Wild Rice & Sausage Stuffed Peppers

After the past few months of takeout, convenience foods, and generally processed crap, it feels really good to have my schedule freed up enough to get back to cooking for fun. Add in the fact that we’re now trying to eat a bit healthier – more veggies, less processed stuff, etc – AND the fact that the cooler temps make me want to spend a bunch of time in the kitchen.. and we’ve been eating WELL lately.

Last night, I put together this recipe to satisfy a few things. We hadn’t had wild rice in AGES and it sounded good. We had some spinach that had seen better days, and I wanted to use up the last little bit of our sage plant outside, before the temperature killed it. Hubby had mentioned stuffed peppers while at the farmer’s market this weekend, and this seemed like a good way to make use of everything.

… the filling ALMOST didn’t make it into the peppers. I think we would have been perfectly happy standing over the stove and just snarfing the lot of it straight from the pan! SO good.

Enjoy!

Wild Rice and Sausage Stuffed Peppers
Serves 4

4 green bell peppers*
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 oz sliced mushrooms of choice (We use Baby Bella)
3 garlic cloves, pressed
12 oz sausage chub**
3 cups fresh baby spinach, ripped up
2 cups cooked wild rice
1 Tbsp finely chopped sage
salt and pepper
1 cup chicken stock or broth

Preheat oven to 350 F

Carefully slice the tops off each of the bell pepper, scoops seeds out and discard. Arrange seeded peppers in a small baking pan – I use an 8 x 8″ square brownie pan.

Saute onion, mushrooms, and garlic until vegetables are soft. Add sausage meat, continue continue cooking – breaking up sausage into small bits – until sausage meat is browned. Add spinach, cooking until spinach is well wilted. Stir in wild rice and sage, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stuff filling into peppers, arrange any extra filing in between peppers. Pour chicken broth over peppers.

Bake for about 40 minutes, serve hot!

* We like our stuffed peppers warm but crispy. For softer stuffed peppers, cook seeded peppers in boiling water for about 5 minutes, and drain well before stuffing.

** I love using the Papa George’s brand of sausage. It’s about a million times better than anything else on the market, is perfectly seasoned and flavoured, and has almost no fat in it. We’ll use either the regular, hot, or sage flavoured sausage chubs in this recipe

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Roasted Beet Ketchup Recipe

I’m back from my recent vacation to my hometown (Winnipeg). It had been 4 years since I’ve set foot on Canadian soil, and I had a wonderful time. Because we were specifically visiting for Folklorama, we pretty much ate the entire time. No joke.

Now, I am refreshed, inspired, and ready to go! Expect at LEAST a good handful of ethnic recipes to pop up on this blog over the next while, as I come up with time to develop them.

Today’s recipe is one that was inspired at the Indian pavilion. There was a beet ketchup available for sale, and my husband JUMPED on it. He’s an avid hater of tomatoes. While he’s ok with tomatoes in ketchup, he’d just as soon never have to eat tomatoes of any kind. As he also adores beets in general, the idea was GOLD to him. So, he bought a bottle.

It tasted good, but was very thin and not really ketchup-y. Also, it didn’t really taste like they’d been roasted, and I pictured roasted beets making a better ketchup. So, I developed this recipe this weekend, using my awesome Pickled Beets Recipe for inspiration on the seasoning!

If you like beets, you’ll love this. Even if you like normal ketchup and have no issues with beets, you’ll enjoy this as a fun alternative. It satisfies the “creamy but acidic” thing you want from ketchup, is casual and fun while still being earthy, rich, and fancy. SO good!

Enjoy!

3 lbs small beets
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 cups vinegar*
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp each: mustard powder, celery seed, coriander
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch allspice
Black pepper, to taste

Place beets, onion, and garlic on a large piece of aluminum foil, folding edges up to create a pouch around the beets. Roast at 375 for about 1 hour, or until beets are quite tender.

Allow to cool slightly, then rub the skins off the beets with some paper towels (or your bare hands – expect some staining!).

In a food processor, blitz roasted beets, onion, and garlic together remaining ingredients until smooth. Transfer to a large pot.

