Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sausage, Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew

These past few weeks of limited blogging have reminded me of just how much I miss cooking by the seat of my pants. Without having to worry about exact measurements, taking notes or photos, and sans the stress of presenting it all to you in a pretty package, I found myself whistling away in the kitchen once again. Somehow my blogging had become an almost daily demand and that was making it feel more like a job than the hobby it had started out to be. Being able to step back for a bit helped me to decide that I really do still enjoy blogging, but just not as often.

With all that in mind, today was a day that I felt like cooking and blogging about it. I'd recently made the trip to Trader Joe's in Indianapolis and picked up a few items that I don't normally see in my little hometown Kroger. I found some (already cooked) black beluga lentils and some Muir Glen chipotle fire-roasted tomatoes. We also stopped at a larger Kroger where I found my beloved Johnsonville smoked turkey sausage links, and then we swung by Penzey's Spices where I bought a ginormous bag of their fantastic taco seasoning. What to make, what to make?? A stew, of course!

The beauty of this recipe is that you can morph it into your own recipe by using regular smoked sausage, any kind of petite-diced tomatoes, and your own favorite lentils. I'm merely helping you along by adding the amounts and technique. Unless you're another Rachael Ray, "eyeballing" something can be difficult. And a "palm full" of a specific spice is a different amount to different people. I mean, what if you have man-hands and you're adding cayenne pepper to a recipe? And let's not even get into how one person's idea of a dollop or a squirt might be vastly different from the next person's. Perhaps now you can understand why it's occasionally fun for me to cook without blogging about it. I know how big my "pinch" is and I know that my man-hand palms hold more than a tablespoon, but for you, my friends, I shall write this recipe using measurements because I love you.

Sausage, Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew (makes 6 generous servings)

1 medium sweet potato (7-8 ounces) peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 TBSP olive oil, divided
1/2 pound fully cooked smoked sausage links, sliced lengthwise, then diced into 1/2 inch chunks (This was 3 Johnsonville smoked sausage links for me)
1 1/2 cups diced onions
8 oz sliced mushrooms (I used cremini mushrooms)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP all-purpose flour (you can also use whole wheat flour if desired)
2 cups chicken broth
1 package taco seasoning (I used 4 TBSP of Penzey's taco seasoning. If you make your own taco seasoning blend, feel free to use the amount you'd normally use to season one pound of meat)
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, with the liquid
1 1/2 cups cooked black lentils

In a microwaveable dish, place cubed sweet potatoes. Cook in microwave for 4 minutes on high. Stir and cook for another 4 minutes on high. Set aside.

In a large skillet heat 1 TBSP olive oil. Add sausage pieces and fry until browned and crispy. Remove sausage from skillet with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the same skillet and add the chopped onions. Saute for 4-5 minutes until onions have softened and become translucent. Add sliced mushrooms and saute for an additional 4-5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have lost most of their moisture. Add garlic and saute for another minute or two. Sprinkle flour over onion/mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly to avoid burning, for another minute then slowly add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat a bit and stir until mixture is smooth. Add the taco seasoning, the sweet potatoes and tomatoes with their liquid. Simmer for 4-5 minutes then add in the sausage and lentils. Simmer for a few more minutes to allow flavors to combine.


Nanan said...

Lovely looking stew, Mags. Cook free when you feel like it. Document when you want to. Or guesstimate later - hehehehe - who will know? The point is to have fun with this blogging thing - right? and fun you seem to have!

Lynda said...

Your stew is so colorful and delicious the flavor combination with sweet potatoes.
It is so hard to measure I find it hard to take good photos before my husband digs in. So I've slowed down blogging as much also. I still want it to be fun!

Cottage Cozy said...

That looks just delicious, Mags! Glad you shared it with us!

Debbie said...

The stew looks great Mags and I love sweet potatoes in anything. They are so flavorful. I know what you mean about blogging. I love to blog but I've gotten very tired of leaving comments on all the blogs I visit. It has gotten so tiring. So now I just leave a comment now and then but not as much as I had been. I enjoy it more this way.

June said...

Oh Mags, I'm going to be making this really soon. It looks fabulous! I love blogging too, but you only usually get one pic from me on each post and the reason is I want to continue loving it! Plus, I figure anyone reading my blog already knows how to cook, so they don't need pics of the process, just the finished product.

Lyndsey said...

What a hearty looking stew, and looks delicious too!

I feel the same way about posting, and measuring and taking photos. I don't post that often because of my schedule, and when the school I work for is on spring and summer break, I can take more time. But it's nice to see you stop in once in a while. We sure don't mind that it's not every day.

As far as the pinch here and there (which I usually just eyeball it) I guess if you like something your pinch would be bigger than something you don't :D.

Anyway, blogging should be fun, just take it at your own pace! Those lentils sound interesting.

stephchows said...

Girl you and me are on the same wavelength I just had the same realization! and seriously... this stew is calling my name so bad :)

Moogie said...

Mags, the stew looks yummy. (Haven't had dinner yet!)

I hear ya on the blogging.

A Year on the Grill said...

wow... that is such a great looking stew... fabulous ingredients

Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction said...

Looks like a great recipe! I am one of those cooks who likes to eyeball everything (and have been known to use the "season to taste" line quite a bit).

As for blogging, sometimes it can be nice to take a break. I have been getting stressed out with my blog (and other online projects) lately, and I think I may need a break pretty soon, too. It's important to find out what you enjoy and only blog when you feel like it so that it doesn't turn into a job!

Anonymous said...

you don't say what to do with the sweet potato after setting it aside. Though i'm sure i could figure it out...

Mags said...

Anonymous: Thanks for catching that error. I've edited the post to include when to add the sweet potatoes.

Lindsey said...

I am going to stock this idea back for fall.... it will be divine! And I'm sure like some of you, I get obsessed and then stressed. Food blog nights are actually designated now so that my fiance knows that dinner might take longer, might be cold (or overcooked) due to the photo shoot time, etc. It helps keep us all a little sane... and well fed!