Food, Wine, Rock & Roll

Part food blog, part jam session

Sausage Hash

Posted by Becca On February - 11 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

Looking for a dish that is super simple and inexpensive to make, warms your insides with its Cajun spice and comfort, and leaves amazing left-overs that can be quickly reheated throughout the week?  Well, look no more because this is your dish!  I think Andouille sausage is amazing for a number of reasons.  It is such a versatile protein that can be mixed with any number of veggies and/or starches (and other proteins) and you have an instant spicy Cajun delight.  It’s also pretty inexpensive, which is always a plus in my book.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. red potatoes, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 4 links Andouille sausage, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Preparation

Over medium heat, saute the potatoes and onions in butter until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the sausage, bell peppers, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and continue frying until the sausage is browned, about 5 minutes.

Add more salt and pepper to taste.

 

Green Chile and Pork Stew

Posted by Becca On February - 4 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

I love this dish for so many reasons.  Not only is it the epitome of comfort food, the slow heat of the green chiles in this dish make it something that will keep you warm and satisfied.  I also love it because the poblano peppers and jalapenos immediately take me back to the southwest where everything has that green chile flavor.

This meal is also perfect because all the ingredients are inexpensive and easy to work with.  It’s a recipe that requires very little prep time, fills your home with wonderful aromas all day, and is completely satisfying.  It also makes great leftovers so you can continue to enjoy it throughout the week.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. trimmed boneless pork shoulder, cubed
  • 1 tbsp. cooking oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs. new potatoes, quartered
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 10 oz. package of frozen whole kernel corn
  • 3 poblano chile peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & chopped (I like to include a few seeds for a little extra heat)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried crushed oregano
  • 1 14 oz. can chicken broth
  • 3 zucchini, halved lengthwise & cut into slices
  • 1/4 c. fresh cilantro

Preparation

In a large skillet, heat the cooking oil and brown the meat.  Drain off the fat.

Place potatoes, onions, frozen corn, poblano peppers, chopped jalapenos, garlic, salt, and oregano in a 5-6 quart slow cooker.  Place meat over vegetables.  Pour broth over all.

Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours (high heat 3-4 hours).

Stir in zucchini.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes on high heat.

Stir in cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

Red Beans & Rice

Posted by Becca On February - 8 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

I love Cajun food and could eat it at least once a week for the rest of my life.  There’s just something about the heat in the spices of Cajun that I find comforting.  It’s perfect on a cold night or on a hot day with a cold beer.  For years I had used boxed or bagged mixed when I made red beans and rice.  I had found some brands that I really loved (Tony Chachere or Mahatma) and still use when time is a concern but was very excited when I found this recipe and could make it from home-made.  The first time I made this, I had some left-over red beans with pork bone that I had made a few days before and decided to use them instead of the canned red beans.  However, in later versions, I have used canned red beans and it is still delicious.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Andouille sausage (chicken or pork; I have even used venison sausage)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2-3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can red beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 c. hot cooked rice

Preparation

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add sausage and onion mix to pan.  Saute 4 minutes.

Add Cajun seasoning, salt, oregano, and garlic to the pan.  Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Partially mash the beans with a fork.  Add beans, 1/4 cup of water, and tomatoes to pan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until thickened.

Remove from heat.  Stir in pepper.

Serve over hot cooked rice.

Drinks

This is another dish that doesn’t totally work with a wine.  The heartiness of the beans, sausage, and rice demand something a little bolder – something like a nice German beer.  As I’ve mentioned before, I love German beers; I have not yet come across one that I don’t like.  My favorite beer for this dish is a Bitburger Premium.  This is a brewing company that has been family owned and continuously brewing since 1817 so they have had a little bit of time to perfect this amazingly delicious brew.

Music

When making Cajun food, what could possibly be better to listen to than a band straight out of Louisiana?  Dirtfoot is self-described as “the only Front Porch, Whiskey Swillin, Foot Stomping, Gypsy, Punk, Country, Grumble, Boogie band in the land.”  Once you hear their totally unique sound, you will realize that this is the absolute best description for their rollicking, growling, eclectic, incredibly dance-able music.  My favorite album to throw on is their first album, Entertain Me.

