Archive | March, 2012

Homemade Italian Sausage

9 Mar

Laws are like sausages. You should never watch either being made.

Looking for a fun weekend project? Want to control your own ground meat/sausage to avoid all of this “pink goo” that’s been added to ground meat? Then here you go – you just need a kitchenaid and a grinder attachment and a LOTTA meat 🙂

I got the most amazing deal on a Series 600 KitchenAid mixer on Amazon on Cyber Monday this year. With a crazy discount and 2 rebates, I scored the $400 mixer for $185. It was a no-brainer. And once I got the mixer, I knew I would want to really use it and get some attachments for it to be able to do everything possible with it.

My best friend, John, got me the meat grinder attachment for xmas and my eyes lit up! Immediately, I knew we were going to be making sausage….and SOON! I also did some research on making sausage….I asked my friend, Amanda Anastasiou, since I knew she and her husband had recently ground their own meat and made sausage. She gave me some hints and also suggested I check out this extensive sausage-making guidebook.

The most extensive homemade sausage guidebook ever

John came over on a snowy Saturday in January and we set out to the Hennings (my local supermarket) to pick up our ingredients. I had all the basic spices and seasonings, but we needed our pork butts – 20 pounds of pork butt!!!!! We wanted to “go large” and make enough so that we had 10 pounds of sausage each since this was a momentous occasion. We knew we would be putting large quantities in the fridge and giving some away to friends and family. So it was a no-brainer.

20 pounds of buttz in the shopping cart at Hennings

This was a true project for both of us. We had zero experience – except the night before we both watched this helpful video series: It was so straight-forward and helpful – each step was broken up into 3 and 4 minute videos.  And we also used the recipe that he demonstrated since it sounded like the type of Italian Sausage we were looking for.

Getting ready to grind

First grind.....this is the coarse grind

Oh, and we left this sausage loose. We didn’t want to case it this time around. We just wanted to focus on the grinding and mixture, since most of the recipes we use request the casings to be removed immediately anyway.

John and I grinding

All ingredients Ready to Mix

When grinding your own meat, you essentially cut off all the fat, grind the meat through the grinder on a coarse grind first. Then add all your ingredients together. And grind back through the grinder for a finer grind. Voila!

Meat ready for the second grind

Having fun doing the fine grind

We decided to make it into a delicious meal just by cooking the sausage and then adding some canned whole peeled tomatoes and breaking them up along with some tomato paste. We didnt add any herbs or spices since the sausage was spiced enough. We added a little parmesan. And then we poured the mixture over top some pasta so we could truly taste the sausage. It was phenomenal.

Final product!

Sausage and Pasta Dish

Consensus: This sausage is the BOMB. It tastes like authentic Italian sausage –and so fresh. The key is the wine and the fennel. I will always grind my own meat from now on – this was easy and fun and you can taste the difference. It’s worth it to spend a little extra time to be able to control what you are eating and taste the freshness.

Sausage log to be rolled in parchment

10 pounds of sausage

The Exhausted Sausage Makers

Italian Sausage Recipe

(Please note that this recipe is for 2.5 pounds of meat. If you are “going large” and making a substantial amount to freeze, then adjust the recipe accordingly.)

  • 2 and 1/2 pounds lean ground pork butt or leaner cuts if desired
  • 3 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/8 teaspoon dry basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cracked rosemary
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons fennel seed (up to 1 tablespoon if you like dominant fennel flavor)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley, chopped, (stems removed)

Trim all of the fat from the Pork Butts as best as possible, leaving trace amounts in the meat. Cut the meat into ½ or ¾ inch pieces. Put meat in the freezer for 15 minutes. Run the chunks of meat through the coarse grinder on your grinder attachment.

Add all of your spices and ingredients. Mix well. Hook up the fine blade on your grinder and run the mixture through the fine-process grinder.

When meat is well-mixed and ground, form into patties or logs in parchment paper and place in the freezer as you like.


Asian Pork Tenderloin

6 Mar

I saw this recipe on – a frequent online haunt of mine. I knew as soon as I saw it that I would try it and love it. Not only that, I knew it would win over my boyfriend, too, even though he doesn’t care for pork roast or pork tenderloin (I know…..shocking!).

This recipe is super flexible in how spicy you want to make it. I enjoy that because sometimes I want it a little hotter to taste.

Simple ingredients - also included, the pork roast!

Go ahead and marinate!



The pork is always juicy and delicious. It is easy to put together – and you let it marinate overnight (or at least for 8 hours). It’s the ultimate crowd-pleaser.

Asian Marinated Pork and Tarragon Sauteed Mushrooms

Asian Pork Tenderloin

  • 1/3 cup lite soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 2  tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3  green onions, chopped
  • 4  cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1  1/2 tablespoons Asian chile paste
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1   (2 pound) fat-trimmed pork tenderloin


  1. Pour into a medium bowl the soy sauce, sesame oil, and Worcestershire sauce. Then whisk in brown sugar, green onions, garlic, chile paste, and pepper. Place the tenderloin in a shallow dish. Pour sauce over tenderloin, turning the meat a few times to coat. Cover dish, and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Transfer pork with marinade into an aluminum foil-lined baking pan.
  3. Roast in a preheated oven 25 to 30 minutes. Remove, and let stand 5 to 10 minutes before carving.

Saltine Cracker Bars

4 Mar

When I was in Iowa at my good friend, Jen Olsen’s, in October, she busted these amazing sweet snacks out one afternoon. We were blown away! I don’t really need to talk these up too much – there are 4 ingredients, they are salty-sweet, and they are portable and great for gatherings!

Just 4 ingredients!

I got the recipe that weekend from Jen, and immediately started making them at home. I couldn’t believe how easy they were to throw together. Everyone who has had one, takes and bite and immediately they are going “mmmmmmm”! They taste JUST like toffee! These are great for parties.

Saltines arranged on tray

Baked butter/sugar over the crackers

Now if you want the REAL deal gourmet toffee, I recommend supporting my good friend Maggie and her kids with their company: Brandini Toffee. Her kids developed this whole company on their own to raise money for a school trip. And ever since then, they have perfected it and turned it into a business that grows exponentially every year. I’ve watched it grow along the years and am proud of them and their accomplishments. And their toffee is literally like CRACK.

Just finished.....

Delicious - like "crack"

Saltine Cracker Bars


1 1/4 package saltines (or however many it takes to fill a cookie tray)
1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups semi-sweet choco chips

– Preheat oven to 400
– Spread saltines on layer of wax paper or reynolds on a cookie sheet
– Combine sugar and butter in a saucepan and boil for 3 minutes. Then spread over crackers
– Bake for 5-6 minutes
– Remove and sprinkle choco chips over the top. Wait a minute or two, and then spread all over the top

Then I usually add sprinkles of sea salt on top to give an extra salty zing against the chocolate layer.

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