Skillet Spinach Lasagna

So, I wasn’t too impressed with this Skillet Spinach Lasagna right after I made it, but, after taking it to work the following day for lunch my opinion changed. I think what initially had me a little eh about it was the lack of sauce and the fact that the bottom of it got burned, but, both of those things are things that can easily be changed next time I make it.

I began by browning a pound of sausage meat in a 12-inch skillet. I was able to find ground sausage meat, but, you could easily use a pound of sausage removed from the casings.

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Next, over medium heat, I added crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning and salt. I let the sauce simmer for about 5 minutes.

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While the sauce was cooking, I combined ricotta cheese, an egg, a cup of shredded mozzarella and salt in a medium bowl.

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Once the sauce was ready it was time to assemble the lasagna. I set aside 3 cups of the sauce and placed a layer of no-boil lasagna noodles over the remaining sauce in the skillet. I then topped the noodles with a cup of the reserved sauce, 3/4 cup of the ricotta mixture and 3 cups of the spinach. I repeated the layer two times with the remaining ingredients, omitting the spinach from the top layer.

I then returned the skillet to heat; covered and cooked over medium heat until the noodles were softened and sauce began to bubble, about 15-20 minutes. I think next time I will do this step over medium-low heat. I then topped it with remaining cup of spinach and covered and cooked it for another minute or so until the spinach had wilted.

And finally, I uncovered the lasagna and topped it with a cup of shredded mozzarella and broiled it until the cheese began to melt and brown. About 5 minutes. I then sprinkled it with freshly chopped basil.

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Skillet Spinach Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground Italian sausage

1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes

1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1 16 oz. container ricotta cheese

1 egg

8 oz. (2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

6 oz. no-boil lasagna noodles

7 cups (about 5 oz.) baby spinach, divided

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Directions:

Cook the sausage, stirring often, in a 12-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned and cooked through.

Add the tomatoes, Italian seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt; cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce begins to simmer.

While the sauce is cooking, combine the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, an egg and the remaining salt in a medium bowl.

Preheat broiler with oven rack 6 inches from the heat.

Once the sauce is cooked remove it from the heat, reserving 3 cups of the sauce in a bowl. Place a layer of the lasagna noodle over the sauce, breaking the pieces as necessary. Top with 1 cup of the reserved sauce. 3/4 cup of the ricotta mixture and 3 cups of the spinach. Repeat the layer two times with the remaining noodles, sauce, ricotta mixture and spinach, omitting the spinach from the top layer.

Return the skillet to the heat; cover and cook over medium / medium-low heat until the noodles are softened and the sauce begins to bubble, about 20 minutes. Uncover and top with the remaining spinach; cover and cook for about a minute until the spinach is wilted. Uncover and top with the remaining mozzarella. Broil until the cheese begins to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil.

Recipe from Real Simple Magazine

Sausage, Lentil and Kale Soup

There’s nothing like a delicious soup! And while there are plenty of delicious options available in cans, cartons and so forth at your local supermarket, making soup from scratch is such a better option and best of all…. the leftovers! I had this soup for lunch over the course of a week and by end of the week it was even better than the first day I had it.

I began by cooking a 1lb. of sweet Italian sausage meat in my Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it was beginning to brown. If you can find sausage meat in ground form as opposed to actual sausages it will save you some time and just make things easier so you don’t have to remove the meat from the casings. I then added in chopped onion and garlic and continued cooking everything until the onions were soften and the sausage was completed cooked.

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Next, I added in chicken stock, stirring and scraping to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. I then added in lentils, whole peeled tomatoes, salt and pepper and brought the whole thing to a boil. I then reduced the heat to medium-low and simmered the soup until the lentils had softened. As the soup simmered the tomatoes began to break down as well.

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And finally I added in baby kale leaves, stirring the soup constantly until the leaves had softened.

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Sausage, Lentil and Kale Soup

Ingredients:

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage meat*

1 cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, chopped

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed

1 28oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

5 cups loosely packed baby kale leaves

*If using sausages remove casings

Directions:

Cook the sausage in a Dutch oven (or your preferred pot for making soup) over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the meat crumbles and begins to brown. Add in the onion and garlic and continue cooking until the meat is cooked through and the onions have soften.

