Sausage & Apple Stuffed Squash

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This dish just screams fall to me! The squash, the apples, the herbs. Made me want to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a glass of wine, which is exactly what I did right after eating this 🙂 For the presentation that you get with a stuffed squash, the prep and hands-on time is relatively easy. This makes a great dish on it’s own for dinner, or as a side dish for a dinner party. You could even use a roasted acorn squash to serve your Thanksgiving stuffing, if you really want to get crazy! The other great thing about this recipe, you can easily change up the ingredients that you put inside to tailor it to your own diet or tastes. Add some grains, like cooked rice or quinoa, remove the dairy, change the meat to chicken sausage or add beans for protein instead. The possibilities are endless. So get creative and let me know if you try any substitutions. I’d love to hear about it!!

Sausage & Apple Stuffed Squash
3 Acorn squash
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
1 lb ground pork sausage
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled & diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 Tbsp rosemary, chopped
1 Tbsp thyme, chopped
1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare squash by cutting 1 1/2″ off top and use a spoon to scrape out seeds. (If you want to keep the squash tops for decorative purposes, set them aside until step 5, otherwise, discard them.) Once the inside is clean, cut approximately 1/2″ off the bottom to create a flat surface, trying not to puncture through the bottom of squash into center opening, if possible. (If you do puncture, it will still work, you’ll just need to use a non-slotted spatula when moving the squash from baking sheet to plate to avoid losing the filling.)
2. Use a brush to coat inside of squash in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Place squash on baking sheet and roast in oven for 1 hour.
3. While squash is roasting, prepare the filling. In a skillet or deep frying pan, brown the sausage over medium heat until no pink remains, approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once browned, remove sausage to a plate using a slotted spoon, leaving grease in frying pan.
4. Add onion and celery to frying pan and cook until they begin to soften, approximately 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add apple, cook an additional 3 minutes. Add cooked sausage, herbs, 1/2 cup cheese and salt & pepper to taste, stir to combine and remove from heat.
5. When squash is finished roasting, remove baking sheet from oven. Spoon the filling equally into the squash and sprinkle with remaining cheese. (If you are serving with squash tops, place tops on baking sheet at this point.) Place baking sheet back in oven and roast for an additional 15 minutes. When finished, remove from oven and serve.

Enjoy!

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Sausage & Spinach Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Puree

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I’m on day 4 of being sick in bed…I am NOT good at being sick like this. I am bored out of my mind and want so badly to get up and leave the house but am such a mess and exhausted that all I can do is lie in bed. So ready for this sickness to be done!

Normally, when I get a cold, I just power through, continue working and kick it in about a day and a half. I have been going going going for the last few months, so when I started feeling sick, I decided to spend the day relaxing and resting. If possible, this made things worse? Either this is the worst cold I’ve ever had or stopping to rest just allows the cold to settle in and get comfortable for the long haul!

Lucky for me, I had some of these stuffed shells leftover in the fridge! This recipe does take a little time, however, the look and the flavors will make you feel like you should open your own restaurant! When I think of puréed squash, I can’t help but think of baby food. Not this time. I was eating it by the spoonful!

Sausage & Spinach Stuffed Shells w/ Butternut Squash Purée
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 onion, sliced
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 pound sausage
2 cups spinach (could also substitute kale)
3 cloves garlic
1 pound jumbo shells, cooked al dente
15 ozs ricotta
1 egg
1/4 cup Parmesan, shredded, plus more for topping
Olive oil
salt & pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange onion and butternut squash in an even layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 50 minutes.
    2. While vegetables roast, cook sausage in a frying pan over medium heat. When sausage is mostly browned, add spinach and garlic.Cook until spinach is wilted and remove from heat.
    3. Cook pasta to package directions. To keep shells from sticking together, add the to boiling salted water one at a time. After draining pasta, toss with a tablespoon of olive oil.
    4. When vegetables are finished roasting, place them in a food processor. Pulse until a smooth purée forms. Allow to cool, then stir in milk and vegetable broth. Pour butternut squash sauce into the base of a 9×13 baking dish.
    5. In a large mixing bowl, stir together, ricotta, Parmesan and egg. Add sausage and spinach into ricotta mixture and stir until well mixed. Fill cooked pasta shells with 3-4 tablespoons of filling. Arrange shells in butternut squash sauce in the 9×13 baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, covered with foil, followed by 15 minutes uncovered.
    6. When dish is finished baking, carefully spoon shells along with butternut squash sauce into bowls and top with additional Parmesan.

