Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Homemade Stuffing With Italian Sausage And Mushrooms


Sweet And Hot Italian Sausage Stuffing (3)

Sweet And Hot Italian Sausage Stuffing (2)

Sweet And Hot Italian Sausage Stuffing (1)

I’ve been talking to a lot of people who say their favorite holiday dish is the stuffing, or dressing. I have to agree. My family’s traditional stuffing recipe has changed over the years. The ingredients are the same but the preparation is totally different. I remember my mother stuffing the turkey before it went into the oven. My stuffing is done separate from the bird and I believe it makes a big difference in the way that the turkey cooks. You can check out my turkey recipe under the “holiday dishes” category in the menu (top right hand side) of my homepage.

I’m going to a Christmas party this year so I’m bringing the stuffing. I’m using a disposable, deep sided baking pan for easy transport.

In my opinion the best bread for the bread cubes is Ciabatta bread. Let’s talk a little bit about the bread cubes and how easy it is to make your own.

I do think that you’ll want to make a large amount of this recipe. Family and friends love this dish and always want extra helpings. It’s also great to serve the next day, especially with a ladle of you favorite gravy on top!

 

 

 

 

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Sweet And Hot Italian Sausage Stuffing (2)

Yields: 12 servings
Prep Time: includes prepping all veggies along with, sauteing all ingredients -40 minutes
Baking Time 1 hour 10-15 minutes
Total Cook Time: 1 hour 50-55 minutes

The day before I make the stuffing, I make the homemade bread cubes.
Equipment:
2- 1/4 size sheet pans
Ingredients:
2 loaves of Artisan bread – Ciabatta,
3/4 of cup olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
In a very large mixing bowl, add the bread cubes, Kosher salt and black pepper. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the bowl, and with the other hand toss the bread cubes around so they are all evenly coated with the olive oil, salt and pepper.

Spread the coated bread cubes evenly over both sheet pans. Bake for 1-1 1/2 hours until bread is light toasted and completely dried out.

Day of Stuffing- Step 1:
Using 1/4 cup of butter (4 tablespoons) grease 13 x 9 x 2 casserole baking dish.

Ingredients:
2 pints of whole Cremini mushrooms quartered
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
2 tablespoon of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:
In a large saute pan, on medium heat, add butter and olive oil to pan. Add in the Cremini mushrooms, minced garlic, pepper and fresh thyme leaves. Stir all the ingredients through and saute mushrooms for about 5 minutes. Once the mushrooms have softened and released their juices, sprinkle in the salt. Saute for another 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and transfer the mushroom to a bowl and set aside.

Step 2 and 3:
Italian Sausage:
Ingredients;
1 pound each of sweet and hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 sprig of fresh rosemary

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion diced
2-1/2 cups of chopped celery
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:
In a large saute pan, on medium heat, add in olive oil and sausage braking it up with a wooden spoon. Add the sprig of fresh rosemary and cook for around 15 minutes or until no longer pink. Discard the rosemary stems, drain.  Remove cooked sausage with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl.

In the same saute pan. on medium heat melt butter. Add in onion, celery, minced garlic, Kosher salt, and pepper. Saute until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Step 4: The Mix:
3 large beaten eggs (cage-free)
3/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped sage leaves
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped Italian parsley
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 quart unsalted chicken broth

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a large bowl, add the beaten eggs, cheese, all herbs and seasonings. Add the cooked mushrooms.  Combine really well so the mushrooms are completely coated.

In another very large bowl, combine cooked bread cubes, cooked sausage, and cooked celery mixture. Add the egg- mushroom mixture to the bowl and toss through.

Finally, slowly pour the chicken broth over all the ingredients, allowing all the bread cubes to absorb the liquid. Continually stirring gently, as you add the liquid. There will most likely be extra liquid in the bowl, that liquid will get absorbed during the baking process.

Spoon the stuffing mixture to the buttered casserole dish. Pour over any excess liquid left in the bowl.  Cover and bake for 1 hour. Uncover, bake and additional 10-15 minutes, or until light golden brown, and meat thermometer reads 160 degrees F.

