Butternut Squash “Noodles” with Bacon and Goat Cheese

I love all the flavors of Fall and anytime I can put them together in a new way, I’m all about it. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a side dish on here, but this one was definitely worth it. I mean, it has bacon and goat cheese in it, so it couldn’t possibly be bad, right? We all know goat cheese is life.
 

If you are braver than I am, you can cut your butternut squash yourself and use a spiralizer to make your “noodles”. I, however, am terrified of cutting hard-skinned squashes for fear of stabbing myself. I either enlist the hubby to do it (although I still have a fear of watching, lest he also stab himself) or I just buy it precut, like these cute zig zag cut noodles from Trader Joe’s.

 

Anyway, once you get the noodles taken care of, you are on your way to a quick and easy and (most importantly) delicious side dish.

Butternut Squash “Noodles” with Bacon and Goat Cheese

1 butternut squash cut into “noodles” (or about 12 oz from a store-bought container)

4 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces

1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced

2 sprigs worth of fresh thyme, minced

Goat cheese to your heart’s content

In a skillet over medium heat, cook your bacon until crispy. Remove from skillet to a paper towel-lined plate.

 

In the same skillet with the bacon grease, add your butternut squash noodles. 


Cook until softened. Just before they are done, add the sage and thyme. You can add a little bit of salt and pepper if you want, but the bacon is pretty salty, so you shouldn’t have to. Stir to incorporate and when the squash is done, remove from the heat and transfer to your serving dish.

Add the bacon back in and the goat cheese. Since you cook the noodles in the bacon grease, you lose the orange of the squash a bit and it isn’t the prettiest dish, but it tastes really yummy!

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Pork Verde Rice Bowls

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, buy one of my absolute favorite kitchen gadgets is my slow cooker. I recommend everyone get one. I got a really nice one a couple years ago for Christmas and I still just love it.
 

I tend to use it mostly in the Fall/Winter, even though you’d think it would get a lot of use in the Summer since you can cook lots of things without heating up your kitchen, but that just isn’t how it seems to work out. Maybe because Fall/Winter is more comfort food type weather and slow cookers are good for comfort food? Who knows.

Anyway, the other day I made these delish pork verde rice bowls. I know sometimes pork gets a bad rap when it comes to nutrition, but pork tenderloin is actually a very lean source of meat. It is super tender, low in fat, low in calories, and high in protein (per 3oz serving: 120 cal, 3g fat, 22g protein). It is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as B6, B12, zinc, and iron. According the USDA, a 3oz serving of pork tenderloin is actually leaner than a skinless chicken thigh.

Now that you can eat pork guilt-free, here’s a yummy recipe that makes tons of leftovers.

 Pork Verde Rice Bowls

2 pound pork tenderloin (or if you have bad “amount” judgement, 4 pounds, hence all the leftovers)

1 jar salsa verde

½ yellow onion, diced

1 bag frozen corn

1 4oz can diced green chiles

1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Cooked rice for serving (brown or white, whatever you want)

Cheese, avocado, sour cream/plain greek yogurt for topping

 

In a slow cooker, add your tenderloin and cover with entire jar of salsa. Cook for 8 hours on low. When done, shred and let sit in the salsa juices to soak up some flavor. Add salt if needed.

 

In a skillet over medium heat, add a little olive oil, the onion, corn, green chiles, black beans, chili powder, cumin, and a little salt. Mix together and cook until completely warmed through and the corn is no longer frozen. Taste for salt and pepper.

 

In individual bowls, add some rice, then top with some pork and some of the corn mixture. Serve with whatever toppings you like.

 

Store the leftovers in the fridge and make more bowls, or wrap in a tortilla and make a burrito, wrap in a tortilla and top with enchilada sauce and cheese and bake for some yummy enchiladas, serve with eggs in the morning. The possibilities are pretty broad here.

Candy Corn Waffles

Here’s a cute little treat you can make your kids for a fun breakfast. It was actually really easy to do, although I would recommend using a squeeze bottle. I just used a spoon and while that was fine, I could see where putting the batter in a squeeze bottle would be much easier.
 

Also, thankfully these cuties don’t taste like candy corn, because that stuff is disgusting. Even if I did like it, it’s hard to imagine what it would taste like in a waffle!

