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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

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

Baked White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage

White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage (1)

White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage (2)

My friend Kim went on home for a week to visit her parents. I knew she’d be celebrating her birthday while she was gone so I thought I’d have something special waiting for her when she returned home. You know after traveling you’re always tired once you get home, no one really wants to cook. I thought, how about a Baked White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage waiting for her at home. All she’d have to do is to follow the reheating instructions that I attached to the pan. Happy Birthday, Kim!

You know, it’s just as easy to make two pans of Mac and Cheese as it is to make one. One for her family and one for ours. This recipe will yield two 9 x 9 pans of Baked White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage.

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White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage (1)

Equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, 2 6-quart stock pots, 1 large
sauté pan, 1- 4 quart saucepan, 2 disposable deep-sided 9 x 9 casserole pans.
Yields: 2 pans, 6-8 serving per pan
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Note: Ingredients (are doubled) for two 9 x 9 pans

Ingredients:
2 16-ounce boxes Barilla Cellentani, corkscrew shaped pasta (or elbow macaroni)
3 sticks unsalted butter, reserve 1 stick for topping, plus butter for greasing pans
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 quarts milk
6 cups of diced smoked sausage sliced and quartered, 3 cups for each pan
2 8-ounce packages, extra-sharp white cheddar, shredded
6-ounces grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups of Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup dried parsley flakes

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Butter each of the 9 x 9 disposable pans

Into each of the two (6-quart stockpot) pots of boiling salted water, add 1 box of Barilla Cellentani. Cook according to the directions on the package, 6-8 minutes. Drain well into separate colanders.

In the meantime, heat the milk in a 4-quart saucepan, just under the boiling point. In another (6- quart) stockpot melt 2 sticks of butter, add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, continuously whisking. While whisking, slowly add in the hot milk, then 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper, and freshly ground nutmeg. Switch to a wooden spoon, continue to stir until sauce thickens. Do not rush this process, cooking times may vary, anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes. Once the sauce coats the back of a spoon remove the pot from the heat. Add all the white cheddar and 3-ounces of grated Parmesan. Stir to combine.

Divide the Bechamel sauce, equally into each of the (6-quart) stockpots. Divide equally the diced smoked sausage into each pot. Add one colander of the cooked, well-drained pasta into each pot. Stir to combine then transfer to the buttered disposable pans.

Breadcrumb Topping:
Melt the remaining 1 stick of butter into a large sauté pan, on low heat, add the Panko crumbs, stir until all the butter is absorbed.  Off the heat, add the remaining grated Parmesan cheese, and dried parsley flakes. Stir to combine. Divide evenly, then sprinkle the bread crumbs on evenly on top of each of the pans. Place each of the disposable pans onto a rimmed baking sheet pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and macaroni and topping are a beautiful golden brown.

Tip For Freezing:
Make sure the pan of Baked White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage is at room temperature before freezing.

If you plan to freeze one of the pans, DO NOT ADD the breadcrumb topping until you’re ready to bake. Cover the pan tightly with foil then wrap the whole pan again in plastic wrap. Freeze up to 2 months.

When you’re ready to bake, remove the foil and plastic wrap. Add the breadcrumb topping. Spray the dull side of a piece of foil with non-stick cooking spray. This will prevent the topping from sticking to the foil.  Cover the dish tightly with the pre-sprayed foil and bake frozen for 1 hour at 350-degrees F. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown around 5-7 minutes, times may vary slightly.

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Roasted Italian Sausage And Grapes

Tuscan Style Roasted Sausage And Grapes (19)

A classic Italian combination is a slice of meat paired with fruit like prosciutto with melon or even figs. Roasted Italian Sausage And Grapes (seedless green, red, or both) is a roller coaster for your taste buds combining flavors and textures.

Seedless green or red grapes, when in season, are bursting with sweetness.

