Tag Archives: Homemade

Chicken Breakfast Sausage

Guten Morgen!

My next door neighbor growing up was an older German lady, and she taught me and my sisters simple phrases that we could impress our friends and family with when we went over to her house.  I don’t remember much, since I was young, but I do remember how her house was hung all over with heavy braided ropes of garlic and she was always cooking.  And to my six year-old self, it smelled weird.

Now I’d probably be there all the time, eating authentic German meals and trying to beg any recipes out of her that I could.  And I’d like to think that my nose has grown more sophisticated–what smelled weird would now smell absolutely delicious.

Anyway, this post has nothing to do with Deutschland.  Just a nice memory I thought I’d share.

This morning I woke up early (which is now weirdly normal for this previously late sleeper) and thought to myself, “I would like…some sausage.”  Not something I usually think upon opening my eyes at 7:00 in the morning–but with some free time and a meat grinder available, my next thought was “why not?”.  So this chicken breakfast sausage came to be.

Chicken Breakfast Sausage (original recipe here)

  • 1 lb ground chicken (I used one pound of chicken breast, still slightly frozen, to grind)
  • 1 t ground dried sage
  • 1/2 t ground dried thyme
  • 1/4 t ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 t allspice
  • 1/4 t ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4-1/2 t dried garlic (or one garlic clove, minced)
  • 1/2 T maple syrup
  • 2 T olive oil

First, grind the meat–if you have that option.  One nice thing about grinding your own meat is that you know exactly what’s in it.  You can buy ground chicken at the grocery store, but you have no idea how much skin or fat is in it.  Another reason to grind meat is the price–I bought frozen chicken breasts at $1.88/lb, which costs less than buying ground chicken.  Lastly, it’s not as inconvenient as you think–it’s quicker than running out to the store, and it’s best to grind meat that is cold or partially frozen, so having to defrost the meat first before you grind it is not a big deal–just go halfway!

But if all that doesn’t convince you, then it’s okay to just buy already ground meat at the store.  I’ll still like you.

Grind the meat according to the instructions of your meat grinder (mine’s a KitchenAid attachment, thanks to Mom and Dad).

Put it in a small bowl and add all the spices, syrup, and oil.  Mix, but don’t go too hard or your ground meat will turn into mush.  Just combine everything evenly.

Depending on what you are using it for, you can form the meat into patties or just use it as is.  I was making a recipe (you’ll see it later) that calls for only 1/2 lb of sausage, so I shaped the remainder into patties on wax paper, wrapped it in a big ziploc, and froze it for later. 

I’m really into the freezing extra for later thing right now–it’s so exciting later in the week when you remember you have it and all you have to do is defrost.  It doesn’t take any more time or effort to make extra in the first place, but it does make life so much easier when it’s time for dinner and you don’t feel like cooking.

To cook the sausage, spray a little oil into the pan first, either canola or olive oil.  The sausage itself is so low-fat that you need a little extra to keep it from sticking (this is more true for the patties than for the ground sausage).  For patties, cook over medium-high heat for a few minutes on either side, and try to only flip it once to prevent breaking.  For the ground sausage, just cook until the pink is gone.

We were so thrilled with this recipe.  Sometimes the “at-home” and healthy version doesn’t satisfy food cravings, but this really tasted just like a savory chicken breakfast sausage you’d buy at the store.  Perfect for having with eggs, and I’m looking forward to grinding up a giant batch and taking it camping with us this summer.

Plus, do-it-yourself food is so satisfying!  Why buy it when you can make it at home just as easily?

Here’s a little preview of what I used the sausage for:

Henry has been using the cloud cover today to do some serious bird scouting.  He hasn’t left his post in over an hour, and he hasn’t become any less diligent–he does this adorable mumbly mew in the back of his throat when he gets excited a bird is coming near his window.  Quite entertaining.

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Filed under Breakfast

(Not Your Grandmother’s) Tuna Salad

I found this recipe in Cooking Light magazine, and I decided to make it as a lazy post-gym quick yet satisfying meal.  Only once I realized that it was going to score high marks in the all-important triumvirate of cooking did I think to take a photo.  It was:

  1. Cheap
  2. Easy
  3. Healthy

I mean, what more could you ask for?  Oh wait–delicious!  That’s the last thing I expected, because I have never been a fan of canned tuna, and even less so of tuna salad.  But this is a whole ‘nother kind of tuna salad.

So here’s my recipe and one picture of my unintended success.

Not Your Grandmother’s Tuna Salad (adapted from Cooking Light)

  • 6 oz (half a box) of whole-wheat penne
  • 7 oz can of tuna, packed in water
  • 1 large (any color) bell pepper
  • 1/2 C cooked spinach, drained (I used frozen, but fresh would be even better)
  • 1/2 C cooked peas (I used frozen again)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 t olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Boil the pasta according to directions on the box.  Meanwhile, cut the pepper in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and place skin-side up on a foil-lined baking pan.  Broil in the oven until the skin is blackened, about fifteen minutes.  Dice into small pieces.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and put in a large bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well.  If using fresh spinach (or arugula), toss in the rinsed leaves and allow the hot pasta to wilt them.  Otherwise, heat the frozen veggies and drain before adding them in.

Serves four–and for the record, it’s good microwaved the second day too.

Since I don’t have any other pictures of dinner for tonight, I thought I’d let you feast your eyes upon the Christmas gifts that I made for some of my favorite ladies in my life.  Homemade vanilla extract.

It’s super easy–vanilla beans, vodka, and a cute bottle.

Let it sit for about six weeks until it turns dark and fragrant (much darker than these bottles–these pictures were taken the second day).  Then top it with an ornament and BOOM! Perfect presents!

Only eleven months ’til Christmas!  I think it’s about time to start planning some gifts, right?

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Filed under Entrees, Side Dishes

Get Saucy With It (Applesauce)

Lately I’ve been trying to bake a bit healthier in an attempt to have less salt, sugar, and fat in our diet (and I guess less calories would be nice too).  A few different people have mentioned to me that you can substitute applesauce for oil when you bake, and I have a couple recipes in mind that I’d like to try this with–black bean brownies (you heard right!) will probably be the first one.

Since I have some apples leftover from apple picking, I thought I’d start by making my own applesauce. It’s probably the easiest thing to do ever, and it’s really yummy (especially warm).  So here’s the first step towards healthier eating!

Homemade Apple Sauce

  • 6 apples (I used Cortland)
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional–I used less because although I love cinnamon, I don’t want to taste it in my baking)

 

Peel and cube the apples (you can leave the peel on for pink applesauce, but it has to be sieved after to get rid of the peel, which is more time consuming), and add water, sugar and cinnamon.  Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for about 20 minutes until apples are cooked.

 

While you are waiting for the apples to cook, it’s probably a good idea to eat my favorite snack–apple slices and peanut butter.

 

As an aside, I recently switched from regular to natural peanut butter when I saw the ingredient list went from 20 or so words I can hardly pronouce to “peanuts, salt”.  Even though its a serious pain in the butt to mix in the oil the first time you open natural peanut butter, I learned that if you keep the jar in the fridge rather then at room temperature it’s less likely to separate and you should never have to mix again. 

Anyway, back to the applesauce.  Let it cool and then puree in a blender, adding water if you want it to be less thick (but you probably won’t).  

 

Sometime over the weekend I’ll try a baking applesauce-oil substitution and let you know how it goes.  Also, I started a project today growing my own alfalfa sprouts (thanks to my mom, who spent some of her earlier years a dedicated hippie), and in a few days I’ll post the results.  If you have any healthy or weird substitution ideas, I would love to hear them!

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Filed under Snacks