Creamy Fall Pasta with Squash, Onions, Kale, and Goat Cheese!

2015-09-22 17.19.17I know I’ve been MIA – per my usual routine of being really excited about blogging, followed by an overwhelming about of work to do, and ending with complete neglect. Well, I’m back. At least for this one post. I am on a lighter rotation right now and was able to make a more involved, delicious dinner last night that I’d felt I needed to share with the work. Eli agreed, this dinner was hands-down delicious! He was picky all day and wouldn’t eat anything but bananas (or nanas as he calls them now). I placed a bowl of this goodness in front of his screaming face and viola! he was silent. It was glorious.  The end result was one super happy (and messy) kid. I am looking forward to when he figures out how to effectively use his silverware; until then I’ll deal with the mess since that means he’s actually eating.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Onion, and Kale over Pasta with Spiced Goat Cheese White Sauce

2015-09-22 17.14.22

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 large bunch of curly kale
  • 2 cups cooked pasta
  • 2 cups 1% or skim milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 1/3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 ounces goat cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Peel butternut squash cut in 1/2 lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Cube squash and place in a sprayed cooking dish.
  3. Dice the onion and kale. Add to the cooking dish.
  4. Roast for 45 minutes, or until squash is fork-tender. Stir part-way through to prevent burning.
  5. Create a slurry (white sauce) by adding 2 tbsp to 1 cup of milk. Whisk well to completely dissolve. Add the remaining flour and milk, whisking while adding. Pour into a sprayed frying pan (not heated yet!). Place the pan over medium heat and stir continuously with a rubber spatula to prevent sticking. Add spices while stirring. Continue to stir until the mixture just starts to bubble. Add the goat cheese and continue to stir until melted and fully incorporated.
  6. Add pasta and roasted vegetable mixture to a pan. Pour white sauce over and stir completely. Enjoy!

2015-09-22 17.19.10

Butternut Squash Pasta Bake

butternut squash pasta bake3

Oh, butternut squash – how I love you. As a kid I never was served butternut squash. While I became more adventurous the older I got, something about squash didn’t appeal to me (probably the texture – I hate mushy food). After hearing my dietetic friends rave about butternut squash this and butternut squash that, I figured I had to break down and give it a chance. How had I been missing out on this heavenly food for so long?!? I was in love instantly. Then I added sage to it and I was in heaven. Ever since I have been making squash dishes a regular occurrence in our house. Since I don’t like mushy foods, I usually use the squash as a sauce or a component of the meal, but don’t often eat it plain. Since I’ve fallen in love with squash, our garden is always full of winter squash and sage plants.

This dish is a simple way to throw together a delicious casserole. Using squash as the sauce cuts out the sodium and sugar often added to other pasta sauces. You don’t need to bake it in the oven unless you choose to put the cheese on to (and who doesn’t love cheese, right?).

butternut squash pasta bake2

Butternut Squash Pasta Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried whole grain pasta (8 ounces), prepare
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cups cooked butternut squash*, cubed
  • Milk (amount needed will vary)
  • 1/8 cup dried sage or 1/4 cup fresh sage, diced
  • 1 package frozen spinach (10 ounces), thawed
  • 1/4 cup pepitas or other seeds
  • 4 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Saute the onion in olive oil. Add the vinegar and mix well. Continue to cook down to desired consistency. Set aside.
  3. In a food processor, place all of the squash. Pulse/process until desired consistency. Add milk to think the mixture if needed.
  4. Add the sage and pulse to mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the spinach and pulse until combined. Add the onions and pulse until combined.
  6. Pour the sauce mixture over the pasta and mix well. Transfer to a the prepared dish.
  7. Top the dish with seeds and then shredded cheese.
  8. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

*Tip – preparing winter squash can be a pain. To save time, I dedicate 1 weekend day in the fall to prepare cups of squash. After they are cooked, I portion them into quart freezer bags, so they are ready to go when I need them. I usually portion 1/2 of the squash cubed and 1/2 of the squash already pureed or mashed up.

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Skillet

This was the first meal I made in the new year. Absolutely delicious. I had never thought to mix butternut squash with black beans, let alone put it in an enchilada skillet. Genius. I modified the recipe a bit, so to see the original over at ambitious kitchen, click here. I added ground beef from our cow to make this a little heartier. If you want a vegetarian dish, you can omit it all together (like the original recipe) or substitute TVP or tofu.