Add the stock, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits. Add the lentils, tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the lentils have softened.

Stir in the kale and cook, continue stirring until softened.

Recipe from Real Simple Magazine

Mushroom & Sausage Quiche

Usually I add ground sausage to my Thanksgiving stuffing, this year though I was on the fence as to whether or not to add it in. As you can guess from this post I opted not to add it, but then the question was what to do with it. I could have frozen it and used it another time but then I remembered a recipe I had for a quiche that called for sausage and mushrooms, another ingredient for the quiche that I had left over from said stuffing. The recipe – Mushroom & Sausage Quiche – is one I came across in a cookbook I picked up years ago and ended up not using. While it was filled with many recipes most of them weren’t appealing to me except this one – which I ended up photocopying and then donating the book.

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I began by cooking the ground sausage.

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While the ground sausage was cooking I chopped up half a Vidalia onion and sliced half-a-pound of white mushrooms.

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After the sausage was cooked I transferred it to a bowl and wiped the skillet down and cooked the chopped onions and sliced mushrooms in a tablespoon of melted butter.

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Meanwhile in the bowl of my food processor I combined eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese (those of you not fond of cottage cheese don’t worry once the quiche is done you won’t even remember it’s there), flour and parmesan cheese and blended them until the mixture was smooth.

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I then stirred together the sausage, sautéed onions and mushrooms, the egg mixture and shredded sharp Cheddar cheese in a large bowl.

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And then spooned it into my pie dish which I fitted with a refrigerated piecrust.

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Following that I baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for about 50 minutes.

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After letting it cool for about 10 minutes I sliced into it and enjoyed the every bite of it!

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Mushroom and Sausage Quiche 

Ingredients:

One 9-inch refrigerated piecrust, fitted into a 9-inch glass plate

One 1-pound package ground sausage

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/2 large Vidalia onion, chopped

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 cup cottage cheese, 2% or 4% milk fat

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon hot sauce*

One 8-ounce package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

*I omitted this from my version

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Crimp the edges of the crust.

2. In a large skillet, cook and drain the sausage, and set aside. Wipe out the pan, and in the same pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and onion, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until tender.

3. Place the eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, flour, Parmesan cheese, and hot sauce in a food processor and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. Stir together the crumbled sausage, mushroom mixture, egg mixture, and Cheddar cheese, and spoon into the piecrust. Cover the edges of the piecrust with aluminum foil to prevent the crust from burning.

5. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until golden brown and the center is set. Cool for 10 minutes and cut into 8 wedges.

A Slow Cooker Hit And Half Miss

The cold days of winter call for warm and hearty soups (or stews) to help keep you feeling warm and toasty to beat the winter chill. In a recent issue of Rachael Ray Magazine I came across one such soup that had the added bonus of being made in a slow cooker. A kitchen item I do enjoy using but don’t use often enough.

This stew – a Sausage, Bean & Spinach Stew  – was a cinch to make and was ready in about four hours. I began by adding white beans, chopped onions, carrots & celery, garlic, bay leaves and chicken broth to my slow cooker and cooking it on high heat for three and a half hours. I then added sausage meatballs and let them cook in the soup for about twenty-five minutes. Finally, I added in the spinach for the final ten minutes.

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Final verdict… The stew was delicious. I’ll definitely be it making again. But, I think next time I’ll cook the meatballs a little before adding them to the soup.

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Since I had my slow cooker out from obscurity I figured I would finally try making a dessert in it – a Triple Chocolate Brownie recipe I came across from Martha Stewart.

To begin I whisked together my dry ingredients: flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

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To get started on my wet ingredients I melted butter and bittersweet chocolate together.

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After giving it a few good stirs I added in sugar and eggs.

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I then folded it into the dry mixture along with walnuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

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I then poured it into my slow cooker, which I sprayed with cooking spray and lined the bottom of with parchment paper.

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I cooked it on low for four hours, the final half hour uncovered.

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After letting it cool in the insert for two hours I flipped out the brownies to sadly discover that the edges were quite burnt and definitely not edible.

