This was perfectly fall flavored! I loved the lightness of it – it has a light broth in place as a sauce but more sauce might be a hit too. The pasta drinks some up so it was juicy but not saucy. I used thick elbow pasta, roasted butternut squash, sausage, sage, and smoked gouda.
Sausage & Butternut Squash Fall Pasta Ingredients: (serves 5-6) 1 pound pasta (big shells, rigatoni, penne, or other short pasta) 3 links sweet Italian sausage 1/2 butternut squash, diced 2 cups chicken or veggie broth 2 tablespoons tomato paste (or 1 cup crushed tomatoes & 1/2 cup half and half for more sauce) 2 tablespoons butter 1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper 4 oz smoked gouda, grated or chopped ~4 sage leaves
Directions: Air-fry or roast the butternut squash at 400-degrees for ~20 minutes. Boil salted water for the pasta. Remove the sausage from the casing and pan fry it in chunks until cooked through. Drain and discard excess oil, and move cooked sausage onto paper towels. Cook the pasta to al dente. Add broth, tomato, butter, and pepper into the sausage pan to deglaze and bring to a boil for a few minutes. For less sauce: Let it lightly boil to reduce it for ~5 minutes. For more sauce: reduce temperature and add in the crushed tomatoes and half and half. Add in the pasta, sausage, and cheese and toss well to coat. Then add in the squash, and sage and very gently mix. Enjoy!
I was into it! I loved the gouda melting alongside the sausage and sweet squash and just a tiny bit of sage was nice for fall and not too heavy since we’re still having feels-like-summer moments!
We have sage growing like crazy but for me, a little goes a long way so I went light on that. Spinach would be great in there too. The butternut squash could swap for zucchini or summer squash instead if those are on hand.
Such a fun way to have buffalo chicken and there’s lots of ways to customize yourself! I went mild on the spicy scale and below are lots of swaps to up the veggies.
Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad Ingredients: (for 2 meals, or 4 sides) 2 cups pasta 2 breaded chicken tenders 2 cups arugula 1 tablespoon hot sauce 3 tablespoons blue cheese or ranch dressing
Directions: Cook the pasta and the chicken and let cool to room temperature. Chop the arugula. Whisk together the dressing and hot sauce.
Mix together the pasta, arugula and dressing. Then add in the chopped chicken just before serving. Enjoy!
Go as spicy as you like! I like minimal but you could really go for it by tossing the chicken in buffalo sauce AND making the buffalo dressing! To go super mild, the hot sauce could be totally separate and sprinkled on per serving.
To make in advance, keep the chicken separate but the rest could be mixed ahead of time. Greens get a little wilty but a few hours lead time would work, or mix the pasta & the dressing and add in the chicken and veggies before serving.
While I was into the simplicity of it but more veggies would be great. Cucumbers and bell peppers would be awesome. I detest celery but that’s a natural fit and maybe chunks of carrots.
Fall coziness brought to you by way of 4-5 ingredients! I loved that this one not being too heavy since we’ve had some 70-80 degree days lately plus, fall flavors don’t have to mean pumpkin!
This comes together soooo fast – the longest part is waiting for the water to boil!
Ravioli with Brown Butter, Corn & Sage Ingredients: (for 4 servings) 6 tablespoons butter (real butter, not margarine/substitute) 24 oz package cheese ravioli, frozen 1 cup corn 4-5 sage leaves, fresh grated parmesan
Directions: Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. In a large skillet or pan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the ravioli into the water and cook for about 5-minutes, or as the package instructs. When the butter bubbles and foams up, carefully keep stirring. The butter browns quickly and gives off a nutty flavor. (Don’t let it burn! Try a le creuset/pan with white inside or a white/light colored spatula to stir) Add in the sage to the butter and be sure to remove the pan from the heat once it starts to brown. Toss the corn in too to warm. When the ravioli begin to float, they are cooked. Scoop from the water directly into the brown butter sauce, give a sprinkle of salt and pepper and toss well. Sprinkle with some grated parmesan. Enjoy!
I loved this. The brown butter has so much flavor without looking like much. The kids liked it but for whatever reason, the kindergartener wasn’t interested in the corn. We cut from the ear and froze it back in peak farmer’s market corn season. It was about 50% thawed when I threw it in. We all like pasta and I always want the little ones to experience all the shapes pasta can take, all the sauce types, etc.
