Get Off The Couch and Cook

Get Off The Couch and Cook -

Italian Sausage Fettuccine

italiansausagefettucinetitleEven though the weather here in Atlanta is starting to warm up again, I still crave bowls of warm goodness.  For me, bowls of warmth = pasta!  I tend to make Monday nights our pasta night so I always have a night of saucy, carby deliciousness to look forward to after a hard first work day of the week.

Did you know that we also love Italian sausage at our house?  Yeah, it’s true… we do.  This is far from the last post you’ll see on here using the spicy mix that I keep in our freezer almost at all times.  I do like to find new ways of using it, though, which is how this dish came about.

italiansausagefettucine1Eventually, I do want to try Claire’s Spicy Chorizo Fettuccine, but her recipe is what inspired this dish. I originally had her recipe on the menu for the week but then I remembered I had the Italian sausage and would have had to make the chorizo.  It was going to be a heavier grocery trip that week anyway so I figured I could save time and money by using what I already had in the freezer.  Because of that, I ended up only having to buy the pasta because I had everything else on hand already.  I love it when I can make that happen!

There ended up being no leftovers of this but I know it would have been an awesome lunch the next day.  Claire said her recipe made 10-12 servings… we got 4.  I guess we have bigger appetites at our house. 🙂

italiansausagefettucine2I loved having the carrot in this and I definitely have her recipe to thank for that idea!  I really miss onion but the carrots added a level of texture and sweetness that I really enjoyed.  Plus, you know, extra veggies which is always a good thing.

The next time I make this… which will be soon… I’m definitely going make garlic cheese bread.  Because, you know, why let this remain a healthy meal. 😉

Italian Sausage Fettuccine
By: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lg carrot, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 2 Tbsp red wine
  • 14.5 oz can low-sodium tomato sauce
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • ¼ c grated Parmesan
  • 12oz whole wheat fettuccine noodles
Instructions
  1. Heat a large pot of water for the pasta over high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add the garlic and carrots and cook until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a spoon until it is crumbled and browned.
  3. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for the minimum time on the package, about 10 minutes.
  4. While the pasta boils, add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper and basil to the meat/carrot mixture. Heat over medium-high.
  5. Drain the pasta. Stir the Parmesan into the sauce then mix in the pasta. Divide between 4 bowls and serve with additional grated Parmesan.
Notes
Adapted from/inspired by The Realistic Nutritionist

Vegetable Rice Pilaf

vegetablericepilaftitleSometimes, when you have a strong flavored entrée, you want/need a side that sort of balances your taste buds out.  Something warm, maybe kinda creamy, definitely on the healthy side but filling.  I’m not a huge fan of rice… it’s okay, at best… but when I made the Balsamic Glazed Chicken, this really fit the bill as our side dish for the night.

I know rice pilaf is supposed to be more dry but I really like the way this came out more on the creamy side.  Almost like a lazy man’s risotto but a lot faster to make and no expensive, fancy rice needed.

vegetablericepilaf2When I made this, I just chopped up a red bell pepper and threw in some frozen peas and corn.  You could really use any vegetable mix that you like, though.  I could see just adding a 10oz bag of frozen mixed veggies for an easy last minute side dish.  You could even use a different mix of herbs; I just used what we had on hand: rosemary and thyme.

Now, this does make a hefty batch but it reheats pretty well in the microwave.  Which is good since I actually did not like this when I tried to eat it cold.  It’s not often I don’t like my leftovers cold.  I think that was the first time I’d visited the work microwave in a while.

vegetablericepilaf3

Vegetable Rice Pilaf
By: 
Recipe type: Sides
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 10 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp jarred minced garlic (or 6-8 cloves, minced)
  • 1 red bell pepper, ½" dice
  • 2 c jasmine rice
  • 5 c reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 11 oz can corn, drained
  • 1½ c frozen peas, thawed
  • ½ c grated Parmesan
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped thyme
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  2. Add the red bell pepper and rice and stir. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring once. Stir in the broth.
  3. Turn heat up to medium-high and bring the mixture boiling. Stir only once or twice. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until the broth is mostly absorbed.
  4. Stir in the corn and peas and cover. Cook about 10 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  5. Stir in the Parmesan and herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Notes

Balsamic Glazed Chicken

balsamicglazedchickentitleIt’s no secret: I am addicted to cookbooks.  The bargain area at Barnes & Noble is often my best friend when I get gift certificates for there (which is a common gift to get me, in case you were thinking of my next birthday 😉 ).  I belong to The Good Cook, a cookbook book club and sometimes take advantage of their great sales.  I also seek out fun/weird/vintage ones whenever I visit the thrift shops in the area.

