-minute meal cookbook – although I rarely seem to be able to complete her recipes in 30 minutes). This recipe is well worth the time, even if it takes more than 30 minutes to prepare, and I’ll be making it again soon!

1 pound penne pasta
1 cup ricotta cheese
Juice and zest from one lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound bulk Italian sausage
1 large head broccoli
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (approximately)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)

Bring water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, add a bit of salt and the pasta. Cook according to the package directions, until al dente (just underdone). Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, before draining the pasta.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, lemon zest, salt to taste, and a generous amount of fresh black pepper. Let the ricotta mixture stand on the counter and come up to room temperature.

Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the sausage, breaking it up into small pieces with a spatula. Cook the meat until brown, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

While the sausage is browning, chop the broccoli into small pieces (discard the tough stems).

Once the sausage is brown, remove it to a paper-towel-lined plate. Return the skillet to the heat and add the broccoli and onion. Spread the veggies out in an even layer, season with some salt and pepper, and let the broccoli brown a bit before stirring, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the sausage back to the skillet along with the chicken broth. Add the 1/2 cup of cooking water from the pasta and bring it up to a simmer. Cook until the broccoli is tender and the liquids have reduced slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and cooked, well-drained pasta. Toss to combine and simmer about 1 minute to allow the pasta to soak in the flavors. Turn off the heat, add the parmesan cheese, and toss to combine.

To serve, place a large dollop of the ricotta mixture into a bowl and bury it with the hot pasta mixture. Before eating, mix it around with a fork to distribute the ricotta and sprinkle with extra parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

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Red Beans and Rice

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When the weather starts to cool down, I crave warm meals that are full of flavor, like red beans and rice. The addition of sausage makes this a hearty meal that will warm you up from the inside out. This is a “one-pan” recipe (my favorite kind!), and the most time consuming part of preparing the meal is chopping up the vegetables. If you like spicy food, then increase the amount of cayenne pepper and add your favorite hot sauce to give this recipe some extra kick.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound smoked sausage (I used turkey kielbasa), sliced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped sweet peppers, or bell pepper
1 rib of celery, chopped
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 small yellow squash, sliced
2 (15 ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained, but not rinsed
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, oregano, & garlic, with juice
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
Dash cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Cooked rice

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, onion, peppers, celery, and carrots and sauté until sausage is browned and the veggies begin to soften (the bottom of the pan should develop some “brown bits”, but make sure it doesn’t burn).

Add yellow squash, kidney beans, canned and fresh tomatoes, garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and ground black pepper. Stir together, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve over hot rice and enjoy!

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Peachy Piggy Pizza

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This is one of my husband’s wonderful off-the-cuff creations (he came up with the name too). If you like the combination of sweet and salty, then you are going to love this. This recipe calls for Sourdough Sauce, which you can order here from Alaska Wild Berry Products.

4 strips of bacon
Pizza dough (recipe follows)
1/4 cup Kinder’s Mild BBQ Sauce
1/4 cup Sourdough Sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Lit’l Smokies, sliced
1 small peach, sliced
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, be sure to put the stone in the oven while it’s preheating. Meanwhile, fry the bacon until crisp and then drain on a paper towel. Once cool, crumble bacon into small pieces.

Sprinkle the preheated pizza stone or baking pan with cornmeal, and place the prepared pizza dough on top. Combine the BBQ Sauce and Sourdough Sauce in a small bowl and spread onto the pizza dough using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon. (Note: if you don’t have Sourdough Sauce, then use barbeque sauce only.)

Sprinkle the pizza with mozzarella cheese, and then the crumbled bacon, Lit’l Smokies, peach slices and green onions. Put the pizza in the oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes.

Pizza Dough

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 1/2 – 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water (about 110  degrees). Stir in the sugar and 1/2 cup of flour and mix well. Cover bowl with  plastic wrap and let rise until foamy, about 1 hour. Blend in remaining water, flour, and salt; mix well. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 15 minutes. Place dough in bowl dusted with flour and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 2 to 3 hours.

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Roll dough out to half of its final size. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes (while you prepare desired pizza toppings). Stretch out dough over your floured knuckles and spin/toss 2 to 3 times until desired size is achieved.

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Simple Summer Squash and Sausage

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If you’re like me, and have an abundance of summer squash in your garden, or you are simply looking for something easy and tasty to make for dinner, then give this recipe a try. The first time I made it, I was amazed that a few simple ingredients could produce such a flavorful meal.

(Serves 4)

1 package of your favorite Italian sausage links (hot or mild, or both!)
1/2 cup sliced onion (or more, if desired)
1-2 small zucchini, sliced
1-2 small yellow squash, sliced
1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning, with liquid (I prefer the taste of Del Monte Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic, & Oregano to other brands)
1-2 cloves of garlic

Place the sausage and about ¼ cup of water in a large stainless steel skillet, over medium heat, and cover with a lid. This will allow the sausage to steam for a few minutes and help the cooking process along. (Note: I don’t recommend using a non-stick pan because that will discourage the lovely “brown bits” to form on the bottom of the pan as the sausage is cooking.)  Once the water in the pan evaporates and sausage starts to sizzle, remove the lid to brown the sausage.   Be sure to turn the sausage frequently and watch the heat closely; you want a nice brown crust to form on the sausage (some of which will stick to the pan), but you don’t want the pan to burn. You may need to turn the heat to low to prevent this. If you notice that the pan is starting brown too much, here’s a tip – add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the pan to “deglaze” it. Please be careful when doing this, because the water will create quite a bit of steam, and will likely cause some of the grease in the pan to pop out, so quickly add the water and then take a big step back and wait for 5-10 seconds. When the sputtering sounds subside, then you can return to pan and run a flat spatula around the bottom of the pan to loosen-up any brown bits that are still stuck to the pan. Leave any remaining liquid in the pan while you continue to cook the sausage. When the sausage is cooked, remove it from the pan and place it on a plate or bowl lined with paper towels.

Add the onions to the same pan that you cooked the sausage in and sauté for a minute or two. If you used really lean sausage, then you may need to add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan before adding the onions. Then add the zucchini and yellow squash and sauté for another minute or two. Add the diced tomatoes to the pan, with the liquid, and then press the garlic into the pan using a garlic press (if you don’t have a garlic press, you can mince the garlic cloves instead). Now here’s where those yummy brown bits come in. The liquid from the diced tomatoes will start to deglaze the pan (assuming that you didn’t have to perform an emergency-deglaze while you were cooking the sausage) and all of those browned sausage bits will be released from the pan and be combined with the other ingredients to form a delectable sauce. Grab your spatula again and run it around the bottom of the pan to make sure you scrape up all of the brown bits. Return the sausage to the pan, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. That’s all there is to it!

This recipe is very adaptable, so you can suit it to your taste. Try adding a splash or two of red wine, some bell pepper strips, crushed red peppers, or some fresh herbs. You can also serve it over rice or pasta, or with a fresh piece of crusty French bread. Enjoy!

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