This dish is usually served with a loaf of crusty bread for dipping. I’m changing up the traditional Roasted Italian Sausage And Grapes. I’m going to be adding potatoes, a perfect accompaniment to this dish, a complete one-pot meal. Potatoes were a huge part of my mom’s recipes. I suppose this is where my English influence comes into play.  I’m not stopping there, for some added color and flavor, roasted sweet bell peppers, YUM!

There are a couple of different ways you can make this dish, you can choose to use half hot and half sweet Italian pork sausage, that’s traditional. You could even substitute Italian style turkey sausage or Italian style chicken sausage. I’m going to use a leaner and less fatty option, mild Italian chicken sausage for this recipe.

If you’ve never tried roasting grapes, well… you don’t know what you’re missing. They add amazing sweetness to this dish. A perfect harmony of savory and sweet flavors. Let’s get started.

Tuscan Style Roasted Sausage And Grapes (20)

Tuscan Style Roasted Sausage And Grapes (1)

You can see above how much leaner the Italian chicken sausage is from the traditional Italian pork sausage.

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Tuscan Style Roasted Sausage And Grapes (19)

Tuscan Style Roasted Sausage And Grapes (18)

Tuscan Style Roasted Sausage And Grapes (20)

Tuscan Style Roasted Sausage And Grapes (1)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yields: 4-6 servings
Equipment: large 11 x 13 baking dish

Ingredients:
2-packages (10 links) Italian chicken sausage (substitute 1/2 hot and 1/2 sweet, Italian pork sausage, or Italian style turkey sausage)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 2-pound bag petite red potatoes, cut in half
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
6 cups of seedless green grapes, halved
1 sweet onion, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoon dry Chianti (red wine)
1 quart plus a 1/4 cup unsalted chicken broth
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons of freshly cracked black pepper
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, plus 4-6 sprigs for individual servings, to garnish

Balsamic Glaze:
1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup pan juices

Directions:
Note: Cooking Times may vary slightly. If any or a few of the potatoes are larger than most, cut the larger ones into quarters. The potatoes need to be similar in size.
First, slice the potatoes in half.
Add the halved potatoes into a large pot, cover the potatoes with cold water. On medium-high heat. Bring the potatoes up to a boil. Continue boiling the potatoes for 12-15 minutes, or until just fork tender. They’ll finish cooking in the oven.

Note: Cooking times may vary slightly.
Using a fork prick each of the sausage links 3 times on each side. Pour 1 quart of unsalted chicken broth into a large sauce pot, similar to the one in the picture above. Place the 10 sausage links into the pot (make sure the liquid covers the sausage links, add water if needed), turn the heat to medium, and cover. Parboil the sausages until grey throughout, about 12-15 minutes.

The parboiled sausages and potatoes should be done around the same time.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
While the potatoes and sausages are on the stove being parboiled, prep the grapes, peppers, onion, and garlic placing them into a large mixing bowl. Add  1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1/4 cup of olive oil, tossing to coat with oil and seasoning.

Next, using tongs, transfer the sausage links to a plate lined with paper towel. Drain the potatoes and transfer them back into the same pot. This will allow (because the pot is still very hot) any excess water to evaporate from the potatoes. Set the pot aside for a minute. Once the potatoes are free of any excess water, move onto the next step.

Place the potatoes into the baking dish first. Add 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1/4 cup of olive oil, toss to coat all the potatoes. Add the grapes, peppers, onions, and garlic mixture to the baking dish. Using a pair of tongs, place the Italian chicken sausage links on top. Pour the chicken stock and red wine all over the top. Finally, place the 3 sprigs of rosemary on top.

Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Turning the sausage links halfway through the cooking process. This allows for both sides to brown really well.

Remove the baking dish from the oven. Remove the rosemary sprigs. Using a ladle remove 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid from the bottom of the baking dish. Cover the baking dish to keep everything warm.

Directions For Balsamic Glaze:
Using a ladle, remove the cooking liquid from the bottom of the baking dish to a measuring cup. In a small sauce pot, pour in the cooking liquid. Next, add the balsamic vinegar. Turn heat to medium-high, whisking occasionally, cook allowing the vinegar and juices to reduce and become thick and syrupy around 5 minutes.