All you need to do is mix up a batch of your preferred waffle mix, whether it’s store bought or homemade. I would suggest not using a whole grain recipe since you need the tip of the waffle to be really pale and whole grain batters tend to be too brown.

Once the batter is mixed up, divide it into three bowls. Leave one plain, add yellow food coloring to one, and yellow and a little red to make orange to the third bowl. I made the batters a bit brighter than I thought I’d need because the color will dull slightly when baked.

 

Set your round waffle iron on a slightly lower setting. You just want to cook these through, not brown them. My first waffle was too dark, so I turned the heat down and it was perfect.

Starting on the outside, do out an outer layer of yellow, then a layer of orange followed by filling in the middle with the plain. Close the waffle iron and cook until just done. It’ll look like a target, but when you separate into triangles they will look like little candy corns!


Autumn Steak Salad

I know salads for dinner are usually thought of as a summer thing. They are light and refreshing and rarely involve turning on an oven in the heat of the summer.
 

Fall foods are usually considered more hearty and comforting. However, there is nobody saying that you can’t enjoy a good salad in the Fall and still feel warm and full. I was looking for something that would check off all the boxes: healthy, salad, filling, hearty, full of Fall goodness, so I came up with this beauty of a dish. My husband loved it. I loved it. It definitely hit the spot.

I’ve put approximate amounts in the list below. That’s one of the things that’s so great about a salad: you have so much free reign to make it how you like. Don’t want steak? Use chicken. Or no meat at all. Change the apple, add more cranberries.

You do you, boo.

Autumn Steak Salad

1 bag mixed greens (or lettuce/greens of your choice)

1 sweet potato, cubed

Olive oil

Ground cinnamon

1 apple, diced (I used a Fuji)

½ cup dried cranberries (or more if you’d like)

½ cup chopped walnuts (or more if you’d like)

Goat cheese, crumbled

Steak cut of your choice (I used a 15oz rib eye I found at Trader Joe’s)

Maple Dijon Apple vinaigrette

Salt and pepper

Fresh sage, about 1 tablespoon, minced

Place your cubed sweet potato on a baking sheet and coat with some olive oil, salt, and cinnamon, just a sprinkle or so will be fine. Roast in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.

While the potatoes are roasting, season your steak with salt and pepper. Cook in a skillet over medium heat (I used my cast iron) until cooked to your preferred doneness. Remove and let set for about 5-10 minutes. Slice thinly.

Mix together the vinaigrette by combining equal parts olive oil and apple cider vinegar, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and ½ tablespoon of maple syrup and whisk together.

Assemble the salad: In a big bowl, add the greens, apple, cranberries, walnuts, sage, goat cheese, cooled sweet potatoes, and steak slices. Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine.

Soft Pumpkin Spice Cookies 

Call it basic if you want, but I love the wonderful Fall goodness that comes from the pumpkin spice flavor. Plus, the aroma that fills your house while you are baking anything with cinnamon and nutmeg is hard to beat. 

My mom came over for dinner the other night and I know she’s a fan of pumpkin as well, so I whipped up a batch of these cookies. I pretty much wanted to see what would happen if I added pumpkin and spices to a regular sugar cookie recipe. These turned out so soft and pillowy with a great Fall flavor anyone would love. 

Soft Pumpkin Spice Cookies

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if possible

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 cup unsalted butter, softened 

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon caramel extract (optional)

1/2 cup (canned) pumpkin puree
In a large bowl bowl, add flour, baking powder and spices. Stir with whisk to combine.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy.

Add egg, vanilla, caramel (if using), and pumpkin and beat to combine.
Scrap down the sides of your bowl with a spatula.
While the mixer is running on low, add the flour mixture, slowly.
Mix until all of the flour is incorporated, and the mixture begins to ball up and pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

When the dough has chilled, knead the dough on a lightly floured surface into a ball. Pull off about pieces of dough and roll into balls. I used about 2” balls and pressed them with a cookie press. You could do whatever size you want to make your cookies. If you don’t have a press, you can always flatten the dough balls with the bottom of a glass. 

Bake cookies in a pre-heated, 350*F oven, on ungreased baking sheets 9-11 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies.

Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken with Sage and Apples

Fall in SoCal is a finicky thing. It usually takes awhile to actually start feeling the cooler weather. Sometimes that’s October and sometimes that’s December. Usually, it begins as cold in the morning and evening but still hot in the afternoon. It’s annoying.

For me, who is obsessed with the season, Fall begins right after Labor Day. I wait patiently for the weather to cool even just slightly (I’ll take low 70s) so as to tackle my long awaited list of yummy Fall recipes: Chili, soup, roasts… pumpkin spice and everything nice.

Today is the Autumnal Equinox, which marks the first official day of Fall. I thought it would be the perfect time to share a recipe I just came up with last week. I recently started an herb garden which contains, among others, sage. Now, sage is a very Fall flavor, so I’m just looking for ways to incorporate it into my meals before Thanksgiving. Here’s one I came up with and it was super delicious!

Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken with Sage and Apples

2 chicken breasts, halved lengthwise

Fresh Sage leaves (some whole and about 1 tsp finely minced)

Thin sliced prosciutto (enough to wrap around your chicken)

1 apple, diced (whichever kind you like, just not Granny Smith. I used Fuji.)

½ diced yellow onion

½ cup low-sodium chicken stock

¼ cup Dry white wine (optional. Can use more chicken stock if you prefer)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Olive oil

Cut your chicken breasts in half lengthwise. Try to get them as much the same thickness as possible. Sprinkle with a little pepper. I wouldn’t salt them because prosciutto is pretty salty and you don’t want to over do it.

Place fresh sage leaves (the whole ones) on each piece of chicken. I used about two per piece. Wrap each chicken prosciutto. Again, I used about two to three slices per piece.

In skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. Brown each piece of chicken for about 5 minutes on each side, or until almost cooked.

 

Remove the chicken and add the onion, apple, and minced sage. Saute until just starting to soften. Add the chicken stock and wine (if using). 

 

Bring to a boil for a couple minutes and add the chicken back in. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for about 7-10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid is slightly reduced. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Serve the chicken topped with the apples and some of the cooking liquid.

 

Happy Fall!!!!!!!

The Perfectly Roasted Turkey

Let’s talk turkey!

I meant to post this back on Thanksgiving, but I got a little busy. It’s ok, you can save it for next year. Or even if you want to do a turkey for Christmas.

Roasting a turkey seems really intimidating because turkey meat tends to dry out. It really isn’t that hard though and ever since I’ve done it this way, I’ve had a perfectly roasted turkey every year.

Start with a dry brine. You can buy one, like this great one from Williams-Sonoma, or you can make your own, which is what I did this year:

1-1/2 cups of kosher salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion powder

About 4 tablespoons poultry seasoning (it was ½ of the small McCormick container of the poultry seasoning)

Mix together. Clean out your turkey (remove the neck and giblets bag) and dry the outside. Cover the whole bird with your brine. It’s OK to put it on really thick.


Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 24 hours.

Meanwhile, make your herb compound butter:

Take 1 stick of room temperature butter (you’ll want it really soft), and mix in:

2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced

Heavy pinch of salt

 

Put the butter in plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to use. The day you need it, take it out of the fridge and bring it back to room temperature. This butter could really be used on just about anything.

 

When you are ready to roast your turkey, unwrap it and rinse off all the brine. Dry it off and rub the whole thing with your compound butter. Make sure you get under the skin. This is pretty easy to do.

 

Put the bird in the roasting bag with some flour (see instructions on the roasting bags). I’ve also tried it where I put the bird in the bag and then put the butter on it. Either way works. I found them both to be about the same level of difficulty.

Put half an onion and all the herbs from one of those plastic packages at the grocery store of the Poultry blend in the cavity. Close the bag and cut a few slits in the top of the bag.

 

Roast at 350 degrees for about 2-3 hours or so depending on the size of your turkey. The roasting bag box will give you the correct instructions.

 

These roasting bags will help you immensely! You don’t have to worry about basting or anything. You just put the bird in the oven and set your timer.

Let the turkey sit for about 30 minutes before you start to carve it.

 

Now pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy your Thanksgiving or Christmas or holiday or really any day. Where is the rule that you can’t just roast a turkey whenever you feel like it? 😊