Butternut Baked Ziti

It’s officially fall in Philadelphia.  The leaves are turning, frost is on the ground in the morning, Uggs are pulled on over skinny jeans… and pumpkin is everywhere.  While everyone is grabbing their PSL’s this pumpkin season, I’m looking at the less popular fall favorite of mine:  Butternut Squash.  I’m a sucker for the underdog.

I’ve tried out Butternut Squash a few other times, one of my most interesting in the post Butternut Squash Tacos.

Anyway, had to share this butternut recipe with you, it’s warm and comforting and feels like fall.


The thing about this recipe that is different for me, is that it’s actually pretty complicated compared to my normal posts.  Don’t be intimidated though, the recipe isn’t difficult… the steps are easy, it’s just that there’s a lot of them.  To keep yourself from getting overwhelmed, I recommend roasting the squash while you cook the rest of the meal, and it will break it up pretty nicely for ya.  Another tip, I also ALWAYS try and wash dishes/spoons, etc while I am cooking, so I’m not left with a bunch of pots and pans and cutting boards in the sink.   Continue reading

Pipette w/ Bacon & Peas

​​What’s funny about this recipe is that the inspiration came from a Bon Appetit article called “12 Ways to Cook w/ Ricotta“.  I bookmarked this pasta dish along with the hundreds of other recipes I save.  The other day, it caught my eye and I decided to make this for dinner but whoops… I had no Ricotta!  I improvised and ended up with a really yummy pasta without the starring ingredient.
The original recipe also used a really pretty pasta shape called Campanelle which I didn’t have.  I chose to use my Pipette since it was also cute and different from your typical Penne, Elbows, or Shells!  (I’ve always had a huge crush on pasta shapes… it’s strange)
Photo Cred: finecooking.com

Campanelle, Photo Cred: finecooking.com


Photo cred: thekitchn.com

Pipette, Photo cred: thekitchn.com

Pipette w/ Bacon & Peas


1/2 box Pipette Pasta

4-6 Pieces of Center Cut Bacon, chopped

1/4 Onion, sliced

3/4 cup Frozen Peas

1 Tablespoon Cream Cheese 

2 Tablespoons Fat Free Sour Cream

1 Tablespoon Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt

1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese

Fresh Black Pepper, Parsley Leaves


1.  Cook pasta in salted water to al dente according to the directions on the package.  Drain and set aside.

2.  Meanwhile, cook the chopped bacon, stirring occasionally until it starts to crisp up.  Add the sliced onion and cook, still stirring until the onions are softening up a bit.  Add the frozen peas and continue to cook making sure you don’t burn the bacon.  

3.  Melt the cream cheese, sour cream, greek yogurt, and most of the parmesan cheese over the drained and hot pasta.  Stir to combine.  

4.  Once the peas are heated through and the bacon is cooked crisp to your liking, pour the mixture over the sauced-up pasta.  Sprinkle with black pepper and parsley.  Enjoy!

Recipe inspired by:  12 Ways to Cook w/ Ricotta

If you cut the bacon into this size, it will shrink up nicely but still maintain a large enough piece to really notice it in your dish!

If you cut the bacon into this size, it will shrink up nicely but still maintain a large enough piece to really notice it in your dish!

This is the point where the mixture is just done... the bacon is crisp and the onions are just starting to brown

This is the point where the mixture is just done… the bacon is crisp and the onions are just starting to brown

So pretty!

So pretty!

photo 4 (14)

Woo-Wee!  This recipe is so yummy!  I have to appreciate the rare occasion where I am allowed to eat bacon for dinner.  Both Dave and I devoured our portions and I had to be careful we didn’t over eat since this wasn’t the healthiest meal!  While I assume making this dish with ricotta cheese would be delicious, I didn’t miss it at all.  The rich bacon grease drippings mixed with the creaminess of the pasta sauce was more than enough flavor to make this recipe spectacular.  It might sound strange, but try it!  It just works.

Oh, and i left the salt out on purpose, you totally don’t need it when there’s bacon involved!!

Check out some of my other BACON recipes!

Breakfast Baked Potato

Breakfast Baked Potato

One-Pan Hashbrown Breakfast

One-Pan Hashbrown Breakfast

Corn & Potato Chowder

Corn & Potato Chowder

Day by Day, Rittenhouse Sq Philly

Apparently I’m on a brunch tour of Philly.  While I’m loving it, it totally isn’t on purpose.  Or maybe it is.  First, Dave and I have ventured to Fairmount @ Sabrina’s, Northern Liberties @ Green Eggs Cafe & Silk City, and now this past weekend we found our way to the Rittenhouse Square area for a BYOB brunch at Day by Day.

