Cheesy Spicy Italian Sausage Casserole

plateI love dishes that can be anything: breakfast, lunch or dinner.  This one fits that description, plus it’s Keto Friendly!

Cheesy Italian Sausage Casserole

  • 1 Pound Mild Italian Sausage ( I use Johnsonville)
  • 1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 TBLS Dried Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 TBLS Parsley Flakes
  • 1/4 Chopped Yellow Onion
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly Grated Sea Salt
  • Olive Oil Cooking Spray
  • 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 TBLS Cajun Spice Blend (I use Zatarain’s)
  • 1 Cup Frozen Chopped Broccoli Rabe, Defrosted and Drained

Preheat oven to 375 and spray bottom of a 13 x 9 glass baking dish with olive oil spray.casserole

Sprinkle 1/2 of cheese then 1/2 of the broccoli rabe in bottom of baking dish and set aside.  In a 4 cup measuring cup, combine the eggs, heavy whipping cream, and Cajun spice and set aside.

Spray a medium skillet lightly with olive oil spray and break ground sausage apart into the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle the red pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, and parsley flakes over the top of the sausage.  Brown the sausage over medium heat, stirring until browned but not cooked all the way through.

Layer the sausage over the top of the broccoli rabe in the baking dish.

Lightly spray the pan again with the olive oil spray and quickly saute the onions until translucent, then stir in the remaining broccoli rabe until just combined.  Layer over the sausage then give the egg mixture a quick stir and pour it over the top of the broccoli rabe layer.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Cook in the preheated oven for 25-28 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.  Allow to set for about 5 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.  Great with a dollop of sour cream!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Nutrition Information (15 Servings)

  • 109.3  Calories
  • 9.6 g  Fat
  • .5 g  Carbs
  • 6.13 g  Protein

Turkey Day Prep: Stock

TurkeyStockI have been cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my own family for the past 25 years, or so, and have never attempted to make home made stock.  I never saw my Grandpa (THE Thanksgiving GURU in our family) make his own stock, as far as I knew, canned stock was the only stock there was. #1970sCannedFoodKid 

This year, since I’m trying to keep the meal as clean (read: uncanned) as I can this year to try and keep close to my Keto goals, I thought I’d try to make my own stock ahead of time and put it in the freezer to have for basting the bird and making the (Not Keto) stuffing and gravy.

The biggest hassle with making turkey stock is the fact that you have to make a whole turkey first to have a turkey carcass on hand.  I did find a way around this: I use turkey thighs, because I like the moister dark thigh meat, which I buy at my local grocery store, in this case, the Gelson’s a couple of miles from my house.  I like the upscale Gelson’s Market because it offers antibiotic-free, fresh, organic, and kosher (if that is important to you) turkeys and turkey pieces.

While not an all day process, it is a two part process.  First you have to cook the turkey parts and then you can make the stock.  Luckily the pressure cooker makes both parts easy.

Pressure Cooker Turkey ThighsEasy-Roasted-Turkey-Thighs-3-688x1032

  • 4 turkey thighs
  • 4 TBLS olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, and chopped into large chunks
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning
  • salt and pepper (if not using the Creole seasoning)
  • 24 oz low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  1. Set your pressure cooker to the “Brown” setting
  2. Add 1-2 TBLS olive oil to the pressure cooker.
  3. Season your thighs liberally.  I prefer to use Creole seasoning but you can use salt and pepper.
  4. Brown your thighs, two at a time, on all sides.  Make sure that the skin side is a deep, golden brown to ensure that the fat is rendered and the flavor is sealed into the meat.  Remove the browned thighs and set aside.
  5. Slip the skin off of the thighs and return to the pressure cooker to render as much of the fat into the pot as possible.
  6. Add the rest of the olive oil and the chopped onion. Saute the onion for about 5 minutes and then add the garlic.  Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add the thighs back to the pot. Stir the onion and garlic up onto the chicken then season with salt & pepper, add the red wine vinegar and the stock.
  8. Lock the lid and cook on high pressure for one hour.  When cooking is finished, allow to return back to pressure naturally (about 30 minutes).
  9. Remove thighs from pressure cooker and put on plate for removal of meat from the bones.  Leave everything else in the pot.

