Butternut Squash Lasagna Redo

I posted this butternut squash lasagna last year but I thought it it needed a little re-do.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash Lasagna

Don’t judge this lasagna until you try it. It is seriously so good and a great fall food. I love this one! It is much faster to prep & cook than traditional Italian lasagna.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

(adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, roasted
16 oz ricotta cheese
½ cup cream cheese
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup Parmesan cheese grated
1 cup chicken (or vegetable) stock
½ box lasagna noodles

Directions:

Roast butternut squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper for about 30 minutes at 425 degrees. (this could be done the day before)
Combine ricotta, cream cheese, egg yolk, and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash
Mix squash and chicken stock over medium low heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash Lasagna
To assemble lasagna: spread noodles on the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan; top with ricotta mixture and some cheese; layer more noodles; top with butternut squash mixture.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash Lasagna
Repeat laying noodles then ricotta and cheese, then noodles, then squash and repeating until all the layers are used.The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash Lasagna
Sprinkle some cheese on top.
Bake 30 minutes at 375.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash Lasagna
I sprinkled some fresh basil in there. I love the flavor combo and I hadn’t grabbed a package of sage. I think the fresh-factor is important and sage makes it more fall-ish.

See? Pretty simple and it’ll feed a crowd. It is a great dinner to prep in advance and stick in the oven for just little fuss. It reheated well and I froze leftover pieces.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash Lasagna

Butternut Squash Lasagna (serves 6-9)

1 butternut squash: $1.89
16 oz. ricotta: $1.99
4 oz. cream cheese: $0.62
1 egg yolk: $1.24
16 oz. mozzarella: $3.59
4 oz. Parmesan cheese: $1.98
8 oz. chicken stock: $0.11 ($2.99 jar/25 cubes=11 cents per cube/cup)
8 oz. lasanga noodles: $1.00
total cost = $12.42/9 servings = $1.38 per serving
Even cutting larger pieces (6 instead of 9) comes to $2.07 per serving!

I had some leftover noodles. Early on in your layers, take a quick count how many noodles fit so you don’t run out mid layer when you could have scooched a few. I cut the up the leftover noodles with a little sauce and some cheese. Pow! Pop a meatball on and I’ve got a last minute dinner in the freezer some night! My resourceful Momma taught me well!
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash Lasagna

Thanksgiving Sides & a GIVEAWAY

Thank you to Country Crock for sponsoring this post. Visit and tell us your favorite Thanksgiving veggie for extra entries into this giveaway. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective.

Today I have a very special GIVEAWAY but first we’ll chat Thanksgiving.

Halloween is over, on to the next foodie holiday!I haven’t hosted Thanksgiving yet but I’m always happy to provide a side to whichever family is graced with my presence. I tested out a veggie side using Country Crock and it was awesome! I tried my hand at a few Thanksgiving-y dinner items.

Smokey Maple Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
3 tbs Country Crock
4 slices of bacon
1/4 cup maple syrup
a few drips of liquid smoke (optional)
1/3 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Directions:

Steam brussels sprouts until just starting to soften (they’ll cook more in the pan)
Melt Country Crock in a saute pan.
Add brussels sprouts to Country Crock and cook for about 5-7 minutes on medium high heat, stirring occasionally.
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Once sprouts have begun browning, add in maple syrup, liquid smoke, bacon and cranberries.
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Cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring well, then remove from heat.
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This was great. Bacon makes everything better so don’t forget that one. I added some liquid smoke to give it a touch of earthiness. The bacon adds that too, but I think liquid smoke is a great addition to anything with bacon. I put it in chili too. The Country Crock adds the perfect golden creaminess without too many calories or trans fat.

I somehow forgot that I was going to put the dried cranberries in. It would have added a nice red (and tart!) punch.

I also made  stuffing cups so my Thanksgiving side wouldn’t be lonely. This wasn’t really a recipe, I just added and threw it all together. I gently cooked onions in a few tablespoons of Country Crock.

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I added in two different kinds of bread, chopped with chopped apple, thyme, and a splash of white wine.

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I baked it for 20 minutes in muffin cups so it would be single serve-able.
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They didn’t stay together too well. Ohh well! I liked how perfect the textures played together. The apples and onions totally helped make this better than out-of-the-box. Can you believe how few ingredients it takes?!