 

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Disney Springs 2017


 

This year, when my daughter came to visit, I didn’t think we could top our adventures from the last time. I was wrong! Before leaving for our Colorado vacation, we spent the entire day at Disney Springs.

We started out our day at The Boathouse.  A restaurant that overlooks the water, and has a bar set up at the end of its dock. Relaxing by the water, taking in the magnificent view, and enjoying a cocktail.

Dinner with family and friends was at Morimoto Asia.  I’d been there before and knew that my friends would love it, and they did! The food was delicious and the restaurants’ decor was simply candy for the eyes.

After an amazing dinner, we walked around. We listened to music, saw sidewalk performers, then, made out way to Paddlefish.  A little trivia, many years ago, this river boat known as, Paddlefish,  was once named The Empress Lilly.

Paddlefish, a beautiful river boat, is a restaurant with a cocktail lounge on the top deck. They make a Bloody Mary that included a few surprises!

Disney Springs was just magical. Enjoying time with family and good friends. Watching the sun set over the water then seeing it disappear into the horizon was beautiful.  Disney Springs, flipped its magical switch, and all the many lights came on. The sparkle of the lights reflecting over the water was simply breathtaking.

 

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How To Cook and Open A Lobster


 

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Today was a really fun day! Tonya, a good friend of mine, went with to shop for seafood. I think she was somewhat surprised to see me stick my hand right into the lobster tank.

This is one of those posts that may not be easy for everyone to read.  Most all shellfish, should be alive before cooking.  This makes it really hard for a lot of people to handle. BEING HUMANE IS KEY!

I’ve worked for many years cooking and handling lobsters, blue crab, shrimp, mussels, and clams. The fresher the seafood, the better the finished dish is going to be.

The Lobster Institute has come up with a study. The study reads… lobsters, like insects, do not have complex brains that allow them to process pain like humans other animals do. They have compared it to when you kill a mosquito. Cooking a lobster, in the practical sennse, is like killing a big bug.

Let’s get back to cooking and opening a lobster. Once I bring the lobster(s) home, I make sure they are kept in the bag with some crushed ice. You want to cook them as soon as possible. Before placing them into the pot of boiling water, I put them to sleep. This is something I learned when I worked at a seafood restaurant.

Place the lobster face (head) down on a counter, tail end in the air. Cross their arms and claws, then rub the back side of their shell, in an up and down motion. In about 45 seconds, their legs and antenna will stop moving. The lobster will then be asleep.  Balancing on their heads, by themselves on the counter. If you want to see how this is done,  just google “How to put a lobster to sleep”, and there are videos available.

I make sure that the water is salted, with sprigs of fresh tarragon, and at a hard boil. Next,  I place the sleeping lobster, head first, immediately  into the boiling water. You’ll notice that the lobster is not totally submerged. I prefer to let steam and water cook the lobster. Place a tight-fitting lid on the pot. Using a dish towel, I hold on to the lid for a about 10 seconds before letting go.

Below is a peek to show you how I do this.

In a very large stock pot I place water and tarragon into water. On high heat, I bring the water up to a hard boil. I place the sleeping lobster into the boiling water then place the lid on, holding it with a towel for around 10 seconds.

Once cooked, I lift the lobster up using large tongs to release any excess water the lobster may hold, back into the pot. Next, I place the lobster into a large plastic container to cool before removing the meat.

Once cooled, first I take off the rubber bands from the claws. I remove the arms with the claws. Next, I twist off the tail to release from the body, also known as the thorax. I discard the thorax.

There are two ways to remove the meat from the tail. First is to bend, in a backwards direction. Now the very end of the tail meat is showing. Use a pair of scissors and cut down the inner side of the tail to release the meat. The other way is to squeeze to tail together until you hear the back side snap. Turn the tail over, where the underbelly is facing in the upwards direction. Using two hands, split the tail open.

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There is a piece of that needs to be removed on the outer side of the tail meat. It’s really a bit fibrous, just discard. You can see above, the indention it leaves on the backside of the tail meat. The tail is now clean and done. Next, the claws.

