Sweet Italian Sausage Soup

Well where have you been?  I missed you!  Life projects have been all consuming, your still in my thoughts.  Want to see what has been accomplished in my absence?   Summer included dirt and digging.  We started with a blank slate and were able to get a great start on something beautiful.

Don't let him fool you...he looks cute but was sitting right in my newly watered and planted Snowberry and Ninebark bushes.

One of eight very cool, Oat Grass that are now home along side my driveway.

3 retaining walls, 6 trees, 28 bushes 112 perennials and approximately 15 yards of rock and dirt! Now do you accept my apology?!?!
Summer was an all consuming whirlwind of fun!  It will be missed.
Now that Fall is here though, my recipe resulted from excess of veggies and lack of heat, it is cold here already!  This One Dish Meal comes together very quickly, sub in your favorite veggies or use up what is still coming in fresh from your garden or local markets. 

Sweet Italian Sausage Soup
Print recipe here
1 package all-natural (5-6) Sweet Italian Sausage links
¼ C extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 C carrots, diced
1 C zucchini, diced
2 C  potatoes, diced
2 C kale, chopped small
2 C tomato, diced or 1-15 oz. can Muir Glen diced tomato
1 TB garlic, minced
1 TB dried oregano
1 TB dried basil
1-2 tsp celtic sea salt
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1 C white wine
8 C low sodium chicken broth
parmesan or mozzarella for sprinkling

1.   Place sausage in a large pot, cover with water and place on stove.  Boil over medium high heat for 15 minutes or until cooked through.  Remove from heat, set aside the sausage to cool and drain water from pot.  Rinse pot and place back onto stove.


2.  Over medium high heat, cook the garlic onions, peppers and carrots in olive oil for 5 minutes. While that is cooking, peel the casing off the sausage and chop into bite size pieces.  

3.  Add the rest of the spices, zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes and sausage.  Saute for another 5 minutes.  Add wine and simmer two minutes.  Add chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat.  Turn down to simmer/ low, cover and let simmer 30-60 minutes.  

4.  When ready to serve, ladle into bowls, sprinkle with cheese and serve with fresh baked garlic focaccia.

Note: The soup seems a bit thin at first, potatoes will thicken up the soup base just enough after simmering. 

Today's recipes where brought to you by, inspired or adapted from:  Saved by the Egg Timer: Original

Pizza Burgers

Don't you love to be busy?  What would you be doing if you weren't?  We would all be sitting around hoping for something to do, that's what.  Even though it makes life hairy at times, frantic or just plain crazy.  Being busy is a great thing. 

To get you through the busy week here is a tasty, fast and easy weeknight meal.  Big hit throughout the dinner table.  Second helpings and thumbs up all around.  This is a meal that could easily go in the right or wrong direction and is why I have a passion for quality of ingredients.  Using naturally raised, nitrate free pork ensures your meat is not highly processed and loaded with harmful ingredients.  Chose a pizza sauce with no added sugars or corn syrups.  The cheese is a great way to provide calcium and healthy fats to your brain and skin.  Using real butter and no fake stuff here will add immune boosting healthy fats too!  And we all know that garlic is good for you and your *breath*.

Note:  This would be excellent on the grill!

Pizza Burgers
Print recipe here
2 pound ground Italian sausage, natural raised and nitrate free
8 ciabiatta or sourdough buns
1 C Muir Glen pizza sauce
8 slices mozzarella
½ C parmesan
3 TB unsalted butter
½ tsp garlic powder

1. Patty up the Italian sausage into ½ cup size burgers.

2. Cook patties over medium heat, 10 minute each side until golden crust on outside and no longer pink in the center.

3. Butter buns and sprinkle with garlic powder, layer each side of bun with 1 tablespoon pizza sauce, top one side with 1 tablespoon shredded parmesan, one side with a slice of mozzarella.

4. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Broil buns a few minutes until cheese is bubbled and browned. Remove, add cooked sausage burgers and enjoy!

