Thursday, October 31, 2013

October with Ore-Ida

We love french fries in our house, but for whatever reason I rarely ever think about picking them up when I'm at the grocery store.  Maybe it's because unconsciously I know that if I buy them and bring them into the house, they will be eaten?  And really, looking at the nutritional information for the new Ore-Ida Olive Oil and Sea Salt Country Style French Fries (which we LOVED), they are not bad at all when it comes to calories, meaning I'm going to have to remember to buy these more often!

This month we were fortunate to work with Ore-Ida and so I gave their new Olive Oil and Sea Salt Country Style French Fries a try, pairing them with a roast and vegetables that I had thrown into the crock-pot earlier in the day.

All I can say is WOW!  They were so nice and crunchy, there was no 'frozen french fry' taste to them, and they were not overly salted (despite a review on the Ore-Ida website that says otherwise).  With a little of the homemade gravy poured over them, they were a wonderful accompaniment to our dinner and better yet, they took no time at all!

And then there are the holidays and the requisite Cheesy Hash Brown Potato Casserole.  This is something I make every Christmas, and usually only at Christmas because its so good and so rich that it's a treat for our family.  Well it wasn't Christmas, but this month I made a batch of the Cheesy Hash Brown Potato Casserole using Ore-Ida's hash brown potatoes and I paired it with a roasted lemon chicken and some fresh broccoli (which didn't make the picture below).

I made the recipe as is, except for substituting the corn flakes for the new Nabisco Premium Rosemary and Olive Oil Saltine Crackers (which btw, were yummy!).  You definitely need a crunch factor on the cheesy potatoes to offset the creamy and cheesiness of the dish, but oh they are so good!  

And for our last Ore-Ida dish this month, I paired it with Johnsonville Breakfast Sausage to make a quick and tasty Muffin Cup!  With a bottom crust of Ore-Ida Hash Browns, some cheese and some sausage that I had browned and sprinkled in each muffin tin, along with some eggs that had been beaten and poured over each cup and baked, this made for a quick breakfast.

I made about a dozen of these cups and what wasn't eaten for breakfast was easily stored in an airtight container and reheated in the microwave the next morning.

Definitely make sure you are using a non-stick muffin cups though!  I used some cooking spray thinking this would be enough to prevent the cups from sticking and I was dead wrong :(  They were more difficult to remove from the tins (and not nearly as pretty), but they were still yummy all the same.

These muffin cups are really versatile as well.  You can use up any leftover veggies you may have laying around in the refrigerator as well as any sort of cheese.  I used shredded cheddar in these, but I'm thinking the next time I make these I'm going to try shredded parmesan cheese and perhaps some spinach and artichoke hearts.

For more recipes like these, visit AllRecipes!!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Italian Sausage

When I was growing up my mother would make spaghetti about once a week.  It was always a production, and not in a good way. Dad would never eat it, he didn't like noodles (why I'm not sure), and my younger brother (who always seemed to get his way) never wanted mushrooms in the sauce and I disliked onions.  Needless to say, when mom made sauce it contained no mushrooms and I would be left to pick out the onions while dad fired up a steak on the grill.  It's amazing what I remember of my childhood.  There are many memories of meal times in our house.  The cereal for dinner and making my brother laugh until he spewed cheerios all across the dinner table.  Dropping the hot pizza, right out of the oven, onto the floor, cheesy side down.  Whenever I think about them, they bring a smile to my face despite that my dad is no longer with us.

This leads me to tonight's dinner, Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Italian Sausage.  Like I said, the only pasta we ever ate growing up was spaghetti but despite my sheltered Italian food background, I've made up for it since!  I actually have my friend Angie to thank for introducing me to the world that is gnocchi.  I'd never tried it before and she let me sneak a fork full off of her plate and it was just so darn good!  We always have gnocchi in the house now, ready to drop at a moments notice.

Tonight, thanks to our awesome sponsor, Johnsonville we made a delicious dinner that took very little time to throw together, which is always a bonus in our house!  I browned Johnsonville's Sweet Italian Sausage, boiled a package of mini gnocchi and sauteed up some miscellaneous veggies I had in the fridge.  The recipe called for red peppers and snap peas but I used spinach, mushrooms and a handful of sun-dried tomatoes.  Tossed them with some store bought pesto and light cream, and combined everything for a really pretty (I love the colors once plated) dinner.

The only complaint I got from my teenage son was that there wasn't any left!  Thanks Johnsonville for the opportunity to try something new, your Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Italian Sausage was a hit!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Johnsonville Italian Wedding Soup

Soup is a staple in our house, we could eat it all the time, as long as it's not from a can.  It's a great way to use leftovers (like the last little bit of various frozen veggies you may have in the freezer - that's our house), and it's pretty hard to screw up.

Italian Wedding Soup is one soup that I've never made before so I was excited to see a recipe for it from Johnsonville on AllRecipes.   I followed the recipe as directed, my only change was that I used ditalini instead of orzo since that was the only small pasta I had on hand.  I used Johnsonville's Pork and Chicken Mild Italian Sausage, which contains 50% less fat and just removed the casing to make the mini meatballs.  The meatballs turned out great, they were flavorful and held together really well in the soup.

The soup didn't call for any salt, but I felt like it really needed a little.  I'm guessing that because I used the Johnsonville 50% less fat sausage that the broth didn't turn out quite as seasoned as I would have liked.  And because I like lemon in pretty much everything, I added just a touch of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little shredded parmesan which pushed this soup right over the top for me.  

It's been raining here in western Maryland for 6 days now.  It's grey and drizzling today (again), and its damp.  The perfect day for a warm bowl of Johnsonville's Italian Wedding Soup and a few slices of some warm buttered bread.  Hopefully, when I get home today there's a little soup left for me!