Revised Recipe – Sausage & Peppers

This week, I was reminded of just how fleeting life can be.  One decision can alter the course of another person’s life in the blink of an eye.  We never really know what’s ahead and we have no control over some of it.  What we do have control over is the way we respond to these tragic life experiences.   This weekend, I’ve said many prayers for a young boy and his family.  I hope that in time they come to find solace in knowing there are many people here to support them.

Thankfully, this weekend my brother came up from North Carolina so I got to spend time with my entire family.  My two brothers and I haven’t been together since November and it’s not often we are all in the same place at the same time.  The weather was amazing on Saturday and it really was just what I needed.  This coming weekend, my children will all be home for my birthday so I’m excited for that as well.  There’s nothing like time with family, including of course good food, to soothe the soul in trying times.

Last month, I signed up for and started taking an online nutrition course.  Those who have been reading my blog for the past two years know that I’ve been to quite a few nutritionists.  While I have learned something from each of them, often I found they were trying to sell me something.  I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and take some courses to become more self sufficient.  I don’t want to live on pills and powders, as I love food way too much.  I spent the first four weeks of the course, tracking my eating and taking notes on how my body responds to certain foods.  I used an online tracking app – Lose It – to identify trends in my eating.  Specifically, I was looking at my macronutrient balance.  This experience was eye opening for me and coupled with the content I was reading and viewing, I had a better understanding of some personal issues.

These next three weeks, I am cutting back on animal based proteins, including eggs and dairy.  This week, I will not eat more than 3 meals in which my protein source is animal based.  The goal is to spend some time on a plant based diet and see how my body responds.  This is just one cycle I will go through to track and observe, nothing permanent.  Yet, this work doesn’t excite me as much as the prior cycle as I often use eggs and chicken as my protein source.  In planning my menu for the week, I must admit I wasn’t too excited about my options.  I’ve got some work to do to ensure I get enough protein, but I feel like I have a plan.  I’ve recently discovered that I love cruciferous foods, especially as a base for my salads.  I discovered that I can also chop up many other vegetables to look like a slaw and they suddenly taste so much better.FA6FF1BB-45C2-4D77-A684-3B02D9058CC8.jpeg

Today, my last day in the current cycle, I reflected on how much I’ve changed my eating habits when watching my macronutrient balance.  I was shooting for 15% carbs, 15% protein and 70% healthy fats these past few weeks.  I have noticed a change in my energy levels, cravings and sleep.

For Sunday sauce, my husband brought home some beautiful red, yellow and orange peppers and some hot Italian turkey sausage.  This simple substitution of turkey sausage cuts back significantly on the fat content of this staple meal.  Let’s face it, sausage is not exactly in the healthy fat category.  Honestly, if I didn’t know it was turkey I likely wouldn’t have noticed.  It was delicious.  Since I’ve discovered how much I like salads that are chopped fine, I’ve not missed my pasta or rice.  This type of salad makes a wonderful base for sauces and protein options.  Today’s version consisted of chopped cabbage – red and green, kale, broccoli, jicama and carrots.  Today’s salad was packaged and purchased at the store, but I am confident I can recreate this quite easily going forward.

Turkey Sausage & Peppers

Recipe used is identical to the one I’ve shared before, except I substituted the pork sausage for hot Italian turkey sausage.  Here is the link to that recipe – Sausage & Peppers

If making this salad fresh you’d need to chop all vegetables finely like you would for coleslaw.  I didn’t use any dressing as I had sauce to top it with.  I think the self proclaimed vegetable hater may come over to the dark side after this three week nutritional cycle.  Let’s see how it goes, I’ll definitely keep you posted and share my updated recipes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuffed Chicken Breast with Mushroom Gravy

