Tag Archive: sausage

BBQ Wrapped Lil’ Smokies

I love bread.  There, I’ve said it.  That being said whenever there is a celebration some kind of bread sneaks into the menu.  Now for the Super Bowl I could come up with a long list of bread related food.  Carbs and football go together.

When I picked up this package of Lil’ Smokies I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them.  I have a bar-b-que sauce that they can simmer in and be eaten alone.  Boring.  Then I came to the Pillsbury Crescent Rolls in the can.  You know, the kind you unroll and make all kinds of wonderful sweet and savory food items with?  I can’t remember the last time I baked them as they were originally intended.

This meets most of the requirements for good food.  One is bread; two is savory sausage, and three is salty sweet bar-b-que sauce.

BBQ Wrapped Lil' Smokies

I still wanted a little bar-b-que sauce too. What to do?  I unrolled the crescents and cut the little sausages in half.  Next I spread my favorite bar-b-que sauce (from Rudy’s) on the piece of dough.  I used a pizza cutter to cut each crescent into thirds (long narrow strips) from wide end to point and rolled a piece of sausage in each third.  I began at the wide end and rolled to the point.  Placed them(point down) on a lightly greased baking sheet and baked them for 15 minutes at 350°.

The sauce sort of gets all over the dough and your fingers as you roll.  I sprinkled a little freshly ground black pepper over them before I baked them.  I will serve them with a little sauce to dip them in just in case it is needed.

What are you fixin’ for the Super Bowl?  Do you care who wins?  Or is the food most important? Come share your stuff at my party.

Tumbleweed Contessa Superbowl and Chili Party


Spicy Lasagna for Shine Supper Club

Spicy Lasagna – Fall comfort food for a crowd at its best!

I can’t remember exactly what spurred me on to make lasagna on this beautiful fall day.  I think it had something to do with a list of upcoming blog ideas and cooler weather.  But I did it anyway.  I weighed this on the scale and it totaled 16 pounds including the casserole dish (which is large).  Krista gave me this for Mother’s Day.  Isn’t that sweet?

Now I need to take some to Amy and her family and put some in the freezer for comfort food this winter.  I can smell it baking and it smells wonderful.  The fennel and Italian herbs make the whole house smell good.  I have the doors open.  I may even have a neighbor drop by to check it out.

I made the sauce the day before in the traditional spaghetti sauce pot.  It is always better if it can cool and be reheated.  Overnight is best.

I had to have about 3 uninterrupted hours to make it up and let it bake.  That is what I did with my Sunday afternoon.  I also washed up the dishes and cleaned every surface that was spotted with sauce.  Counter tops, stove and floor.  Where are my children when I need them?  They always say I use every pot and pan in the kitchen to prepare dinner.  Maybe they were right?

Lasagna is a tradition for Christmas Eve dinner for my family, but it feeds a crowd anytime.  It can be made ahead and frozen or refrigerated. Great to portion it out and put it away for a cold and busy winter day.

This is a tried and true recipe that everyone loves.  Hope you do too.


  • Salt for the water
  • 1 1/2 (16-ounce) boxes lasagna noodles
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage or remove the casing if in links
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (12-ounce) package mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced
  • 2 cups ricotta
  • 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons, divided
  • 1 recipe Tumbleweed Contessa’s Spicy Spaghetti Sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1 pound grated mozzarella

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Working in batches, cook the lasagna noodles until they are soft and pliable but not limp, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove the pasta from the boiling water and immerse in an ice bath, remove and lay flat on a sheet tray to cool. I usually put a little olive oil on the sheet pan to keep it from sticking.

Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until brown and crumbly. Sprinkle in a pinch of red chile flakes.  Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.



Remove the fat from the pan and add olive oil along with 2 cloves of smashed garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Bring the pan to medium-high heat. When the garlic becomes golden and very aromatic, remove it from the heat and discard. Add the mushrooms and season with salt. Cook the mushrooms until they are soft, wilted and dark brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add about 6 basil leaves chopped or torn after turning off the heat.  Remove from pan and set aside.


