Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Creamy Tomato Soup with Spinach and Sausage

The first time I made this soup it was nothing more than a raid of the pantry and frig. I had 3 turkey Italian sausage links and some spinach in the freezer. There was garden vegetable pasta sauce, chicken stock and egg noodles in the pantry. I had a little half and half about to expire. And what goes great with spinach and cream? Nutmeg! It all came together so easy and was amazingly delicious. Right away I knew I wanted to use bow-tie pasta the next time. But I really loved the garden vegetable pasta sauce. It has little pieces of veggie like onion, carrot and zucchini. Call them bonus veggies you don't have to chop. It was so good I knew I wanted to try to make it low sodium. There was so much flavor in this recipe we could lose a little salt. So by all means if you or family do not need to watch your sodium intake use your favorite brands. But if you would like to limit the sodium in your diet this post is for you. 

First things first I made my own Low Sodium Italian Sausage. I found unsalted chicken stock and low sodium marinara sauce. That is it! Very simple. If you have the sausage pre-made. This soup can be on the table in 30 minutes. It was delicious even without the added sodium. What I did miss was the little pieces of bonus veggies. I thought about adding some but I like the simplicity of the recipe. I love the nutmeg and red pepper flakes. Dear sister did not pick out the nutmeg she said it was well balanced. She had more questions about the Italian sausage meatballs. So be sure to check out that recipe too. I made a double batch tonight. I have some put away for my sodium restricted family member. I can't wait to see what they think.

Creamy Tomato Soup with Sausage and Spinach
Serves 4 to 6


Olive oil cooking spray
12 oz. Low Sodium Italian Sausage (click here for recipe)
4 cups unsalted fat free chicken stock
25 oz. jar low sodium marinara sauce
10 oz. box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
Pinch (1/16 tsp.) ground nutmeg
Pinch (1/16 tsp.) red pepper flakes
1-1/2 cups bow-tie pasta, dry
1/2 cup half and half (fat free)


Using a tablespoon measure, scoop sausage into small meatballs. Spray a 4 qt. soup pot or Dutch oven with olive oil cooking spray; add sausage and brown over medium high heat. Add chicken stock; deglazing pot, scraping the bottom of the pot to lift any brown bits. Add marinara sauce, spinach, nutmeg, red pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Add pasta, reduce to a simmer and continue to simmer 12 minutes until pasta is al dente. Remove from heat, stir in half and half and serve.

Nutrition information per serving*: (calculated on 5 servings) Calories 310.1, Total Fat 10.5 g, Saturated Fat 3.1 g, Polyunsaturated Fat 0.6 g, Monounsaturated Fat 2.7 g, Cholesterol 48.4 mg, Sodium 338.6 mg, Potassium 412.5 mg, Total Carbohydrate 30.4 g, Dietary Fiber 2.5 g, Sugars 7.6 g, Protein 22.7 g.
WW P+ 8

*Information from the Sparkrecipes calculator. NI may vary depending on the brand or size of the ingredients used to prepare it.

Linking to:
Buns In My Oven: What's Cookin' Wednesday
Love Bakes Good Cakes: The Ultimate Soup Recipe List Linky
Dizzy Busy & Hungry: Wine'd Down Wednesday
Miz Helen's Country Cottage: Full Plate Thursday
My Turn for Us: Freedom Fridays with All My Bloggy Friends
Ms. enPlace: See Ya in the Gumbo
Kneaded Creations: Tuesdays With A Twist
My Pinterventures: Souper Bowl 2015 Party

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Low Sodium Italian Sausage

UGH! This post almost did not happen tonight. You may want to skip down a bit I am about to rant a little. I started preparing this sausage recipe and when I went to get the fennel seeds I realized I only had a teaspoon. Woops! I should have taken inventory I guess. So I rushed out looking "comfortable" to a store where no one would recognize me, running one yellow light as I go. But they did not have any fennel on the shelf. Back to the car. Oh no! I need gas. Stop at the gas station choosing the slowest pump there. Back in the car, run yellow light number two. Driving to second store thinking to myself calm down, this is no big deal. Wait another yellow light. Stop it Denise! Calm down. Oh! A nice parking spot right up front at Wal-mart things are looking up. Look two bottles of fennel seed left get them all just in case. Okay... Well that was interesting? But it is done now, your almost home. Last yellow light really? Yes really! So if you were counting that is 4 yellow lights, 2 stores, 1 gas station, 1 great parking spot and all the fennel I could find. DONE!