* Original recipe from Completely Delicious

Squash Egg-in-the-Hole

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I’m beginning to feel like the struggle of juggling the many things I have to do will never go away. No matter how much a plan and schedule, something will always come up to throw things off track or derail the progress. This is just something I’m working on dealing with right now. Trying not to be overwhelmed by all the things I expect myself to get done and not getting frustrated when things don’t go as planned.

One thing I got used to this summer, while not working, was having delicious and healthy food all the time. I had so much time for meal prep and cooking that I made breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. As you probably guessed by my above rant, I have not been keeping up on this lately. The search continues for things that are quick and easy to prepare but are still filling and healthy…enter Squash Egg-in-the-Hole. So delicious, so filling and so fast! It took me 30 minutes to prepare this, I could make a dozen and it would serve as breakfast for an entire week for the two of us. This is a great weekday breakfast for busy mornings that you can make ahead of time, pop in the microwave and eat before running out the door.

Squash Egg-in-the-Hole
Makes 4 servings
1 large acorn squash
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
cooking spray
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
2. Trim off about 1/2 inch from each end of the squash; discard. Slice remaining midsection of squash crosswise into 4 (3/4 inch thick) rounds. Remove seeds and membrane with spoon.
3. Brush both side of squash with oil, and place on baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and crushed red pepper. Bake at 425ºF for 15 minutes or until squash is fork tender.
4. Remove baking sheet from oven. Crack an egg into the center of each squash slice; sprinkle eggs with remaining salt. Return pan to oven, reduce oven temperature to 350° and bake for 12 minutes or until eggs are cooked. Transfer to plates using a spatula; sprinkle with thyme and bacon. Serve immediately.

Original recipe from Cooking Light.

Bacon Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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By now you know that I don’t love veggies, but, they are very necessary for a healthy diet. When you only eat a handful of different vegetables, eating them can get old real fast. I needed to try some new side dishes to keep simple weeknight dinners interesting. Cue the bacon! I know, I know, it takes away a bit of the healthy edge. Let’s be honest though, getting my husband to eat brussels sprouts…I had to bring out the big guns.

By sautéing the brussels sprouts in the bacon drippings, you get amazing flavor and don’t forget to add in the leaves that fall off the brussel sprouts when you slice them in half. These leaves roast up to a nice crispy brown, my favorite part of this side dish!

Bacon Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 lb fresh brussels sprouts, stems removed and halved
8 slices thick cut bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/2″ pieces
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Cook bacon in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until mostly cooked but not browned, about 7-8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon from frying pan and set bacon aside.
2. Add brussels sprouts to frying pan and bacon drippings. Sprinkle with desired amount of salt and pepper and sauté until lightly browned, about 12 minutes.
3. Transfer brussels sprouts and cooked bacon to a 11×8 baking dish, mix to combine and roast until tender, about 15 minutes.

BLT Pizza

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I LOVE BLT’s, I mean LOVE them! So when I saw this recipe for BLT Pizza on the cover of last months Cooking Light I had to try it out. And it was delicious! The key is the mayonnaise based white sauce rather than the usual red pizza sauce.

BLT Pizza
1 pound ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced chives
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 bacon slices, cut into 1-inch pieces
16 ozs fresh pizza dough
1 Tbsp cornmeal
2 ozs shredded mozzarella cheese
Cooking spray
1 cup arugula

1. Preheat oven to 400°F
2. Arrange tomato slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet; sprinkle with oregano and pepper. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or until tomatoes are no longer wet. Remove tomatoes from oven and increase temperature to 500°F.
3. Combine mayonnaise, oil, chives and garlic in a small bowl.
4. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp; drain on paper towels.
5. Using well-floured hands, pat pizza dough into a 10-inch circle. Place pizza dough on a pizza stone or baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Bake at 500°F for 5 minutes.
6. Carefully remove pizza crust from oven. Brush mayonnaise mixture over crust, leaving a 1-inch border; top with tomatoes and bacon. Top with cheese; coat crust edge with cooking spray. Bake 8 minutes or until cheese melts and crust browns. Top with arugula and cut into 8 slices.

Bourbon-Peach Pulled Pork Sliders

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I was working on a project yesterday so I didn’t want to spend much time on dinner so I made this pulled pork in the crockpot. Actual time in the kitchen was about 20 minutes but I slow cooked the meat all afternoon and it came out delicious!