Spiced Pork Tenderloin

Posted by Becca On September - 13 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

For the longest time, I used to buy pre-seasoned pork tenderloins from the grocery store.  They came in a variety of flavors & were super easy to just throw on the grill after a long day at work.  And then I found this recipe.  Never again would I waste money on a more expensive product just because it was fast & easy.  This recipe is just as quick, is far tastier than the preservative filled packaged versions, & significantly easier on the wallet.  While I like to cook the tenderloin on the grill, it can also be cooked in the oven.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 (1 lb.) pork tenderloin
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

Preparation

Rub spices over pork & allow to stand for 20 minutes.

After cooking, let the pork rest for 10 minutes.  Cut into 1/2-inch thick slices.

Grill Preparation

Preheat grill to medium-high heat (350°-400°).  Lightly brush the grill with olive oil to prevent sticking.

Place pork on the grill & cook for 28-30 minutes, rotating frequently (about every 4-5 minutes).

Oven Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the pork to the pan & cook for 4 minutes, browning on all sides.

Transfer pork to roasting pan and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Drinks

This dish can be accompanied by either beer or wine, depending on your preference or mood.  If I’m more in a beer mood, I like to turn to one of my all-time favorite beers: Warsteiner.  I am a huge fan of German beers & this one ranks at the very top of them all.  There are two versions of this gift from the German beer gods: the standard Premium Verum (the standard pilsener) or the Premium Dunkel (a dark pilsener).  Both are delightful with this dish.  If wine is what I’m wanting, Peace Family Vineyard is where I like to look.  Their red wine (a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet, Grenache, & Mataro) is just sweet enough to complement the sweeter spices on the pork.

Music

Van Morrison’s Moondance is an incredible album to turn on during any occasion, especially when preparing this dish.  It is such a mellow album that it makes everything around you just slow down & seem so much better; it’s impossible to not smile when you listen to it.  The simplicity of this dish combined with the full flavor of the spice coating makes it equally pleasing & mellow.  When you combine the pork with the music, you have a combination that is sure to keep you smiling for a while.

Baked Ziti

Posted by Becca On July - 28 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

Baked ziti is a dish that fits several of my requirements for a good meal: it it simple to make, doesn’t take very long, is delicious and hearty, and it makes wonderful leftovers.  It is a very flexible recipe that can use ingredients made from scratch (the marinara), and fresh chopped vegetables if you have the time.  You can also shorten the prep time significantly by using pre-cooked pasta and store purchased marinara (I really like Classico’s Triple Mushroom sauce) if you are in a time crunch.  I usually make this dish with Italian sausage but it is just as tasty as a vegetarian meal.

Ingredients

  • 6 oz ziti
  • 2 cups marinara or 1 jar of pasta sauce
  • 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (Tabasco)
  • 6 oz ground Italian sausage (optional)
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Boil pasta until tender and drain.  Brown sausage.

Coat and 8 1/2 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Combine pasta, pasta sauce, 1 cup mozzarella, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, salt, pepper sauce, and browned sausage in  baking dish.  Sprinkle with remaining cup of mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Drinks

The Tabasco and Italian sausage in this dish give it just a little bit of a kick so it is best when paired with a red wine that is a little more on the mellow side.  I recently discovered just such a wine when I purchased La Vieille Ferme‘s 2008 red.  It’s a bit fruity, which complements the ziti beautifully.

Music

This meal is, on the surface, very simple and hearty.  However, it has that little hint of spice because of the Tabasco and Italian sausage.  You can also have some variety in the way in which it is prepared, depending on your mood.  It can have meat or can go vegetarian.  You can alter a lot of the flavor depending on what type of pasta sauce you decide to use.  Because of this, I like music that, on the surface may come across as simple but really holds a great deal of variety and complexity.  There is no better band than Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, particularly their first album Burn to Shine.  It is incredibly varied stylistically, yet is often rooted in blues and folk.