**To Use Thighs For Stock:  The meat will easily shred right off the bone, but don’t worry, plenty remains to flavor the broth.  Store the shredded thigh meat in a covered container or zip bag to use in sandwiches, add to soup or eat in other meals.

Continue Preparing the Stock

  • bones from cooked turkey thighs (retained from recipe above)
  • 1/2 cup chopped turkey thigh (from recipe above)
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly cut into about 1″ pieces
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and roughly cut into about 1″ pieces
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 5 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 tsp pink Himalayan Sea Salt (you can use any sea salt – I like this one)
  • 3 cups water
  1. Add the skin, bones, chopped meat, celery, carrot, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, peppercorns, and salt to the vegetables and cooking liquid already in the pressure cooker pot, then add water.
  2. Pressure cook on high for 60 minutes.
  3. Let the pressure come down naturally – about 30 minutes.
  4. Scoop the bones and vegetables out of the pot with a slotted spoon and discard.
  5. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids.
  6. After the stock is completely cooled, I portioned it into quart-sized zip lock freezer bags.  It can be frozen for up to 3 months.

**Tip – If you use glass jars make sure to leave about an inch of head room or your jar could break when it freezes. #ThisGirlLovesToEat




Zero Effort Chicken For Dinner

Between the humidity coming up from a storm in Mexico and the temperature gauge hovering around the century mark, cooking is the last thing I want to do, but with my surgery date now 10 days away, I know that I will be making very few meals for the family due to movement restrictions, so I’m doing the deed today. 😉

The pressure cooker is definitely a cook’s friend on days like this!  With this recipe you get a bonus of 2 recipes in one!  The chicken, plus a bonus flavorful chicken stock that I am using as the base for my cabbage soup.  Yum!

chicken-on-cutting-boardChicken is the universal meat from which can spring any meal.  My Mom’s go-to was the Zacky Farm’s Cut up Whole Fryer, seems like a good place to start, so that’s where I’ll start.  I’ll make it early today and then the mood I’m in about an hour before dinnertime will determine how it ends up being served.

Zero Effort Pressure Cooker Chicken + Yummy Chicken Stock

  • 1 – 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 lb fryer chicken (cut up)
  • 2 TBLS Olive Oil
  • Zatarain’s Cajun Spice Mixture (Seasoned Salt)
  • 1/2 Medium Yellow Onion
  • 1 – Large Poblano Pepper
  • 5 Cloves Garlic

It should only take you 5 minutes to get all of the ingredients into the pressure cooker.  After that it’s pretty much set it and forget it!

  1. Set your pressure cooker to the “Brown” setting.
  2. Pour the Olive Oil into the pressure cooker pan
  3. Cut the pepper in half, remove the seeds and veins, then cut into about 1″ chunks and place into pan
  4. Peel and chop the onion into roughly 1″ chunks and add to pan
  5. Peel the garlic and add to pan
  6. Sprinkle the Zatarain’s seasoning on both sides of the chicken
  7. Place each piece of the chicken, skin side down (or on edge so skin is in contact with the sides of the pan) into the pan on top of the vegetables
  8. Allow the chicken to brown, undisturbed for about 20 minutes, then close the lid of the pressure cooker and set to cook under pressure for 30 minutes
  9. When cooking cycle has ended, allow the pressure to return to normal naturally

At the end of the keep warm cycle, release the lid and remove the chicken from the cooker to a large bowl.  It should be falling off the bones.  I take the time to remove the bones, skin and cartilage at this point and use a fork to do a gentle separation of the meat.

