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Penne with Butternut Squash and Kale

14 Jun

OMG, so far all I have written is the title of this post, and my stomach is already growling. Penne with Butternut Squash and Kale is my new favorite pasta! And I am a pasta fanatic, so that’s saying something.It’s so different from all of the other pasta recipes I’ve tried, which are typically tomato based (and often have ample cheese).

Butternut squash kale pasta
In this recipe, the butternut squash and caramelized onions give the dish a magnificent sweetness that that complements the savory kale and Parmesan. And dare I say this pasta is healthy? I think so! Butternut squash and kale are both superfoods, and sauce is made from a little white wine, not oil.

Butternut squash kale pasta 2
I admit, this recipe is a little time-consuming (the caramelized onions and squash take a while), but not necessarily labor intensive– you just have to plan ahead. I tend to get the onions and squash started, go do things around the house for a while, and then resume. Once the onions, squash, and pasta are cooked, it all comes together quickly. And oh my goodness, is it worth the wait!! If you love it half as much as I do, you’ll be very pleased.

Butternut squash kale pasta 3

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Kale

(recipe by Rikki Snyder)


  • Butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves torn
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 8 oz penne pasta
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan, to taste


  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet over low heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until completely caramelized, stirring occasionally at first, then more often as the onions begin to brown. This could take anywhere from 30 minutes to up to an hour. Season with pepper and remove from skillet when done.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss butternut squash with 2 tbsp oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until tender.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • When onions, squash, and pasta are ready, add 1 tbsp oil to a large skillet (you can use the same one you had used for the onions to cut down on dishes). Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds.
  • Add kale and saute for 1 minute, then add wine to the skillet. Continue to cook until the kale has wilted, about 2-3  minutes.
  • Stir in pasta, onions, and squash; cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes more.
  • Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with parmesan.

Makes 4 servings.


Balsamic Grilled Vegetables with Couscous

14 Jul

You know it’s a heat wave when the temperature is in the high 80s and it’s a “cool” day. Yuck!  When it’s this hot outside, the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven or stove. It’s the perfect time to grill! Grilling can take only a few minutes and doesn’t heat up the whole house. Plus, then I can get my husband to do most of the work 🙂

Today I’m sharing a recipe for my new favorite grilled dish. Adapted from a recipe by the grilling guru, Bobby Flay, it’s summer vegetables; marinated in a a delicious combination of balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, EVOO, and garlic, grilled; and tossed with couscous and fresh herbs. Super easy and so tasty!

I love the adaptability of this recipe. The original recipe calls for toasted Israeli couscous, which is delicious, but after running out of that rather expensive ingredient, I’ve been using regular whole wheat couscous and it works just as well. You can also use whatever vegetables you have on hand. I love grilled asparagus in it, but after it jumped in price, I was OK with leaving it out. Last night when I made this recipe again, I discovered that my cherry tomatoes had gone bad. I was dismayed because they add a lot of brightness to the dish. But I had some extra carrots on hand, so I threw them in, and they gave the dish a really nice sweetness. So really no matter what substitutions you need to make, you can’t go wrong. Grilled veggies are just that good 🙂

It’s delicious served warm, or at room temperature. Feel free to serve as a side salad, or like I do, as a main dish with some yummy grilled bread.

Balsamic Grilled Vegetables with Couscous

(adapted from recipe by Bobby Flay)


  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 green zucchini, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 yellow squash, quartered lengthwise
  • 4 carrots, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • 4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 lb couscous


  • In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard and garlic. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Pour 1/2 the marinade over the vegetables and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the grill to medium heat. Prepare the couscous as directed on package.
  • Remove the vegetables from the marinade and grill the vegetables until just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side (depending on the size of the veggies).
  • Cut the grilled vegetables into 1/2 inch pieces. Add them to the prepared couscous and herbs and toss with the remaining vinaigrette. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 main dish servings.

Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Chipotle

30 Sep

Brrr, it is getting chilly out! Good things about cold weather:

1) It means the holidays are upon us

2) I get to wear comfy hoodies and fuzzy socks

3) I have the coziest cuddles with my dogs under big fluffy blankets

4) I have occasion to make and eat lots of warm, hearty soups

Yeah, that’s about it.

I really don’t like cold weather! But I DO like soups, especially this Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Chipotle. It is reminiscent of the Sweet Potato, Corn, and Black Bean Soup recipe  I’ve previously shared, but this one is a chowder so it is creamier. And better yet, it has a very prominent and wonderful corn flavor due to all of the corn kernels PLUS the corn broth made from the reserved cobs! If you have never tried this technique before, I insist that you must. It makes a huge difference in flavor. I mean, if I were a contestant on Chopped, and corn was a mystery ingredient, I would win with this soup hands down 🙂 Not to brag or anything.