Souvlaki

Posted by Becca On July - 19 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

This is a perfect meal for the summer because it is light, healthy, and grilled (which is great when it’s too hot to turn on the oven).  It is simple to make but is full of flavor and incredibly filling.  The fresh vegetables used in this recipe add a crispness that never fails to satisfy.  I typically use pork loin as the protein in this dish but it could easily be switched out with chicken, lamb, or beef and be equally tasty.  It also makes great leftovers.  I serve this dish on warmed flat bread (which can done on the grill or in the oven), tzatziki, and hummus (recipes for both are posted separately).

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 pound boneless pork tenderloin
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into 1 inch squares
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into 1 inch squares
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, halved (I use baby portobellas because they are larger than standard mushrooms)

Preparation

In a large plastic or glass bowl, mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, soy sauce, oregano, and garlic.  Add pork, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms; stir to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat grill to medium high heat (about 350-400 degrees).  Slide pork, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms onto skewers and place on skewers on grill.  Cook about 10 to 15 minutes total turning the skewers frequently.

Serve on pita or flat bread with tzatziki spooned on top.

Drinks

This dish works well with both red & white wine, as long as they are mellow; I don’t like wines that overpower the delicious flavors of this dish.  Rene Barbier’s Mediterranean Red is an excellent compliment to the sweetness of the peppers, the bite of the garlic, and the mellowness of the pork and mushrooms.  I also really like Messina Hof’s (an awesome Texas vineyard located in Bryan) Muscat Canelli or Riesling.

Music

This is a dish for mellow, yet slightly funky, music because of its combination of ease in preparation with slightly exotic flavors.  I think my all time favorite band to turn on and jam out to while making this meal is Portishead.  I’m particularly a massive fan of their live album, Roseland NYC Live in which they pair up with the string section of the New York Philharmonic orchestra.  I also really enjoy putting on just about any album ever released by Dave Matthews Band, especially if it is a live album.

Tagliatelle Bolognese

Posted by Becca On July - 12 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

I got this recipe from an old friend.  It has been in my repertoire for quite some time now and it is a HUGE favorite in my household for a number of reasons.  It’s fairly quick and simple to make, uses inexpensive ingredients,  and it is wonderful as left-overs.  I like to make it early in the week or over a weekend so I can take a hearty home cooked meal with me to work, reheat it in the microwave, and it still tastes great.  If you don’t have the time to chop all the vegetables, you can easily use pre-chopped or canned items.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Italian Sausage
  • 1 pkg rotini pasta, cooked
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1-2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 cup grated Romano or Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 pt. half & half
  • ground pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper, dash
  • course salt to taste

Preparation

In a large skillet, brown the sausage, crumble and set aside.

In the same skillet (needs to be large enough to hold remainder of ingredients, sausage, and pasta when everything is cooked), saute the onion in olive oil for 2 minutes.  Add garlic for 1 minute; add the mushrooms for 2 minutes; add the tomatoes, basil, oregano, ground pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt.  Cook for 2 minutes more.

Add half & half and cheese; stir together until the sauce is smooth

Add sausage and cooked noodles.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese

Artichoke hearts or sliced black olives may be added to this dish.

Drinks

Because I got this recipe from a friend, I like to pair it with one of her favorite wines: Fat Bastard Shiraz.  It is a full bodied, sweeter red and it goes perfectly with the density of the sausage, cream, and Parmesan cheese in the dish.  This wine also adds a layer to this wonderful “comfort food” meal with its hint of peppery sweetness.

Music

As I’ve already stated, this dish is comfort food.  It is simple, understated, hearty, and very, very delicious.  A meal such as this one is complemented most by music that matches its simplicity.  And because it has become a household staple, it must be paired with music which is also a favorite.  The two albums that meet all these requirements are Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s Deja Vu and Eric Clapton Unplugged.  The simplicity of the acoustic guitar paired with the musical genius of these artists never fails to hit the spot.

