Tag Archives: sausage

Tazza Toscano aka Those Filled Wonton Thingies

For this year’s New Year’s Eve party, I wanted to make appetizers and finger foods for everyone’s dietary preferences.  This one satisfies everyone but the gluten-free.  It was one I had completely forgotten about until I asked my son what food he’d like to have for the party.  He remembered these when I suggested a filled mushroom as a possibility.  “What were those things you made that one time?  The ones in the wonton wrappers?”  Oh!  The Filled Wonton Thingies!  I knew where to look for the recipe….I think.  Success!  I found the stapled sheets that contained the recipes from a wine tasting we had attended at a local winery and there they were, Tazza Toscana.  Crunchymeltyflavor-y bites of pure yum.  I made them vegan from a non-vegan recipe; easily adjusted to go vegan or not.  These disappeared quickly; devoured by vegans and non-vegans alike!

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They’re amazingly easy to put together.

ingredients

  • 1 lb sausage, breakfast or Italian, cooked and crumbled.  I used Gimme Lean Sausage-style.
  • 1 1/2 cup grated cheddar.  I used Daiya.  (Be careful with non-dairy cheese. Not all of them are vegan.)
  • 1 1/2 cup grated montery jack.  I used Daiya pepper jack.
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 package of wonton wrappers

Preheat oven to 375 F.

First, press wonton wrappers into 24 openings of mini muffin pans.  I discovered that the pestle from my small wooden mortar and pestle worked perfectly for this job.  Try to keep the wrapper as “open” as possible.

press wraps into tins

Bake the wraps for 5 minutes and remove to cooling racks.

bake wraps

Brown the sausage, breaking it up as you go.  I use a potato masher at the end to get a good crumbled texture.

brown sausage

Add cheeses, onions, pepper and ranch dressing to the cooked sausage and stir to combine.

add onion pepper cheese ranch

Divide the filling evenly between the 24 wrappers.  I had to “rob” some of the more generously filled ones to get enough for my 24.

fill and bake

Bake the filled wrappers for 10 minutes and transfer to a serving platter.  They are best served warm, right from the oven.

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Stand back.  Tazza Toscano are irresistible and will be immediately pounced upon by your party guests!  So yummy.  So easy.  I really should make these more often!

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Filed under appetizer, Holiday foods, recipe, side dish, vegan

Vegan Baked Ziti

Cold weather always makes me want to bake something.  Something warm and aromatic and comforting.    Something your grandmother might have made for the family.  Something that feels like a hug and tastes like a whole lotta love.  I give to you the perfect answer:  Baked Ziti!

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I had never made baked ziti even before becoming vegan, and never had a grandmother make it for me.  But for some reason, the squat little rigatonis in my pantry thought that’s what they should be.  Who am I to argue with cute pasta?!  To the Google!  A few short clicks later, I had two recipes to inspire me; one classic, and one vegan.  Here’s what I came up with:

ingredients

For the ziti:

  • 1 pound short tubular pasta, such as rigatoni or penne or ziti, prepared according to the package
  • 1 pound vegan sausage  (I used Gimme Lean brand–very sausage-y)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped  (I had chopped bells from my garden in the freezer and used them)
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 jar prepared marinara sauce  (I had most of a jar leftover from making pizza)
  • Vegan Parmesan for topping

For the cashew ricotta:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours in enough water to cover them by at least an inch
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP of fresh basil or 1 1/2 tsp dried
  • a couple shakes of paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400F and spray a 9×13″ pan.  Prepare pasta according to the package.

Drain cashews and place in a food processor with lemon juice, garlic, basil, paprika, and salt.

all in the processor

Blend until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides.  This should take 3-5 minutes.

blend until smooth

Brown the sausage.  It can be hard to tell when vegan sausage is brown.  Cook, breaking up with a spoon or spatula until it doesn’t feel sticky anymore.  Use a splash of veggie broth or No Chicken Broth (my personal fav) to help keep it from sticking to the pan.

brown sausage

Add onions and peppers and cook until onions are transluscent, about 5-7 minutes.

add onions and peppers

Add tomatoes and marinara, stir to combine.

add tomatoes and sauce

Add cooked pasta and cashew ricotta.  Doesn’t that ricotta look amazing?!

add pasta and ricotta

Stir to coat the pasta evenly and transfer to the prepared 9×13 pan.  Shake some vegan Parmesan over the top.

spread in pan

Bake 20-25 minutes, until the top pasta is getting a tiny bit crisp.

baked

Scoop out with a serving spoon and get your smile on.  You’re gonna feel like your Grandma stopped by with a warm apron-wrapped hug and some pasta to show how much she loves you.

