Penne with Sausage in Rose Sauce

by Monday, November 12, 2012
Okay, here is another partly-improvised recipe from yours truly. I tried to use ingredients we had that needed using, including some Isernios Mild Italian Sausages (LOVE!) and the last of the tomatoes from our garden which had ripened on the window sill. Knowing Chris hates tomatoes, I had to find a way to incorporate them without being too tomato-y, so I decided on a rose sauce.

Penne with Sausage in Rose Sauce 
Serves 2, ~20 minutes

2 cups penne pasta
2 large Italian sausages*, casing removed and broken up (or 1/2 lb ground sausage)
3 small Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped**
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup cream
3 cloves garlic, minced 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes*
1-2 tsp Italian seasoning blend
2 pinches of fresh parsley, optional
salt, pepper

 * I tend to prefer mild Italian sausage and then spice as I like. If you like hotter, you can get hot Italian sausage and/or use more ground red pepper 

** If you are one of those people who LIKES tomatoes, chop an additional Roma and toss in with sauce during final step, or use as garnish on top.

  1. Start water boiling, salt, add pasta when it begins to roil. Cook al dente while continuing with below steps. 
  2. Heat olive oil in large pan over medium heat 
  3. Add sausage to pan and cook until no longer pink ~8 minutes. 
  4. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are translucent ~6-8 minutes. 
  5. Using an immersion blender or Magic Bullet type device, put tomatoes and red pepper flakes into cream and blend until tomatoes are blended to your liking. Careful not to over-blend and turn cream into butter, but a thickening of the cream during this step is a bonus, IMO as it shortens reduction time in the pan.
  6. Pour cream into pan with sausage/onion/garlic; add Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste; heat through. If you feel the cream needs more reduction, give it a few minutes on a low simmer to thicken.
  7. Drain pasta, put pasta in pan with sausage and sauce and toss to coat.
  8. Divide between two pasta bowls, garnish with tomato and/or a pinch of parsley, and enjoy!
Other optional suggestions:
Diced green or red pepper adds color and flavor. Add with just before step 3 and allow to cook a minute before adding sausage to pan.
Some people can't stand a pasta without parmesan. Go ahead, throw some in or on this dish as you like. I didn't see the need, but I understand if you do!

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

by Thursday, November 08, 2012
I just improvised an amazingly delicious fall soup using ingredients I had around the house. Yes, I almost always have a butternut squash around the house this time of  year. It keeps a good long time and I love cooking with butternut squash (My fave other than soups? Jaime Oliver's butternut squash muffins with lemon sour cream frosting. OH YUM!). Anyhoot, I knew I wanted to use our garam masala with whatever I was making, so here is my recipe that turned out STELLAR if I do say so myself!

1 medium-large butternut squash
5 medium carrots, 1"+ chunks
1 large yellow onion, rough chop
2-3 cloves garlic, small chop
1 can chicken stock* (~15 oz)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp garam masala
1 stick butter, sliced into individual Tbsp pats
olive oil
salt and pepper
*you could sub veg stock if you want a fully vegetarian soup, of course

Preparing the Butternut Squash
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Carefully slice butternut squash down center lengthwise. Poke a few holes with a knife or fork along the now cut surface of the thickest part of the squash halves.
Place each half face-up on a cookie sheet covered with foil.
Sprinkle each half generously with pepper, salt.
Divide half of the butter pats between the two slices, reserving the rest of the butter for later. Dot pieces along the top surface of each half of the squash.
Finish by sprinkling the brown sugar over the top of both squash halves.
Put cookie sheet with squash halves in oven and set timer for 45 minutes

Adding Carrots
Now roughly slice carrots into 1"+ thick chunks.
Toss in a Tbsp of olive oil, sprinkle with salt
After the squash has been in the oven for 15 minutes, add the carrots to the pan and let cook the rest of the 30 minutes.
Don't worry if butter and/or brown sugar get on the carrots--that's a Good Thing.

When the timer goes off, give your veggies a poke with a fork and make sure they are soft. You don't want them mushy, per se, but soft enough to mash with a fork without too much effort. If they need more time, do it in 5 minute increments and keep checking back.

When done remove from oven and let cool enough to handle. Then scoop the squash from its skin (or peel the skin away from the squash, whatever works), and put in a bowl with carrots, mash roughly together with fork and hold to the side while you work on onions and garlic (they don't need to be mashed up much, just muddled together).

While the Squash and Carrots are Cooking
Roughly chop the onion and add to a large pan or stock pot over medium heat with olive oil. Cook until translucent.
Roughly small-chop garlic, add to pan along with remaining butter when the onions are translucent.  Cook another 3-5 minutes until garlic scent begins to release.

Bring it together
Add squash/carrot mash to pan and mix together with spatula.
Sprinkle garam masala over the top and incorporate.
Put all into a blender, or blend with hand-blender in the pot, with the can of chicken stock. If you want it a little thicker, don't use your entire can (I used about 3/4 of my can for the thickness I wanted--just add a little at a time until you reach desired thickness).

If you plan to eat it right away, heat a little longer to finish incorporating all the elements. Otherwise, transfer to your preferred storage container and put in fridge. Just spoon up desired amount into a pan and heat over medium heat until desired temp.

For dinner, 5-minute butter-sage chicken alongside this bowl of deliciousness would be a great accompaniment...which is just what I am doing tonight!

Daily Gratitude #7 - Four More Years

by Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Daily Gratitude #7 - I am thankful Obama is still our President. I don't think he is the end all be all, I don't think every step we have made is above reproach. But overall I believe everything has been in the right direction, and I pledge to continue to try and "lean forward" to continue the good works, and improve our country for EVERYONE.

Daily Gratitude #6 - Tears

by Tuesday, November 06, 2012
Daily Gratitude #6 - I say that I hate that I cry at everything, and to a point that's true. But it is also a source of gratitude that my family and mentors raised me to be an empathetic human being who can acutely feel emotion, happy or sad, and express it in such an undeniable way.

Daily Gratitude # 5 - Furkids

by Monday, November 05, 2012

Daily Gratitude #5 - I am grateful for sweet puppies. My dogs are such a source of joy for me, and getting to be their steward is a gift. I hope they can somehow feel how much I adore them.

Daily Gratitude #4 - Technology

by Sunday, November 04, 2012
Gratitude #4 - I am grateful for technology! Wow, what an age we live in, right? I love that when I want to know something about my world, I can have it at my fingertips in moments. As a big old nerd meets geek, this thrills me to no end.

Daily Gratitude #3 - My Brain!

by Saturday, November 03, 2012
Daily Gratitude #3 - I am grateful for my brain. I am grateful for the capacity to reason, consider, dream... I love that my brain was trained (by my family, my teachers, my friends) to be used as a tool for good work in my life, and that those elders and colleagues encouraged me to question any "truth" I was given to find the answers for myself. Never has the value of this cognitive power been more clear that in this election, where I sadly see so many accept what they are given without questioning or reasoning. Thank you brain, and thank you all the examples set by my betters as I have grown up to know to use this invaluable tool.

Daily Gratitude #2 - Work

by Friday, November 02, 2012
I am thankful for my work, which affords me flexibility so my creativity can flow at a more natural pace for me. I know this is a rare and precious perk of working for yourself, and that is why I am so grateful for it.

November Daily Gratitude #1

by Thursday, November 01, 2012

Ah! November Daily Gratitude starts today. Post something you are thankful for every day in November.

I am thankful for sweet warm puppy fur between my fingers.


On this blog I share my personal posts about cooking and knitting, travel and other musings; while I will blog about dance-specific topics over on the Deep Roots Dance blog:

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