Tag Archives: butternut squash

Decadent + Figure Friendly?!

Tonight’s dinner was decadent.  Wow. 

It tasted like comforting love in a bowl, with delicious rich flavors that were pulled together while still being figure friendly. 

Just wait, you’ll see! 😉

Butternut Squash & Chicken Sausage Parmesan Pasta

The starters:

Onion, garlic, chicken sausage, ziti and Parmesan cheese.

Plus some pre-roasted butternut squash. 

Pre-roasted?

Yep.  Want to hear a great trick?  Remember last night when I was roasted up those sweet potatoes…

Well I snuck these squash into the oven too since I knew I’d be using them today and saved myself about an hour of roasting time tonight!  Made my life soooooo easy after work 😉

To roast butternut squash I follow this method:  cut in half, remove seeds and place into baking dish at 350F for about an hour or until soft & tender.

First up, the onions and chicken sausage.

Followed by the garlic and butternut squash, plus some salt and pepper.

Then the chicken stock, cream (only 1/4 cup, stayin’ healthy here remember!), Parmesan cheese and fresh thyme.

Another great trick.  Anytime I buy something like heavy whipping cream which we don’t use up, I put into ice cube trays and freeze for later use.  Works great in cooked dishes and keeps me from having to let anything go to waste!

Freshly cooked ziti and a quick stir…

And you’re done 😀

Serve with more cheese if you like, or in my case more freshly cracked black pepper.

Flavors = spot on.  Creamy, rich and comforting.

Yet only a small amount of fat needed to achieve such flavor.  I couldn’t believe how buttery and creamy this was.

The chicken stock does a great job of adding flavor while also creating a luscious sauce out of a minimal amount of cream and cheese.  So good!

The dinner table (i.e. The Man and myself) raved.

Here’s the recipe, which took about 30-40 minutes start to finish.  Not too shabby huh? 😛

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 butternut squash, cooked, peeled and chopped
  • chicken sausages, sliced on the diagonal (I used Trader Joe’s Italian)
  • 2 cups chicken stock (I had homemade on hand, but use any kind you like)
  • 2 tblsp heavy whipping cream
  • 2-3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (freshly grated preferred!)
  • fresh thyme, about 1 tsp
  • salt (we like sea salt) 
  • black pepper
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 3/4 to 1 box ziti (or any pasta you like)

1.  Cook onions in olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add in sliced sausages and cook for a few until browned a bit, about 5-7 minutes.  If the onions start to brown too add a splash of water – it’ll help them to steam vs. get too brown.

While this is cooking, go ahead and cook your pasta in another pot according to directions.  That way it’ll be done right when the sauce is ready!

2.  Add garlic and squash to onion/sausage mixture plus salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

3.  Add in the fresh thyme, chicken stock, cream and Parm cheese.  Stir gently as to not break up squash.

4.  In goes the cooked pasta (which has been drained).  Add more salt and pepper if you like, then stir to combine.

5.  SERVE IT UP!  Top with extra black pepper and Parm cheese as desired.

And trust me, you’ll have some happy diners!  A comforting meal to feel good about serving too 🙂

I hope you’ll give this one a try!

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Dunzo!

Hey hey hey!

Phew what a day friends!  I don’t know about ya’ll, but I was beat after a super busy today and I must say that once I got home from work I was dunzo 😛

So uhhhh oops, that ‘planned workout’ was postponed until tomorrow, which meant that dinner plans were going to have to change up… mixin’ it up a bit eh?

The original plan tonight was for a fun BFD using one of my new bday presents since I needed something fast post-workout, however since said workout was postponed ’til tomorrow so was this dinner idea….

In lieu of BFD I decided to do tomorrow’s dinner, tonight!!!  See how easy a lil’ switch can be – and tomorrow I know I’ll have more energy for my workout and overall it will pay off in the end 🙂

So what was tomorrow’s (now tonight’s) dinner plan?

Hide the Veggies Lasagna!