In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, 1/2 the Parmesan, the eggs, and the remaining fresh basil. Add salt and mix to combine.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

In the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch or deep-dish baking dish, add a couple ladles of sauce and spread out in an even layer. Arrange a layer of the lasagna noodles to completely cover the sauce. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the pasta.  (I had to use my fingers to spread it evenly.) Place a layer of pasta going in the other direction as the first layer (this makes it easier to serve). Spread a light layer of sauce on the pasta and sprinkle 1/3 of the sausage over the sauce, repeat this process with 1/3 of the mushrooms. Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella and some of the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano over the veggies. Repeat these layers until all the ingredients have been used up or the pan is full. The final layer should be a layer of pasta on top covered with sauce and sprinkled with mozzarella and Parmigiano. Cover tightly with foil.

Place the lasagna on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until the lasagna is hot and bubbly, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes of cooking. Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.  Note: It is best to make and bake the lasagna the day before. Heat it up again before slicing.

This sauce recipe is the same recipe I use for spaghetti, except I add sausage or beef (or chicken).  A meatless meal was not acceptable in my house for my husband.

Spicy Spaghetti Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 28 ounce can Cento Tomatoes (puree)
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes +1 can of water
  • 1 can tomato paste + 1 can of water
  • 2 packages McCormick Thick and Spicy dry spaghetti sauce mix
  • ½ teaspoon dried red chile flakes
  • 4 tablespoons Italian dried seasoning herb mix (Tones)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
  • 1 teaspoon garlic grains or 1 fresh clove of garlic finely minced
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar

An additional can of water may be added, but this must be a thick sauce.

In a heavy-bottomed iron Dutch oven warm the olive oil and add the remaining ingredients.  Stir and bring to a low simmer.  Cover and cook about 1 hour, stirring occasionally to be sure the dried herbs don’t stick to the bottom.  Remove the lid and let cool.  Store in the refrigerator at least overnight before using.  It is ok to use it immediately, but the flavors develop and it is best left at least overnight in the refrigerator.

I’ve just opened the 2012 Cookie Exchange.  Take a look and add your recipe into the mix:

Cookies 2012


This will be the perfect recipe for the Shine Supper Club.  I can’t wait to share and see what everyone else is making.  Since it is sooooo big, I am also going to take it to:
Down Home Blog Hop The Mandatory MoochBarns and NoodlesFreedom Fridays

Thursday Favorite Things mop it up mondays

Mexico-Welcome Juanita’s Cocina!

Mexico first participated at the Olympic Games in 1900 and has sent athletes to compete in every Summer Olympic Games since 1924. Mexico has also participated in several Winter Olympic Games since 1928, though has never medaled in the Winter Olympics.Mexican athletes have won a total of 57 medals – with track and field, boxing and diving as the top medal-producing sports.Thanks for joining us for Olympic Week.  I could not think of a better country to end with than Mexico.  It has lent particular depth and meaning to our Texas culture and food.  Those of us who live here don’t call it Mexican.  We just call it food!  I also couldn’t think of a friend I would like to share my kitchen with for this event more than Jen from Juanita’s Cocina.  Her recipes take Tex-Mex to a whole new level.  I hope you enjoy this recipe and visit her Cocina for more inspiration. 

Hi, y’all! I’m Jen from Juanita’s Cocina!

I was SO excited when Linda from Tumbleweed Contessa wrote and asked if I would consider guest posting in her kitchen. You see, I’m a HUGE TWC (that’s what all of the cool kids call the Tumbleweed Contessa) fan. We’re both Texans, and we both love cookin’. Linda is even a West Texas gal, and since I’m from the West Texas area, I feel that we’re sort of on the same wavelength. Us West Texas folks know how to make things sparkle and shine, in spite of all of the dust…cooking included. And of course, we all know how to dodge tumbleweeds on a windy day while driving the country roads.

When Linda told me that I’d be a guest poster during her food celebration of the Olympics, I thought: “Why didn’t I think of that???”

