Homemade Crumbled Sausage

Good morning everyone!! It’s still morning, right? It was one of those days where I rolled back to bed for another five minutes and woke up an hour later. It’s snowing out, and I’m planning on making mac and cheese from scratch to snuggle up with. In the meantime, however, I can write a post about the sausage that I made this weekend. I’ve never done it before, and I didn’t use casing, so it might be seasoned ground pork, but it was sooooo good.

And super easy.

I chopped up some garlic and put it in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil and about a teaspoon and a half of fennel. Added about a pound of sausage and a good sprinkling of sea salt, and browned it on both sides over medium heat. Then I added a package of frozen spinach (about 10 ounces), broken up a bit, and topped it all off with a can of fire-roasted tomatoes, and let it cook down over medium-low while the pasta boiled. I chose farfalle, because it’s my favorite. I’ll definitely make this again, and the best part is the leftovers. I didn’t realize just how much a pound of meat would be, so I’ve been able to have leftovers with my eggs in the morning, which has been just as delicious as with pasta.

When I’ve had the sausage for breakfast, I’ve added leftover strips of bacon that I had in my fridge, which has made the meal extra delicious!!

Do you have a favorite sausage recipe, or even a way to cook up pork?

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Easy Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

There seem to be a lot of February birthdays around here, which has thankfully been cause for a lot of celebrating. On Friday, I got to make cupcakes for the first time in ever. I went a little Martha Stewart, and actually used her recipe. I wanted chocolate frosting for the top, however, and Martha did not deliver this time, so a quick Google search brought me to this recipe for frosting, icing, whatever you will call it. What is the difference between frosting and icing? Does anyone know?

The cupcakes were pretty easy to make. I doubled the recipe, and made a few tiny changes in the hopes of being a tiny bit healthier. Here’s how I rolled with the cupcakes, which you can compare to how Martha made them if you want. And keep in mind that my ingredient list was for a double batch, so just keep the ratio the same but feel free to halve it if you only want to make 12 cupcakes:

  • 2.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (that makes these healthy, right?)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (to make them a little lighter)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup honey (to take out some of the refined sugar)
  • 4 large eggs

I was a bit apprehensive with the changes I made to the recipe, but I made sure to taste-test so I knew they were okay to eat.  Also, I learned a trick from the recipe – using an ice cream scoop to measure out the cupcakes.  I thought it was just Martha being Martha when I read it, but when I tried the scoop tip, it was super helpful.  I’ll definitely do that again next time!

For the frosting, I stuck to the original recipe. I forgot to take pictures because at this point, I just wanted to get it done. The frosting was straightforward and easy, but there was a good stretch of time where I thought I had completely failed. Before you add the milk, it’s super dry and they doesn’t resemble frosting at all, but it ends up working out in the end. And the second whip is totally important. The frosting is edible and yummy before hand, but whipping it up extra light and fluffy means you can use less on each cupcake, it’s more easily spreadable, and there’s more frosting to go around.

I’m pleased to say nothing exploded or died in the oven, and these cupcakes were a success. Remove them to a rack to cool completely before frosting, and you are good to go. If you are traveling with your cupcakes, you can always do what I did – put the frosting and the cupcakes in separate containers and frost when you get there.

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Homemade Bread – No Breadmaker, Cuisinart or KitchenAid Required

Happy President’s Day for those of you in the States, which is also known as Monday for the rest of us!

Back when I started blogging, I did a post on the whole wheat bread I made.  I’m not linking back to it because I think I’ve come a long way in my bread-making since then, and the recipe I used doesn’t seem to exist anymore.  I did find this recipe, which seems quite similar to my old recipe, but not quite the same.  I took a little from the new recipe, a little from what I remembered of the old recipe, and this is what I came up with:

  • 2.5 cups flour (2 cups whole wheat and 1/2 cup all-purpose.  You can adjust this as you like.)
  • 2 generous teaspoons yeast (or a packet)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 generous tbsp honey
  • 2 generous tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk + 1/2 cup water

When I make totally white bread in my KitchenAid, it calls for milk and butter.  I wanted to try and bring some of that lightness to the wholewheat bread, which is why I adjusted the flour to include some white all-purpose flour, and some almond milk.  I would think you could use all milk, all water, or even all almond milk without any problem.  I’m not exactly in touch with the clean eating movement, but I think using regular milk might declassify this loaf as “clean”.  I won’t tell anyone if you use it though… I’m all for using dairy, I’m just trying to use up the almond milk in my fridge at the moment.

