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Nate has told me before that the dinner he always looked forward to his mom making when he was growing up was pasta with sausage and tomato sauce, with broccoli and garlic bread. So when his 30th birthday was fast approaching, I knew this is the meal I would make for him.

However, when we were down at the shore visiting my parents the weekend before his bday, my mom made a delicious red sauce, and being that Nate’s bday was only a couple days later, I asked him for his next choice.

He told me his second favorite pasta sauce is a light garlic sauce. I immediately thought of a sausage and broccoli rabe combo…but Nate insisted on broccoli. And I’m not one to argue with the Birthday Boy.

*As some readers have pointed out, this sauce wasn’t actually a garlic sauce, but when I set out to make the recipe I thought it was. The sausage and chicken broth impart a seasoned/salty flavor that tastes a lot like a light garlic sauce but without all the oil. And if you really wanted, you’re more than welcome to add garlic!

I knew I wouldn’t have much time to cook when I got home from work, so I did all my market shopping the day before. It’s not like me to do this, but I bought some premade garlic bread…you know the one that comes in foil that you put right in the oven? It made my life a whole lot easier. This really came together super quickly and is perfect for dinner on a birthday, or any day of the year!


Pasta with Turkey Sausage and Broccoli
Adapted from Gourmet (3/06)

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Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

cooking spray
1 lb italian turkey or pork sausage, casings discarded and sausage crumbled
1/2 lb broccoli florets, coarsely chopped
3/4 lb dried pasta (whatever shape you desire)
2/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 oz finely grated Pecorino Romano (1/2 cup) plus additional for serving

Spray a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook sausage, breaking up any lumps with a spoon, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water. When pasta is al-dente, remove using a slotted spoon and set aside. Add broccoli to the pasta water and blanch, 1 min.  Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain broccoli in a colander.

Add broccoli to sausage in skillet and sauté, stirring frequently, until just tender, about 1-2 min. Add broth, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet, then add pasta and 1/2 cup reserved cooking water to skillet, tossing until combined. Stir in cheese and thin with additional cooking water if desired.

Serve immediately, with additional cheese on the side.

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Comfort food is such a wonderful idea. Food that seeks to elicit memories of times when you were young, happy, and carefree.  Or maybe just food that warms you up after a cold winter day. I think risotto falls into the latter category since I don’t remember my mom making it all that often when I was a kid.

Unfortunately, try as you might, comfort food doesn’t always make you comfortable.


Case in point: Nate threw his back out a few weeks ago. I felt so helpless in this situation. I pride myself on being a great girlfriend and love taking care of people, but there was absolutely nothing I could do to ease his pain. I catered to his every whim (when I was home), bringing him food and water, but nothing could really make him feel better except time.

So, I did the next best thing that I knew how: I cooked.


I wanted to make something easy for him to eat, but delicious. This satisfied on both accounts. And I think it may have made him forget about his back for at least the first few bites 😉


Sausage and Mushroom Risotto
From Bon Appetit (8/01)

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Makes 8 1st course servings

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb Italian sweet sausage, casings removed, crumbled into 1/2-in pieces (I used turkey sausage)
8 oz. portobello mushrooms, stemmed, dark gills scraped out, caps diced
10 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, diced
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 cups Madeira (or Sherry)
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup butter
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups arborio rice or other medium grain rice (about 13 oz)
1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over med-hi heat. Add sausage and saute until beginning to brown, about 3 min. Add all mushrooms, thyme and oregano and suate until mushrooms are tender, about 10 min.

Add 1/2 cup Madeira; boil until almost absorbed, about 1 min. Set aside.

Bring stock to simmer in large saucepan; remove from heat and cover to keep hot.

Melt butter in heavy large pot over med-hi heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is translucent, about 5 min.

Add rice; stir 2 min. Add remaining 1 cup Madeira; simmer until absorbed, about 2 min. Add 1 cup hot stock; simmer until almost absorbed, stirring often, about 3 min.

Continue to cook until rice is just tender and mixture is creamy, adding more stock by cupfuls, stirring often and allowing most stock to be absorbed before adding more, about 25 min.

Stir in sausage mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowl. Pass cheese separately.

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I’ve been so busy these days. Between deadlines at work, apartment hunting (in NYC it’s an expensive pain in the butt), trying to keep up with my blog, getting a little exercise and making dinner semi-regularly, I barely have time to think!

It’s times like these that it’s good to have a collection of recipes on hand that are quick, don’t take many ingredients, are fairly healthy and taste really good. Among my hoard of recipes, I found one for a Potato Crusted Sausage Quiche.

The crust on quiche is usually the most fattening part, so I liked the fact that this used potatoes instead. Potatoes are fairly high calorie for a vegetable (because they’re a starch), but in comparison to a butter-filled pastry dough, I knew it would result in a fraction of the calories that the typical crust would be. Plus, the idea of a crispy potato crust sounded pretty yummy.

The potatoes on the sides came out looking really pretty, and they got nice and brown and crispy. The ones on the bottom of the quiche tasted really good as well, but they don’t crisp up like the sides. It was definitely a nice variation on a typical quiche.

I put sausage, scallions and cheese in mine, but other meats/veggies would work just as well! I used precooked chicken sausage so all I had to do was chop it up. Easy peasy.

Make this for dinner this week and you can thank me later for the extra time you save to catch up on your DVR 😉


Potato-Crusted Sausage Quiche

Adapted from a recipe I found in my collection, but I don’t know where it’s from

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Serves 4-6

5 large eggs (or 1 cup egg substitute)
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 Tbsp flour
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp tabasco
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or more if desired)
2 precooked turkey/chicken sausage links (about 6 oz),diced (I used Italian flavor but any would be delicious)
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 medium potatoes, or enough to cover bottom and sides of dish

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine eggs, ricotta, flour, pepper and tabasco in a large bowl. Whisp to mix well.
Stir in cheese, sausage, and scallions. Set aside.
Coat a 9″ deep dish pie pan with cookin spray.
Slice unpeeled potatoes 1/4″ thick.
Arrange potato slices in single layer over bottom and sides of pan. You don’t have to cover every inch of the bottom but I actually cut some slices into pieces to have more full coverage on the bottom.
Pour egg mixture into crust.
Bake uncovered for 45 min or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Allow to cool for 5 min before cutting. This step is important! It will be firmer and easier to slice cleanly after cooling.

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