Tag Archives: comfort food

Butternut Squash mac and cheese

butternut squash

This year I’ve really been enjoying the flavors of fall. Typically I find fall a little depressing probably because I love summer so much but this year I’ve actually enjoyed it. Not the cold weather, but definitely the food. Trader Joe’s pumpkin ice cream may have something to do with that. Seriously though I’ve recently realized just how delicious all the seasonal fall flavors can be, like the different kinds of squash that emerge, including my new favorite, delicata squash.

This dish is hearty, comforting and is definitely perfect for fall because of the butternut squash. The squash becomes the sauce in this recipe and is tossed with pasta shells and lots of sharp cheddar cheese. Then it’s topped with parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs and baked off in the oven. Quintessential comfort food. There are lots of variations on butternut squash mac and cheese but this is the way I make it. Continue reading

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My version of zuppa toscana

zuppa toscana

I don’t care what anyone says about Olive Garden. Their Zuppa Toscana soup is one of my favorite soups around. That and their breadsticks. So good! There are so many different versions of Zuppa Toscana out there and I’m sure they are all good but I decided to create my own based on the Olive Garden version I love so much. I have no idea what they put in theirs but I think my version comes pretty darn close and it’s incredibly simple. It’s also a one pot meal which makes cleanup a breeze. Continue reading

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The perfect fall pasta with butternut squash and kale

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Last night was the first night that really felt like winter to me. I was craving something comforting for dinner and pasta is the quintessential comfort food for me. This recipe combines many comforting flavors, especially for the fall and winter seasons. Butternut squash, Tuscan kale, and spicy sausage make up the backbone of this dish and the flavors go perfectly together.

What I love most about this dish is that the butternut squash actually becomes the sauce for the pasta. It’s pureed with chicken stock, mixed with some half and half and parmesan cheese and simmered until it becomes thick and creamy. I saw this idea on one of Rachael Ray’s shows and thought it was genious. I love butternut squash but I’ve never thought to turn it into a sauce for pasta. I bet you could also use canned pumpkin puree as a substitute if you didn’t have butternut squash on hand. This recipe has many different components and does require a number of steps and ingredients but it is really quite simple to follow and it’s so worth it! I’ve broken down the ingredients and recipe into two parts – making the squash sauce, and assembling the rest of the dish (the pasta, kale & sausage). Continue reading

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Crock pot BBQ chicken sandwiches

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On busy days the slow cooker, aka crock pot, is my life saver. Yesterday was one of those busy days for me and I knew I would not feel like cooking dinner from scratch when I got home. Thankfully, I have a slow cooker. Here are just a few of the things I LOVE about the slow cooker:

1. Easy clean up. One pot.
2. Cooking food slowly (especially meat) makes it incredibly tender.
3. It makes your house smell amazing.
4. It does all the work for you. There is very little cooking involved.
5. It’s pretty much fool proof. Continue reading

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Roasted Delicata Squash

delicata squash

Del – a – what?? I had never heard of delicata squash either but when I stumbled upon this lovely little squash in the grocery store I was intrigued. I wish I had taken a picture of the squash before I chopped it up and cooked it so you could see what it looks like. I didn’t think ahead. Plus, to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would share this recipe because I had no idea how it would turn out. A delicata squash is a white or cream colored oblong squash with green stripes. They are pretty AND turns out, they are delicious. Delicata delicious. If I had to describe the taste and texture I would say that delicata squash taste like a combination of butternut squash and sweet potato.

The other awesome thing about these squash is that they are so much easier to prepare than butternut squash. The skin is thinner and the squash is smaller so it doesn’t require a lot of dangerous hacking with a sharp knife. I don’t know about you but preparing butternut squash is always a challenge for me. The knife always gets stuck in the squash and I wind up having to use all my strength to pull it out, all the while praying that it doesn’t go flying out of my hand. It’s a stressful process. Preparing delicata squash as opposed to butternut is a cinch. You still need a sharp knife but you can definitely cut into these little guys without risking your life or your fingers. Continue reading

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Creamy white beans with crumbled bacon and parmesan

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I was a little nervous to make this dish. Cooking with dried beans is kind of intimidating for me. I’m not sure why except that I guess it’s because I don’t do it all that often so I’m not sure how long to let them soak or how much liquid to cook them in. But that’s what google is for right? Turns out, it’s really not that difficult to cook with dried beans! There are also a variety of ways to cook them and although the process does take some time, this recipe is simple and the results are delicious. One of the most important steps in cooking with dried beans is to soak them overnight. It cuts down on the cooking time and helps to soften the beans.

This dish combines dried white cannellini beans, veggies like onions, carrots, and celery, chicken broth, fresh thyme and grated parmesan cheese. It’s topped with crumbled bacon and fresh parsley. It’s warm, creamy and comforting and a perfect dinner for a cold, rainy day. I actually make a similar recipe that I found in a cooking light magazine years ago with brown lentils but I think I like this version even better. Serve it with a piece of warm, crusty bread and it’s the perfect comforting meal for any night of the week. Continue reading

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Potato Leek Soup with crispy pancetta

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I was on pinterest the other day looking through some of the recipes I had pinned (read: thousands of recipes). Sometimes I go looking for new recipes instead of browsing through the delicious recipes I’ve already pinned so this time I decided to look through what I already had in my “pinterest archives”. I found SO many awesome recipes that I had forgotten about pinning. In particular, I was looking for recipes for soup. I’ve been craving soup lately I guess because it’s starting to get cold again. I found this particular soup while I was browsing and thought wow, that looks pretty delicious. Often times I find recipes and wind up changing them completely. I use the recipe for inspiration and then create my own spin-off depending on what I have on hand in my pantry and fridge and what I’m in the mood for. The pinterest recipe was a slow cooker recipe, which I definitely had not planned ahead for and I had other ingredients in my fridge that I thought would work really well with this soup. So, as usual, I changed the recipe quite a bit. Here is my version of it. I hope you love it as much as I did. For the original recipe that sparked my inspiration for this soup, click here. Continue reading

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Chicken, asparagus and mushrooms with white wine and thyme

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I should really cook with chicken more. I cook with it a fair amount but I just realized that not many of my recipes on this blog include chicken, which is weird because it’s one of the most popular foods around. It’s pretty versatile. You can do a lot with chicken. It’s also a healthy, lean protein, which I could definitely eat more of. Another plus is that Matt loves chicken. I’ve mentioned before that I could live off of vegetables and carbs so sometimes cooking with meat is a challenge for me. I’m always looking for recipes that incorporate meat in a way that both Matt and I will be happy with.

This turned out to be a really satisfying meal. I made up the recipe as I went along (as I often do) and the ingredients wound up complimenting each other nicely. I served this with my roasted vegetable couscous but this could easily be served over some angel hair pasta or some brown rice or even alongside some simple roasted potatoes. This meal definitely falls under the comfort food category in my book. Both cooking it and eating it turned out to be very relaxing. Tender chicken cooked in white wine, chicken broth and thyme with loads of fresh asparagus and baby portabellas, what could be more comforting than that? Continue reading

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