Tag Archives: comfort food

Italian Sausage Penne

Italian Sausage Penne

Gah!!! I can’t believe it’s only 1 week until Christmas. ONE WEEK!

This past week has been a busy one. I spent a few hours at the start of the week with my sons grade 3 class showing them how to make gingerbread cookies. I don’t think there are a lot of people who willingly choose to teach 24  – 8 year olds how to bake, in fact, I believe I might have been the only one, but for some reason I felt this was an opportunity to volunteer and have a lot of fun. I had to laugh at all the grossed out expressions when they smelled the molasses that we needed to add. It definitely wasn’t the most relaxing morning, but I’m glad I stepped up to help out.

There have also been the usual Christmas parties and concerts. And of course, some close to last minute, Christmas shopping. It’s always so busy at this time of year. I’ve been having a hard time focusing on meal planning and creating, so I’ve fallen back on some old recipes. One of those recipes is this Italian Sausage Penne. It’s quick and easy, and best of all, it’s a dish that everyone in my family enjoys.

This recipe has been around in our house for a number of years. It’s actually something my mom used to make when I was a teenager and has been carried over into my house. I’m not sure where the original recipe came from, although my guess would be either a Canadian Living magazine, a Company’s Coming cookbook or from one of my moms several Best of Bridge cookbooks. Those seemed to be the most prominent cookbooks in our house at the time. This recipe takes 30 minutes, it doesn’t have too many ingredients and it’s super simple. Exactly what I’ve needed these past couple of weeks. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with the fast-approaching holidays, hopefully this recipe will help you out, as well.

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

500g Italian sausage

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 – 398 mL cans of diced tomatoes

1 tbsp  dried oregano

2 tsp dried basil

375g package of penne (mine was 454g, so I used a bit less than the whole thing)

Italian flat leaf parsley for garnish (optional)

parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then cook the penne according to the package directions. Drain the penne, then place it back in the pot and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over low-medium heat. Add the sausages and cover. Cook for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are browned and cooked throughout. Remove from the pan and set aside until cook enough to handle. Drain most of the drippings, leaving only about 1 tbsp.

Add the onions to the hot skillet and cook for just a few minutes until beginning to sweat, then add the garlic. Continue cooking for about 1 minute before adding in the tomatoes, basil and oregano. Stir together and bring to a simmer over low heat.

While the sauce is simmering, slice the cooled italian sausage into 1/2″ think slices. Add it to the skillet and continue cooking until the sauce is thickened and the sausage is warmed through.

Pour the sauce over the penne and stir. Serve with fresh parsley and parmesan. Serves 4 – 6

 

As always, I’ll be sharing this recipe with all the lovely people at the Fiesta Friday blog Party. This week it’s being co-hosted by Caroline @ Caroline’s Cooking and Linda @ La Petite Paniere. For more recipe inspiration, check them out.

Also, be sure to follow my Pinterest page. I’ve been pinning holiday recipes like a mad women. There’s just so many things I want to try to make. Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Chana Masala

Chana Masala

For a long time now, my good friend and I have been planning on having a cooking day where he would show me how to make some of his amazing authentic Indian recipes. When I say a long time, I mean we’ve been talking about this for close to 2 years now, but haven’t set aside a day to make it happen…..until now. This past week we finally got together and cooked up an incredible Indian feast. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing the recipes we used, starting with this one for Chana Masala.

Before I really delve into the recipe, it’s important to point out that a lot of the measurements give you a range to work with and a lot of the instructions give you an estimate of time. This is because with authentic dishes like this, there really is no recipe. There’s only a general idea of the steps involved and the ingredients used. From there you create your own dish.

The term masala refers to the base of the cooking method, which is onions, ginger and garlic, cooked beyond the caramelization point until it almost becomes a paste. This method forms the base of many Indian dishes. If you’re familiar with French or Italian cooking, masala could be considered India’s answer to mirepoix and sofritto, respectively.

This dish is incredibly healthy, full of flavour and at this time of year, it makes for some serious comfort food. Enjoy!