Jalapeno Cheddar Sausage with Veg

Posted by Becca On July - 2 - 20102 COMMENTS

My family lives on a ranch in West Texas, as does my husband’s.  My family raises beef cattle & his runs a hunting lease where there are trophy white-tail deer, elk, and buffalo.  Needless to say, I am very fortunate that I never have to buy beef or game meat from a store.  The venison sausage I use for this dish comes from my in-law’s meat processor (Stephens Processing in Abilene) but you can get this type of sausage at stores like Central Market or Whole Foods.  I have even seen it at my local farmer’s market.  If you cannot find venison sausage, substituting with a pork sausage will work (just know that the fat content will be higher).  A great thing about this dish is it is prepared all in the same skillet so there is very little clean-up afterwords.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1-2 yellow squash, sliced
  • 1-2 zucchini, sliced
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced (I like the rich flavor of baby portabellas)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 pound jalapeno cheddar venison sausage

Preparation

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Saute garlic in warm oil until fragrant (about 2 minutes).

Add the squash, zucchini, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.  Saute until the squash & zucchini just begin to cook (about 3 minutes).

Reduce heat to medium, add the mushrooms.  Cover and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Add the sausage and cilantro and cook uncovered for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Drinks

Because this dish has Mexican overtones, it lends itself easily to Mexican beverages.  If I’m feeling a bit more festive, a good margarita is an excellent compliment to the spices in the sausage and vegetables.  However, most of the time, my beverage of choice with this one is a nice cold Dos Equis Lager with a splash of fresh lime.   I’m also a fan of Cervesa Sol.  Both beers are crisp and refreshing and offer a great balance to the heat of this meal.

Music

This is Texas soul food at it’s best so why not pair it with music that speaks to the local Texan.  I’m not a fan of most country music but I certainly enjoy what I call “Texas rock,” which is rock music heavily rooted in country and blues.  One of my all time favorite musicians of this genre is Ian Moore.  I particularly love Ian Moore’s Got the Green Grass, which is a slightly more experimental album.  When I’m in the mood for something a little more obscure, Susan Gibson’s New Dog, Old Tricks or the self-titled album, porterdavis, never fail to deliver that true Texas rock sound.

Angel Hair with Balsamic Tomatoes

Posted by Becca On July - 1 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

This is a great dish to serve on days when you want something light and easy.  The really cool thing about this one is that it can either be a vegetarian dish or served with Italian sausage, depending on your mood or preferences.  I have used both sausage links and ground sausage; both are great, but I generally like the links better.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 5 to 6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 pound angel hair pasta
  • optional: mild Italian sausage links, sliced or ground Italian sausage, browned

Preparation

Place tomatoes, salt & pepper, basil and balsamic vinegar in a non-reactive bowl and set aside for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

Boil pasta until tender

Saute the garlic in olive oil until lightly browned (make sure you use a skillet large enough to hold the tomatoes later).  Drain the tomatoes and discard the remaining juice.  Toss the drained tomatoes in the skillet briefly just to heat them; they should retain their shape.

Toss the pasta and tomato mixture together.

Note: if you are including the sausage in the dish, lightly brown the sausage in the skillet before sauteing the garlic.  Remove and keep warm.  Toss with the pasta and tomato mixture.

Drinks

Even though this is a lighter dish, the robustness of the Roma tomatoes combined with the balsamic vinegar is enough to stand up to a bolder red wine, especially if the sausage is included.  A few of my favorites are Bodega Norton’s Malbec or Il Bastardo’s Sangiovese di Toscana.

Music

This dish requires bands that are more on the fun and funky side of the spectrum.  I absolutely love Blind Melon’s self titled album or even Paul Simon’s Negotiations and Love Songs.  If I’m really feeling funky, When I Woke by Rusted Root always delivers great tracks for dancing with abandon (just be careful when chopping the veg).