Today's recipes where brought to you by, inspired or adapted from:  Saved by the Egg Timer: Original

Linked up at:  33 Shades of Green

Sweet Vinegar Peppers

How is everyone's summer so far?  Our home has officially ended the baseball season and started football!  That coincidentally means that gardens are big and full.  If you don't have a garden yet (ahem...me!)  Then hit up the bountiful farmers market and take advantage of the fresh, local produce.  The first time I heard of Sweet Vinegar Peppers was on the cooking show Kitchen Boss, I knew right then I had to find them.  After failing to spot any in store...I decided to make my own.  This is naturally a wonderful 'traditional', lacto-fermented food full of enzymes, vitamins and good bacteria for your tummy.  Perfect way to use up a lot of peppers from your garden.  Easy to do and good for you in many ways. 
You are able to Can Preserve these too, otherwise just relocate the jars to your refrigerator until ready to use.  If your garden is still full try making this versatile "Italian Salsa" called Giardiniera that I made last year, which is a husband favorite! 
Recipe to use these wonderful little guys coming soon!

Sweet Vinegar Peppers
2 lbs sweet red, orange and yellow bell peppers (I used the cute mini ones)
1 TB garlic, minced
1 TB dried oregano
3 TB celtic sea salt or kosher salt
3 C water
3 C vinegar
1 small dried chili pepper pod for each jar (optional for heat)

1. Slice peppers into rings, throw away the center core but don't worry about removing seeds. Jam pack into glass jars.

2. Add garlic, oregano, salt, water, vinegar to a beverage pitcher. Stir until all salt has dissolved.

3.  Pour the liquid into each jars until peppers are fully covered.  If adding a hot pepper, add now.  Cover and let sit in your dark pantry or cupboard for 3 days, remembering to shake each jar- each day. This is when they ferment, flavor and pickle.

4. After 3rd day, move to refrigerator. Will keep for many months. Use for topping sandwiches, spaghetti, pizza, salads. * If your my daughter you will just consume a whole jar like candy!

Today's recipes where brought to you by, inspired or adapted from:  Seasonal Chef and Kitchen Boss

Linked up at:  33 Shades of Green, Whole.New.Mom., Healthy Home Economist and Real Food Whole Health

Loose Meat on Toasted Sourdough

Happy belated 4th of July everyone!  Has it really been 2 weeks since I have posted another recipe?!?!  Summer has been very good to us, but in turn not good to the recipe blog.  I am still cooking and creating in my new kitchen!  This summer we have also been busy landscaping, digging perennial and tree holes.  By the time I am done and continuously picking the dirt out of my nails, I have been just too plum-tuckered-out to type when I have a moment.
What have you been up to this summer???  Planting or gardening?  Watching evening baseball games?  Biking to the farmer's market?  Swimming at the lake?  Grilling?  That is just a few of my favorite summer things in MN....and happily taking up our time.

This meal is fast, filling, savory and healthy.  This recipe is a mix of loose meat, Sloppy Joe's and S.O.S.    Not using any flavor packets, preservatives or cheaply filled jars of over priced food here!  Real food, real healthy and real good.  We served ours over toasted Sourdough bread with a slice of pepper jack cheese under the meat.  Making for awesome and easy leftovers for lunch the next day.  Nothing super fancy, just good, nutritious food. 

Loose Meat on Toasted Sourdough
Print recipe here
2 pounds grass fed ground beef
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp celtic sea salt or to taste
½ tsp fresh ground back pepper
1 (about 1 C) red onion, chopped
1 (about 1 C) bell pepper, chopped
4 stalks (about 1 C) celery, chopped
1 15 oz can Muir Glen Tomato Sauce
2 C low sodium beef broth
¼ C raw honey
¼ C apple cider vinegar (with mother aka unfiltered or raw)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground mustard powder

1. Brown ground beef, garlic, salt and pepper in large skillet over medium high heat for 10 minutes, until almost cooked through. Add onion, peppers and celery. Saute another 5-10 minutes until beef is fully cooked and onions are slightly translucent.

2. Stir in the tomato sauce, broth, honey, vinegar, chili and mustard powder. Let come to a boil then turn the heat down to low and let simmer 30 minutes.