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Skillet
adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

photo 1

Ingredients
  • 3 cups 1/2-inch-diced, peeled butternut squash (from about a 2-lb. squash)*
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 8 ounces of lean ground beef
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno or equivalent amount of hot peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 – 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup reduced-fat colby jack or mexican cheese (or whatever you prefer), divided
  • cilantro and low-fat sour cream, for serving
  • Round corn tortilla chips, for serving
Instructions
*To prepare the butternut squash, I think it is easiest to roast it in the oven. I do this every fall with all of my squash and then freeze the cooked squash to use in the winter.  Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. If you want you can peel the squash now, but I prefer to wait until after it is cooked. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds with a metal spoon (roast them if you want). I always find that the base of the squash cooks faster because of that hole, so I like to cut just above the base. You should now have 4 pieces of squash  – 2 half circles and 2 rectangular pieces. Place squash face down on the pan. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until a fork can easily pierce the fleshy part of the squash (or when you touch the outside skin it feel soft). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. With a metal spoon, scoop out the base pieces and mash up in a bowl. Freeze this as a paste to use as a pasta sauce or in soup (or just as mashed squash). Peel the rectangular pieces of squash. The skin should come off pretty easily now. Chop the squash into 1/2″ size pieces. I freeze them in quart-size freezer bags.
  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in large oven-proof skillet. Add onions, garlic, jalapeno, and ground beef. Cook until beef is browned all the way through. Add in green pepper and cook 2-3 minutes. Add cubed squash, black beans, cumin, and chili powder. Cook, stirring regularly to prevent the squash from becoming mushy. 
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and sprinkle in 1 cup of cheese. Cover with a lid and let sit for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted.
  3. Serve immediately. Top with sour cream and serve with corn tortilla chips.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

It is that time of year that we all love (or at least I do) – squash season! Squash is by far the easiest vegetable to cook. It can be daunting but believe me, it couldn’t be easier. Especially acorn squash.  I usually like to pair spiced items like apples, cinnamon, wild rice, and ground beef with acorn squash and savory things like Parmesan cheese, sage, and spinach with butternut squash, but that’s just me. This dish was just using what we had on hand that sounded like a good combination. J just started a new job and took this for lunch during his 2nd week. He got so many, “what is that?!?” comments. Most of them where shocked that you could use squash as a bowl. Oh men, where is your creativity?

photo 5 (3)

Stuffed Acorn Squash
(Each squash makes 2 servings. Increase the ingredients as needed for more servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 6 ounces ground beef (lean)
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp silvered almonds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg (if you are feeling adventurous) to taste

Directions

  1. Prepare the acorn squash
    Oven Option: Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Slice the squash in half and scoop out the center contents. Place face-down on the foil-lined pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the flesh of the squash can be easily pierced with a fork.
    Microwave Option: With a sharp knife or fork, carefully poke all over the squash. You need to get deep enough that the holes go to the center/open portion of the squash. Place the poked squash in a microwave-safe glass dish. Place a tiny bit of water in the base of the dish and cover the dish with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 7-10 minutes. Let stand in the microwave for 3-5 minutes and then remove. Test doneness by trying to pierce the skin with a fork. Cut the squash in half.
  2. Prepare the filling while the squash cooks.
    Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Add the onion and beef. Saute for 5 minutes. Add the chopped carrot, almonds and saute for 5 more minutes. Mix in the cooked rice. Season to taste.
  3. Fill each half with the prepared filling. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate if you aren’t eating it right away.
  4. To reheat, keep the squash wrapped in plastic wrap and microwave on high for 3 minutes.

Green Eggs and Goat Cheese

I have yet another egg bake to post about. This time it’s green, like everything else I’ve posted lately. Remember, green is good – in this case (and most of my recent posts) things are green because they are loaded with basil, which is hands-down my favorite herb. Between the CSA and my two basil plants in the garden, we have been (and will continue to be) eating lots of deliciously seasoned dishes.