This is where a good pair of lobster cracker comes in. Even a meat mallet comes in handy. One of the claws in larger and harder to crack than the other one. You may need some help with that one, that’s why I mention the meat mallet. Lay a towel over the larger claw and hit it one time. That should put a crack into the claw and make it easier to remove the meat in one piece. When using the crackers, be careful not to crack the meat, just the shell. The is insure the meat will come out in one piece. For the arms, they can be a bit tricky. They have knuckles and meat can get caught in them. If you don’t have a lobster pick, you can use a large skewer to help get that meat out.

How’s this for a finished dish! Great to take to parties.  For this recipe, type in key words Shrimp Scampi, into the search bar, at the top right corner, of my home page. My recipe will pop up. The only change is that I incorporated cooked lobster to the dish.

Lobster And Shrimp Scampi Over Linguine (1)

Equipment:
Large stock pot with lid (8 to 16 quart pot)
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes per pound (Cooked lobster should be vibrant red in color)
Prep Time:
Allow for time to put lobster to sleep as explained above. 5-7 minutes to bring water to a hard boil.

Ingredients:
1 live 2 pound lobster
1-1/2 quarts of water
2 heaping tablespoons of Kosher salt
3 sprigs of fresh tarragon.

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Toasted Quinoa Salad


 

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I took this salad to a graduation celebration and it  was a hit! Something as simple as a salad, using a few fresh ingredients, has had friends asking me for this recipe. I knew I needed to post this ASAP!

If you’ve never made quinoa, it’s really easy. First you always want to do a quick rinse of the quinoa first. The outer coating is called saponin and it’s bitter. Place quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold water for a few seconds.

The directions are basically two to one. Two parts liquid to one part quinoa. Cooking quinoa is very similar to cooking rice.  Follow the directions on the back of the package, then all you need to do is to add the other ingredients.

Many times I’ll toast the quinoa first. this adds another layer of flavor to the quinoa. All you do for that is to add canola oil ( a neutral oil), add your quinoa and stir over med-low heat for about 6-8 minutes. Next, you’ll add the boiling liquid to the pot and follow the timing directions on the package.

 

Whenever I’m adding different vegetables to a salad, I like to make sure they are about the same size. You can see above how I diced up the hothouse cucumber (English cucumber), the grape tomatoes are just halved.

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Yields: 4-6 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes (add 6-8 minutes cooking time if you are toasting quinoa)
Total Time: 22-24 minutes

Ingredients:
1-12 ounce package=1-1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
3 cups of vegetable stock (optional choices are water or low sodium chicken broth)
1/2 diced red onion
1 diced red bell pepper
1 diced orange bell pepper
2 cup of diced feta cheese
1-1/2 pints of halved grape tomatoes
2 cups of diced hothouse cucumber
1/4 cup of fresh basil- Chiffonade style
2 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh Italian Parsley ( dried 1 tablespoon)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 lemon juiced
1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper

Directions For Toasting and Cooking Quinoa:
First, rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve before cooking.
Best with pot with a glass fitting lid.

In a pot, on med-low heat, add 2 tablespoons of Canola oil ( any neutral oil). Add in the quinoa. Stir slowly coating all the quinoa with the oil. Continue stirring for about 6-8 minutes or until quinoa is golden brown.

Directions:
In a another pot have you liquid ( vegetable stock) at a boil. Add the boiling liquid to the quinoa. Give a stir and cover. Turn the heat down to low simmer. Once all the liquid has been absorbed, the quinoa is done. It’s really important to keep your eye on the quinoa, it cook pretty fast. Remove from the heat and let the quinoa cool down for about 5 minutes.  I use a fork to fluff the quinoa around in the pot it helps it to cool down quicker.

While the quinoa is cooking dice up all the vegetables, zest and juice of a lemon, dice the feta, and place into a large bowl.  Add in the cooled cooked quinoa, season with salt and pepper. Finish by adding in the chopped basil and parsley and toss through gently. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Before serving I like to add a drizzle of really good E.V.O.O.

 

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