Simple Homemade Italian Sausage

 Simple Homemade Italian Sausage-

Italian sausage is simply amazing! I can’t get enough of the savory and sometimes spicy meat. It makes pasta sauces shine and pizza delightful.

While living in Mexico I couldn’t just run to the store to buy Italian sausage when ever I had a craving for it. I could have bought it in the States on my every few month trip but that would have gotten pricey so instead I started to buy ground chicken or turkey to make my own.

I really do enjoy a good pork sausage but a good healthy option has never been easy for me to find so I took to making my sausages with ground chicken or turkey. Both have a mild enough flavor palate to take on the flavor of the herbs and seasonings similar to pork. The key when using a fowl instead of pork is adding a little extra fat when you cook it. You could use ground beef or some other game, which I have done but the flavor of those meats have a stronger flavor.

Someday I have dreams of making my own sausage links and building a smoker. That requires buy a meat grinder, sausage stuffer and having a place to build the smoker. Non of those are in the budget right now but someday….

What I love about making your own loose sausage is that it is a frugal option that is easy to make at home. You don’t have to have any special equipment (even if you really want it).

This simple homemade Italian sausage may be my favourite sausage that I make (sorry, breakfast sausage crumbles). For years I made Italian sausage but they flavor was never quite right. Then one day while savoring and (dissecting) a bowl of Zupa Tusscana at Olive Garden I noticed a few fennel seeds in the sausage they used in the soup. The next time I made Italian sausage I added fennel seeds and realized that fennel seed was what had been missing all those years. Why I never googled it I’ll never know.

I frequently use this sausage in my own version of Zuppa Tuscana, on my soaked whole-wheat pizza, on top of my garlic pasta with fresh peas , tomato sauce or my friend, The Nourishing Gourmet’s yellow split-pea and Italian sausage stew.

When I’m on top of my game I make a large batch of this sausage, portion it out in approximately 1 pound potions in freezer bags. I stick them in the freezer and they are ready to defrost last minute for what ever recipe I want to use it in. You could also make them into logs of raw sausage, defrost and cook when you want to.

Simple Homemade Italian Sausage
  • 1 lb ground chicken, turkey or pork
  • 2 TBS olive oil (if you are using pork you may not need the added oil)
  • 1 tsp unrefined salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  1. Mix the ground meat, salt, and herbs together in a bowl.
  2. Add the olive oil to a medium-sized skillet, warm over medium high heat.
  3. Once the skillet is hot add the meat mixture.
  4. Stir continuously to break the meat into small pieces. Cook until done, about 5-8 minutes.

 What is your favourite dish to use Italian sausage in?

Raspberry Hot Cocoa

Raspberry Hot Cocoa Dairy-free-

(This recipe was originally posted on March 21, 2011. It has been updated to share with you today.)

Have you ever eaten a dark chocolate filled with oozing with raspberry filling? They! Dark chocolate and raspberries are one of the greatest sweet pairings. My friend Debra of Worth Cooking‘s honey raspberry candies make me think of those tasty chocolates.

A few years ago a delicious box of tea made its way into my hands, raspberry earl grey. Earl grey was already at the top of my list so this I couldn’t wait to try it. As I sat there taking my first sips of the new in the chaos of 16 girls playing in a small house in the middle of winter it occurred to me that it would taste AMAZING in my coconut milk hot cocoa.

Let me tell you! It is all I dreamed of and more!

This cocoa is dairy free, refined sugar-free, low sugar and can easily be made vegan if you swap the raw honey for maple syrup. Each serving has about 1 1/2 tsp of sugar, making it a decidedly rich and decadent treat but not overly sweet, just right. Perfect for a cool, rainy day like today!

Since this hot cocoa is made from coconut milk the oils tend to separate and float to the top. Don’t be alarmed, simply stir them back in and continue drinking.

If are still craving dark chocolate and raspberries but don’t feel like making hot cocoa, this raspberry nib chocolate from TAZA is about as good as it gets! I found a bar at Marshal’s that I slowly savored but you can buy it on Amazon as well because what isn’t on there? ;)

Raspberry Hot Cocoa
Serves: 5 servings
  • 3½ cups water
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 bag raspberry earl grey tea
  • 2 TBS honey or palm sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. In a medium-sized sauce pot bring the water to a boil and then turn off. Add tea bags and allow to steep for at least 5 minutes. Remove tea bags.
  2. Add coconut milk and return to low heat.Until hot, remove from the heat.
  3. In a small bowl or cup whisk together the cocoa powder, honey and vanilla extract to make a paste.
  4. Pour the paste into the hot liquid, stirring until smooth.

This post is part of Hearth and Soul , Tempt my Tummy Tuesday This Weeks Cravings, Pennywise Platter Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Fat Tuesday, 

How to Make Sizzling Rice Soup

How to Make Sizzing Rice Soup

A steaming bowl of chicken broth is brought to the table. As the server pours crisped rice into the bowl the air is filled with the sound of sizzling and popping. It’s sizzling rice soup, one of my favourite soups at any Chinese restaurant. It is light and full of flavor. The crispy rice adds a fun crunch with each bite.

Have you ever noticed how it’s hard to not have “just on more bite” when you go to a Chinese restaurant? There are many great chefs in those places, crafting amazing dishes but the “need” to have more is often connected to the addition of monosodium glutamate better known as MSG. It’s what makes cheap Chinese taste better than it is and quality food burst with even more flavor.

