Pasta with Butternut Squash, Pancetta, and Goat Cheese

The kitchen is more or less done! And by more, I mean construction and by less, I mean I need to finish putting everything away!

I am able to use it and for the first time in a long time, we had a real life home cooked meal. It was glorious. And delicious!

Pasta with Butternut Squash, Pancetta, and Goat Cheese

1 8oz box short pasta (I used Banza Rotini)

1 small to medium Butternut squash, cut into bit sized pieces (I used the Zig Zag precut from Trader Joe’s, which is 12 oz)

4 oz pancetta, diced

1-2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced

1 tablespoon fresh chives, minced

2-4 oz goat cheese depending on preference

Salt to taste

¼ tsp Cinnamon

Olive oil

Cook your pasta per package directions.

In a skillet over medium heat, add a little olive oil, the pancetta, and the butternut squash. You just want to make sure your squash is small enough so it cooks quickly and it’s bite size which makes it easier to eat.  Add a little salt and saute until the pancetta is crispy and the squash is soft with a little caramelization on the outside, about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.  I sprinkled a little bit of cinnamon in the last 5 minutes.

In a bowl, just toss together the cooked pasta, the squash mixture, goat cheese and herbs. Make sure to add the cheese while it’s still hot so it gets all melty and creamy and coats everything in goat cheese glory.

Done! Super tasty, super easy, and very fast to put together. The hubs had seconds and even the kids liked it, so I call this a real winner.

Easy Peasy Pumpkin Pancakes

This whole not being able to cook and bake thing is really starting to get to me. TBH, it’s making me a little bit sad. I love this time of year and the foods are so great, but I can’t do anything.  I decided to easy my blues by making Pumpkin Pancakes for breakfast.  It is super easy, because it starts with a base of pancake mix.  These turned out so fluffy and packed with flavor. It was just what the doctor ordered to get my Fall baking fix in!

Start with one of those “Just add water” pancake mixes.  Use however much of the dry mix the package directions say to use, I used 2 cups.  Then add ¼ to ½ can of pumpkin puree (you can eye ball this), 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice (or a mix of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger to equal 1 tablespoon), 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and finally milk of your choice. I used almond milk. Add a little at a time to get the right pancake consistency.  You can’t really use the package directions for this because of the addition of the pumpkin puree.  You’ll have to start with a little and add stir until it is right.

Melt some butter on a griddle and cook your pancakes as usual.

No Kitchen Dinner: Microwave Pasta

So, they make microwavable pastas and they are really good. Bird’s Eye has these veggie pastas that are really good. Perfect to keep on hand for a quick healthy meal.

I did discover though, that you can make any pasta in the microwave.  The texture wasn’t my favorite, but maybe I tried to make too much? I don’t know, but it worked and it’s worth having a new trick in your cooking arsenal.

Put your pasta in a microwave-safe bowl and cover it with water. Make sure the water is higher than the pasta by about an inch. Cover with a plate and put a plate underneath in case of spillage. Add 3-4 minutes to the suggested cooking time and microwave. Check for desired doneness.  I would suggest cooking by the serving. I did the whole package and it took forever. I think there was just too much pasta.

Then add whatever sauce you want. I love this Autumn Harvest sauce from Trader Joe’s.

No Kitchen Dinner: Rotisserie Chicken with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

Grocery stores have such great options for when you can’t cook! This one almost made me feel like I wasn’t drowning in clutter around my house and things were back to normal.

Chicken: Grocery story rotisserie chickens are my jam, whether I have a kitchen or not. They are so insanely versatile, I buy them all the time. My favorite is when Pavilions has their $5 Friday specials, otherwise, the ones at Costco are my go-to because they are much bigger than the other ones. 

Sweet Potatoes: Trader Joe’s to the rescue again! Seriously, if you don’t have a TJs near you, you should move to where there is one and live happily ever after. I found these in the frozen section. They are little gems of mashed sweet potatoes that you cook in the microwave. You just take out however many discs you need (12 discs is 2 servings) and heat ‘em up for a few minutes.  I then add a little ghee and a touch of maple syrup. Perfection. I’ll buy these to keep on hand anyway!

