Cooking Stuff

Where Stuff Is Cooked

Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce with Italian Sausage

From the Vault: My parents are visiting so while I’ve been doing a lot of cooking I haven’t been taking pictures nor do I have tons of writing time. So here, enjoy this pasta dish, it’s wicked good. Would be even better if you made the sauce in a big skillet and mixed the pasta in to cook a bit with it instead of ladling it over at the table. But really, both are fantastic.


1 large red pepper, roasted
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
4 Italian sausages (1/2 lb)

Brown and crumble the sausage, remove it to a paper towel lined plate, cover it and put it in the fridge. Remove all but a tbl of the fat from the pan and brown the onions. Add the garlic and saute till aromatic, about 30-40 seconds. Add the bay leaf, basil and oregano and saute for 20 seconds or so. Add the vinegar to deglaze, then add the tomatoes. Dice the pepper and add it in as well. Let simmer for at least an hour or up to 3. If you want it chunky you can hit it with a potato masher a couple times, if you want it smooth hit it with a immersion blender. Add the sausage back in and let it simmer for another half hour or so. Add salt and pepper to taste, serve over pasta.


Love this sauce, the roasted red peppers add a great sweetness to it and something about Italian sausage and tomato sauce is just awesome. You can use spicy or sweet sausage in this, whatever you enjoy most. I use sweet because my girlfriend doesn’t feel it for spicy and she does the grocery shopping. If you want it chunky you don’t have to hit it with the blender, we just like tomato sauce smooth. Plus if you leave it chunky you don’t have to leave the sausage out till the end, unless you don’t want pieces of sausage. Anyway, here is what I did.

First I roasted a pepper. I love roasted peppers, they are just awesome. This one was pretty big. How big? Bigger than a can of tomatoes. I like a lot of pepper flavor in the sauce. If I had only had small ones I would have used two. After roasting, I sliced off the top and bottom, took out the seeds and spread it out for slicing. Of course that’s the only thing I got a decent shot of. Then I cut it into chunks and set it aside. Next I browned up the sausage. I had taken these out of the casing to make crumbling easier. Once they were all nicely browned I pulled them out. I put them on a paper towel lined plate to soak up any excess fat (there was more than enough left in the pan, too much would over power the other flavors) then tossed it into the fridge since I didn’t want to let it sit out for the whole cooking time.Mmmmm, that’s one fondy pot. It’s going to make the sauce nice and rich. Browned up the onions, then the garlic. I didn’t worry about mincing the garlic too fine since I was going to blend it, but if you are leaving it chunky you might want to make the pieces smaller. Or leave them big, if you like big chunks of garlic. Once the garlic was done I added in the spices and sauteed them for a minute. This helps bring out the oils from them, which brings out the flavor. Then I deglazed with the vinegar, although I didn’t get a good picture of it. Red wine would be good too, but I didn’t have any. Once I had scraped up the fond I added in the tomatoes. Then the pepper chunks. Then I let it simmer for about an hour, making sure to stir it every once and a while so it didn’t burn. I would have done it longer, but I had to be at work in a couple hours. Don’t forget to take out the bay leaf! I didn’t want it in there when I blended it with the wand mixer. Blending it makes it nice and smooth, helps it cling to pasta. Then the sausage went back in and I let it simmer for another half hour or so to let the flavors mingle. I added a little black pepper, but it didn’t need salt since the canned tomatoes I used had plenty in them. And that’s it. Some pasta, a little cheese and a goodly amount of sauce and you have a meal.Good stuff folks. A little cream in the sauce would have been good too or some Parmesan. Add a little extra richness. Not that it really needs it. Heh.


Filed under: pasta, sausage

Sunday Critters #10

160 163 004 This post was brought to you by the letter Z.


Filed under: cats, children

Tuna Melt Deep Dish Pan Pizza

You read that right, although if you saw my old posts on tuna melt pizza or the tuna melt calzone you won’t be surprised. Tuna salad does marvelous things on pizza, like browning beautifully. See that lovely Maillard action going on there?023That’s the tuna salad. Well and the crust, the crust came out awesome too. Even the bottom got nicely browned.002I baked it in a dark metal 8″ cake pan that I slathered with olive oil in a 450 degree oven for I have no idea how long. Until everything was browned and delicious.   010 The dough was actually a shot from the hip, I just took maybe 1/2 cup each water and milk, a little honey, yeast and salt and a bunch of flour. Mixed it until I got tired of it and let it rise while I decided what I wanted to do with it. After a couple hours I wanted pizza, had some tuna salad in the fridge and called it serendipity.014 - CopySince I’m such a nice guy I brought the last slice over to my sister who was appropriately thrilled. One of my nieces insisted that she *had* to try it and she loved it too. She’s lucky her mother is nice as well. Heh.

