Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Italian Sausage Pasta Skillet


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  You know those days you have where you can’t get anything done.  It might be a day off of work, but is it really?  Especially when you have scheduled two appointments, two drop offs for the kids, three pick-ups for the kids, piano, choir and bedtime by eight…You know. You have those days too.  At what point during the day are you supposed to make dinner?  At what point do you actually have time to eat dinner?  Aghhhh!  I have one those days every week and this is the go-to meal to get the family fed, relax for a few moments, and breath. 

  This recipe comes from the Pillsbury cookbook, Easy Week Night Dinners , and that is exactly what it is.  Italian Sausage Pasta Skillet,  contains 7 ingredients and it can be whipped together in a flash.  It is a two pan dish, one for the pasta to boil in and one for the dish to cook in.  It might not look super fancy but it is delicious!  I serve it with garlic bread (from the freezer, shhhhh) and everybody is happy!  If you are feeling more loving than usual you could serve a side salad with this to round out the meal.

Hopefully this dish will make your week a little bit easier. 


Italian Sausage Pasta Skillet

1 pound Italian pork sausage

8oz heavy cream

1 pound box of pasta, you can pick whatever shape you like

3/4 cup chopped tomatoes, seeded

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional:  dried chili flakes for a little heat


1.  Put a pot of water on the stove to cook the pasta in.  Cook pasta according to the package directions.  When cooked, drain the pasta.

2.  In the meantime, brown Italian sausage in a large skillet on medium-high.  Make sure you crumble it so it gets evenly distributed in the pasta dish.  Drain the excess grease off of the sausage and return to pan.

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3.  Add the oregano, (dried chili flakes, if using) chopped tomatoes, and heavy cream to the pan with the sausage in it.  Cook for five minutes on medium until the sauce starts to thicken.

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4.  Add the drained pasta to the meat mixture and stir to coat the pasta.   Add the dried parsley, salt and pepper.  Let cook another five minutes to warm through. 

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5.  Leave it in the pan and serve!  No fancy dishes.  Serve it right out of the skillet. 

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Friday, April 22, 2011



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    I am not exactly sure how to say the word gourgeres, but I can tell you exactly how they taste.  Are you ready?  ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!  What are they, you ask?  FABULOUS!  Ok, I will be serious now.  I have become obsessed with wanting to make these ever since I found the recipe for them.  They are warm bites of deliciousness.  So light and airy and cheesy.  Oh so cheesy.  Look at them!  Aren’t they beautiful?!

    This post will be the first in a three part series/study of pate choux dough.  I have always been fascinated by it.  Gourgeres are a simple presentation of the use of pate choux dough. They easy to bake puffs, made with milk, flour, water, butter and eggs.  What makes them extraordinary is the cheese that gets stirred in before baking and the magic that happens in the oven.  Gourgees are used in France as an appetizer, just a nibble to get the wine flowing and the party started.  This recipe is so easy you could have a party every night.


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  I found this recipe in Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan.  This is the second recipe I am featuring from this book.  This book is a sound investment.  The pictures are gorgeous and the recipes are easy to follow.  Dorie tested the recipes a number of times using French and American ingredients in case you don’t have access to one or the other.  She tells tales of how she came to each recipe and what the inspirations were behind them.  My pages in the book are already becoming crinkled and I have only made two of the recipes.  That is the true sign of a cookbook that is loved.

   To make this recipe successful there are few key notes.  1.  Make sure you have all the ingredients premeasured and ready.  The recipe doesn’t take that long to make and each step is crucial.  2.  Make sure your eggs are at room temperature.  If your eggs are really cold when you add them into the flour butter mixture they will bring down the temperature of the mix and it won’t mix in properly.  3.  Don’t be alarmed when you are beating the eggs into the flour mixtures and your dough separates a little.  Just keep adding your eggs one at a time and by the end of the last egg the dough will come together and become smooth.   Knowing these easy tricks should make your attempt at gourgeres a successful one! 

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Oh and here is the best thing!  You can freeze these!  Once you pull them out of the oven let them come to room temperature.  Leave them on the pan and put it right into the freezer.  When they are frozen you can then put them into a Ziploc freezer bag with a date on them and you are ready to go for the next party.  All you have to do is put them straight into the oven from the freezer and warm them up!

Now you guys have no excuses why you can’t make these fancy French biscuits.  It really is a very simple process and I hope everybody tries these.  Use your imagination about what to put in them.  You could use bits of ham or bacon.  All of the different fresh herbs would be fantastic and you can change them with season.  Be inventive!  If anybody decides to make these take a picture of them and send them to me.  I would love to see them!





1/2 cup whole milk (vitamin D)

1/2 cup water

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into 4 pieces

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

5 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups coarsely grated cheese such as Gruyere or cheddar- I used smoked Gruyere and English cheddar

1.  Make sure the racks in the oven are an equal distance apart from each other and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  If you don’t have that you can use foil sprayed lightly with nonstick spray.

2.  Bring the milk, water, butter and salt to a rapid boil in a heavy bottom sauce pan over high heat. 

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3.  Add the flour all at once, turn the heat to medium-low and start stirring like a crazy person with a wooden spoon or heavy duty whisk.  The dough will come together and a light crust will form on the bottom of the pan.  Keep stirring with zest and vigor for another minute to dry out the dough. 

4.  Turn the dough into the bowl of a stand mixer or a bowl that can be used with an electric hand mixer.  Or a bowl that you can exercise your arm and a wooden spoon.

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5.  Let the dough sit for a minute, then add the eggs one by one and beat the dough after each addition until the egg is absorbed into the dough.  Make sure you incorporate each egg fully before adding the next egg.  This step might take a little extra effort but it is all worth it.

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6.  Beat in the grated cheese until completely mixed in. 

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7.  Once the dough is made you need to spoon it into mounds right away.  Use the two tablespoon method to help yourself spoon the dough onto the prepared pans.  Scoop up a tablespoon of dough and use the other spoon to push it off onto the pan. 

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8.  Leave two inches space between the mounds of dough. 

9.  Put both pans in the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 375 degrees.  Bake for 12 minutes and then flip the trays.  Put the top tray on the bottom shelf and vise versa.  When you are flipping the pans, be sure to rotate them as well.  This ensures that the gourgeres bake evenly.

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10.  Once the pans are flipped, continue baking for another 15 minutes or until golden brown and the gourgeres are all puffed up. 

Serve warm or cool to room temperature.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

White Chocolate and Lime Cheesecake Bars


Ok so I cheated again.  I didn’t find this recipe in a cookbook.  I needed a fast recipe that I could put together for a get-together in less than three hours and this one looked delicious!  I adapted it from the Epicurious Website.  It sounded refreshing and like something that would be delicious in the summer time.  It is trying to be summer around here.  It is still a long ways away, but every once in awhile the sun will come out.  I also see hints of spring in yard.  I have one daffodil that comes up every year and it is almost flowering.
This recipe, “White Chocolate and Lime Cheesecake bars are so easy.  There are only a few steps to the recipe and only a few ingredients.  I used Ghirardelli white chocolate because I love the creaminess of it.  You can use whatever brands you like.  Make sure when you are melting the chocolate that you have your bowl just barely over the simmering water.  Also, make sure you don’t slosh any of the water into the chocolate or you are going to have a terrible mess on your hands.