In addition to cookbooks, I subscribe to a couple of magazines, including “Food Network Magazine,” “Taste of the South,” and “Cuisine At Home.” That’s not to mention the many that I get from the store that just catch my eye.  Cuisine At Home also has themed cookbooks so I will occasionally treat myself to one of those.

I recently received “Cuisine Tonight: Quick & Easy Menus” and tried the Glazed Chicken recipe (pg. 9) right away.  I knew it would be delicious but I had NO idea how addictive the sauce was going to be.  Even after I had packaged up leftovers for lunch, I ate the rest of the glaze on a bun.

balsamicglazedchicken3Okay, that may have taken things a bit too far, but I regret nothing!  The glaze is simple to prepare, just mix in a sauce pan and heat while cooking the chicken in another pan.  This entrée takes less than 15 minutes to prepare but tastes so incredibly decadent.

Because the chicken has such a wonderful yet strong flavor, I chose to make a simple rice pilaf (recipe coming Wednesday!) and it really was a good pairing… especially since I was able to spoon more glaze onto it.

What?  The sauce is REALLY good.  You’ll do the same thing.

balsamicglazedchicken4

Balsamic Glazed Chicken
By: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ c balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ c low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (or 6 cloves, minced)
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into 8 pieces)
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, honey and garlic. Heat over medium-high and cook until reduced by half, about 5-7 minutes. Cover to keep warm and set aside.
  2. meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat the canola oil over med-high heat. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes and flip the pieces. Cook another 5-6 minutes or until cooked through and juices run clear.
  3. Pour the glaze over the chicken and turn the chicken pieces to coat in the glaze. Serve chicken drizzled with the extra glaze from the pan.
Notes

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

bakedmacaroniandcheesetitleI thought today would be one of the best days to post, in my opinion, the ultimate comfort food.  Having grown up on either the bright orange boxed mac and cheese or the kind my mom would make using Velveeta, macaroni and cheese is one of THE comfort foods I crave when I am feeling stressed or down.  But while the processed cheeses have their place in my heart, nothing beats a good old-fashioned, made from scratch bowl of cheesy love.

I once again have to send out props to Mr. Alton Brown for giving me the base to my own mac and cheese recipe.  I’d tried so many versions and none of them were quite right.  They were either too dry or too runny or not cheesy enough.  Plus, in mine, I often add bacon.  Yep.  Bacon.  But it’s optional.

bakedmacaroniandcheese4Homemade mac and cheese is actually a lot easier to make than you may realize.    You can even assemble it ahead of time then refrigerate it for 24 hours to bake it later.  Since this has become a holiday staple at our house, that’s usually what I do.  Just wait until just before baking to top it with  he buttered bread crumbs.

The trickiest part of making this is tempering the egg which you need to make the cheese sauce nice and thick.  If you just add the egg to hot liquid, you get hot liquid with cooked egg.  So, instead, you put the egg in a bowl and beat it lightly.  While whisking with one hand, slowly drizzle a spoonful of the hot liquid into the egg with the other hand.  Do this about 5 times and then you can safely whisk your egg mixture into the pan without having cooked egg bits in your noodles.

bakedmacaroniandcheese1

The cheese sauce, waiting for the noodles and bacon. See? No egg bits!

The prep for this takes roughly the time it takes to make the boxed stuff, maybe 5-10 minutes longer.  And yes, it does have to bake for 30 minutes after that, but that’s down time if this is what you are having as your main course.  I usually do mac and cheese as a side with a lean meat and veggie but it’d make a great dinner as well.  Just steam up some broccoli and you have yourself a meal!

As a side dish, the 3 fat grown adults in my household manage to get 8 servings out of a dish of this.  I love when meals stretch into lunches for me. 🙂

bakedmacaroniandcheese3 Don’t like a crunchy top on your mac and cheese?  Just leave it off.  It’s still good!