Filed under: fish, pizza

Crunchy, Low Fat Falafel


1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas (7 oz)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 cup finely chopped onion (1 medium)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro —(cut in half)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cumin (more?)
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cayenne

Soak the chickpeas in cold water (covered by a couple inches) at room temp for at least 12 hours and up to 24. Drain and rinse. Put everything in a food processor and whiz for about 2 minutes. Spread the mixture into a thin layer on a baking sheet and let dry for one hour. Scoop 1 1/2-2 tablespoons of the stuff, form/press it into patties and either:

a) Plop it into a preheated (medium heat)  nonstick skillet with a little olive oil until brown on one side, about 2 minutes, then flip it and brown on the other. Eat.

b) Plop it onto lightly oiled aluminum foil on a baking sheet, form it into patties and freeze. Then when you want them toss them, still frozen, into a preheated skillet and cook for ~3 minutes a side or until browned how you like. Eat.


Things I learned about falafel:

  1. 1 bag of dry chick peas makes a small mountain of falafel.
  2. You can brush the raw patties with a little olive oil and freeze them. Then just toss them, frozen, onto a heated pan whenever you want some.
  3. Falafel is wicked frigging awesome.

Things I still don’t know about falafel:

  1. What you call the fricking raw, paste stuff. Dough? Batter? I have no idea.

Seriously though, what do you call it? Meh, doesn’t matter, I’m finally posting this recipe! Are you excited yet? You will be. Well, if you like falafel that is. Shall we make some? Yes we shall.

First things first, chickpeas.050These were soaked for about 12 hours, I think, then drained and brought to my sisters house. Because that’s where we were making it, you see. Then she got me some parsley from her garden, cilantro, garlic and onion.048Plopped in the food processor and whizzed about.054Spices added.057Chickpeas on top.059More whizzing, until pasty.063Then we turned it out onto a cookie sheet, I recommend removing the blade at this point. 066Spread it around to dry and wait. I hate waiting. /end Inigo069At this point my sister and I put 1/4 cups of it into a well oiled, preheated on high waffle iron. Because we wanted to see if it would work.101It did. Now everyone say “waffle falafel”. It’s even more fun to say than to eat. Well, almost. Heh. However, this post will mostly be about freezing them. Sadly I didn’t get any prep shots of that for some reason, but what I do is take my 1 1/2 tbl cookie scoop and take out rounded dollops, dollop them onto a greased piece of foil lined baking sheet and flatten them a bit. Then toss them in the freezer for a couple hours, pull them out, dump ’em in a freezer bag and toss them back in. That’s it. Then whenever I want falafel I pull a couple out and put them in a preheated skillet.038 A few minutes and a flip later, lunch. 055Or snack. Or appetizer. Or whatever, it’s falafel. Eat it, preferably with some kind of delicious yogurt sauce or tahini.

Filed under: middle eastern, side dish, vegetarian

Sunday Critters #9

I think she heard a Who.


In the recycling.

Filed under: children

How to Show You Care

My Facebook friends have already seen this, but this is a care package my mom just sent me. 005Ok, seriously, how awesome is my mom? When she comes to visit next I’m going to cook her so much good stuff… wait. She’s coming in just a couple weeks, I’m beginning to doubt the altruism here. Heh. Well sinister motives or no I have a box full of wicked good spices many of which I can’t seem to get in Iowa. Let’s discuss a few, why not.

Northwoods seasoning mix and it’s “fire” variant. I’ve had them before and love them. Sprinkle it on oiled potato wedges before baking, rub into a steak, mix into meatloaf, I’ve done all of those and they’ve been awesome.

Adobo. *Joy*. This is the Spanish style, not Filipino and it’s just wonderful (note, those chipotle peppers you get in the little cans are an adobo thing). I use it in tacos, fajitas, stew, chili, grilled cheese, all kinds of stuff.

Tien Tsin peppers!!! I can make General Gau’s chicken! And kung pao! If I could dance this would be a time to do it. If you are interested in the tech specs they are ~50,000-75,000 on the Scoville scale. Not a delicate pepper.

