Turkey Sausage Skillet 

I love easy, one skillet meals. I mean, who doesn’t?  I adapted this recipe from one that I found in a magazine ad for Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage. I substituted Butterball Everyday Smoked Dinner Sausage to lighten it up and also reduced the amount of oil and cheese in the original recipe. I also used brown rice to up the fiber content a bit.

This is a quick dinner perfect for a busy week night. To further reduce the time, you could chop your veggies the night before so that they are ready to toss in the pan.

I used PF Chang’s frozen brown rice because that’s what I had on hand. You can use any instant rice or cooked rice but the key is that the rice needs to be cooked. There is not enough liquid or time involved in this dish to use uncooked.

I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Easy Turkey Sausage Skillet

1 pkg. Butterball Everyday Smoked Dinner Sausage, sliced thin

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 large red bell pepper, sliced thin

1 small yellow onion, sliced thin

1 pkg. frozen broccoli (mine was 12 oz)

½ cup water or chicken broth

½ cup tomato sauce

2 cups COOKED rice

¼ cup finely shredded cheddar or cheese of choice

 

Heat oil and garlic in skillet. Add in sausage and cook until browned, stirring occasionally so that it browns evenly. Then add veggies, water, and sauce and simmer for 10 minutes until veggies are tender and liquid is mostly absorbed. Stir in your prepared rice and sprinkle on top with cheese.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Notes: I added in a sprinkle of Cajun seasoning as well. You can also skip the cheese completely if you would like.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili with Fresh Guacamole

This is a guest post from my friend Candace. She really should have her own blog as her love of food and puns is both intense and entertaining.

 Every now and then, Minda– my friend and our wonderful host – hounds me to do a guest post for her blog. By hounds me, of course, I mean that she invites me to do a guest post, I enthusiastically agree, then she wonders what the *bleep* happened to that post I said I’d write. She’ll remind me at least once a year, to no avail.

Clearly, she’s the best, and a far more reliable, talented, and entertaining blogger than I’ll ever be. Minda’s Note: Blush You know this; it’s why you’re here, after all. Still, if I don’t pony up with a post soon, she’s going to stop asking – or worse, stop inviting me on the bi-weekly, day-saving coffee run. The horror!!

Several weeks ago, Minda posted a recipe featuring bulgur, which she made during our Cooking Club. While she was experimenting with exotic –albeit earthy-sounding– grains, I was cooking up an inspired new chili combo – sweet potato and black bean. I love sweet potato; I love chili; and I really, really love black beans. I particularly love it when chili doesn’t require meat ingredients. I had found my match made in culinary heaven.

I have now made Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili twice, and I will definitely be cooking it again soon. I changed the original recipe slightly by adding some dark chocolate, something I’ve always wanted to do because, well: It. Just. Seems. So. Haute. And it gave the flavor even more depth and brought out the sweetness of the potatoes and generally perfectly complemented the seasoning.

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I wish my instincts always worked out so well.

A hearty thank you to our University’s wellness program leadership for introducing me to this hearty dish.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Ingredients
1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 16-ounce jar chunky salsa
1 15-ounce can black beans, slightly drained
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 TBSP chili powder
2 tsp grated dark chocolate
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp chipotle powder
1 TBSP cooking oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions
In a large pot over medium heat, sweat onions in oil. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and continue cooking until translucent.
Add sweet potatoes, chocolate, and spices; cook for three minutes.
Pour in salsa, water, and vegetable stock.
Bring mixture to a low boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer. Add black beans.
Cover and cook 20-30 minutes, until sweet potatoes are fork tender and soup has thickened.*

Top with guacamole (optional). BONUS RECIPE below.

*Note: I haven’t been very successful yet getting my soup to thicken, which has prompted me to consider a thickening agent. I will report back after my next attempt. Minda’s Note: Try mashing some of the beans with a fork before adding them to the chili. The released starch will thicken it a bit. You could also give it a quick hit with an immersion blender. 

BONUS RECIPE

When I was a kid, I hated guacamole. In fact, I hated anything to do with that weird, wrinkly blackish-green fruit thing, the avocado. But I was wrong, as kids sometimes are.

