Tag Archives: turkey sausage

Sausage, Tomato and Basil Spaghetti Squash Bake

Did you indulge or party just a tee-tiny bit too much this past weekend?  Or maybe you fell for that lie we all tell ourselves when we’ve eaten half the brownies and, thoroughly disgusted with ourselves, take action to rid the temptation by saying, “I want this out of the house.  I’ll finish it and then it won’t be around anymore to tease me.”  It’s so awful.  And hard, too.  But I’ve found if I can stick to a healthful meal plan for two or three days eating well almost becomes a habit.  All of us have struggled with our weight at one time or another.  College weight, baby weight and old lady weight have all been my personal nightmares.  Here’s a special memory that ought to make you feel better.  When I was pregnant with our son, James, I gained 52 (yes, 52) pounds.  I was enormous; I looked like a walrus…except I had braces and a real tragedy of a haircut.  After I gave birth I was still fat but I had the greatest treasure in the world.  Anyway, one afternoon my father came over…alone.  Normally he and Mom came over together or Mom came alone.  We didn’t really have what one would call a “visit”, as he strode with his long legs into our house and made the following announcement.  “Your mother and I are terribly worried.  So I’m only going to say this once.  Lose the weight.”  With that, he turned around and walked out.  Nice, huh?  Thanks, Daddy.  I can’t say his little pep talk worked, what with a new baby and nursing and all; it took a while after that to “lose the weight”.  But these are the types of meals that make dropping a few pounds somewhat easier.  We can do this.  We’ve all lost weight before and we’ll do it again.  With a little planning we can be healthy about it and keep the weight off.  Fingers crossed.

I love this dish!  It is incredibly satisfying and as filling as a pasta dish but without the sluggish, weighted down feeling one is left with after sitting down to a huge bowl of penne, fettucine or farfalle…not to mention the guilt, smothering like the black cloud we all know it to be.  This casserole doubles extremely well, baked in a 9″ x 13″ dish.  I typically double the recipe as my entire household enjoys it for lunch the following day, along with a good bit set aside for my brother and father.  More fresh basil may be added if you like, as well as more grape tomatoes.  The tomatoes bake-off beautifully, warm and savory, they almost melt in your mouth.  The recipe doesn’t call for much parmesan cheese but if you want to stay Paleo or keep the calories out just leave it off.  Truly, with all the different flavors, this dish doesn’t need it.  Enjoy!

Sausage, Tomato and Basil Spaghetti Squash Bake

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 4 cups roasted spaghetti squash, that’s about one large squash
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/4 pounds Italian style turkey sausage
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated using the large holes of a box grater
  •  1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn by hand
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375°.  Cover an 8″ x 11″ baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. With a large spoon scoop the spaghetti squash flesh out of the shell and into a large bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Pour half of the olive oil into a large skillet, heat to medium and swirl the olive oil fully covering the bottom and sides of the pan.
  4. Add the whole sausage links to the pan and cook over medium until browned all over.
  5. Leaving the juices in the pan, transfer the sausage to a bowl and let cool.
  6. Add the remaining olive oil, onion and garlic to the pan, stirring well to get up all the bits of sausage.
  7. When the onion begins to turn clear, add the zucchini and oregano and stir well.
  8. Add the crushed tomatoes, stir well and remove from heat.
  9. Transfer the vegetable mixture to the bowl of spaghetti squash.
  10. To the bowl add the grape tomatoes, basil and parsley and toss well to thoroughly combine.
  11. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust seasonings if needed.
  12. Transfer mixture to baking dish and, if using parmesan, scatter the cheese evenly over the top of the casserole.
  13. Bake 25-30 minutes or until the grape tomatoes become soft to the touch.




Breakfast Egg Cups…perfect for your commute!

