The other night, we had a dorm event centered around soup. That is my kind of event! I love soup passionately, and have shared many soups here across the years.
I started to ask my husband which soup he wanted me to bring, then amended my statement to, “Do you want me to make lasagna soup?”
He shook his head vigorously. This is probably his favorite soup that I make, and it’s a great crowd-pleaser for events. It’s hearty and satisfying and really much easier to make than a lasagna. With just a touch of cheese, you get the same lasagna feeling, too, without being weighed down with tons of carbs and dairy products.
Make some soup to survive these last weeks of winter. You won’t be sad to have a bowl of this on your table. And if you need more carbs, it’s a great dipping vessel for crusty bread.
Well, y’all, I have some kind-of-sad news. After five years, this is going to be my last Secret Recipe Club post. I have loved being part of this fun every month, being exposed to new bloggers and recipes, and hunting down a recipe. But since my blogging has kind of died down, I didn’t feel like it was fair to those assigned to my blog. (Even though I do think I have a great backlog of recipes!)
Thanks to all those who have made this experience so wonderful! I started doing the Secret Recipe Club in June 2011 and have only missed a couple months the whole time. Can you believe it?
Anyway, enough about me! This month, my assigned blogger was I’m Hungry: Words of Growing Boys. Do I get that! My boys (and girl) are still small but I feel like every time they see me, their first words are, “I’m hungry! Can I have a snack?” Traci is a mom to two sons and an educator by day, supermom and cook by night. I love that Traci shares things like her family’s favorite meals and meal plans each week.
I was sold on this recipe for Pressure Cooker Sausage, Peppers, and Onions as soon as I saw it; first, because it’s something my family loves, and second, because I got an Instant Pot recently and have been trying to use it a lot! We loved the recipe, and our only regret was not throwing in twice as much sausage so we’d have leftovers for sausage sandwiches.
Serving Size: 4 to 8 servings, depending on amount of sausage
1 to 2 lbs. sweet sausage or bratwurst links
2 sweet bell peppers, sliced
1 sweet onion, like Vidalia, cut into rings
28 oz. crushed tomatoes
8 oz. tomato sauce
1 T Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
cooked pasta (I used egg noodles)
Parmesan cheese, grated
Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and Italian seasoning to the pressure cooker. Cut sausages into thirds and place on top of sauce. Top with onions and peppers, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Seal pressure cooker lid and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes. Use quick or natural release to release pressure, then safely uncover and serve over pasta, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
(If you want to cook your pasta in the sauce and you have an Instant Pot: After pressure is released, change setting to slow cooker on high. Add uncooked pasta and cook covered, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes, until pasta is cooked through. This works especially well for egg noodles.)
This can also be made in a slow cooker. Cook on low for about 6 hours, until sausage is cooked through.
I have made Cheesy Meatloaf many, many times during the course of our marriage. It’s a recipe where my husband refuses to budge; all meatloaves made in our house MUST be this exact recipe. One time I tried to put in onions. EH [imagine big buzzer sound here]. Extra Worcestershire sauce? EH. Italian seasoning? EH. EH. EH.
Unfortunately with the whole cheese-less existence right now, I am not making a meatloaf that I cannot eat. And Mr. V is getting itchy for his meatloaf fix. So I decided I could interpret the recipe into meatloaf muffins and make half without cheese.
And since I can’t stop tinkering with recipes, ever, I added a little Dijon mustard and fresh thyme to my muffins. Don’t tell Mr. V, but I think I might like them better than the original.
Not that he’ll ever let me make a whole meatloaf that way.
Whisk egg, Worcestershire sauce, and 4 ounces of tomato sauce together in a mixing bowl. Add salt, a few grinds or sprinkles of pepper, and beef to the bowl; combine with hands. Add oats and mix together.
Take fists of mixture and spread out like a small hamburger patty. (About the size of your palm.) Put a sprinkling of cheese in the middle of the patty, then fold in all the edges to cover cheese and make a ball.
Place balls in greased muffin tins and flatten slightly.
Cook at 350 15 minutes. Pour about 2 teaspoons tomato sauce on top of each muffin. Sprinkle more cheese on top of muffins. Cook an additional 7-8 minutes. Let sit for a minute before serving.
Non-Cheesy Meatloaf Muffins Derivation:
To meatloaf mixture, add 1 T Dijon mustard and 1 T fresh thyme leaves. Omit cheese. Just form beef mixture into balls and place in muffin tins. Cook the same, omitting added cheese on top.
I created this recipe for Sweet and Spicy Sausage Spaghetti a while back and only shared it on my Facebook page, because I’m sneaky like that. Or lazy? But lately I have been craving it and I thought it deserved to be shared with everyone out there.
I will say this is much spicier than the food I normally make, even using mild Ro-tel. I have very high sensitivity to spicy foods, and this leaves my mouth burning. But in a good way. If you are not a wimp and can deal with some Ro-tel, I’m sure you’ll be fine. But there’s your warning!
I posted one of our favorite dinners, Ziti with Italian Sausage, about a year and a half ago. But there were no pictures and it was basically a copied-from-AllRecipes recipe. No fun! And not me at all.
So the other night I was making the ziti and decided I needed to share its yummyness with you in pictures. Sadly, my pictures didn’t turn out that great. But here they are, anyway, to give you an idea of the process and the results.
14.5 oz. canned diced tomatoes (Italian-flavored with garlic are great here)
15 oz. tomato sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (omit if using tomatoes with garlic)
1 tsp. dried oregano
3/4 tsp. salt
12-16 oz. dry pasta (preferably ziti or penne rigate)
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese (the real stuff, if you can!)
Brown sausage with celery and onions, breaking up the sausage into small pieces. Drain off fat. Set aside.
In a saucepan, combine tomatoes (drained), tomato sauce, garlic powder, oregano, and salt. Bring to a simmer; reduce to low.
Boil pasta until very al dente – it will continue cooking when baked. Preheat oven to 350F. Drain pasta when done.
In a deep dish, layer pasta, sausage mix, mozzarella, and sauce. Repeat layers once. (I just used the pot I boiled the pasta in, because that makes one fewer dish I have to wash!) Top with grated Parmesan.
Cook at 350F for 35-45 minutes or until brown and bubbly.
For a variation, you could stir 4 ounces of cream cheese into your tomato sauce. It would make it a lovely tomato-cream sauce instead. If you’re in a pinch, you could also use jarred pasta sauce in place of the “semi-homemade” one here.
My cousin, Tricia, recently created a recipe for Italian Stuffed Peppers. They looked good to me, but I thought I would miss the tomato sauce that usually tops stuffed peppers. Mr. V and I have made the Betty Crocker stuffed peppers* since college, and we love them; I was a little afraid messing with stuffed peppers might get me kicked out of the house.
The recipe kept talking to me, however, and when I saw these amazing sweet peppers at the farmer’s market here in Chattanooga, I could no longer resist the siren’s call.
I wanted to try something else this time, too. I’ve always hated blanching the peppers, then trying to handle them hot, then trying to get them to sit up in a baking dish and covering them with foil. It’s a pain in the neck.
So this time I went for the slow cooker, and I am glad that I did! A few hours on high and the peppers were just soft enough without dissolving. The depth of the slow cooker makes it easy to keep the peppers upright. Making stuffed peppers in a crockpot definitely works for me!
*Does anyone else just LOVE the Betty Crocker Big Red Cookbook? We have that version, which was out when we got married, and the 70s version I used growing up. Betty is simply the best for easy recipes and directives on how to cook certain vegetables or cuts of meat.