Giveaway Winner and Some Thoughts

The Flavor BibleLet’s cut right to the chase and announce the winner of The Flavor Bible giveaway! As randomly picked on Random.org, it is #31, Carolyn Page. Her comment was “My favorite meal is pot roast, mashed potatoes and carrots. Cornbread also. Great dinner. Would love to have this book!” Carolyn, I will be contacting you by email. If you don’t see an email from me, be sure to check your spam-box. You may contact me either through the contact page on this blog or at my email address — tsgcookin at gmail dot com.

I often see bloggers write that they wish they could give away the prize to everyone who entered the contest. I know just what they mean. On the one hand I am so excited to be able to offer something to my readers, but on the other hand I am really stressed out about not being able to give this prize to everyone! Although I haven’t personally met a single one of you, I have come to know some of you through your comments and emails and I keep thinking what wonderful people there are in this world.

This isn’t the direction at all that I had planned to go with this post, but my heart is really full and I need to express some things that are on my mind. There are several things that have happened very recently, both in my personal life and in the world at large that have given me cause for deep thoughts.

As I reflect on the past 24 hours, I find myself nearly over-whelmed by the enormous variety of experiences, thoughts and emotions which I have had. There has been remarkable joy and remarkable sadness, volumes of both hope and despair, inner peace juxtaposed with tumultuous thoughts. In some ways it was an ordinary 24 hours, yet in other ways my life has been changed forever.

We live in a world turned upside down and inside out with hate and unspeakable cruelty; with violence and perversion and uncontrollable diseases. In the face of all of these things, how can we as individuals keep moving forward in positive ways? How do we cope with world and personal tragedies and remain (or become) productive members of society? I can only give you the answers that work for me.

  1. Prayer and gratitude. I pray a lot. I pray for help or hope or personal peace. Many of my prayers are simply a one sentence expression of gratitude — “Thank you, Heavenly Father, for this moment.” Seven years ago I was presented with a life altering health issue and I learned what it was to be terrified. I also learned about being grateful for even the most ordinary things — a warm breeze, my neighbor’s funny chickens, a tiny yellow autumn leaf, the way the sunlight made little flecks of sand in the concrete sparkle. Then there were the big things — the weight of a grandchild’s tiny body against mine as they snuggled up with me for a moment, the sounds of my family’s voices, the expanse of a starlit night sky, stillness in my soul, hearing a beautiful piece of music, getting to be a nurse. Each and every one of these things, and so many more, are causes for prayers of gratitude.
  2. Deliberate cheerfulness. Cheerfulness is often a choice. No, we won’t always be cheerful because some things in life are dark and gloomy and fearful. (Those are really good times to pray for strength and inner peace.) Nevertheless, I do honestly believe that we can find a way or a cause to express a measure of cheerfulness. Cheerfulness is directly related to laughter and laughter is healing. If I have to have wrinkles, I’d at least like them to be mostly made up of laugh lines.
  3. Service to others. Service is putting someone else before self. We often think of acts of service as being something huge or grand, but from my perspective, service is sometimes as simple as blessing someone’s life with a cheerful smile. I remember once when I was having a truly difficult day, a day when the sadness in my heart couldn’t have been heavier. I had bought a few groceries and had just finished loading them into the trunk of my car. As I turned to put the empty shopping cart in the cart return, a woman walked up to me, smiled and took the cart. “I’ll put it away for you,” she said cheerfully. That simple act of service from a complete stranger stunned me and the tears welled up in my eyes as I stammered a “thank you”. Since that day I have made a more determined effort to be aware of those around me so that I can offer small acts of kindness as well. The rewards have been substantial in the form of my own personal peace and happiness. Showing kindness is teaching kindness.

Those are the three big things in my life, the things that get me through each day. They are avenues to connecting in positive ways with others and the world around me. Making positive connections is one of the reasons that I enjoy blogging. I really like my little band of blog friends. I am grateful for your charity and goodness as expressed through your comments and emails. Your goodness shines through your writing. Thank you for helping to make the world a better place.

If you’d like to share, please tell me what your personal coping strategies are for daily life. What makes your days brighter?

One-Skillet Italian Sausage Pasta

Blessings on your kitchen! This One-Skillet Italian Sausage Pasta is a family pleaser and a beautiful gift to whomever has dish duty the night that you make it.