Morning comes awfully early when one has a commute.  And I don’t know anyone who wants to sit down to a hearty breakfast the minute they open their sleepy little eyes.  It seems we all hit the floor running and don’t stop until we literally run out of gas.  My son, James, has never been a lover of the too-soon breakfast and we’ve tangled with this since he was in kindergarten.  At the tender age of five I struggled to offer him something healthful AND tasty.  While he was in school I drove way out on Powerline Road to a roadside stand and bought just picked produce.  Money was tight and I could little afford to waste a thin dime but I was determined that James would have the best I could give him.  I bought a little of this and little of that.  Zucchini, tomatoes, green beans and strawberries were staples.   Dawn broke and I would schlep to the kitchen trying to put together a breakfast that would interest James while, at the same time, hold him in good stead.  What a struggle!  “Mama, I can’t!”, was typically his response when he brought his plates to the kitchen.  We still laugh about this but one day I exploded.  Yes.  I popped.  I’ve been told, after the fact, that I’m a little scary when I get mad.  I ranted and raved and carried on, “What?  What is it I can fix for you that you’ll eat?  WHAT?”.  That sweet, little boy looked up at me and earnestly answered, “Coffee and a pretzel?”  Can you even?  Lord, I laughed so hard I probably tinkled in my pants.  And those strawberries I could ill afford?  They were found a long time later when I found the strength to move the sofa in order to clean.  Though we all know a good breakfast is crucial for a productive day the struggle continues.  I know my boy is NOT going to lose a precious five minutes of sleep in order to throw together a breakfast he can eat on the train or in his office.  And that’s where Mama comes in.  That boy is going to be moving out, and soon, but until then I can pack a pretty and healthful breakfast….one that will keep him fueled until 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon.


These egg cups are easy, versatile, healthful and filling.  Paired with fresh fruit, your family will thank you.  Truly.  You’re going to start hearing, “Thanks, Mom!” more and more.  They can be made with fresh eggs, egg whites or Egg Beaters.  I use fresh eggs and always, always organic.  The recipe I’m posting calls for sausage and vegetables but any and all may be substituted for any other filling.  Cubed ham, chorizo, spinach, kale, chopped tomatoes, scallions, cheddar, parmesan and mozzarella are just a few ideas.  Leftover crab or shrimp are also tasty morsels.  So go crazy.  Your family will love them!


Breakfast Egg Cups

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 8 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage, in bulk or out of casings
  • 2-3 scallions, chopped, green tops included
  • 2 medium zucchini, grated
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 handful fresh spinach leaves, chopped (optional)
  • 12 grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup 2% reduced fat cheddar cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Spray a non-stick spray all over the top of a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  3. In a large, non-stick skillet brown the sausage, breaking up any large clumps with the back of a spoon.  You don’t want any large pieces as they’re too big for the muffin cups.  If you’re using pork sausage drain it well.
  4. To the turkey add the scallions, zucchini, basil and spinach.  Mix well and continue to cook until the vegetables have wilted.  Remove from heat to cool.
  5. While the sausage mixture cools pour the eggs evenly into the sprayed muffin cups.  I find using a 1/4 measuring cup makes this quick and simple.
  6. Taste the sausage/vegetable mixture for salt and pepper and adjust seasonings.  I find the sausage adds plenty of salt so I add only pepper.
  7. Divide the sausage mixture evenly between the muffin cups, gently pressing the filling down.
  8. Place one tomato in the center of each egg cup.
  9. If using cheese, sprinkle over each egg cup.
  10. Bake egg cups for 20-25 minutes or until puffy and golden on the edges.
  11. Allow to cool completely before refrigerating.  I store each one in individual plastic bags.  To re-heat I place as many egg cups as needed on a plate and zap in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.  If you’re heating just one for the road, 15 seconds on a plate is perfect then drop it back in the bag it lived in when in the refrigerator and you’re good to go.



Turkey Sausage, Kale and Sweet Potato Stew…the perfect mid-week dinner

How many times have we all exclaimed, “If I have to have chicken for dinner one more time I’m going to scream!”?  I loathe that chicken rut.  Just hate it.  I’m done with that old, beat soy sauce-worcestershire sauce-garlic-ginger-honey marinade.  It’s so … 2005.  Never you mind because I have the answer… for one night, anyway.  Turkey sausage, kale and sweet potato stew is quick to prepare, clean and feeds a crowd.  If you don’t have a crowd you’ll have plenty left over to pack for next day’s lunches.  I’m all about that.  Somewhere between a stew and a soup, this meal is high in fiber and low in fat.  It can be served with a side salad but is hearty enough that it can be served alone.  And as the weather’s turned from cool to positively sweltering it turns out this dish is even tastier when it is eaten just warm.  How’s that for lagniappe?  If you have time, the vegetables can be chopped and refrigerated the night before preparing the stew.  I alternate between organic turkey and chicken sausage, typically buying whatever’s on sale.  If your family’s not finicky you can skip chopping the baby kale and toss the whole leaves straight into the soup.  Or you can substitute baby spinach for the kale.  I spend a little extra on canned organic cannellini beans rather than conventional canned beans.  They’re not much more in cost and organic will yield a cleaner, tastier meal.  In fact, I use organic products for this entire recipe.  But it’s up to you.  I say, just get the best you can.  Also, feel free to add more or less of any of the ingredients based on your likes and dislikes.  It’s an incredibly adaptable and forgiving recipe.  Start to finish you’re looking at about an hour and a quarter.  With 45 minutes to cook, there’s plenty of time to enjoy a quick shower and a glass of wine!