Yep, you got it friends, I had a butternut squash that needed usin’ so I figured what better way than to hide it in some delicious lasagna so The Man would never know 😉

First on the to-do was to roast up the butternut, which I peeled and sliced then brushed with some EVOO and sprinkled with S&P…

20 minutes at 375F w/ a quick flip in between and these guys were all nice & ready!

Then I got out the rest of the ingredients for what was seriously the easiest lasagna I have ever made.  Well, I’ve only made lasagna a handful of times so take that as you will haha 😛

  • Whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • Part skim ricotta
  • Fresh Parm
  • Homemade sauce from this lil’ adventure, thawed

Yes, that’s right.  5 ingredients total – booyah!!  Take that food network 😉

While the butternut was roasting I also boiled up the lasagna noodles so they were ready for assembly.  Then it was time to build!

Lil’ sauce + 3 cooked lasagna noodles

Roasted butternut slices

Half the container of ricotta cheese — so uh btw I used to “claim” I hated ricotta but after 1 spoonful of it tonight I already have it on the next grocery list haha, what was I thinkingggggggg?!?!

Throw (grate) some grated Parm on there too for good measure.

About half of “the sauce” — which keeps beautifully in the freezer & which I will be making another batch of veryyyy soon!

Another layer of 3 cooked noodles, the rest of the heavenly ricotta and the remainder of “the sauce” plus more grated Parm to finish it up and the building is finito!

What’s that, you want a side angle view?  Okay okay, twist my arm 😉

Then it was into a 350F oven, uncovered for 20 minutes.  After that I covered this bad johnny up and continued too cook another 15 minutes or so.  Then I got all crazy and uncovered it again, cranked up the temp to 400F for another 5 minutes til it was all bubbly and deelish

All served up!  A lil’ squashie got loose 😛

Want an inside peek too?  Okayyyy!

With some cabbage on the side – yea I don’t know, I’m a woman, I crave random things hahaha

So I have to tell you that as I was roasting up the butternut squashies, The Man politely asked “what the heck are those things and where are they going” hahaha… so I def wasn’t sure if he was going to like them in the lasagna (although I kindly reminded him last time I snuch them in pasta that he adored).

Well friends, I got the first bite, eyes closed, “mmmm” sound outta him tonight!!!  I love that, when I don’t even have to ask if he likes or not – bc that reaction says enough 🙂

Yea, this was deelish.  And so easy at that.  The butternut paired with “the sauce” which does have sausage in it made the perfect combo, and paired with the part-skim ricotta it was just fantabulous!

So now I have some American Idol to watch, I have some Google Reader to catch up on then it’s time to hit the sack.

We may get some frozen “precip” (haha, always makes me giggle) tonight so hopefully roads are a-okay in the morning.  Especially considering Lady BMW basically slid 16 different directions before settling into her spot in the driveway today – what is up with the no-plow-neighborhood philosophy around here hmph?!?! 

Either way, I’m looking forward to a great day at work followed by a rebound 6 Round Slim Down whoop whoop!

So that’s that friends, I hope all of you have a wonderful Tuesday night and guess what – tomorrow is hump day – take that work week, you’re halfway ovah 🙂

Speaking of halfway over, how about that Chobani Giveaway 😉  Go for it!!!

Wingin’ it!

TGIAF!!! 🙂

So after trekking home in a disaster of a rain storm from work I was so excited to get to Whole Foods!  I was on the hunt for a few particular items, if I don’t have a list in that paradise  store I get myself in some major trouble 😉

Here’s the loot!

The Pure2Raw girls got me very interested in trying coconut oil so I knew that it just had to be done!  You can use this stuff both in the kitchen and in your beauty routine, from what I have read it really is some pretty amazing stuff 🙂

I also scored some supertastic deals using the coupons in their flyer whoop whoop!

  • Organic Honey Nut Rice Cakes total $1.44
  • Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk total $1.19
  • Simply Asia Stir Fry sauce total $0.94

Sweet success!  Guess it made up for that coconut oil expense 😛  It’s all about balance right, in all parts of life!

So we were talkin’ a lil’ earlier about how tonight was going to be an impromptu dinner night – and you friends gave me some great meal ideas that sparked the final product!

And ya’ll know my style, sometimes I really just get anti-recipe to the extreme and tonight was one of those nights.  I decided to work with some things we had on hand:  pasta, chicken and butternut squash!  This was a “pantry dinner” for sure, nothing extra had to be purchased (happy wallet 🙂 )

I present:  Chicken & Butternut Squash Pasta flavored w/ garlic, onion & nutmeg!

  • 2 chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled & chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • pasta
  • S&P
  • nutmeg
  • Parm cheese – now I know this is the crappy can kind, but The Man likes this kind ever so often so you know what, since I ❤ him we compromise 😉
  • chicken broth (unpictured)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil

I started by peeling up the butternut squash.  I think the trick with these puppies is to pop them in the microwave for a minute to soften somewhat and then proceed peeling & chopping.  Well, at least that’s what worked for me!

Then I gave the onion a rough chop (I like the sizes of all items in a dish to be somewhat uniform, call me weird) and cooked it over medium in 1 tsp of the coconut oil (which was plenty, love this stuff already!) – p.s. apparently coconut oil works best when used over medium heat, so I stuck with that. 

I added the minced garlic a few minutes in along with some S&P.

Next I dumped in the butternut squash, nutmeg plus some chicken broth for moisture.  Covered it up and let it simmer away – for how long I’m not sure (remember, I suck at timing things haha, drives my mom crazy when she asks me and I just say I’m not sure, I was just wingin’ it! 😉 ).

At this point the squash was close to soft and it was time to add the chicken + more black pepper (<3).  Covered it and let it cook through (this was fast!)

Then I turned down the heat and let the flavors get to know each other while I got the rest of the meal prepared.  

In the words of Emeril, I wish you friends at smell-o-vision!!!!  The smell of this cooking was absolutely amazing, the coconut oil infused it with a flavor like I had never tasted smelled (okay, I snuck a taste too haha) and paired with the nutmeg it was soooooooooo outta this world fantastic!! 🙂

Next I boiled up the pasta and “short cut microwaved” some fresh broccoli

I have never done broc like this before, but just chopped up fresh broccoli and layered in a micro safe dish with a few bits of the minced garlic + some water and gave it a microwave steam bath!

Hello green!  Whole Foods veggies seriously are far superior… 

Okay okay so back to the pasta dish!  Once the noodles were al dente I drained them and added them into the veggie/chicken mix and sprinkled with Parm 🙂  Oh. Em. Gee. the smells just got even better… seriously.

All served up this dinner was easily my favorite dinner this week!  And probably one of my fave pasta dinners ever 😛

 

First of all, I am now obsessed with coconut oil. Plain & simple.  This stuff is amazing & I am convinced that it made this dish even more over the top 🙂

Second, butternut squash, onions & garlic are a match made in heaven!  Paired with pasta and some cheese my taste buds were having “a moment” 😉  I could def see this being made meat-free & with veggie broth and being fabulous too.

Thirdly, nothing beats fresh veggies prepared healthfully with some great flavor.  Love this method for a quick cook!

Okay, I guess I’ve rambled enough about this dinner huh?  But seriously, if you’re looking for a delicious go-to pasta meal then really consider giving this (or some version of this) a try.  Oh yea… guess what too?  It’s pretty darn low-fat since the only fat around was the 1 tsp of coconut oil and lean chicken – booyah!

Now it you’ll excuse me, time for some doctor drama followed by more fist pumpin!  Gotta get my GTL on 😉

See you for Friday friends!

Steph vs. Crockpot Chicken

Well well friends…. here we are at the end of this rainy (in VA) day off work 🙂 still a day off work in my book, so I’ll take it!  I must start this off by saying that I think I am having one of “those weeks“….

Why you ask? 

Round 1:  Steph vs. Crockpot Chicken.

bird

Winner:  Chicken

Well, after about 3 lovely hours in the crockpot on low… I woke up from a quick snooze to a COLD CROCKPOT. Yes, that jerk had shut off and I have no idea how or why.  The power never flickered (according to the The Man who was also home) and the crockpot didn’t appear to be broken.  Needless to say I broke out into instant tears of disappointment since I had worked hard on prepping it and cleaning a chicken ain’t fun was extremely upset and felt like this was major fail #2 of the week 😦 considering me ruining the romantic surprise last night….

Round 2:  Steph vs. Crockpot Chicken

Winner:  Steph!!! 🙂

So what did The Man do?  He let me drown in my misery while he cleaned up the entire mess (didn’t know how long it had sat there not on so wasn’t going to risk food poisoning) AND THEN he took me to the store to buy a replacement chicken AND THEN he acted as sous chef and chopped up all the ingredients for round 2.

Really. Who is this guy?

This whole mishap made me think about how sometimes things happen that are really upsetting/frustrating & seem like a bigger deal than they are at the time (aka last night) but that sometimes those are the moments than can turn everything around.  What do I mean?  Basically I had the best time going to the store with The Man (Jordan @ grocery store = rarity) and we had such a fun time working on the meal together in the kitchen.  He made me feel better x1000 😛  To say that I LOVE HIMMMM is really an understatement friends (mushhhhyyyy)

If you’re curious about the chicken recipe, follow these lovely instructions (except I didn’t remove skin & I used dried rosemary) from a sensational blogsite recommended to me by a certain Iowa Lady 🙂

By this point it was already 3:30 so obvi the chicken couldn’t get done on low for 8 hours as planned unless we preferred to have din at midnight (no thanks).  So I cranked it up to high and planned for 4 hours.

After opening up the crockpot here’s what I found…

PB110622

It literally fell apart when I tried to remove it… OMG sooooo tender & falling off the bone!

donechick

Holy yum.  And the smell was heavenly as well 😉

I also had plans for some butternut squash, I’ve never used this veggie before *gasp* so I was excited to try it!

I found a Cooking Light recipe for Baked Rice with Butternut Squash & knew that would be the perfect accompaniment to the slow cooked chicken!  Here’s what ya need (plus the butternut duh! 😉 )

squashingred

Step 1:  Bake squash at 350F for 30 minutes while you watch Monday’s episode of How I Met Your Mother 🙂 

wholesquash

Once it’s done, remove from oven and crank oven up to 400F.  Let squash cool for a minute, then peel & chop into small cubes.

squashsliced

Step 2:  Saute chopped onion in EVOO for about 6 minutes over medium heat, add chopped garlic & saute another 2 minutes.

step1

While this is cooking, heat up chicken broth (I used stock) and water to a simmer (I omitted the sage bc I didn’t have any on hand)

Step 3:  Add rice and saute another minute or so. 

step2

Step 4:  Add warm chicken stock/water mixture, wine,salt, pepper, thyme (I used dried) and let cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

step3

Step 5:  Put mixture into a baking dish coated with cooking spray.

step4

Bake at 400F for 30 minutes. 

casserole

Step 6:  Sprinkle with Parm cheese and bake another 5 minutes until cheese melts, and voila!

casserole2

Dinner served… perfect for this rainy day off if you ask me 🙂

plate

So what’d I learn from tonight’s meal?

  • Crockpot chicken is legit! … and for $4.73 we have enough chicken for a couple meals and the flavor is incredible (hello lemon + rosemary + garlic!)
  • Baked rice impromptu dish was seriously soooooooooo good – thank you Cooking Light for this fab idea, I think this will feed us for 3 meals (my wallet says thanks too 😉 )

Alright friends, off to go relax and do some more snugglin’ with The Man…. I just can’t seem to get enough of him this week!  Plus we have some cookies baking that are callin’ my name (Stephhhhhhhh eattttt meeeeee)…. 😛

I hope ya’ll enjoyed your Wednesdays and I’ll see everyone tomorrow!