Million Dollar Spaghetti

I was going to change the name of this dish to just ‘spaghetti casserole’ because (before I made it) I thought that calling it Million Dollar Spaghetti was a bit pretentious. Well, as you can tell, I didn’t change the name. That’s because, yeah, Million Dollar Spaghetti is the perfect name for it.

If you close your eyes and take a bite of this spaghetti you’ll almost think you are eating lasagna. Actually, it’s very close in flavor to my mom’s easy lasagna, a recipe I make and devour regularly. Spaghetti sauce, Italian sausage, pasta, a little Italian seasoning and plenty of cheese. What’s not to love?

Million Dollar SpaghettiMillion Dollar Spaghetti was a huge hit in our house. We were sad when the last piece disappeared. But not super sad since we knew it won’t be long until we make this again. And again.

You can easily change this recipe up to meet your own tastes. Maybe add some fresh mushrooms in when you cook the sausage. Or a few bell peppers. For me, a pinch or two of red pepper flake is always a good idea too. You don’t have to use an expensive jarred spaghetti sauce, either. Good ole Prego (I used Italian Sausage and Garlic) works just great!

To really amp up this dish, use my smoked spaghetti sauce instead of jarred.

Million Dollar Spaghetti

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 24 ounce jars your favorite spaghetti sauce, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion chopped
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage if using links remove the casings
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup Ricotta cheese
  • 1 8 ounce stick cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • 3 cups Mozzarella cheese shredded, divided
  • 1 stick butter cut into 16 thin pats, divided

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and return the spaghetti to the pot you cooked it in and stir in one bottle of the spaghetti sauce. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Crumble in the raw sausage and stir, cooking until the sausage is cooked through. I used a wooden spoon to help break up the sausage while it cooked.
  • Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the remaining jar of spaghetti sauce.
  • In a bowl, combine the Ricotta, cream cheese, sour cream, Italian seasoning and 1 cup of the Mozzarella.
  • Place 8 of the pieces of butter in the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish.
  • Place half of the spaghetti mix into the bottom of the dish. Use a spatula to spread it out evenly.
  • Add the cheese mixture and spread out evenly.
  • Add the remaining butter and then add the rest of the of the spaghetti mixture. Spread out evenly.
  • Add all of the tomato sauce mixture and spread out evenly.
  • Add the remaining mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes until hot.
  • Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Kraut-Stuffed Sausages

For years and years I have grilled my sausages after they spent some quality time in a ‘bath’ of beer and peppers and onions. And they are great, I admit it. But these kraut-stuffed sausages, well, they’re really beyond great. Tender, moist, and just packed with flavor. Such a wonderful texture in every single bite. I couldn’t stop eating them. Topped with plenty of mustard, these are now my only go-to grilled sausages.
kraut-stuffed-sausagesYou have to use the right kind of sausages to make these kraut-stuffed sausages. Get the fresh sausages, with casings. You need to be able to poke your finger inside to make a cavity for the fantastic (but easy) filling. And unless your fingers are really, really long, don’t get really, really long sausages!

I suggested to Anita that we try adding other things to the stuffing, such as chopped roasted jalapenos, or poblanos or the like and she gave me a dirty look. The “don’t mess with this” look. So I won’t.

Also try my bratwurst bath. Perfect for getting brats ‘happy’ before grilling them.

Kraut-Stuffed Sausages

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 5 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh sausages Italian, Kielbasa, whichever you prefer, just make sure you get the sausages in casings. I used Johnsonville Italian sausages which come 5 to a pound
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large sweet onion cut thin
  • 1 pound kraut plus some of the juice
  • 1 cup shredded cheese Monterey Jack, mozzarella, any good white melting cheese will work
  • 5 fresh sausage buns
  • Your favorite mustard

Instructions

  • Using your fingers, make a hole down the center of each sausage, creating a cavity that runs the full length of the sausages.
  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion, kraut, and a bit of the juice from the kraut jar.
  • Stir and let cook until the onions are softened.
  • Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  • Stir in the cheese. It won't melt but it will help bind the kraut mixture together.
  • Fire up your grill for indirect cooking.
  • Using your hands, grab some of the kraut mixture and force it into the cavity in the sausages. Just keep packing it in. Don't worry about being all pretty and what-not, just get it in there. But don't shove so hard that you have a blowout!
  • Place sausages over indirect heat on the grill and cook for 30 minutes until nice and dark and done.
  • Toast the buns.
  • Add cooked sausages to the buns and top with plenty of mustard.