My first impression of Day by Day was not exactly a great one.  My large group of 7 called and put our name on the list and was told to arrive at 12:30 (an hour wait).  We arrived at 12:30 on the dot and was told the wait would be another 30 minutes.  BOO!  We were starving.  After taking a deep breath and rubbing my grumbling tummy, my day (by day) was immediately brightened  by something called an “Apple Jawn”.  How Philly.  Adorable.  One of our friends saw that you could purchase pastries to go, so he bought us one of their Apple Fritters (Jawn, duh) and Iced Cinnamon Buns to split while we were waiting.  They were sweet, sticky, and so so good.  Iced pastries are definitely enough to keep me patient.

Outdoor Pastries while we waited… the perfect touch.

Everyone dig in!

Part of our group 🙂 These are the clowns I was telling you about from my Israel Trip! What a great weekend.

Soon after we finished attacking the pastries like vultures, we were called in for our table.  Day by Day is a BYOB spot, so we brought along a big bottle of champagne, some vodka and bloody mary mix.  We got a pitcher of fresh squeezed OJ to go along (only $10 for the entire thing, which was surprising) and started off on our drinks.  OH- how could I forget to mention, they serve my absolute fav La Columbe coffee.  In heaven.

Cups and cups and cups! Coffee, water, OJ, Bloody Mary, etc.

To start off, after ogling at the special menu posted outside, we all decided to split the Pumpkin Stuffed Challah French Toast.  “HOLLA”!  It was ridiculous.  YUMMMMM!  It was def too decadent for one person to eat, so each of us having a 1/2 of a slice was perfect.

Pumpkin Stuffed Challah French Toast… say whatttt?

So good!

I went against everything I believe in about brunch and ordered a lunch item.  Gasp!  I went with the BLT w/ Horseradish Mayo.  The sandwich comes as is for only $6.50, which is ridiculous for the amount of food you get.  They give you an option of +Avocado and +Fried Egg for $1 each.  Yes please!  They actually forgot my avocado, but once I saw the sandwich, it was all okay… it is freakin’ huge.  I had to eat the thing with a fork and knife.

Somehow this is considered a sandwich! My BLT w/ HorseyMayo

This only lasted one bite! But it sure did look good.

Dave ordered what I thought was the best thing I tried there; the Chorizo & Sweet Potato Hash.  OMG.  It’s even better than it sounds, and you can add Scrambed or Fried Eggs on top of that too.

The Chorizo Sweet Potato Hash w/ Scrambled Eggs and Toast

Some other notable decisions were the Potato Pancake Benedict with Smoked Salmon and Poached Eggs, Huevos Rancheros, and even just their Omelettes looked amazing.

So pretty- Smoked Salmon, Potato Latke Benedict

Our server was very attentive, good with coffee refills, and patient with our general 7-people-at-a-table obnoxiousness that comes with my group of friends.   He also happened to be wearing this Bill Murray shirt so we liked him even more:

One-Pan Hash Brown Breakfast

OMG!  I made the actual best breakfast ever this weekend, and no one was there to witness it! I recently bought a bag of Trader Joe’s Shredded Hash Browns and I’m lovin’ it.  They are reallllly easy to work with.  The ingredients on the bag?  Potatoes.  That’s all!  It is really nice to have the potatoes pre-shredded.  It’s also really cheap.

After my Saturday morning workout, I come home starving.  I like making smoothies or having some yogurt, but on this particular day I was famished… and nothing light was going to do the trick.

I took out the hash browns, some bacon, eggs, and shredded cheese and went to work.

One-Pan Hash Brown Breakfast

Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook

Serves: 1


1 Tablespoon Oil (you can use Olive Oil but I’ve been using Sunflower Seed Oil)

1 Cup – 1.5 Cups Shredded Hash Browns (I used TJ’s frozen, or you can make your own)

1/2 Onion, sliced or chopped thin

Sea Salt, Black Pepper, and Smoked Paprika

2 Slices Bacon, cooked

2 Eggs

1/4 Cup Shredded Cheese (I used Red. Fat White Cheddar)


1.  Heat the oil over medium-high in a small sized non-stick skillet.  Mix the hash browns and chopped onion together.  Add the frozen hash brown mix to the pan.  Arrange so they are covering the bottom of the pan evenly.  Season with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.

2.  Let the potatoes be for 5 minutes or longer, until they start to brown on the bottom.  Flip the potatoes (which should now have taken the shape of the pan, almost like a pancake) so you can cook the top side.

3.  Add the bacon.  *I had microwaved mine which makes it really crispy.  If you don’t want to do that, you can fry up the bacon in the pan first, remove- leaving the bacon grease, and only use 1/2 Tablespoon of Oil.  Add the shredded cheese.

4.  Crack one egg at a time over the potatoes.  Cover the pan and let cook.  After about 4 minutes, check on the eggs and slide out of the pan once the egg whites are white and cooked through.

