Generally, when hubby offers to go to the grocery store, I make a specific list of items. Sometimes, though, I just say something like, “Get whatever is on sale.” The results can be interesting, and challenging, to say the least.
This last trip was one of those times. He came back with sage sausage. Now, I grew up eating this type of sausage for breakfast. Only for breakfast. What to do with it now?
Sage is not a spice that I generally use, and so I looked up foods and other spices that might complement it. I learned that oregano, tomatoes, and artichoke hearts go well with sage. So….a pasta bake!
I browned the sausage first in a saucepan and then threw in the rest of a bag of frozen peppers and onions. After all of that was nicely cooked, it went in a baking pan with some melted butter. I added a jar of premium Bertolli sauce along with artichoke hearts, a handful of Italian spice blend, as well as some garlic powder. After a bit of mixing, it went in the oven at 350 while I cooked the pasta. Once the pasta was cooked, it went in to the baking pan and cooked for about an hour, with my stirring the ingredients about every 20 minutes or so.
The result? It was well received by all. It had a subtle flavor that wasn’t too spicy. Plus, my husband and his daughter decided to mix in some cheese, and so that made it all the more family friendly. It was a definite winner!
Sometimes surprises can be good!
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After some rest and reflection, I’m back to cooking and blogging. Today I cooked us up a special lunch out of ingredients that we had on hand. Please click on the link below for the details:
Three Tomato Pasta with Bacon
It was quite a good lunch with very little effort. Too, it was all made out of items from our pantry. This was sort of a “test run” for the Yoder’s Bacon to see if we liked it, and I can certainly say that it is a product that I will purchase again and add to our regular food storage.
Have you bought Yoder’s Bacon for your family? Or any other canned meats? Any reviews, recipes, or recommendations that you would like to share?
Spicy Pasta Elbows
Dinner at our home doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does need to be frugal and use up leftover ingredients. Here was a dinner that I prepared that used up the last bit of Progresso soup that we had in our refrigerator. I was pleasantly surprised at the tasty result of this latest improvisation. Click on the link above to find out more.
One of my weaknesses is planning for the use of various ingredients. With a small family, it can sometimes be difficult to utilize food products in a timely manner and not frustrate the taste buds of my family. I encountered again this weakness this week in my failure to use up the butternut squash that I cooked on Monday. Although I used one half of the squash in the soup that I made on that day, the rest of the squash still needed to be used in some meal.
Frustrated and lacking ideas, I did a bit of reading as far as freezing the squash. I found the information that I needed at this link. I followed the instructions, pureeing the squash and putting it in the container. While this was the first time that I have frozen squash, I hope that this will be useful information for the future. Too, by freezing the squash, we should have some time for our taste buds to readjust and crave the wintry goodness once again.
But before I put the container in the freezer, I scooped a bit of that squash out for use in my lunch, Butternut Squash and Pasta. This is a quick and easy lunch idea that can be quite handy for winter lunches.
So if you’re like me and get behind sometimes on your meal planning, then don’t be afraid to do a bit of research and try saving that food for another day. It can certainly prevent the ingredient from going bad in your fridge while you try to find an appropriate recipe. And it will keep your family happy in the meantime.
Easy Pasta and Bacon
At the link above, you will find the instructions for making a quick meal. It sure relieved our boredom with leftovers! Plus, it was frugal in that it used ingredients that we already had on hand.
Personally, I love the convenience of leftovers, but they can be tiring after several days. In an attempt to relieve our boredom with the Spicy Pasta Salad that I made for Labor Day, I decided to make it spicy and hot, literally. I added chipotle dressing, canned chicken, garlic salt and pepper, and chipotles to the leftovers. This was all heated up at 350 degrees until melt-y. While not gourmet by any stretch of the imagination, it certainly served to spice up our leftovers and allow us to eat up the rest of that salad.
Do you get nervous about bringing a dish to a potluck? Does the thought of someone else judging your creation make you sweat, even just a little? Well, that’s how I feel about our potlucks with my in-laws. When we receive an invitation to the latest get-together, I instantly become Inadequate Irene.
My husband’s family—a very large family bursting with kids—is full of sisters who are experts at all things homemade. Whether it is redecorating their houses or building a city out of icing, they are able to do it. No job is too big or too difficult for these ladies. And me? Well, I often feel lucky if my muffins turn out ok. Although I know these potlucks are not a competition, I seem to believe that I must prove something with my offering.
And then there are the varying tastes and preferences among the family members. The kids in general don’t like things too spicy—which means, anything beyond mayonnaise. Some of the kids don’t like chocolate while others love it. And others don’t like fruit flavors, and some do. It’s pretty much a no-win situation when choosing a recipe.
Sometimes, like today, I’ll pick something that’s a classic recipe for the season with a little bit of pizzazz. For our cookout today, I chose Ree Drummond’s Spicy Pasta Salad. I couldn’t find smoked gouda at the grocery store, and so I substituted a mild chipotle gouda. That ingredient was certainly a bit more expensive than what we usually purchase, but it is for a special occasion. More “love calories.” Luckily, we still had some basil in the garden for use in the recipe. All in all, the salad came out well and is currently waiting in the refrigerator for its big debut.
I’ve had my husband taste the salad several times. He is currently frustrated with Inadequate Irene and told me that the salad is “Fine,” with a capital F. I suppose that I will take his word for it, hoping that this won’t be another crash and burn situation with the family.
Happy Labor Day, folks! Here’s to all the confident cooks and Inadequate Irenes out there who want to make their family’s celebration great.