The first time I made this sausage it was to stuff mini peppers. I wanted to develop a no salt added sausage so I could make the Grilled Italian Sausage Stuffed Peppers for my family. I used all turkey the first time and it was delicious. This time I decided to use both lean turkey and pork. I used most of it right away in a soup (click here for recipe) but stored some as links in the freezer. It really turned out delicious. The pork adds just the right amount of fat. The meatballs I made browned well and there was little fat left behind. Dear sister asked if there was Parmesan, egg or bread crumb in them. But nope just a few simple spices and a little water to help incorporate them. I think it also helps make the sausage moist too. I will definitely keep making this recipe. It would be great for lasagna or sandwiches with peppers and onions. There is tons of low sodium potential in this recipe.

Low Sodium Italian Sausage


1 lb. lean ground pork
19.2 oz. 93% lean ground turkey
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. fennel seeds
1-1/2 tsp. black pepper
1-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. paprika


Crumble pork and turkey alternating as you go into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with minced garlic and gently combine. Poke holes into surface of pork and turkey mixture. Place fennel in a mortar and pestle and crush. Add remaining spices crushing again to combine. Add cold water to seasoning mixture to create a slurry. Pour half into the holes in meat mixture and gently combine. Poke holes into surface of pork and turkey mixture again. Repeat process with the remaining slurry and gently combine. Form into 4 oz. links, patties for burgers, meatballs or store in bulk for future use. Freezes well.


Use old style sandwich bags to wrap individual links 
and store in a zipper top bag in the freezer. It will stop the links 
from freezing together and you can take out just what you need.

Use a tablespoon measure to help form 
meatballs for soup or pasta sauces.

Linking to:
Dizzy Busy & Hungry: Wine'd Down Wednesday
My Turn for Us: Freedom Fridays with All My Bloggy Friends
Ms. enPlace: See Ya in the Gumbo
Carole's Chatter: Food on Friday: Sausages

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Almond Toffee Butter

Remember the Almond Toffee Butter my friend D found at the Benton Farmer's Market? Well I have to confess it was my breakfast food for maybe a week or more straight. It was so good! Did you catch that last part? WAS!!! Good. Yep, it's gone! No more! So I set out to try to re-create it. The most difficult part is having patience and faith that those little almonds will turn into butter. First it looks like sand spinning around. Then it starts to climb the side of the processor bowl. Then it starts to clump into a dough. Then it starts to spin like a top, real slow around the bowl. Will it ever become butter (Head in hand, shaking my head)? Then after all that, it smooths out and looks just right. How long does it take to make almond butter, you ask? Well for me about the length of a 30 minute cooking show. Pioneer Woman to be exact. I put my poor tiny food processor through its paces. Honestly I did not think it would be able to make another batch. It was a little over heated by the time the almonds were butter. But that little guy has made two more batches since then and I swear in less time each time, Weird? I made one without salt, also delicious. The third batch I got the salt to sugar ratio just right. Really every batch I made was so yummy, but I was after replicating the Almond Toffee Butter purchased at the market. This last batch was perfect! Just the right amount of sea salt, brown sugar and toffee bits. I love the texture of homemade almond butter. The toffee adds a nice little crunch too. I don't think I will ever buy almond butter again. It is too much fun to make I home. I can't wait to experiment with some other flavors. 

Almond Toffee Butter
Makes about 1-1/2 cups, 12 (2 Tbsp.) servings


2 c. whole unsalted almonds
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. walnut oil
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. toffee bits


Place almonds in the bowl of a food processor, process until it looks like coarse sand. Stop processor and push down the almonds climbing up the sides, continue to process. Add sea salt, walnut oil and brown sugar; continue to process as above until the constancy of chunky peanut butter. Add toffee bits and process until combined. Allow to cool before serving. The flavor is not as evident when warm. Store in the refrigerator, keeps well.

Nutrition information per serving*: Calories 169.4, Total Fat 14.8 g, Saturated Fat 1.5 g, Polyunsaturated Fat 4.3 g, Monounsaturated Fat 7.9 g, Cholesterol 0.7 mg, Sodium 61.7 mg, Potassium 167.0 mg, Total Carbohydrate 6.6 g, Dietary Fiber 2.9 g, Sugars 2.4 g, Protein 5.0 g.  
WW P+ 5

*Information from the Sparkrecipes calculator. NI may vary depending on the brand or size of the ingredients used to prepare it.