Now I know the bliss that is a cool, creamy avocado served with, let’s see, almost anything. Guacamole is just about the easiest thing to make, and I like mine so much that I’ll never buy the pre-made stuff again. I don’t like to brag, but I’ve kind of made a name for myself.

My tombstone will read:
Beloved wife and step-mother.
Epic maker of guacamole.

So I’m confident that if you love guac, you’ll love this recipe. Best of all, it’s super simple, proving once again that basic recipes are the best. But first, a couple of notes about this recipe. I choose avocados that give slightly when you press on the (still weird and wrinkly and blackish green) skin. After you cut your avocados in half and remove the pit, a large spoon is great for shelling the fruit right out of the peel. Likewise, I use a small spoon for seeding my pepper.

About those peppers. After handling a serrano pepper, make sure you wash your hands well. With soap. Twice. And don’t, like, touch your face for the rest of the night. ESPECIALLY NOT YOUR EYES. Seriously.

Or, I suppose you can use a milder pepper, if you prefer.

Guacamole (Avocado’s Favorite Recipe)
2 ripe avocados, cubed
½ onion, diced
1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
2-3 Campari tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 lime
½ TBSP dried cilantro, or 1 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Combine avocado, diced onion, minced pepper, cilantro, and tomato. Squeeze juice from one lime over guacamole and season with salt and pepper. Using a large fork, mash until you’ve reached desired texture. For even creamier guac, you can throw in a tablespoon of sour cream.

Minda, I hope I’ve done your blog justice. You set the bar pretty high. Notice, I refrained from using even a single pun more than three puns. So, if you’ll have me back, consider this a commitment to guest blog the Grinch cookie recipe this Christmas. You know, the one you’ve been asking me to do for two years?

Minda’s Note: Well done! 

Found on Pinterest: Chicken Fajita Pasta

I love Mexican style foods, and I have really grown to love one skillet dishes so when I found this recipe on Pinterest, I didn’t waste any time making it. I can’t remember the last time I was so excited to try a recipe. And this one was definitely worth the hype that I had built up for it in my head.

As usual, I have a few things to say about it. Like most of you, I’m anxious to get dinner on the table each evening so I look for as many shortcuts as possible. I cut my chicken into cubes the night before and sprinkled the fajita seasoning on it. Not only did this save me some dinner night prep work, it also added extra flavor to my chicken. I also cut up my vegetables the night before and stored them in a separate container.

For the actual preparation, I didn’t sauté my veggies as long as recommended so mine stayed more of a “crisp tender” instead of the softer fajita style. I also used one of those healthier pastas with extra protein and it didn’t seem to get as soft as regular pasta although that might have been my fault as I may have rushed it.

While I thought the dish was very good the night I made it, I think it was AMAZING the next day. In fact, I think the next time, I’ll make it, let it cool and stick the whole thing in the fridge and serve it later.

If you like, quick easy dinners with a little kick, try it!

Chicken Fajita Pasta
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2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 envelope (3 tablespoons) taco or fajita seasoning
2 cups diced onion (about 1 whole onion)
2 cups diced bell peppers (2-3 bell peppers) I used all red
2 cups chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream
1 (10-oz) can Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles
8 oz (about 3 cups) penne pasta

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Season with half of taco seasoning. (I did this the night before). In a 12-inch skillet (I used cast iron-it seemed mored fajita-y), heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat. When the oil is very hot, carefully add the chicken in a single layer and cook without stirring until one side is browned, about 1-2 minutes. Flip the chicken to the other side and cook until browned. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet with the heat still on high. When the oil is very hot again, add the onions, bell peppers, and remaining taco seasoning. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are slightly blackened. Remove the veggies to the plate with the chicken.

In the same skillet, add the broth, cream, diced tomatoes, uncooked pasta, and salt. Stir to combine and bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes until pasta is tender and liquid is mostly absorbed. Add the chicken and veggies back into the skillet and stir to combine until heated through, about 2 minutes. Let the fiesta begin!