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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Summer Menu: Week 4

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Happy Back to School for those of you who had kids start school last week! Remember when we used to start school the day after Labor Day – what happened to that? Well school may have begun, but according to the weather (and my stomach) it’s still summer and this week’s menu is filled with great summertime recipes.

Click on the link below to download a PDF of the menu, grocery list, and recipes.
Summer Menu: Week 4

Here’s the menu for this week:

Sunday: Greek Pasta Salad with Sausage





Monday: Grilled Lemon Herb Pork Chops with LO* Pasta Salad





Tuesday: Grilled Chicken Tandoori





Wednesday: Tomatoes with Fresh Basil over Pasta





Thursday: Green Salad with LO* Tandoori Chicken
(no photo)

Friday: Vegetarian Pesto Pita Pizza





Saturday: Fish Tacos







Happy cooking!

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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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Summer Menu: Week 3

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Hello friends! This week’s menu is full of flavor and has lots of yummy vegetarian options. Click on the link below to download a PDF of the menu, grocery list, and recipes.
Menu Summer 2012 3

Here’s the delicious menu:

Sunday: Spiced Lentils with Garlic Naan







Monday: Zesty Quinoa and Beans






Tuesday: Simple Summer Squash and Sausage







Wednesday: Cranberry Spinach Salad







Thursday: Mediterranean Garlic Herb Cod







Friday: Heavenly Ricotta Pancakes (Breakfast for Dinner!)







Saturday: Parmesan Basil Orzo with Shrimp








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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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Sausage and Kale Soup

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Thanksgiving has come and gone, and no matter how delicious your turkey was, it does tend to lose its appeal after eating it five meals in a row. If you’re ready for something different, whip up a batch of this delicious sausage and kale soup. Flavorful Italian sausage combines with potatoes and tender kale (not the kind you see at salad bars) to create a satisfying main dish soup. Be sure to use Yukon Gold potatoes because they have dense flesh and hold their shape when cooked.

6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 package Italian sausage links (mild or spicy)
4-5 Yukon Gold potatoes
1 bunch fresh dinosaur kale (a.k.a. Lacinato kale)
1/4 cup evaporated milk
Ground black pepper to taste

Wash the potatoes and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Cut the thick portion of the stem from the kale leaves and then chop the leaves into 1-inch pieces. Add the chopped leaves to a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Set the potatoes and kale aside.

Remove casing (a.k.a. skin) from sausage by scoring the casing with a sharp knife down the length of the sausage and then peeling off the casing. Add the sausage and chopped onion to a frying pan and cook over medium heat, using a spatula to break up the sausage into small pieces. Continue to cook until the sausage is no longer pink.

Place the cooked sausage and onion in a large pot. Add the chicken broth and potatoes, bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are almost tender.

Add the chopped kale and continue cooking until kale is tender.

Remove the soup from heat, stir in the evaporated milk, and season with black pepper to taste. Serve hot with your favorite Italian bread.

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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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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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