Tag Archives: Spinach

Chicken Sausage Pasta

24 Jan

There is something about January that makes people want to diet and exercise. Just the word diet implies so much “yuck” that I have come to detest that word. To me, it stands for, “You can’t eat this, or that, or that, or that…” and well, you get the picture. But one thing you shouldn’t have to give up, sausage! Just like I use ground turkey for ground beef, I substitute chicken sausage for regular sausage.

I’ve made a few dishes with chicken sausage, but my favorite includes a small bed of pasta, topped with marinara, sautéed spinach, and then sliced sausage. The final product is impressive, but the process and ingredients are so easy.

First, in a medium size pot, heat four cups of water to a boil for your pasta. Add 1/2 tsp salt if desired (I always add salt to my pasta water, even just a pinch makes a difference!).

First, add 1 tbsp olive oil to a frying pan set to medium high. Next add 1/2 a medium onion, quartered. Then add your sausage.

By this time, your water should be ready for the pasta.

This is a great time to prep your sauce. I love making big batches of sauce and saving them in small containers for easy use. However, you can always use my marinara cheat or a jarred sauce if you’re short on time. If you are making a fresh sauce, reserve about 1/2 cup of tomato juice for later.

Be sure to check on your sausage, as you want the skin to brown evenly.

If you notice that your sausage is browning to quickly, turn down the heat to low and cover to finish the cooking that way. If the sausage is sticking to the pan too much, you might have not used enough oil, or the sausage isn’t ready to turn over yet. Of course, little bits will stick to the pan here and there, creating what could be a terrible to clean up mess. However, we’re going to fix that.

Remember that tomato juice from earlier? Now its time to add it to your pan to deglaze the caramelized bits on the bottom pan. And just like that, all those bits of flavor are suddenly incorporated into your sausage and onion flavors. If you didn’t use a can of tomatoes and don’t have the reserved juice, take about 1/4 cup marinara and add 2 tbsp water and then add that to the sauce. It’s the acidity from the tomatoes that help this to happen.

The smell at this point is almost heavenly, but resist the urge to eat them now! Check your pasta and drain if ready.

Its time to get our last step ready, the spinach. Add 1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 minced garlic to a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Then add a heaping mound of baby spinach. I use about 1 big handfuls for each serving of this dish. If you need more than two servings, be sure to adjust the amount of oil, garlic, and butter too. Carefully toss the spinach until just wilted, and then remove from heat. At first, the pan might seem too dry, but it will come together quickly. The big mound of spinach turns into a very small amount, in an even smaller amount of time.

If you or someone eating this dish doesn’t like spinach, substitute with another more favorable vegetable. Asparagus or broccoli might work, but will impact the overall texture, since spinach is soft and incorporates better with the pasta.

Now its time to serve. First, layer the pasta followed by a serving of marinara, and sprinkle with a dash of basil.

Next, add your sautéed spinach. To incorporate the onions and sauce in the sausage pan, drizzle it on the spinach. Then, slice your sausage at an angle, and arrange atop the spinach.

This is a flavorful and filling dish without all the extra fat of a pork sausage, pasta heavy, cheesy Italian meal. Fresh spinach, light pasta, healthy sausage…time to say goodbye to the January diet! Serve this dish with a side of fruit for an even better meal.

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Chicken Spinach Salad

10 Jan

Sometimes, having leftover chicken in the fridge is the perfect answer to a quick weeknight meal. Simply shred or chop up the chicken breast. Next, add your favorite veggies. I like to add tomatoes and cucumber. If I have it, I’ll add avocado, blue cheese or feta crumbles, and even granny smith apples. You can also add some hard boiled egg too.

We use spinach for our greens, but you can use any that you like. We prefer spinach for the nutrients and health benefits. And for dressing, well that’s when this salad goes from average to amazing.

First swiftly whisk together 2 parts lemon juice with one part olive oil. Next add 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1 tsp garlic salt, 1tsp onion powder, and a dash of pepper. Note, those measurements are for 2 servings for entree sized salads.