Linking to:
Ms. enPlace: See Ya in the Gumbo
Tumbleweed Contessa: What'd You Do This Weekend?
Memories By The Mile: Treasure Box Tuesday
Stone Cottage Adventures: Tuesdays with a Twist
Creative K Kids: Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party
Creative K Kids: Tasty Tuesdays
Buns In My Oven: What's Cookin' Wednesday
Dizzy Busy & Hungry: Wine'd Down Wednesday
Miz Helen's Country Cottage: Full Plate Thursday
My Turn for Us: Freedom Fridays with All My Bloggy Friends

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Recipe Review: Moroccan Roasted Veggies

This recipe is why I was so excited to find Spice & All. They had halloumi! I copied this recipe from the Weight Watchers recipe review board years ago. I made it once but had to substitute queso fresco for the halloumi. It was delicious with the substitution but I always wondered how would it be with the halloumi. Well question answered, it is still delicious! This recipe is full of delicious roasted vegetables, warm spices and bright lime flavor. Resist the urge to add salt. The lime, olives and halloumi seasons the vegetables just right. Don't worry if halloumi is not available in your area. Any non-melting, crumbly, salty cheese will work. Try queso fresco or feta. Leftovers re-heat well in the microwave. They are not bad as a cold salad either. I have also pureed some of the veggies in my homemade hummus; substituting lime juice for lemon. This is a great use of summer vegetables and Spice & All market.

Moroccan Roasted Veggies with Halloumi Cheese
Makes 8 servings


1/2 tsp cayenne pepper  
2 tsp ground cumin  
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste  
2 medium fresh limes  
2 Tbsp olive oil  
2 bell peppers, chopped large  
2 small zucchini, chopped  
1 small eggplant, chopped  
1 cup uncooked red onion, cut into wedges  
2 cloves garlic, sliced  
7 oz Halloumi cheese, chopped  
2 oz kalamata olives, quartered 


Preheat the oven to 400. Mix together the cayenne, cumin, tomato paste, juice of 1 lime and oil. Place the peppers, zucchini, eggplant, onion and garlic in a large roasting pan and drizzle with the tomato mix. Put the squeezed lime halves into the tin. Roast for 20-25 minutes until the veg is golden and tender. Add the halloumi and olives and cook for a further 10 minutes until the halloumi is golden. Squeeze over the juice from the other lime just before serving. 

Notes: I found the recipe on a Weight Watchers recipe review board. When I research it's origin, I found the possible original source of Tesco Real Food.

Linking to:
Stone Cottage Adventures: Tuesdays with a Twist
Carole's Chatter: Food on Fridays - Vegetarian & Vegan

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Verde Turkey Burgers Guest Post

Today is an exciting day! I have my first Guest Post over at The Crafty Side of Sarcasm!  What an honor! When Leslie asked, I wasn't sure how to go about it but I knew it was a blog experience I wanted to try.

I wrote about a wonderful Verde Turkey Burger. This burger has all the Verde or green toppings you could be looking for; roasted chilies and guacamole. As a bonus it is low in sodium, no salt was added so it is good for you too. Don't wrinkle your nose! You can add salt if you want, but I promise the addition of lime and its bright, citrus flavor works wonders as a salt substitute.

Click HERE to see the entire post! 

Green not your color? 
Try one of these other Turkey Burgers.

Linking to:
Ms. enPlace: See Ya in the Gumbo
Memories By The Mile: Treasure Box Tuesday
Stone Cottage Adventures: Tuesdays with a Twist
Creative K Kids: Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party
Buns In My Oven: What's Cookin' Wednesday

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Recipe Review: Peach Buttermilk Sherbet

This photo makes me sad. First it is a bad photo color wise. I took it at night in the kitchen with all the lights, but it is just bad. My color corrections skills are not the best. So this is a bad photo of really delicious Peach Buttermilk Sherbet. The peaches and the recipe comes from Ed Lester Farms. They have some great recipes on their website. I made this sherbet twice and it was so easy and so good. It is both sweet and tangy. I will definitely make it again. I would love to try some other fruit in the recipe too. I love that you just blend and put it into the freezer. Very simple! If you are lucky enough to have some peaches lying around. You must try it.

The second reason this photo makes me sad is that Ed Lester Farms is now closed for the year. No more trips out there for fresh produce. I will have to wait until next year. It was fun and delicious while it lasted.

Peach Buttermilk Sherbet
Source: Ed Lester Farms 
Makes approx. 5 cups


2 cups Ed Lester Farms Peaches
1 cup sugar
1 egg*
1-1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 tsp. lemon zest
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups buttermilk


Using a blender, puree peaches with all ingredients except the buttermilk. Then stir in the buttermilk and freeze until firm. Delicious!

Note: * This recipe uses a raw egg. If you have any health issues you may want to use a pasteurized egg instead or consult with your physician.

Linking to:
Love Bake Good Cakes: The Ultimate List of Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt and Milkshakes

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