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Sunday, October 20, 2019

October 20: Soup-er Sunday: Creamy Sausage Potato Soup

It’s Sunday again already. And that means it’s another Soup-er Sunday! 

What’s cookin’? It’s a thick, creamy, veggie-filled potato-sausage soup. 

I found today’s recipe on Carlsbad Cravings’ blog. She calls it “Better Than Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana.” Have you ever visited her blog before? I’ve made several of her recipes and they’ve all been great. They do tend to have long ingredient lists (this one is no different), but the outcome is always worth it.

Because of the extensiveness of the list and because her directions were spot on (including cook times), this is one of those posts where I’m not going to write out the ingredients or instructions like a typical recipe. Instead, I’m sending you on over to Carlsbad Cravings (linked above) and I’ll take you through how this soup came together for me. The only thing I did differently than you’ll see listed in her recipe is that I used 20oz of turkey sweet Italian sausage links instead of pork sausage. However, in her recipe notes, she said subbing in turkey sausage would be fine, so I went for it. 

Here goes!
Here's the stars of the show. (Not pictured: supporting cast.)
Start by browning bacon in a large stockpot. 6 slices.
Once cooked, remove to paper towel.
In 2 Tablespoons of reserved bacon grease, cook onion, celery, & carrots 
Here's how they look as they cook down. 
Add sausage & garlic
Cook, stirring, about 3 minutes, or until meat is browned 
Sprinkle in flour (thickener) and cook 2 minutes
Stir the whole time
You can see the texture changes 
As the flour cooks out, the mixture starts holding together 
Add corn, creamed corn, potatoes, and cannellini beans, then stir. 
Add chicken broth
Add milk (which was mixed with cornstarch as yet another thickener)
In go the seasonings
Seasonings, dijon mustard, and bay leaves
Just before the lid goes on and it comes to a boil,
then simmers until potatoes get fork tender.
Stir occasionally.
After the potatoes are ready, time for the half and half.
Cook until warmed.
Then half the cooked bacon, crumbled.
Then the kale/greens
Stir until wilted.
Ladle into bowl, top with bacon & Garlic Parmesan seasoning (recipe below)
This came out really well. We all enjoyed it. 

I served it with garlic toast which I seasoned up with another of Carlsbad’s recipes (from her Easy Garlic Parmesan Breadsticks post). I halved her original recipe and then used about 2 Tablespoons of it mixed with 5 Tablespoons of softened butter. I spread that on club rolls I had on hand and baked at 375 for about 15 minutes, until the butter was melted and the bread started getting toasty browned. I don’t usually care about garlic bread, but this stuff was EVERYTHING. And a perfect accompaniment to the soup. 

What did I do with the rest of the seasoning, you ask? I sprinkled it on top of each portion of soup I served that night. Then I dumped the rest right into the pot of soup and stirred it in. No muss, no fuss, but plenty of delicious flavor!

Garlic Parmesan Seasoning (this is halved from the original)
2 Tablespoons powdered Parmesan cheese
1/2 Tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt

The soup recipe as written makes a boat load of soup. Like, for reals. We consumed just under 5 cups of it when I made it. Then I filled several containers with leftovers, probably about 8 cups worth. So just know going in that this is soup for a crowd!, or leftovers central! If you aren’t into that, half the recipe. She noted that, too, on her original post, but I made the whole portion and it was more than I could’ve imagined. Haha. 

Good thing it’s so tasty. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

October 19: Sausage, Cranberry, Apple Stuffing

I’m carrying my thoughts-of-Thanksgiving theme one more day, here, and I hope you’ll indulge me, because this one is really good. (Also? In my month-of-tricks-and-treats here at home, I actually featured an early-Thanksgiving one night for dinner. So it IS happening in real life, too, and not just on the ol’ bloggy blog.) 

For as long as I can remember, my mom has hosted Thanksgiving. When I was a kid—everyone came to us. Now that I’m an adult, we mostly still go to my parents’ house on Thanksgiving. It’s just tradition. Also part of that tradition are the foods people bring with them. My grandmom has always been in charge of stuffing. She always brought two-- one with celery and one without. 

For me, the stuffing was fine. In fact, that’s kind of how I feel about most Thanksgiving foods. They’re fine, but there are very few I’m enthused to eat. 

Something I AM enthused about, though, is trying new recipes. My thought is how am I going to find a new favorite –something that might become part of a new tradition—if all we do is keep making the same things over and over and over again? 

Therefore, maybe 5 years ago or so, I said I was going to bring a different stuffing. Because it sounded like it would be delicious and I wanted to eat some and when else would I have occasion to make such a large portion? So I brought it and there were 3 stuffings that year. And people loved it. The next year, people asked if I was bringing that “good stuffing” again. So I kept bringing it.

And now? Gram only makes one stuffing for Thanksgiving. 

This is a Hearty Boys recipe. Remember them? I watched them back on the very first season of Food Network Star. They won, btw, not that you see them much anymore. Or really most of the FNS winners except for that over-exposed, backward-sunglasses-wearing, big-bite-taking Guy Fieri. 