Italian Sausage Sandwiches Version 3.0

These Italian sausage sandwiches have become somewhat of a tradition in our house around New Year’s and the Superbowl. I make a nice big batch of them and let them slow cook either on the stove or in a slow cooker, ready to eat at any time. Perfect eats for watching football games, specially college bowl games. Spicy sausage with a flavorful tomato sauce loaded with peppers, onions, and mushrooms. All topped (of course) with ooey-gooey cheese.
Italian Sausage SandwichesI’m not sure I’ve ever made my Italian sausage sandwiches exactly the same way each year. Sometimes I go the spicy route, sometimes I use sweet sausages. Sometimes I add more bell peppers, sometimes I just add more mushrooms. It just kind of depends on how I feel that day. If you don’t mind spicy, add more red pepper flake and a good amount of hot sauce.

Also try my other version of Italian sausage sandwiches, all fantastic:version 1.0 and version 2.0.

Italian Sausage Sandwiches Version 3.0

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 6 hours 45 minutes
Servings 10 sandwiches
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 4 cups pizza sauce
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • Vegetable oil
  • 10 hot Italian sausages in casings
  • 1 large green bell pepper sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper sliced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper sliced
  • 1 large orange bell pepper sliced
  • 2 medium sweet onions sliced
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon more or less, to taste red pepper flake
  • 2 loaves French bread
  • 2 cups Mozzarella cheese shredded

Instructions

  • Place the pizza and tomato sauces into a large pot over medium heat.
  • In a large Dutch oven, heat a splash or two of oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the sausages, browning on all sides. Transfer browned sausages to the pot of sauce.
  • Add more oil to the Dutch oven and add all of the vegetables. Saute until just starting to get soft, then transfer to the pot of sauce along with the sausages.
  • Season with salt and pepper, Italian seasoning and red pepper flake.
  • Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5-6 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Slice the bread in half. I prefer to do this by cutting a 'V' down the top of the bread, making a trench for the sausages and sauce. I find that the bread doesn't split so easily this way. I also remove some of the bread inside just to make more room for the great toppings.
  • Cut bread into lengths a tad shorter than the sausages.
  • Add meat and top with sauce and a little bit of the vegetables.
  • Top with cheese and place on a sheet pan under the oven broiler just long enough to melt the cheese.

Italian Sausage Baby Back Ribs on the Char-Broil Big Easy

A little bit ago I made Italian “sausage” baby back ribs on the Char-Broil The Big Easy for the first time. I was really impressed with how well they came out. Tender, juicy, and tasty. Just another reason that my Big Easy is one of my favorite “grills”.

Italian Sausage Baby Back Ribs on the Char-Broil Big EasyI was looking for a different take on ribs, something other than the “usual” BBQ-flavor, when I came across a recipe for ribs with the flavor of Italian sausage (oh my!). I knew right then that I was going to make them on my Big Easy.

The resulting Italian “sausage” baby back ribs is fantastic. They taste just like Italian sausage, with a wonderful twist. Again, tender and juicy. And with the hint (not overpowering) of fennel and the other seasonings found in Italian sausage. The orange glaze is absolutely to die for. The brown sugar gives the ribs a bit of a crust, a crunchy exterior. The glaze is not overly sweet thanks to rice wine vinegar, orange juice and zest, and chile paste (yum! a nice kick!). These are some of the best ribs I’ve ever had or made, and I’ve made a lot of them, from on the grill, on the smoker, and now on the Big Easy.

Love your Big Easy as much I love mine? Check out my Big Easy Add-Ons page and my free Big Easy eCookbook!

