Sausage Gravy and Biscuits

First things first, I promise that there wasn’t an intentional abandonment of this blog – but, you know, life sometimes gets in the way. But, I’m back!!

This afternoon, after working on some redecorating in the morning (and not getting breakfast, unless you count coffee) – I decided that I wanted some sausage gravy and biscuits for brunch. I decided to keep it simple and just use canned biscuits – let’s be honest, the sausage gravy is really the star anyway!

So, canned biscuits in the oven and onto the gravy.

I started by browning a 1 pound chub of Jimmy Dean’s breakfast sausage (don’t drain). To the sausage, I added in 3/4 cup of flour (1/4 at a time) and let the flour start to cook with the sausage – when you don’t see any raw flour, add the next 1/4 cup, until you’ve put the full 3/4 cup in.

The next part is to add in 3 cups of milk and stir everything through. Once it starts to thicken, reduce the flame to simmer. Keep stirring as it thickens.

Finally, because we like our gravy to have lots of black pepper, I added in 1 whole tsp of black pepper, along with 3/4 tsp of salt.

This recipe comes together pretty quickly, so make sure you time it right with your biscuits.

It’s so simple, that I’m not writing up a recipe – but you should be able to make it easily enough from the information here!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I don’t have any recipes to share today – but, I did want to stop by and say Happy Thanksgiving!!

My family enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal with family and will do our own ‘little’ Thanksgiving tomorrow. We have done ‘Second Thanksgiving’, just our little family, on the Friday after Thanksgiving – for years. It hasn’t always been called that, it hasn’t always had a name – but, it has become a tradition and it has been formally named ‘Second Thanksgiving’!

Seven years ago, my oldest daughter, Sarah (she’s now 19), came into the kitchen and said “Mommy, I want to know how you’re making this – I’m going to watch you”. The next year, she said “Mommy, just watch me and make sure I do it right”. The next year, she said “Mommy, I want to make it all!”. And for five years she has!

This is my beautiful Sarah!

We don’t do a turkey, rather we do ‘chicken and dressing’ like my Great Grandmother always did and just the sides that we love most. So, it is a small celebration but it is one that I love and look forward to every year.

I may not be cooking, tomorrow, but I’ll be sure to take some pictures of the cooking being done and share some of our family’s favorite recipes with you.

In the meanwhile – Happy Thanksgiving – I hope you have taken time today to reflect on the many things that I’m sure you have to be thankful for. If you haven’t yet – take time to do it now!

Chicken and Arborio Rice Skillet

We know a couple things about me and my cooking – I like rice, I like chicken and I love a one pot / skillet meal! I love the simplicity of it (not to mention the easy clean up!).

This recipe uses just a few ingredients: chicken, arborio rice, onion, garlic and a few seasonings. I intended to also add in mushrooms, but – sadly – my mushrooms had started to go bad.

The first thing you’ll want to do is to spray your chicken breasts with avocado oil (you could use canola oil or other oil, if you like) and sprinkle on some salt, pepper and umami seasoning. These seasonings are in addition to what is mentioned in the recipe, below. You’ll just want to season to your liking.

In a hot pan (I used a large non-stick skillet, but a large cast iron pan would work too), add in your seasoned chicken breasts. Allow them to cook for 3-5 minutes, or until you get a good sear on the chicken – then flip the chicken breasts and sear the other side. Then, remove from the pan.

There may be some residual oil in the pan, but if not, spray in a little avocado oil and add in your onions. Cook for a few minutes, until the onion starts to soften.

Then add in your garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

To the onion and garlic, add in your arborio rice. Certainly, you can use another rice if you like – but, the arborio rice is so starchy and it makes the dish very creamy (without any cream added). If I were to use another rice, I would probably add a bit of cream, personally. Stir the rice around and let it toast a bit with the onions and garlic.

Then add in the chicken stock, salt, pepper and umami seasoning. You’ll want to bring it up to a boil, then reduce the heat.

Finally, add the chicken back into the skillet – cover and cook for approximately 35 minutes (or until your chicken is done – 165 degrees – and the rice has absorbed most of the stock).

This skillet dish is super creamy. It seems so decadent, even though you don’t add any cream to it!

