Tag Archives: turkey Italian sausage

Dinner in a Box, or Not and Italian Sausage and Cannellini Bean Stew

My goodness but time flies…we are into the double digits of March! There’s been a good amount of stuff going on in the kitchen, but there’s been a lot going on in life so time to sit right down and write has been limited. so here I am to share the highlights of the last few weeks.

Another generous birthday gift from my kids was a three dinner box from Blue Apron. This is one of the increasing number of sites that will send you all the ingredients needed to create home cooked meals. This is totally outside my wheelhouse, but it was a lot of fun to give it a whirl. It was fun to have a virtual mise en place, in place.IMG_1383The Spicy Shrimp Pasta that was the result was pretty tasty, too. IMG_1391

IMG_1415We also enjoyed a Pub Burger on a Pretzel Roll that featured an IMG_1487awesome Cheddar Cheese Sauce and Oven Fried Sweet Potatoes. I added some Honey Mustard Cole Slaw to balance things out.                                       The final dinner was a Trinidadian Curried Chicken with Coconut Grits and Sautéed Collard Greens. By this time, I was I was ready to take a few liberties. I left the chicken thighs whole and cooked them on the grill. I only used a little of the herb mix that was included because I didn’t care for the taste. The grits were heavenly and the collard greens were the perfect side dish. Services like this have a place in many kitchens; great for busy couples that still want to have a home cooked meal.  Being Mama D, I don’t always enjoy being told what to do,but in spite of that, I’m glad I got to try out this way of cooking. In between my Blue Apron Adventures, I was creating some dishes of my own. Here’s one that was particularly enjoyable….

IMG_1420We’re slowly creeping into spring, but cold snaps are still popping up, so something hearty and warm is often a welcome supper. IMG_1417That’s how this Italian Sausage and Cannellini Stew came to the table. The cast of characters predominately came from cleaning out the refrigerator. Small amounts of veggies that couldn’t stand alone were combined with Turkey Italian IMG_1439Sausage and Cannellini Beans. I sliced what seemed to be a ridiculous amount of garlic, which turned out to be just the right amount. Chicken stock IMG_1435and fire roasted tomatoes created the liquid that was fortified with the wine left from the previous night’s dinner (yes, once in a while we don’t finish the bottle). I dubbed this a “stew” mainly because the liquid was less than what I would use in a soup. While stews usually simmer for an hour or more, this pot of goodness only took about 30 minutes Things came together quite nicely resulting in a stew that tasted like it simmered all day.

IMG_1459As with any of my recipes this is just a suggestion of the direction the dish can go. Use what you have on hand or love. Change the ingredients as much as you want. This is not a dish that comes in a box ready for you to prepare (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Here’s what I did…now make it your own.

Italian Sausage and Cannellini Stew
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Italian Sausage and Cannellini Stew
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Slice the sausage links into 1 inch chunks (this is easier if they are slightly frozen) and brown in a soup pot over medium heat. Remove the sausage and set aside. Drain off most of the fat in the pot.
  2. Add the olive oil to the pot and allow it to get hot. Add the onions and the carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally for 3 - 4 minutes until the onions begin to soften.
  3. Add the bell pepper, mushrooms, jalapeno, garlic, and squash. Cook for 5 minutes or as long as it takes for things to get soft and fragrant.
  4. Add the wine to the pot and stir to loosen all the brown goodies on the bottom of the pot. Add the tomatoes and the chicken stock to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes or so.
  5. Return the cooked sausage chunks to the pot along with the cannellini beans and season with the Italian Herbs.
  6. Let everything simmer for another 10 minutes or so to heat things through. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add more herbs or salt and pepper as you like.
  7. Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with the grated Romano, and serve.
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Turkey Burgers Italian Style: Summer Supper on the Grill

The grill is Mama D’s summer kitchen. This is not news to anyone who spends any time here. Grilling recipes have filled many a summer post. My summer kitchen is now quite small, some might call it tiny; almost as tiny as my regular kitchen. I am proving to myself that at least in this, size does not matter. Our little grill has turned out some amazing meals and its location on the balcony offers a room with a view.

