Pad Thai a la Ali

When my son E was in high school, I would make Pad Thai every few days for his volleyball team.  His friends would drive him home and then back to school again for practice, so I would make homemade meals for them to thank them.  Since I had never included this recipe on my blog, I thought I would post it now.padthai

Ingredients:

  • Sweet sausage (about 1 cup)
  • Broccolini (sliced into 1 cup of small pieces)
  • Thin Spaghetti (approximately 6 oz)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1T sugar
  • 1T soy sauce
  • 2T white wine + enough to deglaze pan
  • crushed garlic (about 1 thumb-worth)
  • 2T sesame oil
  • 1 large shallot (thinly sliced)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2T sliced almonds (lightly toasted for better flavor)

Directions:

  1. Heat 1T sesame oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Sear sausage until cooked through, deglazing pan with wine, then add broccolini and saute until both are cooked and toasty.  Remove until ready to toss meal together for serving.
  2. In separate pan, cook spaghetti until al dente.
  3. In small bowl, mix ketchup, sugar, soy sauce, wine, and garlic.  Set sauce aside until ready to toss with meal.
  4. Heat remaining 1T sesame oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Saute shallot until softened, then add garlic cloves to pan.  Once both are lightly cooked, add the cooked sausage and broccolini to pan and bring to temperature.
  5. Add cooked spaghetti to pan and toss with reserved sauce.  Saute until everything is thoroughly coated and heated through.  Divide among two plates and sprinkle with toasted almonds to serve.

This post is my own interpretation of a favorite Weight Watchers’ recipe that I used years ago.  That recipe used shredded chicken and had a few other tweaks, like using rice noodles and peanuts.

Suffice it to say that I love to play with recipes to create new versions that use wine and work with ingredients or flavors that are favorites of my family members.  I hope you enjoy coming up with new ways to change recipes of your own!

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Crock Pot Recipe: Tuscan Chicken and Sausage Stew

I love using my crock pot.  Having a slow cooker can help you make a lovely, healthy meal any night of the week.  All it takes is a little thought beforehand and a few minutes in the morning before you leave the house (or start working from home).  This was a recipe that I thought looked particularly yummy, but the ingredients needed to be changed out before I could make it for my family.  I know that they balk at large pieces of mushroom or the texture of artichoke hearts, so I did some substituting and came up with a version that worked well for me.

Since I started with an actual recipe (thanks to Weight Watchers for the inspiration) so the ingredients are much more accurate that I typically offer on my blog.  I used “The Force” for this recipe, but vaulted from the actual recipe, so I’ll be kind today and share it with you that way.

Ingredients:TuscanChickenSausageStewMB

  • 8 small chicken thighs, skinless and boneless, cut into 2″ cubes
  • 1 package Turkey Polska Kielbasa, cut into 2″ chunks
  • 1 cup, chopped Onions, raw
  • 1/2 cup Chicken broth, canned, low sodium
  • 1/2 cup James River Cellars Montpelier Wine – you could use a nice Chardonnay, if you prefer
  • 1 cup, cubes, all varieties Squash, winter type, baked, no fat or sugar added in cooking, butternut
  • 1 cup, sliced Pepper, raw
  • 4 cloves Garlic, raw
  • 3 tsp, leaves Spices, oregano, dried
  • 1 tbsp Spices, rosemary, dried
  • 2T cornstarch, if needed for thickening

In true “not originally mine” style, here are the steps to follow when you make this recipe, using the ingredients I’ve used in my own swap.

Instructions

  1. Chop onion and butternut squash into chunks – place on the bottom of a crock pot.
  2. Collect the thighs and sausage that you’ve already cut into 2″ chunks and layer them on top of the onions/squash
  3. Layer peppers (in a variety of colors) on top of meats, then top with spices.
  4. Add broth and wine.
  5. Cover and cook until chicken is tender and vegetables are cooked through, 4-5 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.
  6. If you want to thicken the broth at the end, whisk 2T of cornstarch with some of the cooking liquid (in a separate cup) until there are no lumps, then return it to the pot and allow the broth to thicken.
  7. Serve over polenta (which my family doesn’t like) or mashed potatoes (which my family *does* like).

