Parmesan Pasta with Butternut Squash & Bacon

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We love our parmesan pasta recipe and we make it quite often.This time, I decided to add bacon and sautéed butternut squash to it. It was delicious! The sort of sweet, creamy butternut squash mixed with the salty and crunchy bacon and the always delicious parmesan pasta…this dish is amazing. The unfortunate thing was I pretended that I was eating something really healthy because of the squash so I ate way too much.

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Parmesan Pasta with Butternut Squash & Bacon

1/2 pound of bacon

1 pound of butternut squash

1 red onion

1 Tablespoon of minced garlic

1/2 tsp. of salt

1/4 tsp. of red pepper flakes

Ingredients for pasta:

1 lb. dried pasta

1 stick of butter (I know, it’s a lot but totally worth it)

1/2 cup milk (I use 1%, cuz I’m healthy that way)

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish, along with fresh herbs if desired.

I started out with pre-cut organic butternut squash from Costco – so easy! After frying up the bacon, I scooped out most of the grease. I probably kept about 1 T of bacon grease in the pan. I added a chopped red onion and garlic and I cooked it for about 1 minute. I then added about 1 pound of cubed butternut squash. Sauté for several minutes, until soft. Add about 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes and continue cooking, until squash is soft. Once the squash is to the desired consistency, add the chopped bacon, and set aside until the rest of your pasta is ready.

While the squash is cooking, start cooking your pasta and preparing the sauce:

Cook pasta following package directions. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce: put all of the sauce ingredients into a large measuring cup and heat it in the microwave. It normally takes about 2 minutes, but you want to watch it – you don’t want any of that yummy goodness to boil over and end up in the microwave instead of on your pasta! So I normally microwave it for one minute and check it and then just let it sit until the pasta is finished and then heat it for the next minute once the cooked pasta is drained and back in the pot. Pour the completely melted and sort of bubbly sauce mixture over the top of the cooked pasta and mix well.

Add the 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and mix well. Then add the bacon and squash mixture and mix again.

When serving, we grate a bit of fresh Parmesan cheese over the top and if we are feeling particularly fancy, we add some fresh herbs such as basil or Italian parsley.

And now in honor of Thanksgiving, here are a few recipes that would be perfect to complete your delicious Thanksgiving spread!

Corn Casserole

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Crockpot Mac & Cheese

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Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin cake 1 editedFaux Banana Cream Pie

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And in case you have any leftovers…

Ham & Swiss Cheese Quiche

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Chicken Pot Pie– just substitute turkey.

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Cindy

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Easy Crockpot Lasagna Roll Ups

My Daughter and I- Easy Crockpot Lasagna Roll Ups. Click through for full recipe!

I love lasagna – it is one of my all time favorite dishes! This lasagna variation is hardly gourmet and I can barely call it homemade, but it was easy and delicious! I realized I had some ricotta cheese and a block of mozzarella that were almost passed their sell by date and I knew it was time to make something yummy! I dug through the pantry and found a box of lasagna noodles and a jar of spaghetti sauce. The recipe calls for two jars of sauce, but I had some leftover spaghetti sauce with ground beef in it, so I used it along with the jar of sauce. I threw this dish together in a matter of minutes – really! I cranked the crockpot to high and by the time we got home from church we had a delicious Sunday lunch to enjoy! I love days like that, don’t you?

My Daughter and I- Easy Crockpot Lasagna Roll Ups. Click through for full recipe!1

our growing edgeThis post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. This month is hosted by Christine and Kath over at Garden Eats.

 

 

 

Easy Crockpot Lasagna Roll Ups
Ingredients
1 box lasagna noodles
15 oz container ricotta cheese
1 16 ounce block of mozzarella cheese, grated
⅓ cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs
Italian seasoning
2 jars of spaghetti sauce

Instructions
Cook the lasagna noodles, al dente. I prefer my noodles to be firm. The noodles will cook a bit more in the crockpot. Drain and set aside.

Mix together ricotta cheese, eggs, half the shredded cheese, parmesan and 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning.

Pour one jar of spaghetti sauce in the slow cooker and turn on.

