Sausage and Pepper Casserole

My neighbor had a health issue with her mom last night and I thought that the nicest thing I could do for her would be to make dinner and dessert for them tonight.  I know her mom loves sweets, so I had to make sure to have some sort of dessert included, so I made a platter of chocolate chip cookies, since I already had the dough in the fridge… the question was now “what do I make for dinner”?

I looked through my freezer and found a package of turkey kielbasa and a half package of bacon, so that became the base of my recipe.  Since I also had some green peppers and an onion in the crisper, I decided to make a turn on a “sausage and pepper sandwich” and add some linguine and a creamy cheese sauce to pull it all together.  Here’s how I went about making dinner. NOTE: Remember that I was making two dinners for two people each, so these could have easily been made into a single 9×11 casserole instead of two individual 9″ round casseroles.

I crisped up the half package of bacon and then removed the bacon to a plate, leaving the bacon drippings in the saute pan.  I diced one package of turkey kielbasa and crisped that up in the saute pan as well before removing that to a plate. I sliced one green pepper and half a large onion and sauteed these in the bacon grease until softened.  While cooking all these individual pieces, I cooked 3/4 package of linguine (broken in half) until just al dente, then drained the pasta, saving some of the water in case I needed it for the sauce that would top the entire casserole.Sausage&PepperCasserole

I then assembled the casseroles, placing a little of the bacon and half the kielbasa and half the vegetables on top before adding half the pasta.  Once this was done, I was able to turn my attention to the sauce.  I wanted something that was creamy and slightly cheesy but didn’t just want to throw cheese on top of the pasta and hope it melted correctly.

I started the sauce by simmering 2T butter and 2T flour together to make a roux.  I then added some white wine (using chardonnay was my choice this time… crisp and clean) and chicken stock to start a great tasting sauce.  To make the taste unique to this particular dish, I added half a can of cream of mushroom soup (leftover from Christmas dinner), some parmesan cheese and some cheddar cheese for creaminess and a few dashes of Worchestershire sauce for flavor.  Once the sauce tasted “right” (you HAVE to be willing to taste your sauces during the cooking phase so they balance out once they’re added to a dish), I poured half over each casserole and topped each with a sprinkling of leftover bacon.

I have no idea if my neighbors will enjoy this casserole, but I hope they feel the love that comes from wanting to do something nice for others in times of stress.  Karma is a tricky thing… but I believe that if you always reach out to others in a positive way and from a place of kindness and love, that same thing will come back to you tenfold.  I’m not expecting them to do anything in return…. I just know that they shouldn’t have to worry about feeding their family when they’re facing a difficult time.

May we all approach life in this manner… give when you can and your life will be made better for the effort.

Happy New Year Blessings to you all, my friends.  Wishing you health and happiness as 2015 begins!

Starter Recipe: White Kielbasa and Homemade Kaiser Rolls

I have to say that this meal is probably one of my favorite recipes to pull out on a given night.  The recipe for the rolls is one that I have been making for decades and is both delicious and forgiving, which immediately makes it “fabulous” for me. The kielbasa is another component that is easy when trying to make a quick, healthy dinner that will please all the picky eaters in my house.  I’ve been making both of these things, together and apart, for so long that I was astounded to find that I’d never posted the recipe before.  Please forgive my error and let me rectify this as quickly as possible!

The “Kaiser Roll” part of the recipe:  WhiteKielbasa&Rolls (1)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 T vegetable oil (but I’ve used most any oil I have on hand)
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 t yeast (I typically add a little more, especially if I already have the tablespoon measure in hand)

I use my bread machine to make the dough for this.  If you don’t have a bread machine, I’d suggest finding a basic bread dough recipe and following those instructions because I truly haven’t made bread without the machine for so long that *I* would have to look up “how to make bread dough” if I were going to make this recipe without the machine.  Once the dough is made, you’ll want to section off equal size pieces of dough and form them into rolls.  For a full recipe, I typically make 9-12 rolls, depending on how large I want the rolls to be when I’m done.  If I made a half recipe, I like to get 6 rolls out of the dough… everything depends on how big and what shape you want your rolls.

When forming the rolls, I like to pull the dough from the top of the ball and squish (technical term, right?) it into the bottom so I’m forming a very round ball.  I then pull the dough out from the center and stretch the roll to make it “flatter” and wider. Once formed, I place the rolls onto a greased cookie sheet and allow them to rise until doubled (maybe a half hour or so). Bake the rolls in a pre-heated 375* oven for 10 minutes, turn the rolls around in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. They should be nicely browned and come off the pan easily.  NOTE: I spray the rolls a few times (once going in, once inside the oven, and again after turning the rolls) with ice water.  I’m honestly not sure what this does, but my original recipe told me to do this, so I continue to do so.  The crust doesn’t get too crispy and the rolls are puffy and light.

The “White Kielbasa” part of the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Oil/fat (I like a mix of olive oil and coconut oil, but butter/margarine is fine too… use what you like)
  • Turkey Kielbasa (I use 1-2 packages, depending on how many mouths I’m feeding)
  • Onions (I use a half onion, sliced, per package of kielbasa, but use as much/little as you like)
  • Seasonings (I like granulated garlic, salt, and pepper)
  • White wine (I use whatever wine I have on hand… just don’t use anything that’s too sweet)

I like to first saute’ the onions in some variation of fat, until they’re lightly browned and toasty. If you want to do a full-on caramelization of the onions, go for it… they’ll be a terrific addition.  It’s all about what you’d like to have with your dinner.  Slice the kielbasa into “pennies”… I cut them slightly off kilter, so they look pretty, but it’s all about what works for you as the chef.  I’ve cut them into long slices, but the kielbasa tends to curl up so the “penny” shape works better for me. Add the kielbasa into the pan and season with garlic, salt and pepper.  Saute the kielbasa pieces thoroughly on one side before flipping them over and browning on the other side.

Once the kielbasa and onions are cooked thoroughly, I like to add some white wine to add a bit of a sauce to the pan.  The wine picks up the browned bits and adds a nice back note to the meal.  You certainly can omit this step and still have a delicious dinner… it’s all about what you’d like to make and how you’d like it to taste.

I hope you’ll consider trying this recipe sometime.  I love to keep turkey kielbasa in the freezer for that day when I want to make dinner but don’t have a ton of time… this meal fits the bill for me!  Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions or comments… I’d love to hear from you!