Chicken and Arborio Rice Skillet

We ate this with some delicious brussel sprouts

2-4 Chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
4 cups chicken stock
1 onion, rough chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt (+ an extra dash for the chicken)
1 tsp pepper (+ an extra dash for the chicken)
1/2 tbsp Umami seasoning (+ and extra dash for the chicken)
Avocado oil spray

  • Chop onions, set aside
  • Spray chicken breasts with avocado oil
  • Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt, pepper and umami seasoning
  • In a hot skillet, sear the chicken on both sides (about 3-5 minutes each side) and then remove from the pan
  • Add in onions and let them start to soften
  • Add in the garlic and let it cook
  • Add in the rice and stir to toast the rice a bit
  • Add in the chicken stock, salt, pepper and umami seasoning and mix through – let come to boil
  • Add the chicken breasts back into the pan
  • Cover and cook for 35 minutes (until your chicken is 165 degrees and rice has absorbed most of the liquid)

Smokey Jalapeno Wontons

I’ve talked about the Alouette Smokey Jalapeno cheese before – I used it when I made shrimp and grits, using it. This stuff is good!

I was looking for something quick, and kind of snacky (Is that a word? If it isn’t, it should be!), for lunch. I decided to use some of the wontons I had on hand and I had just picked up some of the Alouette Smokey Jalapeno cheese – it seemed like a match made in heaven.

I was just making these for me, for lunch – but, they would make a perfect appetizer, if you wanted to make a bunch of them. I decided to make 6 wontons (but accidentally took 7 out of the pack – 7 it is!).

I put about a tsp of the cheese in each wonton.

I wasn’t quite sure how to close them up – the first one, I just folded over into a triangle, but wasn’t quite sold on it. Then I decided to pinch the corners together, kind of like crab rangoon appetizers that I’ve had at Chinese restaurants. To close them up, just put a little bit of water where I was punching the wontons together.

I could have fried them – but, I decided to do them in the oven. In order to make them a little crispy, I did spray them with avocado spray.

I baked them in a 400 degree oven, for 15 minutes, on parchment paper. They were perfectly crispy!

Even the bottom of them were browned, since my avocado spray went on a little heavier than intended and I made sure to rub the wontons on the overspray – getting avocado oil on the bottom.

This was super easy – and now I want to do it with different Alouette cheeses!!

Chicken Fajitas

Mexican food is one of my family’s favorites. We have a local Mexican restaurant that we love, but I’ve made a conscious decision to not eat out as much. But – today, I was craving Mexican. I decided to make chicken fajitas.

I started with 2 chicken breast, cut into thin strips – you know, just like the fajitas you get at your favorite restaurant.

I was only adding peppers and onions to my fajitas – I used one red bell pepper, one green bell pepper and one yellow bell pepper – along with one yellow onion. I sliced them all into thin strips.

I decided to use my cast iron wok to make the fajitas – but, you can use any large skillet. I started by spraying some avocado oil spray in the wok. I added my chicken and seasoned with 1/2 of the seasonings that the recipe calls for.

I cooked it just long enough to brown the chicken. I, then, removed it from the wok.

I sprayed a little more avocado oil in the pan and added in my vegetables, along with the remainder of the spices.

I stir fried them until they started to soften.

I added the chicken back in the wok to finish cooking.

Since I was using a cast iron wok, I used that to my advantage and spread the chicken and vegetables out – allowing the pan to give a good sear the chicken and vegetables.

After stir frying the chicken and vegetables for a bit, I used a lid from a large skillet to cover the pan – and allowed it to cook for another 15 minutes or so.

After removing the lid, the chicken fajitas were ready to go.

I ate mine on flour tortillas, topped with sour cream and salsa.

Chicken Fajitas

2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into srips
1 onion, halved and sliced into thin slices
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
Avocado oil spray

Tortillas
Sour cream
Salsa

  • Prep chicken and vegetables
  • In hot pan (I used my cast iron wok), spray avocado oil
  • Add in chicken, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp chili powder and cook unitl browned (don’t cook all the way) – remove from wok
  • Add more avocado spray, if needed
  • Add in vegetables, and remaining spices cook for about 10 minutes
  • Add chicken back into the wok
  • Cover and cook for approx 15 minutes – stirring occassionally
  • Serve with tortillas and toppings of your choice

Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce

I could eat pasta every day. I don’t, but I could. I love just a nice red sauce, or a meat sauce, or an alfredo sauce. But, today I wanted something different. I wanted both tomato and creamy. I could have used some heavy cream, as I do always have it on hand – but, instead, I remembered that I had some cream cheese in the refrigerator and I decided to use that.

I’ve never used cream cheese in a pasta sauce, before. But, I thought that it could work. Turns out that it worked really well – and everyone loved it! It gives the sauce creaminess and an extra layer of flavor.

The first thing to do is make the sauce. I kept it pretty simple – just crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion, garlic, fresh basil and some Italian seasoning.

I started by dicing one onion. I tried to dice it pretty small – I didn’t really want big bites of onion in the sauce. I also chopped up about 10 basil leaves (about 1 tbsp, when chopped).

In a large skillet, I softened the onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil.

Once the onions were softened, I added in the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. I also added in the Italian seasoning.

I brought the tomato sauce to a boil and then added in the cream cheese. It takes a bit of stirring to get the cheese melted into the sauce.

Once the cheese was melted, I added in the basil and stirred through.

I let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes, to allow it to reduce some.

I cooked my pasta to al dente and then added it to the sauce and mixed it well.

The pasta is delicious on it’s own, but I also cooked some chicken in the oven – and I topped the pasta with it, just to add some protein to the dish. You can garnish with extra basil, if you like.

Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce

8 oz block of cream cheese
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
15 oz can of tomato sauce
1 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
10-12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oil

  • Dice onion and chop the basil
  • In oil, soften onion and garlic (about 5 min)
  • Add in the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce
  • Add in salt and Italian seasoning
  • Bring sauce to a boil
  • Add in the cream cheese, stirring until it melts
  • Add in basil
  • Reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes
  • While sauce is simmering, cook pasta to al dente
  • When pasta and sauce are done, toss the pasta in the skillet with the sauce
  • Top with chicken, if desired
  • Add more fresh basil, if desired

Breakfast Skillet (Wok)

I woke up this morning wanting something hearty for breakfast. I decided I would make a breakfast skillet – but, I decided to use my cast iron wok.

The dish consisted of russet potatoes, an onion, 1/2 rope of smoked sausage, parmesan cheese and seasonings. I used salt, pepper umami seasoning, Italian seasoning and fresh basil.

I started by dicing the potatoes and onions – obviously, the smaller you chop your vegetables, the quicker it will cook. I actually cut my potatoes a little larger – which allowed for a ‘bite’ to them when the dish was done. It was delicious!

Then I sliced up half of a rope of smoked sausage – feel free to add more if you like more protein in your meal. In hindsight, I almost wish I had used the whole thing – not for me, but I think my family would have enjoyed it more with a bit more protein.

I put the potatoes in the wok and added about 1/3 cup of water (I know that seems odd, but I thought I’d try to cook the potatoes a bit before adding everything else and it worked out well). Basically, I tossed the potatoes around until the water had evaporated. About half way through, I added 1 tbsp of butter and allowed it to melt through. I also added the salt, pepper and umami seasoning at this time.

After cooking the potatoes for about 10 minutes, I removed them from the pan. I then added in 1 tbsp of butter and let it melt.

I then added in the onions and cooked them until they started to soften.

The next thing to go in the wok were the sliced pieces of sausage. The sausage is done, so I just cooked enough to warm through.

I then added the potatoes back in the wok and cooked, stirring frequently, for another 15 minutes. I turned the flame off at this time.

Finally I topped the mixture with grated parmesan cheese and allowed the cheese to melt, as well as a little bit of fresh basil. Even though the flame is off, with my cast iron wok, it was more than warm enough for the cheese to melt.

Breakfast Skillet (Wok) – serves 4

4 russet potatoes, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1/2 rope smoked sausage
1/2 tbsp umami seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1/3 cup water
fresh basil to garnish

  • Chop potatoes and onion
  • Slice sausage
  • In hot skillet, add water and then the potatoes – cook until potatoes are fork tender, at end add 1 tbsp butter, salt, pepper and umami seasoning and stir through
  • Remove potatoes from pan
  • Add remainging tbsp of butter and let melt
  • Add in onions and cook until they start to soften
  • Add in the sausages and warm through
  • Add the potatoes back into the wok
  • Season with the Italian seasoning and cook for about 15 mintues – stirring frequently
  • Turn off flame and then top the hash with parmesan cheese and allow to melt
  • Finish with fresh basil, if desired