Italian Sausage Baby Back Ribs on the Char-Broil Big Easy

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 12 hours
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 13 hours 30 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

For the brine

  • 2 racks baby back ribs trimmed to fit the Big Easy (alternatively, if you have a particularly large rack, just halve it and the remaining ingredients). Remove the membrane from the backs of the ribs and trim any large chunks of fat.
  • 32 ounces apple cider or juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup sea salt
  • 1/2 cup loose packed brown sugar

For the rub

  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds lightly ground
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the glaze

  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup orange juice 2 big oranges
  • 2/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili paste

Instructions

  • Place the ribs into a resealable container.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the brine ingredients. Pour over the ribs and seal.
  • Refrigerate 12 hours, turning the ribs occasionally.
  • Fire up your big easy
  • Attach ribs to the rib hooks. Attach ribs to the Big Easy and lower into the cooker. Cook 35 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the rub by combining all ingredients.
  • Rub ribs generously with the rub (being careful to not burn yourself on the rib hooks!). Wrap the ribs in foil, making sure that the rib hooks stick out enough to be used.
  • Return ribs to the Big Easy and cook another 45 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the glaze by combining all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and simmer until reduced by half.
  • Remove ribs from the Big Easy and remove the foil. Brush ribs on all sides with the glaze and return to the cooker for 10 minutes. Add more glaze and cook another 5 minutes or until the desired color is achieved.
  • Let ribs rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Sausage Mushroom Kale Hash

After visiting the Citizen Hash food truck the other day, and seeing (and tasting) how great the hash was, I decided to make a copycat version of the spring hash, a sausage mushroom kale hash. My version is a little heavier on the sausage, but you can adjust it as you like. I also added a fried egg, but next time I’ll add a poached egg instead.

Sausage Mushroom Kale HashThis sausage mushroom kale hash is an easy dish to make, and it has great flavor to boot. I used hot Italian sausage for a little extra kick.

Also try my Hobo hash. Just as easy, just as great.

Sausage Mushroom Kale Hash

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large Russet potatoes peeled, chopped into 1/2" cubes
  • 1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 large white onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound small mushrooms sliced
  • 1 large bunch kale washed and chopped
  • Pinch of dried basil oregano and crushed chili peppers
  • 4 eggs fried or poached (optional)
  • Fresh parsley chopped, for garnish, if desired

Instructions

  • Salt a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until nearly done, 5-8 minutes. Drain.
  • Heat a teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Crumble sausage into the pan and cook until done. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet.
  • Add the onions and cook for a few minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook until the onions are softened.
  • Add the potatoes. Turn up the heat to high and cook until the potatoes are golden brown and crisped on one side. Flip and crisp the other side.
  • Add the cooked sausage, mushrooms, kale, and the spices and gently stir fry until the mushrooms start to soften and the kale has wilted. Add more oil if it is too dry.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve topped with a cooked egg and garnished with parsley if desired.

Hot Italian Sausage with Fresh Corn Polenta

Some folks don’t really care for polenta. I think it is one of the best (and easiest) things to make. What’s not to like about great corn flavor, with cheese and butter? This hot Italian sausage with fresh corn polenta dish has a great combination of creamy corn smoothness and the heat and juiciness of sausages.

So is there a difference between polenta and grits? Apparently, yes, but there are lots of thoughts on the subject. I usually use cornmeal, and for dishes like this one, I prefer a coarser variety when I can find it.

Hot Italian Sausage with Fresh Corn PolentaGrilled shrimp would work great in this too.

Also try my fresh pasta with grilled sausage and mushrooms.

Hot Italian Sausage with Fresh Corn Polenta

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups yellow stone-ground cornmeal
  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels about 2 cans if you don't have fresh on hand
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese plus more for shaving
  • 12 links fresh hot Italian sausage
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped

Instructions

  • Bring 7 cups of water to boil in a large pot. Add salt.
  • While whisking the water, slowly pour in the cornmeal. Keep whisking until the mixture begins to thicken, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to medium low and let the cornmeal cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. If the mixture gets too thick, add just a bit of hot water, stir, and add more water in small quantities if needed.
  • Add in the fresh corn and stir. Continue cooking until the cornmeal is smooth and no longer gritty, 10-15 more minutes.
  • Add the butter and cheese and stir. Add more salt to taste if desired.
  • Grill sausages until done.
  • Let rest 5 minutes then cut into thirds.
  • Spoon cornmeal onto plates and top with the sausages. Garnish with parsley and a few cheese shavings and serve.

