Tag Archives: sausage

Sour Cream White Bread and Spaghetti Sauce

I wanted to make a white sandwich bread and picked this sour cream white bread recipe found on “The Spruce” web site for something that was a bit different.

Sour cream replaces the egg, milk and butter found in many enriched bread recipes. The resulting bread was nice and fluffy and tasted great either served as an accompaniment to a bowl of pasta or with jam as a snack.

The bread is meant to be baked in a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan but the amount of dough I had (820 gm) seemed a bit excessive to me, so I made four (54 gm) buns with part of it. I didn’t bother using the egg white glaze suggested to give the loaf a glossy finish, though I did brush melted butter on the buns.

The dough rose beautifully during the bulk proofing in the oven with the light on, taking only one hour, and though my loaf shaping was a bit lacking, the final proofing took only 45 minutes and baked up golden brown. For some reason, I decided to slash the top of the loaf before baking but, obviously, I didn’t put my heart into the matter as the cut turned out pretty anemic.



The loaf pan was oiled and lined with a small sheet of parchment paper which made removing the finished loaf a breeze.

I didn’t want my buns to round up too much during proofing so I pressed them down after 15 min, as in my earlier hamburger buns, and let them continue proofing for another 30 minutes. I found the oven spring a bit disappointing though the crumb was nice.

While my bread was proofing, I made a quick batch of spaghetti sauce with a couple of 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes (with herbs and spices) and 4 hot Italian sausages. I doctored the sauce with some additional dried Italian herbs and hot pepper flakes and served them over ditali pasta. There was enough sauce for 2 two serving containers to be tucked away in the freezer for later. All in all, a very successful cooking day.


Beef, Bean and Cheese Burritos/ Meat Lover’s Lasagna

I had a pound of lean ground beef in my freezer and, with a bountiful pantry, was torn between various possibilities. The front runners were beef burritos and a meat lasagna as I already had all the ingredients for either one. Including a batch of fresh pasta sitting in the fridge ready to be rolled out.

I decided to make small batches of both starting with a common base.

Ground Beef Base for the Two Dishes

1-2 tsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2-3 small cloves garlic, finely minced
1 lb/454 gm lean ground beef
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano

In a large saute pan, fry the onions in the vegetable oil over medium heat until they become translucent and start picking up some colour on the edges. Add the garlic and continue frying for another minute or so, until the garlic is translucent as well.

Crumble the beef into the pan and fry until no longer pink, breaking up the meat into crumbles. Sprinkle the salt and dried oregano over the top of the meat, stir through and continue cooking for another few minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, drain off the excess fat and transfer half the mixture to another container. Reserve for the meat lasagna.

Unfortunately, my home made flour tortillas weren’t large enough to fold into burritos, especially with anything else inside other than a generous tablespoon of Beef, Bean and Cheese Burrito filling, so I settled for burrito ‘wraps’.

Beef, Bean and Cheese Burritos – enough filling for 8 burritos, 4 servings at 2 burritos per servings

1/2 of the Ground Beef Base from above
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp Spanish paprika
1/4 cup salsa (mild, medium or hot) **
1/2 lb/ 227 gm canned re-fried beans
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Optional toppings or fillings
sour cream
shredded lettuce
additional salsa
Mexican rice

8 home made sourdough flour tortillas or purchased regular 8 inch tortillas

** I had a package of taco seasoning (from a Taco Bell taco making kit) left in the freezer from the last time I made tacos so I used that instead.

To the ground beef base left in the saute pan, add the herbs and spices (cumin, chili powder, both paprikas) and stir through, cooking for a few minutes. Add the salsa and re-fried beans, mixing well, and continue cooking until the burrito mixture is warmed through. Take the pan off the heat and stir the shredded cheddar cheese through the mixture.

A picture of the ground beef base reserved for the lasagna and the finished beef, bean and cheese burrito filling.

Fill warmed tortillas with a couple of tablespoons of the burrito filling and then the other toppings or fillings.

Serve with salad.

Meat Lover’s Lasagna – enough for 3 to 4 servings

Meat Lover’s Lasagna – makes one 2.2 lb/1 kg lasagna, fills one 8 x 3 7/8 x 2 15/32 inch disposable aluminum baking pan

Meat Filling
1/2 of the Ground Beef Base from above
1/4 lb (2) hot Italian sausages, removed from casings
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup jarred tomato sauce

For Assembly
8 sheets commercial or home made pasta sheets, cooked until al dente
1/2 cup jarred tomato sauce, reserve 1/4 cup for topping
bechamel sauce (1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp flour, 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg, 3/4-1 cup milk, salt and pepper to taste)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
~1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large saute pan over medium heat, crumble the sausage meat, frying the meat until it is no longer pink. Drain off any excess fat. Add the reserved half of the ground beef base and the dried basil. Cook for several minutes. Stir in the first 1/2 cup of tomato sauce and set aside to cool.