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Just the thing when winter comes a-callin’.

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It snowed almost 6 inches the night I made the ziti.  We were expecting a dusting to MAYBE an inch.  Brrrrr!  It sure was pretty, though.

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Our crab apple trees looked just lovely, and leftover ziti was a perfect warm-me-up after playing outside in the snow.

 

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Filed under comfort food, dairy-free, Garden produce, lunch, Potluck, recipe, vegan, Vegetarian

Vegan-tastic Zuppa Toscano

I haven’t been to Olive Garden in quite awhile…all that cheese and cream sauce and sausage, oh my.  I still remember the Zuppa Toscano, though.  Creamy and spicy with potatoes, greens and sausage; an ultimate comfort soup.  A soup you can make a meal out of.  But so not vegan.  Waaaaah.  Until now, that is!  Hurray for cashew cream and vegan sausage!  Hurray for a warm bowl of soup on a cold and rainy night!

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The original recipe’s been making the rounds on Facebook. Aside from veganizing, I also changed up some of the cooking to squeeze out even more flavor.  This link matches the image and the general idea of the recipe shared around Facebook.  Here’s what you’ll need for the vegan version I made:

ingredients

  • 1 lb. vegan Italian-style sausages ( I only had 3 sausages from the 4 pack, which worked out OK and reduced the fat in the recipe)
  • 4-6 potatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic (about 3-4 cloves
  • 32 oz. No Chicken broth
  • 2 c. kale or Swiss chard, chopped
  • 1 c. raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours in enough water to cover them by an inch
  • 4 tsp corn starch
  • 2 cups No Chicken Broth
  • salt, pepper and cayenne to taste

Lightly spray a non-stick pan with oil and brown the sausages.

brown sausage

Remove sausages from pan, cut each in half lengthwise and then slice into half-moons.

chop sausage

Chop the onion and peel the garlic.

chop onions peel garlic

Saute the onion in the same pan used for the sausage, adding a bit of No Chicken broth to deglaze the pan, releasing the yummy browned sausage bits into the onion.  Yum.  Saute until onions are translucent; about 5-7 minutes.

saute onions

Mince or press the garlic and add to the pan and continue to cook until garlic becomes fragrant; an additional 30 seconds or so.

add garlic

Scrub and chop potatoes into 1/2″ dice.

chop potatoes

Transfer potatoes, sausage, onions, garlic and 32 oz No Chicken broth to a slow cooker; veggies and sausage should be covered.  Cook for 3-4 hours on high or 5-6 hours on low.  Potatoes should be tender.

sausage onions garlic potatoes and broth in crockpot

After the cooking time, wash kale and remove the stems.  I only needed 2 leaves.  Chop into 1/2 to 1″ -ish pieces.  Small enough to stay on the spoon, but not so fine so it gets lost in the broth.

chop kale

Drain the cashews and place them along with 4 tsp corn starch and 2 cups No Chicken broth into a blender and blend until smooth.  This may take from one to five minutes–check it by rubbing it between your fingers–you want it as smooth as possible.  You may need to scrape down the sides during the blending time.  (Remember how to do this for future creamy soups and sauces–it’s creamy vegan MAGIC!)

cashews corn starch and broth

blend until smooth (1)

Add the kale and cashew cream to the crock pot, and cook an additional 30 minutes on high to thicken.

add kale and cashew cream

Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste.

season

Ladle into bowls, add a nice warm wedge of bread or bread sticks and prepare to be amazed!  So, so yummy!  Michael pronounced it good enough to include in a weekly rotation; high praise.

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This is definitely NOT low-fat, but not too bad.  Fat comes from that light spray of oil, 10 grams per serving (1 link) of sausage and 13 grams per serving (1/4 cup) of cashews.

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While the soup was warming my house with its spicy aroma, it was cold and drippy outside.  I stood at the window, watching birds busy at the feeders and noticed someone else was watching the birds as well–the neighbor’s cat, Keshet!

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Keshet tends to do more watching than stalking and rarely kills a bird, but I have seen her with a mouse in her mouth, so I’m OK with her bird watching if she also keeps a few mice from trying to get into my house as the weather chills.

