So am I posting regularly now? I don’t know… Not regularly enough to use a real camera to photograph dinner tonight, apparently. All we have is this Instagram shot. But this is a tasty dish, no matter how blurry or dark it may look. Several people on Facebook asked for the recipe after seeing said Instagram shot, so I figured I’d post it here for the good of all.
It came from Williams-Sonoma’s One Pot cookbook, which has some real gems if you’re looking for meals that are quick but unique. When my mother-in-law first sent it to me (she got it out of the clearance bin at Deseret Book), this was one of the first recipes that caught my eye. But Husband said he didn’t like squash, & besides, winter squash was out of season. So when the southern-hemisphere stuff started showing up in my grocery store, I ignored my husband & made it anyway. Everyone — including him — loved it (ha! So there!), though I will say that (Almost) One-Year-Old preferred gnawing the raw squash to the cooked, seasoned stuff. It takes less than 30 minutes start to finish & only dirties a pasta pot, a cutting board, & a baking sheet, plus some assorted utensils.
- 2 lbs. butternut or other winter squash, peeled, seeded, & cut into small (1/2-inch) cubes
- 1 large yellow onion, halved & thinly sliced on a mandoline
- 4 strips thick-cut bacon (though I used regular and it was just fine)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage (I used scant 1/2 Tbsp. rubbed sage)
- salt & pepper
- 1 lb. pasta: rigatoni, farfalle, or other chunky shape
- 1/2 cup parmesan, freshly grated (or… not), plus more for serving
- Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Toss squash, onion, & bacon with the oil. Sprinkle with sage & season with salt & pepper. Spread in a single layer.
- Roast until squash is caramelized & tender & bacon is getting crispy, 15-20 minutes. Remove & set aside.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta & cook according to package directions, making sure to reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water prior to draining. Return pasta to the pot.
- Use a wooden spoon to free any of the squash mixture that may be sticking to the foil, then lift the foil off of the baking sheet & use it to funnel the squash into the pot with the pasta.
- Toss for 1 minute over high heat, adding as much of the pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce.
- Add parmesan, toss, & serve.
*or 4 fruits & a gourd, depending on how you choose to classify pumpkin.
School’s started for most everyone by now, & I know lots of moms are looking for tasty but healthy options for their kids’ lunchboxes. These muffins fit the bill: they contain five different fruits (as long as you consider pumpkins fruits), as well as almonds & whole-wheat flour. They pack a quick & hearty nutritional punch so your kids can get back onto the playground. They’re so hearty that The Munchkin can only finish half of one, so you may want to consider packing just a half muffin, or else making them in a mini-muffin tin & adjusting the baking time.
They’re also great for new moms because of their heartiness & ease of one-handed consumption. They were brought to me after The Mini-Munchkin made her appearance & I begged for the recipe, so that’s why you’ve got it here!
The recipe says it makes a dozen muffins plus 2 loaves; when I made a half recipe, it yielded not quite 18 muffins. You can choose how & if you want to divvy up the batter. As an added bonus, if you make a half recipe, you’ll have plenty of pumpkin left over in a standard can to make these delicious pumpkin chocolate-chip squares. Just saying.
- 3 to 4 extra-ripe bananas, peeled & mashed (2 cups)
- 1 cup pumpkin
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole-wheat flour
- 1 Tbsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. cloves
- 1 cup chopped dates
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- Preheat oven to 350. Generously grease muffin tin &/or loaf pan(s). Combine bananas, pumpkin, eggs, & sugar in mixer bowl. Beat in applesauce.
- In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Stir into banana mixture until just combined.
- Fold in dates, raisins, & almonds.
- Spoon 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin cup; pour remaining batter into loaf pans, if applicable.
- Bake muffins for 20 minutes or loaves for 60 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then cool completely on wire rack.
Who watched the Opening Ceremonies last night? I would have to say my favorite part was either Rowan Atkinson with the London Symphony, or seeing how even a superstar like Paul McCartney can get choked up at the sight of thousands of athletes coming together for the Olympics.
The Munchkin (& even Mini-Munchkin, who wouldn’t turn away from the TV long enough to nurse, let alone fall asleep, for some time) loved staying up late to watch. It got her as excited about the Games as I hoped it would.
Our special treat for our Olympic watching party? These popcorn ball “torches.”
This recipe has only a few ingredients, but getting the caramel to the right consistency (not too hard, not too soft) can be tricky. This makes enough for 8, 3- to 4-inch balls.