3. Serve over toasted Sourdough bread or buns. We serve ours S.O.S. style with a little pepper jack cheese under the meat.

Today's recipes where brought to you by, inspired or adapted from:  A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa

Linked up at:  33 Shades of Green, Lady Behind the Curtain, The Healthy Home Economist

Lemon Herb Turkey Breast < Slow Cooker > and Caramelized Sugar Snap Peas

We have all heard of Christmas in July celebrations and store gimmicks?  Sure we have.
What about Thanksgiving?  Does it feel left out?  I officially mark June as Thanksgiving in June month.  Well the last 2 days of it at least...can you tell this was in the earlier month plans and got pushed back a bit? 

I found a great sale on a turkey breast and thought it would be perfect, needing to keep it summer fresh I combined this nice summer Thanksgiving in June dinner.  Leave your oven off,  no need to furnace your kitchen on a hot summer day!  This is a slow cooker meal and one pan.  Even the busiest of families can pull this one off in the middle of the week. The light, zesty flavors of the tender turkey is great for summer.  Use your fresh farmers market Sugar Snap Peas to combine a practically-perfect, seasonal-out-of-season dinner. 

Lemon Herb Turkey Breast < Slow Cooker >
Print recipe here
5-8 pound whole turkey breast (make sure it fits in your slow cooker!)
1 whole red onion
2 lemons
4 sprig fresh rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme, divided
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 ½ tsp celtic sea salt, divided
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper, divided
2 TB water
2 TB corn starch, non gmo is best

1. Peel and quarter a whole onion to place in the bottom of a larger sized slow cooker. Rinse and paper towel, pat dry your turkey breast, set turkey over top of the onions.

2. In a small dish, combine garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and ½ tsp thyme with a fork to make a paste. Rub inside the turkey cavity. Wash the outside of one lemon and place inside the turkey cavity. (Do not slice or cut this lemon, it will make your meat bitter) Place 2 sprigs of rosemary inside the cavity, one on each side. Place turkey breast side up.

3. Lift each side of the breast skin up enough to place 1 sprig of rosemary under each side, lay skin back down over the breast. Cut remaining lemon in half and juice over the top of the turkey, then zest the lemon over top of breast meat and discard remaining peel.  Sprinkle the top with remaining ½ teaspoon salt, ½ tsp pepper and ½ tsp thyme.

4. Turn slow cooker onto low and cook for 8-10 hours. Do not lift the lid until 8-10 hours is done! It will let out the heat, pressure and steam and result in a longer cooking time. When done cooking, turn off the slow cooker and lift lid to cool slightly before removing. Lift the turkey out carefully as it is very tender. Place onto a large plate or platter to cut or shred.

5. With a slotted spoon, scoop out remaining, turkey 'leave behinds' and onions.  Turn slow cooker to high.  Mix corn starch and water in a cup with a fork until smooth, pour and whisk into the slow cooker where juices remain. Cover and let thicken for 30 minutes, spoon over chicken and veggies when serving if desired, or simply skip the gravy steps to save turkey broth to flavor a later dish. 

Caramelized Sugar Snap Peas
Print recipe here
1 pound sugar snap peas
2 TB unsalted butter
2 TB minced shallots or onion
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp celtic sea salt

1. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add shallots and thyme, saute for 2 minutes. Pour in the sugar snap peas and toss for 5-7 minutes until golden and slightly caramelized on the outside but still slightly crunchy. Serve hot.

Practically-Perfect, Seasonal-out-of-season dinner...

Today's recipes where brought to you by, inspired or adapted from: Real Food, Allergy Free, and Allrecipes.

Linked up at: Real Food Wednesdays

Peach and Blueberry Cream Cake

The Cake Slice Baker's crew had a tie.  Fresh Strawberry Cake with White Chocolate Chips along with Lime Chiffon Cake were the June cake winners. 
I chose the Strawberry Cake to bake and this is what happened...
...a good outcome indeed!  A fresh, moist and fluffy cake. I think this could easily be adjusted to fit any in-season fruit you desire to use. 

