Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Crockpot Italian Sausages & Peppers

School has begun in our household and I'm in denial.  I'm not ready for homework, school paperwork, practices and the like.  I prefer suncreen, fireflies and late nights but fall is approaching so it's time to get organized and back in the saddle.  With that I've pulled out the crockpot so we can eat like civilized people.  I have to admit that I did not have high hopes for this meal.  I had quickly found it online in a desparate attempt to find something new for dinner.  Boy, it was good and I'll be making this again and again. 

2 lbs. sweet or hot Italian sausage
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 oranage bell pepper, cut into 2" pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into 2" pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 2" pieces
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, minced
14 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
6 oz. can tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine or water
1 Tbsp. dried parsley leaves
1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Hogie rolls for serving

Cook sausage in heavy skillet over medium heat until browned, turning occasionally. Layer half of the onions on bottom of 3-4 quart crockpot, then add half of the peppers. Add all of the browned sausage, then the rest of the onions and peppers. Add bay leaves and garlic.

Combine diced undrained tomatoes, tomato paste, and red wine in small bowl and mix well to blend. Pour over mixture in crockpot. Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours.

One hour before mixture is done, mix together parsley, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper. Add to crockpot and stir well. Cover and cook one more hour until sausage is thoroughly cooked.  Serve on crusty rolls or over soft polenta. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Baked Fontina Goodness

Do make this dip but don't be alone with it.  It's so easy that you'll be tempted to make and eat the whole thing yourself before anyone notices you're gone.  You have been warned. 

1 1/2 lbs Italian fontina, rind removed and cubed into 1-inch pieces
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

french bread, crackers, pita chips for serving

Adjust top rack of the oven so that it sits about 5 inches under the broiler unit. Preheat broiler.  Spread cheese out in the bottom of a 12-inch cast iron pan.  Drizzle olive oil over the cheese. Mix together the garlic and herbs in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the cheese. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the top of the cheese.  Bake for 6 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and melted through.

Carefully remove the pan from the oven and set it on a heatproof surface – the pan will be hot! Resist the urge to linger over the pan and eat the whole thing.  Serve immediately in skillet with bread for dipping.  Can be made in two smaller cast iron pans and broil one at a time for a party.  Delish!

Recipe slightly adapted from Ina Garten

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Asian Pork Tenderloin

We live in a world of convenience but it's important to start from the basics every once in awhile.  In a sea of pre-packaged foods, bottled sauces and easy take-out, I fear we can lose track of the homemade aspects of dinner.  Take the simple pork tenderloin.  It's a staple at our house because it's easy, everyone loves it and we can just toss it in some bottled marinade (asian, jerk, BBQ - you name it) and we're good to go.  However, I promise that if you take the extra time and toss this marinade together, you won't be sorry.  I loved the slightly spicy undertone of the sauce and with some rice and quick steamed or stir-fried green beans - you're having a great dinner. 

2-½ pounds Whole Pork Tenderloin
⅓ cups Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
¼ cups Sesame Oil
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Tablespoon Ginger - Fresh grated or 1 Tsp. dried
2 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
½ teaspoons Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Chili Garlic Sauce (go easy if spicy is not your thing)
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
1 cup Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth, At Room Temperature

Sliced green onions for garnish if desired.

In a gallon baggie, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, brown sugar, onion powder, pepper and chili garlic sauce. Seal, squeeze and shake the baggie to combine the ingredients well. Place pork loin in baggie, squeeze out air, seal baggie and refrigerate for 6-8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a 9×11 baking dish with nonstick foil or use regular foil and spray with cooking spray.  Transfer the pork loin to the prepared baking dish. Pour the marinade over the pork loin. Bake for 40 minutes or 145-150ºF. Remove pork to serving plate and let rest for 10 minutes while finishing the sauce. 

Empty the pan drippings into a small sauce pan and heat over medium heat. Combine the cornstarch with room temperature chicken broth and whisk until smooth. Add the broth to the boiling pan drippings and cook for a minute or two. Remove from heat.

Slice pork loin and place on serving platter. Drizzle sauce over all before serving and place any extra sauce in an extra dish on the side. Garnish with sliced green onions if desired.

Original recipe slightly adapted from Tasty Kitchen.  Pic from there too!