Summer squash and zucchini have made it into our CSA box already. Where did the summer go?? Anyway, this is just the beginning of the squash surplus, so I’ve decided to start early with compiling recipes. This was the first dish of the year – green eggs and goat cheese. I prefer summer squash sautéed; something with the membranous texture of raw squash doesn’t sit well with me. I had never had eggs with squash before, but it makes for a very filling and satisfying breakfast. What do you like to do with your summer squash?

Green Eggs and Goat Cheese

Green Eggs (no ham)

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 3 cups of summer squash and/or zucchini, halved and sliced thinly
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 – 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 12 eggs (6 whole, 6 whites only)
  • Goat cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Suateed summer veggiesDirections

  1. Preheat over to 350F. Spray a large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Heat about 1 tbsp of oil in a pan. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the basil and mix well. Add the squash/zucchini and continue to saute until the squash begins to appear slightly translucent and soft.
  3. Turn off the heat and add the balsamic vinegar. I probably added 1/4 cup, but I love balsamic – add as much as you like.
  4. In a large bowl, add the eggs and whisk well. Pour in the vegetables mixture and mix well. Note the green eggs 🙂
  5. Pour mixture into the prepared pan. Top with crumbled goat cheese, salt, and pepper.
  6. Cook for 40 minutes, or until the edges begin to pull away and there is no standing liquid in the center of the egg bake. Since you added some oil to cook the vegetables, there may be some oil standing when it’s done (which is why I use the edges pulling away as a guide).

4 Delicious Soups!

4 Delicious Soups from 101cookbooks. Here is what Heidi writes –

– A Simple Tomato Soup: Pictured here – A simple tomato soup recipe inspired by a Melissa Clark recipe – pureed, warmly spiced, and perfect topped with everything from toasted almonds and herbs, to coconut cream or a poached egg.

– Pumpkin and Rice Soup: This was the pumpkin soup I made first-thing after arriving home from India last October – it has an herby butter drizzle and lemon ginger pulp. I serve it over a good amount of brown rice with a dollop plain yogurt.

– Coconut Red Lentil Soup: If emails are any indication, this is certainly one of the more popular soup recipes with all of you. Inspired by an Ayurvedic dal recipe in the Esalen Cookbook, it is a light-bodied, curry-spiced coconut broth thickened with cooked red lentils and structured with yellow split peas. It has back notes of ginger, slivered green onions sauteed in butter, and curry-plumped raisins. It also relies on an interested cooking method to bring it all together.

– Posole in Broth: My style of posole. This version has a vegetable broth base, lots of blossoming corn kernels, avocado and mung beans. It’s topped with plenty of chopped olives and toasted almonds.

Acorn Squash Crock Pot Recipe

Acorn Squash Crock Pot Recipe by A Year of Slow Cooking

Ingredients

  • Acorn squash
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 pinches of salt
Directions
  1. Use a 4 quart crockpot. Cut the squash in quarters, and scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp.
  2. Put 1/2 T of butter and 1/2 T of brown sugar into each quarter. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of cinnamon onto each brown sugar pile. Add a small pinch of salt to each quarter.
  3. Lower the pieces into your crockpot. Cover and cook on low for about 3. The squash is finished when it is fork tender and peels away from the skin easily.

A taste of heaven

A few weeks ago I sat down to catch-up on my favorite food blog, TheKitchenSinkRecipes, and search for a few new dishes to make. I have to admit, I have been in a cooking-rut lately and seemed to have lost the passion I once had for it. I knew some exciting new recipes might be just the trick to get me out of the slump. That is when I found it…

Butternut squash. I am one of the few and far between in the nutrition field who have never eaten butternut squash before. When I was a kid my parents never prepared dishes with winter squash and I can count the number of times I have prepared it in my lifetime on one hand. Something about the dense shell and overall size of the squash tends to be a little daunting to a novice. That challenge was what I needed to feel excited about cooking again. This dish is the most delicious dish I have ever, I repeat, ever made. The subtle sweetness of the squash paired with the spice of the spinach and topped with a light cream sauce makes every bite unexplainably delicious. I guarantee this dish is worth the somewhat lengthy prep time.