The sage leaves were whole because a little sage can be a lot to me so they were easy to pick out or whatever. Adding them to the brown butter brings some good flavor without a punch in the face. Our sage plants are flourishing so in it went.
This would be an easy one to make for a big crowd- do people see big crowds these days? It also would be great halved for a meal for 1!
This week weather may have been upper 50s & into the 60s in New England, but stuffed shells are a faster-than-lasagna winter comfort dinner. These got a slight twist with flavor of chicken parm we love. Plus, I love ricotta more than the average person, so this hit the spot. Make one big pan or 2 smaller ones with one to freeze!
Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Shells
1/2 box jumbo shells
~4 breaded chicken tenders (or ~1 cup popcorn chicken)
15 oz ricotta
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 1/2 cup mozzarella
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I use Pastene canned Kitchen Ready Tomatoes)
Bake the chicken until cooked through and crisp, according to the package. Then chop into bite-sized pieces. Lower oven heat to 350-degrees.
Boil salted water for the jumbo shells and cook until al dente.
Mix the ricotta with 1/2 cup mozzarella, Italian seasoning, and salt.
Fill a ziplock bag with the ricotta. Use a tall drinking glass to hold the bag while spooning the ricotta into the bag.
Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. (I made 2- 9×9 pans or this would fit one 9×13). Spoon about 1/4 cup of tomato sauce onto the bottom.
Snip the bottom corner off the ziplock bag to pipe the ricotta into the shells and place the shells into the baking dish.
Add chicken on top of the ricotta.
Spoon tomato sauce on top.
Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Then uncover, top with remaining mozzarella, and return to the oven for 15 minutes.
I loved this. Leftovers packed up really well to be lunch the next day! I love these flavors and was reminded just how easy it was to pop this together. Another fun twist is to skip the chicken, and stir in creamed spinach into the ricotta mixture for my Better Than Usual Stuffed Shells.
I’m not 100% on the raw kale bandwagon. I feel like my age & blog means I’m supposed to like it, but I do not enjoy it raw. I think it is a texture thing – and maybe the amount of chewing required for something that doesn’t taste like, I don’t know, bacon. I’ll finely dice and cook it into soups or whatever.
It is a great choice for a woodsy tasting pesto! It won’t make you think you’re eating peak-of-summer-basil, but it is good, and you can feeeeel good about it. I first mixed it into gnocchi then I added some with penne to pack for a work lunch.
Roasted Kale Pesto
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons ricotta
1/4 cup toasted nuts
salt and pepper
Roast the kale in a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Add the kale into the food processor, with the garlic, parmesan, ricotta, nuts, salt & pepper.
Blend while streaming in olive oil.
Refrigerate until serving.
Toss with hot pasta or add a dollop onto chicken or pork chops, or spread onto a panini! Yum! It doesn’t get perfectly smooth like basil pesto does, but it is really good. Throw in any fresh spinach you have or arugula.
Fettuccine with alfredo, sage, and butternut squash. This felt like a the dinner equivalent of warm socks and a cozy blanket on a brisk evening. I roasted the butternut squash and infused the sage into the alfredo sauce. It was so fast, and SO addicting! Psssst. It was so fast also because I roasted the squash in advance, and used jarred alfredo sauce. Both made life easier and got dinner on the table ohh-so-fast.
2 cups butternut squash, chopped into small cubes
2 cups alfredo sauce (use a jar, I won’t tell)
4-6 sage leaves (3 to cook in the sauce & 2-3 chopped)
1/2 pound of fettuccine pasta
Roast the butternut squash in a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper at 400-degrees for 20 minutes, flipping once.
Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot for the pasta.
Warm the alfredo sauce in a large pot over low heat and drop in 1/2 the sage leaves. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring often, then remove the wilty sage.
Cook the fettuccine to al dente.
Drain the pasta and toss in the sauce.
Mix in the remaining chopped sage and the squash.
This is such a great weeknight meal. I’d totally serve this to a dinner party, my toddler, or anyone. Somehow this week was brought to you by the herb sage. I love it in small amounts but feel like it has serious flavor. Here’s a good use if you bought some for Thanksgiving and need a very different feeling meal before or after turkey day!
This mac and cheese is veggie packed while still delightfully cheesey. Plus, the squash adds that iconic orange pop of color! This would be the perfect fuel before trick or treating!
Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
1/2 pound pasta
1 1/2 cup butternut squash puree (10 oz frozen, or 1/2 butternut squash, roasted)
2 tablespoons cream cheese
4 oz Velveeta mini-block
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt & pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar
Bring salted water to a boil for the pasta. Add the pasta in and cook until al dente.
In a large pot over medium heat, mix together the squash puree, velveeta, cream cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Stir until smooth and all combined. Spoon 1/2 – 3/4 of the sauce onto the drained al dente pasta.
Mix well and add in more sauce, as desired.
Add in the shredded cheddar.
Serve hot, or bake with cheese or breadcrumbs on top.
This was a good meal to feel like a treat, like true comfort food, without guilt. The little one loved it. I had some extra sauce so I froze it for a quick dinner another time to throw over some pasta.
My boss made this for a potluck and it was delicious. I knew I had to whip it up immediately. I liked it warm-ish and it’s great cool. I could live in a container of ricotta, but I also LOVED the mint, basil, and oregano with the lemon zest. It is so easy and so so so full of flavor! Also this is the world’s fastest dinner.
Zucchini, Ricotta, and Herb Pasta (for 2 entrees or 4 sides)
1/2 pound short shaped pasta
1 large zucchini, shredded
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup ricotta
2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh mint, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 lemon, zested
Salt & Pepper
Bring salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dante.
While the pasta cooks, shred the zucchini and add to a medium skillet with the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add salt & pepper and remove from heat.
Mix the pasta, ricotta, and zucchini mixture.
Add in the herbs, lemon zest, and salt & pepper.
Serve & enjoy, or refrigerate until serving if making in advance!
I like the creamy ricotta. Of course, ricotta is my fav! Zucchini doesn’t have tons of flavor alone, but with the garlic and all the herbs. I think it needed salt and pepper throughout: in the zucchini and mixed throughout. The herbs and the lemon are truly what make this special. Maybe I should turn the same flavors into a pizza!
Mr. J wasn’t into pickles until he had a bread & butter sweet pickle a few years ago. Now he wonders where they had been his whole life! I mixed up this sweet pickle macaroni salad as a side dish using not only the pickles, but the pickle “juice” for the dressing. It was an easy side to prep the night before for a faster week-night meal.
Sweet Pickle Macaroni Salad (serves 4-6)
1/2 pound of pasta, macaroni or other short noodle
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 small shallot, diced
2-3 sprigs of green onion, diced
3-4 bread & butter pickles, chopped
1/2 cup pickle juice
1/2 green pepper
Boil salted water and add the pasta once it comes to a boil. Cook according to the package.
Mix together mayo, mustard, pickles, shallots, green onions, and pickle juice.
Stir well and toss with the cooled pasta.
When ready to serve, mix in the green pepper.
I almost mixed in a hard boiled egg, but ended up sending that as the little one’s lunch. This was good and the sweetness was good with a grilled dinner.
I put one cooler/low-humidity day to good use after a beach vacation to cook comfort food! This porky pasta sauce has been on my list to make and I had just the night to make it! Get some liquid smoke or this won’t be the same at all (pssst! I get it on Amazon but some specialty food stores have it too. You’ll also use it in chili, burgers, pulled pork, etc.)
I froze half, despite the fact that I’m compulsively trying to use up frozen stuff. I just didn’t want to eat it twice in a week given the warm forecast but I can see popping it out for some not-hot night for variety of the many grilled dinners we’re having this summer!
Smoky Bacon & Pork Ragu for ~4
4-6 strips of bacon, chopped
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage out of the casing
1 small yellow onion
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons Liquid Smoke
pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
~6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
In a dutch oven, cook the bacon until crisp and drain. Then brown the sausage and drain. Then saute the onion until cooked through.
Add the crushed tomatoes into the pot, add in sausage, onion, bacon, garlic, and liquid smoke.
Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes and add in the red pepper flakes, onion powder, Parmesan, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and basil. Stir well.
Reduce to low and cook for another 5 minutes.
Boil the pasta and cook to al dente.
Spoon sauce over the top and enjoy!
I loved it. It definitely wasn’t your average tomato sauce. The salty and smoky flavor came out and I took great care for it not to be greasy. Bacon & sausage needed to cook separately to each get to their best. Each needed to be drained, for sure.
I can see pulling out the sauce for a quick dinner or putting ontop of a pizza or in a calzone!