Spinach and Sausage Lasagna

This recipe is not your typical lasagna, but it’s a delicious twist on the classic.  Since the whole thing only uses 1/2 lb. of pasta, it’s really easy to make this very healthy by using extra lean sausage and low-fat cheeses

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Apple Sausage Stuffing

I decided to try out a “new” stuffing – one that was made from fresh bread, herbs and bright flavors like apples and cranberries.  It’s a nice change-up from the old faithful. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 French baguettes, chopped into small cubes
  • 3/4 lb. of sausage (approximately 2 large  links), removed from the casing (I like to use one spicy and one mild)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large stalks of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 Granny Smith apples (with skins), chopped small
  • 2 oz. dried cranberries
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Place your bread cubes onto a baking sheet and bake at 300°F for 7-8 minutes
  • Melt 1 stick of butter in a large saute pan and add in the chopped onions, celery and apples
  • Add in the loose sausage meat and saute with the vegetables
  • Saute the vegetables and sausage until the meat is cooked and the vegetables are tender
  • In a large bowl, mix the bread cubes with the beaten eggs
  • Fold in the sauteed vegetables and sausage
  • Pour in 1 cup of chicken broth
    • You basically want to get this mixture to a very moist consistency, but not too wet, if it needs more moisture add in more chicken stock
  • Butter the glass dish you’re going to bake it in and pack the stuffing into the dish
  • Pour some chicken broth on top or put small chunks of melted butter on top
  • Bake at 350° F for 45 mins covered – uncover and broil on low for an additional 5 minutes or until the top is golden and crispy

Baked Stuffed Mushrooms

These stuffed mushrooms are by far the best ones I’ve ever had.  To make them, I combined my mom’s recipe with the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe – the result was the ultimate baked stuffed mushroom.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 links of sausage (I used one sweet and one hot), removed from the casing
  • Approximately 25 large stuffing mushrooms
  • 1 bunch of scallions (about 8 chutes), finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 2/3 cup crushed Ritz crackers (1/2 of a sleeve)
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup powdered parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 5 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp Marsala wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Clean the mushrooms and remove all of the stems
  • Place the mushroom caps in a shallow bowl and toss with 3 tbsp of olive oil and 3 tbsp of Marsala wine – set aside
  • Finely chop all of the mushroom stems and set aside
  • In a large saute pan, heat the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and saute the loose sausage meat – make sure you keep separating the meat with a spoon so it doesn’t clump together
  • Once the sausage is browned, add in the chopped mushroom stems and 2 tbsp of butter and saute until the mushrooms have given off their liquid and they’re tender
  • Add in the scallions and saute for a few minutes
  • Add in the pressed garlic and saute for an additional minute or so
  • Stir in the Ritz cracker crumbs and panko breadcrumbs and thoroughly coat them with the mixture
  • Add in the mascarpone cheese and stir until the mixture is creamy (if you want a drier consistency, feel free to add in more panko)
  • Lastly, off the heat, stir in the parmesan cheese
  • Now, you’re ready to stuff your mushrooms!
  • Stuff each mushroom with a heaping amount of stuffing
  • Snugly line up your stuffed mushrooms in a baking dish
  • Bake at 325°F for 50 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender and the tops are browned

Classic Stuffing

This stuffing recipe is savory and delicious.  I’m going to be testing out some new stuffing recipes leading up to Thanksgiving, but this one is an old favorite.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 links of sausage, removed from the casing
  • 2 – 8 oz. containers of mushrooms (porcini, cremini or shitake), finely chopped
  • 1 bunch of scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of butter (Optional: 1 more stick for mixing with the stuffing)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups chicken broth (1 store-bought carton)
  • 1 bag of Pepperidge Farm Cornbread Stuffing
  • 1 bag of Pepperidge Farm Herbed Stuffing

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Melt 1 stick of butter in a large saute pan and add in the chopped mushrooms, scallions, celery
  • Add in the loose sausage meat and saute with the vegetables
  • Saute the vegetables and sausage until the meat is cooked and the vegetables are tender
  • In a large bowl, mix the two bags of stuffing with the two eggs
  • Fold in the sauteed vegetables and sausage
  • Pour in 2 – 3 cups of chicken broth (Optional: 1 stick of melted butter in place of some broth)
    • You basically want to get this mixture to a very moist consistency, but not too wet
  • Butter the glass dish you’re going to bake it in and pack the stuffing into the dish
  • Pour some chicken broth on top or put small chunks of melted butter on top
  • Bake at 350° F for 45 mins covered – uncover and broil on low for an additional 5 minutes or until the top is golden and crispy
    • This dish freezes really well – so you can make it ahead of time (don’t bake it) and defrost it when you need it!

Sausage and Peppers Balsamico

What you need to know to create this sweet and tangy pasta dish…

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. 1/2 of your favorite sausage (I typically buy 90% lean, 3/4 lb. sweet and 3/4 lb. spicy)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 orange pepper
  • 1 large vidalia onion
  • 1 lb pasta (any shape you desire – campanelle and penne work well)
  • 3 cups balsamic vinegar
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • Cornstarch (or flour)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp Sugar

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Fill a pot with salted water and bring the water to a boil
  • Spray a large saute or non-stick frying pan with cooking spray or coat it with 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • Remove the sausage from its casing and add it to the hot frying pan – make sure you break it up into small pieces with a spatula (or else you’ll end up with large chunks of sausage)
  • Add the chopped onions to the browned sausage and add an additional tbsp of olive oil
  • Cook the sausage and onions until the onions become translucent, then add in all of the chopped peppers and 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • Add in the last tbsp of olive oil and enough balsamic vinegar to cover all of the ingredients in the pan (approximately 3 cups) – this will become your sauce, so you want a lot of it
  • Add 1 tsp of salt (or more to taste) and 1 tbsp of sugar
  • Bring the balsamic sauce with all of the ingredients in it to a boil  – you’re going to cook this for about 10 minutes or until the peppers are tender – be careful not to overcook the peppers, you want to keep them a bit firm (if you want to speed up the process, cover the pan with a lid)
  • While these ingredients are cooking, pour your pasta into the boiling water – it should be done right around the time your peppers are cooked.  Once the pasta is cooked, strain it and put it aside to combine with the sauce later
  • When the peppers are cooked, sprinkle the cornstarch or flour 1 tbsp at a time over your sausage and pepper mixture – be sure to add it slowly because the sauce will thicken quickly (I typically add around 3 tbsp of cornstarch, which is the equivalent to 6 tbsp of flour)
  • Once you’ve reached your desired sauce consistency add it to your cooked pasta and stir together
  • Enjoy!