Preheat your oven to 350 deg F.

Reserve half of the 2nd 1/2 cup of tomato sauce.

In the bottom of your baking pan, spread 1-2 tbsp of remaining tomato sauce. Lay a sheet of cooked pasta over the sauce and then spread one quarter (1/4) of the meat mixture over the pasta. Spread another 1-2 tbsp of tomato sauce over the meat. Add another pasta sheet and one third (1/3) of the bechamel on top of that. Sprinkle a generous tablespoon of the grated parmesan over the bechamel and then top with another sheet of pasta. Repeat with the meat sauce/tomato sauce, pasta, bechamel/parmesan, pasta layers until you finish with your last sheet of pasta. You’ll have used up all eight of your pasta sheets.

Tuck any excess portions of your pasta sheet down into the pan so that it doesn’t poke up. Spread your reserved 1/4 cup of tomato sauce over the pasta and sprinkle a generous handful of the grated mozzarella cheese over the tomato sauce.

Place your baking pan onto a large baking sheet, in case of over flow during cooking, and bake for 40-45 minutes in your pre-heated oven. If you like a browned top, you can turn on the broiler and brown the cheese … a BIT. Be careful. You don’t want a black cheese topping, especially after all the time you’ve invested in assembling this delicious dish.

Serve with salad.

Soup Trio

It’s fall time and the weather is perfect for coming in to the house to a comforting bowl of hot soup.

The first soup, a copycat version of Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana based on some net surfing, is a hearty sausage and potato soup with kale … cause greens are colourful and good for you. I reduced the amount of sausage called for in most recipes. You just don’t need that much to get loads of flavour. Instead, I used the extra sausage as a pizza topping. And the ham stock I used as a base came from cooking up a smoked picnic shoulder ham and straining out the pickling spices used to flavour the cooking liquid. I’m frugal that way. 🙂

Zuppa Toscana or Kale, Potato and Italian Sausage Soup – serves 4-6

2/3 – 1 pound Italian sausage (4-6 sausages, hot or mild)
1 bunch kale, stemmed, rinsed and cut into strips
4 cups ham stock (chicken, vegetable stock or water)
1 onion, diced finely
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
3-4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
pinch of hot pepper flakes, if using mild sausage and wanting a bit of heat
~1 cup water
1 cup whipping cream (or whole/homogenized or 2% milk)
salt and pepper to taste


1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme

I should have used a bigger bowl for that sausage meat. 🙂

Prepare the kale leaves by ripping them off the stems (freeze stems for future batches of vegetable stock) and cut into 1/2″ strips. Rinse well in 3 changes of fresh water draining after each one. Reserve.

Remove the casing from the sausages, break up the meat and fry in a non-stick saute pan, large enough to make the soup in, until the meat is no longer pink. Break up the larger chunks of sausages as much as possible while frying. You don’t need to add any additional fat as the sausages will render down, releasing all the fat you need for browning. Remove the sausage meat to a medium sized bowl using a slotted spoon. Drain the fat that came out of the sausages and discard. (see picture below … that’s a LOT of extra fat that you don’t need)

Using just the fat remaining in the pan, saute the onions and garlic until the onions are soft and translucent and just beginning to get browned.

Add the stock, cooked sausage meat, diced potatoes and about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp ground black pepper. (You may add the dried herbs at this point as well, if using.) Cover and bring the soup to a simmer. You can add another cup or so of water to make sure that your potatoes are covered. Cook for about 10-12 minutes until the potatoes are just tender.

Add the kale, cover, and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the kale is wilted.

Stir in the whipping cream and bring to a low simmer.

Taste again for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if desired.

Serve piping hot with toasted garlic bread.

I love clam chowder and cream of mushroom soup. This soup is a combination of the two. I tried to make it a bit healthier than the recipe that inspired it as 4 CUPS of half and half seemed a tad excessive.

And here’s the result … a Clam and Mushroom Chowder.

