Sunday, August 30, 2015

Homemade Breakfast Sausage

I'm on a big breakfast kick lately, and sausage is one of my favorite breakfast foods.  I always like a little bit of sweet and a little bit of savory on my breakfast plate. I am, however (being preggars and all) making a concerted effort to eat less processed foods, so I thought i'd try my hand at a homemade sausage. 

If you've never made homemade sausage patties, I think you'll be surprised how simple it can be.  The most important thing is creating the right spice mixture.  I used lots of fresh herbs, seasoned the ground pork up with fennel seeds, and added red pepper for a little heat.  Sauteed onions and fresh garlic add a nice texture and flavor as well.  For a sweet and spicy version, try adding a tablespoon or two of maple syrup. 

The best part is, these can be made in advance.  I put these patties together Saturday afternoon so Sunday morning all I had to do was brown them up! 

Ingredients (makes 6-8 patties, depending on size):
*3/4 lb. ground pork
*1 sprig each of fresh thyme, oregano, rosemary, finely chopped
*3 sage leaves, finely chopped
*1/4 tsp. fennel seeds
*1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
*1 garlic clove, minced
*1/2 c. onion, minced (about half of a small onion)
*1 tbsp. olive oil
*cooking spray
*salt, pepper

Crush fennel seeds and red pepper with a mortar and pestle, or use a knife to roughly chop them.  Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and sauté until soft.  Add garlic, all herbs, fennel, and red pepper flakes.  Saute one minute, then remove from heat.  Let cool slightly.

Season ground pork with salt and pepper.  Stir in onion mixture.  Form into patties and refrigerate for 15 minutes, or overnight if making ahead.   To cook the patties, heat a non stick pan over medium high.  Coat with cooking spray.  Cook the patties roughly 5 minutes per side, or until nicely browned and cooked through (ground pork should be fully cooked to 160).  Enjoy!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Grilled Peach & Crispy Prosciutto Salad

Can you believe we're already well into August?  This summer has completely flown by.  At this point, i'm in panic mode when it comes to summer produce.  I want to get as much as I possibly can before its gone! 

The peaches and blueberries in particular have been so juicy and sweet this year.  I've been stirring peaches into my yogurt, and just this morning I whipped up some simple blueberry muffins.  For dinner, however, I thought i'd go a more savory route and put together a sweet-and-salty summer salad. 

The combination of sweet, slightly soft grilled peaches with the crispy, salty prosciutto is such a delicious pairing.  The blueberries added just a touch more sweetness, which worked well with the creamy, savory herb goat cheese.  Add a simple honey-dijon vinaigrette and you've got the perfect summer salad! 

For this salad, I used a firm peach, which softened up nicely on the grill.  If you're skipping the grill, use a very ripe peach. 

*1 package spring mix
*1 peach, sliced
*4 thin slices proscuitto
*crumbled garlic and herb goat cheese
*2 tbsp. blueberries

Honey-Dijon Vinaigrette:
*1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
*1 tbsp. dijon mustard
*1 tbsp. honey
*6 tbsp. olive oil
*salt, pepper

Preheat the oven to 375.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread the prosciutto out in one layer.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until it has shrunk slightly and turned a darker red, then set aside on a paper towel to drain. 

To prepare the dressing, whisk together balsamic, mustard, honey, salt and pepper.  Gradually add the olive oil while whisking until well combined. 

Heat your grill or girl pan to medium high.  Lightly brush the peaches with some of the dressing, then grill for 5 minutes, or until light grill marks appear.  

Toss together spring mix, dressing, peaches, crispy prosciutto, blueberries, and goat cheese.  Enjoy! 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Herb Butter

So i'm still on my herb kick, mostly because i'm still in awe of the fact that my herbs are still alive! I absolutely love cooking with fresh herbs - they really elevate anything you're cooking not only in flavor, but also visually. I've been brainstorming ways I can not only enjoy the herbs now, but also later, once my herb garden is inevitably long gone. 

I whipped up this herb butter last weekend to blend together my oregano, rosemary, thyme, and a basil. The great thing about a compound butter like this is that you can incorporate anything  your heart desires.  I added garlic, salt, and pepper for extra flavor, and so far this herb butter has blended beautifully with pasta, roasted veggies, and melts wonderfully over a hot steak. Next i'm going to try it on some grilled bread, but really the possibilities are endless. 

Below is the combination of herbs I used in my recipe, but feel free to get creative and work with what you have.  Compound butter can be frozen, so be sure to make plenty if you have extra herbs and you'll be enjoying them all winter long!

*4 thyme sprigs
*1 rosemary sprig
*6 basil leaves
*2 oregano sprigs
*1 garlic clove
*1 stick butter, at room temperature
*salt, pepper

Remove thyme, rosemary, and oregano from the twig. Roughly chop the rosemary (rosemary tends to hide from the food processor blades).  Combine herbs and garlic in a mini-food processor (you can also finely chop everything by hand) and blend until fine.  Stir into butter and season with salt and pepper.  Use a spatula transfer butter to a sheet of wax paper.  Roll the butter into a log and twist the ends (like a piece of candy).  Refrigerate until firm.  Enjoy!