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.

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.

No Kitchen Dinner: Microwave Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Bolognase

While perusing the aisles at Trader Joe’s, I came across these two items and I immediately grabbed them. They must be new-ish because I hadn’t seen them before and they are perfect for cooking without a stove/oven.

You just microwave the Spaghetti Squash in the bag and shred it, per the package instructions. I added some garlic salt and a little ghee to give it more flavor.  Then you microwave the Turkey Bolognase and top the spaghetti squash.

Done.  A healthy and delicious dinner ready in minutes.

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.

Peach, Tomato, and Burrata Caprese

This has been a very hot summer here in Southern California.  I made this for dinner one night when I really didn’t want to cook and I just craved something refreshing. Peaches this time of year are usually pretty spot on, so I took advantage of the delicious peach season and made this yummy salad for myself.

Note: this served one as a main course. You can double it and make two salads. Serve with a glass of wine and you’ve got a really light dinner. Or you can leave it as is and it can be a side dish.

½ of a big heirloom tomato, sliced in half moons

½ to 1 whole peach, depending on size, sliced in half moons

4-5 pieces of prosciutto

1 ball buratta

Balsamic glaze for drizzling

Fresh basil, minced, for topping

You can really just chop everything up and eat it like that, but I liked the look of the circle.

Just alternate the tomato, peach, and prosciutto around a plate until the circle is complete. Place the burrata in the middle and drizzle the balsamic glaze and sprinkle the fresh basil over the top.

Eat the fruits with the buratta and feel like you are in heaven for a few moments.

Roasted Veggie and Goat Cheese Pasta

This dish makes a lot, which is good because it I makes for GREAT leftovers.  This is a good recipe to have on hand because it uses mostly pantry staples so you can make it anytime. I mean, I don’t usually have prosciutto just lying around, but this pasta is still really yummy without it too. The prosciutto was an added bonus this time around.

It all comes together really quickly, so it makes a good weeknight meal even when you’re busy.

Roasted Veggie and Goat Cheese Pasta

1 each red, orange, yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced

1 large zucchini, sliced

1 medium shallot, sliced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

Olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped

Goat cheese

4 oz package prosciutto, cut or torn into small pieces *optional

1 box small pasta, like penne or small shells

2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

*Note: Prosciutto is a bit salty on its own, so if you are using it, you can go easy on the salt on the roasted veggies.

Toss the bell peppers, zucchini, shallot, and garlic in a couple tablespoons of olive oil and salt & pepper. Roast in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until tender and a little caramelized on the edges.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, crisp up the prosciutto if you are using it and cook your pasta per package directions. I like using Banza chickpea pasta for this, but you can use any pasta you like.

When the pasta is done, drain and put it in a large bowl. Add the prosciutto and the veggies. Use any of the oil that comes off during roasting as well. That’s lots of flavor!

In a small bowl, whisk together a tablespoon of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Pour over the pasta mixture and toss.

Finally, add some crumbled goat cheese (as much or as little as you want; there are no rules here!) and the fresh herbs. Toss again and serve.

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.