Do you ever stock up on meat when it’s on sale and freeze it, only to then have to come up with a meal that specifically uses that “great deal” before it gets freezer burnt?! Yeah, that’s what I’m going through today. I thawed out a package of sweet italian ground sausage. I’m sure I bought it with some sort of intention…. but then it got buried in the freezer under half a dozen packages of frozen vegetables. After making winter vegetable soup, I found my meat stash and now had to face the task of figuring out what to make with the ground sausage.
Normally, you can substitute ground sausage in most ground beef or ground turkey recipes. It makes great chili, an incredible lasagna and even is creative in meatloaf. But I wanted to work on a recipe that truly highlighted the spices of the sweet italian sausage. You can use any variety of sausage, just understand that the flavors will ultimately completely change up the overall dish– so if you want hot sausage or you want to un-case a beer bratwurst, that’s totally fine. You can play with the flavors by changing up your meat selection– or using up something you find in the bottom of your freezer!
So tonight, we’re having crock pot dirty rice. I love that this dish uses the word “dirty”, but it’s so true. This is the antithesis of steamed, white rice. It muddles together all the flavors from the spicy meat and the sweet vegetables and somehow the tomato paste marries it all together. Yes, that’s what this is– a “dirty” “marriage” of flavors. Ha! I hope you enjoy this classic spicy one-pot meal and that it warms up your winter night.
1 lb sausage, crumbled and browned
3 cups water
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 large red bell pepper, finely chopped Read more
One of my favorite new indulgences is Thai food. I started a few years ago with Pad Thai. It’s like the thai version of lomein, which is really just a step above the college-grade ramen noodle. But it started to introduce me to new flavors. Then, I moved up and through a few of the curry dishes; I quickly learned my ridiculously low capabilities for spicy food. I like my thai dishes with either chicken, tofu or shrimp– I just think think that these proteins absorb the most flavor from everything else it’s cooked in.
There are some particular seasonings for Thai food, though, and I just don’t keep these things in my kitchen yet. So while I’d love to have lemongrass and keffir lime leaves abundantly available or even know where to buy some galangal, I’m replacing some of these flavors with some easier go-to foods that you can find at your regular grocery store.
My crock pot Thai chicken soup is an interpretation of a traditional Thai tom kha soup. It still has the coconut milk, chicken and mushrooms, but I use ginger instead of galangal and lime juice for Read more
Living in the South, I have learned that I can no longer assume that my vegetables are vegetarian. It seems like every restaurant I go to uses delicious savory meats like bacon, sausage or ham to season our side dishes. I always like bacon on a side salad without any complaints, so I’m definitely open to experimenting. Plus– what a great way to get my boys to eat new vegetables! Adding a little bit of a familiar flavor to a foreign one definitely eases the introduction.
This week, I decided to try kale. I’ve always heard the redeeming qualities of this blueish-greenish rough leafy vegetable, but had never tried to cook it. The simplest instruction I could find included removing the hard center vein and then slicing, sauteing and serving with garlic and olive oil. That seemed easy enough, but I really wanted to see how I could prepare kale in the crock pot instead.
I’ve heard about soups containing kale, usually with a white bean and some sort of sausage or just a vegetable medley that included kale instead of something like cabbage. But in this beautiful summer heat, I didn’t really want to sit down to a hot bowl of broth.
So, I decided to prepare a soft, tasty side dish with my kale, using the Southern inspiration of including meat in my vegetables. I found out that the steam of the crock pot really breaks down the toughness of the kale without removing any of its natural sweetness. While I intended for this dish to be an accompaniment, I actually think it would be great served like a stir fry over rice or noodles without the need for any additional sauce. Enjoy!
1 large bunch of kale. hard center vein removed, leaves sliced into strips
6 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 c. water
1/2 medium onion, sliced thin Read more
The word “chimichurri” might make you think of that silly little ditty from Mary Poppin’s chimney sweep friend, but I assure you, there is nothing dirty or British about this recipe (not that the two are synonymous!). I think of chimichurri sauce as an Argentinian version of pesto, but with parsley instead of basil. I love it as a marinade, but it can also be used as a garnish or a dipping sauce for pretty much any meat. I challenge you to try this on as many grilled meats as possible this summer and to find any single one that it doesn’t complement.
But since I don’t feel like firing up the grill and cinging my eyebrows, I’m going to cook my beef in the crock pot. Chimichurri is often served with steak, so I am using a flank steak and I sliced it into half inch sections before cooking it. I think this will help really get all the flavors into the steak. I marinated the meat overnight in the refrigerator, but that isn’t necessary. I would recommend marinating it for at least four hours, just to give it enough time to fester.
I don’t have enough fresh produce on hand to make this with the real ingredients, but if you do— use 1 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley and some fresh oregano, too. I assure you this will taste good with the dried stuff, but even more amazing with fresh herbs.
I’m serving my chimichurri steak with some steamed veggies (at least I know my kids will eat those things!), but you can also try roasting some potatoes with the meat or serving it on a nice bed of salad. Enjoy!
Meat: 2 lbs. beef (flank steak, skirt steak, London Broil, flat iron steak…. if you don’t love beef, use chicken)
1/2 c. white wine
1/3. c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
3-4 cloves garlic, minced Read more
Stuffed peppers are a delicious union of textures and are meant for slow cooking. But sometimes, the prep work of cutting and chopping and mixing and stuffing is just too much. Consider this my recipe for “inside out stuffed peppers”. I’ve figured out a way to get that same great result with even less time. It might not have the same presentation as beautifully stuffed bells, but if you are looking for ease and a great meal, this is a good sloppy way to serve a favorite dish. Enjoy!
1 lb. ground turkey or chicken
2 T. dried parsley
1/2 c. uncooked rice
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground pepper
1/2 t. red pepper flakes Read more
One of my favorite things about Indian food is that you can have such a variety of purely vegetarian dishes. With the right balance of ingredients, you can have a healthy, protein- and vitamin-rich meal with an array of flavors and nothing in it will have ever had a face.
There is also a misconception about crock pots that I’d like to ruin. Many people think the crock pot is just for cooking the hell out of a piece of meat or else making soup, but indeed there are so many other great dishes that we can make in a matter of minutes! So for the skeptics out there, I invite you to try this vegetable curry. It’s hot and spicy, almost sexy, and definitely enjoyable. Experiment today with this cultural culinary specialty.
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 16 oz. bag of frozen cauliflower Read more