Category Archives: Make Ahead

Stuffed Peppers with Italian Sausage

stuffed peppers, italian sausageWhat’s stuffed to the brim and loaded up with veggies?

If you said a vegetarian at Thanksgiving, you’d be right.

You’d also be right if you said these stuffed peppers with Italian sausage.

They are veggie-centric so if you’re trying to increase the amount of veggies you eat, these are for you.

And even if you’re not, these stuffed peppers make a really easy and tasty dinner.

stuffed peppers, italian sausageThe filling is a combo of Italian sausage (← hello flavor), onions, zucchini, and mushrooms all covered in marinara sauce.

Bright green bell peppers get stuffed to the brim with this yummy mixture, topped with Parmesan, and baked until the peppers are warmed through and the cheese is melted.

I originally tried this recipe with whole peppers but thought they were really awkward to eat. Trying to cut into a hot, loaded pepper while keeping it from toppling over and staining me with marinara is not a game I want to play at dinner, especially if I’m hangry.

The solution?

Pepper halves! This version was suggested by my hubby. He’s a genius. They are much easier to eat in my opinion.

Stuffed Peppers with Italian Sausage

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

  • 4-5 green bell peppers with a solid shape (get 5 if they seem a little smaller), cut in half, remove pith and seeds
  • ½ lb. ground Italian sausage
  • ¼ large onion (about 3/4 c.), diced fairly small
  • 2 zucchini, diced fairly small (peeled, optional)
  • 5-6 crimini mushrooms, diced
  • 1 ½ c. marinara sauce
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • Shredded Parmesan for topping

Preheat oven to 350º. Cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, about 5 minutes, breaking it up as it cooks. When the sausage is no longer pink, add the onions, zucchini, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes until all of the veggies are tender. Pour in the marinara sauce and stir until it’s mixed in. Carefully filled each pepper half and place them on a baking sheet. Top with a pinch of shredded Parmesan then bake for 25-30 minutes.

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White Bean Chili

white bean chiliIn the same way a song has the power to transport you back to that awkward middle school dance, this white bean chili has the power to transport me back in time.

Not that far back though. Just to last fall when I moved from Oklahoma to Wisconsin.

I was working from home at the time, which was a harder transition from being in an office than I thought it would be. We were running low on groceries and I also really needed to get out of the house.

I went to Colectivo, a local coffee shop, to get coffee and lunch and work for a while. I spotted White Bean Chili on their menu and immediately knew I wanted to try it.

It was fantastic – hearty, slightly creamy, lots of warm spices, and it was served with some whole-wheat toast. From the first bite, I knew I had to recreate it.

white bean chiliI ordered it a few more times and eventually asked if I could get the recipe. I didn’t get the recipe but they did give me the ingredient list, which was like a golden ticket.

It made the recreation process infinitely easier.

Vegetarian or not, this chili is truly delicious. I did try a version of it with chicken and chicken broth but I thought the original version was better. If you do prefer to add meat, I would recommend sticking with the original recipe and just add in some cooked chicken.

White Bean Chili

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Print

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 ½ T. ground cumin
  • ¾ t. dried oregano
  • ¾ t. ground coriander
  • pinch of cayenne (omit if you don’t like spice)
  • 3 c. water
  • 1 15 oz. can Northern white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 heaping T. flour
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions, celery, garlic, and a pinch of salt and let them cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini and red pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the cumin, oregano, coriander, and cayenne, cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Pour in the water, Northern white beans and garbanzo beans. Bring the chili to a boil and reduce to simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, mix the flour with 1-2 T. water until smooth in a small container; make sure there are no flour lumps. Pour the mixture into the chili and give it a stir. Let it cook for another 10-15 minutes to thicken up.

Inspired by Colectivo’s White Bean Chili.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage & Goat Cheese

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Recipe #2 of pumpkin week! We’re taking a savory turn thanks to my recent ravioli experience…

I never thought I’d be one to make ravioli. It just seemed so time consuming and labor intensive, not a task I was ready to take on…

But when one of my friends asked if I wanted to go to a cooking class with a bunch of our other friends in which we’d be learning to make… ravioli… I just couldn’t say no! Time with friends definitely outweighs my little aversion to making ravioli plus I’d have a chance to see what this pasta-making business was all about from a professional chef. Win and win.

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Meet my friends and new ravioli masters!

We made two different ravioli fillings. The first was an italian sausage & spinach combo topped with a simple tomato sauce – completely satisfying and oh so delicious.

The second was a pumpkin, sage, and goat cheese filling and you guys? It was SO good. I was hooked from the first bite. The pumpkin and sage was a wonderful savory combo with a slight bite and creaminess from the goat cheese. Seconds please!

It made a ravioli maker out of me yet because I just had to share it with you!

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Now, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that my recipes are typically quick and easy but, full disclosure, this one is a little more time intensive. I’ve simplified it by using wonton wrappers instead of making pasta dough but filling each one does take some time. Sooo, having said that, I think this would be a great recipe for having friends over to make and enjoy dinner together, just as we did in the class. OR it could be a super fun date night idea! Just throwin’ that out there. And just one more idea? Prepare these on a weekend and pop ’em in the freezer to have a quick dinner on hand for a busy night!

Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage & Goat Cheese; slightly adapted from The Girl Can Cook

Serves roughly 2-3

  • 1 pkg wonton wrappers (24 wrappers)
  • 1/2-3/4 of a 15 oz can of pumpkin
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped (3/4 cup)
  • 2 sage leaves, shredded or 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 oz. goat cheese
  • salt to taste
  • 1 T. unsalted butter

The Prep: Heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sage, cook for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let it cool slightly, then add the pumpkin and goat cheese. Stir until everything has been incorporated evenly. Season with salt as needed.

For the assembly you will need one egg (raw, scrambled) and a pastry brush.

The Assembly: Take one wonton wrapper and place a small dollop of the pumpkin mixture in the center. Dip the pastry brush in the egg and brush two connected edges of the wonton wrapper. Fold the wonton wrapper over to form a triangle, pressing all air out from around the filling and sealing the edges where the egg was brushed. Place the ravioli on a plate or baking sheet, use flour to keep them from sticking to each other. Continue until all of the wonton wrappers have been used. *If you are freezing the ravioli: separate them on a baking sheet if your freezer space allows. If you are short on space, just make sure they are not sticking to each other. Cover them tightly, and place them in the freezer.

Cooking: Bring a large pot of water with a pinch of salt to a rolling boil. For fresh ravioli, drop them in the water, do not overcrowd the pot, and cook for a few minutes. Once they start floating, let them cook another minute or so and then take them out. For frozen ravioli, the cooking process is the same except the frozen ravioli will take a little longer to cook, closer to 7 minutes or so. Leave the frozen ravioli in the freezer until the water is ready to cook them, do not thaw them out before cooking.

Sauce: Personally, I don’t think this ravioli needs much sauce since the flavors really speak for themselves. In the cooking class, we used browned butter as the sauce and it was fantastic. Click here for a browned butter tutorial. Or just top with some herbs!

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Roasted Poblano & Corn Enchiladas

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Ever since I made these quesadillas, I’ve been trying to scheme up another tasty dish to put roasted poblanos in.

So far, I’ve come up with these enchiladas and on the horizon, for the fall & winter months, poblano & corn chowder. (It’s going to be off. the. charts.)

But we’re not dwelling on the past or the future, we’re in the present which means enchiladas!

What’s great about these babies, aside from being totally delicious, is that they can be made as a freezer meal for that crazy busy day when you get home and the last thing you want to do is stand over the counter and stove, chopping and cooking dinner. Ya feel me?

I know you do.

So go ahead, pop these in the oven and put on those sweats, curl up on the couch with your favorite book or TV show, and veg like it’s goin’ outta style.

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I’ve made these as both a freezer meal and baked as soon as they were prepared and have included instructions for both. Also, I’ve made these with chicken and with refried beans, for a vegetarian version which was just as tasty.

Roasted Poblano & Corn Enchiladas; Recipe or Not

Makes 8 enchiladas

2 poblano peppers, roasted (instructions below)

1 1/2 c. corn, grilled or roasted optional

2 chicken breasts, cooked & diced (I seasoned mine with a pinch of garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, salt & pepper)

OR 1 can refried beans

1/4 of a large onion, diced (should equal about 1/4 – 1/3 cup)

8 tortilla shells

8 oz monterey jack, shredded (4oz in the filling mixture, 4 oz on top)

2 c. enchilada sauce (I used Emeril Lagasse’s Recipe – Food Network)

Cilantro for topping

The Prep: Cook & dice up the chicken breasts. Roast & prepare the poblano peppers. Grill or roast the corn (optional) and dice the onion. Prepare the enchilada sauce. Preheat the oven to 350°. Next, combine the chicken, poblanos, corn, onion, and 4oz of the cheese in a bowl. In a 9×13 baking dish, spoon a layer of the enchilada sauce in the bottom, just enough to cover it. Begin filling the tortilla shells with the poblano & corn mixture, rolling tightly, and laying in the baking dish. If using refried beans, spread each tortilla with a spoonful of beans, then top with the poblanos & corn and roll tightly. Once all the tortilla shells have been filled and put in the pan, pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the top and cover evenly. Do not include the cheese at this point. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove from the oven. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let cool a few minutes, top with fresh cilantro, and serve.

Make-ahead directions: Prepare all of the ingredients for the filling and the enchilada sauce based on the directions above. Do not spoon the enchilada sauce in the bottom of the pan for make-ahead enchiladas. Simply fill, roll, and line the tortillas in a freezer safe baking dish. Cover tightly and put in the freezer. After preparing the enchilada sauce, let it cool completely, then transfer it to a freezer safe bag or container and freeze separate from the enchiladas. When you are ready to cook the enchiladas, put the sauce in the fridge the morning of the day you plan to bake them. When you’re ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 375°. Pour the sauce over the enchiladas and bake, covered loosely with aluminum foil for 30-35 minutes. Uncover the enchiladas, top with cheese and continue baking for 15-20 minutes. Let the enchiladas cool a few minutes, top with cilantro, and serve.

Roasting Poblanos; Fine Cooking

Use a gas burner, hot grill, or oven broiler

Blacken the peppers. Turn a burner to high and char the poblanos directly over the flame, turning them until fully blackened. Or use a hot grill or the oven broiler, turning the peppers until they are charred. Immediately after roasting, put the poblanos in a bowl, cover, and set aside to steam and loosen the skins. When cool enough to handle, peel the charred skin off with your hands or a small paring knife. Pull out and discard the stems and seed clusters.