One-Skillet Italian Sausage Pasta

I do love Italian food. I love the herbs and spices, the wonderful sauces, the cheeses, the flavorful meats, the crusty breads and, of course, the pasta. Italian food seems so fresh and vibrant and alive. And now, because of this One-Skillet Italian Sausage and Pasta, I love that I can have a crowd-pleasing dinner on the table in under an hour.


Hey! This is a great place to remind you that you have until tomorrow night (2-19-2015) at 11:59 pm to enter the GIVEAWAY for The Flavor Bible! Click here, girls and boys, to enter. All you have to do is to leave a comment on the Flavor Bible post telling us your favorite dinner (aka supper).


 

One-Skillet Italian Sausage Pasta

Evolution of a Recipe

In truth, when I first started thinking about this recipe adventure, I was a bit intimidated by the concept of a “one-pot” dinner involving pasta. I wasn’t confident that it would work out well. To further my feelings of intimidation, I have had a series of recipe failures in the past few weeks. I’ll think that I have an idea that can’t possibly fail and then, kerflooey.

Sometimes a recipe fails because I don’t really know what I am doing. Other times a recipe fails because I have messed with it too much. Take the first version of this now excellent pasta dinner. Things were going well until, dunh-dunh-dunh, I added cream to the recipe. It was just too much of a good thing. I knew it would be, but I did it anyway because, well, I don’t know why. Que no era una buena idea.

The resulting dish was incredibly rich and filling. Three bites into the meal I had to push my plate away. Three bites and dinner was over. If I was busy at work, three-bites-and-I’m-full would be great on busy days, but typically at home, I want my dinner to last longer than 49 seconds.

Luckily, the second time around this one-dish pasta meal turned out beautimous — rich and hearty, super easy to make and it only took one pan. Actually, I used a ceramic coated cast iron braiser and it worked very well.

One-Skillet Italian Sausage Pasta--Hearty and very flavorful main course cooked all in one skillet!--Italian sausage, crimini mushrooms, marinara, Italian herbs, pasta, Parmesan and mozzarella.

Ingredient Mash-Up

One of the fun outcomes from this project was finding a new favorite pasta shape, campanelle torchietti. Campanelle Torchietti looks like calla lillies or maybe like a trumpet or, duh, like a torch. It holds up well with the robust sauce in this dish, offering just the right amount of pasta vs. sauce vs. meat in each bite. (2/19/2015 — For some reason when I was writing this post I had campanelle pasta on my mind, but it was actually torchietti shaped pasta that I used in this recipe. Torchietti is my new favorite. :) )

I broke with my usual litany of Italian herbs and seasonings in the sauce and opted for a ready-mixed Italian herb blend. I really like The Spice Hunter® brand of herbs and spices and the same holds true for their herb and spice blends. No, I am not being paid to promote The Spice Hunter®; I am merely passing along a bit of helpful information. Friends help friends succeed in the kitchen.

As for the sausage, I used spicy Italian sausage. It was very flavorful, but I think that the next time around I will go with a milder Italian sausage. Whew! Mama mia, that was some kind of spicy!

For the tomatoes, be sure to use Italian plum tomatoes, especially if you can find canned San Marzano tomatoes. San Marzano is a variety of tomato, NOT a brand of canned tomatoes. They are meaty and very flavorful when cooked. Read the notes in the recipe for more information regarding using whole Italian plum tomatoes for this recipe.

One-Skillet Italian Sausage Pasta--Hearty and very flavorful main course cooked all in one skillet!--Italian sausage, crimini mushrooms, marinara, Italian herbs, pasta, Parmesan and mozzarella.

Print green and blue-1One-Skillet Italian Sausage Pasta


Prep Time: 10 minutes  |  Cook Time: 40 minutes  |  Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 8-10 servings

With the best of Italian flavors, this easy one-dish meal is hearty and filling. From browning the sausage to cooking the pasta, the entire dish is completed in under an hour.


