A little home cooking

sausager and peppers in a pan
Sausage and peppers

Sausage and peppers is one of my go to recipes. I’ll make it every few weeks in a big batch that we can heat up and enjoy for several days. I learned how to cook sausage and peppers from a friend who came from large Italian family in upstate New York. It wasn’t something my mom ever cooked when I was growing up.

I start with sweet Italian sausage and put it in a roasting pan with water at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Then I turn over the sausage and add more water if necessary and cook for an additional 20 minutes. The water begins deep enough to cover the sausages halfway.

Sausages in a roasting pan with water.
This is what the sausage looks like when it’s all done.

While I’m waiting for the sausages to cook, I prep my peppers and onions. I usually use three peppers and one onion. I heat the olive oil with garlic, cumin and oregano. I learned in a cooking class years ago that it’s best to heat the spices in the oil to get more robust flavors. Then I saute the onions until they’re transparent.

onions and peppers being sauteed.
The onions are done and I move on to saute the peppers.

The final step is slicing the sausages into bite sized pieces and throwing it all together in the pan to sear the sausage and meld all the delicious flavors. When I prep the veggies, I also start rice in my rice cooker

What are some of your go to meals? Did you learn your recipes from your mom, cookbooks or from friends? Another signature dish of mine is oxtail soup, which my mom taught me and I discovered in one of my Great Grandmother Nellie’s cookbooks

I’m bringing her cookbooks back to life. I need you to subscribe to my blog by email for updates of this project.

Tips on How to Eat Uber Hot Chili Peppers and Other Fun Adventures of an Empty Nester

The dolphin statue in Puerto Vallarta by Bud Bottoms. It's a twin statue to the one on Stearn's Wharf in Santa Barbara.

The dolphin statue in Puerto Vallarta by Bud Bottoms. It’s a twin statue to the one at Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara.

We were on vacation in Puerto Vallarta — enjoying “empty nesting” that I first wrote about  here.  We went to a brunch at a luxurious gringo resort — complete with every type of food imaginable — waffle and omelet stations, a taco bar, sushi, every type of seafood and protein known to man, plus gorgeous arrays of fruits and salads.

I was being so good, trying to stick to a high protein, low carb plate — salmon, pork, a taste of sushi. And then I saw roasted Serrano chilis near the elaborate Mexican dishes. It wouldn’t hurt to just have a taste, would it? I plunked the single chili onto my plate next to the scrambled eggs.

Serrano Pepper

Serrano Pepper

Later, sitting at the table with my husband, friends, and a person we had just met, I cut off a small bite of the chili. POW! YIKES! Help me, Jesus! How could I sit still, be polite and nod and smile?

My eyes watered, I shifted up and down in my seat and I thought I was crawling out of my skin. I was ready to jump on the table and do a happy dance!

That was the all time hottest chili. Ever. So much for the high protein low carb diet — I began stuffing my mouth with bread, tortillas, chips — anything to get the soaring heat to die.

Peppers

Peppers

The next evening at dinner, I listened to one of our friends tell a story about when he was in college and ate his first jalapeño. He was told that the secret was to keep the chili from getting any air. So right from the jar, he slipped the jalapeño into his mouth and closed his lips tight. Then he chewed and was blasted with unbelievable heat. He said the guy who told him “the secret way to eat chilis” laughed so hard that he’s probably still laughing today — 40 years later.

Now that I’m away from the freshly roasted peppers, I looked up a few things about chilis. First, serrano chilis are typically eaten raw and have a bright and biting flavor that is notably hotter than the jalapeño pepper. No kidding!

The Scoville Scale

The Scoville Scale

There is a thing called the Scoville Scale that measures the spicy heat of the pepper! Who knew? 

What makes a chili hot? The answer is capsaicin. What is that you ask? 

“Capsaicin (/kæpˈs.ɨsɪn/; 8-methylNvanillyl-6-nonenamide) is an active component of chili peppers, which are plants belonging to the genus Capsicum. It is an irritant for mammals, including humans, and produces a sensation of burning in any tissue with which it comes into contact.” — from Wikipedia.Chilito_verde

If you ever have the horribly uncomfortable occasion of biting into a super hot chili — milk and dairy is the answer. I did not know this. Do not drink water, tea or coffee. Try milk, yogurt or cheese to cut the heat. The next best thing is bread, rice or pasta.

Besides the great food and hot peppers, what did I enjoy about Puerto Vallarta? Try this!

View of beach in Puerto Vallarta.

View of beach in Puerto Vallarta.