Bourbon-Peach Pulled Pork Sliders
Makes 16 sliders
For the Pork
2 tsp smoked Paprika
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 (3 1/2 pound) boneless pork shoulder roast
1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup molasses
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup peach preserves
2 cups sliced onions
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup bourbon
2 Tbsp cold water
2 tsp cornstarch
For the coleslaw
1 1/2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
1/8 tsp kosher salt
2 cups cabbage-and-carrot coleslaw
1/4 sliced red onion
16 slider buns

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Combine paprika, 1/2 tsp salt and black pepper; rub evenly over pork. Add pork to pan; cook 10 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Place pork in 6-quart slow cooker.
2. Add next 8 ingredients (through garlic) to slow cooker, pouring over pork as you add them. Stir and turn pork to coat in mixture, cover and cook on low 4 1/2 hours or until pork is very tender.
3. Remove pork from slow cooker and shred meat with 2 forks. Remove onions from slow cooker using slotted spoon and add to pork. Transfer liquid to a sauce pan, heat on medium-high heat, add bourbon and bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until mixture is reduced to about 1 1/2 cups.
4. Combine 2 Tbsp water and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk; add cornstarch mixture to sauce, stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in remaining salt. Drizzle sauce over pork; toss gently to coat.
To make the coleslaw:
5. Combine mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add coleslaw and onion; toss well to combine.
6. Divide pork evenly among bottom halves of buns; top each slider with 2 heaping Tbsp slaw and top half of bun.

Pancetta Wrapped Pork Tenderloin w/ Cantaloupe & Red Pepper Salsa

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You wouldn’t normally think of cantaloupe for a salsa but it was so light and refreshing. This is a great meal for a summer night when you don’t want to turn on the oven because your house already feels like one, which is every night for me these days. It was also a pretty quick dish to prepare for a weeknight meal (20 minutes to prep and 25 minutes on the grill). I got this recipe from the new July issue of Cooking Light, it’s got tons of great summer recipes and I’m sure you’ll see a few more posted here soon.

Pancetta Wrapped Pork Tenderloin w/ Cantaloupe & Red Pepper Salsa

For the Salsa
1 cup finely chopped fresh cantaloupe
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 Tbsp finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp kosher salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well. Cover and chill while you prep and cook the pork

For the Pork
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
cooking spray or oil for the grill

1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
2. Pat pork tenderloin dry with paper towels.
3. Sprinkle pork evenly with salt and pepper. Wrap pork in pancetta, with slices slightly overlapping.
4. Place pork on grill rack coated with cooking spray; cover. Grill 22-25 minutes or until a thermometer registers 170°F, turning occasionally to brown all sides.
5. Slice and plate the pork and top with salsa before serving.

Slow-Cooked BBQ Pork Spare Ribs

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On Tuesday, I had a late afternoon appointment downtown, my husband, however, was off work that day so I told him that morning that he was in charge of dinner that night. He leaves for the grocery store around noon to scour for both lunch and dinner fixings. He returns with a full rack of pork spare ribs, a pork spice rub and BBQ sauce for dinner. Mind you, he loves to do this, pretends like he can’t manage to make a piece of toast and then out of nowhere whips up lamb chops or lobster so tasty I think he might have been a chef in another life. I just shake my head at him and get ready to head out. Boy was I wrong to doubt him!

I asked him if I could share his recipe for these oh-so-delicious ribs, he was pretty excited that he’d made the cut for the blog 🙂 It is unbelievably simple to get these fall-off-the-bone ribs, the key is the slow-cooking, which makes them perfect for your summer weekend BBQ.

Now, if you have a favorite pork rub and BBQ sauce, by all means use those. I included a link to what my hubby used, both of which are our favorites so if you can find these at your grocery store, I highly recommend them. The pork rub may be a bit harder to find for those of you not in the Northwest as it is Rub with Love Pork Rub by Tom Douglas (a famed chef in the Seattle area) but it can be ordered on his website. The BBQ sauce is Stubbs Hickory Bourbon sauce.

Slow-Cooked BBQ Pork Spare Ribs
1 rack pork spare ribs
1/2 cup pork rub
1 cup BBQ sauce

1. Rub entire rack of ribs with pork rub, front and back. Double wrap in foil and refrigerate for 5 hours to allow the flavors to blend.
2. Prep a grill and set heat to low. Place foil covered ribs on grill and allow them to slow-cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, turning once at the 40 minute mark.
3. Open foil, slather ribs with 2/3 cup BBQ sauce, close foil and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes.
4. Remove ribs from the grill, place on a large cutting board and cut ribs apart between the bones.
5. Drizzle with remaining BBQ sauce and serve immediately.