Tag Archives: sausage

Make a Meal from My Freezer: Reader Challenge!

Gentle Readers, is there anything better than a challenge? I think not. Long-time reader Blended Familia came to dinner the other night with this list in hand:

The Practical Cook Freezer Challenge: What Can I Make With This?

The Practical Cook Freezer Challenge: What Can I Make With This?

And a request. What can I make out of this? Delightful! First thing to note, there are warring camps here, as there always are. She is eating healthy and feeding an army of meat eaters. Not that meat isn’t healthy, but everyone runs differently. She needs a little, they want a lot.

BF is also looking to streamline the food budget, and meat, especially from the farmer’s market, is not cheap. How to blend these requests as seamlessly as her familia? Read on.

The Practical Cook Freezer Challenge: 5 Meals

1. Paella. This will use 1/2 a sausage and one package of chicken thighs and makes a lot. The onions and garlic are part of the recipe, combined with rice and tomatoes, you can make a lot. Great to make and freeze in portions if you’re cooking for something less than an army as well. Another bonus, this recipe lends itself well to the addition of hot sauce at the table. Add paprika and saffron in the process, but let people season to their level of fire.

2. Sausage and Greens. Bow to the meat eaters and make a bratwurst with whatever greens are in market at the time: kale, beet, mustard, etc. Simplify your life with a package of pierogie, stretch with applesauce, or make some mashed potatoes or hash browns. When I make this for The Practical Cook’s Junior, I eat double greens and let them have the extra sausage. Everyone’s happy.

Sausage, greens, and pierogie

Sausage, greens, and pierogie

3. Chorizo Burritos. The beauty of this one, you can use 1/2 package, or brown the whole thing and let everyone decide how much to add to their burrito. Stretch the meat with pinto beans, sweet potatoes, avocados, lettuce, rice, etc. I love chorizo for its intense flavor, and find a little bit goes a long way.

Hello beautiful sweet potatoes.

Hello beautiful sweet potatoes.

4. Gumbo. Another great way to use chicken thighs and sausage. Don’t fear okra, I beg you.I don’t want to hear about the slimy factor, not if you like Jell-O.  If you are unable to face it, add spinach or something else green here, even butterbeans, but do include tomatoes, onions, and rice.

Non-horsey Okra Pods

Non-horsey Okra Pods

5. Pasta Toss. For what I think is Italian sausage, this is ideal. You can cook it in slices separately with peppers and onions, and let people toss with red sauced pasta to taste. That way, you can go more veg if you choose. The big box Italian restaurants are doing this, take a page from their book. We do a lot of pasta bars, letting everyone choose their own taste adventure. Serve with a salad and call it a day.

The Joy of Self-Service: Pasta Bar

The Joy of Self-Service: Pasta Bar

Mission accomplished. These meals are set up to cook once but customize at the table. Meat can be featured in the quantities you prefer, and ingredients are used to stretch the whole thing.

What’s in your freezer? If you’d like to take the Freezer Challenge, post a comment below, send me an email, or tweet #freezerchallenge in my direction. I promise you, I can make a meal out of it.

Send your freezer-burned pictures, challenges, and bright ideas to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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On Friday, Ham and Cheese Tea Sandwiches (a recipe).

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Weekly Menus: Week of 5/20/2012

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook simply adores the internet. Where else can one go and find quality chicken and waffles suggestions with a simple question or two? Yes, it’s time to take the quest on the road again, I’m heading to Vegas for work, and conveniently pairing my love of chicken and waffles with my day job, which is getting people to eat chicken and waffles as an integrated stack. (Forgive the pun, for those of you who know “work me.”)

Fried chicken and waffles at Dame's. Wow.

Fried chicken and waffles at Dame’s. Wow.

But I digress, this is what the home team will be eating while I’m away. Thanks again to The Practical Cook’s Mom, who ran roughshod over my initial meal suggestions. And will bring an arsenal of ingredients no matter what. So here’s what may or  may not be eaten next week:

Weekly Menus: 5/20/2012

Weekly Menus: 5/20/2012

And the Four Square Grocery List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 5/20/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 5/20/2012

The CSA will be delayed a week for simplicity’s sake.

Which all translates to:

Sunday: Pizza?
We’re hosting some Complicated Vegetarians, so the menu is TBD. Pizza is always a good choice in this situation, as is pasta bar.