Me and this dish are representing Mexico…which is perfect, because I specialize in all things Mexican cooking. Mexican cooking is my comfort zone…it’s where my heart is at. Sometimes I like to tell people that I was raised with a jalapeno in my mouth instead of a pacifier.

It didn’t take me long to settle on the dish I’d be making to share here in the Contessa kitchen. I immediately went to one of our favorite dishes…this Poblano, Hominy, and Chorizo Casserole from The Homesick Texan.

Lisa Fain and the Homesick Texan is one of my go-to stops for amazing Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. I have never tried a recipe from her cookbook or site that I haven’t absolutely fallen in love with. Everything is full of spice and huge, complex flavors, and this casserole is no different. Lisa’s recipes aren’t for the faint of heart…you need to love spice, in a subtle sort of way. Her recipes won’t slap you directly in the face, but they will leave that good chile burn in the back of your throat. It’s a feeling I love.

I figured nothing screams Mexican cooking and is more appropriate for the Tumbleweed Contessa’s Olympic-worthy celebration than chiles, chorizo, and posole (hominy). We served our casserole alongside some smoked brisket, but you can absolutely have this dish as your main entree. It’s THAT good. You don’t need anything else. This casserole is also better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to meld for a bit longer.

Poblano, Hominy, and Chorizo Casserole


  • 2 poblanos
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 1/2 lb. Mexican chorizo, removed from the casing and crumbled
  • 1/2 onion, chopped finely
  • 2 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced finely
  • 2 15 oz. cans of hominy, drained
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Roast the poblanos under the broiler in your oven until skins blacken and char, approximately 5 minutes per side. Once roasted, place the poblanos in a bag or container with a lid, seal and set aside for 10-15 minutes. After 15 minutes, peel the poblanos, remove the stems, and de-seed if desired. Dice the poblanos and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350.

Over medium-low heat, heat the oil in a 10-inch iron (or oven-safe) skillet. Cook the chorizo in the skillet until it is cooked through. Once cooked, remove from the skillet, set on a paper towel-lined plate, and allow to drain.

Add the diced jalapenos and onions to the skillet and cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute before removing the skillet from the heat.

Add the poblanos, chorizo, hominy, sour cream, cumin, cayenne, cilantro, lime juice, and 1/2 of the cheese to the skillet and stir until well-combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Top with the remaining cheese and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until top is browned and casserole is bubbling.

Y’all are going to LOVE this casserole. Sometimes I think people are scared of the word “casserole” (me included). There’s no need to be fearful of this one…unless you’re afraid of delicious!

I truly think that this dish is worthy of an Olympic-style celebration!

Thank you to Linda and Tumbleweed Contessa for allowing me to share one of my favorite dishes here in the Tumbleweed Kitchen. I can’t wait to see what else is served up during this amazing celebration of the foods from different countries!

On to Germany







We can’t ignore Germany.  They have had a real presence at the Olympics.  Plus their food is good.  Today we will do a twist on the traditional German meal of Kraut, Spaetzle und Saiten (Kraut, Noodles and Sausage).  A little about German Olympic history first.

Including the Winter Games of 2010, German athletes have won 1618 medals : 528 gold, 542 silver and 548 bronze.   Of course, there is a lot of story there.  German athletes have taken part in most of the Olympic Games since the first modern Games in 1896. Germany has hosted three Olympic Games, in 1936 both the Winter and Summer Games, and the 1972 Summer Olympics. In addition, Germany had been selected to host the 1916 Summer Olympics as well as the 1940 Winter Olympics, both of which had to be cancelled due to World Wars. After these wars, Germans were banned from participating in 1920, 1924 and 1948. While the country was divided, each of the two German states boycotted the Summer Games: in 1980 West Germany was one of 65 nations which did not go to Moscow in protest at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and in 1984 East Germany joined the Soviet Union (and several others) in the boycott of the Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Texas has a big contention of German immigrants celebrated in the Texas Hill Country, most notably in New Braunfels and Fredericksburg.  Fredericksburg has some great German restaurants and sausage makers.  I am going to use Opa’s Sausage today.



