Italian Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach

Italian-Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach

I love a big, juicy cheeseburger but they can get boring after a while.  This recipe is one that will definitely take away the boredom and might even be one that I can whip out at a tailgate this football season to change it up a bit!

Italian Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach

  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
  • Salt
  • 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausages (or a combination of both), casings removed
  • 4 slices of provolone cheese
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried-tomato pesto
  • 4 round ciabatta rolls, split and toasted

In a large skillet, bring 1/4 inch of water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until just wilted, about 1 minute; drain and press out as much water as possible. Wipe out the skillet.

In the same skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and anchovy paste and cook over high heat, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the spinach, season with salt and stir just until coated, about 10 seconds.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Using slightly moistened hands, form the sausage meat into four 4-inch patties, about 3/4 inch thick. Brush the burgers with oil and grill over moderate heat until browned and crusty on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Carefully flip the burgers. Top with the cheese and grill until the burgers are cooked through and the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes longer. Spread the pesto on the rolls. Top with the burgers and spinach and serve.

These burgers would be great paired with a fruit forward zinfandel like a 2015 Sextant Zinfandel Holystone out of Paso Robles, CA or an Artezin 2016 Old Vine Family Farmed Sustainable Zinfandel out of Mendocino County, CA.   #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Lowcountry Shrimp & Grits

I am a Southern girl at heart.  My dad’s family is from Alabama and just about everything I love leans that direction, food & otherwise.  If you want to make this girl smile, the word “grits” is one sure way to do it!

Lowcountry shrimp and grits

Shrimp and Grits is a tried and true dish that is hard to screw up as long as you remember a few simple things:

  1. Your shrimp should be firm and unblemished with no fishy odors;
  2. Keep your shrimp chilled in their shells until just before they hit the pan;
  3. NEVER use instant grits – the real thing take only a few more minutes to boil and the end result makes all the difference to your dish;
  4. Grits love salt, pepper, and butter, so season them well;
  5. Make sure the grits are ready to serve and that all of the ingredients are prepped and ready to go before you start the shrimp topping, which takes only 3 minutes from start to finish.

This recipe is from Hominy Grill in Charleston, South Carolina and was featured in an article in Coastal Living Magazine.

CHEESE GRITS

  • 4 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup stoneground grits
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, or to taste

SHRIMP

  • 3 bacon strips, chopped
  • Peanut oil, as needed
  • 1 pound extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 ounces sliced mushroom (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, plus more for garnish

Prepare the Grits: Bring 4 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Whisk in the grits and salt, reduce heat to low, and cook at a gently simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until the grits are thick, stirring occasionally. Stir more often as the grits thicken. Remove the pan from the heat, add the cheddar, Parmesan, butter, pepper, and Tabasco, and stir until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Keep warm over very low heat.

Shrimp: In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon for 6 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Transfer with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels and leave the fat in the skillet. If there is less than 1 1/2 tablespoons of bacon fat, make up the difference with peanut oil.

Toss the shrimp with the flour until lightly coated, shaking off any excess. In the skillet with the reserved fat, cook the shrimp over medium-high heat for 1 minute or until they begin to turn pink. Add the mushrooms and bacon and cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds (do not let the garlic brown). Stir in the hot sauce, lemon juice, and scallions and remove from the heat. Divide the grits among 4 shallow bowls and top with the shrimp mixture. Garnish with additional scallions and serve at once.

Serve alongside an ice cold beer and with some crusty bread! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

 

Chicken Saltimbocca with White Wine Sauce

chickensaltimbocaVery reluctantly, I’m back from my week of culinary indulgence. I gorged myself while sipping on every delectable wine I could in Napa and Paso Robles, so it’s back to the kitchen (& the gym) I go.

I adore veal saltimbocca, but have greatly cut back my intake of red meat, even the lighter pink/milky white young beef that is veal.  With this recipe, I’ve kept the flavors, cut some of the fat by using a lean chicken breast, and even snuck in some vegetables.

