The care and feeding of house guests over the holidays can be stressful. As a clutter bug and mama of three messy boys, I can almost guarantee that you’ll never see the disaster that lies outside the frames of my blog and Instagram photos. But my in-person family and friends will, err, notice, so I’ll usually cancel a run or trip to the gym to get the house tidy — and that can feel like quite a workout in itself! And, while I love to cook, I’m used to feeding 4 or 5 at a time– not 15 people plus! Cooking bacon or sausage for an army in the morning is one of my pet peeves. It’s messy, time-consuming and I’m usually stuck in the kitchen and missing out on all the Christmas morning fun around the tree! To solve this breakfast prep problem, I came up with Sheet Pan Maple Beef Sausage – I was super excited to share it with my breakfast-obsessed friends at BeefLovingTexan.com It’s basically one HUGE sausage patty cooked all at once in the oven – no flipping, splattering or batch cooking. Plus, my always-starving teen boys and teen nephews can’t come by to “sample” it all away before serving time! When ready to serve, simply slice into bars or wedges, it couldn’t be any easier!
Everyone who eats my sheet pan sausage always raves and mentions how much better homemade sausage tastes – they are always pleasantly surprise to discover it’s made with lean beef – not fattier pork. The secret to making lean ground beef taste like breakfast sausage is all in the spices and flavorings. This beef sausage uses ingredients like paprika, cayenne and real maple syrup for a mildly spicy-sweet flavor.
So, should you feel guilty about indulging in this sausage for a holiday brunch or even “brinner”? NO! There are 24 servings per batch, with each piece containing approximately 100 calories and 12 grams of protein. In addition to protein, lean beef is also a great source of iron, zinc and other essential nutrients. For optimal protein intake (25 – 30 grams per meal) have a couple slices, or pair a slice with an egg scramble.
Prefer a breakfast sandwich? After sausage is cooked, use a biscuit cutter to make a round shape and use a halved buttermilk biscuit to bookend! The leftover bits from cutting circles can be crumbled up to use in soups, quesadillas, salads and more.
Do you have a traditional dish for breakfast or brunch? Are you a sausage or bacon person? Are you tidy or messy, a hoarder or minimalist when it comes to keeping house? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer
Sheet Pan Maple Beef Sausage
Feed your hungry holiday crowd a special breakfast or brunch -- this easy beef sausage bakes in the oven and is low mess, low stress and very delicious!
Place ground beef in large bowl and gently work in syrup with hands. In small bowl, toss together onion, garlic, sage, thyme, syrup, brown sugar, paprika, allspice, cayenne, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over beef and work spices in with hands, taking care not to over handle beef (creates toughness).
Line rimmed baking sheet (approx. size 13” x 18”) with foil and gently press in meat mixture to reach corner to corner, maintaining an even thickness.
Place pan on center rack of oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160F degrees with instant-read meat thermometer.
Carefully remove pan and drain off any excess liquid. Let rest for 5 minutes.
For wedges, cut into 12 equal-sized rectangles (3 columns, 4 rows) and then cut each rectangle on the diagonal. Or, use biscuit cutter to make rounds and then crumble up remnants for use later.or wedges, cut into 12 equal-sized rectangles (3 columns, 4 rows) and then cut each rectangle on the diagonal. Or, use biscuit cutter to make rounds and then crumble up remnants for use later.
Well, first of all, happy Mardi Gras – Laissez les bons temps rouler! This day of eating, drinking and overindulging that can take quite a toll so, I’m sharing a healthy salad to help keep you fit and fierce for Fat Tuesday . . . or get you back on track later in the week!
You’re going to love my Spicy Creole Shrimp Salad with French Quarter Croutons, it’s like a healthier version of a Po’ Boy sandwich that exploded with loads of lettuces and farm-fresh veggies. Instead of getting fried in oh-my-gawd grease, the succulent shrimp in this quick and easy recipe get a toss in Creole Seasoning before being lightly sautéed in heart-healthy olive oil.
Forget about bland Creole seasoning from grocery store spice aisle, kick up the taste and cut down on costs by making a big batch at home – in addition, making it from scratch lets you say au revoir to weird chemicals and preservatives and control the amount of heat. Often referred to as Cajun spice, this blend of peppers, paprika, thyme, oregano, garlic and onion powders creates the base of bold flavor on practically everything in my shrimp recipe – BAM!
I also use Instantly Fresh Herbs in my Creole Spice Mix, a generous recipe that makes plenty for the salad, dressing and croutons – store leftovers in an airtight jar for up to a year. Use this Creole Spice Mix in soups and gumbos, rub into catfish and tuna, mix into meatballs, and even sprinkle on grilled fruit – this Cajun food seasoning is crazy-good!
