Pumpkin Cream Pasta with Sausage

Fall is my favorite time of year. The scents, the colors, the cooler weather that ensures I-no-longer-need-to-wear-short-sleeves-and-show-my-hated-elbows-because-I-have-issues, and the flavors. Oh, the flavors and tastes of fall!

A favorite taste of fall for me is, of course, pumpkin. I had used it numerous times in sweet dishes and in dog treats, but never really in savory dishes. Once I discovered this side of pumpkin, I was enamored with exploring the ingredient further. I began my pumpkin adventure with a black bean pumpkin soup that I’ll share another time. It was delicious, and really opened my eyes to how good pumpkin could be in a savory application.

So delicious!

So delicious!

I’ve been wanting to get through the venison Italian sausage we make every year before my husband begins hunting this season. Where we’re from, it’s considered bad luck to begin the hunting season with any of last year’s deer in the freezer! I love cream sauces, and have been craving some sort of creamy pasta dish that uses this sausage. I thought I’d like to try making a dish that incorporated the salty sausage, nutty pumpkin, and toothsome pasta, with a little cream for good measure.

I love how this pasta turned out. It was exactly the flavor profile I wanted; nutty (pumpkin), salty (sausage), rich (cream), earthy (sage), and a little heady (wine). I’ll be honest, I thought my kids would hate this. My son declared it “kinda good”, a bit of a compliment, really; and my daughter snarfed her ziti and sauce, leaving only the sausage behind (this is usual for her with pasta dishes).

I had some leftover sauteed mushrooms that I reheated and threw in for my husband and I, and Mr. Pants declared that not only did the mushrooms add something for him, he would prefer it with them. So if you want to add sauteed mushrooms, I would just slice some fresh mushrooms and either throw them in about halfway through browning the sausage (removing and re-adding at the same time as the sausage), or sauteing with the garlic, and proceeding as written.

 

Pumpkin Cream Pasta with Sausage

Ingredients

 1 lb penne
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 lb bulk Italian sausage (or links, casings removed)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 Tablespoon fresh sage cut into chiffonade*
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
fresh sage leaves for garnish (optional)**

Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown the sausage, breaking it up into smaller pieces. Transfer the sausage to a bowl.  Drain most of the fat from the skillet, leaving a couple teaspoons.

Add garlic to the skillet, and saute’ for a minute or two, being careful not to burn it.

Add sage and wine to the skillet.  Bring to a boil and cook until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.  Add the stock and pumpkin puree and stir to combine.  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.  Return the sausage to the skillet.  Reduce the heat to low or simmer and stir in cream, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.

*To chiffonade is to cut something into ribbons.  This is easily accomplished by stacking several sage leaves, rolling from one end to the other, and then slicing that roll crosswise into thin strips.

**Fried sage is delicious, and very pretty when the leaves are left whole.  When your olive oil is hot, and before adding the sausage in step one, select several whole sage leaves per plate for garnish.  Fry in the oil for just a minute or two, flipping the leaf if necessary.  Carefully remove and drain on a paper towel.
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Meatball Subs

meatball sub5

Warm, cheesy and saucy. No, not me, the sandwich!

Tonight is “build your own sub” night at the Pants house. I had only planned on cold cuts, cheese, veggies, and condiments; and with lots to choose from, I figured I could make everyone happy. I didn’t take the chilly, rainy weather into consideration, and found myself craving something more than a cold sandwich. Hmm, warm, meaty, cheesy, maybe a little saucy? Meatball subs, it is!

meatball sub1

Tearing the cheese lets you cover the entire bun.

meatball sub2

Place under your broiler just long enough to melt the cheese and toast your bun.

See the fennel and garlic? Mmmm.

These will be really filling!

These will be really filling!

I wanted to keep this really easy, which was the point to having subs in the first place, so I decided to use the pre-made meatballs I already had in the freezer. I’m using Foster Farms Italian-style turkey meatballs; they’re really tasty, and I almost always have a bag on hand. I thaw them, and then cut them in half or thirds; I find this makes them more manageable and easier to eat.

The combination of the meatballs in a highly flavored red sauce with ooey-gooey cheese on chewy, crusty bread warms me right to my toes. This sandwich elicited thumbs-ups and a “delicious, baby”, which also warmed me to my toes!

Meatball Subs

Ingredients

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon fennel seed, crushed or ground
2 teaspoons Worcestershire
18 frozen Italian style meatballs, thawed and cut into halves or thirds
12 slices provolone cheese
6 (6″) sub or hoagie buns, split
shredded Parmesan

Directions

Preheat broiler (or preheat oven to 400).

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, and saute for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant.

