Recipe: Escarole and Sausage Stew

Escarole and Sausage StewNothing warms you up more than a hearty bowl of soup or stew on a winter’s day. Since this winter has been so brutal, I decided to conquer my fear of soup-making once and for all.

My good friend Rhonda from back in Wisconsin is a Pampered Chef consultant. Each month I receive recipes and ideas via e-mail. In January, there was one for Escarole and Sausage Stew that caught my eye. Finally, during our last big Nor’Easter I decided to roll up my sleeves and take to the kitchen with Brett as my trusty co-chef.

I don’t know why I had a fear of cooking soups. It’s almost like how some people are so afraid of cooking fish. I guess I thought soups are so complicated that you need to sit around all day to have meats simmer until they’re moist and tender, and you need so many different market-fresh ingredients for the veggies.

But, this recipe isn’t that hard and you don’t have to search for any hard-to-find ingredients.

Continue reading

Easy Italian Monday night

Barney Stinson (aka Neil Patrick Harris on "How I Met Your Mother")

Barney Stinson (aka Neil Patrick Harris on "How I Met Your Mother")

If you’re like me, you want something easy to cook on Monday nights for dinner. After work I have swimming and a few minutes to shower and change before “How I Met Your Mother.” (I love Neil Patrick Harris as Barney…) And shameless plug for CBS, tonight is the start of the all-new season. Will we finally find out who the mother is this year??


We love Italian food at our house. But making authentic Italian on a time crunch can be uber hard. Something like lasagna can take at least 30 minutes to prepare plus the oven time…it could be 8 p.m. before dinner is ready.

Here’s a quick ‘n easy recipe from celebrity chef Giada de Laurentiis.  As much as I dislike Food Network’s short-spanned lives of their celebrity chefs (each of the chefs has a shelf life of about 2-3 years), some of their talent really comes up with good recipes that do work. Giada’s easy Italian recipes have all turned out great for me. I can’t say the same for the Paula Deen recipes I’ve tried. Maybe I just don’t have the tolerance for all of the butter and cream?

This recipe for fusilli pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and spicy sausage takes advantage of frozen vegetables, box pasta and other pantry staples to help make this a home run with the whole family.

Continue reading

Foodie Destination: Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and Restaurant

Exterior Schmidt's Sausage Haus

I had no idea when we traveled to Columbus, Ohio, last fall to visit my sister-in-law that she lived in a food mecca. Food Network shows like “The Best of…” and Travel Channel shows like “Man v. Food” have all come to the home of the Ohio State Buckeyes to enjoy the food.

One of the many foodie destinations we tried on our long weekend trip was Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and Restaurant. Located in the heart of Columbus’s German Village neighborhood, Schmidt’s has been serving up German cuisine like sausages and spaetzel since 1886. The restaurant is located on the end of a cobblestone street. Diners wait outside for their names to be called. Small shops like a delicious fudge store and eclectic jewelry stores are within a stone’s throw.

Schmidt’s is known for their handmade sausages, huge sandwiches and delightful desserts like the jumbo cream puff. I’m a hard sell when it comes to sausages so I was very excited to try theirs. The restaurant has a large menu but most people seem to opt for the “German Autobahn Buffet.”

Continue reading

Foodie Destination: Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty

Babe the Blue Ox greets visitors at Paul Bunyan's Cook Shanty.

When I was a wee little girl back on the farm, we used to have the annual “Lumberjack Breakfast” at our elementary school. For one morning out of the year, we’d dress up in flannel shirts, don some old jeans, and enjoy a hearty breakfast of flapjacks, sausage and cold milk in tin mugs.

Ok, I didn’t grow up on a farm. But, the rest of that was all true. When I went to Madison Elementary in Wauwatosa, Wis., each year we’d have a lumberjack breakfast for the entire school. Some of the PTA moms would get out their griddles (and these things must have been ginormous to feed all of us kids) and they would cook us up some great breakfast food. For some reason I remember a llama one year but I guess that means Babe the Blue Ox just wasn’t available for photo ops.

Harking back to that earlier time of my childhood, we made the two-hour drive to Wisconsin Dells to enjoy their famous logging-camp style breakfast. For those of you not from the midwest, the Dells is like the Orlando of Wisconsin. It’s the waterpark capital of the US with a kitschy Main Street feel, old motels, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, stores that sell T-shirts for 20 for $10 and more. One of the best restaurants…er, attractions…in the Dells is Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty.

Continue reading