You might want to adjust to your own tastes and preferences. We like vinegar, so I tend to add some more towards the end. If you don’t have lemon, you can substitute lime, but it will obviously result in a different flavor. I also added some parsley for additional flavor.

For me, food tastes as good as it looks – so presentation is everything. Even for a quick and simple meal like this. Sure, I could have tossed all the ingredients together. But when I came up with the idea of serving my meat and potato loving husband an entree salad for dinner, I knew I needed a better plan. So a-l-a-cobb-like-salad, I lined the ingredients up in thick, colorful lines. I also used serving bowls as opposed to a regular sized bowl or plate. Picture below is my salad with chicken, tomatoes, cucumber, granny smith apples, and mozzarella cheese (not my first choice, but had no other cheese on hand).

Make your dressing beforehand and let sit while you assemble the salad. Or better yet, make the dressing in the morning and let the flavors incorporate while you’re away. Either way, keep the dressing in the fridge until right before you serve. No one wants soggy lettuce!

This can be a really healthy and light meal too. Its totally refreshing to feast on fresh ingredients like raw spinach and apples and feel full. Let me know how you like it in the comments below. Enjoy!

Recipe Lovers

Salad:
2-3 cups Shredded or Chopped Chicken Breast
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup of additional toppings (carrots, eggs, avocado, and blue cheese crumbles are my favs)
1 bag fresh spinach (if you can, use the spinach within 2-3 days after purchase for freshness and flavor)

Dressing:
2 Lemons
2 tbsp White Vinegar
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp parsley
Pepper to taste

What’s in the Slow Cooker?

5 Jan

I just love leaving work on the days that I have dinner in my slow cooker. There is an element of surprise for me when I walk through my garage door and take in the initial scent that fills up my entire house. I don’t think I’ve ever actually followed a slow cooker recipe. I just think about what kind of food and flavors sound good, and into the crock pot it goes. This day was no different.

I got these chicken leg quarters on sale at Bashas for $0.97/lb for a total cost of $4.47. I love getting these kinds of packs on sale because they always last for more than one dinner, and they’re always cheaper than buying boneless skinless chicken breasts (which sale cycle is much more rare than bone-in chicken). If the bone is in, generally, into the slow cooker it goes.

I began by adding one can of 98% fat free chicken broth to the bottom of my slow cooker. In order for your slow cooker to work properly, you need at least a 1/2 cup of liquid down there. Otherwise you’ll end up with some dry-charred-shoe-leather skin, not to mention awful clean up duty!

Next, I carefully sliced most of the skin off of the legs. No need for the extra fat, right? This was a pretty easy process considering it was my first time butchering the skin like that. After that, I added equal parts of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and pepper. I then gave each a sprinkle of sea salt. And into the crock pot they went. Two were on the bottom, pretty much marinating in the chicken broth, and two were on top, which meant they would get a nice crispy skin.

I had about two seconds until I absolutely needed to get in the car and go to work. So I grabbed an onion, quartered it, and added that to pot. Hubby and I love onion – I put it in everything! But please adjust to your own tastes.

And then this. my friends, was my surprise when I  got home. I call it a surprise for a reason. With the crock pot, you can’t really test it or taste it as you go along. Raw meat goes into a container for 7-8 hours on low and you hope that something edible comes out of the container when you return home.

Today was a wonderful, delicious surprise. I carefully pulled the chicken out of the slow cooker, trying hard to keep them intact as the chicken was falling off the bones.

I put a small pot on the stove to make some jasmine rice using 3 parts water and 1 part chicken broth from the slow cooker. I had some leftover spinach that was about to expire, so I also sauteed some spinach with butter, olive oil, and garlic as another side dish.

Important thing to note about spinach. This huge bunch is really only one small serving.

And finally, we were ready to eat. My husband’s patience for photographing food is decreasing by the day…

For the record, I got home at 5pm, took pictures, made rice and spinach, served and ate dinner, and we were back out the door at 5:45, with about 10 minutes of relaxing to spare. Now that’s what I call a weeknight meal!

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