Monday: Beans and Rice (Burritos) or Spinach Pie
There were some artistic differences here. I was suggesting one thing, TPC’s Mom will cook another. Do I really have anything to say about it? No. Will my kids pick her dish over mine? Every time.

Tuesday: Sammies
A plate of sammies cut into quarters is a great meal. Cut off the crusts and call it high tea.

Sandwiches, fruit, and brownies on a fancy tiered platter.

Sandwiches, fruit, and brownies on a fancy tiered platter.

Wednesday: Spaghetti and Salad
A meal of my youth, with meat sauce. Of course we typically had it with black-eyed peas or some other prominent Italian vegetable. (We were fusion before it was cool.)

Thursday: Sausage and Bok Choy or some green veg
The bok choy experiment may wait till my return. I’ve been working with recipes to improve bok choy consumption here at Chez Practical Cook. Next up, pork fat.

Friday: Leftover surprise!
Again, because my mom imports more food than most small countries, I feel certain there will be something of interest for me to create into something new. After a week of life in Sin City, with two dinners per day, I will need the detox challenge.

Saturday: Dine Out!
I plan to scope something new out with TPC’s Junior. We shall see if they are up to the adventure!

What’s your favorite chicken and waffles place? I’m gathering  a list for Las Vegas and for San Diego.  Post a comment below, or Tweet! And a special thanks to my mom, who I love to tease, but taught me everything important I needed to know.

Send your chicken and waffles to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Up next, Bacon on the Hoof! Follow the Bacon Bacon Truck in SF, where even the vegetarian option has bacon on it.

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Weekly Menus: Week of 3/4/2012 (bonus recipe)

Gentle Readers, with life’s hectic pace, and the winter months upon us, The Practical Cook must confess she did not go to the Farmer’s Market for a long time. Yesterday, driven by a cause (bacon), she went with the Juniors. Hog wild barely describes the scene. And that was just the Juniors. We came, we saw, we tasted and bought. We also learned.

Sing with me: "You're the inspiration!" (Bread, I Love You.)

Sing with me: "You're the inspiration!" (Bread, I Love You.)

If you haven’t located or visited your local Farmer’s Market lately, make a point of doing so. Interesting things are starting to happen again in most climates, and the baked goods are not to be missed. In fact, I’m so inspired, I’m making bread tomorrow. I have a partner in crime, though she doesn’t know it yet. Thanks CV Tall in advance.

Farmer's Market = Potential, my equivalent of mainlining

Farmer's Market = Potential, my equivalent of mainlining

I’ve included my Farmer’s Market purchases on the grocery list, though retroactive, as proof that I don’t exist solely on bacon. Especially since, irony of ironies, I’ve gotten multiple requests for veggie recipes lately: salad, grains, etc. I am here for you. Look to the bottom of the post for the bonus recipe inspired by today’s shopping trip.

Without further delay, here is this week’s Weekly Menus:

Weekly Menus: 3/4/2012

Weekly Menus: 3/4/2012

And the Four-Square Grocery List (still very spartan, still trying to eat down my unfreakingbelievably large pantry warehouse + my assault on the Farmer’s Market = fresh veggie overload):

Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 3/4/3012

Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 3/4/3012

Which translates into:

Sunday:Salmon and kale
I think I’ll do something orange-ish, as I have a few oranges lingering in the crisper drawer, and pair it with Quinoa or couscous salad (recipe research!)

Monday: Butterbeans, cornbread, and beets, et al TBD
I’m looking to do a serious veggie meal, as the Juniors are developing a bacon withdrawal problem.

Wednesday: Sausage and Chard
Of course, then we’ll eat more pig, but as part of a cassoulet-like dish, with white beans.

Thursday: Bacon and Egg Sammies with Salad
Maybe I’ll have nailed the homemade bread by this point . . .

Friday: Soup and Sammies!
I’ve got some beef stock I need to use, so it may be time for a French Onion soup of some stripe.

Saturday: Dine Out!
Field research is so necessary. I’m scoping some new spots, let’s see if I can gather a research team. Volunteers? Mission: Chinese.

Breakfast for Dinner: I almost forgot, I bought more grits too.

Breakfast for Dinner: I almost forgot, I bought more grits too.

