Breakfast Bell Peppers

Inspiration: Believe it or not, we’re still going strong with the Mexican-inspired dishes. We didn’t even get them all in before Cinco de Mayo came and went last week. Bear with us (or rejoice!).

What We Loved: I can always get behind a stuffed pepper/stuffed mushroom/stuffed chicken breast/etc. recipe. The flavor combinations are endless, and I always think that it’s so fun to experiment. Brandon and I both really enjoyed the rich filling in this particular recipe – namely salty chorizo, fluffy scrambled eggs, and creamy goat cheese. There’s just something about those savory, cheesy breakfast flavors that I crave every now and again. I also thought that the mild, sweet peppers were a really nice complement to those stronger flavors. This is a solid, easy recipe that I think would be great for either breakfast or dinner.

Helpful Hints: We ate these with some Frontera Double Roasted Tomato salsa, which was a great pairing, and I also think that sour cream would be a good garnish. I cooked our peppers for 30 minutes at 350, and they still had a nice crunch to them. If you’d like your peppers to be softer/have more of a roasted/charred texture, cook them longer or increase the temperature to about 400.

Breakfast Bell Peppers
Source: Original Recipe

2 links Mexican chorizo, removed from casing
1/2 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 eggs
Splash of milk or cream
Kosher salt and black pepper
3-4 oz goat cheese
2 bell peppers, sliced in half and seeded
Cilantro, salsa, and/or sour cream, to garnish

1. Crumble the chorizo into a saute pan over medium heat. Saute until cooked through. Drain some of the grease if it is excessive.

2. Add the onions to the pan, and continue cooking until just softened and slightly browned.

3. Add the garlic to the pan, stir to incorporate, and remove from the heat.

4. Mix the eggs with a splash of milk and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Scramble the eggs in a separate saute pan.

5. Gently fold the eggs and the goat cheese into the chorizo mixture. Do this gently so that you do not to break apart the eggs/cheese too much.

6. Divide the mixture evenly between the four pepper halves. Cover with foil and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes (longer for softer peppers).

7. Serve garnished with cilantro, salsa, and/or sour cream.

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Sausage and Sweet Potato Hash with Avocado, Sour Cream, and Pico de Gallo Verde

Inspiration: Is there anything about this meal that’s not one of my favorite things in life? Throw avocados and sweet potatotes into the same dish, and I’ll eat it before it’s even made. With sausage, sour cream, and a great salsa added in, my name is just written all over this. Plus, it’s a one-dish meal – my favorite kind.

What We Loved: We both truly loved every single thing about this meal, and I’d personally list it as one of my favorites that I’ve ever made. The sweet potato and sausage portion was so warm and comforting, with those delicious sweet and creamy notes from the potatoes and a richness from the sausage. The pico de gallo verde provided a great spicy and tangy kick, and the avocados and sour cream were the perfect cooling touches. All mixed together, this really was a myriad of fantastic flavors in each and every bite. I could eat this every day and never tire of it.

Helpful Hints: I prefer not to peel sweet potatoes for two reasons – I’ve always just loved the flavor of the skin, and I prefer to eat all of the nutrients that are in the skin rather than throw them away. Plus, keeping the skin allows the cubes to stay together in this hash, whereas I think they might get a little mushier if there were no skins. Also – I used a regular pork sausage in this meal because it’s what I had in my freezer, but I’m thinking that chorizo just might be even better. And for another serving idea, we had some leftover hash but no extra salsa, so I served it for breakfast on Saturday topped with a sunny-side up egg. Breaking the egg yolk down into the hash was nothing short of divine!

Sausage and Sweet Potato Hash with Avocado, Sour Cream, and Pico de Gallo Verde
Source: Original Recipe (serves 2 with plenty of leftovers)

1 lb sausage, any kind
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Ground cumin
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 sweet potatoes
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1 batch pico de gallo verde
Sour cream

1. Cut the sweet potatoes into cubes, and place them in a saucepan covered with water. Bring to a boil, and cook for four minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat a saute pan, and crumble in the sausage. Cook until the sausage is nearly cooked through. Add the onions, and cook a few minutes longer, until the onions are softened. Add the garlic and a good pinch of cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

3. Add the sweet potatoes to the sausage mixture, and stir to combine. Cook until the sweet potatoes are completely softened and the flavors are blended, about five minutes.