Spinach & Butternut Squash Lasagna
Cooking Light (found on TheKitchenSinkRecipes.com with slight modifications)
Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 3 cups skim milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup vidalia onion, diced
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 1/4 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 18 ounces of fresh spinach
  • 9 cooked lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 cup part-skim mozerella cheese

Directions

  1. Cook onion in 1 tsp olive oil and a pinch of salt for 2 minutes or until tender. Reduce heat.
  2. Create a white sauce by mixing  1/4 cup of milk with the 1/4 of flour in a glass measuring cup and whisk well with a wire whisk. Add the reamining milk and whisk well. Slowly add the mixture to the pan until the mixture is smooth, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and cook until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat. Cover surface of milk mixture with plastic wrap; set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 425°.
  4. Place squash in a large bowl. Add vinegar; toss to coat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; toss to coat. Arrange squash in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper,  and sage. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.
  5. While cooking, combine remaining 2 teaspoons of oil, red pepper, and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium heat; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add spinach, 1 bag at a time; cook until wilted, stirring frequently. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook until liquid evaporates, stirring frequently.
  6. Mix the cheese together in a bowl. Spoon 1/3 cup milk mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over milk mixture; top with spinach mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, 1/2 cup cheese. Arrange 3 noodles over cheese; top with squash mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Arrange remaining 3 noodles on top of cheese; spread remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins

These are super easy muffins I found on GreenLiteBites  and they taste delicious fresh out of the oven. They contain no flour, so if you have celiac disease/gluten intolerance, you could make these with gluten-free oats. Since they are so dense and moist, if you don’t eat them within a few days I would put them in the refrigerator. They taste the best warm.

original recipe: http://greenlitebites.com/2010/10/10/pumpkin-oatmeal-cups

Ingredients

  • 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3 cups old fashion or rolled oats
  • 1 TBSP pumpkin pie spice
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Mix all ingredients together and let sit while you prepare the muffin pans
  3. Spray muffin pan or liners with non-stick spray
  4. Divide batter into 16+ muffin tins (they should be pretty full)
  5. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are brown and the top is firm
  6. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from pan or they might rip

Savory Pumpkin Pasta

It’s that time of year when chili, soup, pumpkin, apples, cranberries, and chocolate are in season. I have wanted to try pumpkin pasta recipes for the past few years but have been a little scared to. In my mind, pumpkin is a dessert food and I couldn’t fathom how it would taste. After seeing many recipes with 5-star reviews that sounded delicious, I decided it was time to step outside my comfort zone. I stumbled across GreenLiteBite’s Pasta with Pumpkin, Sausage, and Spinach recipe that sounded simple enough and decided to give it a try. I was also making soup and muffins at the same time, while trying to keep an eye on two cats who having been taunting each other all day, so I accidentally forgot to add the spinach…whoops! The dish is delicious and I only  made one minor change to the recipe to make the sauce creamier. Enjoy!

Pumpkin-Sage Pasta with Sweet Italian Sausage
by GreenLiteBites

  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 package of sweet Italian turkey sausage (I used Jennie-O)
  • 15oz chicken broth
  • 15oz can of pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup of non-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 TBSP fresh sage, shredded
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp  salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 8 oz pasta
  • About 1/3 of a bag of fresh baby spinach leaves (I left this out on accident but will keep it in the recipe in case you’d like to add it in)
  1. Cut the sausage into 1″ discs. The original author recommends freezing these a bit to make the easier to cut. Mine were fresh and were a little messy to cut but still worked.
  2. Prepare pasta per package instructions.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage with the onion and garlic in 1 tsp olive oil.
  4. Once brown, drain off the liquid fat – there will be quite a bit so I strongly recommend doing this (if your turkey sausages don’t have much fat this might not be necessary.
  5. *If you would like to add spinach, I would recommend adding it now. Cook until just wilted.
  6. Place sausage mixture in a very large dish. Add pasta to dish once finished.
  7. Return the pan to the stove and add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil.
  8. Lower to medium heat and add the pumpkin, yogurt, sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir to combine everything. Keep on medium until the sauce begins to boil again then lower to a simmer.
  9. Place hot mixture in a food processor and puree until smooth. Food processors can only handle so much liquid at once, so I did the sauce in three parts. After each part is finished, pour over pasta and sausage.
  10. The original author suggests serving with a sprinkle of parmesan!