Add the tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, fennel, Worcestershire, and meatballs. Stir well to incorporate. Lower heat to low and cook until the meatballs are warmed through.

Open the buns and place open-face up on your broiler pan. Place 2 slices of provolone on each bun, tearing the cheese into pieces if needed to ensure all the bread is covered.

Broil until the bun is toasted, and the cheese has melted, about 2-5 minutes. If you have a faulty broiler like I do, you can also place them in a 400 degree oven for about 6 minutes. Watch them carefully, these times are all dependent on your oven!

With a slotted spoon, spoon a generous serving of your meatball mixture into each cheesy sub. Top with a generous serving of shredded Parmesan.

Bacon Corn Chowder

image (1)
Wow!  My first blog post, finally.  I’ve been in agony over what to post first, wanting it to be exactly the right thing.  I’m a perfectionist, and I wanted a perfectly written recipe, with perfect pictures of my perfect food.  Did I mention I started this blog almost three months ago?  Yep, that’s right, I’m also a terrible procrastinator.  I have a tendency to shut down if things aren’t perfectly perfect, and I have to keep reminding myself that things are rarely never completely perfect.  I started this blog as a fun outlet for my creativity and love of discovery and sharing; if I worried about perfection it wouldn’t be fun anymore and I would never post anything!

I chose this recipe as my first post because, well, because it’s the first one I’ve remembered to take pictures of!  Now, about these pictures.  Oh my.  I am taking pictures with my Samsung Galaxy S5 because that’s what I have.  And will continue to take pictures with for the foreseeable future.  I’m also woefully new to food photography, but instead of spending all my time researching “How to Take the Perfect Picture”, I’ve decided to post and learn as I go.  I promise, the food is delicious!
I just have to laugh.  It really is good, I promise.

I just have to laugh. It really is good. Really, really!

Now, on to said food.  I love soup in all forms; bisque, chili, chowder, broth, etc.,etc.  Now that Fall is finally here, I wanted to create something that was filling and delicious, and met my craving for comfort food.  Few of my recipes are perfect (there’s that word again) the first time I make them, but this one needed no tweaking as far as I was concerned.  More importantly, it needed no tweaking as far as Mr. Pants was concerned.  He is my toughest, if most reluctant, critic.  I think he figures it’s the equivalent of being asked “do these jeans make my butt look big?”.  (Not that I’ve ever asked that.  I already know what my butt looks like, and I don’t need someone confirming it, thankyouverymuch.)  He figures there is no right way to answer, but he is also learning as I go!

This chowder pairs salty, smoky bacon with sweet corn and earthy potatoes.  The smoked Gouda added at the end is completely optional, but oh-so-delicious!

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The table isn’t dirty. Really. It’s an old porcelain top on the table my great-grandmother made.

Bacon Corn Chowder

  • Servings: 6, generously
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Ingredients

12-16 oz smoked bacon, chopped
5 russet potatoes, diced (skin on or off, your preference)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
6 cups chicken stock or corn stock, or a mix of both
4 cups corn kernels (about 6 ears) (frozen kernels, thawed, can be used)
2 cups half and half*
salt and pepper, to taste

smoked Gouda, shredded (optional)

 

Directions

In a large stockpot, cook bacon over medium-high heat until bacon is done to desired crispness**.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, reserve.

In the bacon fat, cook potatoes for about 5 minutes, scraping the nummy bits from the bottom of the stockpot.  Add garlic, stir and cook another 3 minutes or so, still scraping bottom of stockpot.

Add flour and thyme, stir to coat all the potatoes.  Add stock, again scraping bottom of the stockpot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer, using your stove’s lowest heat setting.  Cook until the potatoes are fork tender, but not completely soft.

With a slotted spoon, remove about 1/2 to 2/3 of the potatoes (depending on how many pieces you want to bite into in your chowder), and reserve.  Add 2 cups of the corn kernels to the stockpot.  With an immersion blender, blend until smooth.  (You can also use a regular blender, blending the mixture in batches.  If you do this, add the mixture back to your stockpot before moving on to the next step.)

Slowly add the half and half, stirring until incorporated.

Add the reserved potatoes, the rest of the corn kernels, and the bacon (reserve some crisp bacon for garnish, if desired).  Stir well.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle soup into bowls, garnishing with some shredded Gouda and/or crisp bacon, if desired.

 

*If you want to cut some calories, you can substitute milk, or even evaporated milk in equal amounts for the half and half.  If you want to make it decadent, you can substitute heavy cream.  Go ahead, I won’t tell.

**I only cook the bacon until a bunch of the fat is rendered out, and the bacon is still chewy; that’s how we like the texture of our bacon in soups.  Sometimes I continue to cook a little of the bacon until crisp to use as a garnish.