After it was flipped

This was soooooo yummy.  I’m totally into Smoked Paprika now, and it tasted fabulous with the potatoes.  I only discovered Smoked Paprika because TJ’s started selling it ($1.99 I believe btw)… and i love it.  It gives everything a smoked flavor, and almost makes it taste like it came right of a BBQ!  It also helped give the potatoes a really nice looking darker color when they were done cooking.

At first I was bummed the egg didn’t stay completely on the potatoes, but it didn’t matter in the end! SO GOOD!

The eggs cooked perfectly, which is so hard for me to master.  Cooking them ontop of the potatoes, rather than directly on the hot pan prevented the egg whites from being overcooked, while covering the pan helped create steam which allowed the whites cook all the way through without having to flip them.

Look at this amazing bite! I loooooove black pepper, if you couldn’t tell!

Summer Salad

Usually when I come home from work and working out, the last thing I feel like doing is making a fancy dinner.  If I put together a salad or some stir-fry… chances are that I won’t be writing about it on the blog.

With that being said, this “ordinary” weeknight dinner salad was just too pretty and too delicious to not brag about!

Summer Salad

Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook
Makes 1 Serving @  5 WW Points
1/4 Head Iceberg Lettuce, torn
1/4 Champagne Mango
1/4 Cucumber
1/4 Avocado
1 slice Bacon, cooked crisp
6 Grape Tomatoes
4 Green Beans
Green Onion, Sea Salt &  Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Sunflower Seeds
1/4 lb Cooked Shrimp
Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar
1.  Chop all of the ingredients except the shrimp.  Mix in a large bowl with the iceberg lettuce.  Pull the tails off of the shrimp and top the mixed salad.
2.  Dress the salad with some chopped green onion, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.  Sprinkle w/ a teaspoon of Sunflower Seeds.  Drizzle w/ Strawberry (or plain) Balsamic Vinegar.

Loved this salad!  I am not a big fan of raw veggies, so my salads tend to rely on the heavier, less healthy items such as chicken, cheeses, croutons, nuts, etc.  This salad was the perfect combination of the “good” stuff & the “bad” stuff.  I don’t put oil on my salads when I use Vinegar, and trust me, you aren’t missing it.  The touch of salt and pepper enhances the flavors and makes everything delish!

As ginormous as this salad is, believe it or not, it only racks up FIVE Weight Watchers Points.  FIVE!  OMG!

Corn & Potato Soup

Now that I’ve already divulged the decadent dessert we made for my Dad’s Birthday last week, I’ll show you what we made for dinner.  I have been still in soup-mode after my boyfriend Dave had some dental problems recently.  This recipe should have been a chowder, but i chose to replace Half-and-Half with the Fat Free version, losing out on the thickness of a typical chowder.  Instead, we ended up with a “soupier” broth… creamy but definitely soupier than you’d expect from a chowder.

Corn & Potato Soup

Recipe adapted from:  Corn & Potato Chowder, Cooking Light 
Serves:  4 Dinner-Portions
1 Green Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1 Cup Green Onions, finely chopped and divided, separating 2 Tablespoons
3 Slices Bacon, cooked and chopped.  Reserve a few pieces for garnish.
2 Cups Frozen Corn Kernels
3 Cups Water
1 teaspoon Old Bay (or other seafood seasoning)
1/2 teaspoon Dried Thyme
Pinch Ground Cayenne Pepper
1 lb Baking Potatoes, skin-on, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Cup Fat-Free Half and Half
1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 cup Shredded Reduced-Fat Cheddar Cheese
1.  Spray a large pot and warm over medium-high heat.  Add bell pepper and most of the green onions.  Saute for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
2.  Raise heat to high.  Add bacon, corn, water, Old Bay, Thyme, Red Pepper, and potatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Check a potato to make sure they’re cooked (stick a fork in it… literally.  If it goes in easily they’re done!).  Lower heat to medium-low and stir in half-and-half, parsley, salt, and pepper.
3.  Let cook until you’re ready to serve or the soup boils down to your desired consistency.  I had mine cook about 15 minutes longer over med-low heat.
4.  Ladle into 4 bowls and garnish with green onions, cheddar cheese, and a few crumbles of bacon.

Results:  We all really enjoyed this soup- but I should make a few recommendations for you.  If you aren’t watching your weight, use full-fat half and half.  You’ll be happier with the consistency.  Also, this soup was a little too spicy, even for ME!  It had a kick that lasted long after you were done your spoonful.  Start with just the old bay, and taste it.  Add some cayenne later on if you feel like it needs it.  Otherwise, the soup was awesome and everyone was happy with it!

Nutrition:  One serving of this soup contains just under 300 calories and 7.5 grams of fat… pretty good for a creamy soup, right?