I’ve been trying to be better about using a “recipe builder” application (for my iPad) so that I know the actual nutrition analysis of my recipes.  I got a FitBit Flex from my husband for Christmas this year, so I’m coupling that with the (free) MyFitnessPal app to get a better handle on my own health.  To that end, I’m working to make better choices with regards to the foods that I make.  This stew actually makes six servings, with the following nutritional information:  Calories 302, Total Fat 14g, Saturated 3.9g, Polyunsat.  2.9g, Monounsat. 5.4g, Cholesterol 80mg, Sodium 903mg, Total Carbs 16g, Dietary Fiber 2.5g, Sugar 2.8g, Protein 25g, Vitamin A 129mcg, Vitamin C 20mg, Calcium 51mg, and Iron 3.3mg.

I hope you’ll consider playing around with this recipe.  I really loved it, and had it for the next few meals before it was gone.  At only 302 calories, it seemed reasonable and tasty at the same time.  Enjoy!

Recipe: Sausage and Apple Stuffing

I absolutely love making stuffing.  I don’t make it only for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but those are the two times when I make a massive amount and want to use it in sandwiches and leftover meals for a few days.  It’s just so incredibly tasty!

I start making the ingredients for my stuffing a day or so before I actually put everything together for the meal.  It’s easier to cook the sausage a few days in advance and, since I bake the stuffing bread (see previous post) for most of my stuffing, that *has* to be done earlier.

I start two or three days ahead and bake a loaf of bread, then cube it and allow it to dry on a tray.  NOTE: Make sure to let your family know that you’re starting your holiday meal prep or your drying bread may get a little toastier than you expected.  The sausage can be cooked two to three days ahead and kept in the fridge – I like to rinse the sausage once it’s cooked to remove an excess fat, but that’s simply because the cooled fat grosses me out.

Here’s the basic recipe for my Sausage and Apple Stuffing:SausageAppleStuffing

  • 2 loaves of bread cut into cubes (I like to use 1 loaf of Italian bread and 1 loaf of Stuffing bread)
  • 1 lb bulk sage sausage (browned and cooled)
  • 2 apples (I use 1 sweet apple and 1 granny smith apple), chopped fine
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups liquid (I use half Oaked Chardonnay and half chicken stock)
  • turkey liver (from the bag inside the bird)
  • 3 ribs of celery with tops, diced
  • 1 small to medium onion, diced
  • 2 packets G. Washington Golden Bouillon (use your own preferred brand)
  • 2 eggs (keep a third egg on hand in case needed)
  • Salt and pepper to taste, herbs as you want * I like to add some poultry seasonings (both ground and dried) and parsley.
  1. Mix the bread, sausage and apple together in a HUGE bowl (you need a big enough bowl to get everything incorporated well)
  2. Melt margarine into the liquid,  and cook the turkey liver.
  3. Once the liver is cooked, add this mixture to the celery and onion and blend until everything is well pulverized.  I use a Stick blender (immersion blender) in a high-sided bowl until everything is totally incorporated and all the veggies are unrecognizable.  Add bouillon packets to the liquids and stir to combine.
  4. Add your liquid to the bread mixture, top with the two eggs, and use your hands to incorporate everything into the stuffing. Add salt and pepper as needed and use the third egg if the stuffing doesn’t hold together well.   NOTE: Take your time with this step and make sure to taste the stuffing as you are blending.  As my mom always said “if it doesn’t taste good raw, it won’t taste good when it’s cooked”.  This may seem gross, but the nuances in taste as you add a little more salt or extra parsley will make the difference between a stuffing that tastes good and one that knocks your socks off.  We’re going for the “knock your socks off” taste here.
  5. Once the stuffing is done, stuff the turkey everywhere you can find space.  I use the neck cavity as well as the body of the turkey.  I’ve also taken to layering stuffing under the skin, on top of the breast meat and between the body and legs of the bird.  This seems to add to the moist taste of the meat when you carve your turkey.

