Wish Upon A Dish

March 31, 2015

Kielbasa Cassoulet Casserole

In this house the list of favorite sausages has to start with a good hot Italian sausage. After that, kielbasa is a close second.
Growing up it was knockwursts because it was a simple bologna mixture shaped into a fat hot dog shape, as cute as a bug and perfect for little kitty taste buds.
Hey, sorry but back in the 60's that was it, no bratwurst or kielbasa.

Today, somehow (and The Nudge still has no idea why) one knockwurst always sneaks into our annual grilled sausage board dinner, then disappears until next year. Kielbasa? must be the garlic, we adore it. Trust me when I tell you that Hillshire Farms Turkey Kielbasa tastes as good as the original and so much healthier (compare the labels) and makes it OK to serve at least once a month.

Usually I prepare it this way unless grilled, but this time I wanted something different and I started to lean towards a baked presentation. Shame on me, I swore I would not go down that road unless it was a Mac 'n Cheese.

This is the time that you will find be staring at my canned goods and when I spotted a can of small white beans, I knew where I was going.

Since kielbasa is of European dissent (Polish & Ukrainian) I was actually thinking French and that wonderful dish Cassoulet.

A Cassoulet uses garlic sausage, duck, white beans and bacon. OK, no duck or bacon so I moved a country over and added an Italian twist. By infusing wonderful Italian flavors into the beans, I was able to make a broth that would flavor the whole dish. Sounds complicated? It was actually a two pan operation.

I sauteed aromatics in a small stock pot, added the beans, three cups of chicken broth, sliced red peppers and chopped kale and simmered them for 30 minutes.
I added another cup of water and drained the liquid into a measuring cup.

I needed three full cups of liquid to cook the noodles. 3 cups back into the stock pot, the noodles boiled for 5 minutes. Add the bean mixture, the kielbasa and a Knorr packet of Alfredo sauce and a packet of 4-Cheese sauce. Stir to combine and pour everything back into a baking pan. Top with bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese and olive oil and bake for 30 minutes at 350° and 15 minutes at 400° to brown the top.

Over the top with flavor and texture, this version is healthier than a traditional Cassoulet and I know that tomorrow it will be even better.

Let's get cooking....

Kielbasa Cassoulet Casserole
makes 4 servings

* 1 turkey kielbasa, sliced into 1/3" coins
* 3 cups No Yolks broad noodles
* 3 cups chicken broth
* 1 can small white beans, drained and rinsed well
* 1/2 small white onion, chopped
* 1 large garlic cloves, chopped
* 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
* 1 bay leaf
* 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves (not ground)
* freshly ground black pepper
* 1 cup chopped kale
* 1/2 large red pepper, 1" thin slices
* 1/2 cup dried croissant crumbs
* 1 tablespoon butter, melted
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, Romano or Asiago cheese
* EVOO for finishing

Preheat the oven to 350°.

1. In a 2 quart stockpot with a tablespoon of olive oil, add the white onion, garlic, bay, red pepper flakes, rosemary and saute until the onions are soft. Add the beans and the broth. Season with black pepper. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile slice the red pepper and the kielbasa and chop the kale. Make the breadcrumb/cheese topping. Reserve.

3. After 30 minutes drain the bean mixture and pour the broth back into the pot. Remove the bay leaf. Add the egg noodles, kale and red pepper to the broth and gently boil for 5 minutes.

4. To the broth/egg noodles, add the packets of sauce mix, whisk to combine and bring back to a simmer. Add the beans to the noodles and then the kielbasa, stir and pour into a casserole pan.

5. Top with the breadcrumb/cheese mixture and a drizzle olive oil.

6. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover and then up the heat to 400° and bake until the top browns, about 15 minutes. Remove, cool and serve.

March 30, 2015

Meatball Biscuit Sliders ♥ Dinner that can be eaten while you work

I haven't forgotten that my last post was over a week ago, but this time of year my business explodes. It isn't strange to find me eating right where I work and when The Nudge is traveling, I don't leave my work bench until I shut the house for the night. I have no time to plan much of anything so I grab lots of quickies that require almost no cooking and that means foods that are eaten in hand.

Of course, knowing this will happen like clock-work every spring I do think ahead. I make a batch of meatballs that I cook in a homemade sauce and freeze in large plastic containers. Dinner done.
I always have biscuits or rolls in the freezer and basic cold cuts in the cooler drawer. Pestos of all flavors are a great staple to have. It elevates a basic sandwich to another level.

