I am a self professed pasta lover. If I had to choose between giving up sweets and desserts or pasta, I would give up desserts. I have made my own raviolis but this week was the first time I had made noodles on my own. I am not sure why but there was this image in my head of a huge mess and lots of hours invested. I was so wrong. Making your own pasta is super easy. I played around with a recipe and found that adding a vegetable into the dough was super easy. My 6 year old daughter Maggie has inherited the love for carbs from me, however her love for vegetables changes daily. One day she is snacking on carrots and asking for kale for dinner. The next day she dislikes any and all produce. There is never a day that she says no to noodles though. We made pasta with roasted kabocha squash and it was a huge success. The squash taste is very mild but it adds such a beautiful fresh flavor.I don't think I will ever by store bought again.
Winter Squash Pasta
When you were a kid did you eat the mini pot pies from the freezer section? I loved those as a kid. It was not until a few years ago I even considered making chicken pot pie myself. For some reason I thought it would be a lot of work, turns out I was wrong. This is a great way to use left over turkey from Thanksgiving or produce that needs to be used before it goes bad. To make it even easier I suggest using store bought pie crust or next time you make pie make a double batch of crust and store in the freezer until you are ready.
Sometimes I crave something fresh and crisp. Salads check all of the boxes but lets face it, regular green salads can be boring. Salads can be so exciting and not just that mix in a bag with ranch dressing on top. This is the perfect winter salad that can fix that craving.
I have a love for all food cheesy and gooey. Potatoes au gratin is definitely on the top of the list. Sometimes it is fun to mix things up though and put a twist on our favorites. Butternut squash is so diverse and is in abundance this time of year. Try this recipe in place of your potato dish for Thanksgiving this year.
What is Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce. Perfect side and a must for leftover turkey sandwiches the next day. This year lets ditch the can (which has 105 grams of sugar) and go with fresh delicious homemade pomegranate cranberry sauce. This is a super simple recipe that will impress everyone and take some of the stress off of you.
12 oz fresh cranberries
1/2 c fresh pomegranate juice
1/2 c water
1/2 c brown sugar
Bring all of the ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes
Mash all ingredients together and allow to cool for one hour.
This can be made the day of or the day before.
Both of my parents were self employed when I was growing up. I am pretty sure every child labor law was broke because I started working for them as soon as I started asking for new toys. When I was in high school and finally old enough to start working my first job was at a pizza place. I have been a little picky about how pizza should taste since then. One thing I have learned over the years is almost every pizza dough recipe is basically the same. It is also super easy to make. A few tips, make sure you knead the dough long enough. If when you roll it out and it wants to shrink back then it was not kneaded long enough. Once it is rolled out use a fork to puncture holes throughout it. This will eliminate those big air bubbles. And even though it is really easy to make, it can be very messy, especially if kids are helping. This recipe makes enough dough for several pizzas. If you are only having one the rest can be put in the freezer for another night.
2 cups warm water
1 package of yeast (this equals about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 tbs salt
5 cups flour (I like to use half all purpose and 1/2 Llano Seco spelt flour)
1. In a large bowl mix the water with the yeast and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
2. Add in 2 1/2 cups of the flour to the water and yeast mixture. Mix together for several minutes. If you have a Kitchen Aid you can use a dough hook to make it easier.
3. Now add the remaining flour and salt. Sprinkle a little flour onto a surface place the dough on it and start kneading until it is smooth.
4. Form the dough into a ball and place back into a bowl. Cover the top with a damp kitchen towel and let sit for 20 minutes or until it rises.
5. Splt dough into 2 - 3 balls, depending on the size of the pizza you are making. Roll out on a floured surface and use whichever toppings you desire. Brush olive oil around the edges and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
I do not go to coffee shops very often. I drink my coffee black and other than a chai tea as a treat once in awhile I am not a big fan of lattes or mochas. When my mom came to visit over the summer she walked in the door with this pink Starbucks drink. I took a sip and it was not love at first taste. To be honest, I really did not know if I liked it or not. So I took another sip and then I was hooked. It was not over the top sweet and had such a refreshing crisp flavor. I turned to the first place I could think of, Pinterest, and started to look for copycat recipes. To my surprise they were all different. Extremely different. I decided to try on my own and see what I came up with. I have not tried side by side but I think what I came up with is pretty darn close.
4 hibiscus tea bags
4 green tea bags
7 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 cups very cold water
1 cup berries (I used fresh blackberries but any combo fresh or frozen will work)
1.) In a pot on the stove boil 6 cups of water and add the tea bags. Remove from heat. Let the tea steep for about 30 minutes. I like to add some of the berries to the tea as it steeps.
2.) In another pot boil 1 cup of water and then add the 1 cup of sugar. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat.
3.) Remove the tea bags and pour into pitcher. Add the sugar water and mix together. Add the rest of the berries into the tea. Add the ice cold water and mix together then store in the fridge.
I cannot think of a single person that does not love mac and cheese. I don't mean the yellow powder in a packet type of macaroni and cheese either. Real mac and cheese is very easy to make and it does not take much more effort to take it up a level. My step son thinks that butternut squash mac and cheese is the best dinner ever and I usually need to make a larger batch when he is here. The best thing about this dish is that everyone can have it. Jake has to have meat with every dinner so I add in bacon. If you are a vegetarian you can leave out the bacon. If you are vegan, guess what, you do not even need to add the cheese and it still has that mac and cheese taste.
Pasta (Your choice, we like penne but you can go traditional macaroni)
1 medium butternut squash
bacon cut into pieces (we LOVE Llano Seco bacon)
2 tbs butter
1/2 tbs flour
2 cups of milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
panic bread crumbs (you can use regular as well)
1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice squash in half, drizzle olive oil on it and roast in oven. One helpful tip is to place whole squash in microwave first for about 5 minutes to make it softer and roast quicker.
2.) while squash is in the oven cook your bacon and pasta.When completed place bacon on paper towels to drain grease.
3.) Remove squash from oven. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add garlic and onion and sauté for several minutes. Add the 1/2 tbs of flour and mix with butter. Traditionally you would use equal parts butter and flour but the squash is so thick it will help thicken the sauce as well. Add the milk and whisk into the rue. Make sure the milk does not come to a hard boil and burn it. Keep it at a low boil for a couple minutes to thicken up.
4.) Scoop out the squash and place into a blender. Add the milk mixture. Blend together and return to saucepan. Heat it up again and then add both cheeses stirring until it is melted.
5.) Mix the pasta, cheese sauce and bacon together. Save a little bacon to sprinkle over the top. Pour into the casserole dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the top and the remaining bacon and place in the oven for 15 minutes just to get it nice and crispy on the top.
When I was a kid we had green beans one way, out of a can baked in the oven with cheese melted over them. Fresh green beans far exceed canned beans and healthier since canned veggies tend to have a lot of sodium in them. We have been receiving beautiful multi colored beans the last few weeks and I wanted to experiment with different recipes. All three are delicious. My sweet 5 year old who is a self proclaimed green bean hater had not one, but two large helpings and now loves them.
For all three recipes start with washing your green beans, trimming the ends then blanching them. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add green beans for 3 minutes then place into a bowl of ice water.
Lemon Butter Garlic Green Beans
2 tbs butter
1/2 a lemon
Grated parmesan cheese
Melt the butter in a sauté pan. Add the garlic for 30 seconds then juice the lemon into the butter with garlic. Add the green beans and cook for about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and zest lemon over the top and add parmesan cheese.
Bacon Green Beans
Bacon cut into pieces
Cook bacon then drain almost all of the grease. Add garlic and green beans to the bacon and cook about 4 minutes. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, mix together then remove from heat.
Spicy Green Beans
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbs chili sauce
1/2 tsp honey (can use sugar)
crushed red pepper
Mix together soy sauce, rice vinegar, chili sauce and honey in a small bowl.
Add green beans, garlic and crushed red pepper to a pan and cook for about 4 minutes. Stir in sauce and and mix together with green beans. When sauce is heated all the way through remove from heat.
Remember how I mentioned I love food because it brings back memories or some feel good emotion? This is not one of those. I have no emotional connection to this recipe at all. This was a way to get my sweet and precocious 5 year old to eat zucchini without making a face or gagging noise. Plus I was kind of tired of grilled squash too. This recipe was perfect. Only problem was I could not stop eating them. Even Maggie ate more than one which makes this a family success.
2 cups grated zucchini
1/4 cup feta (more or less depending on your love of feta)
2 cloves garlic
Couple green onions chopped up
Fresh thyme and rosemary minced. (with fresh herbs it can be overwhelming if you use too much so just a little goes a long ways)
1 egg whisked
salt and pepper
Flour (you can use whole wheat, almond or whatever type of flour you tend to cook with)
After grating the zucchini place it between paper towels and try to get all of the moisture out. Or as much as possible. This will help with forming the balls.
Mix the zucchini, feta, garlic, onions, egg, herbs and salt and pepper together in a bowl.
Next add breadcrumbs and some flour. Start with about 1/4 cup each and keep adding until you can form balls that stay together.
Roll balls in flour to lightly dust the outside of them.
Fry in some oil until outside is golden on all sides and inside is warm. This should only take a couple minutes on each side.
Place on paper towels and sprinkle with additional salt and pepper if wanted.
These can be ate alone or dipped in a tzatiki sauce. (mix greek yogurt, shredded cucumber, lemon juice, diced tomatoes, red onion and garlic together.)