Peach and Blueberry Cream Cake
Print recipe here
2 large eggs
½ C sour cream
1 lemon, zested
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp pure almond extract
1½ C whole wheat pastry flour, divided
1½ tsp aluminum free baking powder
¾ tsp aluminum free baking soda
¼ tsp celtic sea salt
¼ C (4TB or half a stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 C whole cane sugar (aka sucanat or rapadura)
½ C peaches, diced
½ C blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8 inch square glass baking dish and set aside.

2. Whisk together the eggs, sour cream, lemon zest, vanilla and almond extracts in small bowl, set aside.

3.  Measure out the fruit and place into a small bowl.  Add ¼ cup of the flour and stir to coat, set aside.

4. Combine 1¼ cups of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.

5. Whip the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer for 3 minutes, until fluffy. Pour and mix the egg mixture into the bowl in a slow stream until fully incorporated.

6. Add ½ of the flour mixture and mix, add the last ½ of flour mixture and mix until the dough is completely wet throughout with no traces of dry flour.  Fold in the fruit with a spatula, then scrape down into the glass baking dish.

7. Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with a few crumbs remaining.  Let the cake cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, you can then invert onto a serving platter and cut to serve.

Today's recipes where brought to you by, inspired or adapted from:

Cake Keeper Cakes: 100 Simple Recipes for Extraordinary Bundt Cakes, Pound Cakes, Snacking Cakes and Other Good-To-The-Last-Crumb Treatsand        

Strawberry Banana Yogurt Pops

Bananas and Strawberries....have you ever watched Veggietales?  We cannot mention the two together without getting our {SVEede} accent and acting out "Hello, I am the Englishman who went up the hill and came down with all the bananas. Leaving, of course, the inhabitants of the hill with no bananas and therefore bestowing the term 'selfish' upon myself." and so on and so on...you can watch the poor You Tube clip or find it in King George and the Ducky.  Good story, funny little blips.  I wish they were still owned by Big Idea Productions..they are much better than the newer ones. 

Back to the combining of the Bananas and Strawberries here- it is summer break, there are plenty of chances to have sugar and treats.  This is a sweet, frozen, low sugar treat with potassium, Vitamin C, calcium, protein and minerals from the wonderful healing raw honey.  Easy to prepare and fun enough for the kids to do on there own too.  They won't even miss the absence of sugar in this.

Have the kids make up a batch for Father's Day!  If I know anything about Dad's, I know they LOVE frozen ice cream treats!  Right Hubby?!  Dad?!  Ladies nodding there heads.

Strawberry Banana Yogurt Pops
Print recipe here
8-12 strawberries, sliced, diced or pureed
2 ripe bananas, mashed  (KT#8)
2 TB raw honey
2 C plain full fat yogurt or greek yogurt
12- 3 oz paper Dixie style cups
12 popsicle sticks

1. In a medium bowl combine the strawberries, bananas and honey. Stir in the yogurt.

2. Place 12 paper cups into a cake pan for some stability while transferring into the freezer. Divide the yogurt mix into all 12 cups.

3. Freeze yogurt pops for 10-15 minutes. Remove from freezer, place the popsicle sticks into middle of yogurt cups.  Place back into the freezer for 3-4 hours until frozen through. (Obviously) store in the freezer until eaten.  To easily release them from their paper, run under room temperature water for 5 seconds, then pull straight out.

Note:  Doubling this recipe will still easily fit into one cake pan.  Feel free to mix up the fruits and find your favorite combination.  Suggestion to leave the bananas, as they are there for sweetness. If you remove the bananas they will be a lot less sweet. Replace the strawberries with other berries or pureed apples, pears, peaches, pineapple and plums.  I will also be making these with heavy cream, half and half and full fat coconut milk!  

Happy Father's Day to all the DAD'S out there!!!

Today's recipes where brought to you by, inspired or adapted from:  Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

Linked at: Monday Mania

Very Blueberry Lemonade

If life doles out a bunch of lemons...give them a good squeeze!