This is one of my favorite fall meals served with a dark rye bread and apple strudel for dessert.  For an appetizer pull out a bag of thick pretzels and grainy mustard.

Braised Red Cabbage

  • 1 head red cabbage thinly sliced/chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

In a large bowl filled with cold water, immerse the sliced cabbage. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Lift the cabbage from the water and add it to the onions. Add the sliced apple, vinegar, honey, and salt; toss to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pan and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Herb Spaetzle (adapted from AllRecipes)

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole milk (plus some reserve to thin if needed)
  • 8 teaspoons minced assorted fresh herbs (such as parsley, thyme, rosemary, and chives), divided
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth

Blend flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in large bowl. Whisk in eggs and milk, forming soft batter.  Add more milk if necessary.  The batter should be very thick but not firm.  Mix in half of herbs.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Butter a large bowl. Working with 1/3 cup batter at a time and using rubber spatula, press batter directly into boiling water through 1/4-inch holes on coarse grater, strainer, or wide ladle. Stir spaetzle to separate and boil 2 minutes. Using fine sieve, scoop spaetzle from pot, drain well, and transfer to buttered bowl.

(Can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add onion; sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon oil, and spaetzle. Sauté until spaetzle begin to brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add 3/4 cup broth. Simmer until broth is absorbed, adding more broth if dry. Mix in remaining herbs; season with salt and pepper.

Apple Streudel (from Pepperidge Farms)

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed
  • Confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Heat the oven to 375°. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork. Stir the granulated sugar, flour and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add the apples and raisins and toss to coat.

Sprinkle additional flour on the work surface.  Unfold the pastry sheet on the work surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 16 x 12-inch rectangle. With the short side facing you, spoon the apple mixture onto the bottom half of the pastry sheet to within 1 inch of the edge.  Roll up like a jelly roll.  Place seam-side down onto a baking sheet.  Tuck the ends under to seal.  Brush the pastry with the egg mixture. Cut several slits in the top of the pastry.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Let the pastry cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

*For best results, make sure to toss the apples and raisins until they’re evenly coated with the flour mixture. The flour helps to thicken the juices released by the apples as they cook.

Serve with ice cream.  YUM!

Our food challenge has been a great success.  So many of you have taken a look at each day’s blog.  I hope you have had a chance to try some of these recipes.  Are you keeping a medal count with your family?  Isn’t is exciting?  We are so excited to have Jen, from Juanita’s Cocina (one of my favorite foodies) to guest post tomorrow.  Be sure to check in and find out what country she will highlight for our final 2012 Olympic Food Challenge.

Italy in a Meatball

Ever since I was young I have wanted to travel to Italy.  I don’t have any specific reason to go.  It just seems like that was the center of the universe in early days and the history, people, scenery and food are enchanting, enticing and romantic.  I think Tuscany would be a good place to start.  Well, it’s a dream.  We all need those.

When I can’t decide what I want to eat, that usually means Italian flavors are what will satisfy.  If I have these meatballs made up and in the freezer, I can pop out a few and have dinner done in a flash.  I usually have serving size portions of my homemade sauce ready too.  Of course the cheese is a good rich part of this meal. This with a nice salad and a glass of wine with the music playing softly in the background can take me away!  (Wasn’t that an ad for something else?)

I originally made this up to submit to Johnsonville for a contest.  However, as usual, I didn’t read the fine print and didn’t realize I couldn’t mention any other brand names nor show them off in the picture.  Needless to say my recipe didn’t get entered.  But it is still good and they missed out.

Italian Sausage Meatballs with Penne and Cheese

  • 1 pound Johnsonville Italian Sausage (casings removed)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • ¼ teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • ½ teaspoon garlic granules
  • 1 1/2 cup Kraft Parmesan Cheese (divided) (I used reduced fat cheese)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon Bertolli olive oil
  • 24 ounce jar Bertolli Tomato & Basil sauce (or your favorite homemade)
  • 14.5 ounce dried penne pasta (I used Barilla Plus multi grain pasta)

Remove the sausage from the casings.  Add 1 egg (per pound), ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, ¼ teaspoon dried red chili flakes and ½ teaspoon garlic granules.  I don’t feel the need to season the sausage too much.  It has a wonderful flavor with the fennel already.  Mix these well and make out into small meatballs.  Place on a baking sheet and bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes. 