Pour the Balsamic Glaze over the sausages and grapes. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs.

To serve:
Bring the baking dish right to the table Set on a using a trivet. Serve hot and family style.

 

 

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Chicken, Broccoli, And Rice Casserole

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What a great weeknight meal!  Casseroles are a magical thing. Everything baking together in one dish. Hot and bubbly, with a golden brown cheesy top. What’s not to love about that?  My cheesy chicken, broccoli, and rice casserole will set you on the path to “Comfort Town”.

Not as traditional as most of the chicken, broccoli, and rice casseroles you may have encountered, I like adding mushrooms and a combination of a yellow and English white cheddar to this dish.

Why an English white cheddar you’re wondering? I’ve compared all kinds of white cheddars in the past, the flavor of, English white cheddar is the best.

I’m fortifying the flavor of my poached chicken for this dish. All that means is that the poaching liquid I’m using is an unsalted chicken broth to enhance the chicken flavor.

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Prep Time: 40 minutes
Total Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields: 6-8 servings
Equipment:  9 x 11 x 2 baking dish

Ingredients:
1 quart of unsalted chicken broth (poaching liquid)
4 boneless-skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon of good olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 pint of cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon of a Fresno chili (approx. 1/2 a Fresno chili, seeded and minced)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 1/2 cups of cooked white rice (Succes boil-n-bag rice, 2 packets, now available in brown rice)
2 1/2 cups of thawed frozen broccoli florets, roughly chopped
3 cups of cooked diced chicken (4 boneless skinless chicken breasts)

Cheese Sauce:
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons for the topping
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup (8-ounces) Philadelphia Whipped original cream cheese, room temperature (or substitute 1 cup sour cream)
2 1/2 cups of whole milk, heated
1 3/4 cups of grated English white cheddar
1/4 cup of grated yellow cheddar
2/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, plus 4 tablespoons

Directions:
Spray a 9 x 11 x 2 baking dish with cooking spray.

Note: Make sure the frozen broccoli florets are completely thawed. Transfer the broccoli florets to a large plate lined with paper towel and pat dry as much as possible. Transfer the florets to a cutting board and give them a rough chop. Place into a bowl and set aside.

In a large saucepot, on medium heat, add 4 boneless-skinless chicken breasts (in a single layer), dried thyme, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Pour 1 quart of unsalted chicken broth, enough to cover the chicken. Once the liquid comes to a boil, turn down the heat to a low simmer and cover. This process should take anywhere from 10-15 minutes.

While the chicken is poaching, start with the boil-in-a-bag rice. Follow the instructions on the box. Once the rice and water are brought to a boil, boil for 8-10 minutes, remove the rice from the bag and transfer to a large bowl, set aside.

The chicken should be opaque in color and have an internal temperature of 165-degrees. Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid and transfer to a plate. Next, dice the chicken into 1-inch cubes. Transfer the diced chicken to a bowl and set aside.

Next, in a large sautèpan on medium heat, add the olive oil. Add the diced onions, cook 3-4 minutes, until soft and translucent. To the onions add the sliced mushrooms, minced Fresno chili, and dried thyme, sautè for another 4-6 minutes. Continue sautèing until all the liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are nice and brown. This is the time to add the Kosher salt to the pan, stir through. Finally, add the broccoli florets and continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Transfer the broccoli, mushroom, and onion mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add to that the cooked rice and diced (cooked) chicken. Toss all the ingredients together and set aside for the time being.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.

Directions For Cheese Sauce:
In a 3-quart saucepan,  over medium heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter. Add 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt and whisk. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until mixture turns blonde in color. Start by slowly whisking the hot milk in about 3 tablespoons at a time, until smooth and combined. Continue by slowly adding the remaining hot milk and whisking until the sauce thickens. Bring to a boil then turn the heat down to low, switch to a wooden spoon and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

First, add the cream cheese, stir until smooth and combined. Next, add the grated Parmesan, white, and yellow cheddar, again stir to combine. Transfer the cheese sauce to the large bowl containing the chicken and vegetables, mix together.