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4 onions, finely chopped

2″ piece of ginger, minced

8 – 10 cloves of garlic, minced

2 –  3 tbsp tumeric

4 tbsp coriander

4 tbsp garam masala

4 – 398mL cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

water to cover

2 bay leaves

salt to taste

cayenne to add some heat (optional)

Start by heating the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions to the pot and begin to saute, adding a splash of water when the onions start to stick. Keep cooking and deglazing with water until the onions are very soft and brown, at least 15 – 20 minutes. It’s important during this phase to keep an eye on the pot to prevent the onions from drying out and to be stirring fairly often.

Once the onions are ready, add the ginger and cook for about 5 minutes, again, adding a little splash of water if it gets to dry. Then add the garlic and cook for a minute or two, before adding the tumeric, coriander and garam masala. Stir the spices into the onion mixture and allow to cook for another minute, until fragrant.

Stir in the chickpeas and add enough water to cover by at least 1 inch. Add the bay leaves and a little salt. If you’re adding cayenne, you can add that now, as well. Stir and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering, stirring occasionally until the water is reduced to a “stew”like consistancy. This is a great time to taste the dish and add more salt if necessary.

Using the back of a spoon, mash up some of the chickpeas in the pot to help thicken the dish. Continue simmering for another 10 – 15 minutes, until thickened. Serve with rice or naan.

Serves 4 – 6

I’ll be sharing this dish at the Fiesta Friday blog party. Pop by if you’re interested in finding other delicious recipes.

Beef and veggie chili

 

beef and veggie chili

So, here we are on the eve of Halloween. My kids have been crazy excited ever since our annual family pumpkin carving last weekend. It’s one of my favourite traditions, although I’m going to be honest, I don’t really love carving pumpkins. It’s messy and kind of gross digging the guts out of the pumpkin. Also, I’m a horrible artist. Seriously horrible, unless you want me to draw hearts or flowers, which I can usually manage. I don’t think hearts and flowers will win a pumpkin carving contest, though. Typically, I am the carver and my husband is the gutter/scooper and draws the outline. It seems fair 😉 The kids, though being very enthusiastic about choosing the perfect pumpkins, are typically bored within roughly 10 minutes and disappear to play with their cousins. This year, my son drew his own outline and my daughter requested an Olaf jack-o-lantern. No, we didn’t win, but we did get to gut 4 pumpkins (I did help a little, there were 4 of them!!); 1 for my son and 3 for Olaf. Did I mention that I don’t like gutting pumpkins? Yeeck!

pumpkin carving contest

This years submissions

 

You can never really expect great weather on Halloween, but this year it’s promising to be extra rainy…buckets being dumped from the sky kind of rainy. There’s nothing to be done, we will march on through the rain, but I figure the best defense, is a great offence. My plan of attack is to fill our bellies with healthy, stick to your ribs comfort food and I think this beef and veggie chili will be just the thing to keep us warm through it all. Enjoy and I hope you all have a happy and safe Halloween!

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 Cup celery, diced

1 Cup carrot, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 lbs lean ground beef

2 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp cinnamon

2 roma tomatoes, diced

1 – 398mL tomatoe sauce

1/4 Cup water

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots, onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until starting to sweat and become aromatic. Toss in the ground beef, breaking it up while it cooks. After about 5 minutes, once the beef is mostly cooked through, add in the tomatoes, chili powder and cinnamon. Stir together for about 1 minute, then add in the tomato sauce, water and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and allow it to continue cooking for another 20 – 30 minutes, adding a little extra water if necessary. With about 5 minutes left, stir in the bell peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4 – 6

This week I’ll be sharing this recipe at the Fiesta Friday blog party and at Fabulous Foodie Fridays. If you’re looking for some great recipe ideas, you should check them out.

 

 

Crab and shrimp mac n’ cheese

 

Crab and shrimp mac n' cheese

The kids are back in school! Whoot whoot! Errr…I mean I’m so sad to see them go 😉

The day before the kids went back to school, we had an impromptu pool party at my father-in-laws house. Impromptu, in that we planned it all the evening before, after fishing for an invitation and promising to bring dinner 🙂 As it turned out, the whole family was able to make it and it turned into a great end of summer/back to school celebration.

