Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Italian Sausage Surprise and Life From Scratch

We are T minus 3 weeks away until everyone arrives for graduation weekend.  Each day brings us closer to the upcoming fun moments of family, friends, and memories to be had.  Each day is also bringing us to check off things from our "to do" list, and then I find myself finding new items that need to be added and handled before our final date.

Needless to say, my family has somewhat suffered and I haven't been trying out as many new recipes as I would like.  My focus has been planning "the weekend" and finishing up "art/gift/decor" projects for their party.

In the middle of all this though, I did set aside some time and just recently finished reading "Life From Scratch" by Sasha Martin.  What a phenomenal book! I couldn't put it down.  Not only are there some amazing recipes (stay tuned for seeing posts on those in the near future), but I really related to Sasha.  There are some points in her life that I felt intersected with mine and I completely understood where she was coming from.  

The one paragraph that really hit home with me was near the end of the book.  She was cooking for a large group of family for her mom's surprise birthday party dinner. Sasha is having a conversation with her husband as they're going to sleep....

"You seem really tense, Sash.  Are you OK?"

"What do you mean?"

"All day you tried to control everything.  I think you're making everyone nervous."

I roll over without responding.  He thinks I'm pouting, that I'm mad at him, 
but what I'm really thinking is: 
I know.  That's exactly what I'm doing. And I don't know how to stop.

Ouch!  It was like looking in a mirror as I read that.  That is the last thing I ever want to happen is to make everyone nervous, and yet I know I have been guilty of it, by my own admission.  I must stop trying to control everything!

Well, unfortunately, I had already started my lists and lists of recipes, menus, grocery items, decor ideas and photos before I read the book.  I have to type them, because my hand won't write as fast as my brain is going to keep up.  (don't judge)  Oh well, there's always tomorrow to start my new ways.

This dish "Italian Sausage Surprise" (because I have no other idea what to call it), came about on accident as I was trying to whip up a quick meal during the week.  What started out as supposed to be slow cooker sausage and peppers turned into something so much better!

Italian Sausage Surprise

5 hot Italian sausage links
1 red pepper, sliced thin
1 yellow pepper, sliced thin
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, crushed
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
2 cups prepared Marinara sauce (your favorite jarred brand)

In a large skillet, preheat over medium-high heat with a little olive oil.  When skillet is hot, add the sausage links and sear until brown on each side.  Remove from pan and set aside.

In same pan, add a little more olive oil and a tablespoon of butter, over medium heat.  Add the garlic and onions.  Saute until onions become translucent and garlic is fragrant.  Add the red and yellow peppers and saute until just getting soft.  Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for one minute.

Add the sausages back into the skillet with the veggies and pour the marinara sauce all over everything.  Stir well to make sure everything is coated.  Cover, lower heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes.

** While the dish was simmering, I "sauted" up some four cheese mini Pierogis with butter, because they make me happy and the creaminess of the Pierogi filling was so good with the finished sauce all over them. This also paired beautifully with Cara Mia Pinot Noir.

One Year Ago: Sweet Samoas Cake
Two Years Ago: "Un" Fried Ice Cream in Cinnamon-Sugar Bowl
Three Years Ago: White Pizza and Marky's Mark

Monday, May 1, 2017

Lemon-Blueberry Buckle

We celebrated the end of April (and "The Masters" month) by hosting a Champions Dinner and date night in for a few of our couples friends at our house.

This year's Champions Dinner at Augusta consisted of "Sunday Roast Dinner" with Prime Rib, Roasted Potatoes and Vegetables, Yorkshire Pudding and Apple Crumble.

We changed our menu up a bit and served our Traeger Prime Rib, loaded Cambozola smashed potatoes, garden salad, White Cheddar and Sage popovers and for dessert...Lemon-Blueberry Buckle. Everything was so incredibly good. 

I tried to bring my A-game for the evening and thank God it all turned out perfect...down to an intense game of Guesstures (guys against girls).  Girls nailed it, what can I say? If you've never played this must get it and much fun!!

As we were planning the dinner, I really wanted to try and replicate "The Champions Dinner" evening feel.  I looked for photos and since cameras and cell phones are not allowed at the actual dinner, each year there is always only one portrait taken with all the former winners.

One thing that I did notice that is consistent every year in the portrait photo...white linens, white china with gold accents and yellow flowers....done!

Lemon-Blueberry Buckle

1 box Butter Yellow cake mix
2 cans blueberry pie filling
1 whole lemon
1 stick cold, unsalted butter, sliced thin (16 slices)
vanilla bean ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray 9x13 glass baking dish with non-stick spray on bottom and sides.

Pour both cans of blueberry pie filling in dish.  Zest the lemon and sprinkle all over pie filling. Cut lemon in half and squeeze the juice of lemon all over the pie filling.  Mix lemon in with filling well.

Sprinkle the dry cake mix all over lemon-blueberry mixture.  Spread evenly and smooth out mix on top of filling (this will be your top crust - do not mix the dry cake mix with the pie filling).   Add pads of cold butter, spaced evenly all over cake mix.

Bake approximately 45 minutes, until filling starts to bubble up the sides and butter/cake mix starts to turn golden brown.

Remove from oven and let sit about 30 minutes, it will be very hot.

Scoop out and serve with vanilla ice cream.

One Year Ago: Alabama White BBQ Sauce
Three Years Ago: Taco (Tortilla Bowl) Salad