Christmas Pasta

I was a little pessimistic when I set out to make this colorful Christmas pasta dish. I thought, sure, it looks Christmasy (and it’s nowhere near Christmas time), but I wasn’t sure it’d have a lot of flavor. I was pleasantly surprised at the end result, which Anita absolutely raved about.Christmas Pasta

This Christmas pasta is an incredibly easy way to cook up a big dish for a crowd. Also try my baked Angel hair with sausage. It’s also a big favorite of ours.

Christmas Pasta

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 8 -12

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 2 pounds sweet Italian Sausage torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 red bell peppers cut into 1" chunks
  • 3 green bell peppers cut into 1" chunks
  • 3 sweet onions cut into 1" chunks
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti cooked al-dente
  • Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray.
  • Heat oil over medium-high heat in large skillet. You need a skillet large enough to hold the meat, veggies, and pasta, so if you don't have a really large one, use a big pot instead.
  • Add sausage and cook until done.
  • Meanwhile, cook the pasta until almost done. Drain well.
  • Remove sausage with a slotted spoon.
  • Add in the peppers and onion and cook until starting to soften, 8-10 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper and add the garlic and cook another minute.
  • Remove from heat. Stir the meat back into the veggies.
  • Add the pasta to the pan and stir well.
  • Pour mixture into the casserole, cover with foil, and bake 35-40 minutes.
  • Serve drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Beef and Italian Sausage Chili

This beef and Italian sausage chili is a wonderfully tasty chili. The Italian sausage really adds a lot to the flavor. It isn’t spicy. But it can be if you add a lot of hot sauce or use hot Italian sausage). The broth is flat-out crazy delicious. That’s what distinguishes a good chili from a great chili. This is great chili.Beef and Italian Sausage Chili

This recipe for beef and Italian sausage chili actually changed my view of beef-only chili. Now, I almost always add Italian sausage to my chili.

I found this recipe in Marje Lambert’s great cookbook, The Real Chili Cookbook. I did make a few minor changes for our tastes. Also try my version 2.0 of beef and Italian sausage chili.

Beef and Italian Sausage Chili

Fantastic take on traditional beef chili.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound Italian-style pork sausage
  • 2 pounds beef chuck cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 medium white onion chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 14 1/2 ounce cans beef broth
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Hot sauce to taste

Instructions

  • Crumble the sausage into a Dutch oven and cook over medium-high heat until cooked.
  • Add the beef and cook until browned. Spoon off excess fat.
  • Add onion, bell pepper and garlic and cook another 4 minutes.
  • Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook until beef is tender, about 3 1/2 hours. Add water (or more broth) if the chili gets too thin.
  • Season with salt if needed. Serve hot.

Baked Angel Hair with Sausage

This baked angel hair with sausage is the perfect recipe for a large dinner. It makes a big batch, and is really easy to make. I recently made this great dish and took it along for an overnight trip. It reheated easily in the hotel room, making for a nice easy dinner. We often also make this dish for friends. It’s easy and makes a lot, perfect for feeding a big family.

Baked Angel Hair with SausageYou can switch things up a bit by omitting the rosemary and substituting Creole seasoning. I found the original recipe over on Bo’s Bowl blog, which is chock full of great food ideas!

Also try my Christmas pasta. It also makes enough for a crowd.

Baked Angel Hair with Sausage

Use hot Italian sausage for some added kick!
Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 8 -10

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds mild Italian sausage
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound Crimini mushrooms sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary crushed, divided
  • 2 15 ounce jars Alfredo sauce
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Remove the sausage from casings.
  • Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Crumble the sausage into the pan and brown on both sides. Remove to a paper towel-lined planed
  • Add the mushrooms to the skillet and saute until soft. Add 1/2 of the rosemary, combine.
  • Add the two jars of Alfredo sauce to the skillet. Stir, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.
  • While the sauce is simmering, cook the angel hair pasta per the package instructions EXCEPT do not cook fully. Reduce the cooking time by 1 minute instead so that the pasta is a little al dente (still a bit raw).
  • Rinse and drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Combine well.
  • Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • Add half of the cooked pasta mixture. Top with half of the crumbled sausage and half of the remaining rosemary.
  • Add the rest of the pasta, topped with the remaining sausage and rosemary.
  • Sprinkle with the cheeses.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted. Place under the broiler for a minute or two to brown the top and serve.

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