Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Kale Balsamic Chicken Sausage with Shrimp, Peppers and Caramelized Onions over Creamy Polenta

The Bilinski's sausage challenge presented a few firsts for me. This was the first time that I tried Bilinski Sausage Company's sausage, the first time that I caramelized onions and the first time that I made polenta. Have I been missing out! After this challenge, I will be seeking out other Bilinski's sausages to try. All of their sausages are antibiotic-free, soy-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, casing-free, and preservative-free. Yet, they are full of flavor and packed with healthy chicken and organic herbs and spices. What a perfect product to add to my family's meals.

We were challenged to create a dish to pair with the Bilinski's Kale Balsamic Chicken Sausage. The sausage was delicious on it's own, with a hint of sweetness from the balsamic vinegar. I knew that it would pair well with shrimp, peppers and caramelized onions.

Kale Balsamic Chicken Sausage with Shrimp, Peppers and Caramelized Onions over Creamy Polenta
by Tonda

For the onions:
3 teaspoons butter
Olive oil to coat the pan
3 large yellow sweet onions, sliced

For the polenta:
2 cups milk
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup polenta
1 cup shredded Italian 4 cheese blend

For the sausage and shrimp mixture:
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon Slap Ya Mama Original Blend Cajun Seasoning
Cooking spray for grill pan
1 green pepper, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 orange pepper, sliced
6 Bilinski's Kale Balsamic Chicken Sausages
Italian flat leaf parsley, minced

Let's start by caramelizing the onions as they need to cook low and slow. Coat the bottom of the saute pan with olive oil and butter. Heat the pan on medium-high until the oil starts to shimmer. Add the onions and toss to coat them with oil. Saute the onions until golden, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low to prevent the onions from burning and/or drying out. If they do start to dry, add a little bit of water to the pan. Let the onions cook for approximately 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Keep the onions evenly spread over the pan. As you get closer to the 30 minute mark, you may need to turn the heat down a little and stir more often. The end result is sweet and bursting with flavor. Set the onions aside.

Next let's preheat the grill to a medium-high temperature before we start the polenta.

Now, for the polenta...Add the milk, water and salt to the top of a double boiler. Heat the mixture to a boil. Gradually add the polenta, stirring constantly until thickened. Cook, stirring frequently, for approximately 25 minutes. Blend in the cheese when the polenta is cooked and tender.

Back to the grill...Sprinkle the shrimp with the seasoning. Spray the grill pan with cooking spray and let it heat up on the grill. Turn the heat down to medium and add the peppers. Cook for approximately 10 minutes. The skin will start to blister. Add the sausage to the grill halfway through the cook time of the peppers. Grill the sausage 4 minutes per side. After 10 minutes, add the shrimp to the peppers in the grill pan and cook for approximately 5 minutes, until done.

Assemble the plate with polenta, caramelized onions, peppers, shrimp and one link of sausage, sliced. Sprinkle with parsley.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Chicken Sausage and Cheddar Biscuits – breakfast to go!

I love breakfast. During the week, if I don't have something ready to grab as I go out the door, I will stop on the way to work and pick up something. It’s definitely healthier to make something myself. I especially like sausage and cheese biscuits. The Bilinski's Kale Balsamic Chicken Sausage are a perfect substitute for my regular sausage. I can heat one in the microwave and hit the road, breakfast in hand. On the off chance I have a few extra minutes, a fried egg would make this a great breakfast sandwich.

Chicken Sausage and Cheddar Biscuits - breakfast to go!
by Sharyl
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker Sausage-Cheddar Biscuits

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes (1 stick)
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 pound Bilinski's Kale Balsamic Chicken Sausage, chopped
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted - to brush top of biscuits

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a large bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix. Add the cubed butter and use a pastry cutter to work the butter into the flour mix. Add the cheese and sausage to the bowl and mix to combine. Add the buttermilk and use your hands to bring dough to a ball. If mixture is a little dry, add a little more buttermilk (I added about 1/4 cup more to my dough.) Roll out dough on flour covered cutting board. Roll so that dough is about 3/4-inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out the biscuits and move to a parchment-covered cookie sheet for baking. Space about 2 inches apart and brush tops with melted butter. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Enjoy your breakfast for the road!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Stuffed Belgian Endive

Here is a simple recipe that is a crowd-pleaser. You can serve them up on a cocktail buffet, or as first course. If you manage to have any leftovers, put the filling in a pita and stuff with some spinach for a tasty healthy sandwich.

Stuffed Belgian Endive
by Tracy

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 links Bilinski's Kale Balsamic Chicken Sausage, diced
1/2 cup Granny Smith apple, diced
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted and cooled
1/4 cup parsley chopped
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4-6 Belgian Endives, washed, ends trimmed and leaves separated

4 Tablespoons pomegranate seeds
2 Tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped

In a medium bowl, combine the feta, sausage, apple, pecans and parsley, set aside. In small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, mayonnaise, thyme and salt. Pour the whisked ingredients over the sausage mixture and toss to coat.