Bring ketchup just to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes or so, until thickened to desired consistency. Remove from heat, cool to room tempurature before transfering to jars or bottles. Chill.

* I used red wine vinegar, but cider vinegar would also taste wonderful. In a pinch, use regular white vinegar

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Biscuits and Gravy… MY Way!

Shortly after I moved to the US, I heard of “biscuits and gravy” for the first time. I have no idea if we have it back home or not, but it was the first time I’d ever been exposed to it.

We were watching TV, and whatever show it was was demonstrating it. The cook lobbed a big chunk of shortening into the pan for making the gravy, and at that point… I think it was the most disgusting breakfast idea I’d ever even heard of. It didn’t even really matter that I later found out that not all biscuit gravy is made like that, the idea of it was gross.

Even without that visual introduction, the idea of anything white being called gravy seemed – and still seems – really OFF to me. Gravy is supposed to be brown! Well… unless you’re Italian, apparently – two of my MasterChef friends schooled me on that one. I digress…

So, I recently decided to make biscuits and gravy for my husband, but with a proper brown gravy. In my personal opinion, if you’re using flour to thicken anything aside from a delicate white wine sauce, you should make a proper roux. Usually “the darker the better”, too!

You see, when it comes to food… browning is flavour. Whether it’s a meat, a crust, a cookie… browning your food is adding all kinds of wonderful flavours to it. Why go with a white gravy, when a brown one takes only a few minutes more? I don’t get it.

So, rather than just looking at the flour as a thickening agent alone, I look at it as a way to add flavour. When you cook the flour and butter together as a roux, it turns into a rich, toasty, almost nutty flavour – it’s the best way to start any gravy, really.

Now, most people recommend cooking your roux over medium or lower heat, and it can take a really long time. If you’re just starting out with rouxs, I’d say caution is probably a good idea… but just as an FYI, I usually cook them on high. As long as you’re careful, don’t stop stirring, and have your liquid pre-measured and ready to go… I find it pretty low risk.

You may find that you need more or less milk than called for here, partially out of personal taste (we like it pretty thick, you may not!), and partially because making a roux isn’t really an exact science, when it comes to thickening. As flour cooks and darkens, it loses some of its thickening power. When you first mix the butter and flour together, it will thicken a LOT more liquid than a smiliar amount of a really dark brown roux. Play around with it, and see where your preferences take you!

Biscuits and Gravy
Serves 3-4

1 recipe Baking Powder Biscuits
12 oz chub sausage of choice *
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
1.5 cups+ milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven for biscuits. While it’s heating up, brown the sausage in a fry pan. Remove sausage from pan, set aside.

Put biscuits in the oven, make the gravy:

Melt butter in that same frying pan. Stir in flour until smooth. Cook over medium or medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it’s as brown as you want it.

Slowly add in about half of the milk, stirring until smooth. Add the rest of the milk, stirring once again until smooth.

Add in the cooked sausage, stir well and bring up to a simmer – the gravy will thicken as it simmers. Add a little more milk if the gravy is too thick for your tastes, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Keep gravy warm until biscuits come out of the oven. Split warm biscuits in half, smother with gravy.

Enjoy!

* I love using the Papa George’s brand of sausage. It’s about a million times better than anything else on the market, is perfectly seasoned and flavoured, and has almost no fat in it. We’ll use either the regular, hot, or sage flavoured sausage chubs in this recipe. Because this recipe was developed with that particular sausage, you may find yourself wanting to use less butter, if you use a fattier sausage.

Fennel Chicken and Sausage Soup

Here we are, the final recipe to result from last weekend’s super making binge!

This one was actually inspired by a chicken bratwurst I tried one time, which involved apple and fennel. I thought it would be fun to build a soup around those flavours, and took it a step further with some sweet Italian sausage. Everything works together so well, producing a flavourful, unique soup… and it’s kind of pretty, too!

This soup is a stark contrast to my Beef Stew which is hearty and rustic, and my Roasted Cauliflower Soup which was quick and simple. Yep, it involves making chicken broth a day before making the actual soup.