Some saltimbocca ([saltimˈbokka]; Italian for jumps in the mouth) recipes are fried in olive oil and rely only on pan drippings for their sauce, which I find to be too dry, while others are covered in a heavy creamy – lemony sauce.  I like to use a combination of the preparation methods and a make a lighter wine based sauce with just a kiss of  lemon and cream to make the whole dish a little less guilt-inducing. #GirlsGoneWine

Chicken Saltimbocca with White Wine Sauce

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (4 oz each)
  • 4-8 thin slices of Prosciutto ham
  • 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach
  • 16 whole leaves fresh sage
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 TBLS olive oil
  • 1 TBLS all-purpose flour
  • 5 ounces artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1/2 ounce capers
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 TBLS butter
  • 2 TBLS fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • freshly ground salt and pepper
  1. Pound the chicken breasts to flatten so they are all roughly the same thickness (3/8 to 1/2 inch).  Lightly salt and pepper.
  2. Squeeze the thawed, frozen spinach to remove the excess water.  In a small bowl, toss the spinach with salt & pepper and 1 tablespoon of oil to coat.
  3. Sprinkle flour on one side of first chicken breast and place flat on your work surface.
  4. On one half of the unfloured side of the chicken, spread 1/4 of the spinach in an even, thin layer. Sprinkle 1/4 of the Parmesan cheese over the spinach and fold the empty side of the chicken over the filled side. chickensamb
  5. Wrap the sliced Prosciutto around the floured side of the chicken, placing leaves of sage between the chicken and the ham as shown.
  6. Follow same steps with remaining chicken breasts until all 4 are ready to cook.
  7. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.
  8. Add the butter. When it melts add the wine and lemon juice and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
  9. Add the cream, chicken broth, artichoke hearts and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium. Cover and simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  10. Prepare your Angel Hair pasta while the chicken is simmering.
  11. Remove the chicken & artichoke heart pieces from the pan and cover to keep warm.
  12. Simmer the cooking liquid over high heat until it is reduced to about 2/3 cup, about 5 minutes. Season the cooking liquid with salt and pepper, to taste.
  13. Serve the chicken breasts on a bed of Angel Hair pasta topped with the reduced sauce and garnish with capers if desired.

Enjoy with a chilled glass of the wine you used to make the sauce. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Chicken with Peaches & Ginger

chicken-peaches-gingerI hate the fuzz on fresh peaches but, on a whim, I grabbed a half dozen at the store this week because they smelled so damn good.  Women’s Day Magazine had a recipe that satisfied my criteria for weeknight meals: simple ingredients and under 30 minutes to prepare!  I’m not a fan of couscous, so I mad one minor change to the recipe and substituted quinoa.

Chicken with Peaches & Ginger

  • 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • (6-oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 Medium  Fresh (peeled & sliced) or 12 oz. frozen peaches (no need to defrost)
  • 1 TBSP packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine (like Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • Fresh chopped basil or parsley, for serving
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with 1⁄2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook on one side until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. Flip, cook for 1 minute, then scatter the peaches, sugar, thyme, and ginger over and around the chicken.
  3. Add the white wine, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the peaches are warm and starting to break down at the edges, 6 to 7 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to package directions. Serve the chicken, peaches and sauce over the quinoa and sprinkle with basil or parsley, if desired.

PER SERVING

  • 449 CAL
  • 8 G FAT (1.5 G SAT FAT)
  • 124 MG CHOL
  • 324 MG SOD
  • 44 G PRO
  • 47 G CAR
  • 3 G FIBER

Wine pairing suggestions:

WesterlySauvBlanc14
2014 Westerly Wines

 

Trinitas2014SauvBlanc
2014 Trinitas Cellars

 

alphaomegasauvblanc15
2015 Alpha Omega
ghostblockmorganleesauvblanc15
2015 Ghost Block

Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Gnocchi

creamymushroomspinachgnocciThis recipe is #FastFillingandFlavorful which makes it a perfect weeknight choice.