Bonus Recipe: Spinach Salad with Cherries, Pecans, and Goat Cheese

This is too obnoxiously easy to be a true recipe, but it permits me to lecture on what to keep in your pantry/fridge, so you’re salad-ready at all times.

baby spinach (don’t be without this, for real)
dried cherries
chopped pecans, lightly toasted
goat cheese, fresh is best and way less goaty
good quality Balsamic vinegar and olive oil

Combine in portions that work for you. My Youngest, a notoriously picky salad eater, literally wiped the plate with her spinach leaf. She would walk on hot rocks to get to goat cheese, so I crumbled a heftier portion on her salad. The basics here are sweet, crunchy, and salty. Spinach is a good salad back-up. It stays fresh longer in the fridge, is less bitter than some greens, and packs a serious nutritional punch. Keep dried fruit always. Raisins are good, but red dried fruit (cherries and cranberries) look more festive in salads. Nuts or seeds, also keep on hand. Of course, if you’re me or have a nut allergy, you can sub bacon bits. And though I’ve got both feta and goat cheese in the house, I find goat is way more versatile. If you hate it, go with feta, but you want creamy/salty here. It melds with the oil and vinegar.  End of lecture. Salad on!

What are you eating between seasons? Post a comment with your meals or your cravings!

Send salad suggestions, vegetarian challenges, and lucrative book contracts to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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For Wednesday, we’ll be testing one more round of M&Ms: Pretzel vs Peanut!

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Hoppin’ John Recipe, Simplified

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook is a big fan of the one-pot recipe. And though my drive to serve greens would force me to serve this with a side of collards, Hoppin’ John is one of those classic recipes that fits this bill. One of my favorite versions is Bill Smith’s dish at Crook’s Corner. I got close this time, with the help of some sausage.

Simplified Hoppin' John

Simplified Hoppin' John

Honestly, I kept craving this dish, and the leftovers kept getting better. Very easy, very satisfying, and makes a good amount.

Easy Hoppin’ John Recipe

1 lb sausage, flavor of your choice (I had local bratwurst from Brinkley Farms at hand, so I used that; chorizo would also be lovely, as would any Cajun-type sausage), crumbled or cut into chunks
1 sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
dash of salt
dash of ground black pepper
dash of thyme
1/2 can diced tomatoes, no-salt added type
1 can of black-eyed peas, rinsed (sue me, but I didn’t have any more scratch-cooked ones on hand, and these worked beautifully)
shredded cheese, I would say optional, but it really isn’t
3 scallions, white and green parts, sliced, also not optional
hot sauce, preferable

1 batch of white rice, cooked (your choice on the top, but I used standard grocery store rice here)

Not so fluffy white rice, but it will do.

Not so fluffy white rice, but it will do.

1. In a medium skillet, brown the sausage, breaking into bite-sized chunks as necessary. When cooked, set aside on paper towels to drain, reserving just enough grease to cover the bottom of the pan.

Saute the onions and garlic with the spices.

Saute the onions and garlic with the spices.

2. Saute the onion and garlic in the sausage grease over medium heat until softened, about 2 or 3 minutes. Season with a bit of salt, pepper, and thyme. Stir for a few seconds. Add tomatoes and black-eyed peas.

Stir in the tomatoes and the black-eyed peas.

Stir in the tomatoes and the black-eyed peas.

3. Add the reserved sausage back to the skillet, stir, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat and let the flavors meld, amount of time is up to you, but I would recommend at least 10 minutes. Cover as needed to prevent drying out.

4. When serving, and this is important, don’t pour the black-eyed pea mixture over the rice until the very last minute. Once you top it, add the cheese and scallions. Do not omit them, I don’t know why, but it changes the dish a lot if you do. Serve warm.

Hoppin' John with Collard Greens on the side. Leftover lunch heaven.

Hoppin' John with Collard Greens on the side. Leftover lunch heaven.

I like mine with a smidge of Frank’s Hot Sauce (apologies to my hometown Texas Pete, but that’s a blog for a different day.)

Are you a fan of Hoppin’ John? The one-pot meal? Post your comments below, don’t hold back.

Send your black-eyed peas, rice, and queries to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today to stay current on all of The Practical Cook news!)

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Tomorrow, Biscuits, Reviewed: Neal’s Deli in Carrboro.

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