It’s a little bit of extra work, but TOTALLY worth it – you don’t get this kind of flavour from a can! Stock making is a lost art, and really does give you great results for very little cost. It’s also healthier than canned stuff, and you get to have the extra pride that comes from really making your soup from scratch!

Enjoy!

Fennel Chicken and Sausage Soup Recipe

Chicken Broth:

1 chicken, cut up (~5 lbs)
2 onions
5 stalks celery
1 fennel bulb
2 parsnips, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper

The night before making the soup, prepare your chicken broth.

In a large pot cover all broth ingredients with a good amount of water – maybe 12 cups worth. Bring to a boil, turn heat down a bit, and simmer for a few hours, until stock is golden and richly flavoured.

Strain all ingredients out of the broth. Discard veggies, allow chicken to cool enough to handle. When cool, pick off all of the meat, chop into bite sized pieces and chill. Discard the bones.

Chill broth overnight.

The next day, remove fat from the surface of the broth.

Soup:

1 1/2 lbs fresh sweet Italian sausage, cut into 1″ lengths
2 Tbsp vegetable
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 fennel bulb (Chop the fennel fronds, reserve)
8 cups of chicken broth (above)
1 cup dry white wine
2 parsnips, peeled and grated
2-3 lbs red potatoes, chopped
2 apples, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
Reserved chicken from broth
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp corn starch
2 cups heavy cream

In a large, heavy pot, brown sausage in vegetable oil. Add onion and fennel root, continue cooking until onions are translucent.

Add a little chicken broth, scrape down (deglaze) the bottom of the pan until any brown bits are nicely incorporated into the stock. Add rest of measured broth, wine, parsnips, potatoes, apples, garlic, and chopped chicken. Simmer until potatoes are tender, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Whisk corn starch into heavy cream until smooth. Add to the soup – along with the fennel fronds, stirring until well incorporated.

Bring back up to a simmer, simmer for another 5 minutes. Check your seasonings, adjusting if necessary.

Serve hot!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

French Canadian Pea Soup

Ah, pea soup. I love French Canadian style – loved it when I was a kid – especially when served at Festival du Voyageur activities in my hometown!.

I loved it when I first moved out on my own, living on the cheap, and buying the “Habitant” canned stuff like it was going out fo style.

Now, as an expatriate Canadian.. I may love it even more! Unlike many of the other homeland foods I adore, this one is easily made, with almost all of the ingredients being available locally. Sure, you can’t get *proper* summer savory in Minnesota – but you CAN beg friends to bring some back from vacations on Canada’s east coast! (Thank you Laura and Andrew, you’re awesome and I adore you for it!)

This makes a LOT of soup. Because soup isn’t an everyday kind of thing to make, I like to make a large batch, and freeze most of it – it freezes / thaws beautifully.

This version is a bit easier than the 100% traditional way, which uses a ham bone in it. Feel free to add a ham bone in with the water, pulling it out as the mixture gets thick, though. I just find it convenient to use the small, boneless ham chunks for this!

French Canadian Pea Soup

3 onions, chopped
2 cups grated celery
3 lbs dried yellow split peas
24 cups water
3 lbs+ cured ham, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup grated carrots (about 6 carrots)
1 Tbsp dried summer savory
1 bay leaf
2 tsp pepper
Salt

In a LARGE pot, saute onions and celery, cooking until tender and translucent. Add split peas, water, ham, and carrots, bring to a boil. Cover pot, remove from heat, and allow to sit for one hour.

After one hour, return pot to heat and bring up to a boil once more. Add summer savory, bay leaf, and pepper. Simmer over medium heat until split peas break down, forming a very thick soup.

Season with salt to taste.

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Boozy Fun with Fresh Citrus Fruit

It’s a great time of year to purchase citrus fruits. Not only are most of them in season at the moment, but they provide a nice contrast to winter. Bright sunny colors and flavors go a long way to offset the “blah” outside.

Once you’ve squeezed some lemon on your meal, zested some orange into your dessert, or put lime in your Coke…then what?

Well, how about homemade “Sour Mix”? Citrus sugar? Citrus SALT? Citrus infused spirits / liqueur? Cocktails!

Yes, there is a lot of boozy fun to be had with fresh citrus fruits!

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