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May 2014

Breakfast sausage from scratch!

I'm going to just cut to the chase on this one:

Make your own breakfast sausage.  I implore you!

It's so stinkin' easy you might wonder why you ever bought that already made stuff before.

Here is my recipe, but seriously... change it up to suit your own family's taste.  Adjust the amount of spices however you like.  

Breakfast sausage

Homemade Breakfast Sausage

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 Tbsp butter*
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2- 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 garlic powder (optional)

Put all the ingredients into your food processor and pulse for a few seconds until the everything is fully mixed.  If you do not have a food processor, of course you can do it by hand.  But you may want to soften the butter first to make sure it gets fully incorporated into the mixture.  If you don't like the idea of garlic for breakfast, then leave it out.  I personally like the added flavor.

Form the mixture into small patties and pan fry them in a small amount of butter or oil until golden brown.  Serve immediately or freeze for another day!

*Yes, I put butter in my sausage.  It sounds weird, but I like the idea of butter instead of extra pork fat.  I tried it because the first batch of sausage was too dry without some sort of fat.  The butter moistens it up while giving it another layer of flavor.

I like dipping this sausage in maple syrup or as a side for my scrambled eggs.  But you can do anything you want with it!  In fact, a nice sausage, egg and cheese on a biscuit sounds pretty good right about now... mmmm!


My version of Palacsinta AKA: Hungarian crepes filled with sugary sweet goodness

Let me start by saying I have absolutely no idea if this is what you would call an "authentic" Hungarian recipe or not.  I just know that when I was a kid we would eat these ALL the time.  Being that my father's side of the family is 100% Hungarian, I assume it came from there. 

Or maybe my half- Swedish half-German mom saw the recipe in a book and thought it looked good.  I don't know.  Either way, over the years I've adapted my own recipe for palacsinta which IS a Hungarian word for crepes.  I like to make them with a touch of cinnamon and serve them filled with either jam or cottage cheese ..or both!   


My version of Palacsinta

    •  2 large eggs
    • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 cup skim milk
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp sugar
    • Butter for the pan

Mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.  Lightly beat the eggs.  Slowly beat in flour mixture so the mixture does not get frothy. Stir in the milk slowly as well.  Your batter will be very thin and runny.

If you have a crepe pan, that's great.  I personally do not, so I use a regular skillet which works just as well.  Heat the skillet on medium high until it is very hot.  To test, flick a bit of water on the pan.  If the water dances around and then evaporates, your pan is ready.

Now is when the fun part begins.  Be ready to move fast, because the whole process of cooking a crepe takes under 1 minute.  

Brush a small amount of butter on the pan and pour about 1/5 cup batter into the middle .  Pick up the pan by the handle and immediately swirl it so the batter can spread evenly and form your crepe.  Once the top looks dry (in about 30 seconds) flip the crepe.  It should only take about 15-20 seconds for the other side of the crepe to be cooked.

You will undoubtedly need a few tries to get it right.  Don't be discouraged!  Keep going.  And as a side note, those funny looking crepes still taste just as good.  I found this video that shows a good technique for making crepes, if you would like to have a visual on it.  Just click right here.

Layer the finished crepes on a plate lined with wax paper and cover with a lid to keep them warm until you are done withthe whole batch.

To serve, either fold the crepes and dot with jam or roll them up with a mixture of cottage cheese, sugar and cinnamon.  To make enough for eight crepes, I make my cottage cheese mixture by simply sitrring together about a cup of cottage cheese, 1 Tbsp sugar and 1/8 tsp cinnamon.  

You can store extras in the freezer by layering the crepes between pieces of wax paper and placing the lot in a bag.




Chicken corn chowda lite AKA: I ran out of cream

If we ever have any chicken and corn left over from a barbeque - which is a rarity- I like to make chicken corn chowder.  It's so easy and makes a great, hearty weekend lunch before soccer games.  I love to load it up with a bunch of potatoes and thicken it with a bit of cream to make it even better.  

On Friday night, we just so happened to have both chicken AND corn left over after our barbeque dinner so I decided to make us some Saturday soup.  However, as usual I was out of one of the key ingredients: cream.  

As I have found with most of my cooking endeavors, sometimes mistakes turn out for the better.  In this case, I found that omitting the cream turned the chowder into a light delicious springtime treat!  Here's my recipe for chicken corn chowda lite!