Clam and Mushroom Chowder – makes 8-9 cups of soup

6 strips of bacon (optional)
2 tsp bacon fat, or 1 tsp each olive oil and butter
1 pound white mushrooms, roughly chopped
2-3 ribs (1 cup) celery, finely diced (reserve celery tops, to garnish soup)
1/2 onion, finely diced
4 cups seafood stock (vegetable or chicken stock enriched with clam juice is also suitable)
1 pound waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
salt and pepper to taste (start with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ground pepper, white if preferred)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup whipping cream or half and half
1/4 cup flour
4 cups/1 pound shelled frozen clams
water as needed

Garnish with diced bacon or julienned strips of celery leaves

If you wish, cook up 6 strips of bacon until crispy in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Remove the bacon strips to a plate lined with paper towels and allow to cool. Chop up roughly.

Reserve 2 tsp of the bacon fat in the saute pan to fry the vegetables for the soup, or use olive oil and butter.

Add onions to the bacon fat and saute until translucent. Add minced garlic and saute for a minute or two until it starts getting some colour. Add mushrooms and celery. Saute for another 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated from the mushrooms and they’re starting to get golden brown.

Add diced potatoes, stock, salt, pepper and dried thyme. If needed, add water until the vegetables are covered by about 1/2 an inch. Bring to the boil and then cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when pierced by a fork.

Put the whipping cream and the flour in a jar. Shake to dissolve the flour. Add to the saute pan, stir through and cook until soup mixture has thickened a bit.

Add the frozen clams. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes until clams heat through and the flavors blend.

Taste and add additional salt as needed.

Serve into individual bowls and garnish with chopped bacon or julienned celery leaves.

And, while I’m on a roll, a completely different, RED soup. This Stuffed Pepper Soup has all the ingredients of a stuffed pepper but in soup form.

Stuffed Pepper Soup – makes ~6 servings

1 lb lean ground beef
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small (1 cup) yellow onion finely diced
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper (a little over 1/2 of a medium)
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5) can beef broth
2 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish (or 1 tbsp dried parsley)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
2/3 – 1 cup uncooked long grain white or brown rice
Cheddar or mozzarella cheese, for serving (optional)

In a large pot heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot add the beef to the pot and season with salt and pepper.

Cook, stirring occasionally while breaking up beef, until browned. Drain beef and pour onto a plate lined with paper towels, set aside.

Heat remaining 1 tbsp olive oil in pot then add onions, red bell pepper, green bell pepper and saute 3 minutes, then add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer. Pour in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth and add parsley, basil, oregano and cooked beef, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring just to a light boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

While soup simmers, prepare rice according to directions listed on package, then once soup is done simmering stir in desired amount of cooked rice into soup*.

Serve warm topped with optional cheese and garnish with fresh parsley.

*For a thinner soup don’t add all of the rice and for a thicker heartier soup add it all. Also, if you plan on having it for leftovers the next day then don’t add the rice to the pot of soup, just add it to each individual bowl, then reserve the rice in a separate container in refrigerator to add to the soup the next day.

NOTE: I used red and yellow peppers cause that’s what I had, and a beef bouillon cube instead of the broth. I added 2/3 cups of uncooked rice with the peppers and simmered it all together for 30 minutes.

Vodka Blush Sauce with Hot Italian Sausage over Polenta

Tonight’s supper was made with pre-made items out of my freezer and pantry and very little time. The results … amazing

Sorry for the less than stellar plating. I was hungry and the food was getting cold.

Vodka Blush Sauce with Hot Italian Sausages – serves 4

2 cups marinara sauce, smooth or chunky
1 cup whipping cream
2-4 oz Philadelphia cream cheese, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tbsp vodka
4 raw hot** Italian sausages, slice into 1/4 inch rings
1 tsp vegetable oil

** You can use mild sausages if you like but the hot version makes your sauce sing with flavour over the polenta.

In a large saute pan, warm up the oil over medium high heat and add the raw Italian sausages. Fry until the sausage is cooked. Drain extra oil if desired.

Add the vodka and stir well until most of the alcohol has cooked off.

Add the diced cream cheese and 1/2 cup of whipping cream, mashing down the cream cheese until it ‘dissolves’ in the whipping cream.

Add the rest of the whipping cream and the marinara sauce and mix together until everything is warmed through.

Serve immediately over individual bowls or plates of polenta … or cooked pasta if you like.

Polenta – serves 4

3 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp salt (a bit more if you’re using home made stock)
1 cup fine cornmeal

Bring the stock and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Take the saucepan off the heat, and whisk in the cornmeal in a fine stream stirring continuously while you do so.

Continue cooking the polenta for 5-7 minutes (depends on how impatient you are to eat) while continuing to stir. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Serve immediately.