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Jessica Karley: Homemade sausage

Homeade turkey breakfast sausage adds some bold flavor to your morning routine. Jessica Karley/FORUM NEWS SERVICE

I have told you about my son’s love of steak, but there is one other food that he can’t get enough of, and that’s sausage.

He likes it in all varieties and would eat it at every meal if I let him. As an easy way to keep him happy and start our day out right, I make him sausage for breakfast, but the other morning I noticed the label.

I was making a healthy choice by preparing turkey sausage, but they’re loaded with sodium and several other ingredients I can’t pronounce. While I’m a huge believer in “everything in moderation,” I like to at least have some sort of idea as to what that “everything” is.

After a few attempts at getting the seasonings right, I will now be making my own breakfast sausage — at least most of the time. It’s so delicious, and I know exactly what’s in it.

The ingredients in my spice blend include the typical sausage seasonings such as garlic, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper and fennel, but I also added ground ginger for added sweetness and crushed red pepper flakes for extra zip. Of course, you can certainly adjust the seasonings to suit your personal preferences, but this is the mix that worked well in my house for both adults and kids.

Before you fry the entire batch, it works best to cook a test sausage. That way you can adjust the seasonings as needed. If you have time to plan ahead, I add the seasonings to the meat and place it in the refrigerator overnight to bring out more of the flavors. I like to make a double or triple batch to save time in the mornings. I form them into patties, only partially cook them and then freeze the patties in packages that are perfectly portioned for our mornings.

When it’s time to reheat them, make sure the outsides a nice shade of golden brown and cook them until your thermometer reads 165. You don’t want to overcook them or your patties will be dry and tough. Homemade breakfast sausage in 5 minutes! Not too bad! Toast an English muffin, add some scrambled eggs and cheese and you have a breakfast sandwich better than any drive-through in town.

This sausage can also be substituted in any of your favorite recipes. It also works great in the crumbled form, just don’t form it into patties before you cook it. One of my favorite fall dishes is to use it in Pumpkin and Sausage Baked Gnocchi. You can find potato gnocchi in the pasta section of your grocery store.

Gnocchi is an Italian work for thick, soft dumplings. They are really filling and a perfect fall comfort food. Using pumpkin in the sauce and homemade turkey sausage, this recipe is almost guilt-free. A few dieticians might disagree because of my use of wine and cheese, but at least the pumpkin is packed with antioxidants — and let’s not forget the health benefits of wine!

Jessica Karley can be reached at Read her food blog at

Homemade Turkey Breakfast Sausage

  • 20 ounces ground turkey meat
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seed
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a medium-size mixing bowl or the bowl for your stand mixer. Use paddle attachment mix on low speed for 1 minute or until all seasonings are evenly distributed. Form ground turkey mixture into patties. In a skillet over medium heat, spray pan with a small amount of pan spray or brush with a small amount of olive oil. Place sausages into the hot skillet and fry until no longer pink in the middle. Thermometer should read 165 degrees. Do not overcook the sausages as this will cause them to be dry. Makes 16 sausage patties.

Pumpkin & Sausage Baked Gnocchi

  • 1 17-ounce package of potato gnocchi
  • 2 cups cooked/crumbled Homemade Turkey Sausage
  • 2 cloves garlic, fresh, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup dry white wine, I use chardonnay
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • ¾ cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium sauce pan, heat olive oil and garlic until fragrant. Add pumpkin, chicken stock, wine, pumpkin pie spice, sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth and bring to a simmer over medium/low heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine gnocchi, pumpkin sauce and crumbled turkey sausage. Mix until combined. Pour mixture into a glass casserole dish. Top with teaspoons of ricotta cheese. Bake uncovered in oven for 35 minutes. Top with shredded parmesan and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Mixture will be very hot! Serves 5 to 6.

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