Turkey, Kale and Sweet Potato Soup

  • Servings: 3 1/2 - 4 quarts
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  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds Italian turkey or chicken sausage, out of casings
  • 1 large, sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 32-ounce box low sodium chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups rough chopped baby kale, that’s a 5-ounce box
  • 2 cans cannellini beans, drained and well rinsed
  1. Over medium heat, add olive oil to a large, heavy bottomed pot.
  2. Add turkey sausage and brown, breaking up the sausage with the back of your spoon or with an old fashioned potato masher.
  3. When sausage has browned add the onion and cook until clear, about 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the garlic, carrots and sweet potato and cook until the garlic has softened, about 2-3 minutes.  Continue stirring to avoid scorched vegetables.
  5. Using your hands, squeeze the tomatoes over the pot to break them up and stir into the vegetables.  Pour any juices from the can into the pot.
  6. Add the chicken broth to the pot, stir and taste for any needed salt and pepper.
  7. Raise heat to a soft simmer and add baby kale and cannellini beans.
  8. Stir, cover pot and simmer 30-45 minutes or until all vegetables are tender.
  9. If you have time, uncover and remove from heat for 10-15 minutes.  The stew will thicken a bit as it cools.

Quick Turkey Meat Sauce for pasta

We recently learned that Elizabeth is coming to visit.  Sweet, brilliant, older cousin of James, Catherine, Christopher, Meg and Annie.  They adore her and she them.  As a new-born Elizabeth began her summer journeys down to South Florida.  After James was born she was the perfect summer playmate, being four years older and a girl.    Cynthia and she would fly down and stay for a month.  Or two.  It was most splendid.  They always, always stayed at Mom and Dad’s.  But come 4:00 p.m. those two girls would be at MY house.  It was hot out, damned hot, and respite could be found out back in the cement  pond.  Well, at least for “the cur-dren”, white-trash talk for “children”.  We would get them all greased up with 75 SPF sunscreen while they protested, tried to wiggle away and when we just couldn’t bear it any more allowed them into the pool.  Then came our preparations.  The Mama’s preparations.  In spite of the killer, oppressive heat we had to cover every inch of our flesh with sticky, bad-smelling mosquito repellant.  Foreheads, backs of hands, toes, ears…every inch of exposed flesh had to be covered.  The mosquitos were huge.  There were times you thought you had  reached down to pet the dog but turns out it was a really big mosquito.  Then we had to select tunes.  Everyday we would deliberate between the same two cd’s, K.D. Lang’s “Absolute Torch and Twang” or Sarah Vaughan’s “Brazilian Romance”.  If it had been a good day, meaning the children had been getting along,  then K.D. Lang was scorching the outside speakers.  But.  If it had been a bad day, and they had been quarreling, more likely than not, Say-ruh Vaughan was crooning in the back ground.  It was 5:00 in the afternoon by then and hotter than blue blazes outside.  We’d pour ourselves liquid anesthesia, take it outside, gather our chairs and settle in.  While K.D. Lang belted out “She was a big-boned gal from southern Alberta, you just couldn’t call her small…” we would be getting in that “don’t move, barely breathe and it’s almost cool.  Or at least tolerable” mindset.  But James and Elizabeth were in their element.  Happy and shrieking, water splashing everywhere, the children were loving their pool time.  Cousins have such a bond.