I served these two winning sides along with some turkey meatloaf muffins I saw. Nothing like some stellar sides to accompany a frozen quickie dinner.
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What Thanksgiving sides do you graviate towards? Check out some of these other sides (spoiler: I have my eyes on that spoonable cornbread!)

Now, for the GIVEAWAY. Ta Da!

what you’ll win:

Check out these awesome Williams Sonoma candle holders here

Check out this Sur la Table baking dish with wire basket here

****This giveaway has ended. The winner is # 9, Kim F! Thank you for your support and I hope you enjoyed the Thanksgiving side!****

when to enter: now until Sunday November 4 at midnight EST.
how to enter: leave a comment telling us your favorite Thanksgiving side!
extra entries: follow The Three Bite Rule on facebook then leave another comment letting me know you follow
extra entries: follow @threebiterule on twitter then leave another comment letting me know you follow
extra entries: check out Country Crock’s other ideas and leave a comment there, and back here letting me know you did.

Thank you to Country Crock for being a sponsor. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Manhandling Manicotti

Manicotti is totally not seasonally appropriate but I don’t care. I love pasta in all forms and figured I’d try out manicotti one night when it wasn’t too hot to have the oven on. I can’t say this is my favorite. I really love lasagna  and stuffed shells come in a close second, but my manicotti was good. They’re just tougher to assemble than stuffed shells. It was a labor of patience.

I should give Amy’s manicotti a try  she learned to make it with Monterey jack slices instead of ricotta from her mom. That sounds easier and maybe cheesier!

Look who photo bombed my picture! Windsor is often underfoot in the kitchen so I figured I wouldn’t crop him out of this one. It’s a tough one to capture since he’s black against cherry cabinets so nevermind how over exposed it is, just look for the red collar!
The three Bite Rule puppy photobomb

Ingredients:

1 box Manicotti shells
2 cups tomato sauce
32 oz. ricotta
1 egg
1 cup baby spinach (optional)
1 tbs chopped garlic
2 tbs Italian seasoning
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Directions:

Boil manicotti until about 50% cooked, be sure not to overcook them then drain
Mix ricotta, egg, chopped spinach, garlic, Italian seasoning, and ¾ cup mozzarella until combined.
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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prep a baking dish with nonstick spray and ½ cup tomato sauce
Carefully spoon ricotta mixture into the manicotti shells. (I used a teaspoon and filled using both ends (and gravity).
Spread sauce over the top, cover with foil, and bake for 35 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule manicotti
Remove the cover, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and bake for another 5 minutes until golden and melty.
The Three Bite Rule manicotti

I added the spinach because I often have some leftover and it is an easy/healthy way to sneak a veggie into this. When I have leftovers I toss it into a plastic container in the freezer if I can’t use it right away. The ability to cook it or eat spinach raw makes it my favorite green.

This is a good one to make & freeze if you aren’t into eating it meal after meal! It would be a good one to give my cousins-in-law who are now new parents (if they weren’t 2,000+ miles away)!

If I just scared you off….

Check out my baked ziti for easier assembly 
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or check out Martha’s Butternut Squash Lasagna I made and fell in love with if you are wishing fall upon us
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Corn, Avocado, and Cuke Salad

I have a brief (but delicious) one for you today. I just got back from San Fran and have a lot of catching up to do. I made this side salad for Father’s day since my dad is all about the avocados recently. It is a bit delayed but couldn’t be more perfect for the crazy heat we’re having here on the East Coast (San Fran, not so much). I liked it as an easy alternative for a veggie side.

Ingredients:

2 cups corn
1 large cucumber (I used an English cuke so I didn’t have to peal it and there would be some dark green)
1 avocado
2 tbs chives (or green onions)
2 tbs Italian salad dressing
dash of salt

Directions:

Cook corn and roast corn slightly (roasting = optional).
corn roasting for corn/avocado/cuke salad
Chop cucumber, avocado, and chives.
Combine dressing with all the chopped ingredients and serve immediately.
corn avocado cuke salad thethreebiterule.com
Tip: leave out the avocado until serving but the rest can be prepped earlier that day
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I like the color and textures in this one. I would have been tempted to throw in some tomatoes if I had any around. The chives came from my garden and yes, they are the only edible thing growing right now. I’m crossing my fingers for my tomato plant that seems to be rockin’ some green future-tomatoes.