Wow yourself and guests with this simple, little time needed recipe.  Perfect for any Father's Day BBQ's you may have planning and utilizing the fresh berries you have growing or fresh pick on your counter right now.  You can really do this last minute or way ahead of time, I suggest last minute unless you make extra otherwise it may not make it to your planned destination. 

Blueberries are full of anti oxidants to fight off free radical damage to our skin, including great fiber and high amounts of Vitamin C to support a healthy immune system, not to mention fighting off those allergies!  Lemon regulates the pH in our body and aids digestion, heartburn, high blood pressure and flushes your blood of impurities.  Also packs another punch of Vitamin C to help toss those itchy eyes and stuffy heads to the way side.  Fight your seasonal allergies a step further by sweetening with raw honey, the latest research proves how well it does to combat respiratory symptoms!

Planning a Father's Day BBQ?  Here are some dishes that may be on my table:
Sweet and Sassy Beans and Grilled Green Beans- beans great in the slow cooker too, green beans are a weekly thing here!
Greek Chicken and Greek Roasted Potatoes - still a fave chicken marinade.
Green Goddess Dressing- THE dip for meats, veggie trays and baked potatoes.
Giardiniera- perfect for Father's Day as it is my husband and dad's faves, PS- this is a make ahead.
Diner Style Pancakes with Fresh Berry Syrup and Homemade Breakfast Sausage- breakfast in bed?

Very Blueberry Lemonade
Print recipe here
1 C lemon juice= 6-8 lemons, freshly squeezed
1 C fresh or frozen blueberries
1 C raw cane sugar, ½ C raw honey or 1 tsp stevia
6-8 C water

1. Combine lemons, blueberries and sugar into a blender, bullet or immersion style. Blend until blueberries are as liquefied as possible (Vita-mix owners bragging rights inserted here...I do not have current bragging rights).

2. Pour blended creation into a pitcher, place desired ice into pitcher, fill with 6-8 cups water until desired taste and size of your container.

3. Fill a glass with ice, to make pretty add lemon slices and a few blueberries to the glass. Fill with Very Blueberry Lemonade and enjoy on a beautiful, hot, sunny day.

Note:  Feel free to sub in any berries for the blueberries with equal success!  Easily double this recipe to fit into a sun tea gallon size glass container. 

Today's recipes where brought to you by, inspired or adapted from:  Saved by the Egg Timer: Original

Sesame Roasted Broccoli

Hoping everyone returned back from a safe and wonderful Memorial Day weekend!   A day off?  Spring cleaning?   A trip to the cabin?  What was your weekend filled with?

Next time you are thinking of having bad Chinese take out, make Good Chinese Takeout instead.  As fast as it takes to get up and order food over the phone, you can prepare this healthy and delicious side dish and have it in the oven lickety split.  With this on your dinner plate...no guilt if you want that Banana Split after dinner, it won't cause spilt ends and will surely fight the battle in the splitting of your pants?! 

Broccoli is loaded in vitamin C, yet a much under appreciated vegetable of children.  It sometimes smells funny and looks like a tree.  As a kid I always loved the "leaves" but never liked eating the "trunk".  They both have anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity within 5 minutes of biting into it.  Your body will feel so much better after eating this instead of sodium, additive and rancid oil loaded take-out.  Good enough reason for something that taste so good!

Sesame Roasted Broccoli
Print recipe here
1 - 1 ½ lb fresh broccoli florets {leaves} and stems {trunks} (thawed frozen broccoli works too)
1 T peanut oil
1 T tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
½ tsp garlic, minced
1 T sesame seeds, toasted

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

2. Cut your broccoli into bite size pieces and place into a large bowl.  Drizzle broccoli with peanut oil, tamari, sesame oil and garlic.  Toss to coat and layer onto the lined baking tray.

3.  Place in the oven to roast 15-20 minutes until can be poked easily with a fork but not mushy.  It should be slightly browned.  Remove from oven and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.   Serves well with teriyaki flank steak, pork chops and grilled chicken. 

Today's recipes where brought to you by, inspired or adapted from:  Kalyn's Kitchen