This dish serves 4-6 and will pair well with a dry white wine like this 93 Point $16, 2015 Casablanca Valley Arboleda Chardonnay from Chile or this 90 Point $22, 2017 La Marea Kristy Vineyard Albariño out of Monterey County on the Central Coast of California.  Open one of these bottles of wine, add a crisp green salad and you’ve got an elegant #MidWeekFeast.

Spinach & Mushroom Gnocchi with Creamy Parmesan White Wine Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 12 ounces portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 dashes Italian seasoning
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
  • 1 pound uncooked potato gnocchi
  • 1 generous handful baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, to taste
  1. Add the olive oil to a skillet on medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until lightly browned.
  2. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the Dijon mustard and white wine. Let it cook for a minute or so.
  4. Add the cream and gnocchi. Wait until the sauce just starts to boil again, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the spinach, cover the pan again, and cook for 3 minutes.
  6. You can add a chopped up cooked chicken breast to this when you are adding the spinach into the sauce if you want to add meat.
  7. Stir in the Parmesan and season with salt & pepper. Give it a taste; gnocchi should be soft. If not, continue to cook for another few minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately with more Parmesan cheese grated over top if desired.

For weeknight cooking I am always looking for recipes that combine three criteria:

  1. No exotic or expensive ingredients I have to search high and low for
  2. Ready in thirty minutes or less
  3. Can be made with meat or without

This recipe fit all of these plus two others that make it a winner in my book:

  1. When a main dish recipe can be doubled so it can be a side dish or a lunch later in the week
  2. When one of the ingredients is wine or the finished product naturally pairs with wine #GirlsGoneWine approved! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Houston’s Hawaiian Rib-Eye

Someone at Bon Appétit was able to sweet talk the people in charge of the vault of recipes for some of the most ordered favorites at Hillstone’s (Houston’s Steakhouse) and I couldn’t be more excited!

One of my favorite items on the Houston’s menu is the Hawaiian Rib-Eye Steak.  It’s obviously one of their most popular items as well, since it it the featured photo on their website!  It’s juicy, full of flavor and hits the table with a hint of sizzle from the grill. What more could anyone ask for? #ThisGirlLovesToEat

hawaiian-rib-eye-steak

Houston’s Hawaiian Rib-Eye Steak (Serves 4)

Steak

  • 2 cups pineapple juice
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • ⅓ cup chopped white onion
  • 1 – 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 – 1-inch-thick bone-in rib-eye steaks (about 3 pounds total)
  1. Whisk pineapple juice, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and oil in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved.  Add onion and ginger.
  2. Set aside 2 Tbsp. marinade for butter.
  3. Transfer remaining marinade to a large resealable plastic bag. Add steaks and seal bag, pressing out excess air. Chill at least 1 day.
  4. Remove steaks from marinade, pat dry, and let sit until room temperature, about 1 hour.

Do Ahead: Steaks can be marinated 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.

Butter

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • Kosher salt
  1. Whisk butter and oil in a medium bowl to combine. Vigorously whisk in reserved marinade; season with salt.
  2. Transfer to the center of a sheet of parchment paper and roll up into a log. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

Do Ahead: Butter can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.

Preparation

  1. Build a two-zone fire in a charcoal grill for direct (medium-high coals) and indirect (medium-low coals) heat.  Alternatively, heat a gas grill to high just before cooking, leaving one burner on low.
  2. Season steaks very lightly with salt (omit this step if marinating more than 24 hours).
  3. Grill over high heat, turning, until steaks are well browned and beginning to char around edges, about 4 minutes.
  4. Transfer to cooler part of grill and continue to cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of steaks registers 120° for medium-rare. (Alternatively, cook in a grill pan over medium-high heat, turning steaks every couple of minutes.)
  5. Transfer steaks to a wire rack.
  6. Slice butter into ¼”-thick rounds and divide between steaks.
  7. Let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Serve alongside a baked sweet potato with a pat of butter & a dusting of cinnamon and sugar (or a splash of maple syrup) and a simple mixed green salad.