My daughter Catherine moved out almost one year ago and lately she’s been calling me to ask about cooking.  How do you make this?, What can I do with these ingredients?  This makes me happy, as I guess she was watching after all.  These calls bring me full circle to myself when I moved out of my parents’ home when I was a mere 18 years old.  I had just graduated high school and gotten a job working in Human Resources at Morgan Stanley in midtown.  I was attending college at night, working full time and living under my own roof.  I was super excited to have my own place and after about the same amount of time as my daughter, started calling my mother to ask these same questions.  I still have the index cards I typed at work after speaking to her, all those years ago, to get treasured family recipes. (Yes I know I spelled potato wrong back then.)87F83B95-F1D3-4600-8359-90ACA3CEF5D5.jpeg

My mother was a creature of habit, as was my dad.  We ate dinner at the same exact time every single night.  We ate the same meals in a weekly rotation and my brothers and I could tell you that Friday was spaghetti night. My Nanny came for dinner after work on Thursday and we usually ate stuffed pepper or meatloaf and had chocolate cream pie for dessert.  Grandma came over on Saturday and we always had fudge ripple ice cream for dessert and Goulash for dinner.  We had bagels on the one Saturday each month that my dad worked the graveyard shift.  He picked them up on his way home, hot from the bagel store.  Every Tuesday in the summer we went to Rockaway Beach with the ladies and kids on the block.  You could literally set your calendar and watch by the routines my family had.  That’s likely why I rebel so much when it comes to structured routines and like to do things differently each week.

Today, on Sunday sauce day – gasp – I was planning to make chicken cutlet.   When I opened the package, I noticed the breasts were left whole.  I had just seen an idea shared on another website – Cooking with the King Fish – about stuffing these breasts rather than trimming them up for chicken cutlet.  I decided to give this a shot today.  I had some turkey sausage that I planned to cook with the cutlets and some beautiful mushroom for a gravy.  This meal is one of those – a little of this and a little of that and maybe we have a new meal for our rotation.

Change is good and experimenting with cooking is fun.  There are just so many meals to try, why limit yourself to the same thing each week.  I’m not sure why my mom felt the need to have such a strict schedule.  I know she was on her own a lot with dad’s work schedule and likely needed to have a routine with her three young children at home.  I also know as she got older she did not enjoy cooking at all.  So, maybe it was that all along,  maybe she didn’t like to cook and just had her favorite recipes that she kept making.  I’m not really sure, but she was such a great cook and I hope she found joy in it.

Stuffed Chicken Breast

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole boneless chicken breasts
  • mozzarella cheese cubed
  • hot turkey sausage (1/2 link removed from casing for stuffing)
  • 1 mini red pepper cubed for stuffing
  • baby spinach rolled and sliced into strips for stuffing
  • 1 mushroom chopped (white) for stuffing
  • Hot turkey sausage – 5 links sliced (uncooked)
  • Chicken broth 1 cup
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • cooking twine

Directions:

  1. Pour glass of Chardonnay and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen.BBD7D93B-1693-4E5E-9C45-D0CEBB1D471B
  2. Trim the cutlet almost in half and unfold.
  3. If still thick start at middle and trim to outer edge but not all the way through. Unfold.EBE38E41-8245-4935-9C3F-AB9FD291AE01
  4. Repeat on other side
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and pound to even out
  6. Place layer of stuffing on in this order, sausage, mushroom, pepper, spinach, mozzarella cheese.5CC304A3-6A88-4B34-87A6-A629C1FD77FB
  7. Roll breast and secure with cooking twineAED4DABE-1DFB-46BD-BF25-5A83A211E95B
  8. Add olive oil to bottom of baking pan
  9. Place chicken breast in baking pan
  10. Add chopped onions around
  11. Add sliced turkey sausage
  12. Add garlic
  13. Add chicken broth – 1 cup to baking pan
  14. Bake for one hour at 350 degrees13462190-78D2-48F5-8319-8394AE912805

Mushroom Gravy

I used my Schnitzel mushroom gravy recipe to make a nice pan gravy for this meal.  The recipe can be found here –  Chicken Schnitzel with Mushroom Gravy & Spaetzle .  What I don’t use with this meal I can freeze in a container and have on hand for quick meals during the week.  There’s something comforting about having a nice mushroom gravy to top off our chicken cutlet, or steak.EA0315DC-3900-4691-B0B1-AB0A74EF6ABF.jpeg

