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Warm up with these comfort foods

on October 06, 2013 2:00 AM

Brisk autumn evenings call for warm, homemade meals that bring the family together around the dinner table. Dishes that deliver savory flavors are sure to win over their hearts, as well as warm them.

If your taste buds call for a fall classic, cuddle up with a piping hot bowl of chili. The sweetness of brown sugar complements the blend of fresh garlic and Italian sausage in this recipe for Chiliville Chili. Because it’s made with Italian ground sausage, you can customize the robust flavor of this dinnertime staple by picking your favorite of the mild, sweet or hot varieties. For more recipes, visit www.johnsonvillekitchens.com. Warm up the family with their favorite Italian dishes that feature the bold and savory flavors of ground sausage and sausage links. You can’t go wrong with this kid favorite for Easy Sausage Pizza, which is served up without the hassle and fuss of standard homemade pizza recipes. Grab the garlic bread and, please, don’t forget the Parmesan. You’ll need them for these delicious recipes for Italian sausage rigatoni, Italian all-natural ground sausage lasagna and Italian meatballs.

Savory Sausage Additions

For those looking to add more flavor to their meals, head over to the sausage section at the local grocer. Here are some great tips and reasons for adding this hearty, bold protein to your family’s favorite dishes:

• Swap for spice. Add more flavor to your favorite meat meals by replacing half the ground beef with ground sausage.

• Go for convenience. For those looking for added flavor without the hassle, go with ground sausage. Since there’s no need to remove the casing it has added convenience.

• Find your flavor. Many ground sausages come in additional flavors, so pick your favorite. Look for hot, mild or sweet varieties of ground Italian.

Chiliville Chili

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

1 package (16 ounces) ground Italian sausage (mild, sweet or hot)

1 pound ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

3 celery ribs, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes with green peppers and onions

2 cans (16 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (14.5 ounces) beef broth

1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons ground cumin

½ crushed red pepper flakes

Cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)

In large saucepan, cook sausage and ground beef over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add onion, celery and garlic. Cook and stir for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in tomatoes, beans, broth, tomato paste, brown sugar, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, cumin and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese if you like and serve immediately.

Easy Sausage Pizza

Yield: 6 servings

8 ounces ground Italian sausage (mild, sweet or hot) or 8 ounces Italian sausage links

1 cup pizza sauce

1 pre-baked packaged pizza crust (12-inch)

1¼ shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

½ cup green pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, optional

If using ground sausage, pinch sausage into dime-size pieces. If using links, remove casings and also pinch into dime-size pieces. Spread sauce over crust; sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Add Italian sausage pieces and green pepper. Top with remaining cheese. Bake according to crust package directions or until sausage is no longer pink (160° F) and cheese is melted. For finishing touch, drizzle with olive oil before cutting, if desired.

Italian Meatballs

Yield: 6 servings

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/3 cup dry bread crumbs

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup milk

¼ cup onion, finely chopped

1 package (16 ounces) mild ground Italian sausage or 1 package (19 ounces) Italian sausage links

Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl, combine the egg, bread crumbs, cheese, milk and onion. If using sausage links, remove from casings. Add sausage to bread crumb mixture and mix well. Shape into 20 meatballs; arrange on shallow baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through (160° F). Serve with favorite sauce and spaghetti.

Italian Sausage Rigatoni

Yield: 6 servings

1 package (19 ounces) mild Italian sausage links, grilled

1 pound rigatoni pasta

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large sweet red pepper, chopped

1 jar (26 ounces) pasta sauce of your preference

2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped

Cook sausage links according to package directions. Meanwhile, cook rigatoni according to package directions; drain and set aside. In a large skillet, heat olive oil until hot. Add garlic; sauté for 30 seconds or until golden. Add red peppers; sauté for 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Cut sausage into ¼-inch coin slices; add to skillet. Stir in pasta sauce; heat through. Add pasta; toss to combine. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

Italian All Natural Ground Sausage Lasagna

Yield: 12 servings

12 lasagna noodles, uncooked

1 package (16 ounces) Italian all natural ground sausage

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon garlic, chopped

1 large container chunky pasta sauce

1 container (15 ounces) ricotta cheese

1 egg

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

3 cups fresh spinach, chopped and packed

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Prepare noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside. Sauté Italian sausage, onion and garlic in a skillet until sausage is browned; drain. Add pasta sauce to the sausage mixture and set aside. In a medium bowl, blend ricotta cheese, egg and ? cup of Parmesan cheese and set aside. Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and spread 1 cup of the sauce mixture on the bottom. Top with 3 lasagna noodles. Spread ¼ cup of the ricotta cheese mixture on the noodles and layer on 1 cup of the sauce mixture. Sprinkle 1 cup of spinach and ½ cup mozzarella cheese. Repeat this whole process 3 more times starting with the noodles; top with ¼ cup Parmesan cheese to finish. Bake uncovered in 350° F oven for 45 minutes until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

— Courtesy of Johnsonville and Family Features

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