While a pizza could be a good go to, I hate delivery pizza and unless The Nudge picks one up on his way home, you will never see a delivery man of any kind in my driveway.

As you can see, these photos were taken wright were I work (please excuse) but if you are like me and certain weeks are crushers on the dinner plans, maybe these will help you out.

The kids love them and they are so easy to prepare in the oven, in one pan, so no cleanup.

More about the technique than the recipe, they were ooey gooey cheesy sloppy good!!

You will need:
A dozen large meatballs, homemade or store bought
Fresh mozzarella
Marinara sauce,homemade or store bought
Package of biscuits, pop cans or frozen
Pesto, homemade or store bought

Muffin tin, regular or Texas depending on the size of your meatballs (aluminum for easier cleanup)

Ladle marinara sauce into each muffin tin, place a room temperature meatball into each tin and top with a slice of mozzarella cheese. Place in the oven and set the temperature to what is required for baking the biscuits.
In a sheet pan, bake the biscuits as per package directions.
Split baked biscuits in halve and spoon a tablespoon of pesto on to each top.
Spoon the contents of each muffin tin onto the biscuit bottoms, pressing to split the meatballs so they would sit better, place the pesto top over the cheese covered meatball and serve hot.

Any leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated. Nuke for 1-2 minutes until cheese melts.

These were so good and while I made three, I could only eat two.
I love that I have found other uses for my muffin tins because I do not make muffins.
This technique can be used for multiple food combinations and I find the Texas-sized muffin pan the most versatile.

Back to the drawing board. I have a dozen plates that must be shipped by Easter.

March 21, 2015

Korean Chicken Noodle Bowl ♥ Two For One - Recipe ReDux Challenge March 2015

I have been enamored of Korean cooking since I watched my first Korean food show on TV and made Kalbi.
I am so enamored of Asian food in general, I have more cookbooks in my house than any other cuisine except Italian.

I do not get the chance to cook many Asian dishes because my better half does not share my love.
Lately, because he has no choice (he either eats or starves) he has enjoyed Kalbi (Korean BBQ short ribs), dumplings, a very authentic Orange Chicken, some fried rice and Korean Fried Chicken (the best ever). Yes, I know. Not all that impressive.

Tonight I twisted his arm and we ate Korean Ramen Bowl for dinner. Probably not the most authentic but as close as I could get. I even ordered foods from Hmart.com.

The recipe I adapted this meal from called for all vegetables but when this month's Recipe ReDux challenge was to cook one dinner to make another, I put a roaster on the menu and the leftovers made it into this noodle bowl. I also used the carrots and the spinach from a salad. Yum for us and more free fridge space for me.

Most noodle bowls call for raw vegetables but I quickly blanched a few in the broth. The Nudge might not have enjoyed his if I did not do that.

Ramen Noodle Bowl
makes 4 bowls
* 1 carton (4 cups) good quality chicken stock
* 1" nob of ginger
* 5 whole medium garlic cloves
* 1/2 medium onion, sliced
* 1 tablespoon red miso or Korean soybean paste (daenjang)
* 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
* black pepper
* 1 cup kimchi, chopped with juice (I found mine with the wonton and egg roll wrappers)

2 cooked chicken breasts, sliced (leftover from a roast)
2 packages ramen noodles
1 package Shiitake mushrooms, sliced (sauteed)
Dozen carrot slices, julienned (also leftover from a roast)
2 big handfuls of pea pods, sliced (blanched)
4 handfuls of baby spinach
4 - 6 minute eggs
2 scallions, sliced
Big handful of bean sprouts (blanched)
Kochujang (Chili pepper paste)

1. Fill a large stockpot with the stock, 2 cups water, ginger, onions and garlic. Simmer for 20 minutes while you saute the carrots and mushrooms and cook the ramen noodles in salted boiling water.
2. After 20 minutes, strain the broth and return it to the stockpot, return to a simmer.
3. Blanch the pea pods for 2 minutes, skim into a bowl. Blanch the bean spouts and remove to another bowl. To the broth add the kimchi, soy sauce and miso and stir to blend.
Place each vegetable in a bowl. Slice the eggs in half and season with chili flakes or paprika.

To serve:
Fill a serving bowl with ramen noodles. Place the meat in the middle (optional, if serving), and place a large spoonful of the vegetables around the edges and the eggs on the vegetables. Spoon a dollop of chili paste over the meat, some scallions and serve.

This was so good and extremely flavorful. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did it matter? Not one bit. Best leftover dinner no matter which way you plan it out.
My next show? scallion and mung bean pancakes.