Using a Tablespoon, scoop the mixture into the endive leaves. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, crumbled feta and parsley. Serve.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Pancit "Bi"hon

As you might know, I was in the military and one of the best benefits ever to serving our country was traveling to others. My travels included some fantastic places where I learned to love other cultures and FOOD! I have a lot of recipes that I make and try to re-make almost weekly. One of my loves is for Filipino food. I am enamored by rice noodles and fresh vegetables. That is why this dish came to mind instantly. Pancit Bihon is made with rice noodles, any vegetables you want and basically any protein or seafood you can imagine. I, of course, would love for you to try it with Bilinski's Kale Balsamic Chicken Sausage, but to be honest, they have a multitude of wonderful all-natural, casing-free and gluten-free sausage that would be absolutely perfect with this dish.

Pancit Bihon
by Traci
Adapted from my travels

6.75 ounces rice stick noodles
Warm water
2 Tablespoons oil, divided
1 12-ounce package Bilinski's Kale Balsamic Chicken Sausage, sliced into rounds
1/2 cup carrot sticks
1 cup medium sliced celery
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
4 green onions, medium-sliced
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 to 1/2 Tablespoons sesame oil (personal taste)
1 cup julienned cabbage

In a large container, place the noodles in warm water to soak while you start the rest of the dish. They will loosen up and you will need to move them around a bit.

In a small frying pan with 1 Tablespoon of oil, add your sausage and cook until just heated through. Set aside.

In a large frying pan on medium heat, add remaining 1 Tablespoon of oil. Add carrots and celery. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add in your garlic and half the green onion. Let it just cook through. Add stock, soy sauce and sesame oil. Bring to a simmer.

Drain your rice noodles.

Add cabbage, rice noodles and Bilinski's sausage. Toss to combine all ingredients. When the cabbage has wilted down a bit you are complete.

Plate with extra green onions on top. I also roasted some kale chips as a side...you should ask the other 36 about their ideas for kale chips. They are amazing.

You are going to be so excited about this dish. Try it with the other varieties of Bilinski's sausages. I know I am!!


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Chicken Sausage Purple Sweet Potato Quesadillas

Breakfast, brunch, snack, or dinner, it's the perfect time for these quesadillas. When choosing a recipe for this challenge, I wanted something fresh, healthy and vibrant.

A good friend of mine awhile back told me about these magical purple sweet potatoes he had had while in Hawaii 2 years ago. I've been on the lookout for them ever since and FINALLY came upon them at the store last week. Unlike many vegetables that have a tendency to fade when cooking, these keep their deep purple color. They do take a little longer to cook, so keep that in mind. But, if you can't find these beauties, a good ol' classic sweet potato will work just fine.

I decided to pair this quesadilla with a fresh fruit salsa. I wanted one that could hold up a few days and not get mushy. If you've never tasted an Asian pear, they're more like an apple in consistency than a pear. So you can sub your favorite apple variety if you can't find these, as well.

I also used the golden pineapple variety because of it's natural sweetness and smoother texture. If you use a regular one, just make sure it's more on the extra ripe side. Finally the yogurt dip. Either you love or hate Greek yogurt. If you don't like it, use a lighter sour cream. But, I think the addition of the citrus to the yogurt makes it taste very close.

Chicken Sausage Purple Sweet Potato Quesadillas
by Holly

1/2 quart fresh strawberries, finely chopped
1 Asian pear, diced
1 small golden pineapple, finely chopped
1 small lime, juiced
1/2 Tablespoon honey
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (or fresh flat leaf parsley), chopped
Kosher salt
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
Juice of half of small orange (use other half for garnish if desired)
1 medium purple sweet potato (or red), peeled and diced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1 12-ounce package Bilinski's Kale Balsamic Chicken Sausage, diced
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
6 eggs
6 Mission® Garden Spinach Herb tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese

For the salsa:
In a small bowl, gently mix the strawberries, pear, pineapple, lime juice, honey, cilantro and a pinch of salt. Cover with plastic wrap to avoid browning of the fruit.

For the yogurt dip:
In another small bowl, combine the Greek yogurt and orange juice. Blend well. Keep in refrigerator until ready to plate.

Heat oven to 350°F. Cover a standard sheet pan with parchment paper. Combine the diced sweet potato with olive oil, lightly salt and pepper. Roast for 40-45 minutes until tender, careful to not overcook. Remove from oven.

Lightly coat a medium sauté pan with cooking spray. On medium-high heat, brown the sausage, stirring frequently as not to burn. Cook about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat.

In another sauté pan, add butter and eggs. Cook low and slow until just scrambled. Add the eggs to the sausage mixture.

