Friday, January 4, 2013

Recipe 38: Grilled Sausages with Caramelized Onions and Apples

After a very successful friend Thanksgiving, I had a short week before thanksgiving, but I still needed to feed myself.  So I chose to make a dish that I have had on my list a very long time but never attempted.

This dish was very German kind of, with sausages and apples and onions, or at least it reminded me a bit of Oktoberfest and also of Fall.

Here is a picture of the final result:

And here is the recipe that I used: (Link)


  • 8 sausages
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium onions, halved and sliced
  • 3 large apples - peeled, cored, and cut into thin wedges
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Prepare grill for high heat.
  2. With a fork, poke sausages several times. Place in a pot, cover with water, and simmer over medium-high heat until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.
  3. Warm butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in onions, and cook until soft and translucent. Stir in apples, vinegar, and brown sugar; cook, stirring gently, until caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Meanwhile, place sausages on grill (or under broiler), and cook until well browned. Serve on a mound of caramelized apples and onions.


I made several changes to this recipe:

The first is that instead of cooking the sausage in water I instead used two bottles of beer.  I am not sure how much of an effect this had, but I really enjoyed it.

The second change was that I also made mashed potatoes to go with this dish.  I used this recipe (Link), which was pretty simple and used red potatoes which I like.  One thing to note about that recipe is that it is for 100 servings.  I obviously did not make that much.  I believe I made 2 servings and it was fine with this dish. 

The final change is that I did not have a grill around to cook the sausage on.  Instead I used the broiler for just a few minutes.

The Process

  I started by first preparing the potatoes.  I added them to a pot of water.

At this point, Sprinks walked in and stared at me.  

At the same time I started preparing the sausages.  Here you can see one sausage lifted out of the beer.  I almost forgot this when I was making it, but don't forget to poke holes in the sausage it makes a large difference it the flavors they soak up.

While both of those were cooking I prepared the apples and the onions.  Here you can see the carnage of coring and slicing apples. I am not the neatest corer in the world, but it got the job done.

By this time the sausages were done, so I set them aside and  begin working on the onions and apple mix.

I then prepared a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the sausages on it, to prepare for the broiler.

 With the onions and apples cooking, I begin to mash the potatoes, here you can see the butter, garlic and romano cheese added.

Soon the onions and apples were ready.  I didn't add a whole lot of salt and pepper to this, but you certainly could if desired.

I then finished mashing the potatoes.
Finally, I placed the sausages in the broiler.  I only broiled them for about a minute or 2 on each side, you definitely don't want to leave them in too long.

You can't really see this in the picture below, but I put the mashed potatoes down first, then on top of that I put the onions and apples and finally topped it off with the sausage.

I really liked this dish.  I know that I basically say that about everything that I make.... so I guess I am not sure how much that means.  But I thought this was great.  Definitely not very green or veggie oriented, so it wouldn't hurt to add a side salad to this dish.  But in terms of quantity of food this was more than enough for me.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Recipes 36 & 37: Sweet Potato Casserole and Brussels Sprouts

So one of the traditions that my friends and I have been doing recently has been a Friend Thanksgiving, which we usually hold sometime around actual Thanksgiving.  When it first started I tried to get it so that everyone could bring something that they felt was special to their family Thanksgivings.  But this didn't always work out, especially since I just wanted to bring Jello, which caused some gaps where people had to make the other foods.... like the Turkey, which was always handled superbly by Katie.

This year I just let everyone make their choices and then I filled in the gaps.  In this case that meant that I would be making a sweet potato dish and also a green dish, which ended up being a brussels sprout dish.

In all of the excitement of the friend Thanksgiving dinner, I managed to not take any pictures of the final results, which is kind of sad.  I also made the brussels sprouts for actual Thanksgiving, but again failed to take pictures, so I will just use pictures from the sites that I got the recipes from. 

Here is a picture of the brussels sprouts, taken from:

And here is a picture of the sweet potato casserole, taken from

The recipe that I used for the sweet potato casserole is (Link) :


  • 4 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
  •  1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest plus 2 tablespoons orange juice (from 1 orange)
  •  3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  •  4 tablespoons butter, cubed
  •  1/4 cup heavy cream
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  •  1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  •  1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Adjust an oven rack to the middle position in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. F. Mix 3 tablespoons of the brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of the orange zest together in a small bowl until thoroughly combined (reserve the other 1/2 teaspoon orange zest for later). Set aside.

Lay out 4 pieces of aluminum foil, each about 18 inches in length. Take two of the sheets and lay them perpendicular to each other (so it forms a thick cross) and do the same with the other two sheets of foil. Divide the sweet potatoes in half and put one half on one set of foil and the remaining potatoes on the other set of foil. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon sugar over all the potatoes in both packets. Fold the opposite edges of the foil toward each other and crimp the edges to seal tightly. Place the packets inside a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the potatoes are tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and preheat the broiler.

Carefully open one end from each pouch, careful to avoid escaping steam, and pour the potatoes and any remaining liquid into a blender or food processor. Add the butter, cream, orange juice, salt, cinnamon and remaining 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, pepper and cayenne. Process until the mixture is completely smooth. Transfer the potatoes to a 2- or 3-quart baking dish (that is broiler safe) and sprinkle evenly with the reserved brown sugar/zest mixture. Broil the sweet potatoes until the topping is lightly browned and bubbly, 2 to 4 minute. Serve warm.

