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 palate for fall is endless. Apples, maple, cheddar, and a hint of mustard made this the best breakfast sandwich ever. Ever. I could liiiive on breakfast sandwiches and definitely have my favorites. The apple provides the crunch and freshness with a little kick from the mustard in the sauce.
Maple Sausage, Egg, Cheddar, and Apple Breakfast Sandwich
Ingredients: (serves 1)
1 everything bagel
3 maple sausage links, casing removed and formed into a patty
1 slice white cheddar
1/2 macintosh apple, sliced thin
1 teaspoon mayo
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon maple
Pan fry the sausage patty until cooked through.
Toast the bagel.
Mix together the mayo, mustard, and maple spread.
Fry the egg in the pan from the sausage. Flip and add the cheese. Cover to melt the cheese.
Assemble the bagel with some mayo/mustard/maple spread, then apple slices, then sausage, then egg and cheese.
This was a treat for a day off. I really loved the sweetness of the sausage, and the sharp white cheddar. The sauce was subtle and a nice touch. Everything bagels from my town bagel place are even better when they’re day-old and less than half off!
Fall to a T! Apple, caramel, cider, yogurt, and ginger all come together for a breakfast treat, or dessert! This one is a bit sweeter than I usually make for breakfast, but it was so fall, and so delicious.
Caramel Apple Smoothie
Ingredients: (1- 16oz serving breakfast, or 2- 8oz snack or dessert servings)
1 apple, chopped & frozen (optional: peal it for a perfectly smooth smoothie)
1 cup vanilla greek yogurt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 cup apple cider
1-2 tablespoons salted caramel sauce
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 cup ice
Add apple, yogurt, cinnamon, and ginger to a blender.
Add cider, caramel sauce, flaxseed, and ice.
Blend well and serve with a drizzle of caramel. Enjoy!
I loved this! The cider and the caramel made it super sweet but the frozen cool-factor made this so perfect for this surprisingly warm fall. This would make a great dessert too.
The little one munched these and then asked “what is it”? Crispy rice patties were such a fun side dish, and became a perfect dish to prep in advance! I saw Catherine McCord make a really plain crispy rice cakes on an Instagram story but I see her website has some fun flavors in these rice cakes. I wanted mine to really highlight some herbs and cheese. The herbs are going bananas out back so I put ‘em to work!
Crispy Herbed Rice Patties with Cheese
1 cup brown rice, cooked
3/4 cup smoked gouda
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon rosemary
Add together the rice, eggs, cheeses, and herbs, with salt and pepper.
Mix well until well incorporated.
Form into patties and fry in a shallow pan of oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side OR heavily spray a pan and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
Serve and enjoy!
These would be great in lots of flavors. Maybe next time I’ll have to include some bacon and top them with an egg!
I loved these! I was prepping them in advance so I undercooked most of them and popped them into the toaster oven to warm and toast for dinner. They were a hit! Of course I cooked the rice in my pressure cooker- hello 15 minute brown rice! I pan fried a few and they stayed together! Woohoo! I also put some into a whoopie pie pan and baked them. Both methods worked so well! I’d skip frying them next time
When you have a friend with a pear tree who doesn’t even like pears, it means you pick them and take a bushel home! The Pear Party is a chance to pick, cook something with their pears, and take them home. It was awesome, though, because we abided by complete Iron Chef: Pear protocol, it meant that we had 3 out of 5 dishes were flatbreads.
Flatbreads with Pear, Brie, and Arugula (for 6 as appetizer, or 3 entrees)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 garlic naan
6 oz brie
2 small pears, pealed
1/4 cup walnuts
2 cups arugula
Bring the balsamic vinegar to a low boil for 5-10 minutes until it reduces and becomes a thicker syrup. (Do this in advance and you’ll be a step ahead!)
Preheat an oven to 400-degrees.
In a small dry pan, toast the walnuts for about 3-5 minutes- be careful not to burn them.