Pour into a 9 x 11 x 2 greased baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle 4 tablespoon of the grated Parmesan cheese over the top. Dice 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter into tiny cubes. Take the tiny cubes of butter and *DOT the top of the casserole.

Bake for 25 minutes or until completely heated through. Turn broiler to the ON position and cook another 3-5 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

*DOT: a food process involving the placement of small bits (butter) and/or pieces of food to evenly distribute particles over the top that are to be melted or absorbed.

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Breakfast Casserole

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This is one of my “go-to” breakfast recipes. It’s everything you want for breakfast all in one dish. I call it my Breakfast Casserole.

If you’ve learned anything about me you know I love all kinds of fresh salsas like Pico de Gallo.

So what you have, with this dish, are layers of the food you love to eat for breakfast topped Pico de Gallo. I ask you, what could be better?

First, I’m taking a little help from the grocery store so I can make this wonderful Breakfast Casserole as quickly as possible.

The scrambled eggs are mixed with half-and-half for richness and chives for a mild onion flavor. finally topped with Goat cheese for a little tang.

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Yields: 4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes (includes prepping the vegetables and making Pico de Gallo)
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Equipment: 9 x 11 baking dish, 12-inch non-stick sautèpan, 9-inch Cast Iron Skillet, large mixing bowl, whisk

Ingredients:
1 package of Simply Potatoes shredded hashbrowns (available in the refrigerated section)
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon for sautèing the pepper and onions, reserve the rest for the hashbrowns
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1 package of frozen Banquet original breakfast sausage links, sliced 1/2-inch thick (substitute turkey)
1 4-ounce package of Goat cheese
2 tablespoons of chives, minced
1/4 cup of half-and-half (substitute whole milk or heavy cream)
1 dozen large eggs scrambled (link for my Perfect Scrambled Eggs recipe is below)
1 1/2 tablespoons of Kosher salt (1/2 a tablespoon for the hash browns)
2 teaspoons of fresh ground black pepper (1 teaspoon of black pepper for the hash browns)
4 cups of Pico de Gallo (link for my recipe is below)

Directions:
Spray the 9 x 11 baking dish with a non-stick cooking spray.

Start with prepping all the vegetables, and making the Pico de Gallo. Place the Pico in the refrigerator to chill.

To start, in a cast iron skillet on medium heat, melt unsalted butter. Add diced onions, diced red and yellow bell peppers, sautè until soft, tender, and golden brown, around 15 minutes. Next, add the remaining butter, allow to melt, then add the shredded hashbrowns. Stir the peppers, onion, and potatoes together allowing the butter to coat all the ingredients really well, season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Adjust the heat to medium-high. Using a spatula, press to potatoes into an even layer. Cook until a light golden brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip the potatoes with the spatula and brown on the other side,  for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Transfer the hashbrown mixture into the greased 9 x 11 baking dish as the bottom layer.

In the same pan, on medium-high heat, add the sliced breakfast links. Cook for 3-5 minutes until browned on all sides. Add the cooked breakfast sausage as the next layer over the of the hashbrown mixture. Spread evenly over the potatoes.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, half and half, Kosher salt, and freshly cracked black pepper together. Whisk for at least 5 minutes, allowing as much air as possible to be incorporated into the eggs. You want to see foam bubbles forming at the top of the egg mixture.

Using large 12-inch non-stick sautèpan, on medium-low heat add the egg mixture to the pan. As the eggs begin to set, gently pull the eggs across the pan, using a rubber spatula, forming large soft curds, continue cooking-pulling, lifting and folding the eggs, until thickened and no visible liquid egg remains. Do Not rush this process, times may vary slightly, approx.10 minutes.

Add the scrambled eggs with chives over the top of the sausage. Spread the scrambled eggs out evenly to cover. Top the eggs with crumbles of soft Goat cheese.

Finally, spoon the Pico de Gallo for that burst of flavor and color.

 

Pico De Gallo Two Ways

 

Perfect Scrambled Eggs

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