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Eventually my cat, Pookie wandered over to watch birds, and Keshet as well.

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You can see how dreary the day was in that last picture.  A great day for a vegan-tastic soup!

 

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Filed under comfort food, crock pot, dinner, lunch, Potluck, recipe, vegan, Vegetarian

Breakfast Pizza

Pizza is always a good choice for breakfast, no?  I love it when there’s leftover pizza in the fridge.  Sometimes I even heat it up.  But what to do when there is no (gasp!) pizza and you’ve got a pizza kind of cravin’ in the morning?  Make this super easy, fairly fast and yum-yum-yummy pizza with traditional breakfast-y flavors!  (This recipe is adapted from one featured on a package of Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage once upon a time.)

  • 1 tube crescent rolls
  • 1 pound browned sausage–breakfast sausage or Italian or whatever you like!
  • 1/2 can diced green chiles (optional)
  • 2 0r 3 handfuls frozen hashbrowns
  • 2 0r 3 handfuls shredded cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • splash of milk
  • salt and pepper
  • a sprinkling of parmesan

Preheat oven to 375F.

Open the crescents, separate them, lay them equally spaced on a regular pizza pan and smoosh them into a crust, complete with a lip on the edge. (This will keep your eggs from oozing over the side.  Do NOT use a pizza stone for this, unless you enjoy cleaning oozed, burned eggs from the bottom of your oven.  Trust me.  🙂 )

Brown sausage.

Drain sausage and spread evenly over the crust.

Add green chiles if desired.  This was the first time I’d used green chiles in this recipe; they are a nice flavor addition.  However, I used a whole can and it made the crust a bit soggy, so go with just the half-can if you choose to use them.

Sprinkle hashbrown shreds over the top–they can be frozen still.

Then layer on some cheese.

Beat eggs with a splash of milk, salt and pepper.

Pour eggs evenly over pizza, being careful near the edges.

Top with a sprinkle of parmesan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes; until eggs are done, cheese is melted and crust is golden.

Cut with a pizza cutter and enjoy!

Yummy!  Experiment with the idea: meat free, bacon instead of sausage, mushrooms, jalapeno slices, huevos-style with a sprinkling of black beans, top with avocado slices…..mmmmmm!

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Kris’ New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

The quarterly pick-up parties at one of our favorite wineries, Reeder Mesa Winery, are fabulous events with great food, entertainment and of course, great wine!  The party that falls in February always has a Mardi Gras theme.  Last year, one of the owners made this recipe, and sent each of us home with the recipe card.  I finally made it this week.  So, so yummy!

Not many ingredients, but BIG flavor!

  • 1 pound dried red beans (Kris swears by ordering them from New Orleans, I am a last-second sort of gal and got these at the local grocery.)
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced (or any other smoked, spicy sausage)
  • 2 cups onions, chopped (1 large onion)
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled (these will melt into the beans while they cook)
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning to taste, if you have it
  • 3 cups cooked rice

Wash and pick over beans.  Place in a 4-qt casserole or pan with 8 cups water.  Cover and soak overnight.

Pour off water, replace with 4 cups fresh water.  Add sausage, onion, celery, garlic, green onions and parsley.  Cook in crockpot on low for 8 hours, or simmer on stovetop til beans are tender.

Look how rich and yummy!  Add salt, red and black pepper and Tony Chachere’s.

Mash up 1 cup of the beans and stir back into the pot to thicken.

Serve over cooked rice!  Yummy!

I like to mix mine all together.

The spices in this recipe are just-right spicy for me.  Michael added additional hot sauce–he loves his food WAY hotter than I do!  However spicy you like, red beans and rice makes for a warm and yummy comfort food meal!

Here’s a picture of a couple revelers from the pick-up party!  Laissez les bons temps rouler, girls!

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Filed under comfort food, crock pot, dinner, Holiday foods, Potluck, recipe, side dish, wine

Celine’s Sausage with Peppers and Onions

We just got back from a visit with my mom and dad in Deming, New Mexico.  Mom is a great cook, always trying new things.  Every time we visit, she has new recipes to share.  (How nice is it to have your mom cook for you, right?)  This is my first visit since starting this blog, so I whipped out a little notebook and started snapping pictures every time she started cooking!  Today, we’re having sausage with peppers and onions–how yummy does this look?!

