Spicy Chili Queso Dip

I posted this recipe a while back, but I never had any pictures of it. My father-in-law, Mike, makes this dip and it’s cheesy and addicting. It appears at every holiday. Easter? Cheese dip, sure! Christmas? Gotta have queso! 2nd Friday in June? Sounds like a good day for dip!

The queso starts with peppers, onions, and sausage cooked down in a skillet. Then you add some diced jalapenos (have you ever bought them diced like this? Love them!), and a can of chili.

Then your mini-crockpot gets stuffed to the gills with Mexican Velveeta.

And then you wait….

After an hour or so, cheesy goodness!! We serve with tortilla chip scoops or Frito scoops and make sure to get some when it’s first ready otherwise you won’t get any, it’s that good!!

PS: If you need a mini crock, they’re really affordable! You can get this basic white one for $15 at Amazon. Or live on the wild side with something like this spicy red one!

(74-76) Homemade Sausages!!

As I mentioned in this post, we made sausages at our last cooking club!! It was a LOT of work, but worth it! Delish! We made three different types of sausages. Each was a different filling, but the concept was the same. We started with a ginormous bag-o-pork. If you’re in Jacksonville, I encourage you to check out Tillman’s Meats. They are on Old St. Augustine Rd and are a family run business. They’re in a small wood-hut looking building with a smoker out in the back (mmm bbq!!) They are just NICE and they know their stuff (prices are good too!). Anyway, the bag-o-meat came from Tillman’s. You want pork that is not too lean – see the marbling in there? That makes for a nice juicy sausage. They were nice enough to grind the pork for us and they also sold us the casings. You can buy natural or synthetic casings for making sausages. We went for the natural ones.

Time for the fillings! We made three types. Recipes to follow. Feel free to modify/adapt them as you see fit (we didn’t make one of them as written – I’m posting the recipe as we made it). We used a Kitchen Aid stand mixer with a sausage stuffer attachment (which goes on the food grinder attachment). It was quite the arm workout and it was a team sport. But we think our sausages turned out great! We cooked them on the grill, but you could bake or pan fry them too!


Pork & Apple Sausages

2 small leeks, cleaned
2 large Granny Smith apples
1 large onion, peeled
1/4 cup parsley leaves
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
5 pounds ground pork
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
Pre-soaked sausage casings

  1. Chop into leek into small (1/4-inch) dice. Peel, core and chop apple into small (1/4-inch) dice. Cut the onion into small (1/4-inch) dice and chop the parsley.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy sauté pan over moderate heat. When oil is hot, add the leeks, apples, onions and parsley. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Transfer the apple/vegetable garnish to a bowl and refrigerate.
  3. Combine chilled ground pork and chilled apple/vegetable mix. Stuff sausage into casings using your preferred machine or method.

Spicy Chipotle & Cheese Sausage

(NOTE: we couldn’t find fresh chipotles so we chopped an entire can of chipotles in adobo! This made the sausages HOT which half of us liked, the other half did not! Next time maybe 1/2 a can would do!)

5-lbs ground pork
8-tsp minced garlic, about 10 cloves
3-tbsp fresh coarsely ground black pepper
1-cup finely minced red onion
1-cup chopped parsley
3-tbsp paprika
4-tsp salt
1-cup cold beer
1 1/2-cup diced fresh chipotle peppers (see note!)
2-tbsp liquid smoke (hickory flavour)
1-cup grated Romano cheese

Combine all ingredients, mix well & stuff into hog casing or make into patties.


Sun-Dried Tomato Sausage

(this one was my favorite!!)


5-lbs ground pork
3/4-lbs whole milk mozzarella, cut into 1/4” cubes
1-bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped
7 oz sun-dried tomatoes in oil, coarsely chopped
1-tbsp dried basil
1-tbsp fennel seed
1-tbsp coarse black pepper
1-tbsp salt
1-tbsp ground coriander
3/4-cup dry white wine

Mix all seasonings together with wine. Mix the seasonings with the ground meat and cheese then stuff into casings.

(38) Pasta e Fagioli

I know I say that a lot of the recipes I cook are quick and easy, but this one should be put at the top of the list! There was nothing difficult about this. I minced my own garlic, which took 2 seconds as did opening the cans. Soooo, easy!!