Speaking of stuffing our faces…let’s get to this recipe.

Sausage, Cranberry, Apple Stuffing
Recipe from The Hearty Boys

1 pound breakfast sausage 
4 Tablespoons butter
3 cups sliced leeks, white and pale-green parts only, cleaned well (about 2 large leeks)
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped
1 cup chopped celery with leaves
1 Tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 cup dried cranberries, (rehydrated in boiling water for 15 minutes and drained)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
6 cups stuffing mix (bread cubes)
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 to 3 cups chicken stock
1 Tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Set your 14” oval OR 9x13 casserole dish on the counter.  

Saute the sausage, crumbling with a spoon, in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, about 10 minutes. 

While that cooks, soak dried cranberries in boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside when done.
Before their bath
All plumped up. (Don't worry--it's water weight!)
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked sausage and drippings to a large, deep bowl. 

Melt the butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. 

Add leeks, apples, celery, and poultry seasoning to the skillet. Cook about 8 minutes or until the leeks are soft. 

Stir in the drained cranberries, sage, and rosemary. 

Pour the contents of your pan into the bowl with the sausage, plus your parsely, and stir. 

Next, mix in the stuffing mix/bread cubes. 

Add the chicken stock--a little at a time-- until the stuffing is moist but not mushy! Season with salt and pepper. This is the step where I do a lot of tasting to adjust the seasonings and check the moisture level. Remember, you can add extra broth, but once it’s in there, you can’t get it out. 

Pour into your casserole dish and bake, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes (mine usually takes closer to 30) or until the center is hot and the top is browned and crisp. Remove and serve immediately. 

Note: If you’re like me and need to prepare this a day or two before you want to serve it, you can. Just follow all the directions through pouring it into your casserole dish but DO NOT BAKE. Instead, cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Keep in mind that when you bake, it usually takes longer (30-45 mins) because the stuffing and your dish are starting off cold. 

And there you have it. Beautifully layered fall flavors for a perfect side dish.

I urge you to give this a try – maybe it can be part of one of your food traditions!

Friday, October 18, 2019

October 18: Buttery Parmesan Spaghetti Squash

That apple pie I posted the other day got me thinking about Thanksgiving which got me thinking of all the tasty side dishes I’m responsible for bringing each year. One of them is spaghetti squash. I've been making it for years. It couldn’t be easier, but everyone goes wild for it. I always end up feeling like a squash hero. (In the squash world, that's a big deal.)

Spaghetti squash is such a great side dish – for a holiday or really ANY time, especially when it’s in season in the fall/winter months. In fact, it can even serve in lieu of actual spaghetti in your favorite pasta dish. (I’ve made spaghetti squash “lasagna” boats and They. Were. Amazing.)

Let me show you how easy it is to make this delicious side. (As you'll see, my photos show 2 squash. However, the measurements I list below are for 1 squash. Multiply as needed depending on the number of squash you're using.)

Some tips to get you started:

1.     When choosing squash, aim for medium sized ones no greater than 3 pounds each. It just helps control your cook time.
2.     If you’re cooking more than one squash at once, aim to choose squash of the same general size, so they cook in the same amount of time. 
3.     When cutting squash in half—if the skin is too tough to cut (you DO need a little muscle sometimes to break through) you can microwave the entire squash for 5 minutes. That brief microwave blast softens it just enough to make it through the skin.
4.     Pay attention to your squash as it cooks. If you overcook your squash, it’ll come out in mushy clumps instead of strands. If you undercook it, it won’t release its “strands” in the spaghetti shape. 

Buttery Parmesan Spaghetti Squash

2.5-3 lb spaghetti squash
3 Tablespoons butter, cubed
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Cut squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds (scrape out with a spoon.) 

Prick the hard shell all over with a fork, then place, cut-side down, in a baking pan.

Cook 25-45 minutes or until insides are tender, but not overcooked. (You want a fork inserted in the fleshy part to go in easily but it shouldn’t be mushy.) The cook time can vary greatly based on the size of the squash so you’ll want to start checking it around 25 minutes. 

When the squash is ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool, flesh side up, 5-10 minutes. 

Hold one half of the squash at a time (if it’s still too hot to hold, use a towel to grip) and use a fork to scrape the flesh into a bowl. All you have to do is run the fork vertically down the squash and it should release in long, spaghetti-like strands.

Add half the butter, cheese, salt, pepper and toss to coat the strands. 

Repeat the process with the other half of the squash, shredding, topping, and tossing. (I like to season each half on its own to ensure that the butter, cheese, and salt and pepper are evenly distributed. When I do this for a large gathering, I use 2 or 3 squashes, but still scrape and season them in layers, one half squash at a time.

This dish can be prepared a day in advance and microwaved until warmed through. (Be sure to stir it every 5 minutes or so.) I’ve also kept this in a crock put during a buffet style meal. The longer it stays in there, though, the less distinct the strands become since it gets a bit mushy as it continues to cook, but it still tastes good.

Bring this to your next gathering (or just make it at home on a Thursday) and you, too, will be a squash hero. Promise.