Pumpkin, Sausage, Sage Pizza

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We are big fans of pizza in our house. Homemade pizza is very easy to make, economical and gives you a great way to use up small amounts of leftover meat or vegetables in the refrigerator. I love to try new pizza combinations, although this is not always popular in our house. Sometimes you just want what’s familiar. This pizza was terrific–I will definitely make it again!

In full disclosure, this pizza elicited more teen jokes than any other meal I’ve prepared. Trying to be “artsy,” I made a flower design with the sage leaves. My daughter thought it looked like a marijuana leaf. I’m always glad to be the source of amusement. And really, no more trips to Spencer’s Novelty Shop. Really.

This pizza is super tasty and full of fall flavor. It involves no illegal substances, although pumpkin is so addictive this time of year, it probably should require a driver’s license to purchase. We used a spicy chicken sausage, but I think an Italian sausage or sage sausage would be pretty terrific as well. Or even soyrizo if you are going meatless. I replaced our usual mozzarella with a blend of Swiss and Gruyère cheese–I think those cheeses taste great with the sage and pumpkin (and they melt beautifully).

I used organic canned pumpkin for this recipe because it is already cooked and it is very thick with little residual moisture. If you use fresh pumpkin, make sure you cook it down to a very thick paste or your pizza dough will be quite soggy (I made that mistake with butternut squash once and it was not good).

Pumpkin, Sausage and Sage Pizza (makes 1 pizza)

  • 1 whole wheat pizza crust (recipe HERE)
  • 8-10 fresh, organic sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. local, spicy link sausage, casing removed
  • 1 organic yellow onion, peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 cloves organic garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups grated Swiss and Gruyère cheeses
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a medium skillet or saute pan, heat the olive oil to medium high.
  3. When oil is hot, add the sage leaves and fry them for about 90 seconds per side or until they are crispy, but not browned. Remove sage leaves to a paper towel to drain.
  4. Add the sausage to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the sausage until no longer pink, breaking up any large clumps with the back of a wooden spoon.
  5. Remove the sausage from the pan to a colander or paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  6. Add onion and garlic to the pan with the drippings and saute for 4-5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and starts to caramelize a bit. Remove the onion and garlic to a small bowl.
  7. Assemble the pizza by stretching the dough (my pizzas are never round–more like rounded rectangles) onto a flour dusted baking sheet or pizza stone.
  8. Top the dough with the pumpkin, spreading it across the dough, leaving a 1-2″ crust around the edges.
  9. Sprinkle the onions and garlic over the pumpkin.
  10. Crumble up 2-3 sage leaves and sprinkle them over the onions.
  11. Top the onions with the crumbled and drained sausage.
  12. Cover the whole thing with cheese.
  13. Arrange the remaining sage leaves into a flower that will be completely misinterpreted by your family.
  14. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until cheese is just browned and bubbly.
  15. Cut the pizza and serve immediately.

Broccoli Potato Soup

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We have loads of fresh broccoli available from our local farmers right now and it is absolutely delicious! I’ve never been able to grow broccoli myself, so I appreciate the efforts of those who have the right touch. Broccoli is one of our favorite vegetables, and we are eating as much as we can while it’s in season.

This broccoli soup is very heart healthy, low in fat and (if you leave off the sprinkle of Parmesan), vegan! It is thick and creamy, but uses no cream at all. Instead, potatoes fill in for cream and also add a hearty weight to this dish.

Broccoli Potato Soup (makes 4 servings)

  • 1 organic, yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves organic garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 quart homemade or organic vegetable stock
  • 1/2 lb. organic baby red potatoes, washed and cut in half
  • 1 large head of fresh broccoli, florets and stems chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a Dutch oven or stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Sauté the onions in the olive oil for 3-4 minutes or until soft and translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
  4. Add the vegetable stock and increase heat to medium high.
  5. Add the potatoes and boil for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the broccoli to the pot and reduce heat to medium. Add water if necessary to just cover vegetables. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  7. Use an immersion blender to VERY CAREFULLY blend all ingredients in the pot. Taste and correct seasonings as needed.
  8. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Week 44 Budget and Menu

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This week is full of fall goodness–pumpkin, acorn squash, chowder, kale–yum! Our weather finally feels like fall, and while I’m sad to see our summer weather go, I’m glad to get my cute boots and sweaters out of storage!

Our markets are full of peppers, squash, pumpkins, lettuce, kale, green beans and hopefully we will have broccoli soon! I am missing our summer berries–that season always seems too short–but we are enjoying apples. Last season, North Carolina had an apple shortage due to a late spring freeze in the mountains, but this year is a completely different story! So glad to see lots and lots of apples out there!

Breakfasts this week include homemade muffins, bagels, and steel-cut oatmeal. Our lunches are typically leftovers and fruit or oatmeal.