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This is a sandwich that was made in burger heaven or at least the heaven inside my mind. It features veggies from our community garden paired with turkey Italian sausage and fresh mozzarella. This turkey burger was moist and juicy thanks to a very hearty dose of grated zucchini. The flavor was elevated by onion, garlic and Pecorino Romano cheese. A dash of Italian bread crumbs and an egg ensured that it retained its shape while it cooked to golden perfection.

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This sounds very much like a meatball and the inspiration came from Turkey Italian Sausage Meatballs that I made not long ago. Those were broiled in the oven and graced a sandwich that was also quite delicious.

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This time, it was a beautiful summer evening and the grill beckoned so I decided to make the leap to burgers and I’m so glad that I did. This recipe is the same for both the meatballs and the burgers and if you wanted to turn it into a meatloaf, I’m sure you will be happy with the results as well.

I started with a package of Turkey Italian Sausage links. It weighed in at around 20 ounces. I removed the casings by squeezing each link in the middle until the filling fell out. A childish method I admit, but I find it cathartic. I grated two heaping cups of zucchini which would be 4 – 5 small squash or about half of a baseball bat sized one. While the grater was out, I used it to grate a small onion and several cloves of garlic.

The sausage that I used was sorely missing fennel and red pepper flakes so I added some of each along with half a cup of each bread crumbs and pecorino romano cheese. The resulting mixture was quite wet so I added an egg. Yes, it initially makes it wetter, but it will help hold it together in the cooking process.

I chilled the bulk mixture for an hour or so (and you could even let it sit in the fridge over night) before I even tried to form the patties. Once I had four thick beautiful patties, I laid them on wax paper and put them back in the refrigerator and let them set up for several hours. If you are strapped for time, 30 minutes or so in the freezer works well. I strongly advise taking these steps. To ignore my directions could result in a mess on the grill and yes, I am speaking from experience.

I used a grill tray to cook the burgers. Once again, experience has taught me that you can never be too careful with turkey burgers. After somewhere near 6 minutes the burgers let me know they were ready to be flipped…they din’t stick to the grill when I went in for the single turn. Soon, thick slices of fresh mozzarella went on top so they could melt slowly as the second side cooked.

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Tomatoes fresh from the garden grilled alongside the burgers in a makeshift foil pan that took advantage of a skinny space.

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I even managed to toast the ciabatta rolls by propping them up against the burgers. If I do say so myself, my use of a small space was nothing short of brilliant. Once the burgers were done, my final flourish was some garden greens tossed lightly in olive oil and mounded on the bun to create a savory bed. The sandwich was a monster of deliciousness. We didn’t even need or want a side dish.

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Italian Turkey and Zucchini Burgers
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Italian Turkey and Zucchini Burgers
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place the sausage meat and the zucchini in a large bowl. Toss lightly. Grate the onion and garlic directly into the bowl. Add the pepper flakes and fennel seeds and mix lightly again.
  2. Add the bread crumbs and cheese, tossing once again. Add the beaten egg and stir one last time until everything is completely incorporated. Cover the mixture and chill in the refrigerator for 2 - 3 hours or as long as overnight.
  3. Remove the mixture from the refrigerator and form into 4 large patties. Place each patty on a piece of wax paper, cover and chill for 2 hours. You can also put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
  4. Heat the grill to high. Spray a grill pan with cooking spray and allow it to heat up on the grill. Place the burgers on the grill and reduce the heat to medium. Cover and allow to cook for 6 minutes or so.
  5. Turn the burgers. If they stick let them cook another minute or two until they flip easily and are golden brown. Top each burger with two thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese. Put the lid on the grill and cook for another 6 - 7 minutes.
  6. While the burgers continue to cook, place the tomatoes and onions in a foil pan. Season with some Italian herb blend and a drizzle of olive oil. Place the pan on any vacant space on the grill.
  7. Spray the cut sides of the rolls with cooking spray and add them to the grill the last 3 minutes of cooking. In the meantime, toss the lettuce with the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Assemble the sandwiches: Divide the lettuce mixture between the bottoms of the rolls. Top each with half of the tomatoes. Place the burgers on top of the vegetables. Top with the remaining tomatoes. Add the top part of the roll and serve.
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Summer is here for at least another month, maybe more if the weather continues in its hot and sunny Midwestern pattern. The grill will be taking center stage for many weeks to come. It’s a pretty safe bet that you haven’t heard the last of Mama D’s grill adventures.