At this point, I cool them and put them in a storage bag to use later.  I cook for one so an entire batch is way too much, but this is great to have on hand for a ready-made dinner after work.

Cook pasta as directed on package.  Drain well and put back in the warm pan.  Add 3 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon Bertolli olive oil and 1 cup Kraft Parmesan Low Fat Cheese.  Mix well.  Top each serving with the sauce of your choice and put 4 meatballs per serving on top.  Top off with more Kraft Parmesan Reduced Fat Cheese and a little fresh basil from the garden.

I served pan cooked egg plant drizzled with Bertoli olive oil with mine.

Delicioso!  Ciao!

MiddleSister Diets

MiddleSister shares some of her favorite diet friendly meals with us.  I can’t believe my child doesn’t like tomatoes.

I have found myself saying lately things like, “everyday can’t be a food party” and “sometimes it just has to be plain and simple.”  Clearly, I am dieting.  I have been following various recipes in low calorie and low fat cookbooks.  Unfortunately, I do not like fruit, especially tomatoes.  Almost every recipe has fruit and/or tomatoes.  So, I have taken their recipes as inspirations to make my own.  A few of these follow and you can expect more the longer I am dieting.

Turkey Cordon Bleu (serves 4)

I love Chicken Cordon Bleu, but it’s pretty scary in calories and fat.  This recipe is just as tasty and served with your favorite Cordon Bleu sides, just as scrumptious.  I cooked it all up and ate for four meals.  No one else in my house eats what I do.  Be careful not to overcook as it becomes too tough and rubbery.  I overcook meat all the time because I like it all well done.

  •  4 turkey breast cutlets
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 4 slices deli ham (I prefer honey baked)
  • bread crumbs to coat (I used panko)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • non-fat cooking spray/olive oil to make the breadcrumbs stick
  • ¼ cup white wine (whatever you have laying around)
  • ¼ cup vegetable or chicken broth

Flatten out the cutlets and then layer them with the cheese and ham (1 each).  Mix together bread crumbs and thyme.  Roll it all up and hold it together with a toothpick.  Spray the outside of the turkey with enough spray to hold on the bread crumbs.  Coat with a light layer of the bread crumbs and place in a sauté pan and cook until browned (about 8 minutes).  Add the wine and broth and bring to boil and the sauce thickens a little.  I guess about 5 more minutes.  I served this over some spinach and leftovers over with green salad.  For a heartier meal, you could serve with potatoes or double up on the portion size.


Sausage and Peppers (serves 4)

I was cooking for the family, Tumbleweed Contessa included, but I needed to stay within my low calorie guidelines.  This recipe was really tasty and I think you could pair it with various different sides.  I paired it with polenta cakes grilled indoors for coloring and warming, but mashed potatoes or rice would go well, too.  Or, you could just serve it with a crusty French or Italian bread and butter.

  • 4-6 Seasoned Sausages (chicken or turkey are lower calorie) I like the Italian ones.  Emeril Lagasse has some great flavors.
  • 2 bell peppers (the more color the better the flavor) cut in thin strips
  • 1 large jalapeno, diced
  • 1 onion (white, but red could be good too), slivered
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 jar of marinara sauce (I never knew there were so many flavors)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, minced

Slice up the peppers and onions into thin strips.  Cut the sausage into 1 inch slices.  Spray a sauté pan with the non-fat spray and add the onion and peppers until they are slightly softened.  Add the sausages and Italian seasoning and simmer until the sausages are browned.  Add the marinara sauce, water and parsley until it’s all heated through.  To serve I bought a tube of polenta.  Sliced 1/4 inch and grilled on the grill pan.  I think you could add more or less sauce depending on how the side will soak it up.