Enjoy!  This should be a great addition to your holiday meal…

Recipe: Stephanie’s French Toast Bites with Blueberry Wine Sauce

I have to start this recipe by saying that I love breakfast foods.  Eggs Benedict… pancakes… french toast… hash browns… sausage… waffles… bacon… you get the picture.  I could have breakfast-for-dinner at least once a week (although my husband much prefers to limit breakfast foods to “breakfast/brunch time”).  Because of this love affair I have with breakfast, I enjoy creating different sorts of recipes that showcase some of my favorite options, especially when I can incorporate wine into the mix.  The best of both worlds, right?

This recipe was created for my dear friend, Stephanie, who’s having a difficult time eating full-size servings of food these days.  To tempt her into eating breakfast one day, I came up with the idea of having small crouton-size bites of french toast that she could eat with her fingers or dip into a fruity sauce.  It was a big success, so I thought I would share this special recipe with everyone here.  I’ve named this recipe in her honor because without her, I wouldn’t have thought to make this delicious breakfast dish in such a unique manner.

I started by cutting up a few slices of whole wheat bread into bite-sized cubes.  Using my memory, I blended an egg (you can absolutely use egg substitute if you prefer), some milk (I like using almond milk if that’s on hand), some white wine (I used Vidal Blanc last time but use whatever you may have in your fridge… just decrease the amount of sugar if you’re using a sweeter wine), a sprinkling of sugar (as desired), a touch of vanilla, and a dash of cinnamon (to taste).  Using a wire whisk, beat the egg mixture until it’s just becoming frothy.  I wanted something that would taste light, so I opted to whip the mixture until it was light and airy.  I then tossed the bread cubes in the egg mixture until all the cubes were soaked with the egg-y-yumminess.  When you’re ready to cook the toast bites, melt a pat of butter (and a touch of olive oil if you’d like) and transferred the toast bites to a very warm saute pan to cook.  Note: don’t crowd the pan, so feel free to do this in two sections if necessary.  

Stephanie'sFrenchToastBites

In the meantime, using a small saute pan (or sauce pan), melt a pat of butter and add a handful of blueberries,  Feel free to use whatever berries you have on hand or prefer.  We had quarts of blueberries in the fridge, so they were the natural choice when I was creating the sauce to go along with these toast bites.  As the berries begin to warm and pop open, add some red wine (I went around the pan twice with a lovely Pinot Noir… again, because that’s what was in the fridge.  If I’d had a different red wine available, I might have changed to that one instead.  Use what you have and what you enjoy!) sprinkle some sugar to sweeten the sauce, and I decided to add a dash of cinnamon, to mirror the taste from the french toast bites themselves.  Allow the sauce to cook until it reduces and thickens.  If it gets too thick, add a little more wine… if it’s not thick enough, feel free to add a little more sugar.  This is a Use The Force sort of recipe… make it your own!

You’ll notice that there are also some bites of sausage on the serving plate in the photo – we had turkey sausage that needed to be used (and it was a good source of protein), so I browned the sausage until it was crispy and delicious.  It’s not a prerequisite… just another flavor to temp my dear friend into eating more than she had planned.

Sometimes, you’ll find that you need to expand your horizons when it comes to feeding your loved ones.  If someone isn’t feeling particularly well, feel free to play with your recipe to tempt them into eating something tasty and good for them.  It’s not about who’s doing the cooking or even about how they’re cooking… it’s about the love that is conveyed by the simple act of feeding people.

As you cook, may you enjoy the challenge and turn it into an expression of love.  That’s what it’s all about…