My contribution to the event was a crab and shrimp mac n’ cheese. It was a recipe that I had tried making back in the winter, but hadn’t had a chance to perfect or take proper pictures of. Ordinarily, Mac n’cheese wouldn’t be my go-to dish on a hot summer day, but in this case there is a perfectly reasonable explanation. A few days before our last minute get-together, I received a text message from my sister-in-law with a special request:

mac n cheese text

 

Being a devoted mac n’ cheese lover, I completely understood her out-of-nowhere desire to have mac n’ cheese. I did, however, take exception with the blue cheese and kale. Firstly, blue cheese has never been my favourite. I think it’s one of those things that you either love or you hate. I’ve tried it many times and, when it comes to blue cheese, I’m definitely a hater. Secondly, I figure if you’re committed to eating mac n’ cheese, you may as well make it as rich, creamy, deliciously unhealthy as you like. Save the kale for the next day in case you feel a little guilty.

To honour my sister-in-laws request, here is my recipe for crab and shrimp mac n’ cheese. I hope you enjoy it as much as she did 🙂

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 Cup onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbsp cooking sherry

1 Cup chicken stock

8 oz cream cheese, cut into cubes

1/2 Cup asiago cheese, divided

250g crab meat

250g shrimp

1/2 Cup green onions, sliced

375g macaroni noodles

1 Cup sliced almonds, slightly toasted

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the noodles and cook according to package directions, until they are al dente. Strain and set aside.

In a saucepan, heat the butter and olive oil together. Add the onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes until just beginning to sweat. Stir in the sherry, allowing a bit of it to cook off, then add in the chicken stock. Bring the stock up to a simmer and begin adding in the cream cheese. Stir or whisk until it’s melted into the sauce and no lumps remain. Next, add 1/4 Cup of the Asiago cheese. Stir until it’s melted into sauce. Finish the sauce by adding in the crab and shrimp and cook until just heated through.

Pour the sauce over the macaroni. Add the green onions and stir gently, then pour the pasta into a 9″x13″ baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining Asiago cheese, followed by the almonds.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the dish in the oven to bake for about 10 minutes until the cheese topping has melted and the almonds have toasted.

 

 

 

 

Bacon corn chowder

Bacon corn chowder

Bacon corn chowder

 

“Mom, how much longer until the corn is ready” asks my 7 year old as we drive by the corn fields. This was back in March, and again in April, and again in May, etc, etc….you get the idea. For all the fun summer brings, it’s the taste of fresh, locally grown corn on the cob that my 7 year old longs for the most. Well, maybe not the most, but certainly the longest. Once corn season arrives, he can’t seem to get enough. We all love fresh corn on the cob, but it’s his, apparently endless, appetite for it that rarely leaves me with any leftovers to work with.

Last week something strange happened…I ended up with 3 beautiful leftover cobs to play with. There was also something else strange happening. After several months of hot, dry, near drought like conditions the skies opened up and the rain started to fall. With cooler, autumn”y” (made up word, but I’m sticking with it) weather appearing out of nowhere and a few cobs of corn in my fridge, it only seemed right to make a chowder. Or chowdah, if you’re like my husband and like to pretend you’re from Boston. Seriously. Every time :/

This bacon corn chowder was the perfect way to warm up on a cold, rainy night. I you enjoy it!

Oh, and one last note: If you’re not a fan of bacon (I promise I won’t judge you), or you wanted to make this a vegetarian friendly chowder, you can easily leave it out. You can also substitute frozen corn if you can’t get your hands on any fresh cobs.

375g package of bacon, sliced into 1/2″ pieces

1 Cup onion, diced

1/2 Cup shallot, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Cup potato, diced

3 Cups chicken broth

2 Cups heavy cream

3 Cups corn (about 3 cobs)

1/4 Cup chives

salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp. Leaving the drippings in the pot, remove the bacon and set aside.

Add the onions, shallots and garlic to the pot. Saute for a few minutes until just starting to sweat. Stir in the potatoes, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Next, stir in the chicken broth, immediately followed by the cream. It’s important to add the cream immediately, before the broth gets too hot, to avoid separation and curdling.

After the broth and cream have been added,  stir in the corn and the reserved bacon. Bring the chowder to a simmer over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally. Continue cooking for 10 – 15 minutes until everything is heated through. Garnish with the chives. Serves 4 – 6.

 

 

 

 

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