Heat up the milk/water in the microwave (I did 90 seconds on HIGH).  You can stick your pinky finger in to test it – if you scald yourself it’s too hot, and if it’s not warm, it needs to be warmer.

Dissolve the yeast and mix with the flour.  Let rise for 30 minutes someplace warm (I use my microwave, turned off.)

Add the rest of the ingredients.

Knead and let rise another 30 minutes (again microwave).

Knead and let rise another 30 minutes (microwave again).

Put in a greased loaf pan (I used butter to grease) and let rise for 30 minutes (microwave).

Bake at 350° for 40 minutes.  Let cool and slice.

No pictures today… as soon as the loaf came out of the oven I cut a big chunk out of it, and then realized I forgot to snap some evidence.  It’s definitely a whole-wheat bread, but it’s yummy.  The best part about it is you don’t need any special machine or gadget to make it, just your hands and a bowl and the oven.

Do you have a favorite bread recipe?  If you try this one, let me know how it turns out for you!

Oooey Gooey Sticky Cinnamon Buns

You guys, being sick stinks. Last week I got this weird cough that has not gone away, and if anything, seems to have gotten worse. I’ve been living off of chicken soup for three days, and last night had to miss going out for a friend’s birthday. I didn’t want to get anyone sick, and lets face it, hacking up a lung at the bar is never attractive. I knew I was doing the right thing by not heading out but I was still disappointed. To make myself feel a little better, I decided to make myself a treat. For the first time, I made homemade cinnamon buns!

I’ve been eyeing them at the store for weeks now – the kind in a container that you whack with the back of a spoon to get them to open, and all you have to do is plop them on a baking sheet and cook. Every time I would pick them up, the ingredient list would stop me from throwing them into my cart. I’m all for eating crap, but I want to know where my crap comes from. I think homemade crap is always better, in how it tastes and how my body processes it. I knew I could make cinnamon buns with a just a little planning, and I was right!

I used this recipe from the Food Network, with a few exceptions. I did use regular all-purpose flour, but I used almond milk instead of regular milk, traditional yeast instead of instant yeast, and less than the 1/2 cup of maple syrup, because I ran out. I wasn’t sure about the almond milk – if the recipe needed the fat from the 2% milk or not, but it seemed to work just fine.

The recipe is pretty straightforward and easy to follow. The only problem I had was repeatedly burning my fingers trying to taste test the goo before it was cooled. It’s just that yummy though. I got them all set up last night and in the fridge, and this morning I was able to bake them from a cold oven. So good! They only took about 1/2 hour to bake from the time my oven came up to temperature, so I don’t know if the 45 minutes I was supposed to time was from when I put them in the cold oven or not, but I pulled them out with the right amount of golden brown so it all worked out.

I also didn’t flip them over… no way (at least I hope not) am I going to eat 12 cinnamon buns today, and it’s just easier for me to store them in the pan I baked them in. Which is how I burnt my finger again on the goo this morning – I didn’t let them cool the full time and tried to use my finger as a spatula. Oh well. Definitely better than the pre-made dough from the store. For those of you in the US, these would make a great President’s Day breakfast if you get them all set up tonight. Here are some pictures in case you still have any doubts!

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You Guys, I Might Have a Problem…

You guys, I think I have a problem.  I might be a hoarder.  Not the brick and mortar kind (although I do have some overly-sentimental tendencies when it comes to my stuff, along with more than a few t-shirts from elementary school – they do fit, but maybe I shouldn’t still be wearing them), but when it comes to my computer.

Lately, my computer has been getting slower, I’ve had to restart it more often, and the number of the available GBs on my hard drive are getting alarmingly close to zero.  A wise person advised me to download a memory cleaner from the App Store.  Ok, cool, I got this I think.  But then, of course my operating system is too old to download the memory cleaner.  I go to upgrade my OS, and of course I don’t have enough gigs to download it, which is why I need the memory cleaner in the first place – to clean up more gigs.  Isn’t that funny?

So I’m trudging through files the old fashioned way, trying to get enough onto my external hard drive so that I can upgrade my OS, clean up the memory, and get back to school work.  In the meantime, I’m finding some very odd choices of music in iTunes, that I didn’t know I had.  Red Hot Chili Peppers?  Apparently I have all of their albums, and I swear I’ve only ever heard 3 songs of theirs.  Same goes for Green Day and Jay-Z.  And I literally cannot stand Jay-Z.  I don’t even know where all of this music came from.  All arrows point to virtual hoarding.  So maybe this is a good exercise in cleaning out and letting go.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Does this happen to you?  Is your computer full of stuff you didn’t even know you had?