Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sausage and Tortellini Stew (Crockpot)

Y'all know that I love food, right? I mean, you can't be reading this blog and come to any other conclusion, right? But what you might not know is that I love some people almost as much as food. I have a number of really great friends from different stages in my life. People, who I may live halfway across the country from, who are my best friends. We can pick up exactly where we left off and be totally real with each other and have an enjoyable time together.

I was lucky this week to have a visit from one of my dearest friends from college-- Jenny. Her family lives outside of Chicago and she is home visiting for a couple of weeks, so she popped down for an evening of catching up. I was very tempted to skip out of work the next day, just to spend more time with her.

Let me tell you a few things about Jenny. Actually, I sometimes call her Ney because in college I learned that she doesn't like that Forrest Gump calls his Jenny, Jen-ney. So, of course as the wonderful and kind friend I am, I started calling her Je-ney-ney, that got shortened to Ney eventually. Anyway, Jenny is a high school math teacher in NC (she moved there after college when I did!!) and her love and compassion for her students is quite amazing. I admire that she has the patience and strength to deal with teenagers on a daily basis.

We've been friends since we were freshman in college. Since then, there have been way too many wonderful memories to tell you even a small fraction here. However, I think the time that brought Jenny and me the closest was during our month long trip to South Africa.

We stayed crammed in little bedrooms together:

We got to interact with some many wonderful kids together:

We braved the cold, cold, cold nights (who knew it got so cold in Africa?!?) together:

And we strengthened our friendship daily:

I know that she will always be one of my besties. :)

Jenny's trip was too short but luckily I got to cook for her. I chose a crockpot recipe because I didn't want to spend our already limited time in the kitchen. The sausage and tortellini are great and the cabbage and tomatoes really fill it out. It makes gobs (Jenny, you should have eaten more!) and I've been eating leftovers for days. You could easily cut it in half if you wanted to feed only 2 people (and still have a some leftover).

Sausage and Tortellini Stew (adapted from Better Homes and Garden)
1 cup of chopped onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp molasses
1 cup beef broth
2 tbsp corn starch
2 14.5 oz cans Italian style diced tomatoes
3 cups water
2 cups frozen green beans
8 oz fully cooked turkey sausage, cut into 1/2-in slices
2 cups shredded cabbage
9 oz package of refrigerated whole wheat three cheese tortellini
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving

Combine the onion, olive oil and molasses in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook for approximately 6-7 minutes until the onions soften. Dissolve the corn starch in the beef broth and add to the pan. Bring to a boil while stirring until it thickens.

Add the contents of the saucepan to your slow cooker. Add the tomatoes, water, green beans and sausage and stir. Cook on low for 8-10 hours (or high for 4-5 hours).

Turn the slow cooker to high and stir in the cabbage and tortellini. Cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Garnish the soup with parmesan cheese.

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