4. Serve the hash topped with avocado slices, sour cream, and pico de gallo verde.

Simple Italian Chicken Sausage and Peppers

Inspiration: I’m very much in need of some simple, one pot weeknight suppers. Every week, I plan all of these ambitious suppers because I’m always excited about trying new recipes or making old favorites. And inevitably, every week I end up with a couple of nights when I just can’t spend too much time in the kitchen. It usually happens after we’ve been to happy hour at one of our pubs for a few hours, but that’s neither here nor there, is it? :) Regardless, I truly need to have some simple/non-processed/low carb recipes up my sleeve for these occasions! Any suggestions or favorites?

What we Loved: Aside from the simplicty of the cooking method for this dish, I love the simplicity of the flavors, too. The spicy Italian chicken sausage and oregano combine with the sweet bell peppers and Vidalia onions for a nice balance of simple but strong flavors. The peppers and onions have an inherent sweetness that is really pronounced after being sauteed in butter, and we both enjoyed the contrast of that flavor with the classic fennel flavor that is present in Italian sausage. I guess there’s a reason that this is a classic dish!

Helpful Hints: Don’t stir everything around too much as you cook. Letting the sausage and vegetables sit in the pan for a few minutes at a time will help a nice brown crust to form. Also, I’d recommend using a lot of onions! I just love that slightly caramelized flavor and didn’t think that we had nearly enough.

Simple Italian Chicken Sausage and Peppers
Source: Inspired by Dine and Dish

4 Italian chicken sausage links, cut into 3/4 inch pieces (I removing the casing before cutting)
2 bell peppers, any color, stemmed/seeded and roughly chopped
2 thick slices onion, cut into quarters (This is what I used, but I recommend using more!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Dried oregano
Kosher salt and black pepper
1-2 tablespoons butter

1. Heat the butter in a saute pan. Add the sausage, peppers, onion, and garlic, stirring to combine. Season well with oregano, salt, and pepper.

2. Saute until the vegetables are softened and the sausage has browned, stirring only occasionally.

(Rice-Free) Jambalaya

Inspiration: I’ve always loved the flavors of jambalaya and consider it one of my favorite dishes (…I say that way too often, don’t I?). For the past several years at Mardi Gras time, I’ve been trying to concoct the perfect recipe for us – which isn’t a traditional one by any means. We always skip the celery and green peppers because we don’t prefer their flavors, and we skip the rice. But I’ve never quite gotten a version that we love just right – until now.

What we Loved: One of the reasons that I love jambalaya in any form is because there is so much going on. Bacon, chicken, sausage, shrimp – what a great variety. Another reason that I love it is because of the heat. This is a spicy dish that pairs well with a nice tall glass of ice water. This particular recipe had both of those components, and then some. After cooking for a few hours, the resulting sauce was amazing. It was rich and somewhat thick, with a perfect blend of seasonings (Cajun spices, peppers and onions that seemed to have melted away, bacon fat, salt, and the juices from all of the meats) that formed a solid backbone for the dish. And I also want to note how much we loved the chicken in this dish. It was the first thing that Brandon mentioned – that the chicken was ridiculously tender. As you can see in the photos, it started shredded apart all on its own. And the pieces themselves were some of the most tender pieces of chicken that I’ve ever tasted. We both truly adored everything about this meal.

Helpful Hints: This is a very spicy dish, so you might want to use less seasonings to suit your preferences if you don’t love really spicy foods. The serrano, cayenne, chili powder, and Cajun seasoning all lend quite a bit of heat, so you could leave some of these out if you’d like (though not the Cajun seasoning, because that flavor is pretty essential to the dish). 

Rice-Free Jambalaya
Source: Adapted from Guilty Kitchen

Extra virgin olive oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced
6 slices bacon, diced
3 links Andouille sausage, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 serrano pepper, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
Kosher salt, to taste
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed

1. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil. Sprinkle the chicken well with Cajun seasoning, then add it to the pan. Cook until the chicken is just browned on the outsides. Remove and set aside.

2. Add the bacon to the pan, and saute until beginning to crisp. Add the andouille sausage and cook for a few minutes longer until the sausage begins to brown. Return the chicken to the pan.

3. Add the onions, red peppers, and serrano peppers. Cook for about 5 minutes more, until softened. Mix in all of the spices, stirring well to coat.

4. Pour in the tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Cook until thickened, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan occasionally, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

5. Stir in the shrimp and cook until just barely cooked through, about 3 minutes. Serve.

Cajun Shrimp in Andouille Cream Sauce over Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Shrimp with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Andouille Cream

Inspiration: Though I’ve never been to New Orleans (I will make it there one day!), I’m somewhat fascinated by the culture of the city. The people, the food, the drinks, the celebration – it all holds a certain magnetic quality. That being said, when Mardi Gras season rolls around every year, I like to cook about a week’s worth of New Orleans-inspired food. There’s no better way to celebrate a culture from afar than to enjoy its food, right? I do the same for St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo….there sure are a whole lot of great cultures out there and a whole lot of great foods.

What we Loved: I obviously only share recipes on my blog that we both enjoyed (and boy it’s the worst when I get good photos of a meal that’s just not blog-worthy), but this is one of those recipes that stands out above the rest. A lot. If you know me, you’ll know that this is exactly the kind of food that I love best, so I knew that I would enjoy this recipe going into it. But still. The sweet potatoes have the perfect creamy texture, with a wonderfully sweet cinnamon flavor. The andouille cream is rich and complex, with notes of garlic and spicy sausage. And the shrimp are fresh and buttery, coated in a fantastic spicy seasoning mix that has just the right amount of heat. All together, these three components of the meal really play off of each other and create the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. Not to overstate the case for how much we loved this, but we just might have to eat it every day from now on. :)

Helpful Hints: With blackening seasoning, you can get a nice black crust if you use very high heat, don’t flip the meat other than just once, and cook for just the right amount of time. Shrimp are so delicate and very easy to overcook, so I just coated them in the seasoning and sauteed them for a few minutes. Still delicious, and I won’t change that method the next time that I make this.

Shrimp with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Andouille Cream
Source: Adapted from Antony Field via Food Network

Sweet Potatoes
2 sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Bake the potatoes at 350 degrees until tender, about an hour.

2. Remove the skins from the potatoes. Place them in a small sauce pan, and then add the butter, cinnamon, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well to combine. Keep warm over low heat.

Andouille Cream
Extra virgin olive oil
3 slices onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 link andouille sausage, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon butter

1. Add a drizzle of olive oil to a sauce pan. Add the onions, and cook until softened. Add the garlic, and cook for an additional minute.

2. Add the sausage and thyme, and cook for a few minutes more.

3. Add the cream, and bring to a low simmer. Cook until reduced by half and thickened.

4. Add the cajun seasoning and butter. Keep warm over low heat.

Extra virgin olive oil
1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
Cajun blackening seasoning
Kosher salt

1. Place the shrimp in a bowl, and coat completely in blackening seasoning. Sprinkle with Kosher salt.

2. Heat a drizzle of olive oil and a pat of butter in a saute pan. Add the shrimp, and saute until just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.

3. Serve the sweet potatoes topped with the cream and shrimp. 

Smoky Zucchini, Mushroom, and Chorizo Taco Filling

Inspiration: For the Superbowl this year, Brandon and I had a taco salad bar with a nice Mexican spread. We had a somewhat involved menu – this recipe; standard ground bison taco meat; goat, sharp cheddar, and pepperjack cheeses; romaine hearts; sour cream; black olives; pickled red onions; tomatillo guacamole, and pico de gallo. It really was an awesome spread and a fun meal! I’ll be sharing some of the recipes in the next few weeks.

What we Loved: What a wonderful dish! I say it every time that I make something from Rick Bayless, but it deserves repeating – the man is a genius with Mexican recipes. And this one is no exception. Brandon and I both loved the dark, smoky flavor of this dish (which is due to the chipotle peppers), and we also loved the flavor contrast of the rich, salty chorizo and the crisp, fresh vegetables. As I said, we used this filling atop chopped romaine hearts and with other vegetables and toppings for taco salads, and it was truly wonderful served that way. I also want to mention that fresh goat cheese is a fabulous and perfect pairing for this. I may be biased because I adore goat cheese possibly above any other food, but that creamy cheese melting down into this dish was absolutely wonderful.

Helpful Hints: If you can’t find fire-roasted tomatoes with chipotle peppers, just buy a can of fire-roasted tomatoes and a can of chipotles in adobo sauce separately. This is what the original recipe calls for (adding 1 chile and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the sauce to the tomatoes). I was so happy to find them together, though, because it meant that I wouldn’t have a ton of leftover chipotle peppers!

Smoky Zucchini, Mushroom, and Chorizo Taco Filling
Source: Adapted from Rick Bayless, Mexican Everyday

1/2 lb fresh Mexican chorizo sausage, casing removed
1 onion, diced
1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 15 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes with chipotle peppers
2 small zuchinni, cut into cubes
Kosher salt

1. Pour the tomatoes into a food processor, and process until smooth.

2. Crumble the chorizo into a saute pan, and saute until cooked through.

3. Add the onion, and cook until softened, stirring often.

4. Add the mushrooms, and cook a few minutes more, until they are starting to brown.

4. Add the tomato puree, and cook until the mixture has thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the zucchini, and cook until the zucchini is cooked through but still a little crisp, about 8-10 minutes.

5. Season to taste with salt, and transfer to a serving bowl.

Tuscan Frittata

Inspiration: Frittatas are really a lovely dish that I don’t prepare enough. You could go all over the place with them, right? They’re good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They can always act as the main dish, as they’re a good source of protein. You can use up pretty much any vegetables, meats, or cheeses that you have in the fridge. They really are a vehicle for a lot of creativity. I’m hoping to concoct several more frittata recipes in the coming weeks using our gorgeous CSA eggs.

What we Loved: This frittata was almost like a pizza (which is always a plus in my book)! The spicy Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, and sweet onions added wonderful flavors and complexity to the fluffy eggs, which had a wonderful, just slightly browned flavor on the bottom. When I first saw this recipe, what really drew me to it was the idea of the tomato sauce and gooey, fresh mozzarella on top. I just love that!

Helpful Hints: The only change that I would make to this recipe would be to use marinara sauce instead of plain crushed tomatoes on top. I thought that the plain crushed tomatoes could use a little something (which is why I added oregano and Italian pizza seasoning with the leftovers, as shown above – and that really was the finishing touch!). I would still recommend using marinara, though, because I think it would make the recipe perfect. I’ve replaced the crushed tomatoes with marinara below.

***As an aside, please research where your eggs (and all of your food, really) come from. Eggs from chickens that have been properly raised are a whole different nutritional (and flavor/texure) story than those that you can buy in a typical grocery store,  and what we do to factory farmed chickens on an ethical level is horrifying at best.***

Tuscan Frittata
Source: Adapted (slightly) from The Galley Gourmet, originally from Williams Sonoma

10 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and black pepper
8 oz Italian sausage
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup marinara sauce
6 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
Dried oregano and/or Italian pizza seasoning

1. Preheat the oven to 350. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, Parmesan, and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper.

2. Cook the sausage in a large saute pan until browned. Set aside.

3. In the same pan, saute the onion and red pepper until softened. Add the garlic, and cook for an additional minute.

4. Return the sausage to the pan, and pour in the egg mixture. Transfer the pan to the oven, and bake until the eggs are just barely set, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove the pan from the oven. Spread the marinara over the eggs, and arrange the mozzarella on top. Bake or broil for 3-5 minutes more, until the cheese is melted (and beginning to brown, if you use the broiler).

6. Sprinkle with oregano and/or Italian pizza seasoning, and serve.