Orzo with Roasted Butternut Squash, Bacon, and Sage

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When the weather cools down, I start to crave flavorful meals like this orzo pasta with sage, bacon and butternut squash. The sage pairs beautifully with the salty bacon and slightly sweet squash. The flavors are perfect for a crisp fall day.

Orzo with Roasted Butternut Squash, Bacon, and Sage

This recipe is quick and easy to put together – great for a weeknight. You could even roast the butternut squash and cook the orzo ahead of time, to make the prep even faster.

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup orzo pasta
1/2 pound bacon, chopped
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper
Shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Add the chopped butternut squash and olive oil to a large bowl, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt (to taste) and toss again. Spread the squash evenly on a large baking sheet, and roast for 30 minutes, stirring once.

Meanwhile, cook the orzo al dente, per the package directions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

While the orzo is cooking, cook the chopped bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon to a plate and carefully pour all but about 3 tablespoons of the bacon drippings into a glass measuring cup (or small bowl). Reduce the heat to low.

Add the sage, onion power, and crushed red pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the roasted butternut squash, cooked orzo, and bacon to the skillet, stirring gently to combine. Gradually add the reserved orzo cooking water until the sauce reaches the desired consistency (you may not need to use it all). If needed, you can also add more of the reserved bacon drippings. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook over low heat until the ingredients are heated through.

Serve topped with shredded parmesan. Enjoy!

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Spinach and Bacon Frittata

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Hello, my friends! I have some good news to share today: I’m starting a new job next week! I plan on continuing to post delicious recipes for you, but you may notice a trend towards more “make ahead” and easy to prepare meals.

This frittata recipe is a perfect recipe for a busy weeknight. It’s tasty, filling, and ready in a flash. I’ve never made a frittata before, but it’s kind of a cross between a crust-less quiche and an omelet, although the flavor is more omelet-y since it doesn’t have any cream.

I adapted this from an Alton Brown recipe (I just love him), which you can find here.

6-8 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped*
6 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon butter
2 cups of baby spinach, chopped

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, parmesan, and pepper.

Heat a 12-inch cast iron pan (or other oven-proof pan) over medium heat. Add the butter to the pan. When the butter melts, add the chopped bacon and spinach and sauté for about 2 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted.

Pour the eggs into the pan and quickly stir the eggs, bacon, and spinach together. Once combined, stop stirring, and let cook for about 4 or 5 minutes, or until the egg mixture begins to set around the edges.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler to a low setting and set the oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source.

Once the egg mixture begins to set around the edges, place the pan in the oven and broil for about 3 minutes, or until lightly browned and puffy.

Cut into wedges and serve hot with a big green salad.

*To reduce the time and mess involved in cooking bacon, place the bacon strips in a single layer on a cooling rack, and place the cooling rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes.

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Boeuf Bourguignon

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Well, I finally got up the courage to make Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon. There aren’t too many recipes that intimidate me, but this dish is legendary and, frankly, I was afraid that I would mess it up.

I’m happy to report that it was much easier to prepare than I expected, and IT IS SO GOOD! This is no ordinary beef stew, my friends. As Julia put it, “It is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man.” Picture this: tender potatoes smothered in a rich savory sauce with melt-in-your-mouth pieces of beef, topped with mushrooms and onions sautéed to golden-brown perfection. Oh, and did I mention it also has bacon – and wine? 

I tweaked the recipe just a tad to suit my taste (and laziness) but most of the ingredients and steps are the same. You must make this recipe soon, but be sure to allow plenty of time, as this will need around 3 hours to cook (don’t worry, only about 30 minutes of that is hands-on).