Quesadilla time! In a large sauté pan, lightly coat with cooking spray. On medium heat, add a tortilla, top with 1/4 cup cheese, 1/3 of sausage/egg mixture, 1/4 of potatoes, 1/4 cup of cheese and another tortilla. Cook approximately 2-3 minutes until lightly browned on underside and cheese has started to melt on the bottom layer. Carefully flip quesadilla over and cook another 2 minutes until golden brown and cheese is completely melted. Slide quesadilla to a cutting board and let cool slightly before cutting into thirds and plating. Repeat the previous steps to make 2 more quesadillas. (NOTE: you will have some potatoes leftover for garnishing the plates).

Place quesadillas on plates or serve 'family style' on a platter. Sprinkle with the fruit salsa and yogurt dip.

Other links to follow:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Small Bites, Big Flavor... Kale Balsamic Chicken Rangoons

When the nice folks over at the Bilinski's offered us a chance to sample a new product of theirs, I was thrilled. This brand is difficult to find in my area, so it was a real treat to work with something that I otherwise might not have been able to locate. Their Kale Balsamic Chicken Sausage is very healthy and also very tasty. To me, that's a win-win kitchen situation! I decided to try my hand at an Asian-inspired appetizer, my take on those yummy little cream cheese filled nibbles, "rangoons". My version is much richer (my husband said that the filling reminded him of pate), and quite a bit healthier to boot. Yes, there is a bit of cheese involved, but they also include spinach, tomatoes, and other good things. These can be baked (if you're trying to stay healthy) or fried (if you're feeling naughty.) Either way, they are mighty fine little bites of flavor. They are very rich, so a few go a long way. They can be made ahead and frozen until needed, as well. Perfect for a large group or a quick snack!

Small Bites, Big Flavor...Kale Balsamic Chicken Rangoons
by Chris
Adapted from "Sausage Rangoons" from the Eating Well for One Blog

2 ounces olive oil (for sauteing)
1 Tablespoon onion, diced
1 Tablespoon plus one teaspoon sun dried tomatoes, diced (dry packed, not in oil)
2 Tablespoons frozen, chopped spinach (defrosted and with as much moisture as possible squeezed/patted out)
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
3 ounces Neufchatel cheese (or low-fat cream cheese), at room temperature
1 teaspoon mayonnaise (low-fat is okay)
2 links of Bilinski's Kale Balsamic Chicken Sausage, diced
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I used Grana Padano)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt, to taste (I used about 3-4 pinches)
1 large package of egg roll wrappers, each cut into 4 even squares/quarters
Parchment paper
Cooking spray or olive oil in a spray bottle

Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet and add the onion and sun dried tomatoes, cooking until both have softened, about 1-2 minutes. Add the spinach and garlic and continue to heat for another minute. Set aside.

Combine the cream cheese (Neufchatel) and the mayonnaise in a microwaveable bowl. Heat for about 20 seconds and stir, mixing well. Add the diced sausage, balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice and carefully blend the mixture together. Then add the spinach mixture and gently mix, microwaving for another 20 seconds if necessary. Make sure that everything is well blended, but do not over- work the filling. Also make sure that the filling is not too hot. Warm is okay to work with, but "hot" will create holes in the wrappers when filling them!

Working in small batches (no more than 12 small squares at a time), gently place about 1/2 to 3/4 of a teaspoon of the sausage and cheese mixture in the center of each small square of dough (if you have other squares of wrappers sitting out, cover with a damp paper towel until ready to use them. Leaving them stacked also helps to keep them moist.) Using a pastry brush (or your fingers), moisten the edges of the filled squares. Pull two diagonal corners upward until they meet, and twist them together, closing the top of the rangoon. Gently squeeze the other sides together, closing any gaps where the filling could escape. Use your fingers to create "wings" with the sides, or continue by pinching them upward with the first two corners, creating an enclosed packet of sorts. Again, pinch closed any holes or openings in the wrapper, as to keep the filling inside of the rangoon. Shape as desired.

Line a wire baking rack with a sheet of parchment paper (cut to fit the rack.) Preheat the oven to 350°F, and spray the parchment lightly with your cooking spray/olive oil. Place the rangoons carefully on the oiled paper (do not crowd them), and lightly spray the tops as well. Bake at 350°F WITH the convection feature turned on for about 9 minutes. If your oven does not have a convection setting, it will take another 1-3 minutes to completely cook the rangoons. Watch them carefully so that they do not burn.

If you would like to make the rangoons ahead of time and freeze them, be sure to remove them from the freezer at least 2-3 hours before cooking. I do not recommend keeping these in the refrigerator for more than a day or two, as the chicken sausage is pre-cooked and is perishable. Also, the wrappers do not do well in the refrigerator once they have been filled, but not cooked. They are best eaten fresh out of the oven, either alone or with a sweet and sour dipping sauce or a fruit chutney/other sweet sauce on the side (to cut the richness of the filling.) Any that are baked, but not eaten may be refrigerated and reheated the following day in a conventional oven. They do not reheat well in the microwave.