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.

Instant Pot Pot Roast

This one was a big time winner! But then, every recipe I’ve found on Damn Delicious is a winner.

It tasted like it’d been cooking all day, but it only took about an hour total.  It was PHENOMENAL. I will make this all the time, seriously. It turns a weekend meal that takes a long time and makes it a weeknight meal.

The meat was tender and fell apart. The veggies were the perfect texture, and the gravy that it makes was spot on.

https://damndelicious.net/2018/04/12/instant-pot-pot-roast/

I made a few changes:

  • I used brisket because we had one in the freezer that needed to be used
  • I was not able to add wine to mine because I accidentally bought a cork bottle instead of screw too and I misplaced my wine opener. I used extra beef stock.
  • I added a ton of thyme and no rosemary because I didn’t have any
  • I only set my IP for 40 minutes based on other things I read about cooking brisket in the IP. If I had used the chuck roast, I would have done what the recipe says.
  • I didn’t shred it. I just cut it up as usual. It sort of falls apart itself anyway.

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.

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.

Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats

I will use any excuse to use my Instant Pot, especially in the summer when I don’t particularly want to turn on my oven. This can easily be made in the oven if you don’t have an Instant Pot.

Note: I tried out a lactose-free cream cheese for this. I didn’t love it. I would just stick with a regular cream cheese next time. Or the Greek yogurt cream cheese I sometimes find at Sprouts.

Serves 4

5 small boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you can also use a couple chicken breasts instead, that’s up to your preferences)

1 bottle of your favorite buffalo sauce (I like Frank’s)

2 medium carrots, grated

2 green onions, chopped

4 oz cream cheese

8 large zucchini (you need to be able to cut them in half and scoop out the inside while leaving enough space for the filling)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

parmesan or blue cheese for topping

In an Instant Pot, add your chicken and half a bottle of the buffalo sauce. Set to manual and cook for about 15 minutes or until done. Quick release.

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, cook the chicken with the buffalo sauce using your preferred method.

Meanwhile, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the inside, leaving enough of a border to support the chicken filling.  Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. Put in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes to start the cooking.

When the chicken is done, put it in a bowl and shred it. Add the grated carrot, green onion, cream cheese and more buffalo sauce, depending on how hot you like things.

Spoon the chicken filling into the hollowed out zucchini. I topped mine with some grated parmesan cheese, but you can use blue cheese crumbles if you’d prefer.  I cannot stand blue cheese, so that’s why I used parm.   Bake for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and gooey.

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.