Leave the remaining vegetables and garlic in the pan with the meat drippings.  Skim ant visible fat and allow to cool.

If you aren’t using it immediately in another recipe, move the cooled Yummy Chicken Stock to a sealable container and refrigerate (up to 5 days) or freeze until ready to use.

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No fail Deviled Eggs

FullSizeRender_1According to Wikipedia, “Deviled eggs (US) or devilled eggs (UK), also known as stuffed eggs, angel eggs, eggs mimosa, Russian eggs, dressed eggs, picnic eggs are hard boiled eggs shelled, cut in half, and filled with the hard-boiled egg’s yolk mixed with other ingredients such as mustard and mayonnaise, but many other variants exist internationally. Deviled eggs are usually served cold. They are served as a side dish, appetizer, or a main course, and are a common holiday or party food.”

I couldn’t come up with a better description than theirs,  but I’d add that every chef, chef wannabe and home cook adds their own touches that make their deviled eggs anything but ordinary.

Some of the exotic ingredients I’ve seen included in other recipes for deviled eggs:

  • Greek Yogurt
  • Sour Cream
  • Cream Cheese
  • Sweet Pickle Relish
  • Horseradish
  • Wasabi Powder
  • Dill Pickle
  • Sugar
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Jalapeno/Habanero Chilies
  • Chipotle Chilies
  • Turmeric
  • Green Olives
  • Black Olives
  • Shredded Cheddar or Mexican Blend Cheese
  • Pimentos
  • Poppy Seed
  • Thyme
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Salsa
  • Minced Onion
  • Caviar
  • Cream
  • Capers

The ingredients that people top their deviled eggs with are as diverse as the ones they put inside, but those most commonly found include:

  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Paprika
  • Curry Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Chopped Chives
  • Dill
  • Caviar
  • Anchovy
  • Bacon Bits
  • Shrimp
  • Herring

I prefer mine as simple as can be:

Lisa’s Basic Deviled Eggs

  1. In a medium saucepan, in about 1 quart of cold water, place fresh eggs (I do 6-12 large or extra large)
  2. Over medium-high heat, bring pan of eggs & water to a boil
  3. When you reach a boil, set timer for 20 minutes and reduce heat to medium
  4. When timer goes off, immediately remove eggs and place into a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking process
  5. Peel the eggs, cut each in half lengthwise and place the yolks in a bowl
  6. Mash the yolks with a fork then add approximately 1 TBLS Spicy Creole Mustard (I like Zatarain’s)
  7. Add approximately (to your taste) 2 TBLS (1 TBLS per 6 eggs give or take) Mayonnaise (I like the taste and consistency of Best Foods) and stir with a fork until well blended and you have enough volume to fill all of the halves
  8. I use a pair of spoons to mound the egg yolk mixture into the empty egg white halves, but you can also put the mixture into a plastic bag (to pipe out with the end snipped off) or a pastry bag with a star tip attached for a neater presentation

I add a turn or two of freshly ground pepper and nothing else, but will occasionally sprinkle a little bit of paprika on the egg white halves BEFORE I fill them with the yolk mixture if I’m feeling fancy.

The temperature deviled eggs are served at is as varied as the ingredients people use to make them.  I prefer to loosely cover the eggs and quick chill them in the freezer, if I am short for time, or in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

snapwareeggstorageChilling Tip:  If you don’t have a covered, locking storage/ transportation dish made specifically for deviled eggs, here is a simple way to protect your refrigerator (or freezer) and the food inside from absorbing the overpowering smell of egg:  Put a plate inside a gallon sized zip bag then place the eggs on the plate in the bag and close securely before chilling.

Picnic or tailgate tip: Prepare filling and transfer to a plastic zip bag.  Carry whites and yolk mixture separately in cooler.  Fill eggs on the spot, pressing filling out of snipped corner of bag.

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. I may not write a blog post every day, but there are daily updates to my This Girl Loves To Eat community at: