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.

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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

Eggplant Bolognese

Well hello again, my friends.  It’s almost been a year since my last post!  I have been extremely busy with life and my good old little food blog got away from me.  New job, got married, bought a house, you know, the basic things that keep you away from a computer once you’re finally home!

I can promise you though, that I have been spending that last year building up a repertoire of tons of fun new and exciting recipes to share.  As life is starting to settle down for the moment, I made it my goal to bring those recipes to you and start writing again.  So, here we are!

I wanted to start us off with a really solid, versatile recipe that you can really do a lot with.  Take out the beef and make this meatless for your Monday, or for your favorite vegetarian!  Don’t like eggplant?  Swap it out with Zucchini or Squash!  That really is the best thing about cooking, you can do WHATEVER YOU WANT!  BUT, if you do like eggplant, and you are a carnivore like myself… please do yourself a favor and try this one out, you won’t be disappointed!

Eggplant Bolognese
Recipe Adapted from:  Cooking Light 

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Large Sweet Onions, chopped
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt, divided + 1 Tablespoon
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper, divided
1/2 lb Ground Beef, I used 85%
1.5 lbs Eggplant, chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
1/2 cup Red Wine- I used Pinot Noir so I could drink some while I cooked 🙂
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
10oz Whole-Wheat Fettuccine
1/4 cup small fresh basil leaves

Directions:
1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and beef; cook 10 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble beef. Add eggplant, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 20 minutes or until eggplant is very tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes too. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and red wine vinegar.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding 1 tablespoon kosher salt to cooking water. Drain.
3. Toss pasta with sauce; sprinkle with basil leaves.

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Well, that’s all for today, goal of posting in October ACCOMPLISHED!  Huzzah!  Now, go comment, like, share… do it!

Green Olive Pesto Pasta

Green Olive Pesto Pasta

I absolutely love PESTO.  I think the best thing about pesto is that there’s practically a million ways you can use it and even make it.  That’s the thing that gets me… there are so many different combinations to try, how will I ever feel like I’ve found the best?!  A few months ago, I was reading my cooking magazines and found this awesome guide for mixing and matching your own pesto.  I have to share it with you… it’s crazy how many different types you could try and also get super creative with it!  (Mix-Match Pesto!)

Let me break it down for you… here’s what you need to make your own perfect pesto:

1.  Nut or Seed (almonds in this case)

2.  Add your base (olives and parsley)

3.  Choose your seasoning(s) (garlic and pepper)

4.  Pick a cheese (Asiago!)

5.  Finish that pesto! (more cheese!!)

I can’t wait to try a few others… I have already made another one with this gorgeous heirloom tomato and fresh mozz pizza the other night… whoa!

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YUM!  I’m hungry for that again…

Okay but really I have to share this crazy pesto recipe with you.  It was so easy to make and it was creamy, delicious, and just all around awesome.  Enjoy!

Green Olive Pesto Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Campanelle Pasta (or other pretty shape!)
  • 1 1/4 cups (6 oz) Pitted Manzanilla Olives
  • 1/2 cup Sliced Raw Almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Flat-leaf Parsley Leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper 
  • 1 large Garlic Clove
  • 2 tablespoons Water
  • 1 teaspoon White Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) Grated Asiago Cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box.  Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.  
  2. Put the olives, almonds, parsley, pepper, and garlic in a food processor.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.  With the processor on, add 2 tablespoons of water and 1 teaspoon of vinegar through the chute, processing until the mixture is finely chopped.  
  3. Combine pasta, 1/4 cup olives, sliced almonds, flat-leaf parsley leaves, black pepper, and garlic in a food processor; pulse 3 times or until coarsely chopped. With processor on, add 2 tablespoons water and 1 teaspoon vinegar through the food chute, processing until mixture is finely chopped.
  4. Combine pasta, the reserved liquid, and the olive mixture in a large bowl and toss well.  Sprinkle with extra cheese and serve immediately.

Recipe slightly adapted from:  Cooking Light

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Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

“light” Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

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I am super excited to share this recipe with you- NOT just because it’s amazing and delicious and awesome.  But mostly because this is the first recipe that I was able to use my brand spankin’ new KITCHENAID STAND MIXER!!!  Can you believe I got it already?!  What an unbelievable gift from our wonderful family friend Cheryl.  I finally picked a first recipe for it, and it was awesome.  YAY!

Now, it’s time to share this super sweet but “light” zucchini bread recipe!  If you cut the bread into 16 slices, each slice should only cost you about 160 calories.  It’s delish!

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Sugar 
  • 3 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1 cup Unsweetened, All-Natural Apple Sauce
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt 
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Zucchini (about 1 medium) 
  • 1/2 cup Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Place the sugar, eggs, and vegetable oil in a large bowl.  Beat with a mixer on low until well blended.  Add applesauce and continue to stir on low until it is well combined.
  2. Lightly spoon the flour into measuring cups, leveling with a knife.  In a separate bowl, combine the measured flour, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and stir well with a whisk.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, beating just until moist.  With a rubber scraper or wooden spoon, stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips.  
  3. Put the batter into a 9×5 inch loaf pan prepared with cooking spray.  Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until it passes the toothpick test.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then remove from pan to cool completely before slicing.  

Recipe slightly adapted from:  Cooking Light, 2004

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You might also like some of these other quick breads I’ve made!  Check them out…

Caramelized Carrot Cake Bread

Caramelized Carrot Cake Bread

Jalapeño Cheddar Beer Bread

Jalapeño Cheddar Beer Bread

5-Minute Banana Bread

5-Minute Banana Bread

 

Miso Glazed Salmon

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BAM!  And just like that, I’m back for the second day in a row.

Was actually really shocked that I have not yet written a post for you about this salmon.  It’s like… my new favorite recipe.  I think I’ve made this three or four times so far- which is a lot for someone who rarely repeats one recipe twice.

This salmon recipe obviously uses Miso- which sounded a little intense for me at first… until I went to Whole Foods and bought a container of it and realized how silly it was for me to think that.  It’s kept in the refrigerated section and lasts forever.  Just go buy a container and leave it in your fridge for a great dressing recipe (such as this one… ) or to make the salmon again like I did.

Miso Glazed Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Hot Water
  • 2 Tablespoons White Miso Paste
  • 4 (6-ounce) Salmon Fillets (about 1 inch thick) 
  • Cooking spray 
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped Fresh Chives

Preparation

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Combine first 4 ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Arrange fish in a shallow baking dish coated with foil & cooking spray. Spoon miso mixture evenly over fish.
  3. Broil 8-10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, basting twice with miso mixture. Sprinkle with chives.

Recipe from:  Cooking Light, 2002

So so so so good.  For some reason, every single time I’ve baked salmon this way, it has been SUPER moist and so delicious.  Keep your eye on the salmon in the oven because you don’t want to dry it out.  It does not need that much time so don’t forget about it!

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I like to make 4 fillets so Dave and I can each eat one for dinner and eat one for lunch the following day over a salad.  YUM.  This time, I served the salmon with a small Baked Potato & Sauteed Spinach w/ Garlic & Grape Tomatoes.  You could serve this salmon with any green and it would be great with rice too!

What’s your favorite salmon recipe?  Try one of mine…

Maple-Teryiaki Salmon

Maple-Teryiaki Salmon

Basic Salmon Cakes/Burgers

Basic Salmon Cakes/Burgers

Wasabi Salmon

Wasabi Salmon

 

Stir-Fried Lemongrass Chicken

Happy New Year everyone!  Yesterday, Dave and I started a two-week Food Lover’s Cleanse.  The Cleanse is from Bon Appetit- it’s all about getting back in the kitchen and cooking healthy whole foods.  They limit refined starches, sugars, saturated fats, and dairy.  After eating like pigs over the holidays, we could use the cleanse!  If you feel like taking the challenge and joining in… let me know!  The cleanse and all recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks can be found here.  I’ve already been cooking up a storm making fresh sauces and dressings to get ready for the next few days.  It’s been a lot of work but it’s been fun so far!

Meanwhile, another goal for the new year besides getting back on track with eating is for me to continue to blog!  It’s been so hard with my new job, planning our wedding, and now it’s even more difficult with our new puppy, Snoop!

Our puppies!!

Our puppies!!

Stir-Fried Lemongrass Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Low-Sodium Chicken Stock
  • 1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sambal Oelek (or Sriracha)
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil (divided)
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemongrass Paste (or sliced peeled fresh lemongrass)
  • 1 Tablespoon Crushed Garlic (or 2 cloves)
  • 1 cup sliced Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 Sweet Onion, sliced thin
  • 2 Stalks Celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup Carrots, shredded
  • 8 oz Haricot Verts, trimmed
  • 1lb boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup Cashews
  • 1 Thai Chile, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Sesame Seeds to garnish

Preparation:

1. Combine brown sugar, chicken stock, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sambal oelek.
2. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add lemongrass and garlic; stir-fry 30 seconds. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon; place in a small bowl. Add bell pepper, onion, celery, carrots and haricots verts to pan; stir-fry 2 minutes. Remove vegetables from pan with a slotted spoon; add to lemongrass mixture. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken in a single layer; cook 2-3 minutes or until browned. Add cashews and chile to pan; stir-fry 2 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in stock mixture and vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute or until sauce begins to thicken. Serve immediately and top with sesame seeds.

Adapted from:  Cooking Light

Still lovin' my Gourmet Garden herbs.  I use the garlic with everything and it's great to use the Lemongrass when needed so I don't have to buy it fresh and take the time to peel it!

Still lovin’ my Gourmet Garden herbs. I use the garlic with everything and it’s great to use the Lemongrass when needed so I don’t have to buy it fresh and take the time to peel it!

Such a nice RED on that bell pepper...

Such a nice RED on that bell pepper…

Yummy Cashews!  I love the  buttery crunch they add to this asian dish.

Yummy Cashews! I love the buttery crunch they add to this asian dish.

Everything ready to be stir-fried!

Everything ready to be stir-fried!

Finished product!  Usually, Dave and I like our asian stir-fries to be a little saucier, but this one is so flavorful, it's okay that it's not drenched, I promise!

Finished product! Usually, Dave and I like our asian stir-fries to be a little saucier, but this one is so flavorful, it’s okay that it’s not drenched, I promise!

Something I have always loved about Stir Fry recipes is that you can customize it so easily according to what veggies you have available and what you and your family enjoy!  Try it with broccoli, spinach, peanuts, or really anything!

What is everyone doing for the New Year?  Any good recipes to try?  I am saving some good ones to make after our cleanse!

 

 

 

Seared Scallops w/ Warm Tuscan Beans

I have literally been sitting here every day this week staring at this recipe trying to think of something creative to talk about.  There’s just  nothing up there.  I blame insurance.

For those of you who don’t know yet- I started a new career this summer.  I am now an insurance agent!  It’s going really well so far- I am so much happier than I used to be at my old job, I’m making money, helping people, on my own schedule working from home… it’s all good.  Except I’m losing my mind… well at least my creativity.

the cutest health insurance image out there

the cutest health insurance image out there

Don’t worry, I’m still eating and cooking up lots of good food.  I just don’t have the time or creativity to sit down and write about it for you!  BOO!  So anyway, forgive me.  Now take a minute to read about this really fabulous recipe that deserves a more interesting blog post than me telling you about my job.  It really does deserve more.  Sorry bout that scallops!

Seared Scallops w/ Warm Tuscan Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
  • 3/4 lb Sea Scallops
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup Onion, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 cup Chicken Broth- fat free/low sodium
  • 1  can Cannellini Beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (6oz) package Baby Spinach
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Basil, chopped

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon  of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Rinse scallops and pat dry with a paper towel.  Sprinkle scallops evenly with salt. Add scallops to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done.  Remove scallops from pan placing on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  2. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and onion to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Add pepper and garlic; cook 20 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook 1 minute or until most of liquid evaporates. Stir in broth and beans; cook 2 minutes. Add spinach; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts. Remove from heat; stir in basil.
  3. The original recipe suggests dipping grilled garlic bread into the brothy beans.  (I garlic-ified leftover hamburger buns for us!)  Here is their recipe:  Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Brush 1 tablespoon olive oil evenly over 4 (1-ounce) slices French bread. Add bread to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Rub one side of each bread slice with cut sides of a halved garlic clove.

Recipe slightly adapted from:  Cooking Light

Pat the scallops dry then season with sea salt

Pat the scallops dry then season with sea salt

Sear the scallops in a hot pan with just a little bit of olive oil.  Don't touch them until you are ready to flip.  You'll get a nice crust like these have.

Sear the scallops in a hot pan with just a little bit of olive oil. Don’t touch them until you are ready to flip. You’ll get a nice crust like these have.

Beans, spinach... nice and brothy... yum!

Beans, spinach… nice and brothy… yum!

The finished product.  Don't forget some crusty garlic bread to dip!

The finished product. Don’t forget some crusty garlic bread to dip!

Scallops are such a treat for me- I absolutely love them.  This recipe was different from how I normally cook my scallops and both Dave and I really enjoyed the change.

Now- who needs health or life insurance?!  Maybe some extra business will help with my creativity 😉

Check out some of these other seafood recipes…

Crabcake Mac & Cheese

Crabcake Mac & Cheese

Clams w/ Israeli Couscous

Clams w/ Israeli Couscous

Seared Scallops & Shrimp w/ Creamy Linguine

Seared Scallops & Shrimp w/ Creamy Linguine