- 2 bags microwave popcorn, popped (I love kettle corn)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 small bags M&Ms in Olympic colors (let your Munchkin help you remove the orange ones; dark brown counts as black)
- colored cardstock or scrapbook paper, formed into a narrow cone & taped
- Combine sugar, corn syrup, & cream. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
- Boil 3 minutes, until “soft ball” stage. (This will happen quicker than you think.)
- Place popcorn in a large bowl, then pour caramel over the top. Stir to coat. Sprinkle M&Ms throughout & carefully stir. Some may melt a little.
- When mixture has cooled slightly, form into balls. (This will take longer than you think; do it too soon & you WILL get second-degree burns. Not that I know from personal experience…)
- When fully cooled, place atop cones (or just hold in your hands) & enjoy!
I don’t get to spend as much time as I’d like anymore perusing Serious Eats. Fortunately, they haven’t forgotten about me & still send me their weekly recipe newsletter. Today’s recipe is an easy version of one from said newsletter. If you feel like scraping vanilla beans & crushing your own graham cracker crumbs, find the recipe here. If you’re pressed for time like me, read on.
I think I underestimate how much I love pudding. It’s not something I ordinarily think to buy, but maybe it should be: it was the first thing I ate after my C-section (thank you, breech Mini-Munchkin). I ate it with every subsequent meal in the hospital. Hmmm… Pudding with every meal? I could go for that!
In the meantime, here’s pudding with dessert.
- 1 premade graham cracker crust
- 1 box (the big one, not the small one) vanilla instant pudding
- 2 cups cold skim milk
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp. clear vanilla extract
- 1 pint blueberries, washed & dried
- Prepare the pudding as directed on the package, just with 2 cups milk instead of 3. Chill in the refrigerator.
- Whip the cream, sugar, & vanilla. Fold about 1/3 of it into prepared pudding.
- Spread half of the pudding mixture into the bottom of the crust.
- Carefully spread another 1/3 of the whipped cream over the pudding, then top with almost all of the blueberries.
- Spread remaining pudding to hide the blueberries, then top with remaining whipped cream & sprinkle remaining blueberries on top.
- Serve with a spoon; this will get messy!
Now that Mini-Munchkin is nearly three months, I probably have to stop using the “I have a newborn” excuse & start posting a little more regularly.
With that, here’s the first of what will likely be many quick-prep meals for those nights when you have literally 5 minutes in the kitchen.
A friend of mine from my local chapter of the National MOMS Club brought this dish over after I had the Mini-Munchkin. This thick, hearty, almost-chili soup was an instant hit, so I asked her for the recipe. It was so easy she was actually embarrassed to give it to me! But I love easy, so I’m not embarrassed at all to share this with you.
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 packet taco seasoning
- 3/4 cup water*
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 can condensed tomato soup
- 2 cans black beans, undrained
- 2 cans corn, drained
- tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, etc., for serving
*or however much your particular taco seasoning calls for
- Brown the ground beef. Drain.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Add taco seasoning & water. Stir.
- Add remaining ingredients. Stir.
- Cover; simmer until heated through or as long as you want.
That’s it! Yum!
I’ve been MIA for awhile… We’re preparing for Baby Girl to get here in less than 2 weeks, & my energy level hasn’t exactly kept up with the to-do list.
One item on that to-do list that I have been able to check off has been to make double batches of meals & freeze half, like these meatballs, & these taquitos:
I adapted the recipe from the Our Best Bites that have been all over Pinterest. Theirs uses green salsa & green onions; not having either of those on hand, I made mine “red” taquitos. (Or rather, since they’re creamy, maybe they’re “pink” taquitos.) I also decreased the spice factor a little, since The Munchkin seems to not sleep well after consuming moderate amounts of chili powder. Weird? Yes. Could just be correlation rather than causation, but it’s true.
- 3 oz. Neufchatel cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup medium salsa
- 1 Tbsp. lime juice
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. dried cilantro (or 3 Tbsp. fresh, but seriously, dried cilantro is like my new favorite addition to my spice cabinet)
- 1 Tbsp. finely minced yellow onion
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
- small flour or corn tortillas*
* I first tried it with both types, & while the corn would be healthier & higher in fiber, they just didn’t hold up. Observe:
The cracked ones on the left are the corn. So now I just use flour.
- Preheat oven to 425 & line a baking sheet with parchment.
- In a large bowl, combine first 6 ingredients until well incorporated. Then mix in the cilantro & onions.
- Add chicken & cheese & mix thoroughly.
- Heat a few tortillas at a time between 2 paper towels in the microwave for 20-30 seconds or so. Then spoon a couple Tbsp. of the chicken mixture onto the bottom third of a tortilla & roll it as tightly as possible. Place, seam-side-down, on the cookie sheet.
