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Baked Butternut Squash and Sausage Ravioli

14 Oct

It’s been a while since a recipe (a post, really) has appeared on this here blog, but this one is a good one and worth the wait.

The other week, I made a Pinterest board dedicated to things I want to cook or bake this fall. It includes a recipe for pasta with a butternut squash sauce and sausage. I thought I might make the dish as an accompaniment to our Thanksgiving dinner. But I craved that sweet, autumnal butternut squash flavor now.

Last week, I picked up a jar of butternut squash pasta sauce at Aldi on a whim. I figured I would pour it over cheese ravioli for a quick meal, either for us or for the girls.

This week, I combined the two ideas into a unique and delicious, warm, comforting and hearty meal.

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Baked Butternut Squash and Sausage Ravioli

(Inspired by Skinnytaste and adapted from Damn Delicious)

This hearty bake with sweet Italian sausage and autumnal butternut squash pasta sauce is on the table in about 30 minutes, thanks to a package of frozen cheese ravioli and a jar of pasta sauce. Plus it’s covered in gooey mozzarella cheese. In the words of Ina Garten, ‘How bad can that be?’

Ingredients

1 package frozen cheese ravioli

20 ounces fresh sweet Italian turkey sausage (I used turkey sausage links and removed the casings. You easily could substitute pork sausage, in bulk or in links.)

2 cups butternut squash pasta sauce

1 ounce Neufchâtel cheese (or cream cheese)

2 cups spinach, roughly chopped

8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.

Cook the ravioli according to the directions on the package, then drain them and set them aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, cook the sausage until browned. Add the pasta sauce and cream cheese and cook for just a few minutes, until the cream cheese is melted into the sauce and the sauce is warm. Add the spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted.

Spread the ravioli in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Pour the sauce and sausage over the ravioli. Arrange the sliced mozzarella over top.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the mozzarella is melted.

 

Christopher and I really enjoyed this dish. It was so delicious – sweet from the sauce (hooray squash!), savory from the sausage and creamy from the cheese ravioli – and hearty and just plain good. It was perfect for the rainy nights so far this week.

Spicy Pepper, Potato and Bacon Frittata

1 Jun

Breakfast in our house is a scramble.

(Ha! Get it? I’ll wait…)

We need to prepare food for two active, hungry little almost-10-month-olds, and two active, often post-morning run, and hungry adults.

We usually stick to the basics: a scrambled egg, a pancake and some fruit for the girls, and a fried egg and toast or a green smoothie for the adults.

But we sometimes, usually on weekends, make something more special for ourselves—what Christopher refers to as “big breakfast”. This morning, we took our big breakfast and stuffed it in a frittata.

Frittatas are great because they come together in a flash and completely customizable. (See my bacon, green bean and Gouda frittata or my onion, herb and Swiss frittata.) Got leftovers? Stuff it in a frittata. Got some on-their-last-legs veggies? Stuff ‘em in a frittata. Got a bountiful garden? Harvest those fruits of your labor and stuff ‘em in a freakin’ frittata!

Alright, enough dilly-dallying. Here’s the recipe…

20140601_101306 Spicy Pepper, Potato and Bacon Frittata

With hearty potatoes, sweet peppers and salty bacon, this scrumptious egg dish makes a filling and well-rounded breakfast, lunch or dinner! And really, what could be bad about eggs and potatoes covered in spicy, gooey pepper jack cheese?

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter

2 large red potatoes, cut into quarter-inch cubes (We use this fancy schmancy chopper to get them perfectly uniform every time.)

1 medium bell pepper

1 small jalapeno, diced

5 eggs

4 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded and divided

6 strips bacon, pan-fried or baked and chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a nonstick, oven-safe skillet with nonstick cooking spray. In the pan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the potatoes and cook until starting to brown, 5-7 minutes; then add the bell pepper and jalapeno and continue to cook until the potatoes are tender and browned and the peppers are soft and their bite has mellowed, another 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, cheese (leave a few tablespoons for the top) and bacon.

Pour the egg mixture over the cooked potatoes and peppers, making sure to evenly distribute all the ingredients. Top with the remaining cheese, and place the pan in the oven. Bake the frittata for 15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked through and the cheese is starting to brown.

20140601_101431This incarnation of my favorite baked egg dish was the bomb! Just a little spicy, just a little sweet, just a little salty, just a little ooey-gooey, and 100 percent satisfying.

Give this one a try. It’s a winner.

Warm Peanut Butter Apple Crisp for One

31 Mar

It was a weeknight. My chores were done – the dishes, the laundry. My workout was complete. My stomach rumbled.

I’m trying to be better about not snacking as much, not reaching for a granola bar the instant I think I’m hungry, or worse, the moment I’m bored or stressed. I’m also trying to be better about needing wanting dessert after dinner, trying to limit it to just the weekends.

But on this weeknight, with almost 400 calories left in my food budget for the day, I needed something and I wanted something sweet.

I thought about broiling a grapefruit. Not dessert.

I thought about a bowl of strawberries and pineapple.  Again, not dessert.

Then, I thought I’d slice up an apple and grab a big spoonful of peanut butter for dipping. Still not dessert, but more along the lines of an ideal not-too-healthy-but-still-satisfying snack.

For some reason, I was moved to find a new way to enjoy my beloved duo. A quick Google search led me to peanut butter apple crisp. Um, yes please!

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Warm Peanut Butter Apple Crisp for One

(Adapted from A Kitchen Addiction)

This perfectly portion-controlled dessert is warm and comforting. It’s just the right balance of sweet and not-so-sweet, rich and not-too-rich, ooey-gooey and crispy-crunchy.

Ingredients

For the filling:
1 small apple, peeled and diced
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
Pinch each of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves

For the topping:
3 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
1 tablespoon flour
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter, softened
1 teaspoon butter, softened

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a ramekin or individual baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, toss the diced apple with the honey and spices.

In another small bowl, combine the oats, flour and brown sugar. “Cut in” the softened peanut butter and butter with a fork until the mixture is crumbly. (Tip: I microwaved the peanut butter and butter in a small glass dish for about 15-20 seconds, then added it to the oat mixture.)

Pour the honey-coated apples into the prepared ramekin. Sprinkle the peanut butter-oat topping on top.

Bake for 20 minutes, then, remove from the oven and allow it to cool a bit before eating.

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Go make this now.

The end.

P.S. Simply double the ingredients to make this a crisp for two!

Inside-Out Chicken and Root Vegetable “Pot Pie”

30 Dec

Hey! How about a recipe post on the ol’ blog?

A few weeks ago, as I laid in bed, trying to fall asleep—which nowadays means laying in bed, listening to the whooshing sounds coming over the baby monitor and watching the clock, waiting for a baby to stir—I was smacked in the head with the idea for this dish.

I used to do some of my best thinking while out running. I now do it in bed, when I should be sleeping.

Oh well.

Make this. You won’t regret it.

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Inside-Out Chicken and Root Vegetable “Pot Pie”

(Inspired by a chicken a la king dish on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” on Food Network and adapted from Food Network)

The name of the game with this dish is comfort. Tender, flavorful roasted root vegetables and a wee bit of roasted chicken breast are enveloped in a light, yet rich mushroom gravy and served over fluffy buttermilk biscuits. It’s food that is healthy for the body and soul.

Ingredients

3 sweet potatoes, cubed
4 red potatoes, cubed
3 carrots, diced
3 parsnips, diced
5 ribs celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons flour
4 cups mushroom both (or vegetable or chicken stock)
Dried parsley, crushed red pepper flakes, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoons chopped chives

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, carrots, parsnips, celery and garlic with the oil and salt and pepper. Stir to coat the vegetables in the oil, then pour the vegetables onto a large baking sheet or two; just make sure the veggies aren’t too crowded or they will steam, rather than roast. Roast for 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and starting to brown.

20131217_175123 While the vegetables are roasting, brush the chicken breasts with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then place them on another baking sheet and roast until the juices run clear, about 20 minutes. Cube the chicken so it is about the same size as the vegetables.

When the vegetables and chicken are almost done, in a large Dutch oven, heat the 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the flour and stir to make a roux. Then add the 4 cups of stock and whisk until it starts to thicken. Sprinkle in a bit of dried parsley, red pepper flakes, nutmeg and salt and pepper, to taste.

20131217_211105 Add the roasted vegetables and chicken to the gravy. Then add the chives. Stir to combine.

Serve hot over buttermilk biscuits.

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This new take on pot pie was a huge hit. I like the idea of pot pie, but I don’t often like the execution. Most pot pies are filled with too-salty gravy and out-of-the-freezer mixed vegetables (which means peas…and we all know how I feel about peas). But this “pot pie” took all the good things about the traditional comfort-food and put a spin on them.

Roasting the vegetables brings out an incredible amount of flavor and adds a lovely velvety texture to the already rich-tasting (but not totally unhealthy) gravy. And serving it all over biscuits? Well that’s just the best… because who doesn’t like a warm, buttery biscuit?

This dish could easily be made vegetarian, if necessary; just omit the chicken and be sure to use mushroom or vegetable stock for the gravy.

Carrot Apple Pumpkin Soup

4 Oct

This soup was born out of the desire for a piping hot meal on a rainy day* and the need to use up a pound and a half of baby carrots that had been sitting in the refrigerator for nearly two weeks.

I combined the carrots with other things from the refrigerator and pantry to create a thick, hearty and healthy fall-tasting soup—all while juggling two infants who refused to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time. #momproblems

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(Not exactly the most photogenic dish…)

Carrot Apple Pumpkin Soup

(Adapted from How Sweet It Is and Food Network)

It’s fall in a bowl! The sweetness of carrots and apples—amplified by the roasting process—combines with the velvety smoothness of pumpkin puree. The soup gets a heated bite from ground ginger and curry powder to warm you up from the inside out.

Ingredients

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 1/2 pounds carrots, roughly chopped

2-3 small apples, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/2 large Vidalia onion, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups chicken stock/broth

1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

1 cup milk

2 cups apple juice

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon curry powder

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Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a large baking sheet, coat the carrots and apples in 2 teaspoons of olive oil, sprinkle with poultry seasoning and salt and pepper, then roast for 45-50 minutes.