Oh! You are wondering why I thought today was good reason to post comfort food?  Because tomorrow is my birthday and I’m apparently supposed be having a hard time turning 40.  Yep.  I’ll be 40 tomorrow.  I am seriously okay with it, though.  I earned every one of the years I have behind me and look forward to next 40 or 50.  I have an image in my head of what “40” is supposed to look or act like and… well… that’s not me.  I don’t look 40 and I certainly don’t feel 40.  But I’m proud to have made it to this mile marker and will continue to be honest about my age.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
By: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 8 servings
 
Definitely spend the extra 3 minutes and shred the cheese yourself. Preshredded cheese has an anti-clumping agent that won't allow it to melt smoothly.
Ingredients
  • 8oz pkg whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp powdered mustard
  • 3 c skim milk
  • ½ lb bacon, fried, drained and diced
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 16 oz sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cook pasta for 1 minute less than the minimum time on the package directions.
  3. Meanwhile, while the water is starting to heat, in a separate pot over medium heat, melt 3 Tbsp of the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep whisking for 3-5 minutes. It should be lump free and light golden brown. Stir in the milk, garlic powder, paprika, and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it starts to thicken.
  4. Temper in the egg*. Stir in ¾ of the cheese and whisk until it is nice and smooth. Fold the macaroni and bacon into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
  5. Melt the remaining 3 Tbsp butter in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds. Stir in the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Notes
Tempering an egg: break the egg into a small bowl. While whisk the egg with one hand, drizzle about 1 Tbsp of the hot sauce from the pan in with the eggs. Do this with 3 or 4 more tablespoons until the egg is well mixed and warm. Add the mixture to the pan.
If you do not temper the egg and add it directly into the pot, you will just result in bits of cooked egg in your mac & cheese since the sauce will cook it. Tempering it first helps make a creamier sauce in the oven. I learned this the hard way. 🙂

Cheesy Corn & Red Peppers

cheesycorntitleWhen it comes to side dishes, I admit that I am like a lot of other home cooks who seem to spend more time thinking and worrying about an amazing main dish so my sides tend to be pretty simple.

But, simple does not have to mean boring.  I had seen this Mexican recipe for zucchini with cheese a while back and thought I’d give it a try but, since zucchini is out of season, it was looking pretty sad at my grocery store.  I liked the concept, though, so I came up with this creamy cheesy side dish that was scary simple to make while I was making chicken in the slow cooker the other day.

cheesycorn3It only has a handful of ingredients and takes less than 15 minutes to make, including the prep time.  When you read this, you will think “Wait?  That’s it?  It sounds so bland.”  I honestly thought it would be, too.  I even apologized ahead of time to the guys but… wow.  Even though it’s simple, the flavor is delightful.

We’re even talking about adding some diced chicken to this and serving it over rice or potatoes and making it a whole meal next time.  Granted, this isn’t the lowest fat way to serve vegetables but it sure is tasty!

cheesycorn1

Cheesy Corn & Red Peppers
By: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 ribs of celery, washed, dried, and diced
  • 1 med red bell pepper, seeded, and diced
  • 2 11oz cans corn, drained (3.5 cups)
  • 1 15oz can low sodium diced tomatoes, drained
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 8oz Monterey Jack cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat.
  2. Add the celery and red pepper and cook, stirring frequently until then start to soften, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Stir in the corn and tomatoes and add the salt. Cook another 3 minutes then stir in the cheese. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the cheese is melted, about 1-2 minutes. Serve warm.

Sashi Pretends She’s On A Cooking Show

Over the holidays, I received a surprise from my Dad’s Mom and decided to use a bit of it as an investment in myself so I got myself a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2013 model) for the sole purpose of drawing.  Not to bore you with the details, but it has made my illustrations and drawing I do a lot easier!

What does that have to do with a cooking blog?  Not a whole lot, but I did want to share with you a drawing I did last month of me in my kitchen. 🙂

SashiPretendsSheHasACookingShow-facebookThis really is how my kitchen is set up, but the colors here are much better than they are in real life. IRL, my kitchen has dark orange walls with golden wood cabinets and greyish counter tops.  My real fridge is grey and the appliances are all black.  Not a bad-looking kitchen, but I definitely prefer the above color scheme!

As much as I love cooking, working on art projects is extremely good for my soul.  I am a frazzled cook because as much as I would love to deny it, I’m a perfectionist when it comes to cooking.  I am good at timing things so they all get done at the same time but that does make for stressful cooking situations sometimes because all of a sudden, at the end of the cooking time, everything needs my attention.

I’m learning to better plans my meals so that doesn’t happen as often.  I’ve always envied how calm TV cooks are.  Of course, if I had a team getting everything ready for me, I’d probably be more calms as well.

But drawing is the opposite.  It does calm me.  My obsession with cooking and food once again makes it way into every aspect of my life… even my drawing.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What do you do to relax?  Are you a frazzled cook or a go-with-flow cook?

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: