Easy Homemade Sausage

Easy Homemade Sausage

Making homemade sausage is easier than you think. And the results are a lot tastier and healthier for you.

In the recipe at Cooking Light, they suggest using pre-ground meat. Now I took a class once where we ground the pork, mixed in the seasonings, and then filled casings. And yes, we giggled a lot.

The nice thing about using the casings is that you can make vegetarian sausage as well as fish based sausage more easily.

Going Simple and Easy

However, if you're just making some simple sausage without casings, I think getting pre-ground meat is awesome. You could blend ground turkey or ground chicken for a lower fat homemade sausage.

Don't buy the pre-seasoned ground meats, though. You want to control the seasoning to your taste.

Seasoning Homemade Sausage

And it's not just for breakfast sausage. You could also make Italian seasoned sausage for lasagna and spaghetti and manicotti. Or, you could make Mexican seasoned sausage for burritos or tacos. And you can add it into soups or stir it up with beans (just don't forget the veggies).

I'd recommend making a small amount of seasoning, and mix it into a little bit of the sausage. Then cook it up and decide if you need more or less. This is also something you can do a day or two ahead of time. Then mix the meat with the proper level of seasonings and it's ready for breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner.

Making homemade sausage ensures that you know what's in it. If you're cutting out sugar, some sausage makers put in sugar for flavoring. Sometimes, sausage makers put in organ meats. You control what goes in.

Use your butcher to help you. If you want to buy a blend of meats, you can ask the butcher to grind them together for you. It saves you time and you get exactly what you want.

But, if this inspires you, get a meat grinder and go to town.  I have the meat grinder and sausage stuffer attachment for my Kitchen Aid. You can order casings online if you can't find any local. Ask your butcher.

Resources

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.

Much Ado About Root Vegetables

Much Ado About Root Vegetables

Root vegetables are still in season at the moment I'm writing this. Don't turn up your nose at the turnip.  It's a wonderful and inexpensive vegetable that can be a great part of your meals.

How to Choose the Vegetables

If you buy organic, the veggies won't be completely free of blemishes. Some find that organic veggies taste better. I subscribe to a CSA and I have a garden. Since I grow in self watering containers, you might think I won't get as good of root vegetables as if they were in the ground. But you'd be surprised!

Plus some like celery root and kohrabi look pretty crazy to begin with.

So how do you choose? Well they should be firm and a bit springy in general. Secondly, it depends upon what you want to do with them.

There are two types of root vegetables – older and younger. The young root vegetables can be good raw or lightly cooked. I have some young turnips that I'm going to steam. You can think of these like new potatoes. They're best when kept fresher.

The older root vegetables are better roasted or stewed.

Watch this fun video with Jamie Oliver. I adore him and saw him live once about ten years ago making risotto and pasta.

But What About Radishes?

Ok, you got me. There are root vegetables that are grand raw like radishes, carrots and jicama. But they do fall sort of into the younger category. If you have old radishes, you should try roasting them rather then trying to slice them for a salad.

Root vegetables are quite nutrient dense. You can make a lovely vegetable soup or stew out of them and feel quite satisfied. I use kohrabi and celery root (also called celeriac) in place of potatoes sometimes and you can't taste the difference.

If I have a younger celery root, I'll dice it up and cook it with my eggs in the morning and I don't miss potatoes.

Roasting vegetables brings out a sweeter side to them. So be careful of seasonings and sauces if you serve roasted vegetables.  You can also roast veggies and puree them as the side to the meat rather then putting the vegetables directly on the plate. Also, if you have leftover roast veggies, you can puree and then thin it out with some broth for a lovely soup.

Start by adding in one weird root vegetable and see what you think.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.

Paleo Skillet Chicken with Avocado

Paleo Skillet Chicken with Avocado

Paleo skillet chicken with seared avocados is a fast and filling meal for a weeknight. Let's be honest…if you eat just a salad with some meat on it, you're hungry again in an hour or two. Why is that? Because you didn't have enough fat.  Fat's necessary for us to feel satisfied.  Avocado is a very healthy fat.

Watch the video and see how quick it is to make:

The recipe at My Recipes makes it look easy. And it's perfect for the Paleo and Primal lifestyle.

What Would I Change

I love the South of the Border bent for this recipe. However, people are particular about the level of heat and spice in their dishes. The recipe calls for a fresh poblano pepper and some ancho chile spice. Poblanos are pretty mild. If you want to spice it up, you could use a fresh jalapeno or a serrano.  If you want it really spicy, try a habenero chile pepper.

Remember, the heat is in the seeds and the ribs. So you may learn to like the flavor of one pepper over the other. If so, adjust how you cut it up, and how much you put in.

You could purchase a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. That's my favorite for making guacamole. It's a warm heat. But be careful…it's strong.

This Paleo skillet chicken does call for sour cream. Because it's been fermented, some Paleo folk feel it's ok to use. If you don't, use curdled full fat coconut milk.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

If you follow Meatless Mondays, this cauliflower crust pizza will seem quite decadent and delightful this evening.

Watch how Ree makes a simple recipe for a Margherita style pizza with cheese, tomato sauce and fresh basil.

If you're not following Meatless Mondays, use some leftover turkey sausage from when you made the spaghetti squash lasagna.

How to Make This Successfully

Every cauliflower or potato crust recipe I've read has one thing in common. You need to get all the water out of it. I usually round end this by buying the Trader Joe's version that's in the refrigerated case, not the freezer case. It's naturally dried out a bit.

I don't have a food processor. If I make some money from this blog, then I'll be able to buy one and try it out. Until then, I just cut by hand or buy the prepared stuff.

Make It A Meal

This is already a low carb dish. If you wanted to make it Paleo, then you could buy a vegan cheese or make your own out of nuts. The cashew cheese is surprisingly good.

Now, there are some who feel that unless you're lactose or casein intolerant, cheese is just fine. The best cheese is from raw milk, but full fat is fine as well. Cheese is good for you because it's fermented.

So you may want to add in a salad for more veggies and a different texture.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​

Oven Fried Chicken

Oven Fried Chicken

Sundays were the days of long cooking roasts or fried chicken. Thankfully, there are quite a few methods out there for making oven fried chicken that is moist and tender yet gives you that great crunchy bite that we love.

One version:

And another version:

How to Make It Successfully

When you fry properly, the temperature is high enough such that the water in the meat is pushing out so no oil can actually get in. That leaves you with a crisp piece of chicken.

It's not always easy to fry properly. The difficulty lies in the inability to maintain a consistent temperature. When you put in the meat, the temperature drops.  Then you have to monitor it for when it gets close to 375 so you can turn it down. It's a lot of work.

It is easier to use the consistent temperature of the oven. The difficulty is in getting a good crust.

So here's some quick tips on oven frying chicken to make it better:

  1. Bake similar pieces together. Unlike a pan where you can pull a piece out when it's done, you can't be constantly checking the oven. So make it easier on yourself and cook similar pieces together.
  2. Use a double coating and season well.  Season the meat, dip it in flour, dip it in egg and then dip it again in flour. Then let it rest for at least fifteen minutes before baking.
  3. If you have the time, brine the chicken first. I'll often leave it overnight in a seasoned buttermilk bath to tenderize it instead.
  4. After baking, let the chicken cool on a rack. I use a cookie rack in a sheet pan to capture any drips. It allows the crust to stay crispy all around

Make It A Meal

Myself, I love coleslaw and corn on the cob with my fried chicken. I used to always make potato salad, but have cut that back a bit. It's also great with ranch beans or baked beans (watch the sugar if you buy a can…or make them yourself) and greens like chard or collard.

What do you like with your fried chicken?

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.

Kitchen Counter Cooking School Review

Kitchen Counter Cooking School Review

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School was a fun read, and I learned a lot even after cooking well for decades. It finally gave me the courage I needed to butcher a whole chicken.

The Pros

Reading this book will increase your confidence in your cooking abilities. It's fun to learn how Kathleen Flynn decided to set up a cooking school to teach nine volunteers for a year in her life. She did a lot of interviews and took a ton of notes with the intention of writing the Kitchen Counter Cooking School book.  And I'm so glad she did.

She uses her culinary background to really educate the reader about ingredients and how to cook well.

I also enjoyed meeting the volunteers and empathizing with their lifestyles. I too used to waste a lot of food that I'd buy and forget until it was mush in the back of the vegetable keeper. Or I'd get something in the CSA box and have no idea what to do with it.

This book definitely helped me become more fearless.  Since I'm writing this, I pulled it out and am going to read it again.

The Cons

There are no pictures and no illustrations. And there are only 23 recipes.  Thankfully there is an index in the back.  The recipes are all basic and you can expand upon them. For example, the DIY Vinaigrette gives you her basic formula for a successful salad dressing.

(You can also use vinaigrette to marinate chicken, just FYI)

So I would recommend the Kitchen Counter Cooking School no matter what your level. I guarantee you will learn something, and build up a deeper appreciation of the ingredients while you're cooking.

Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook Review

Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook Review

The Better Homes and Gardens cookbook was the first cookbook I ever bought myself back in 1988.

It's one of the best cookbooks I've ever owned, and I still go back to use it to this day. I don't make French toast very often, but their recipe produces one of the best.

The Pros

The directions are clear and easy to follow.

The cookbook really does cover everything from substitutions to general guidelines. The recipes always turn out. I don't always like them and that's where creativity comes in as you learn what you enjoy.

There are nutritional analysis so you can make adjustments as needed for your diet

I also love reading the recipes for ideas.

I also appreciate being able to write down ideas and recipes on the paper.

Also, I like that it's a three ring binder and lays flat on the counter. I can take a page out, photocopy it and not worry about splashing gunk on it. You should have seen me the other night making a Bernaise from scratch. Awkward.

The Cons

Well, it is a little dated. Like my microwave time estimates are for the underpowered microwaves of the 70's and 80's. The newest version will have more updated information. I just have never had any need to buy a new version since I have everything that I need in this one.

And who knows when you need a good recipe for turkey tetrizini, am I right?

I probably haven't made over half of the recipes. However, it gave me a great education in cooking. Plus it boosted my confidence when I was successful.

So I'd highly recommend it if you're starting out.

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Kale and Mushroom Frittata

Kale and Mushroom Frittata

Kale and mushroom frittata is a great way to use up some leftovers. And it's a very cost effective meal. Plus you can make this as intricate as you like.

What Would I Change

Honestly I'd probably add in more eggs to make it fluffier and I'd be serving two people. You'll need a very small pan if you follow the recipe exactly. It's meant to serve one.

And you know I'd ditch the kale. Although, I was in the cooking class at Sur La Table on Flavors of Tuscany. We put kale into the soup and it worked. So maybe I won't be so anti-kale in the future.

But what do I usually have in my fridge? Spinach and chard. So that would go in.

I'd also have fun with the cheese.  You could do Swiss or smoked Gouda.  I also almost always have shredded Mexican blend since I love my tacos.

You could also add in artichoke hearts and asparagus for a spring flavor. And broccoli if you have any leftover. Remember, if you make too much during the week, save it and do a catch all dinner or lunch once a week.

Zucchini and tomatoes will be in season before you know it. They're great in a frittata as well.

I'd also look into some fresh herbs like thyme, chives, tarragon, marjoram and oregano.

Make It A Meal

You don't need to add anything as this has it all with protein from the eggs and cheese and fiber from the vegetables. But if you're like me, you'll want to add in a crisp salad with a lemon and white wine vinaigrette dressing. Arugula (or Rocket if you're British) adds a lovely peppery flavor to everything.

Resources

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.

 

Bacon Wrapped Avocado Egg

Bacon Wrapped Avocado Egg

When I first saw this video for a bacon wrapped avocado egg, I thought it was weird. But the more I think about it, the more I realize it could be a great Paleo breakfast. And since tomato season is coming up, it would be a nice low carb lunch with slices of tomatoes.

Watch the video and see what you think:

Avocado is a Good Fat

I'm always telling you to use avocados. They're a healthy fat and can be used in place of mayonnaise.  Some people think they don't like them.  (OK, they probably really don't. I still have some egg issues and probably couldn't make this for myself since I don't like runny eggs).

What Would I Change

A lot of the comments felt that the avocado they chose was underripe.  I don't agree. I think it was perfectly on the lighter edge of ripe and would be delicious.

Others found that you really needed to dry off the avocado really well to get the egg to sit in properly as well as get the bacon to wrap well.

I found PaleoHacks had their own version that seems to come out better than the Thrillist one. They used prosciutto so perhaps that cooked faster and more evenly than two rows of bacon.

Think you'll try it?

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​

Sheet Pan Salmon Fajitas

Sheet Pan Salmon Fajitas

Sheet pan salmon fajitas hits two of my favorite topics. It's a single pan dinner for easy clean up. And it's healthy yet satisfying.

What Would I Change

This dish is easy to prepare.  And I do confess to using McCormick seasonings. My daughter loves when I use the chicken fajita seasonings with shrimp. But it is just as easy to make your own.

But a simple fajita spice recipe is:

  1. ¼ cup Chili Powder.
  2. 2 tablespoons Sea Salt.
  3. 2 tablespoons Paprika.
  4. 1 tablespoon Onion Powder.
  5. 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder.
  6. 1 teaspoon Cayenne Powder (optional)
  7. 1 tablespoon Cumin Powder.

I am interested in trying this. It does seem like a long time to marinate the salmon. Usually you only marinate fish and seafood for fifteen minutes. Perhaps because this uses thick salmon steaks it can handle the longer time. Usually when you have seafood in lime juice for that long it turns into ceviche.

For the blog's sake, I'll give it a shot.  And I have a lot of oranges waiting to be squeezed. I don't have any limes but I do have Myer lemons.

What I like is you can adjust it based on portions. So if you only needed one or two salmon pieces, it's easy to scale.

Also, I always only use red, orange and yellow bell peppers. Green peppers aren't ripe yet, and I know it can cause digestion issues with some people. I used to eat green peppers all the time, but my husband had issues. Once I switched to red, the problems went away.

Make It A Meal

If you want to be low carb, you'll want to look into using lettuce leaves instead of tortillas. If you're going Paleo, you'll have to leave off the sour cream and cheese.

You will want beans and rice. You can make Spanish rice using cauliflower. I know some people prefer black beans thinking they're healthier. I'm no expert. But there are so many varieties of heirloom beans out there that you should try them all.  I love eye of the goat and mayocoba.

So see what you think. And let me know in the comments.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.