Brussels Sprouts: I’ve been using my Instant Pot a lot as a substitute for my skillet, which has been met with mixed reviews. The saute function on the IP isn’t really meant for long-term cooking; more so for browning or thickening up a sauce at the end. I’ve made it work, but it isn’t ideal because you can’t control the heat. I made my usual brussels sprouts by sauteing bacon in a little bit of olive oil and adding chopped leeks and a little minced garlic. Add the brussels sprouts and cook until softened and browned to your liking.

Sweet Potato Potato Salad  

I always like finding ways to incorporate healthier choices into my cooking, especially for holidays and special occasions. This potato salad is perfect to bring to summer BBQs and a few simple swaps helped increase the nutrition a little bit.

4 medium sweet potatoes

5 slices (6oz) bacon, chopped

1 cup thawed peas

2 green onions, chopped

2-4 tablespoons honey mustard

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1 tablespoon greek yogurt

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

Peel and dice the sweet potatoes and then boil them in salted water until they are fork tender. It doesn’t matter what size you dice them, just make them even.

In a skillet, cook the bacon until crispy.

In a small bowl, mix together the honey mustard, cider vinegar, honey, greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper. I actually just did this right in the measuring cup.

In a large bowl, add your cooked sweet potatoes, crispy bacon, thawed peas, and chopped green onions. Season with salt and pepper and pour as much dressing over the top as you’d prefer.  I used all of it. Taste to see if you need to add anything.

Let it cool in the fridge for a couple hours and taste it again. The longer this sits, the better the flavors are.

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

My husband is not a huge sweets fan, but for a special occasion, he will indulge a little bit. He does like chocolate and peanut butter, so I made this cheesecake for his birthday this year. Since his birthday is in August and it is super-hot in August, I’ve been avoiding using my oven as much as possible. This dessert is perfect for that because you don’t need to use an oven at all.

1 16 oz package of peanut butter sandwich cookies

1 stick of butter, melted

3 8 oz blocks of cream cheese, room temp

1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Splash of lemon juice

½ cup peanut butter, melted

8 oz chocolate chips, melted

peanut butter chips and chocolate syrup for garnish

In a food processor, crush the peanut butter cookies until they are turned into crumbs. With the processor still on, drizzle in the melted butter until all is combined and looks like wet sand.

Press into the bottom and up the sides of a springform pan and put in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to set.

Wash out the food processor and add the cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and lemon juice.  Process until smooth.

Divide the batter into thirds. Mix the melted chocolate into one third, mix the melted peanut butter into another third, and leave the last third plain.

Take the crust out of the fridge and start layering the filling. I just did a big scoop of each filling on top of the other over and over until it was all used up. Then, take a knife and swirl it all around and smooth it out until it fills up the crust.

Decorate with the peanut butter chips and chocolate drizzle.

Let it sit in the fridge for 4 hours to overnight to set.

Boozy Peach Pie

I love it when peaches are in season! I love walking into the produce section and their sweet aroma just hits you right in the nose. Summer peaches are perfection.

This pie can be made with frozen peaches too, but nothing beats a fresh summer peach.  Save this recipe to bring to your summer BBQs!  Don’t worry about the vodka; the alcohol cooks out so it remains kid-friendly!

8 peaches, peeled and sliced thin

¾ cup brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

¼ to ½ teaspoon each ground cloves, ground nutmeg, allspice

2 tablespoons lemon juice

½ cup ice cold peach vodka*

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Double crust pie dough, store bought or homemade:

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup butter, cold and cubed

8-10 tablespoons ice cold peach vodka**

*Can use unflavored vodka. I used Deep Eddy’s Peach vodka. Pinnacle also makes a really good peach vodka. No matter what you use, make sure it is ice cold.

**You can just use ice water here. The vodka make the crust really flaky.

In a large bowl, add your sliced peaches, both sugars, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, lemon juice, vodka, and cornstarch. Mix well and let sit for 10 minutes or so.

If making your own pie crust, combine the flour, salt, and butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Slowly add the vodka until it all comes together to form a ball of dough.

Cut the dough in half and roll it out and place in a pie dish as the bottom of the pie. Pour the peaches into the pie plate, careful not to add too much of the liquid. Set aside.

For the top, you can just roll it out and lay it on the peaches. Cut some vents in the top for steam to escape. You can also cut the rolled dough into strips and make a lattice top. Either way, brush the top with an egg wash to make sure your crust is nice a golden brown after baking.

Loosely cover with foil and bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes.

Serve warm or cold, with ice cream or whipped cream. Or however you want.  It will be good no matter how you eat it.