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When the carrots and apples are almost done, in a large Dutch oven, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Sauté the onions and garlic until they are very soft and translucent. (Add a bit of salt to help sweat the onions.)

Add the roasted carrots and apples to the onions. Then add the chicken stock. Working over medium heat, scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pot, then simmer the soup for about 25 minutes, until the veggies are very, very soft.

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Add the pumpkin puree, milk, apple juice, ginger and curry powder. Stir, then puree with immersion blender (or transfer in batches to the food processor or regular blender).

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Christopher and I both enjoyed the soup. It’s super healthy and comforting. The ginger and curry add just a little something, while the pumpkin puree makes it rich in texture and the apple makes it more complex in flavor.

I’ve tried a handful of carrot soup recipes, but I’ve never been satisfied with the texture. Previous incarnations of carrot soup always were heavy, not velvety, no matter the amount of liquid. (Although, I will confess I never made a carrot soup that called for half and half, cream or coconut milk, so maybe I am to blame.) But this version is just right.

Greek Pasta Salad

3 Oct

Remember when I wrote about food? (My last recipe post was Dec. 16!)

Well, now that the girls are nearly 2 months old and the four of us are falling into somewhat of a routine, I figured it was high time for me to return to my love of puttering in the kitchen.

So, for my first recipe back in action, I threw together something fast, easy and relatively healthy that would serve as my lunch throughout the week. I need no muss, no fuss meals these days—meals that are healthy, yet satisfying and require little to no prep (and can be eaten at room temperature with one hand while standing at the kitchen counter while holding a baby). Enter: this Greek pasta salad.

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Greek Pasta Salad

This Greek pasta salad is no fail. It combines the classic Greek flavors in a fast and easy one-bowl salad that yields lunches for at least a week. Chewy shells, crunchy onions and juicy tomatoes are covered in a light Greek vinaigrette and punctuated by chunks of salty, tangy feta. Beans and tuna add protein, and cucumbers would add another element of flavor and texture had they not spoiled in the refrigerator.

Ingredients

12 ounces medium shells, cooked according to package directions

3/4 cup chopped red onion (about half a medium onion)

3 Roma tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup chopped bell peppers

2 small cans sliced black olives (or Kalamata olives)

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 can chunk light tuna, packed in water, drained

5 ounces crumbled feta cheese

3/4 cup bottled Greek vinaigrette or Greek dressing

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper, to taste

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Directions

In a large bowl, combine the pasta, veggies, beans, tuna and feta cheese. Pour the dressing over the salad, add the oregano, salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Could it be any easier?

I definitely miss the cucumbers in this salad—what’s a Greek salad without cucumbers?—but the peppers do a fine job in their place. I also might add more oil and vinegar, as the salad is a bit “dry.”

It’s nothing special, but it marks a return to the kitchen. Hooray!

Shepherd’s Pie

16 Dec

With both Christopher and I working, it’s important for us to plan our meals ahead of time. We usually sit down on a Saturday or Sunday, pore over my Pinterest boards and pick a handful of recipes to carry us through a week of dinners.

Usually, we rely on those recipes to a tee. But sometimes, one of us has a brilliant idea, and we run with it.

For Christopher, last week was his week to shine. He couldn’t get a away from shepherd’s pie. We hemmed and hawed over how to make it: Beef or turkey? If no peas, what vegetables? Plain or cheesy potatoes? I decided to freestyle in the kitchen and wound up with fabulous weeknight dish – so fabulous, Christopher took two servings just the other day, ate them just 5 hours apart and still looked forward to it both times.

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Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie is at its heart a peasant dish of meat and vegetables held together by a gravy-like sauce covered in mashed potatoes. This pie is hearty and flavorful, but totally healthy and nutritious.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 pound ground beef

6 cloves garlic, minced

3 large carrots, diced

1 medium zucchini, diced

2 cups chopped broccoli

4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch to 1-inch pieces

3 1/2 cups shredded cauliflower, lightly steamed

1/2 cup milk

2 1/2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups beef broth

1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

Salt and pepper, to taste

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Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set it aside.

In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and cook until it is starting to turn brown. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add carrots and cook for several minutes, until the carrots are starting to soften. Add the zucchini and broccoli and cook until all the vegetables are tender.

In the meantime, while the beef and vegetables are cooking, fill a large stock pot with water, add a hefty sprinkle of salt and drop in the cubed potatoes. Bring the water to boil and cook the potatoes until they are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Add the cauliflower, milk and butter and mash until the mixture is smooth.

Returning to the beef-vegetable mixture, sprinkle in the flour and stir, then add the broth, tomato paste and herbs. Cook until a gravy-like sauce forms. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the beef-vegetable mixture into the prepared baking pan and spread it out evenly. Top it with the mashed potato-cauliflower mixture and spread it out evenly.

Place the pie in the oven and bake for about 30-45 minutes, using the last 5 minutes to broil the top until it is golden brown.

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*My apologies for the blurry pictures. I was hungry.

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