- Repeat with remaining chicken mixture & tortillas, then spray with cooking spray & sprinkle with salt.
- Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden.
- If you want to freeze them, place them in a single layer on a greased baking sheet & freeze for a half hour or so, then place in a labeled Ziploc bag for up to 3 months & bake at 425 for 20 minutes.
- If you have leftovers, freeze any baked taquitos & microwave on high for a minute to a minute & 10 seconds. They won’t be crispy, but still delicious.
Now, I will likely be MIA for a little while longer until I get used to being a mommy of 2 Munchkins. Until then!
Wow. Just wow. Blondies + s’mores = droooooooool…
I pinned this months ago, but I’ve never been a consumer of Marshmallow Fluff — in fact, any time I think about it, the line from Julie & Julia comes to mind, “What eez zees marshmallow fluff?” But I followed Mel’s advice & overcame my Fear of the Fluff. SO WORTH IT.
Overcome your Fear of the Fluff & make these. Now. (Original recipe here.)
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about a sleeve of graham crackers, crushed)
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 sticks butter, room temp
- 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups marshmallow fluff or creme
- 2 cups chocolate chips (I used semisweet, but milk would be more authentically s’mores)
- Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9×13 pan with foil, leaving an overhang on the short edges, & spray the foil with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream together butter & brown sugar. Beat in eggs & vanilla.
- Reduce speed to low & gradually add flour mixture until combined.
- Divide dough in half. Press one half into the bottom of the prepared pan in an even layer.
- Dollop on the marshmallow topping & gently spread in an even layer.
- Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top.
- Scatter remaining dough in clumps on top, leaving some of the marshmallow & chocolate peeking through.
- Bake 30-32 minutes, or until golden & the marshamllow is good & toasty.
- Let cool completely before removing the bars using the foil, cutting, & enjoying.
Weelicious triumphs again!
To minimize mess, I generally buy & cook the short pastas, so when I told The Munchkin we were having “slurpy spaghetti” for dinner, she practically leaped for joy. The many different veggies in this dish are julienned just like the pasta, so she slurped them up just like the noodles. & get this: she was happy about it! She ate them on purpose! “Look, mommy, I’m slurping asparagus!” This, coming from the toddler who enjoys carrots, but will hardly touch zucchini or asparagus. The bowl was polished off. Success!
- 2 zucchini
- 2 carrots, peeled
- 6 asparagus spears, woody ends snapped off
- 1 small red bell pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (original recipe calls for only 1, but it needs more)
- 1 lb. whole-wheat spaghetti (or, if you don’t have a food processor to julienne your veggies & your knife skills are as atrocious as mine, linguine covers a multitude of sins)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1/3 cup Parmesan
- Julienne your vegetables with a knife or the shredding blade of a food processor.
- Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat.
- Saute garlic 1 minute.
- Add veggies & salt & saute an additional 3-4 minutes or until softened.
- Drain pasta, reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta water.
- Return pasta to pot or place in a large serving bowl. Add veggies, pasta water, butter, & Parmesan; toss to coat.
- Let your Munchkins pretend to be baby birds slurping up worms!
The Munchkin’s current favorite book is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Our good friend Lauren gave her the “complete” book, which includes the sequel Pickles to Pittsburgh, some time ago, & now that her attention span has caught up, we’re reading it with her at least twice a day.
So when I saw this recipe over at Weelicious, you can imagine that the book was the first thing I thought of. (Her picture’s better than mine.) Meatballs, fun pasta, & mozzarella “clouds!”
I halved the recipe & there were still leftovers for us. I also used ground turkey instead of chicken because it was cheaper. I’ve re-ordered the steps a little, since the meatballs take longer to prep & cook than the pasta.
- 1 lb. ground chicken or turkey
- 1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 tsp. salt, divided
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lb. mini-wheel or other fun pasta
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1, 28-oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
- 8 oz. Bocconcini mozzarella (“small balls” — or buy the larger balls & then cut them smaller)
- Combine chicken, bread crumbs, egg, & 1 tsp. of the salt in a medium bowl. Use wet hands to roll teaspoonfuls into small meatballs.
- In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs & cook 3 minutes, turning occasionally.
- Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions.
- Add garlic to meatballs & cook 1 minute or until fragrant. Add tomato sauce, basil, & 1 tsp. salt (you may wish to add slightly less; I found it a little on the salty side) & cook meatballs in sauce on medium-low 8 minutes or until done through.
- Add pasta & mozzarella balls to the sauce mixture & cook until heated through, 2-3 minutes.