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.

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.

Cinnamon Orange Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast

This breakfast dish was inspired by the orange I had sitting on my counter and the half a tub of mascarpone cheese I had in my fridge that needed to be used. And it was a big hit.

I usually only get to make breakfasts on the weekends because I go to work so early, so when I am making my weekend dishes, I try to make it special, especially for the kids.  They loved this and now we have a new item to add to our home menu options.  Well, occasionally, anyway. Mascarpone isn’t exactly a fridge staple!

Cinnamon Orange Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast

Serves 4

5 eggs

½ cup milk or Half and Half

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

Zest and juice of an orange

4 oz mascarpone cheese

8 slices of stale bread

Butter

In a shallow dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ½ the orange zest, and 1 tablespoon of orange juice until well combined.

In another bowl, mix together the mascarpone, the rest of the orange zest, and another tablespoon of orange juice.

Spread some of the mascarpone on 4 of the slices of bread.  You want enough to taste it, but not too much that it all comes oozing out while it’s cooking.  Top each of those slices with the remaining slices.

Dip each “sandwich” into the egg mixture. Let it soak up the liquid for a few seconds on each side.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt some butter. Place the “sandwiches” into the skillet and cook until golden brown on each side.

Serve with some butter or syrup or even just as-is is really delicious!

Baked Green Bean “Fries”

I have to admit that getting my kids to eat veggies has been a struggle. When they were babies, I made their baby food, hoping that they would taste the real veggie taste and develop a love for it. They ate like crazy as babies! Then, as they grew older, they became pickier and pickier. Thankfully, my oldest (who’s 8) has started to head back to the direction of being less picky. He’s still not exactly where I’d like him to be, but he’s eating more variety of foods, is more willing to try new foods, and is willing to eat more green veggies. The youngest (4) is still a stubborn little thing, but I’m hoping she’ll take after her brother and eventually go back to eating more foods.

I’m not at all above disguising veggies. Sometimes it makes them more fun! These green bean “fries” were a big hit with my son and I can’t blame him; they are delish! He dipped them in ranch because I’m pretty sure he’ll eat a shoe if it’s dipped in ranch, but I would think the dipping possibilities here are pretty endless. Or you can eat them as-is.  They had a great crunch on the outside and they were nice and soft on the inside. The coating had a nice flavor without completely masking the green bean taste so you can still taste the veggie just enough.  Also, they are very quick to make! Great for a side dish for a meal or even just a quick snack.

Since I was just experimenting this time around, I only made a small batch—about 10-12 beans. This is very much an eyeball-it type recipe. Make however much you want and use however much coating you think is necessary for you.

I read through a bunch of recipes for green bean fries and just sort of made one that worked for me.

A dozen green beans, washed and trimmed

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup flour

1 cup panko bread crumbs

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tsp garlic salt

Heavy sprinkle of black pepper

*have fun with the seasonings here. For example, cayenne for a bit of a kick would be yum. Cajun seasoning for Cajun fries would be good too.

Make your dredging station:

1.       Beat your eggs in one dish

2.       Add flour to another

3.       Combine the panko, cheese, and seasoning in a third dish

Coat each green bean in flour, then dip in the egg, then coat in the panko mixture.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay the green beans out in a single layer. Spray the top  of the beans with a light spray of the cooking spray.

Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.

Santa Pancakes

My poor kids have been sick on and off pretty consistently for the few weeks. My son especially. I wanted to add a little brightness to their day so I made some fun pancakes this morning. It’s super easy to slice up some strawberries and bananas, throw in some blueberries for eyes and garnish with a little whipped cream and you’ve got yourself a pretty cute little St. Nick on your breakfast table!

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!