I used regular spicy Italian sausage (not turkey – the plain was on sale!) and used 2 links. It was plenty spicy – certainly didn’t need any extra red pepper! If you don’t like spice, go for the sweet Italian sausage and add red pepper flakes until the heat is right for you! I wasn’t sure if this was going to be filling enough, but it definitely was! We give this two thumbs up for sure!


Pasta e Fagioli

Source: Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2000
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces hot turkey Italian sausage
1 1/2 tablespoons bottled minced garlic
1 cup water
1 (16-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 cup uncooked small seashell pasta (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, drained
Minced fresh parsley (optional)
Crushed red pepper (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sausage and garlic; sauté 2 minutes or until browned, stir-ring to crumble. Add water, broth, and tomato sauce; bring to a boil. Stir in pasta, 1/4 cup cheese, oregano, salt, pepper, and beans; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 8 minutes or until pasta is done. Let stand 5 minutes; sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Garnish each serving with parsley and red pepper, if desired.

CALORIES 353 (26% from fat); FAT 10.2g (sat 3.1g,mono 4.1g,poly 2.3g); IRON 4.5mg; CHOLESTEROL 34mg; CALCIUM 177mg; CARBOHYDRATE 45.6g; SODIUM 742mg; PROTEIN 20.5g; FIBER 4.5g

(29) Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

This was our Superbowl meal – ready to cheer on the Saints to victory!! It was pretty easy to put together, very filling and very tasty. It wasn’t spicy enough for my liking, so I added more Tabasco. I will make this again for sure!



Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 2/3 cups gumbo and 1/2 cup rice)
Source: Cooking Light, JUNE 2007

1/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 ounce)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 cups finely chopped yellow onion (1 large)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped green bell pepper (1 large)
1 cup finely chopped celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces light smoked sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces (such as Healthy Choice brand)
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans no-salt-added organic diced tomatoes
2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
3 cups hot cooked rice

Place flour in a large Dutch oven over medium heat; cook 20 minutes or until light brown, stirring constantly with a whisk. (If flour browns too fast, remove pan from heat; stir constantly until it cools down.) Remove flour from pan, and set aside.

Add oil to pan. Stir in onion, bell pepper, and celery; cook 10 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Stir in garlic; cook 30 seconds. Remove onion mixture from pan; set aside.

Increase heat to medium-high; add chicken and sausage to pan. Cook 4 minutes or until chicken is done; return onion mixture to pan. Remove pan from heat. Sprinkle reserved flour over chicken mixture; stir well. Return pan to medium heat. Drain 1 can tomatoes; stir in 1 can drained tomatoes and 1 can undrained tomatoes. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth, Worcestershire, and bay leaves; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaves. Stir in salt, black pepper, and hot sauce. Serve over rice.

CALORIES 419 (20% from fat); FAT 9.2g (sat 2.1g,mono 4.2g,poly 1.1g); IRON 3.5mg; CHOLESTEROL 82mg; CALCIUM 42mg; CARBOHYDRATE 44.2g; SODIUM 888mg; PROTEIN 35.8g; FIBER 3.3g

(23) Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole

As I mentioned last night, this was pretty easy to put together (about 20 minutes start to finish). Look for the tube of turkey sausage in the freezer section. I haven’t eaten in quite a while and it was surprisingly tasty!! I had to cook the casserole about 10 minutes longer than written because it was still really wet in the center.

I have to admit, one serving was a tease! I wanted more! This was really good and I will make it again. You could serve 4 good size servings for weekend guests or put this on a brunch spread with other goodies. Did I mention this was good!? YUM!


Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)
Source: Cooking Light Magazine, May 2007

8 ounces ciabatta bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
Cooking spray
1 pound turkey breakfast sausage
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
1 cup (4 ounces) reduced-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 large eggs
1 (8-ounce) carton egg substitute
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400°.

Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 8 minutes or until toasted.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage to pan; cook 6 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Combine sausage, bread, and onions in a large bowl. Combine milk, cheese, eggs, and egg substitute in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to bread mixture, tossing to coat bread. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Uncover casserole. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Sprinkle with parsley; serve immediately.

CALORIES 344 (28% from fat); FAT 10.8g (sat 4.2g,mono 2.2g,poly 1g); IRON 3.3mg; CHOLESTEROL 123mg; CALCIUM 227mg; CARBOHYDRATE 26.4g; SODIUM 983mg; PROTEIN 28.7g; FIBER 1g

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