Sausage “Alfredo”

For some reason I’m drawn to the dishes that are a play or rip-off of other dishes.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe I feel like this play-on-another-dish is an underdog and I kind of feel like Robin Hood, giving that dish a chance.  Or I could feel a little like Peter Pan, with the dishes that never want to grow up and be the big, bold dish it could have been.  No, stay, play, have fun!  Or, maybe it’s just that these dishes are easier than the actual dish.  Ya, I have to go with that last one.  As much as I’d like to be Robin Hood or Peter Pan, I just don’t look good in tights.  

Ingredients:

1 Pkg Hillshire Farm smoked sausage
12 oz cooked pasta, drained
2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbs Italian seasoning
1 Tsp garlic salt
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pt cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups frozen peas

Preparation:

Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.

While preparing pasta, cut sausage in ½” – 1″ thick slices.  Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium – high heat.  Sauté sausage for about 5 minutes, until crispy.  Drain any grease.  Add cream, Italian seasoning, and garlic salt.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.  Add tomatoes and peas. Simmer 4-5 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken.

Stir in Parmesan and add to pasta.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Chardonnay
Semillon
White Burgundy

Serves 6 – 8

Total time: 30 minutes

Sausage "Alfredo"

Sausage “Alfredo”

*Derived from: Hillshire Farms

Easy Fried Rice

There is not a lot that intimidates me, especially with cooking.  I view life as a “roll-up your sleeves and give it a try” ride.  This has translated very well to my cooking.  Sure, I’ve had my major flubs (#thoseareNOTsnickerdoodles, #omgthatshorrible), but it doesn’t stop me from trying new things or rejected things over again.  And then we come to fried rice.  I know, I know.  Fried rice?!?!  Really?  Fried rice??  You don’t say.  But, I come by my intimidation quite easily, I simply adore fried rice.  You know how you set someone up in your mind as just the end-all, be-all of X (insert talent here).  But you don’t want to actually meet Said Talent of X because what if they turn out to be a real jerk and forever change your opinion of them?  Well, that’s kind of how I feel about fried rice.  Now, before you attempt to cart me off in a straight jacket for a padded cell, let me explain.  I so adore fried rice that I was terrified of messing it up SO bad that it would be forever etched on my brain.  And I would never be able to go to OIC Bowl again and stare lovingly at my bowl of fried rice without images of how badly I ruined it.  So there you have it, rational or not.  This attempt, however, has turned it around for me.  I’ve concurred fried rice, and still love it!

Ingredients:

2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded (uncooked) carrots
1 cup sliced green onions, divided
3 cups cooked rice
½ cup thawed frozen peas
¼ low sodium soy sauce

Preparation:

Spritz a large nonstick pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.  Add eggs, making sure to cover the bottom of the pan with the eggs.  When eggs start to set, break them into pieces and cook about 1 more minute, until cooked through.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Spritz pan 1 more time; when re-warmed, add carrots and all but 2 Tbs of green onions; sauté until carrots are crisp-tender; about 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in cooked rice, peas and soy cause; cook until heated through, stirring once or twice, about 1 minute.  Gently stir in cooked egg and remaining scallions; heat through.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Grüner Veltliner
Gewürztraminer
Riesling

Serves 6

Total time: 30 minutes

East Fried Rice

Easy Fried Rice

*Derived from Weight Watchers

Orzo “Paella”

There is something about orzo.  The texture.  The size. It’s just the most amazing little cross between rice and pasta.  A rice / pasta cross-over!  This recipe calls itself a “paella” and it makes for a wonderful “when I grow up I want to be a paella” dish.  The flavors come together really nicely and are a great compliment to each other.  I was able to use left over chicken, which is always a plus for me, and it had shrimp.  As most people know, we are a big shrimp eating family.  The peas were a “no go” for the kiddos, but that was no surprise.  This got a big thumps-up and was wonderfully quick to make!

Ingredients:

¾ lb large frozen shrimp; cleaned, shelled, thawed with tails on (I used what I had in the freezer, which were medium, and they worked just fine)
Juice of ½ a lemon
¼ tsp each salt and pepper
1 Tbs plus 1 tsp olive oil
3 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
¼ tsp turmeric
1 lb orzo (can sub whole wheat for a healthier meal)
½ cup frozen peas
½ small onion, finely chopped (time-saving tip: buy pre-chopped either in the freezer section or fresh in produce)
2-4 cooked chicken thighs cut into 1″ chunks
¼ cup roasted red pepper, cut into thin strips (I bought the jarred version, though you could roast your own)
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425°.  Place first four ingredients and 1 tbs of olive oil in large zip-lock bag.  In medium pot, bring chicken broth and 2 cups water to boil.  Add turmeric and orzo; boil for 6 minutes.  Drain, reserving ¾ cup of cooking liquid.  Place frozen peas in the broth and let sit.

Heat remaining 1 tsp olive oil in a large pan.  Add onion and cook until translucent.  Add shrimp and cook 3 minutes; flip halfway through.  Add chicken thighs; cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add drained orzo to pan.  Pour peas and reserved liquid over orzo and stir.  Finally, stir in red pepper.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Top with parsley and serve.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Beaujolais
Chianti
Garmay
Grüner Veltliner
Sangiovese

Serves 6 (and probably some left for lunch)

Prep time: 15 minutes  Cooking time: 22 minutes

Orzo "Paella

Orzo “Paella

*Derived from Fitness Magazine

Beef, Veggies and Rice

Sometimes you just need to get dinner on the table fast. Maybe it’s been a long day and you left work a little late. Or you finally made it to the pharmacy, after hopping the puddles of an early storm, only to discover the pharmacy is closed (is it that late already?). You’re finally home and frantically trying to put a meal together that does not include bags or boxes, but every movement is met with, “Mommy! He . . . ” or, “Mom! She . . .” It’s too early to call Calgon (totally dating myself. Do they even still make Calgon?) and no one has been fed. This recipe is tantamount to Calgon in that you can get a tasty, not processed meal on the table. Oh, and once again I’m singing the accolades of my rice cooker! Everyone quietly eating almost makes you think you are soaking in that bubbly warm bath, sipping your favorite glass of vino

Ingredients:

2 cups low sodium beef broth
1 1/2 cups rice
1 cup sliced carrot (buy them pre-sliced to save even more time for bubbles)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 lb top round steak, trimmed of fat and cut into thin strips (Or save time and buy fajita steak. Are those bubbles I hear calling??)
1/4 cup onion chopped ( you can buy this pre-chopped, too. Think of it as having your own personal Sous chef)
1 cup fresh snap pea pods, strings removed (Who has time for this?? I subbed a cup of frozen peas)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preparation:

 To rice cooker, add broth and carrots. Set it and forget it. If you choose to not use a rice cooker: heat broth to boiling in 2 quart saucepan. Stir in rice and carrots. Heat to boiling; reduce heat, cover and simmer 6-8 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender; remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.

While rice cooks, heat oil in 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Cook beef and onion about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until beef is brown and onion tender. Stir in cooked rice and carrots, peas, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender. Add a small amount of water if it becomes dry before peas are tender.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Cabernet Sauvignon
Malbec
Merlot
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese
Petit Sirah

 Serves 4
Prep time: 15 minutes; Total time: 35 minutes

photo (4)

*Derived from Pillsbury