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Dinner at Our House (Tonight: One-Pan Baked Italian Sausage and Veggies)

Sometimes I feel inspired when it comes to dinner and sometimes I really don’t. It depends on my mood, the contents of my fridge, my kids’ crankiness/happiness level and how busy I am during the day. Once in a while I get really organized. I make a plan for the week and shop accordingly, even doubling recipes to stock the freezer. And by “once in a while”, I mean one week last year. But mostly I fly by the seat of my pants, and cycle through a bunch of favourite recipes. I often wonder what other people are eating for dinner, how long it took them to prepare the food and whether their kids complain as much as mine do.

Evan and James eat healthily but they are really unwilling to experiment with anything new. Among other things, they detest tomatoes and potatoes, which I find incredibly inconvenient. Evan doesn’t eat any cooked vegetables other than steamed soy beans and he eats almost no meat (he eats several raw veggies though). James eats very few cooked veggies, but likes meat. Noelle has been a pretty daring eater and until a couple of months ago I described her as eating just about anything. But lately she’s become picky — I think it’s partially developmental and partially just wanting to be a part of Evan and James’ gang. So making a dinner that suits everyone can be complicated. I don’t make individual dinners however. I make what I make, and I supplement the kids’ meals with things they like, but I try not to make it seem like I’m giving them a different dinner than anyone else. We just have some odd side dishes to make sure there is something on the table that each person likes. Pasta with carrot sticks anyone? I usually give them some steamed edamame or pepper slices during that half an hour before dinner when everyone is sooooooooo hungry (and cranky) and then I put some cucumber, raw carrots, etc. on the side of their dinner plates just to round things out.

As for Mike and I, we like all different kinds of foods cooked all different ways. We don’t tend to eat meat more than once or twice a week and I like to buy organic/local/ethically raised foods (when availability and our budget permit).

Anyway, I just thought I’d share what we had for dinner tonight: baked Italian sausage with potatoes, peppers and tomatoes. It’s a one-pan dish, which I love. One-pan/pot dishes work really well for me, but kids often don’t like things all mixed together (like stews in a crock pot for example) so they can cause some frowns at the dinner table (“frowns” can mean anything from an actual frown to full-blown tears, of course). This meal was a big hit with Mike and I, and a partial hit with the kids. I modeled it on something I had at my Italian neighbour’s place (but which had a lot more ingredients and some delicious spices). Anyway, let me know if you think your family might enjoy this baked Italian sausage dish.

Baked Italian Sausage with Vegetables (prep time: about 50 minutes)

  • 1 package of Italian sausage (I used the PC Free-From pork sausages available at Loblaws and No Frills — no hormones, no antibiotics and grain-fed pigs)
  • potatoes (I used those small roasting ones that you hardly have to peel, cut in half)
  • cherry tomatoes
  • one yellow pepper
  • garlic (I love the PC frozen fresh garlic!)
  • olive oil (and grape seed oil if you have it — I love the stuff)
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • basil if you have it (again, I love the PC frozen fresh stuff from Loblaws/No Frills)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a pan with aluminum foil. Use a pastry brush or piece of paper towel to put a bit of grape seed oil on the bottom of the pan where the sausages are going to lay. Lay your sausages in the pan, pierce them a little with a knife so they don’t explode while they’re baking. Wash and cut your potatoes in half (peel if you like). Put them in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil (and/or grape seed oil), sea salt, garlic and black pepper. Shake around until covered — include a little dance to entertain your children if needed. Place potatoes around sausages and put whole pan in the over. Set timer for 25 minutes.

Slice one yellow pepper into chunks and put into same bowl you used for potatoes (now oily and garlicky). Add some cherry tomatoes and shake the pan to make sure everything is coated (add some more garlic and oil if needed). I also like to shake on some PC frozen fresh basil but that’s just a bonus.

When the timer goes off at 25 minutes, flip the sausages and potatoes (now nice and golden on one side), add the peppers and tomatoes to the pan and turn the oven up to 400 degrees. Set the timer for another 25 minutes.

This is your chance to set the table, steam some green veggies, make a salad or have a white-wine spritzer. I steamed broccoli and warmed a little cheese sauce I had left over from the kids’ lunch the day before. I also put some garlic, butter and Parmesan cheese on some bread and covered it with foil and added that to the oven too. Since my kids don’t eat really potatoes, I often serve some bread as a side with meals. I bought a bread maker for this exact purpose and it does a beautiful job.

Anyway, after 50 minutes and not too many dirty dishes, your one-pan baked Italian sausage dinner should be done (slice open one of those little beauties just to be sure). I hope all of this made sense. I left home for university at 19 without knowing how to cook at all and have been learning through trial and error since I got married. My husband never complains about dinner but that might be simply because he’s grateful that he doesn’t have to do the cooking!

And just in case you were wondering, here’s Noelle’s review of our dinner: “I like the totatoes but not all those. You have kiwi for dessert? I love you all the time, Mummy.” Good enough for me.

Filed under dinner recipe sausage Italian cooking meals eating vegetables