Sausage Pasta Cheese Bake

It is summer and hot as heck (at times)  but you still gotta eat supper every day. Tonight I threw together a modified pasta bake that was quick to make, and, although it wasn’t too pretty to look at, the flavor was delicious and I know I want to make it again. This entrée used Italian sausage liberated from its casing.  It is a rustic Italian delight and all you need is a green salad and you have a satisfying meal to enjoy. My oven is well insulated so it really didn’t make my house feel that hot. The stove top portion is about 15 minutes worth of cooking, again, not too excessive in my book.

You could make this with spicy Italian sausage if that is more your style. Mushrooms are optional but I love the flavor they add. You could use spiral pasta. I, of course, used gf pasta; this time it was Aldi’s store brand which is inexpensive and has a great flavor. This bake seems slightly dry but the cheese makes a delightful bit of sauce with the tomatoes and veggies.  You don’t need to have a lot of tomato sauce to taste that Italian pasta bake flavor. Summer pasta on a plate! Leftovers are highly anticipated by me… I won’t have to cook much this week. Win win! If you have a big family this might be a go to recipe to quickly toss together and please the kiddos and the dad!

I know; not impressive but trust me; the flavor is building!
Another less than inspiring picture; just imagine it all melty and gooy with that yummy sausage sauce mixed in.

Angie’s Penne, Sausage and Cheese Bake

Ingredients

5 Italian sausage links, uncased (1 pound)

Cooking spray

1 large red or yellow onion, diced

1 large carrot diced

3 large cloves of garlic; put through the garlic press

1 14oz can diced tomatoes and juice

Rounded half tsp of sea salt, dried basil and dried oregano

A few grinds of black pepper

3 cups uncooked penne

1 small can sliced mushrooms (optional but I love them in this dish)

1 8 oz block of mozzarella cheese, grated on large hole side of your grater

Directions: Heat a large frying pan that you sprayed with cooking spray. I like olive oil spray. Add the sausage that you uncased, press it a bit to spread it out and turn in 2-3 minutes. I used a Teflon pan turner to chop up the links into small bits. Cook about 5 minutes until it doesn’t look pink. Carefully remove the sausage and let it rest in a bowl. Leave about a tablespoon of sausage oil in the pan.

Start a large sauce pan to cook the pasta; fill with salted water and get it heating.

Add the carrot to the frying pan and cook a minute, add the red onion; cook 2-3 minutes, add the garlic, cook one minute, stir well. Add The tomatoes and then return the sausage to the pan. Add the basil, oregano, salt and black pepper and stir well, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. While that simmers, cook the pasta. I cooked mine 3-4 minutes less than the package said since we will bake this in the oven. Drain it. I also grated the mott cheese during these 10 minutes and heated the oven to 375 degrees. Add the drained mushroom to the frying pan for the last minute of cooking. Stir the pan well before ladling it into the casserole.

Get out a 2 quart casserole, I used a tall sided glass one. Put a ladle of the sausage sauce in the bottom, add 1/3 of the hot pasta and 1/3 of the cheese, layer it up two more times with the last bit of cheese on top. Put a piece of aluminum foil over the top to keep in the moisture and bake it for 30 minutes. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.  You might want to stir it up before ladling out servings to ensure it is well mixed. It looks like a bit of a mess but I promise you will really enjoy this easy sausage and pasta bake. It makes about 6-8 servings, 4 if folks are starving! Enjoy.

There it is; a hodgepodge looking dish but you are gonna love it! And yes; do make that salad to accompany it; mine has some homemade green goddess dressing. Mmmm.

Cloud Pie, Yes…that’s a Thing!

choc cloud pie

It’s spring but not much fresh fruit is out for pies; I am rather tired of apples pulled from refridgerated storage, ditto the pears. And peaches/plums.necterines are here after traveling thousands of miles from South America. So for a quick dessert try this recipe: a chocolate cloud pie. This works well with a premade graham cracker crust. My guy actually liked it better that way. I especially loved the version I made once with a mixture of chocolate cookies and ginger snaps. Do any crust you like.

chocolate pudding

It is not hard to make: I throw it together in three easy steps. It was one of those recipes where the sum of the ingredients is far tastier than the components would lead one to believe. The first time I made it everyone devoured their slice. some took slices home. The name came from the fact that it is as light as a fluffy cloud and from my love for my older sister who died over eight years ago. Margie’s love of pie was renown in our family and I am absolutely sure she would have adored this pie. Whip some up this week and woo your family with chocolaty goodness that should please everyone. choco cloud pie slice (2)

Notes: I used Amaretto this time instead of rum as I was out. I think cognac would be nice too. I have used bourbon too; works fine! I used 3/4 cup almonds as that’s all I had; worked great; I put 2 Tbsp. aside for topping and rest went on top of the baked cookie crust. You can buy a crust or make your own. I often leave out the almonds on the crust before you put in the filling. I don’t really miss them…good to know if you don’t have a full cup of almonds. A healthy slice is like eating a chocolate cloud….with puffs of cream and the crunch of toasted almonds. I used a hybrid crust when I made it a couple of years ago; I was tired of my gf oreos; so I scraped out and discarded the filling and crunched up the cookies, I thought I was a bit short on cookies so I added 7-8 gingersnaps I still had from my last cookie crust. Crunched up and mixed with butter, baked into what became a flavor delight of a cookie crust! One of the best pies I have ever made. And I make a lot of pies….