For dessert, I made sugar free chocolate mousse and put them into chocolate shells.  It was just enough chocolate.

Jamaican Hamburger Salad (serves 6)

What did she say?  I was bored and really wanted a cheeseburger.  There are not enough calories in a day for a really good cheeseburger, so, I got creative.

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon Lodo Red Adobo (Savory Spice Shop)
  • 1 tablespoon Jamaican Allspice (Savory Spice Shop)
  • 2 tablespoons combined minced ginger and garlic
  • ¼ cup chopped white onion
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Bag of Salad (divided into 6)
  • ½ bunch of cilantro (divided into 6)
  • 6 Kalamata Olives (each plate)

Mix up the beef, cumin, coriander, adobo, allspice, ginger and garlic, and onion.  Shape into 4-6 patties.  Grill to your preferred doneness.  Meanwhile, plate the lettuce and top with cilantro and arrange the olives around the side.  Top with your burger and there you have it.  Of course, my husband ate his on a bun and ate some French fries.

So, everyday does not need to be a food party, but it does not have to be plain and simple either.  With a little creativity, you can make the simple slightly extraordinary. 

Cheeseball, Sausage Balls and Black Eyed Peas-Happy New Year!

The best New Year’s Eve party I have ever been to was not planned.  Some neighbors (4 or 5 other couples) in Austin decided one afternoon to get together. I had a cheese ball I had made and I put together some sausage balls.  Everybody brought an appetizer and we bought pizza.  We took our children along in their pj’s.  I had a 4 year old and a baby.  We put the babies to sleep in playpens or their car seats and the other children piled up on a quilt on the floor in a large play room with their pillows to watch a movie.  One at a time they all drifted off to sleep.  We had to walk across the street to go home.  It was so easy and so much fun.  No planning or much prep work went into it.

The cheese ball recipe is from my neighbor, Ann, again.  It has become a traditional Christmas snack.  Krista doesn’t have Christmas or New Year’s without it.  I wouldn’t think about a Christmas season without one.  It is served best with Wheat Thins.  The sausage balls were my husband Hank’s favorites.  He liked anything with pork.  Those are best dipped in spicy mustard or bar-b-que sauce.

Think about an impromptu New Year’s Eve party for your friends. Don’t think about it too long.  Just do it!

On New Year’s Day you have to have black eyed peas for good luck in the new year.  If you are planning to celebrate the New Year in the South, it is most likely that you will be offered black-eyed peas in some form, either just after midnight or on New Year’s Day. From grand gala gourmet dinners to small casual gatherings with friends and family, these flavorful legumes are traditionally, according to Southern folklore, the first food to be eaten on New Year’s Day for luck and prosperity throughout the year ahead.

Black-eyed peas are also a key component of “Hoppin’-John”.  Comprised of black-eyed peas, rice, and pork (ham-hocks, bacon, or neckbone), “Hoppin’ John” dates back to at least the 1840’s in Charleston where a freed but partially crippled black man named John was said to hop through the streets selling bowls of this dish made by his wife.  As he passed through the streets it’s said that people would remark “here comes hoppin’ John!”.

This salad is great with anything from a sandwich to grilled pork tenderloin or seafood.  It’s great for a cookout, tailgate party, or picnic and is even better if made a day in advance so the flavors can marry.  Even if it’s snowy outside the vegetables are available year-round and usually have good flavor…hence my alternate name for it:  “Summer in a Bowl”!

Happy New Year!  We wish you a bright and tasty 2012!


A Southwest Christmas Morning Breakfast

I am sure that you are busy wrapping up the odds and ends for the big day.  Me too!  If you haven’t planned something here for Christmas breakfast here is one of my family favorites.  I love this for Christmas morning brunch.  I look forward to making this again and again.  This recipe appears a little involved, but it really isn’t.  The sausage can be browned and ready to use in a container in the refrigerator.  The cheese can be grated ahead of time too.   This is warm and very flavorful.  It serves 8 or more with good sized portions.   A smaller version can be made by using half the ingredients too.