Peal and chop the pears and saute in a little butter or oil in the small pan. Cook just to soften for a few minutes.
Brush a little oil onto the naan, then top with brie, pears, and walnuts.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese melts and the naan crisps.
While the flatbreads are in the oven, toss the arugula with a little oil, salt, and pepper.
Top the arugula onto the hot flatbreads and drizzle with balsamic reduction.
Slice into 4 or 6 slices and enjoy!
September seemed to FLY by. It started with Mr. J working super hard all Labor Day weekend. I had a lot of time with the little one. He was so good but I give single parents soooo much credit. I also was trying to fit in a bunch of blogging and vacay prep – some happened, some didn’t. It was a busy time to get vacation details planned, get the grandparents ready for babysitting and dog-sitting, and to get physically ready for a lot of hiking. Speaking of vacation – it was ahhhhmazing! I didn’t cook a ton this month, but I was pretty happy with a bunch of what I cooked!
This burger wins for best in show: Smoked gouda, bacon, and a peach relish.
I loved this pasta my boss made with ricotta, zucchini, mint, and lemon zest. It felt summery but I love ricotta so much that I’d keep making it until the mint in our garden is no-more. Which means I probably have another month or so.
I brought Greek Deviled Eggs to the potluck at work and they were a hit! I packed them up in my egg carrier and added the cuke/feta/tomato toppings just before serving. My photo-op one here is plated, but I sprinkled the feta all over the tops of them and it was way easier (and cute!) instead of placing each piece. I have a few more deviled egg ideas. Stay tuned!
My last fav of the month was an heirloom tomato flatbread with truffle breadcrumb topping. What’s not to love? It was ~5 ingredient dinner and ready in 10 minutes (plus grill preheating time).
Vacay was so incredible. It was the longest I’ve been away from the little one but I think it is good for all of us. Mr. J and I made the most of every minute and were just astounded by the Utah/Arizona area. We flew to Vegas and had a quick night there with a tour at the Neon Museum and a great dinner. Then we went through Valley of Fire and absolutely loved it. It was so red and had such huge rocks with far visibility. That was actually one of our toughest hikes but was one of our fav spots. Then we went to our airbnb and spent 2 days in Zion, 1 day in Bryce Canyon, and 1 day to canyons & coral sands. It was breathtaking and we loved hiking and photographing it all. We clocked about 12,000-20,000 steps per day and were wiped at night. It was just incredible and a different vacation for us.
Next up, my new job! I have just a few days in-between but after a year of job hunting, I’m off to a new adventure in higher ed doing alumni/annual giving. I’m very excited but it’ll be bittersweet to leave. I’ve absolutely loved and been so proud to be part of my last organization so it was hard to break the news and took finding the right fit to even get me to the decision. Job transitions are so tough and emotionally charged. The waiting and interviewing and offers feels like a lot. I’m grateful for this new opportunity. I’ll have to pack lunch now! Stay tuned!
The Little One:
He had such a fun stay while we were away. He was lucky to get to see all his grandparents that week! The highlight of his month might have been a weekend to Maine to see the big boys play football. He loves them dearly and they are so nice to him. The little one is obsessed with a nerf football and runs around yelling “tumble!”. He is excited each day to “play with the big kids” in the preschool class at daycare. I love hearing how well he’s listening and doing there – they said he doesn’t want to walk downstairs because he thinks he’d go back to the toddler group. His sentences are getting longer and he cracks us up. I melt when he says “Mommy and me have blue eyes?” A recent and frequent phrase is “what happened” for everything, multiple times. I’m sad for the early darkness in terms of cooking, he’s sad for early darkness for playing outside. He is still pb&j obsessed on the weekends. He loves the stool up to the counter to “cook” with me, and I love having him there.