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All was not lost though… After some clever cutting I was left with six, albeit irregularly shaped, brownies that were quite tasty and definitely not lacking in chocolate flavor.

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Baking in a slow cooker… definitely not my first choice for delicious desserts, but, I wouldn’t rule out trying it again, just not brownies though!

Sausage, Bean & Spinach Stew

Ingredients

1 pound dried large white beans, such as great northern, rinsed and picked through

8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

8 sprigs fresh thyme*

1 bay leaf**

Parmesan rind (optional)*

1 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed, shaped into 1/2-inch meatballs

1 bunch spinach, trimmed

Juice of 1/2 lemon*

Crusty bread, for serving

Directions

In a large slow cooker, stir together the beans, chicken broth, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and Parmesan rind, if using. Cover and cook on high heat until the beans are nearly tender, about 3 1/2 hours.

Place the sausage meatballs on top of the beans. Cover; cook until the meatballs are no longer pink in the center, about 25 minutes.

Discard the thyme sprigs, bay leaf and Parmesan rind. Stir in the spinach, then cover and let stand until the spinach wilts, 10 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice; season. Serve with crusty bread.

*I omitted these ingredients when I made my soup

**I added in two bay leaves as opposed to just one

Slow-Cooker Triple Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients

Nonstick cooking spray

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup walnut halves, coarsely chopped

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 ounces)

Directions

Lightly coat a 5-quart slow-cooker insert with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper and lightly coat with spray. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.

Place butter and chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until chocolate is melted. Add sugar; stir to combine. Stir in eggs. Add flour mixture, walnuts, and chocolate chips and stir just until moistened (do not overmix). Transfer to slow cooker and smooth top.

Cover and cook on low, 3 1/2 hours. Uncover and cook 30 minutes. Remove insert from slow cooker and run a knife around edge to loosen brownies. Let cool completely in insert on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Turn out onto a work surface and cut into 14 brownies.

Lentil and Sausage Soup

Usually my idea of making soup is opening up a can of my favorite one, heating it up on the stove and then enjoying it, but since I have been cooking more I decided to give making soup from scratch a go. It’s always nice knowing exactly what you are eating as opposed to guessing what the vegetable is after it’s been masked by some thick, albeit yummy, chowder or liquid. I decided to start simple and go with a Lentil and Sausage Soup that I found on Allrecipes.

To start, I browned three links of sweet sausage over medium-high heat. I actually began by cooking the links slightly and then slicing them to finish browning them. It’s much easier to slice half cooked sausage as opposed to raw sausage.

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Next I added in one large onion, a celery stalk and a tablespoon of garlic, all chopped.

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After letting that sauté until the vegetables were tender I added in my lentils, 3 shredded carrots, water, chicken broth and diced tomatoes. I actually used diced tomatoes that were seasoned with basil, garlic and oregano which definitely added in some extra flavor.

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And finally I added in all of my spices: garlic powder, parsley, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, basil, salt & black pepper.

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After bringing the soup to a boil I then reduced the heat and let it simmer until the lentils were tender. While the directions said that it would take about 2.5 to 3 hours my soup was done in about an hour.

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It was absolutely delicious and tasted even better the following day for lunch. I doubt I will be giving up those canned soups anytime soon, but, it’s definitely nice to know that making soup from scratch isn’t all that difficult.

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Lentil and Sausage Soup

Ingredients

1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage

1 large onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

1 tbsp. chopped garlic

1 16 oz. package dry lentils, rinsed

1 cup shredded carrot

8 cups water

2 14.5 oz. cans chicken broth

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes*

1 tbsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley**

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. dried thyme

1/4 tsp. dried basil

1 tbsp. salt, or to taste

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/2 lb. ditalini pasta (optional – I chose not to add it in)

*I used 2 14.5 oz. cans of diced tomatoes seasoned with garlic, basil & oregano

**I used 1 tsp. dried parsley

Directions

1. Place sausage in a large pot. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Add onion, celery and chopped garlic, and sauté until tender and translucent. Stir in lentils, carrot, water, chicken broth and tomatoes. Season with garlic powder, parsley, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cover, and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until lentils are tender.

2. Stir in pasta, and cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until pasta is tender.