Chicken chowder

Chicken Corn Chowda Lite

  • 2 cooked chicken breasts* 
  • 1/2 cup cooked corn kernels (leftover corn on the cob is perfect)
  • 2 Tbsps butter
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 rib celery diced
  • 2 small carrots diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 3 medium or 2 large Eastern potatoes sliced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • salt & pepper

Cut the chicken breasts into bite size pieces and set aside with the corn.  In a soup pot, add the butter, onions, celery carrots and bay leaf.  Cook on medium for about 5 minutes stirring frequently.  Add the parsley and potatoes and toss to coat.  Add chicken broth and bring to a slight boil.  Turn down the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.  Add the chicken, corn and salt & pepper to taste.  Once the chicken is heated through, remove from the stove and serve.  

*You can use any type of cooked chicken, but for some reason chicken that was cooked with a little barbeque sauce on it tastes particularly good in this recipe.  In fact, I may even add some barbeque sauce to my soup if I'm using any other type of cooked chicken just to give it that extra kick.

Springtime pasta with chicken and vegetables

There are just some meals that scream SPRING IS HERE!  This beautiful little pasta dish just makes me feel all happy inside.  It's a nice all-inclusive meal that has something for just about everyone.  It's not quite a hot pasta dish, and not quite a pasta salad either.  It reminds me of the spring weather that can't decide if it should be cold or hot so it's a little of both.  And it's easy to make, too! I hope you will try it.Spring pasta

Springtime pasta with chicken and vegetables

  • 1 box rotini pasta cooked according to package
  •  3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite pesto sauce
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 1 cup button mushrooms sliced thick
  • 1/2 cup cooked corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup rep bell pepper chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp  Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds or chopped walnuts (or if you don't want nuts, try Chinese noodles!)

Cook the pasta according to the directions.  While the pasta is cooking, heat up a seperate pan on medium high.  Add the olive oil and then add the chicken.  Salt and pepper the chicken to your liking and cook in the medium high pan until it is no longer pink- about 5-7 minutes on each side.  When the pasta is done, drain it and toss it with the pesto sauce in a fairly large salad bowl.  Cut up the chicken into bite size pieces and toss into the pasta.  Toss in the rest of the ingredients minus the nuts.  When everything looks as pretty as you think it should, top the mixture with the nuts and serve.




Steak fries with bacon and cheddar AKA: My new favorite thing

I have been doing some serious thinking the last few days.  And guess what I came up with.  

Potatoes are my favorite food.

Yep.  Potatoes are so versatile.  They can be eaten at every meal and in between without anyone even batting an eyelash.  They can be boiled, fried, baked, mashed, shredded, roasted, name it!



Here is my latest use of those beautiful bad boys.  

Steak fries

Steak fries with bacon and cheddar

  • 4 large Eastern or Idaho potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Montreal Seasoning  (If you do not have Montreal seasoning, you can just use salt, pepper and garlic powder)
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat shredded sharp cheddar
  • 6 strips of bacon cooked crispy and crumbled
  • 1 tsp fresh chives chopped
  • sour cream (optional)

Cut the potatoes into wedges about 1/2 inch thick on the thickest part.  Toss them in olive oil and Montreal seasoning and bake at 400° for about 30 minutes or until crispy.  Check them every few minutes and turn when necessary.  When they are don, place the potatoes in a broiler safe pan (I like to use an oven safe frying pan for presentation purposes) and top with crumbled bacon and cheese.  Broil until cheese is melted about 4-5 minutes.  Sprinkle on the chives and serve with a side of sour cream, if you'd like.


Fried Spaghetti with parmesan AKA: My favorite snack during high school

Back in high school, my friends and I used to go to our one friend Melissa's house quite a lot.  Unfortunately for her dad, we frequently ate them out of house and home.  We would raid the cupboards and eat just about anything we could find - which was usually saltines or some other non-memory-worthy item.

But there was this one thing that Melissa taught us all to make: Fried Spaghetti.  It was so simple.  She would just plop a bunch of cooked spaghetti noodles in a pan with butter then throw in an egg and some parmesan cheese.  When I tell you we loved it, that would be an understatement.

Over the years, I've made that recipe about a million times.  But I've adapted it to my family's tastes by adding some spices and changing the process a bit.  Here is my version of Melissa's fried spaghetti.

Fried spaghetti

Fried Spaghetti with Parmesan

  • 1/2 pound thin spaghetti cooked al dente according to package directions
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/8 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a pan and add the cooked spaghetti noodles.  Toss to coat the noodles in the butter and let them heat up on medium.  In a bowl, whisk the eggs together with the parmesan, garlic, basil and oregano.  Turn the heat down to medium low.  Pour the egg mixture over the noodles and toss it around so that it is distributed throughout.  Prevent the egg from burning by tossing the noodles frequently.  It should only take a minute or two for the egg to cook.  Once the dish is finished cooking, remove it to a plate and use salt & pepper to your liking.  (I like a lot of pepper.)

Every time I eat this, it brings back some seriously crazy memories.  I love it. Hope you do too.