 One-Skillet Italian Sausage Pasta--Hearty and very flavorful main course cooked all in one skillet!--Italian sausage, crimini mushrooms, marinara, Italian herbs, pasta, Parmesan and mozzarella.Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, mild or spicy, casings removed if applicable
  • 1 large onion, medium diced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly across clove
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (I used The Spice Hunter®)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole Italian plum tomatoes
  • 3 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces pasta — torchietti, penne, ziti or rigatoni recommended
  • 1 cup grated fresh Parmesan
  • 1 1/4 cups grated mozzarella
  • small handful of torn, fresh basil leaves for garnish
  • Special Equipment: 5 1/2 quart braiser OR large skillet with lid

Instructions

  1. Heat braiser or skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil, then sausage. Cook sausage for 3 minutes, breaking up while cooking.
  2. Lower heat to medium low. Add onion and mushrooms; cooking and stirring for one minute. Stir in garlic and Italian seasoning. Cover skillet and continue to cook until onion is translucent. Stir periodically.
  3. Crush tomatoes well by hand or with a potato masher (watch out, the tomatoes will squirt when crushed). An immersion blender can also be used to break up tomatoes; simply pulse it a few times. Add tomatoes and juice to ingredients in pan. Stir to combine. Add chicken stock (or broth) and salt. Stir well.
  4. Raise heat to medium and bring to a boil. Add pasta; stir well. Cover skillet and cook until pasta is almost al dente, stirring frequently to keep pasta from sticking to bottom of skillet or clumping together.
  5. Turn off heat and remove pan from burner. Gently stir in grated Parmesan until melted. Scatter mozzarella evenly over top. Place lid over skillet and allow mozzarella to melt, 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with torn basil leaves and serve immediately.

Notes

  • Except for initially cooking the sausage, only cook this meal over medium or medium low heat. Cooking over higher heat will cause the ingredients to stick to the bottom of the pan and/or burn.
  • Using whole tomatoes: It may seem counter intuitive to use whole Italian tomatoes and then crush them. There are several advantages in doing this:
    • Italian plum tomatoes are more flavorful. The best Italian plum tomatoes are San Marzano. San Marzano is a variety of tomato, not a brand of tomato;
    • You get to control the texture of the crushed tomatoes.
    • There is more juice in the can of whole tomatoes which is needed in this particular recipe. The texture and amount of liquid is often unpredictable in canned, crushed tomatoes — sometimes looking more like a thick tomato sauce and other times it can be thin and watery with a low amount of actual tomato. Additionally, with the canned crushed tomatoes, the tomatoes are often not the more flavorful Italian plum variety.

Recipe adapted from Pink Parsley


Did you enter the giveaway yet for The Flavor Bible????? It’s a great book for helping you to make wise flavor choices when you decide to “tweak” one of my recipes. :)


 

One-Skillet Italian Sausage Pasta

You may also want to inhale these favorites:

Creamy Mushroom Chicken Over Linguine
Creamy Mushroom Chicken Over Linguine
Baked Spaghetti
Baked Spaghetti
Minestrone Soup
Minestrone Soup

 

The Flavor Bible and a Give Away


GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

The winner was announced on this post.


The Flavor Bible collage 2

Are you a recipe tinkerer? Are you the kind of cook that just has to tweak almost every recipe you make? Oh good. I thought that you all might be adventurous kinds of cooks. That’s why I want to introduce one of my favorite books, The Flavor Bible, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. Continue Reading

Date and Apple Honey Bran Muffins

Whether for breakfast or snacking, Date and Apple Honey Bran Muffins answer the question, “What do I want to eat?”. They are full of good tasting and good-for-you ingredients like Medjool dates, apples, honey, toasted pecans and wheat bran.

Date and Apple Honey Bran Muffins | That's Some Good Cookin' When bran muffins first became all the rage as a weapon against cardio-vascular disease, they left a lot to be desired. The word “cardboard” comes to mind. In taste and in appearance, there was often little difference between bran muffins and ground up cardboard. The muffins were low fat/fat free, low sugar, low anything that would make them taste enjoyable. Sad.

But, what the heck, we ate them anyway because they were “good” for us. After all, we’d live forever; our bodies lean and healthy and our arteries clean as a whistle. We were amazingly determined people for a few years. Continue Reading

German-Style Pot Roast {Sauerbraten}

Often marinated for days in vinegar and wine, German-Style Pot Roast is tangy, sweet and full of rich, beef flavor. In this recipe, the marinating process is replaced by the slow cooking process in a crock pot. Whether you call it German Pot Roast, Bavarian pot roast, or Sauerbratan, dinner is done in hours instead of days.

German-Style Pot Roast  {aka Bavarian Pot Roast or Sauerbraten} | That's Some Good Cookin'

I have a hobby. Well, actually, it is more than a hobby; it is an addiction. I LOVE genealogy, aka Family History. I love finding out about my family and their past, where they came from, what their lives were like and what may have brought them to America.

The earliest ancestors I can find came from England to the American colonies in the early 1600’s, on the next ships after the Mayflower, Continue Reading