When I get Chinese food out I have gotten into the habit of ordering it without added MSG, I’ve noticed that the dishes that once had spot-on, beyond tasty flavor suddenly lack salt and that extra bit of flavor that I had come to expect.

The key to dishes that might normally rely on MGS is to create umami. It’s the “5th taste”. Umami when translated from Japanese can mean “delicious” or “pleasant savory taste”. A Japanese man discovered that the flavor that made food taste so good was L-glutamate. He later went on to create a stable form of it that we now know as MSG.

Want to learn more about umami? Kimi of The Nourishing Gourmet wrote an article on it for Mother Nature Network.

How do you create a natural umami flavor in foods like this sizzling rice soup? The key is in rich homemade chicken stock and naturally fermented soy sauce (or tamari) both of which contain L-glutamate or umami. I love that these flavors can easily be crafted in your own kitchen!

Sizzling rice soup is really not that hard to make, the most difficult part is the rice cakes which you can make ahead of time and the give a quick fry before you add them to your hot soup.

If you don’t have the time to fry the rice cakes you can add them to the soup five minutes before removing it from the heat, you’ll be missing the signature sizzle but the slight crunch will still be there.  Another thought would be to add leftover rice to the soup five minutes before serving. It won’t be quite as fun but the flavor will still be there.

However you fix the soup it is still going to be delicious, making your tongue and stomach very happy. Now I want another bowl of this sizzling rice soup!

How to Make Sizzling Rice Soup
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 lb thinly sliced chicken breast, velveted
  • 4 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 can water chestnuts slices, drained
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • 1 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp unrefined salt
  • 8 "sizzling rice cakes"
  1. Pour the chicken broth into a medium sized sauce pot. Add the ginger and garlic. Simmer on low for 30 minutes.
  2. While the broth is simmering, slice and velvet the chicken. *
  3. Add the chicken, spinach, water chestnuts, soy sauce and salt.
  4. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
  5. Ladle into individual bowls and top with a sizzling rice cake.
  6. * If you do not desire to velvet the chicken add to the soup 3 minutes before you add the remaining ingredients.

Sizzling Rice Cakes
  • 2 cups cold cooked white rice
  • 4 cups coconut oil/palm shortening/tallow
  1. Shape the rice into small flat disks about 2 inches across and ¼ inch thick.
  2. Place on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 250 F for 1 hour or until completely dry.
  4. Heat oil over medium-high heat.
  5. Break a small piece off of one rice cake. Throw it in the oil. If is puffs up in less than 10 seconds you will know that the oil is hot enough.
  6. Gently place a rice cake in the oil. Once it puffs remove immediately from the oil. Place on a paper towel or cloth towel to drain.
  7. Fry only enough rice cakes for the amount of soup that you will be serving.
  8. Store the remaining rice cakes (if there are any in a glass container) for up to a month. Fry the cakes as needed.
  9. Add to a hot bowl of soup and listen for the sizzle!


Homemade Breakfast Sausage Crumbles

Homemade Breakfast Sausage Crumbles-

I love sausage. There is no way around it. There is something almost intoxicating about the savory and slightly fatty goodness. Sausage of all shapes, sizes and forms are pure deliciousness. In my book it may be better than bacon…don’t look at me like that! Just trying to be honest here folks.

What I don’t love is the MSG, nitrates, corn syrup and fillers that many sausages have. Which is why I am on a mission to craft my own sausages. Someday that will involve a meat grinder, casing, a stuffer, smoker and all that fun stuff but right now I am sticking to the easy things like these beyond easy homemade breakfast sausage crumbles. This recipe has been in my file for at least seven years now, ever since I stopped eating soy breakfast sausage patties.

Homemade Breakfast Sausage Crumbles

This recipe is so simple that you won’t be missing the tubes of loose sausage that you used to buy from the store! You can have these breakfast crumbles ready from start to finish is 10 minutes or less. They are prefect in a hearty gravy over fluffy biscuits, mixed into an egg bake or rolled up in a breakfast burrito.

I chose to keep the flavors simple for this sausage but you can always add additional spices to suit your taste preference. I generally use ground turkey because it is the easiest for me to find. You could use ground beef but the flavor profile is much stronger than turkey, chicken or pork.

Homemade Breakfast Sausage Crumbles
  • 1 lb ground chicken, turkey or pork
  • 2 TBS coconut oil or lard
  • 2 TBS maple syrup
  • 2 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tsp unrefined salt
  • ¾ tsp black pepper
  1. In a bowl mix the ground meat, salt, pepper, sage and maple syrup.
  2. Add your choice of far to a skillet. Heat over medium heat. Be sure the entire surface of the skillet is covered with the grease.
  3. Add the sausage and stir until crumbly and completely cooked.

Homemade Breakfast Sausage Crumbles

Soaked Pumpkin Pancakes with Apple Cider Syrup

Soaked Pumpkin Pancakes with Apple Cider Syrup-

Warm spices and moist pumpkin puree come together to make the perfect fall breakfast- pumpkin pancakes. To seal the deal they are drizzled with apple cider syrup. All the best things the season has to offer on one plate.

I was first introduced to the idea of this seasonal breakfast when a good friend made them for 50 plus people when we were living in Mexico. They were a hit! I didn’t remember exactly how she made them, so this fall I decided to give them a try starting with the star ingredients, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and apple cider. How can you go wrong with those amazing foods? My family loved them and they turned out similar to the first ones I tried so many years ago.

If you want to learn to make them join my over at The Nourishing Gourmet.