Fully Loaded Minestrone…a Soup in Three Chapters

Once upon a time Mama D stayed home and cooked everyday. She created lots of wonderful dishes and wrote about them in great detail. She’s not a stay at home Mama anymore, but she is still in the kitchen every chance she gets and the wonderful dishes and stories continue to appear right here.

These days time management is the keyword in Mama’s kitchen. Working a split shift gives me a block of time in the middle of the day. Making something wonderful in these small windows of time is developing into an art form that I really enjoy. Many times I break a recipe down into smaller parts and complete each one before putting them together to create something delicious. That’s how this soup came to be.

Chapter One involved preparing the stock base. I began by sweating onions, garlic, and carrots in a little olive oil. DIGITAL CAMERAMy seasonings were simple, some Crushed Red Pepper Flakes and a healthy dose of McCormick Italian Herb Blend. (Love, love this)DIGITAL CAMERAA quart of my turkey Stock (featured in a previous adventure) went in and I let everything simmer for a good 30 minutes. I added a can of drained Fire Roasted Tomatoes and let it simmer a bit more. I stored it in the refrigerator overnight.

This soup story needed a little more meat. I found some bite size turkey meatballs that I had made a while back as well as one link of turkey italian sausage. I’m not sure why I only had one link, but it was the perfect little addition when I cut it in small pieces and baked it with the meatballs. They joined the stock in the refrigerator.DIGITAL CAMERAChapter two began the next day with cutting the vegetables that would happily swim in the soup. This task fit nicely into my mid-day window. I chose zucchini, colored bell peppers and frozen green beans.DIGITAL CAMERAThey created a vibrant splash of color, but they happened to be what I had on hand. They would go in near the end of the cooking. The shorter cooking time allowed them to keep their vivid color and a slightly crisp texture.

It isn’t Minestrone for me unless there is some kind of bean. Cannellini filled the bill beautifully. Drained and rinsed they would come fashionably late to the party. So, my mise en place was in place, ready for the final chapter that began when I got home from work.

The soup pot was ready on the stove and the tomato – turkey stock went back in. It heated slowly while I enjoyed a  glass of wine and some pleasant conversation with my husband.

When it was time to add the veggies, I wanted to give them a little extra love, so I briefly cooked them in a little olive oil and Italian Herb blend. The green beans sat this step out because they were already blanched.DIGITAL CAMERA

Finally the time was right to bring all the characters together for the denouement. The vegetables, beans, meatballs, and sausage joined together in the pot in perfect harmony.DIGITAL CAMERAA little more time over the heat and it was ready to eat. The only adornment was a little shaved Pecorino Romano. It was as satisfying as finishing a really  good book…DIGITAL CAMERAThis soup can easily be made all at once in the traditional way. That’s how the recipe is written. As always, make it your own…use the ingredients you love or what’s on hand. Use as many short cuts as you want or take the long way round. Here’s the basic recipe to get you started.

Fully Loaded Minestrone
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Fully Loaded Minestrone
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Warm a large soup pot over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and heat for 1 minute. Add the chopped onions, carrots and garlic to the pan alond with the pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon of the Italian seasoning and cook stirring occasionally 5 minutes. The vegetables should begin to soften and become fragrant.
  2. Add the stock and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add the drained tomatoes and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  3. While the stock simmers cook the meatballs and sausage. This can be done in the oven at 350 degrees. It will take about 20 minutes. Set aside when cooked.
  4. In a large fry pan heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the peppers, zucchini and the remianing Italian Herb Blend. Cook for 5 minutes just until the vegetables are slightly soft.
  5. Add the meats and sauteed vegetables to the simmering soup pot. Cook for 5 minutes or so. Add the drained cannelinni and the green beans. Simmer 5 minutes more or until everything is heated through.
  6. Taste and make any adjustments to the seasonings. Ladle into bowls and serve with a bit of shaved Romano Cheese.
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