Year of the seasonal decor: Yes! I grabbed this cute pear and a printable. I have plenty of pumpkins & halloween so I’m not sure what Oct will bring.
do more dinner prep more in advance: Sort of…I made a bunch of quick dinners and did some weekend meal prep.
read more (and always carry my book on me): I read Women of the Silk and loved it, yet was horrified by the families choosing to send a daughter to the silk factories. Then I read Break in Case of Emergency. It was kind of dumb, but entertaining.
watch more movies: hmmm. I don’t think we watched any.
cook more fish: nope
focus on clothes that I really like: I fell for a crazy deal. 2 work tops for $7 each…one’s a winner, one isn’t. I need to get on new work clothes though!
This is, hands down, my biggest kitchen-win in awhile! We LOVED this burger. The smoked gouda was such an outstanding flavor and the peach added the right sweetness. The pretzel bun was just the icing on the cake!
Gouda, Bacon, and Peach Burgers (for 2)
2 pretzel buns
3 strips of bacon
1/4 white onion (or red onion)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
salt & pepper
2 slices smoked gouda
Dijon mustard, optional
Preheat the grill (or grill pan) for burgers and form the meat into patties.
Cut the bacon in half and pan fry until crisp then drain.
Dice the peach and onion pretty small, and mix with the oil, vinegar, thyme, and a sprinkle of salt & pepper. Shoot for a 2:1 ratio of peach to onion.
Refrigerate until serving, while the burgers cook.
Grill the burgers until desired internal temperature. Mine was pork, Mr. J’s was beef. Top with the gouda and give ~2 minutes for it to melt – it needs longer than some other cheeses.
Slice the buns and cut off some of the bun if it is too big for the burgers.
Spread some dijon mustard onto the buns, put the burger and melted gouda on, then top with bacon, then lastly with the peach relish.
This was suchhh a fantastic combo. I’m peach/nectarine obsessed during the last of the fresh peaches this year. The smoked gouda had a really dominant and outstanding flavor. It makes me want to use it for burgers again! I thought about grilling peach slices but thought this would be easier to eat. The little one ate the same thing but I just put the peach relish on the side. We cut out some of his pretzel bun too for ease of dicing and him eating.
This quick relish would be really good on a pork tenderloin, or a grilled portobello, or on a white fish- maybe tilapia.
‘What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.
Originally this was going to be a burger but somehow I missed getting any meat on the grocery store run. Thus here’s a fun ‘dog!
The little one LOVED that there was bacon for dinner. I served these with some awesome new salad kits and this one had green cabbage, kale, craisins, pumpkin seeds, and poppy dressing. This dog was a good combo with the crunchy bacon, creamy dressing. It would be super fun for a hot dog topping bar!
This one is not rocket science but just you wait till you see the burger I have coming up!
I’m in this weird limbo where I want to make chili and eat all the pumpkin things but also really want to hold onto summer foods! The produce is just so good! The colors are spectacular! Serve all my meals outside!! This smoothie made me think summer, buuuut would also work well in the off-season with frozen peaches. Gasp! I know. It isn’t the time of year to buy anything besides fresh/local. They’re one of the best frozen fruits and I’ll be honest, my peaches came from the grocery store for this one. After a weekend away in Maine I was doing a late night grocery shop and wanted all the fresh things!
I added yogurt for the cream factor, as well as protein. The banana and cauliflower are both mild but add some fiber without overpowering the peaches. The ground flax seed is mostly tasteless but adds omega-3s for heart health. Registered Dietitians at work said they must be ground…otherwise you won’t process ‘em, you’ll just host them until they depart. I pop them into the coffee grinder.
Peaches & Cream Smoothie
1 1/2 – 2 peaches, sliced
1 cup frozen cauliflower
1 cup ice
1 cup Greek vanilla yogurt
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
splash of milk
Chop the peach, banana, and add everything into a blender.
Blend & enjoy!
Frozen peaches might actually be even better. I KNOW! Don’t say such things. I like smoothies to be cold, frosty, and I’m not sure I’d taste the difference of a frozen peach and a fresh one here. I might have fallen deeper in love if it were colder. I only had 1 small ingredient frozen: cauliflower, then I added some ice.