The only unfortunate thing is that corn is now going out of season so it’s hard to find corn-on-the-cob these days. Sad face. But from what I hear, corn-on-the-cob is also sold frozen? I will have to investigate this the next time I try to make this soup and can’t find any fresh. I imagine it would work just as well.

One other note about this recipe: Normally I cut it in half because it’s just my husband and I eating it, and it becomes very thick, as shown in the pictures, almost like a “stoup” a la Rachael Ray. However, last night I made the full batch so that we’d have leftovers (which I am enjoying as I write), and it turned out thinner, like what you would expect from a chowder. I’m not sure of the cause of this difference because the proportions of ingredients were the same, but rest assured, the flavors are outstanding either way.

Stay warm!

Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Chipotle

(adapted from recipe by Mark Bittman, The Food Matters Cookbook)


  • Kernels from 6 cobs of corn, cobs reserved
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 2 canned chipotle chilis in their adobo sauce, to taste (OR if you can’t find it, use 1/4 cup or more of chipotle salsa)
  • 1/4 cup fine cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Chopped cilantro, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • Place the reserved cobs and 6 cups of water in a pot over medium-high heat and salt it. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the water bubbles gently and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the cobs steep until you are read to use the broth.
  • Add the oil to a pot over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the scallions and chiptole and cook, stirring occasionally, about 1 minute or until the scallions are soft. Turn the heat to low and stir in the cornmeal and some pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to turn golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the cream and the reserved broth and turn the heat to medium-high.
  • Stir or whisk constantly until the cornmeal is dissolved and the soup begins to thicken, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the corn kernals and sweet potatoes and bring to a boil. Cover and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn and sweet potatoes are tender and the soup has thickened, about 15 minutes.
  • Add cilantro, salt, and pepper to taste.

Makes 5-6 servings.

Zucchini, Potato, and Scallion Pancakes with Chived Sour Cream

18 Sep

Whew, it has been a tiring weekend. I’m trying to sell my car, so yesterday consisted of getting my car’s oil changed, having it inspected, getting it washed, vacuuming it out, digging up old maintenance records, and taking pictures of it. Hopefully I can sell it soon and get a car that is more…well, badass.

Then today has been full of laundry, dishes, vacuuming (again!), and rug doctoring. Yes, the good ol’ Rug, M.D. I am trying to rid my carpets of all evidence of having two naughty (but stinkin’ cute) dogs living with me. The house is looking better already, but between homework and cleaning, I am exhausted. Remember when weekends used to be weekends?

But despite being so busy, I’ve managed to whip up some amazing meals lately. Last night I tried out Zucchini, Potato, and Scallion pancakes. Foodgasm alert! These pancakes are nice and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and perfectly but simply flavored with salt, pepper, and scallions. They were absolutely perfect with a cool dollop of chived sour cream on top. I served the pancakes with roasted carrots— a nice reward for a long day of work. Plus, I pilfered the recipe from a brilliant blog I’ve just stumbled upon called REC(ession)PES. I think the name speaks for itself 🙂

Zucchini, Potato, and Scallion Pancakes with Chived Sour Cream

(recipe by REC(ession)PES)


  • 1 large potato
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup lowfat sour cream
  • 1 bunch chives


  • Clean and scrub, but do not peel, the potato and zucchini. Using a box grater, grate potato and zucchini into a colander and toss with a teaspoon of salt. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then scoop up about a handful into a clean dishcloth. Wring out over the sink. Place dried grated vegetables into a large bowl. Repeat, switching to a clean dry dishtowel if need be, until you’ve dried all the grated vegetables. You want the potato and zucchini to be pretty dry at this point.
  • Slice the scallions into ¼ inch slices, and add to grated veggies in bowl. Add the flour, beaten eggs, and pepper to taste and stir to combine. Add in a few extra dashes of salt if you like.
  • Chop chives and combine with sour cream in a separate bowl.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in non-stick skillet over medium heat. Pick up about a handful of veggie mixture, and shape into a ball in your palm. Smoosh it into a cake by flattening it with your other hand, and add to skillet.
  • Repeat until you fill the pan, making sure not to crowd your pancakes. Cook about 3 minutes, until the bottoms are golden, and the cakes have set, being careful not to burn the bottoms. Then flip them over, and continue cooking for approximately another 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel. Adding more oil to the pan as needed, repeat until all the pancakes are cooked. Serve topped with dollops of sour cream and chives.

Makes about 15 pancakes with topping.