I think it also lends itself well to a Mexican meal or if you have an abundance of fresh corn this summer! It is light and cool so serve it at your next bbq and throw any leftovers into a quesadilla or onto your salad or dip into it with chips.

Greek Dip with Some Assembly Required

This is the easiest dip ever. There’s no cooking involved…some assembly required. Make this for your next BBQ or pool party and you’re guaranteed to wow people. I really enjoy the simplicity of this in relation to how much folks rave about this dip! Yesterday was Ms. L’s bday and she likes this one ;)
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Ingredients

8 oz hummus
2-4 oz feta
1 cucumber
2 tomatoes
3 tbs Italian salad dressing

Directions

Spread hummus onto a plate
Chop cucumbers and tomatoes and toss with feta and dressing
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Arrange on top of hummus
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Serve with pita chips, wheat thins, or your favorite crackers

That’s it!

It is a nice alternative to other dips served. It is lighter but really fresh tasting and goes with anything. I’ve made the topping and assembled on-site when it was time to eat so I can attest to how portable it is.

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged it before. It tends to be a crowd pleaser. Even when people tell me they won’t like it, they try it and are surprised. Happens. Every. Time.

It would be good as a crostini if it is easier for you not to serve a dip. If you do make it as a dip I assure you folks will be standing around devouring this one! (I love when that happens at a party but crostinis would help when serving a crowd.)

Cost Breakdown

Hummus: $3.50
Feta $1.99
Cucumber $0.75 (English cuke $2.00)
2 plum tomatoes $1.00
Wheat thins $3.00
Total = $11.49 (for the dip & dippers to serve 6-8 for <$2.00) That’s even using an English cuke which is totally worth it not to have to peel it!

Spinach and Artichoke Calzone

I’ll put almost anything in a calzone. I like to do a few meatless meals sprinkled throughout the regular scheduled items. It is such a cost saving and it is never a bad thing to add more veggies into our lives. This wasn’t my greatest calzone. I think I didn’t like that there wasn’t enough texture for my taste. The inside was flavorful but cheese + spinach + artichoke + more cheese, made for a gooey center.

Ingredients:

1 pizza dough ball
12 oz shredded mozzarella
8 oz ricotta
2 cups baby spinach
8 oz artichoke hearts
1 tbs garlic, chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Mix ricotta, spinach, artichokes, and garlic together.
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Gently stretch dough into a big circle and lay it onto a baking sheet with one half centered aka, the bottom of the calzone (with the other hanging off, aka the top).
Layer some of the filling spreading it out, almost to the edge.
Top it with mozzarella, layer on more filling, then more mozzarella until both cheese and filling runs out.
Carefully fold the top over to meet the other edge. Gently press the edges to seal.
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Brush with eggwash, if desired.
Cut about 4 slits on the top to let steam out.
Bake 30-40 minutes and let stand at least 5 minutes before cutting.
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This is an oozer! I waited and cut but it still oozed a bit. I mean, the inside is very malleable so it started escaping a bit. I can’t even imagine if I cut it immediately! Be sure to fill, fill, and fill the calzone some more. The worst homemade calzones are super doughy without much in the middle. Get that filling all the way to the edges too. The eggwash is optional. It’ll make the top shiny and restaurant-quality looking. I also never recommend trying to transport the uncooked calzone. Load it up right on the pan you’re cooking it on. You’ll hate your life trying to move it since you won’t have enough hands/spatulas/coordination to move it from your counter to the pan gracefully.

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The flavors were good, and the crust was the crunch needed but I thought the inside was too much of the same texture. I think because I had a texture issue with this, I’d stick to spinach and artichoke as dip or maybe I’d do it as pizza. Check out my other calzones I’d recommend in a heartbeat.

Cheesy Baked Ziti

My Grandma W wasn’t known for her cooking but I’ve thought of her often lately. She would have loved Mr. J and she would be really proud that we got the house. She was a tough cookie but her grandchildren could do no wrong.
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She made fantastic fudge, chex-mix, and baked ziti. Mine didn’t quite rival hers, but it was good. The perfect sauce with lots of cheese was an ideal dinner. I concentrated on making sure there was a ton of cheese and that the noodles were cooked perfectly.

