Dixie Chik’s Entry into Tastespotting’s Johnsonville Sausage Contest

I ran across this contest on www.tastespotting.com recently.  Use Johnsonville Italian sausage in an original or not-so-original way – should be fun, right?  It was.  My first attempt was a sausage, cheese and maple scone that looked great but didn’t quite make the cut in the taste area.  Needed probably more cheese and a bit more fluffiness.  Probably needs to be a biscuit.  A big, fat biscuit.  I wanted the sausage and cheese to combine with the pure maple syrup to make the ultimate breakfast bread. 

I will be tweaking this and trying to get it perfected because Joanna and I think it really has potential.  So stay tuned for all that.

So, here’s the final recipe.  Mr. Dixie thoroughly enjoyed it.

Italian Sausage Reubens with Caramelized Onions

1 pound Johnsonville Italian Sausage

10 slices Jewish Rye bread

5 slices Swiss cheese

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 tsp coarse salt

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup sauerkraut

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup catsup (ketchup) what’s the difference? No one has ever told me

1 tbsp pickle relish

1 dash tabasco sauce

In a small sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat; add onions and sea salt.  Combine and reduce heat to low.  Cover, but leave a small opening for steam to escape.  Simmer onions for 2-3 hours, until caramelized and very soft.  Add sauerkraut and simmer for about 15-20 minutes longer.

Combine the mayo, catsup, relish and hot sauce in a small bowl; chill.

Remove casings from sausage.  Slice sausages vertically (to make two long halves).  In a large pan, saute them over medium heat until done in the middle and browned, turning about every few minutes; set aside.  Heat a panini grill over medium-high heat. (You can also put these back in your pan if you don’t have a panini grill to grill the sandwich and melt the cheese). Brush melted butter on one side of each slice of bread.  Spread the dressing on one side (unbuttered side) of 4 pieces.  When the grill is ready, place one bread slice (or two, depending on how big your grill is), buttered side down and dressing side up.  Layer the sausage first, followed by onion/sauerkraut mixture and then cheese.  Top the sandwiches off with the remaining bread and grill for about 2-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the bread is nicely browned.

Dip in the remaining sauce.

~Enjoy~

Dixie Chik

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Pioneer Woman’s Cake Balls~Halloween Style

Once I saw these little monsters on her site I knew I had to make them.   So cute, so fun, and so incredibly rich, not to mention very Halloween-y.  And I like making little faces as much as the kids do.  And you KNOW anything Pioneer Woman does turns out awesome ;).  When I start looking on her blog I have a very hard time mustering up the strength to pull myself away; she’s kind of an addiction.  Is there a PW support group???

Anyway…onto the balls…..

1 box cake mix (and everything you need to bake it)

1 container cake frosting

1 package lollipop sticks (found at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, etc)

2 1 lb packages melting candies (I used white chocolate and milk chocolate; think ghosts and monsters)

Tubes of gel icing for decorating

Prepare the cake according to instructions.  Allow to cool completely.

Crumble the cake, a little bit at a time, in a large mixing bowl and mix until its just a bunch of crumbs. 

Add the cake frosting to the cake crumbs, stirring gently to combine until it becomes a mushy mess.  With your hands, roll into small balls, about the size of a golf ball.  Put them in the freezer for an hour (or more).  You want them good and solid. 

When you’re ready to take them out of the freezer, go ahead and melt the candies. 

You can use a double boiler, but I used my microwave.  I just put them in there for about 30 seconds at a time on defrost, stirring really good in between. 

Insert a lollipop stick into each of the cake balls.  Dip into melted chocolate, covering completely.  Decorate the little monster faces with gel icing.

Have fun!!

But please make us!!

Because we would be sooooo sad if you didn’t…..

The original PW recipe can be found  here.

Happy Halloween!!!

~Dixie Chik~

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Individual Pizza Pasta Squares

These were fun and easy- pasta with a pizza twist.  And individual size, so everybody gets to put what they want in theirs.

1 lb Ziti pasta (or whatever kind of pasta you like), cooked and drained

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes

1 tbsp basil   

1 tbsp oregano

1 tbsp garlic salt

2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce

Your favorite pizza toppings (we used several different; pepperoni for my son, two types of cheese for my daughter, shrimp and feta for me, etc.)

Preheat oven to 375.  Spray the bottom of a brownie pan or muffin pan with cooking spray.  This will make approximately 16 individual squares.

Using a blender or food processer (I used an immersion blender), combine the tomatoes, spices and Worchestershire sauce.  Blend until desired consistency.  I would actually prefer mine to be a little chunky, but the kids would give me all kinds of hell heck.  In a large bowl, combine the pasta with the sauce.

Spoon a bottom layer of pasta in each section of the pan(s).

Then, sprinkle a layer of cheese – then more pasta and your toppings.

Bake in the oven for approximately 15-20 minutes.  Check them after about 10 just to be safe – all ovens cook differently.

Voila! Little baby pasta pizza squares~

Dixie Chik

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Lamb Stuffed Grape Leaves with Greek Salad and Tzatziki

Back from vacation!  Congratulations to our first giveaway winner, Beth Brazil.  We will be having another one coming up very soon!

This recipe is something you will want to make a day ahead, or at least several hours.  (I think overnight is best).

For the Grape Leaves:

1 jar grape leaves, rinsed and drained

1 pound ground lamb

1 cup long-grain rice, cooked

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tbsp sea salt

1 tsp coarse pepper

1 tsp allspice

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 tbsp lemon juice

For the Salad:

1/2 cup olive oil

1 shallot, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 cucumber, chopped

1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed

1 can large pitted olives

4 oz crumbled feta cheese

For the Tzatziki:

1 small container plain greek yogurt

2 tbsp finely diced cucumber

1 tbsp dill (fresh would be best, but all I had was dried)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 garlic clove, minced

First, begin the tzatziki.  Secure a piece of cheesecloth over a medium size bowl, using a rubberband around the rim, leaving a little slack in the middle for the yogurt.  Strain the yogurt over a couple of hours (or overnight) in the refrigerator.  To make the vinaigrette, combine the olive oil through oregano and whisk together. Cover and chill, until it is time to assemble the salad.

By the way, did you know that if you sprinkle some coarse salt over garlic cloves and let it sit for a little while, its easier to mince?

It makes it a little pasty and easier to work with.

Now, onto the grape leaves.  Bring a large pot of water to a simmer.  Put the leaves into the water, and blanch for about 5 minutes.  Remove from water and let them cool, then pat dry.

In a large bowl, combine the lamb, rice, garlic, allspice, salt and pepper.

Lay several leaves out at a time on your work space.  Give yourself (and the leaves) plenty of  working room.

Begin stuffing the leaves by putting about a tablespoon full of your lamb mixture into the middle of a leaf.  I honestly don’t know how its really supposed to be done; but I folded the bottom part up first, then the sides and rolled the top part of the leaf over to make a roll.

You want them to be a little snug, but not too tight.  Place the stuffed leaves in a large pot, seam side down.  Combine chicken broth and lemon juice; pour over the rolls.  Cover.  Simmer over low 30-45 minutes until tender.  You can serve these now, however we didn’t really love the taste of them warm.  After chilling overnight they were very good – before I refrigerated them I poured some of the vinaigrette over them.

When ready to serve, combine the cucumber, feta, olives, and tomatoes in a bowl. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine.

Next, combine the strained yogurt with the rest of the tzatziki ingredients.  Again, give everything a good stir.

and FINALLY…………

Serve the grape leaves with the salad and tzatziki on the side.

Enjoy~

Dixie Chik

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