Chocolate Cloud Pie

Ingredients
1 pre-made graham crumb crust, GF
1 pkg chocolate pudding, the kind you have to cook
2.5 cups whole milk
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp cocoa

1 tbsp dark rum, Amaretto, brandy, coniac
3/4 cup slivered almonds, divided
1 1/3 cup heavy cream, divided

4 Tbsp. powdered sugar

Pour the almonds into a frying pan, no oil and toast them, stirring constantly. Alternately you could do this in the oven at a low temperature but I prefer the frying pan. Stop when they are medium brown, try not to let them get black on the sides.

Cook the filling; put the whole milk into a medium sized heavy sauce pan, Then add the dry pudding mix, the corn starch and the cocoa. Stir with a whisk as it heats on medium heat. Once the mixture is bubbling all over the surface turn off the heat and add the rum. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill until cooled. Take ½ cup heavy cream and whip. Add this to the pudding and whisk until blended. Take 4 tbsp of almonds and set aside for garnishing the pie later. Sprinkle the rest of the toasted almonds over the chocolate pie crust Gently spoon the filling into the pie shell on top of the toasted almonds. Chill at least 2 hours until set and cold. Whip the rest of the heavy cream in a chilled bowl, adding the sugar near the end of the whipping. Gently put dollops of it all over the pie top. Sprinkle the reserved almonds on top. Enjoy!

Originally posted March 2014. No changes to recipe.

Sheet Pan Chicken with Roasted Eggplant and Raw Veggie Caponata

This heat…I hate to run the oven.  But sometimes it is just worth it. This only bakes 30 minutes tops in a hot (450*) oven. I used boneless thighs. So I did  them a few minutes less than 30. No long marinading although I did put the cubed eggplant in salted water for a couple hours.  I had 3 Japanese eggplants from my garden and ripe  homegrown tomatoes galore. Chicken bought from Aldi’s. I found this recipe on Pinterest. I am so glad I tried it. The freshness of the raw and pickled vegetables in the caponata are what makes it so good. The chicken roasts on the sheet pan surrounded by the eggplant cubes tossed with olive oil.  While it roasts make the raw component. I am not really sure I will make this in the winter as summer tomatoes are just so superior in raw preparations like this delicious dish.

Here below is a link to the recipe. I will give the ingredients below. so you know what is needed to make it.  I promise you will love it.  I used some awesome paprika my goddaughter bought me in Germany.  Superior flavor. I used less red pepper flakes as I like most foods not too spicy.  I served mine with some small roasted potatoes I grew myself. So tasty.

https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/sheet_pan_chicken_with_roasted_eggplant_caponata/

tomato caponata salad

This is my slightly different version:

Sheet Pan Chicken with Eggplant and Raw Caponata

Ingredients: 

Chicken: 4 boneless chicken thighs

Rub: 1 tsp. sea salt

1 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper

2 Tbsp olive oil.

Eggplants:

2 lbs of cubed eggplant, 1 Tbsp olive oil

Caponata:

2 cups chunky fresh tomatoes cut in 1/2 inch cubes or sliced cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup sliced green olives

2 stalks celery sliced thin; hearts are best

2 Tbsp. fresh parsley chopped fine

2 Tbsp tiny capers

2 garlic cloves minced

Dressing: 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar; 2 Tbsp. EVOL and  1/2 tsp honey

I loved the fennel seeds in the roasted chicken and the raw salad. Enjoy!

roasted chicken and raw caponata

 

 

 

 

Un-stuffed Cabbage n Beef Casserole

Stuffed cabbage rolls are definitely a Pennsylvania treat. But making this recipe can be time consuming and complex; you have to cook the whole cabbage leaves and separately cook the filling and roll up it inside the half cooked leaves, sauce it and bake it. This is just way, way easier and pretty much better in my opinion. Less work, less heat in my kitchen (I did it in my Instant Pot but you could use a slow cooker or bake in the oven.) It isn’t a pretty dish to photograph and I frankly forgot to take pictures of making it. I debated even sharing it due to this but the flavor is so delish I knew I was gonna make it again so I wanted you to have the option to give it a try.

cabbages

Here is my entire cabbage crop. These fat leaves will make a great batch of this casserole.