And that’s it for the ones I’ve used other than marjoram and oregano which I’m guessing she put in as filler. Not that I’m complaining, I went to make gyros the other day and realized I didn’t have marjoram. It wasn’t cool. I’ve also used tomato paste, but not chili pepper paste. I think chili is happening soon, especially since she included a can of jalapenos. Hmm, her last care package had a jar of chipotle peppers and paprika. It’s like she *wants* me to make chili…

As for the rest we’ve got sumac, fenugreek, zatar mix, something called “sandwich sprinkle” which I’m intrigued with, lemongrass, herbes de Provence, Greek seasoning, garam masala, two heat levels of curry powder, chili 3000 (sounds like a terrible monster movie, which makes me love it already), raspberry enlightenment (that *has* to be good), Arizona dreaming, Galena St and Skittles. Whew. So much awesome. The package had a couple other things too, some rice, bandaids, neosporin, sesame sticks, a head massager that I thought was a whisk… I think that’s it. And really, one can’t ask for more. My sister and me already have a list of things to make when my parents come visit in a couple weeks, I think it’s about to get longer.

***disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Penzeys and did not receive anything from them to make this post. However, Penzeys, if you would like to give me things to make more posts my contact information is in the sidebar. Thanks.

Filed under: spice mix, spices, Stuff I Love

Quick and Spicy Vegetarian Rice and Beans

From the Vault: I know, I teased with falafel and am giving rice and beans. But I have things going on and for some reason I always write posts right before I post them. So that means a vault recipe today, sorry. On the plus side it’s awesome, so there is that. And I really, legit promise to post the falafel before the week is through.

———-1 cup rice
2 cups cooked beans
2 cup water or broth
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp blackening seasoning
salt, if desired

Saute the onion in some olive oil until translucent, add the garlic and stir for ~30 seconds. Add the rice and stir to coat in the oil. Add the liquid, seasoning and beans, cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed. That’s it.

Note: You can start with dried beans. Take a cup of rinsed/sorted dry beans, put them in a pot and add water until they’re covered by a couple inches. Add ~tsp of the blackening spice and let simmer until tender, ~2 hours. You can them use some of the liquid you cooked the beans in for the rice, I did half that and half broth.


Here’s a quickie, guess what makes for a killer rice and beans seasoning? The blackening seasoning from the shrimp last week! I know, shocking. I wanted something easy, so I looked over my pantry. I had pasta, rice and beans. I’ve been eating a lot of pasta so I went for rice and beans. I started with dry beans, but you can just use a can and it would maim the cooking time. Although you wouldn’t be able to use any of the cooking liquid from the beans, which does add a nice flavor and texture. I guess it all depends on the time frame you have. With canned beans you could have this on the table in less than a half hour, I’m guessing.

And who doesn’t love that? Not that I ever eat at my table these days, unless you count the dinette set table my computer is on. Heh. The one thing about the seasoning is that I found it didn’t have quite enough salt for this kind of thing. It was plenty for the shrimp, but rice and beans want a little more. Although it’s not really required, you could easily do a low salt thing and it still tastes wicked good.

If you wanted to un-veg it you could add some bacon or sausage. Or put it in a tortilla with some taco or carnita stuff. That would also be wicked good.

Filed under: beans, rice, side dish, vegetarian

Sunday Critters #8


Filed under: cats, children

Green Chili Sloppy Joes

From the Vault: I’m biting the bullet today and doing some serious organizing in my kitchen, so here is a little something from my old site. I know it’s not much of a post but the recipe is awesome, I highly recommend it.

  • ~1 lb ground beef or turkey
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced orange peppers
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbl red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp dry ground mustard
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce (plain)
  • 8 oz diced green chilies (2 of those little cans)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Brown the onions then add the garlic and saute till fragrant, about 30 seconds. You can saute the peppers here too, if you like them very soft. Add the beef and brown it well. Add the chilies, tomato sauce, sugar, vinegar and spices. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes or until as thick as you like. Add the peppers at the end to keep a fresher flavor and crispier texture.


Just a quickie today kids. Hands up, who likes sloppy joes? Yeah, I thought so, they’re a good time. I originally made this with ground turkey, to lighten it up a bit, but it’s even better with beef. The green chilies add a mellow spiciness to it and change it up just enough so it’s not the same old sloppy joe. I also like to add the orange peppers at the very end so they stay a little crispy and give a brighter, more fresh taste. No step by steps I’m afraid, but the process is as simple as you can ask for. So if you’re looking to change up your joes, try adding some green chilies! It’s some wicked good stuff.

Filed under: beef, sandwich

Sunday Critters #7

Just put up with it buddy, she loves you.066Kisses or secrets? Only they know.069You can’t hide, Bob. She’s craftier than she looks.075

Filed under: cats, children

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