Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sausage and Squash Casserole

Okay folks, got another one to share with you. I made this yesterday and am actually eating it for lunch right now as I write this post. :) Yes, it's that good.

I mixed up a double batch yesterday, one for me and one for my friend's parents. They have some dietary/health challenges, too, and it makes me happy to cook for people. So I hope they enjoy it as much as I do!

So there are two ways to start this casserole. You can use whole butternut squash (like I did), which is going to add almost one hour to your prep time, FYI. But if cooking is your therapy (like it is mine), the chopping and peeling are therapeutic. :) If not, your other option is to buy butternut squash already peeled and cubed. Cheater. Lol!

If you are using whole squash, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and put them in there whole for about 30 minutes. They should get soft. Let them cool, then peel them, cut them, scrape out the seeds, and chop them into 1-inch cubes.

Take your broth, water and sage and bring it to a simmer as you cook the pork.

For this casserole, I used a mild Italian pork sausage (sugar-free because of my allergies). I browned it over medium heat, then transferred it to another bowl while I used the fat to cook my onions, garlic and apples.

I added my rice to the onions and apples. If you are going full paleo with this, you can replace the rice with riced cauliflower.

Then I added in the meat, squash and broth, as well as the thyme, wine 

Once it cooks down a bit, put into your casserole dish.

I baked it for 35 minutes at 400 degrees, and it was fabulous! If you are not allergic to dairy, you could easily add some Parmesan cheese at the end and I bet that would be delicious!

Sausage and Squash Casserole

Ingredients for 1 13x9 pan:

1 Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed
3 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Cup Water
1 heaping Tbsp Dried Sage
Olive Oil (or Coconut Oil)
1 lb Pork Sausage, not in casing
1 Sweet Onion, diced
1 Honey Crisp Apple (or other sweet variety), peeled and chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Cup Rice, short grain and uncooked. *If you use brown rice, you will need to at least start the cooking process before adding it to the casserole.
1/4 Cup White Wine
1 1/2 tsp. Thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste

If using whole butternut squash, cook according to my suggestions above, then peel and cube and set aside. 

In a saucepan, bring broth, water and sage to a simmer. Let it simmer while the pork cooks. In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and pork sausage. Brown sausage and set aside. In the sausage drippings, saute the onions for 2-3 minutes. Then add the garlic and apple. Saute another 2-3 minutes. Then add in the rice for another 2-3 minutes. Then add the broth mixture, squash and pork. Let cook for about 5 minutes, until you start to see the rice absorbing the liquid.

Transfer to a casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Slow Cooker Barbacoa

Fall is here... and although I love the crisp air, the colors of the leaves changing, and all the fall food... I'm really not a fan of the grey and wet that covers the Pacific Northwest for the next 8 months. I mean, I can handle it for a few weeks... but 8 months? Come on. Ridiculous.

So in an attempt to ignore the grey, I decided to experiment in the kitchen again. And of course, I used my crockpot. Seriously folks... if you don't have one, get one. They are awesome. And they make life EASY. Just put your food in, and eat it eight hours later. Now granted, crockpot food doesn't always look beautiful in photos... but since I plan on eating it instead of framing photos of it, I get over that pretty quickly.

So I started with a 3 pound roast, and then I trimmed off the majority of the fat, and cut it into cubes. After it cooks for 8 hours, I shred it. I have found that the cubes shred pretty easily using two forks.

I chopped up a small red onion...

I used the fresh peppers from my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) basket. If you want it spicier, make sure you use some fresh jalapenos, habanero peppers, or whatever your favorite varietal is. You could also add some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I would probably add maybe two peppers, and maybe two tablespoons of the sauce for some added heat. For those of you with sugar allergies (like me!), read the label on the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce carefully. It is possible to get some without sugar, but you have to search.

I added some apple cider vinegar as well. This is my favorite brand... good stuff!

I mixed in my spices (cumin, oregano, cilantro, bay leaves, cloves, salt and pepper).

I added the juice of one lime, 5 cloves of minced garlic, about a tablespoon of tomato paste, and some beef broth. Mixed it all together and turned the crockpot on low...

And got this eight hours later. I used two forks to shred the larger chunks of beef. I ate this over brown rice. Mike made it into a burrito. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Slow Cooker Barbacoa

3 lb roast
1 small red onion
3-4 peppers of your choice (more to taste if you want spicier)
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
3-4 Bay Leaves
1 Tbsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Cilantro
1 Tbsp Oregano
A dash of ground cloves
Salt and Pepper to taste
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup beef broth

Trim the fat off the roast and cube it. Put it in the crockpot with the diced onion, peppers, and garlic. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir, and turn the crockpot on low. Come back in 8 hours. Shred the larger chunks of beef. Enjoy! Really... it's that easy.

This recipe was shared on the Allergy Free Wednesday #139 through Tessa the Domestic Diva. For those of you out there looking for special diet recipes, or just good healthy food... make sure you check this out!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Irish Chain Baby Quilt

Happy Thursday, everyone! I hope you all have been enjoying this incredibly rare October weather like I have. I had a wonderful time last night going out with some friends. We had happy hour at Cafe Nell , sitting outside in the sun, and then on to Lucy for a shopping extravaganza! I am not a big fan of shopping. I do it, oh... never. But workout clothes are different, right? Right. Glad we settled that.

So on to the quilting... :)

I received a custom order from a tennis friend. She has her very first granddaughter and ordered a quilt to go with the colors of the baby's room. So she picked the colors, and asked for elephants if possible, but gave me free rein to do what I wanted with the rest of it.

I delivered it to her earlier this week, so I can share it with you all now!

I picked an Irish Chain pattern in a wall hanging size, and then beefed it up a tiny bit. :)

I used the elephant fabric for the larger blocks and quilted around it free-hand.

I did straight line quilting through the Irish Chain blocks, and finished the border with a diamond pattern.

The elephants are on the back, and they are so stinkin' cute!

And it's all finished off with a quilt tag...

So now, on to the next order: Seattle Seahawks Quilt!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Cold Hands, Warm Hearts

Hello everyone! Fall is coming... but not quite here in Vancouver yet! It's beautiful out, sunny and 80 degrees... crazy!

So in honor of the changing season, I wanted to share some more pattern testing I have done for Cora's Quilts. This pattern is called Cold Hands, Warm Hearts and is my first real work with applique on quilts. I really enjoyed it, learned a lot, and LOVED how it turned out.

The applique included mittens (cold hands) and hearts (warm hearts)... hence the name!

It also has the cutest trees!

It is designed as a table topper, but would be awesome as a tree skirt, too...  

I really liked the way the applique came out. The pattern uses a light fusible interfacing to make the applique easier. I liked this method so much, I'm using it on a custom quilt I'm working on now... (more on that later!).

 If you guys like the pattern, you can check it out on Connecting Threads. Shelley over at Cora's Quilts did the project for them...