8 oz of bacon, cut into 2-inch long pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
3 lbs beef rump roast, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 carrot sliced
2 ribs of celery, sliced
2 medium onions, sliced (divided)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups full-bodied red wine
2-3 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, mashed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
6-8 yukon gold potatoes, cut into quarters
1 package mushrooms, sliced

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat a large Dutch Oven or enameled cast iron pan (something that can be used both on the stovetop and in the oven) over medium low heat. Add the bacon pieces and cook until the bacon is browned lightly. Remove the bacon to a plate, reserving the bacon grease in the pan.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the bacon grease and heat over medium-high heat. Grab a wad of paper towels and dry each piece of beef before placing it in the hot pan. Only add a few pieces at a time, so they don’t touch. Sauté until nicely browned on each side, then remove to the plate with the bacon, while you brown the remaining pieces of beef.

Remove all of the beef from the pan, and then add the carrots, celery, and ½ of the sliced onions (you may need to add a bit of oil to the pan first). Cook until the vegetables are lightly browned. Return the beef and bacon to the pan, and then add the salt and pepper. Sprinkle on the flour and toss to coat. Place the pan, uncovered, in the oven for 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, toss the meat again, and then return to the oven for another 4 minutes.

Return the pan to the stove and turn the oven down to 325 degrees.

Add the wine and enough beef broth so that the meat is barely covered. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, and thyme. Bring to a simmer on the stove, then cover and set in the lower third of the oven. Cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours, adjusting the heat if needed to maintain a very slow simmer.

While the beef is cooking, add the potatoes to a large pot of water and boil until tender. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the remaining sliced onions and sauté for several minutes until golden brown. Remove to a plate and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Sauté the mushrooms in batches, so the mushrooms have plenty of room to brown (remember from the movie . . . “Don’t crowd the mushrooms!”). Add the mushrooms to the onions and season with salt and pepper.

To serve, place several potato pieces in a large bowl, cover with the beef and broth, and then top with the sautéed mushrooms and onions. Prepare to say “Yum!”

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Bacon and Broccoli Quiche

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This is a hearty and delicious quiche that is bursting with bacon and broccoli. You can make this an easy weeknight dinner by preparing the ingredients and filling the quiche the night before, and then popping it in the oven when you get home from work.

4-6 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped
1 cup broccoli, cooked and chopped (I use frozen broccoli)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 cup half-n-half
3 eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 frozen pie crust

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Beat together the flour, salt, half-n-half, and eggs in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Press about 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese into the bottom of the pie crust (covering the bottom of the crust with cheese will help prevent a soggy crust). Sprinkle the bacon and the broccoli over the cheese. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the pie crust. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake 45 to 60 minutes, or until the quiche is set and golden brown on top. Serve with a nice green salad.

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Peachy Piggy Pizza

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This is one of my husband’s wonderful off-the-cuff creations (he came up with the name too). If you like the combination of sweet and salty, then you are going to love this. This recipe calls for Sourdough Sauce, which you can order here from Alaska Wild Berry Products.

4 strips of bacon
Pizza dough (recipe follows)
1/4 cup Kinder’s Mild BBQ Sauce
1/4 cup Sourdough Sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Lit’l Smokies, sliced
1 small peach, sliced
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, be sure to put the stone in the oven while it’s preheating. Meanwhile, fry the bacon until crisp and then drain on a paper towel. Once cool, crumble bacon into small pieces.

Sprinkle the preheated pizza stone or baking pan with cornmeal, and place the prepared pizza dough on top. Combine the BBQ Sauce and Sourdough Sauce in a small bowl and spread onto the pizza dough using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon. (Note: if you don’t have Sourdough Sauce, then use barbeque sauce only.)

Sprinkle the pizza with mozzarella cheese, and then the crumbled bacon, Lit’l Smokies, peach slices and green onions. Put the pizza in the oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes.

Pizza Dough

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 1/2 – 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water (about 110  degrees). Stir in the sugar and 1/2 cup of flour and mix well. Cover bowl with  plastic wrap and let rise until foamy, about 1 hour. Blend in remaining water, flour, and salt; mix well. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 15 minutes. Place dough in bowl dusted with flour and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 2 to 3 hours.

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Roll dough out to half of its final size. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes (while you prepare desired pizza toppings). Stretch out dough over your floured knuckles and spin/toss 2 to 3 times until desired size is achieved.

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