Cynthia and I would sip on our G & T’s, occasionally moving our chairs to miss the tidal wave coming straight for us from the pool.  After an hour of happy shrieks and splashing water; of races and cannonballs we could see the kids had slowed down and were getting a little frayed around the edges, if ya catch my drift.  The children were tuckered out and needed to be fed.  It was time for some frozen sugar recreation to avoid total meltdown.  Unfortunately, that’s when the tears, bitterness and recriminations would set in.  I’d go inside, get the bottomless box of popsicles out of the freezer and bring it out to the pool.  “Who wants a popsicle?”, I cheerfully called.  And, predictably, it was always the same tired response, “I do! I do! I CALL THE BLUE ONE!”  Well, guess what?  In that big ol’ box there were probably four orange, (yuck), four green, (that’s even worse), one red, (okay),  and one prized, coveted tropical blue popsicle.  And just who’s gonna get it?  Well, the arms were waving in the pool, the children were jumping like little fools with excitement.  Cynthia would tell me to give it to James and pull Elizabeth aside.  Then we had melt down. Big, fat alligator tears would fall out of poor Elizabeth’s eyes and stream down her red, sunburned cheeks.  Cynthia would drape her towel over her and hold her tightly and say in her calm, soothing way, “Elizabeth, darling.  You’re older than James.  Let him have the blue popsicle.  You’re older, darling, have the red one.”  Poor Elizabeth by that time was sobbing; face all splotchy and swollen from crying.  She always responded the same way, “But, Mama.  He ALWAYS gets the blue one and you always say he can have it because I’m older and I never, EVER, MAMA, get the blue one!”  Sob, sob, hiccup, hiccup.  Meanwhile K.D. was just a wailing in the background, “Coyote, coyote, can you tell me why?  Every time that moon big moon shines you sit right down and cryyyyy…”  Well, who’s cryin’ now?  And pitiful  Elizabeth would reply, “Fine, Mama!”,  with all the anger in her tiny, bony body.  She, predictably, turned to James and under her breath say, “How’d you like it if I left and went back to New Jersey ?  Tomorrow?  I’m leaving!”  Of course, James would burst into tears and wail, “Mama! Elizabeth is leaving us! She’s leaving!  Tomorrow!  To New Jersey!”  Ugh. Every single day we replayed this scenario. Clearly, play time was over…WAY OVER.  Cynthia and I would bundle the sobbing, heaving little ones in their beach towels, put the chairs back, grab the remains of our worn out, tepid gin and tonics and head into the house.  Into the bathtub she’d put them while I rustled up spaghetti with meat sauce, apple slices and organic skim milk to tame the savage beasts.  She’d dress and deposit those tired, hungry babies onto the sofa and pop one of their favorite Disney movies in the DVR, Robinhood or Lady ON The Tramp, as Elizabeth called it.  We’d quote lines from the movie as we served them their dinners.  “Oh, Marion! What a bonny, wee bunny!”, we’d sing as they munched on their apple slices served on melamine plates.  Well, they ain’t fighting over the blue popsicle anymore, nor are they watching Robinhood.  But they still laugh at each other and verbally shove each other during a rousing game of Scrabble.  They go to concerts and work out together.  They support each other in times of disappointment and revel in each other’s accomplishments and achievements.  They call each other the “Co-Bro” and “Co-Sis”.  And they’ve gotten to that special place where they’ll gladly share the blue popsicle….I think.

The following recipe is a little more sophisticated than what we gave the children but it is still a magnificent way to squeeze in more vegetables.  I grate zucchini and add it to so many of my dishes, this being one.  Grated zucchini and chopped spinach both seem to disappear in this so with a large amount of savory vegetables it packs quite the nutritious punch.  If you’re really pressed for time, by all means use frozen chopped onion and bell pepper.  I also use a great deal of turkey products.  In this dish I use ground turkey and spicy turkey sausage which really isn’t spicy but just well seasoned.  Jennie-O brand is great in this dish.  When it comes to pasta I’m crazy about the whole grain lines out on the market.  Whole wheat pasta is not the block of sticky lead it used to be.  Use which ever brand strikes your fancy but do try it.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Quick Turkey Meat Sauce for pasta

Quick Meat Sauce (for pasta)

  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 package ground turkey
  • 1 package turkey sausage
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, grated on large holes of box grater or 1 bag frozen, chopped spinach defrosted with all water squeezed out
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of good oregano
  • 1 or 2 six-ounce cans tomato paste, I use organic
  • 2 28 ounce cans San Marzano whole tomatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound pasta of your choice, cooked to al dente stage
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese, optional
  1. In a large pot bring olive oil to medium heat and brown ground turkey.
  2. Take sausage out of casings and brown in pot with ground turkey, breaking up sausage with a spoon.
  3. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic.  Stir well.
  4. Add oregano and tomato paste. Stir well making sure paste is combined.
  5. Add whole tomatoes and break apart with spoon.
  6. Let simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Tear fresh basil leaves and add to pot.
  8. Taste for salt and pepper.
  9. Serve over pasta with freshly grated parmesan cheese.