Ingredients:

1 pound ziti, rigatoni, or penne
2 cups tomato sauce
12 oz ricotta
1 cup spinach
12 oz shredded mozzarella

Directions:

Boil pasta until al dente (it will keep cooking when baked)
Blend (or chop) spinach into ricotta
Mix ricotta with pasta, half the sauce, and half the mozzarella.
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Spread into a greased pan and top with remaining sauce.
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Bake 30 minutes covered. Then top with remaining cheese and bake until melted.
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Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

If I were making this Grandma W style, I would have added meatballs, chicken thighs, sausage, pepperoni, peppers, and onions.  Mine was simplier but I liked it a lot. I have a strong love for ricotta.
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It reminded me of a baked pasta Ms. L made for me. I liked the crispy ones at the edges. I think this dish is super easy, can be made ahead of time, and is definitely a cheap dinner.

Cost breakdown:
Sauce: $1.67
Pasta: $1.00
Ricotta: $2.69
Spinach: $1.74
Shredded mozzarella: $2.99
Total: $10.09 and serves 6 or just $1.68 per person

Broccoli and Cheddar Soup in Breadbowls

I’ve been meal planning lately and it’s working out great. I’ll go into further detail later, but I think it’s helping me a bit more well rounded. Mr. J might have been a little bit nervous when I popped a soup onto the weekly list but we LOVED this.
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I wasn’t even going to blog this but just after I got going I figured it was worthy! My roux was perfect. That doesn’t happen all the time. I’ve made a few mac & cheeses that haven’t been ideal because my roux ratios were off. This time it was right on and it made the soup velvety and delicious.

Ingredients:

¼ cup flour
¼ cup butter
1½ cup half and half cream
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups broccoli florets
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar (I used a mix of sharp and American)

Directions:

Melt butter and whisk in flour. Let it cook for about 5 minutes on medium low until golden and sticky.
Add in cream and chicken stock, stirring until well incorporated. Add broccoli and cook covered for 15 minutes.
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Slowly add cheese and stir until melted.
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Cook for 15 minutes on low.

I served this soup in bread bowls by just baking lumps of pizza dough and scooping out the middle after the outside was fully cooked. It took about 30 minutes at 375-degrees to cook far enough in. The bread bowls were about baseball size each or a quarter of the dough.
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It was so thick and could easily be thinned out with more milk, water, or chicken stock. We really liked how creamy it was and the thickness was a good thing to us. I owe all the credit to the roux. I normally don’t measure but the equal parts worked magically.

Look at how interested the pup is. Windsor hangs out by the microwave that is set into the island. He was interested in the chicken stock warming up.
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This literally could have been fondue it was that thick and melty.  I think it would have liked it as a dip with crusty bread or to fill baked potato skins.

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Peanut Noodle Salad Hot or Cold

Marcus Sameulsson had me at bok choy. Well, I actually hadn’t cooked bok choy before but I loved this recipe from his blog. This was a pretty quick one to put together and it reheated well the next day for lunch.
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Peanut Noodle Salad with Edamame and Bok Choy

 

Serves 4, adapted from Peas and Thank You

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/4 cup peanut butter
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp honey
8 oz whole wheat spaghetti
2 heads baby bok choy, chopped
2 cups frozen edamame

Directions:

In a food processor mix coconut milk, tomatoes, peanut butter, soy sauce, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, and honey until smooth.
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Boil the pasta.
While the pasta boils, cook the bok choy for about 5 minutes or until crisp-tender before adding the edamame and cook until heated through.
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Add the spaghetti to the pan and pour the peanut sauce mixture into the pan, tossing to coat.  Serve warm or at room temperature.
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This was a really great meat-less meal. I was shocked, but Mr. J really liked it too! I wasn’t sure he’d be really into the coconut milk/peanut butter sauce. This was also a great use of whole wheat pasta. Normally, I really don’t like it and honestly, I’d often prefer not to even have pasta if it is going to be wheat.