And here is the recipe that I used for the brussels sprouts: (Link it is at the bottom of the page)


  • 12-14 large brussels sprouts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted


Slice each brussels sprout very thin until you have a mound of feathery brussels sprout ribbons. Heat the olive oil over medium high in a large skillet and saute the garlic for 30 seconds. Add the brussels sprouts and continue sauteing for another 4-5 minutes, until bright green and tender. Add the sea salt and brown sugar and toss together. Finish by adding the toasted nuts.

The Process

 So I first worked on the sweet potato dish and then once that was in the oven I worked on the brussels sprouts.

Here the sweet potatoes are getting wrapped in foil in preparation for the oven.
 Here and the individual little packets.  I probably used a little bit more sugar than the recipe recommended when I sprinkled it over the potatoes.  There just didn't seem to be enough with the small amount they said to use.
 I then placed both packets on a cookie sheet and put it in the oven.

Sprinkles was pretty unimpressed with my cooking and spent the whole time sleeping on the couch.
 Soon the sweet potatoes were done and I removed them from the oven.
 I then placed them in the blender along with the butter and sugar and other stuff.... and mixed it up!

 Here is the end result!

This recipe managed to destroy my blender as it no longer worked after this.  But it managed to finish this recipe, so that was good.  I poured it out into a casserole dish and added the topping.  Then broiled it for a few minutes and it was ready.  When I took it to dinner I heated it up slightly in the oven just so that it was warm.

The brussels sprouts was a much less involved dish, the only real difficulty was in chopping up the brussels sprouts.  I had to thinly slice them which was a little taxing, and I am not sure that I got it totally right.  I ended up removing most of the end pieces on the dish since they didn't really seem to fit.

Once they were all sliced up I cooked them up over the stove for a few minutes, then I added the toasted nuts and stirred it up.

I thought that both of these dishes turned out really well.  I probably liked the brussels sprouts a bit better and I know that my parents loved it at actual Thanksgiving.  It was fun making something that I don't always make for thanksgiving, and I think that I also managed to destroy my first cooking equipment, which is always fun.  Of course, I think this is the first time I've used the blender in several I am sure that I will soon find a recipe that I want to make that calls for a blender.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Recipe 35: Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom Dill Sauce

 So one of the things that I have been very hesitant to cook has been steak.  I always have felt like steak was something where timing was important and you had to get it just right or it could mess it up.  And I never like messing up food, so I delayed trying it as long as possible.

At this point in the year (early November when I made this) I figured that I was proficient in cooking that I could at least attempt it.  Of course, then I got talked into trying a rather fancier recipe than I was expecting.  So I was a little nervous in attempting this one.  There are also no pictures of me actually making the steak... which is kind of a shame.  But I totally forgot it.

In addition to the steak I made some roasted fingerling potatoes, which I thought was a nice combination.  This isn't a perfect picture, but here is the final result of the steak.

And here is the recipe that I used for the steak(Link).  In addition I used this recipe (link) for the fingerling potatoes.  They were pretty simple, so I won't focus on them.


  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter   
  • 12 oz. assorted fresh mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced 1/4 inch thick  
  • Kosher salt  
  • 1/2 cup minced shallot (about 1 large)  
  • 2 Tbs. Cognac  
  • 3/4 cup lower-salt beef broth  
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil  
  • 4 6-oz. beef tenderloin steaks (about 1 inch thick), preferably at room temperature  
  • Freshly ground black pepper  
  • 3 Tbs. sour cream  
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard  
  • 1/2 Tbs. minced fresh dill


Melt the butter in a 12-inch heavy-duty skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, season generously with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallot, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes more. Remove the skillet from the heat and carefully add the Cognac, stirring to deglaze the pan. Add the broth, bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 3 minutes. Cover the skillet, and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the steaks dry and season generously on both sides with salt and pepper. When the pan is very hot, add the steaks. Sear until a dark crust forms, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the steaks, and cook to desired doneness, about 5 minutes more for medium rare. Remove the skillet from the heat, transfer the steaks to a platter, tent with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes.

With a rubber spatula, scrape the mushroom mixture into the cast-iron skillet. Add the sour cream and mustard, stirring until heated through and well mixed. If necessary, return the skillet to the stove top to heat the sauce. Stir in the dill.

Transfer the steaks to plates, spoon the sauce over, and serve.


I think that the only change that I made in this recipe was that I didn't have cognac.  I didn't actually have any available.  I believe that I used some brandy as a replacement, but you can also use scotch or whiskey if desired. This link is helpful when trying to determine what can replace certain alcohols.

The Process

 Luckily, I was at Katie and Will's and so Katie was available to help with this.  A lot of my timing stuff probably would have been uglier had she not been there.  She helped a lot with the mushroom sauce, while I dealt with the steaks.

Here is the mushrooms after the sour cream was added.

 Here is is after it has been mixed together and heated up.
 And here are the fingerling potatoes.

Since I managed to forget taking pictures of the steak I will just discuss it.  For this recipe you really want to make the pan as hot as possible since you are going to be searing the steak.  So you heat the pan up really hot and then place the steaks on it.  If you have a splatter guard it would be good to put that over the skillet.  You then cook it for maybe 4 minutes, it depends on how hot the pan is I guess.  Then you flip them over and cook them for maybe 4 more minutes.  You really don't want to cook it much more than that, and you want to be pretty careful about not overcooking it.

And here again is the final result.

I thought that this steak was absolutely terrific.  It was really really great.  The steak was just about perfectly cooked and the mushroom sauce was terrific.  I thought the potatoes were fine, but they certainly didn't compare to the steak.  I would highly recommend this recipe to anyone who wants to make steak.