Gather a sausage and some fresh, colorful ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 lb smoked sausage  (this is turkey/pork)
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 bell peppers–all different colors!
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 5 roma tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Thinly slice the onion, break into half-rings and add to the pan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thinly slice the peppers, add them to the onions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saute peppers and onions until they start to soften.  Use a garlic press to add both cloves of garlic. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add salt and fresh-ground pepper.  Simmer for a minute or two to let the flavors meld.

Cut sausage on the bias into 1-inch pieces.  Add to the pan and stir to combine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While sausage heats, rough chop the tomatoes.  (No need to skin or seed them.)  Add them to the pan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stir to combine, reduce the heat and let the pan and all of its colorful, fragrant yumminess simmer for about 20 minutes.

While that simmers, I thought I’d share a couple pictures of my mom, Celine.  ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 minutes up?  Time to serve!  Spoon it all into a pretty bowl, bring it to the table and serve family style.  Mom made salt potatoes to go with it this time (recipe coming soon!), but says it’s super yummy over rice or noodles as well.  I’m thinking polenta would also make a yummy accompaniment!

5 of us shared this meal and there were no leftovers!  (Except for a few salt potatoes that I hid in the fridge for later! Hee hee!)  So yummy, so pretty, so good for you!

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Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler Jambalaya

You’ll have plenty of time to let the good times roll when you make this jiffy Jambalaya!  The Queen of the 30-Minute meal, Rachel Ray created this recipe.  It can be found in the Rachel Ray 30-Minute Meals cookbook, and is called Jambalica–Quick Jambalaya.  I’ve never made it in 30 minutes or less, but it IS a fast way to get your Cajun on!

Assemble the ingredients:

Rice of your choice, prepared according to the package directions.

2 TBSP olive oil

The equivalent of 1 large boneless skinless chicken breast and 2 boneless, skinless thighs, cut into bite-size pieces.   (I used 2 breasts)

3/4 pound andouille, chorizo or other sausage you like–spicy is nice for this recipe, sliced.  (I used a red pepper chicken sausage from the natural foods mart)

16 peeled, deveined jumbo shrimp   ( I buy frozen EZ Peel shrimp–already deveined!) 

1 celery heart, 4 or 5 tender stalks, chopped

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can, 14 ounces, chicken broth   (I found myself without broth, but had chicken bouillon cubes–so reconstituted them in place of the broth)

1 TBSP ground cumin

1 TBSP chili powder

A few shakes cayenne pepper sauce, such as Tabasco  (You could use 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper instead)

1 can, 28 ounces, diced tomatoes

1 bay leaf

6-7 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped and chopped  (I used 1/2 tsp dry thyme)

2 TBSP gumbo filé (find in the spice section–pronounced “fee-lay”)  Filé is a thickener.  Use chopped okra to thicken instead if you prefer.

Chopped scallions to garnish

Start your rice first, according to package directions.

Chop chicken and sausage.  Safety note:  always wash your hands carefully before and after handling raw meat, be sure your knife is sharp, use a cutting board dedicated to raw meat, preferably one that can go into the dishwasher.

In a deep pot over medium-high heat, add 1 TBSP olive oil.  When oil starts to ripple, add the sausage and chicken, saute until chicken is cooked all the way through–about 3-5 minutes.

While chicken and sausage are browning, chop your veggies–celery, onion and bell pepper are often referred to as “The Trinity.”

When chicken and sausage are cooked through, add the shrimp.

Cook shrimp, JUST until opaque, pink and curled–about one minute.

Remove the meats from the pan, set aside.  Add 1 TBSP olive oil to the pan, and the veggies.  I used a garlic press to “mince” my 4 garlic cloves.  Saute until soft.

While veggies are cooking, assemble the rest of the ingredients.  Measuring spices out into small bowls (“mise en place”) speeds up the process for adding spices later.

When veggies have softened, add the meats back into the pot.

Stir to combine the veggies and meats, then add broth, seasonings, tomatoes and herbs EXCEPT gumbo file.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to maintain a simmer.

Stir in the gumbo filé powder and cook until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.

Discard the bay leaf, serve with a scoop of rice dropped into the center of each bowl.  Garnish with chopped scallions.

This makes a huge pot of jambalaya; enough for dinner for 4 plus leftovers for a second night!  Fast and easy enough to make whenever, but Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler Jambalaya would be the perfect yummy meal for your Mardi Gras celebration!

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