Lay the cooked lasagna noodles on a cutting board a couple at a time. Plop about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture at one end of the noodle and carefully roll up. Place the lasagna rolls in the sauce in the slow cooker vertically. Continue until the slow cooker is full, just a single layer. Don’t double stack the roll ups. The roll ups will expand a bit. I was able to use the entire box of noodles. Pour the second jar of sauce over the top of the roll ups and shake on some additional Italian seasoning. Top with the rest of the shredded cheese. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Serve with salad and bread.

I found this recipe on The Gunny Sack, and just made a few minor changes

 

Cindy

Throwback: Chicken Sausage Kebabs + Roasted Cauliflower

My Daughter and I- Chicken Sausage Kebabs + Roasted Cauliflower

So I mentioned awhile back that we were eating a bit differently lately. While I feel like I’m mostly healthy eater, I enjoy pizza, pasta and bread often! And don’t even get me started on beer!

The gym where Jordan and I work out offers these weight loss challenges on a regular basis and even though I’ve worked out there for almost three years, I’ve never taken part in one – until now. However, I didn’t do it to lose a bunch of weight. I did it to see if I could actually do it, and also to try something new with my eating. I went through a difficult period of time where I was bedridden due to chronic pain issues. After months on pain meds and more tests and doctor appointments then I care to recall, I was still in pain and my liver was damaged due to the meds. After months of pain, tests and meds; one doctor suggested that I might have an autoimmune disease. By then I was so over doctors and I decided to do something different. I started moving more – moving even though I was in agony, and you know what? It worked! I’m off all meds and feeling really well. I remember about four years ago going to my first stand up paddle board class and crying because I was able to do it. It was such a turning point for me. I started walking slowly around our house, and then eventually adding more distance and speed and after almost a year of that I got up the nerve to join a boot camp for one month on a Groupon. I was weak and so afraid to get hurt, but I kept going. It’s been the best thing for me. I love it and I feel like it has made such a huge difference in my overall health.

Over the past several months I have really increased my training. I still go to boot camp four mornings a week but I started incorporating yoga once or twice a week along with some serious hikes. Jordan and I are heading out on the JMT in July and I needed to get trail ready. We did a portion of the JMT last summer, but our goal this year is to do the whole thing. So I needed to get myself ready. One of the ways I am doing it it is by eating as healthy as I possibly can – fueling my body well for all the hard workouts. We cut all processed sugar, flour, grains, pasta, beans etc. I was a little worried if I’d be able to do it, but it was easier than I thought and the results have been amazing. I feel so much better. I don’t have the stomach aches that I had before, my energy level is higher and I’m drinking less coffee. My pain levels are much lower too. The six week challenge ends this week, but I plan to keep up a lot of the dietary changes. I will still eat pasta, bread and pizza – but just not as often as I did before the challenge.

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So with all of that said – here is a recipe I made the other day to go along with our new way of eating. We roast a lot of veggies, eat a lot of salads and grill fish and chicken. But I got it in my brain that I wanted to make kebabs but with sausage pieces. I found some amazing and delicious chicken sausages at Costco that were organic, gluten free and nitrite free. They were flavored with spinach and red peppers and were delicious.

Chicken Sausage Kebabs
1 bell pepper (any color), cut into 1″ pieces
1 red onion, cut into large pieces
1 package sausage of your choice

Thread the chicken, peppers, and onions onto water soaked wooden skewers. Spray lightly with olive oil or coconut oil spray and grill until everything is heated and has a bit of grill marks on it.

You can add any veggies you like such as squash, mushrooms etc. Because the sausage is precooked, this meal just takes minutes to heat on the grill.

Roasted Cauliflower

You can make this recipe with almost any veggie – it is definitely a favorite around here. I have made a yummy combination of cauliflower and broccoli before and we also follow this basic recipe when roasting asparagus, Brussels sprouts and even butternut squash.

I started the cauliflower first and got it roasting so everything would be ready at the same time.

1 head cauliflower, cut into chunks.
Minced garlic
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Creole seasoning
Parmesan cheese

Preheat over to 425* and put the oven rack on the upper third of the oven. Line a baking sheet with foil. Put washed, cut veggies on tray. Drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle on the garlic, seasonings of your choice, grated Parmesan cheese. Toss to cover and stick into a preheated oven. Stir veggies after about 10 minutes and keep checking on them. You want them to brown up a bit – but don’t over cook them. I usually cook mine for about 20 minutes.