The dressing isn’t loaded in fat either; I used the deliciously creamy Greek yogurt-based Ranch and jazzed it up a bit with Creole spices.
To make Creole Spice Mix, place ingredients in small jar with lid. Stir or shake to combine. May be stored in pantry out of direct sunlight for up to one year. Makes approximately ½ cup.
To make shrimp, heat olive oil and Worcestershire sauce in large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat thawed shrimp dry and toss with Creole Spice Mix. Place in hot skillet and sauté for approximately 2 minutes, or until heated through (take care not to over-heat since shrimp are precooked). Remove shrimp from heat to a plate while finishing remainder of dish.
To prepare salad, top lettuce with cabbage, radish and tomatoes on a large platter or individual bowls. For dressing stir, Creole Spice Mix in dressing until incorporated – use more or less depending on preference for spiciness.
For croutons, slice 8-inch length of baguette in half lengthwise. Next, slice each half in half at a long diagonal; place on baking sheet. Brush cut side of bread with olive oil and sprinkle with cheese and Creole Spice Mix. Set under broiler for 60 seconds (keep a vigilant eye) or until top beginning to bubble and brown.
To serve, place shrimp on prepared salad and add one big crouton per person; pass with dressing.
I hope you have a big spoon at the ready, my recipe for Best-Ever Beef Chili is, well, THE BEST! With freezing temperatures and heated football bowl games going down, this big pot of spicy, rich and blissfully beefy chili is what to serve by the mug, bowl or trough.
I typically make chili by breaking down a roast into bite-sized chunks, my kitchen stampeded causing Southwestern Steak Chili is a family favorite. However, the kids love ground beef (and so does my food budget) and requested a chili made with their favorite food group — hamburger meat!
Won’t lie, I was a little worried that the ground beef would come out dry and the beefy taste might get downed out by bold chili spices. After reading an article in Cooks Illustrated on achieving “better browning through science,” I knew I had to try their technique of using a baking solution on meat to enable proteins to attract more water and hold onto it during cooking and also create a higher pH level to speed up the desirable Maillard reaction (basically, the harbinger of caramelization). My dad reported success using this method to keep steaks juicy and tender, and I hoped this easy hack would help improve the taste and texture of my chili’s ground beef.
So, how does this baking soda beef hack work? Typically, when ground beef is cooked on the stove top, so much water and liquid is expelled that the beef chunks just end up steaming in their own juices — very little actually browning happens. When cooked to the point of most water evaporating, the batch of beef will be unpleasantly overdone. However, by gently tossing a baking soda solution with the meat (about ¾ teaspoon baking soda to 2 tablespoons water for 2lbs of grind) and letting sit for 15 to 20 minutes before cooking , beef loses less liquid, browns faster and tastes better. I tried it myself with 80/20 Chuck Ground Beef and I must say, I was impressed! The ground beef cooked “as-is” was almost immediately was sitting in a pool of liquids (as you can see from the picture) and when taste-tested seemed a little rubbery and bland.
However, the baking soda treated beef immediately started to brown in the pot. And, while there was still a fair deal of liquid released, it was noticely less so than the previous batch (Cook’s illustrated said about 10% less liquid, I felt like maybe even a little more). More noticeable though, was the taste – the baking-soda treated batch had a richer, more complex caramelized flavor and was markedly juicier. In fact, the cooked beef was so yummy; I worried about taste-testing my way through the whole pile before I even started the rest of the chili!
So, my final recommendation on this “baking soda treatment” is definitely try it and see what you think! It does take little bit of pre-planning because you have to let the solution sit on the meat for 20 minutes, but you can have that going while you prep the other ingredients.
So, here is my Best Ever Ground Beef Chili recipe, – every spoon is a mouthful of meaty goodness. It’s rich and spicy, without being too heavy or too “hot” for kids – I think you’ll really like it. But, feel free to use this baking soda technique with any beef chili recipe!
Add ground beef to bowl and drizzle with solution of 2 tablespoons water and ¾ teaspoon baking soda. Gently break apart beef with hands to distribute, but do not over knead (causes toughness). Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in large Dutch oven pot over medium high. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes until softened, stirring as needed. Mix in garlic and cook for another minute.
Add treated ground beef to pot and cook, while stirring and breaking up into chunks. Brown beef for approximately 12 to 15 minutes or until no longer pink.
Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano and salt to beef mixture and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until spices begin to bloom and become fragrant, about 2 minutes.
To pot of beef, add finely crushed tortilla chips, beef broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beans with liquid, and sugar. Bring to a boil and then put lid on Dutch oven and transfer to a 275 F degree oven for approximately 1 to 2 hours, or until flavors have developed and sauce is thickened.
Remove from oven and let cool, uncovered for 10 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed, to taste.
Serve with rice or tortilla chips and other toppings of choice including cheese, avocado, red onion, cilantro, etc