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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Summer Menu: Week 3

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Hello friends! This week’s menu is full of flavor and has lots of yummy vegetarian options. Click on the link below to download a PDF of the menu, grocery list, and recipes.
Menu Summer 2012 3

Here’s the delicious menu:

Sunday: Spiced Lentils with Garlic Naan







Monday: Zesty Quinoa and Beans






Tuesday: Simple Summer Squash and Sausage







Wednesday: Cranberry Spinach Salad







Thursday: Mediterranean Garlic Herb Cod







Friday: Heavenly Ricotta Pancakes (Breakfast for Dinner!)







Saturday: Parmesan Basil Orzo with Shrimp








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Chicken and Butternut Squash Tagine

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Are you tired of your “usual” chicken recipes? Or maybe you have a butternut squash sitting on the kitchen counter that you aren’t sure what to do with. Well, you are in for a treat! This recipe combines ordinary ingredients with lovely aromatic spices and creates an unexpectedly blissful meal. It’s comfort food with a deliciously exotic twist . . . and it’s an easy one-pan meal – bonus! If you aren’t used to working with butternut squash, I recommend that you first peel it with a potato peeler (be sure to get all the way down to the orange flesh), and then cut it in half (crosswise) with your biggest and heaviest chef knife. Then keep cutting it until you have bite-size pieces (be sure to scrape out the seeds with a spoon).

Do you know that you can roast seeds from all types of winter squash, not just pumpkins? Simply rinse the seeds, toss with a bit of olive oil and salt and bake in a 275 degree oven for about 15 minutes (stirring a couple of times). Delicious and nutritious!

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 (15.5 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 dash cayenne pepper
1/4 cup golden raisins

Heat the olive oil in your biggest skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and onion to the skillet and cook for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.

Add the garlic, butternut squash, garbanzo beans, carrot, tomatoes with juice, chicken broth, sugar, and lemon juice to the skillet. Season with salt, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, ground cloves, and cayenne pepper. Add the raisins and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until the squash is tender (and your kitchen smells amazing!).

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Summer Squash Quiche

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Every day I walk through our garden to check on the plants and see if anything is ready for harvesting.  We always have an abundance of yellow squash (much to my dismay), so I’m constantly on the lookout for new and interesting ways to prepare it. I generally try to avoid using the oven in the summer, but I conceded in favor of some variety. This quiche (another recipe that I adapted from the allrecipes.com website) has a creamier consistency than most, due to the addition of ricotta cheese.

1 9-inch unbaked pie crust (in the refrigerated section of grocery store, or home-made)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 zucchini thinly sliced
1 yellow squash thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup fat-free half-and-half
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Place the unbaked pie crust in a large pie pan. This recipe makes a lot of filling, so use the largest pie pan that you have. Prick bottom of pastry with a fork, and bake at 425 degrees for 7 minutes. Remove the pie crust from the oven and reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.

In a skillet, add the butter and onions and sauté for about 2 minutes.  Then add the zucchini, yellow squash, and garlic and sauté until tender. Transfer the veggie mixture to a bowl lined with a paper towel to drain. Place half the veggie mixture in the pre-baked crust, and then sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top.

In a bowl, combine ricotta cheese, half-and-half, eggs, salt, basil, and pepper. Pour into crust (there may be some extra filling, depending on the size of your pie pan). Arrange remaining veggie slices over top. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Note: you will need to increase the baking time if you used a deep-dish pie pan. This is a great recipe to double: cook both quiches and put one in the freezer (after it cools) for an easy weeknight dinner.

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Simple Summer Squash and Sausage

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If you’re like me, and have an abundance of summer squash in your garden, or you are simply looking for something easy and tasty to make for dinner, then give this recipe a try. The first time I made it, I was amazed that a few simple ingredients could produce such a flavorful meal.

(Serves 4)

1 package of your favorite Italian sausage links (hot or mild, or both!)
1/2 cup sliced onion (or more, if desired)
1-2 small zucchini, sliced
1-2 small yellow squash, sliced
1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning, with liquid (I prefer the taste of Del Monte Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic, & Oregano to other brands)
1-2 cloves of garlic

Place the sausage and about ¼ cup of water in a large stainless steel skillet, over medium heat, and cover with a lid. This will allow the sausage to steam for a few minutes and help the cooking process along. (Note: I don’t recommend using a non-stick pan because that will discourage the lovely “brown bits” to form on the bottom of the pan as the sausage is cooking.)  Once the water in the pan evaporates and sausage starts to sizzle, remove the lid to brown the sausage.   Be sure to turn the sausage frequently and watch the heat closely; you want a nice brown crust to form on the sausage (some of which will stick to the pan), but you don’t want the pan to burn. You may need to turn the heat to low to prevent this. If you notice that the pan is starting brown too much, here’s a tip – add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the pan to “deglaze” it. Please be careful when doing this, because the water will create quite a bit of steam, and will likely cause some of the grease in the pan to pop out, so quickly add the water and then take a big step back and wait for 5-10 seconds. When the sputtering sounds subside, then you can return to pan and run a flat spatula around the bottom of the pan to loosen-up any brown bits that are still stuck to the pan. Leave any remaining liquid in the pan while you continue to cook the sausage. When the sausage is cooked, remove it from the pan and place it on a plate or bowl lined with paper towels.

Add the onions to the same pan that you cooked the sausage in and sauté for a minute or two. If you used really lean sausage, then you may need to add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan before adding the onions. Then add the zucchini and yellow squash and sauté for another minute or two. Add the diced tomatoes to the pan, with the liquid, and then press the garlic into the pan using a garlic press (if you don’t have a garlic press, you can mince the garlic cloves instead). Now here’s where those yummy brown bits come in. The liquid from the diced tomatoes will start to deglaze the pan (assuming that you didn’t have to perform an emergency-deglaze while you were cooking the sausage) and all of those browned sausage bits will be released from the pan and be combined with the other ingredients to form a delectable sauce. Grab your spatula again and run it around the bottom of the pan to make sure you scrape up all of the brown bits. Return the sausage to the pan, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. That’s all there is to it!

This recipe is very adaptable, so you can suit it to your taste. Try adding a splash or two of red wine, some bell pepper strips, crushed red peppers, or some fresh herbs. You can also serve it over rice or pasta, or with a fresh piece of crusty French bread. Enjoy!

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