This recipe is very homey; great in these trying times. I used some outside cabbage leaves but any fresh cabbage will do.  I used ground chuck but lots of people swear by ground pork or even ground turkey. The amount of spices is variable and you can use any sort of tomato product you wish to get that wonderful tomato flavor in there. I added some smoked paprika and a few raisins to make it like my old recipe. Sometimes I add a tablespoon of red wine vinegar to zip it up a bit. Fiddle with the ingredients as you wish. It will still be a comfort meal your family will appreciate. Makes about 6 servings.

cabbage n rice casserolle

Told you my photo was lousy! Trust me it tastes better than it looks. And it looked better the first time we had it.

Angie’s Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef

2 big garlic cloves, minced

1 med-large onion diced fine

About 4 cups of cabbage cut into 1-2 inch squares/chunks

1 can (13.5 oz) diced tomatoes

16 oz can plain tomato sauce

1.5 cups beef or chicken broth

1 tsp paprika

½ tsp. smoked paprika

A Tbsp brown sugar (optional…some folks love, some hate this)

2/3 cup white or parboiled brown rice, uncooked

  • sea salt

¼ tsp ground pepper

¼ cup raisins (optional)

 

Directions: In instant pot or big pan brown ground beef: I sprayed it with cooking spray before starting. Or use a tsp or two of mild olive oil. After the beef is half browned add the onions, stir a couple minutes; add the garlic too.  Add the spices and stir. Add the tomatoes, broth and cabbage, stir, then add the sugar, rice and salt/pepper. Stir well so nothing is stuck to the bottom. Cook in IP under pressure for 35 minutes. Let rest 10 min before depressurizing and adding optional raisins. Then serve. You can bake it in oven for 45 minutes. Slow cooker for maybe 6 hours? I don’t use that function often but I am sure it would work fine for this recipe.

Enjoy!

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie

Strawberry season is here and rhubarb is plentiful right now so let’s make a pie with these spring fruits. This is a crowd favorite and you will certainly get a few compliments if you make it for your family.

This is an easy pie to construct and you can store any leftover crumb mixture in a sealed container in the fridge; it keeps a few weeks.  The GF crust will work for any pie and the GF crumb topping is perfect for any crumb pie.  If you prefer a solid crust just double the crust part and top your pie with it.  Be sure to cut some slits for steam escape!

Please make every effort to use local strawberries; can get at most farm stands.  This pie really showcases the strawberries more than the rhubarb which is a silent partner so that is why I suggest you get the best; locally grown sweet ripe strawberries to make your perfect pie. If you don’t get local, at least get organic berries. They are much healthier for you and probably more flavorful.

Bake and enjoy an early summer pie in just a few minutes of work.  Don’t eat it hot; it should be cooled to room temperature or even chilled. I eat it both ways and love it either way.  I am sure you could top this with vanilla ice cream for even more yumminess.

Angie’s GF Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie

Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 tbsp sweet rice flour

1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg. egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Spray 9 inch metal pie pan with cooking spray, dust with white rice flour.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembles coarse meal.  Add egg and citrus juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes while you chop the rhubarb into ½ inch chunks and hull/slice the strawberries.

Filling:

2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and cut in thick slices

2-3 cups cut up fresh rhubarb – place in medium bowl

Mix with

½ to 2/3  cup sugar ( I used ½ cup but you might like it sweeter.)

1/3 c gluten free flour mix (see below recipe or Better Batter flour works great.)

I sometimes add a tsp. of orange zest to the filling; a great pairing with these fruits.

Crust: Roll out pie crust in a pie bag or between the two sheets of wax paper; try to get the thickness even, no thick middle! Peel off one side of paper and place in pie pan, centered.  Remove other slice of wax paper.  Crimp edges all around.  Fill with dry strawberry – rhubarb mixture

Crumb topping

Put all four ingredients in the same mixing bowl you made the bottom crust in and mix well with mixer paddle until crumbs form.

¾ c brown rice flour mix

½ c sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

1/3 c cold butter cut into six chunks

Continued directions: Sprinkle the top of the pie with crumb mix; use as much as you like.  I like about ½ to 2/3 of the mixture.  Up to your personal taste… It sinks partially into the fruit mixture and adds lots of sweetness and eye appeal.

Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 40-50 minutes until bubbly and the crust is light brown.  I have a bottom heat oven so my crust gets nice and brown.  If that is an issue for you, bake the empty bottom crust ten minutes before filling so it gets a head start.

Cool at least 2 to 4 hours before serving at room temperature.

Brown Rice Flour Mix
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

This post was originally shared in July 2015.  Slight changes to the text were made but the recipe is pretty much the same.