The budget this week is good! We are helped as always by Tom supplying us with the fish he catches (one of the benefits of living close to the ocean!).

Budget [$87.51]

  • The Produce Box (apples, green beans, acorn squash, lettuce, tomatoes, corn, peppers, kale): $47.25
  • Trader Joes (Romano cheese, pasta, ground organic turkey, taco shells, avocado, frozen fruit, yogurt, almond milk, whole wheat flour): $34.26
  • Panera (bagels) $6.00

Weekly Menu

  • Wednesday–Green salad with hard boiled eggs
  • Thursday–Leftover pasta with red pepper sauce
  • Friday–Chicken and kale stuffed acorn squash, quinoa
  • Saturday–Baked fish, green beans, salad
  • Sunday–Corn and crab chowder, salad
  • Monday–Pumpkin kale pasta
  • Tuesday–Turkey tacos, spicy rice

Sausage with Braised Cabbage and Apples

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This meal is like having your own little Octoberfest on a plate! Fresh, local cabbage, apples and smoked sausage braised together until you have fall deliciousness that is tart, sweet and a little floral. No more of that stinky cabbage of years past–this is fresh and flavorful. I made extra just so I could take some for lunch!

You can use any kind of smoked, link sausage in this dish. We actually used a combination of smoked jalapeño sausage and smoked Polish sausage from Mae Farm. Their sausage is so good I could just inhale it. We used three kinds of apples as well–one tart, one more floral and one sweet. Our favorite is the crisp and tart Dixie Red, a sassy heirloom variety apple found here in North Carolina. Mr. Godwin of Godwin Farms helped me pick out a blend of apples that would go well with both the cabbage and the sausage, howgreatisthat?

Sausage with Braised Cabbage and Apples (makes 6 servings)

  • 1 1/2 pounds pasture raised smoked, link sausage, cut into 2-3″ lengths
  • 1 large organic onion, peeled and sliced
  • 4 large apples, mixed variety, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 1 medium head of fresh, green cabbage, washed, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • Kosher salt and ground, black pepper, to taste
  1. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, brown the sausage over medium heat, rendering some of the fat. This will take about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the sausage and set aside. Leave about 2 tablespoons of drippings in the pan.
  3. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the onions. Sauté the onions for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent.
  4. Add the apple slices to the onions and stir well. Cook about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the cabbage, sausage, cider, salt, pepper and coriander to the pan or pot. Reduce heat to low, cover and allow everything to cook down, about 45 minutes. Stir often. If pan juices begin to dry, add some water to the pan.
  6. Serve hot.

Bison Chili

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When football season rolls around, I do love making a big pot of chili! Chili stews are quick to put together, tasty, and often economical. I love vegetarian chili, too, although this is decidedly not a vegetarian recipe. This recipe replaces beef with ground bison. Several North Carolina farmers are raising bison now, so we have some terrific local sources. If you’ve never had bison, it is very similar to beef, with a definite meaty flavor. Bison is lower in fat, higher in protein and richer in nutrients than beef, and it is very high in iron. Using ground bison in chili or tacos is a good way to test it out without spending a fortune (and really, your family will probably not notice the difference).

This chili uses up a lot of late summer vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, onions, kale and pumpkin. Yes, I said pumpkin! It also incorporates Anasazi beans, an heirloom variety of bean that is very meaty and holds up well in a stewed dish like this. I prefer them to kidney beans, which to me don’t taste like anything, but you could substitute any kind of canned canned bean if you like. While this chili is a bit spicy, it is not super hot. Instead, we used cumin, smoked paprika and cinnamon to add spice without so much heat. So it is a bit on the cozy side and not so much on the hot side. While we love hot and spicy food, this more soothing chili was still a hit.

This recipe makes quite a bit of food–we liked that because we wanted leftovers for a busy week. If you are feeding more people, you could easily reduce the amount of everything by half or just reduce the amount of meat and increase the amount of beans to stretch things out a bit. This dish also freezes very well. Leave off the cheese and/or sour cream and freeze the chili in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Bison Chili (makes 6-8 servings)

  • 1 lb. ground bison meat
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large, organic sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, washed and chopped
  • 3 cloves organic garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2-3 jalapeño peppers, trimmed, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small bunch of kale, washed,stemmed and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups organic, canned pumpkin
  • 2 cups rehydrated anasazi beans (1cup of dry beans soaked in water overnight)
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Shredded cheese, chopped red onion, sour cream for garnish (optional).
  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add the bell pepper, jalapeño and kale. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.
  4. Add contents of skillet to a large pot or dutch oven and wipe skillet clean.
  5. Put skillet back on medium high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the ground bison and cook, stirring often, until browned. Sprinkle the spices over the meat and stir well. Add the meat to the pot.
  6. Add the beans, pumpkin and tomato to the pot and mix well.
  7. Simmer the chili over medium low heat for an hour or more. Or add all ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on low for several hours.
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