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Tired of Cooking? Try Sausages With Grapes and Chocolate Rum Torte for a "Dinner Out" At Home

Are you tired of cooking? Longing for a restaurant meal? Part of the appeal of restaurants, leaving aside the fact that someone else cooks and cleans up, is that the food served often is different from that on your usual menu. Restaurant food gets you out of your at-home "food rut." Depending on the restaurant and how much you want to spend, that restaurant food also is served in a nice, sometimes fancy, setting with beautiful tableware, sometimes even china. Music is playing. People are on their best behaviors. Dinner is civilized (well, most of the time).


Yes, I know you're tired of cooking. I am, too. But why not take a day and try to recreate that restaurant experience at home? No, you don't have to polish the silver and wash the good china, but maybe you could find something different to cook. Something not/not on your usual menu. I understand that people have different tastes and likes and dislikes, but perhaps choosing something new to cook might be a way of relieving food boredom. Your choice needn't be fancy or expensive, just outside of your usual food zone. Maybe make a dish from a foreign country or cook something a different way than you usually do. Try a new technique. What about that dish you've always wanted to try at your favorite restaurant but have never ordered. Now's your chance. Find a recipe and make it!


Will your efforts make you less tired of cooking? Maybe not, but at least you'll get to put something new on your menu. And if your efforts are really, really good, maybe you can convince someone else in your household to do the clean up (well, there's always hope!). So, browse away on this blog for recipes. To get you started, how about this--Italian Turkey Sausages With Grapes--for something different, inexpensive, easy, and delicious? I'd suggest serving the dish with a side of polenta or pasta and a salad. And for dessert? How about a show-stopping Chocolate Rum Torte with raspberries that's surprisingly easy to make? You'll have a "dinner in" worthy of a nice restaurant--but minus the high cost!

Italian Turkey Sausages With Grapes -- Serves 4

1 teaspoon of olive oil

16-20 ounces of Italian turkey sausages (6-8 sausages)

2-3 cups of red seedless grapes, stems removed (about 16 ounces)

2-3 tablespoons of red wine

1/2 cup of water

2-3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

2-3 tablespoons of chopped parsley (optional)

2-3 tablespoons of shaved Parmesan cheese (optional)


Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add the sausages. Brown the sausages on all sides for about 5 minutes and then remove them to a plate. Add the grapes to the skillet and let them brown and cook for about 5 minutes. Mash some of them with a spatula to extract a little juice. Add the water and red wine to the skillet and stir the mixture for a few minutes. Add the sausages back to the skillet, cover the skillet, and turn down the heat to a simmer. Let the sausages cook for a few minutes more until they are just cooked through (165 degrees). Turn off the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar. Serve the sausages and grapes over polenta or pasta to catch the juices. If you are feeling the need to be fancy, sprinkle each serving with some chopped parsley and a bit of shaved Parmesan cheese. Mangia!


Chocolate Rum Torte -- Serves 8+

Crust

2 cups of ground brownie or chocolate cookie crumbs

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/4 cup of canola oil

Filling

1/4 cup of butter

1 1/3 cups of sugar

1/8 teaspoon of salt

4 eggs

3 tablespoons of milk

1 teaspoon of rum extract

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder

2 tablespoons of cornmeal

1/2 cup of dark chocolate chunks or morsels

1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips

Raspberries (optional)

Whipped cream (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a 9-inch spring-form pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the brownie crumbs, cinnamon, and oil and mix them well. Pat the mixture evenly on the bottom of the spring-form pan to form the bottom crust of the torte. Bake the crust for 10-13 minutes until fragrant and set. While the crust is baking, use a wooden spoon to beat the butter, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture just enough to mix the egg into the batter after each addition. Beat in the milk, rum extract, and vanilla. Stir in 1/4 cup of the cocoa powder and the cornmeal until incorporated, then mix in the dark chocolate chunks and mini-chips. Pour the batter over the baked crust and bake the torte for 35-45 minutes until barely set. The middle of the torte should reach 165 degrees, if you'd like to use a thermometer to check to see if it's done. Remove the torte from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. Dust the top of the torte with the remaining 1 teaspoon of cocoa. Cover the torte and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours before serving it, preferably topped raspberries and whipped cream.



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