It is fresh tasting. Each bite had something different…from the noodles coated in the creamy peanut sauce, to the bite of the edamame, to the leafy bok choy. The recipe had peppers in it but I threw in some carrots for color instead.
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Guest Blog: Veggie Rangoons

Today I bring you a guest blog post from a college student in Austin. Joseph Ver is not only learning lessons in the classroom, but he’s learning his way around the kitchen. Without further ado, here he is:

I can give you a long list of my grievances in having to live in dorm conditions, from loud running and screaming in the middle of the night to my heightened mysophobia, but I feel the winner of the worst reason to live in a dorm is the lack of kitchen. I remember dorm shopping with my mother. I was excited to buy skillets and cutting boards, which is possibly a strange thing for a college bound guy to be excited about. Imagine the tears I shed when I found out that the kitchen was on the fourth floor. Nevertheless, I did try to cook tofu curry on the first week of school. It was a disaster to say the least, and successfully kept me away from that kitchen for the rest of the year.

Fast forward to today, a few semesters later, and I am now living in an on-campus apartment. Sure, I still have to hear my loud peers in the parking lot during thirsty Thursdays, but at least I now have a kitchen to myself (and a roommate). Maybe I should have prefaced this post by saying that I have little to no culinary experience. My training has consisted of helping my Filipino mother cook dinner, experimenting with eggs, watching cooking shows on PBS and the Food Network, and drawing inspiration from religiously watching Top Chef. To say the least, I’m a scrappy cook. I’ll find and follow recipes and add my own little twists.

Starting from the beginning of this school year, I’ve tried my hand at mashed potatoes, chicken teriyaki tacos, mapo doufu, French toast with my very own egg bread, and chicken tikka masala among many other dishes. You can probably tell that I cook a lot of Asian inspired dishes. I think my proudest moment actually stemmed from having to salvage vegetables. Now, I’m stereotypical poor college student on a strict budget. Throwing away food does not make me happy in the least bit.

Having bought a bunch of vegetables the week before, I remembered that I had to eat my spare broccoli and asparagus ASAP before it truly went bad. I wanted something more exciting than steamed vegetables, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but merely something I wasn’t in the mood for at the time. I had bought wonton wrappers and a block of cream cheese when I realized that I could make crab rangoon. Having learned how to make this simple Chinese-American restaurant staple a few years ago at an Asian Festival back in San Antonio, I decided to do my own vegetarian rendition of it with a twist. (Keep in mind that this was me throwing things from the fridge together, so ingredients are approximate and rather spontaneous)

Broccoli and Cheese Rangoons

Ingredients:

-A pack of wonton wrappers (Found in an oriental store, but your local supermarket may have them)
-A block (16 oz.) of cream cheese
-A head of broccoli, chopped up into very small pieces
-Three sprigs of finely sliced green onion
-Cooking oil for deep frying
-Salt and pepper to taste
Optional:
-Finely chopped asparagus
-Finely sliced sundried tomatoes
-Finely chopped up of any vegetable that you think would fit in a small pocket of fried goodness

Directions:

This recipe is very simple. Just soften some cream cheese in room temperature, place it in a bowl and mix in all of your veggies nicely.
Now, there are many ways you can wrap the wonton wrapper. The best way is to put around a tablespoon of filling into your wanton wrapper, and fold it diagonally into a little triangle. Seal the wrapper with water.
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I don’t have a deep fryer, so instead I just put a considerable amount of cooking oil into my wok and fried it that way.
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Be afraid of getting hit by crackling oil- it really hurts!

It’s really easy to tell when they’re finished. It’s not like you have to worry about having the filling uncooked and getting sick since it’s merely cream cheese. Go ahead and place them on a plate with a paper towel to cool and enjoy! (One looks like a tiny egg roll, hehe)
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Once again, this is a really simple recipe and thing to make and my main point for making it was to salvage vegetables that were going to end up in the trash in a few days. Are there any other recipes that you make on the fly because you want to save certain ingredients? Let me know!

Joseph Ver is an SEO intern at SpareFoot.com. He attends Saint Edward’s University in Austin, TX and, aside from cooking, loves watching reality shows (Top Chef, Project Runway, Survivor) and befriending various people on the bus. He also blogs when he actually remembers that he has one right here.

Would you like to be a guest blogger? Email emily@thethreebiterule for more details!