What were the weekly meals your family ate?  Please share as I love to try new recipes out.  If you try any of these recipes, please drop me a line and let me know how you made out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diana’s Veal & Peppers

Losing a parent is one of the hardest things a person goes through in their life.  Losing two parents and an only sister within three years is unimaginable to me.  When one suffers such a loss, memories are often where they find solace.  Photographs, songs, letters, scents and recipes keep us connected to those we miss the most.  An old friend of mine, Joan often cooks childhood dishes to reconnect to happier times with her family. Living in Buffalo now, Joan’s food photographs pop up on my Facebook feed, often when she can’t sleep.  On those days, I feel like I can smell her cooking right through the computer and wish she still lived nearby.

I met Joan back when our boys were little.  Our boys attended elementary school together and were two peas in a pod, especially when it came to leaving their books at school.  My son Robert used to inform me that Gary’s mother would go and make photocopies of missing homework pages at the nearest drug store.  I told my son that was way too complicated for me with three young children, besides he needed to learn responsibility, right?

Joan was one of the first ladies I met when our children started Kindergarten.  She was hysterically funny and a realist when it came to raising her children.  We shared many laughs and cocktails together as our children grew up.  When Joan’s children went off to college in Buffalo, she and her husband decided to pack up and move up there.

A few years back, Joan lost her mom and dad within one year of each other.  When her mom was dying of cancer, Joan and her sister Barbara moved back into the family home in Brooklyn to care for her.  Joan’s posts were often like Seinfeld episodes, in which she described going back to the old neighborhood.  Throughout this most difficult time, Joan kept her sense of humor and helped her mom Diana keep her dignity.  Anyone who has gone through this knows that is not an easy thing to do.  Not long after Joan’s mom died, her only sister Barbara passed away unexpectedly.  This came as quite a shock to all as Barbara was a healthy woman and left Joan understandably devastated.

Joanandmom
Joan, Diana, Barbara

Yesterday, Joan commented on my sausage and peppers post.   She shared how she too, cooks foods from her past to feel closer to those lost.  She said she tries to make her mother’s recipes to hang on to her childhood memories.  Her mother’s veal and peppers recipe was her favorite as a child.  Every year for her birthday, her mom would let her request a special dinner and this is the one Joan picked.  As she celebrates her birthday this weekend, Joan made her mom’s treasured recipe and kindly shared it with us.

Like most women of her time, Diana never wrote anything down.  Joan said she often has the urge to pick up the phone when cooking to ask her mom how to make certain foods.  I’m sure many of you know that feeling all too well.  Here is Diana’s recipe as Joan makes it today.

Diana’s Veal & PeppersJoansmom

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 red peppers sliced
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs veal cubes for stew
  • Flour
  • 2 small cans of DelMonte Tomato Sauce
  • Red wine

Directions:

I usually make the peppers in advance just to make life easier.

  1. Slice up 4-5 red peppers and 1 onion. Place in pan with olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes. Mix it coating the peppers with oil. Cover with foil and cook at 400 hundred oven till almost soft. (15-20 minutes)
  2. Mix flour, salt and black pepper in dish. Coat veal cubes in flour.
  3. Brown veal in large frying pan with olive oil and minced garlic.
  4. When brown add splash of red wine to deglaze the pot.
  5. Then add 2 small cans of Del Monte tomato sauce and a little bit of water. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer about 1 to 1 1/2 hours till veal is fork tender.
  6. Add peppers and onions and heat all together for 5 minutes or until hot. That’s it.
  7. Serve on rice
  8. Leftovers, if any, are great on Italian hero’s the next dayE974E165-6B44-4A51-AF72-1C9663CD0B1D

If you try this recipe, please leave a comment in the section below.  We’d love to hear how you liked it.

If you’d like to share a special recipe from your family, please leave me a comment and I’d be happy to feature it here on the blog.