 

Cindy

Throwback: Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

My Daughter and I- Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

I love using my Crockpot, don’t you? I feel so accomplished when I have dinner made before I even eat breakfast. The other day I was heading out the door at 7:00 am and since I wasn’t sure when I’d be home, I needed to find a quick and delicious meal to stick in the Crockpot. The trick was whether I had the ingredients or not. This recipe fit the bill. I found it on Taste of Home and I just made a few minor changes.

My Daughter and I- Slow Cooker Chicken Stew 1

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

Ingredients:
6 medium red potatoes, cut into chunks
2 cups diced baby carrots, diced into large pieces
Approximately 2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 large can condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted – the family size. I think it’s about 30 ounces.
Pepper
Italian seasoning

Directions:
Wash and cut potatoes and place in the bottom of your crockpot that has been sprayed with cooking oil. Next cut up the carrots and place into the crockpot on top of the potatoes. Layer the chicken over the veggies and sprinkle with a bit of pepper and Italian seasoning. Then spread the entire can of cream of chicken soup over the top of the chicken and sprinkle a bit more seasoning to taste. Cover and turn on low and cook for 6 or so hours. I then stirred the stew and broke up the chicken into bite sized pieces. I added a bit more seasoning and let it cook a bit longer.

I served in bowls as a stew, but you could thicken the sauce a bit if you prefer. I served this with steamed broccoli, salad and biscuits.

Cindy 

Throwback: Navy Bean Soup with Ham

My Daughter and I- Navy Bean Soup with Ham

I made this delicious soup the other day with the leftover ham bone and ham from Christmas. I was so excited to make it and then we had a sudden change in weather so we were enjoying bean soup after a chilly winter 89* day degrees! Crazy!

What I really liked about this soup was how creamy it tasted – but there wasn’t anything creamy in it. I’m not sure if it was just the beans or how they were cooked or what, but it was amazing and so easy!

My Daughter and I- Navy Bean Soup with Ham 1

Navy Bean Soup with Ham 

Ingredients and directions:

2 lb of dried white beans, I used navy beans
6-8 cups of water

1-2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 -5 carrots, peeled and diced in large pieces
5 stalks of celery, diced
2 -3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 ham hock, extra fat remove from the outside of the hock
4 cups of chicken stock, low sodium
2- 4 cups of water
Italian seasoning
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:
Overnight Soak: Rinse and sort the beans. Add 6-8 cups of cold water to dried beans. Let stand overnight or at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse the beans. Side Note: If you don’t have time to do an overnight soak, try the quick soak method: Rinse and sort the beans. Add 6-8 cups of water to dried beans. Bring water to a boil, boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat; cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain and rinse the beans.

I did the quick soak method and I didn’t let the beans stand for an hour – maybe 30 minutes while I got the rest of the ingredients ready.

Heat the olive oil in the pot you soaked the beans in – why make extra dishes? Add onions, carrots, & celery. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a bit. Now it’s time to get everything into the crockpot. Start with the ham hock, I would recommend removing any visible fat. Then pour the soaked and drained beans in. Next add the veggies that you had cooking, pour in the chicken broth, Italian seasoning, sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Finally add a bit more water to make sure everything is covered. I completely filled my big crockpot. Cover and cook on high for several hours to get everything bubbling along. I turned it down to low after about 4 hours. It’s better to not open the crockpot a lot while cooking, since all the heat escapes, but I would suggest stirring from time to time and try to remove the ham bits from the bone while stirring. About an hour before serving I removed the entire ham bone from the soup and let it cool a bit and removed any additional meat from the bone. I then removed the excess fat from the top of the soup, there was just a bit that I ladled off. I fished around in the soup for any excess bone bits, large pieces of meat, fat etc. Finally I added some cut up leftover ham to the soup and tasted it to see if it needed any additional seasoning. Let ham pieces heat through. We served our soup with bread and salad.

It sounds a bit labor intensive, but I promise it’s not! The soup would have been hearty and delicious without the extra ham pieces, but I had the leftovers and wanted to make it extra chunky. I’m not sure why I felt the need to sauté the veggies first. I’m sure it would have been delicious if everything was just dumped into the crockpot.

 

Cindy