If you’re interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to like:  health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, gadget reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a community page on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf

I wanted to make something healthy for an impromptu, no occasion, mid-week family gathering but didn’t want to spend all day in the kitchen prepping.  I thought about a simple ground sirloin meatloaf and a salad, but meatloaf, even with ground sirloin, screams, “Boring!”.

Having just gone to the grocery store yesterday, I was SO not in the mood to go again today.  Thankfully a dive into the freezer led to a discovery of 2 pounds of frozen ground chicken breast and 3 pounds of handmade gourmet chicken sausage I’d had to freeze due to family drama derailing a dinner a couple of weeks ago!  A quick check of the pantry confirmed that I still had a jar of the amazing Gia Russa Hot Sicilian Marinara I’d come across at World Market, I always have pasta, Parmesan & mozzarella and the makings for a green salad, so dinner is handled!  Whew…

chixparmml3

Spicy Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf

  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil or butter
  • 2 pounds ground chicken breast
  • 3 chicken “Italian” sausages
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 – 14.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes, drained (these are a bit spicy, you can use diced tomatoes instead)
  • 3/4 cup seasoned Panko crumbs
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1+1/2 cups marinara sauce (I use a spicy sauce)
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

First Prepare the Sausages:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Place the sausages into a rimmed baking pan.
  3. Cook for 30-45 minutes (depending on how big the sausages are) until casings begin to brown.
  4. Remove sausages from the oven and set aside to cool.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F
  6. In the bowl of your stand mixer, with the paddle or dough hook attachment, combine the ground chicken, eggs, Panko, tomatoes, garlic, 1/4 Cup of the marinara sauce, and Parmesan cheese.
  7. Using a sharp / serrated knife, slice the sausage links into rounds.
  8. There isn’t much fat in the ground chicken breast, so, using about a tablespoon of le-creuset-heritage-covered-square-cherry-red-baking-disholive oil or butter, grease the bottom and sides of your chosen baking dish. NOTE:  I use a Le Cruset® square 3 QT Covered Baking Dish so I can keep it warm out of the oven and at the table.
  9. Take approximately 1/4 cup of the marinara sauce and spread it along the bottom of the pan then layer 1/2 of your sausage slices on top of the sauce.
  10. Mound 1/2 of your ground chicken mixture into the pan then layer the rest of your chixparmml1slices on top of that. (This is why I use the larger, square shaped pan.
  11. Mound the rest of the ground chicken mixture on top of the second layer of sausage slices then, using your hands (or a pair of rubber spatulas) shape the meat in from the sides to form a loaf mounding up towards the middle.
  12. Top the meatloaf with the rest of the marinara sauce allowing it to spill down the sides.  NOTE:  You can prepare up to this point, cover and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook.  If you are going to do that, allow to sit on the counter while you are waiting for the oven to preheat.chixparmml2
  13. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until chicken is cooked (insert instant read thermometer into the center of loaf should read 165°F).
  14. When done remove and add the mozzarella cheese on top.
  15. If you have extra marinara sauce, put into a small saucepan and warm to serve alongside slices if desired.
  16. Return the meatloaf to the oven until the cheese is melted.
  17. Remove from the oven and let the meatloaf rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  • Prepare some wide egg noodles, fettuccini, angel hair, spaghetti, or spaghettini.
  • Drain.
  • Toss warm pasta with some butter or olive oil and grated parmesan cheese.
  • Pile some pasta in the center of the plate, then lay a thick slice of the meatloaf atop the pasta.
  • If you have warmed some of the extra sauce, ladle a bit of it on top of the meat and grate a bit more fresh Parmesan (or shake some out of the green can) cheese on top.
  • Toss a crisp green salad and dinner is served. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

The meatloaf came out moist and didn’t end up needing the extra sauce.  When I reheated the extra slices in the microwave the next day I added the sauce.

If you are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to like:  health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a community page on Facebook you can visit: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood