Spaghetti with Butternut Squash and Sage

During quarantine I think many have been finding that the daily walks are a time to clear your head and maybe reset between work and relaxation. It was during one of these walks that I kept thinking about this butternut squash and what I was going to create with it. Although it is “spring” here in New England, the weather quite has not caught up. That’s why I wanted to turn this recipe into something that was warm and hearty, but also still had elements of freshness and bright notes. This recipe exceeded everything I thought of during my walk, and I hope when you create it, it will exceed your expectations too!

Spaghetti with Butternut Squash and Sage

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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A warm pasta dish with loads of bright notes.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb spaghetti
  • 1 small-medium spaghetti squash
  • 3 large handfuls of fresh spinach, or 1 package frozen spinach drained of liquid
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 sprigs sage
  • 1 medium onion
  • fresh parsley
  • a nutty/pepper Parmesan
  • 1 tsp chicken base

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 Fahrenheit. Wash, peel, and cut the butternut squash into ~1 inch cubes.
  2. Add a tablespoon of oil and salt and pepper to the squash, tossing to coat, and then roast until tender (20 min) flipping halfway through.
  3. Put on a pot of salted water for the pasta as you continue to prep the sauce
  4. Dice the onion. In a dutch oven with 2 tablespoons of butter, set to medium heat and then add in the onion. Stirring continuously. Once the onions begin to get translucent, add in the sage (dried sage is best, but if you have ground sage that will work as well). Continue to cook until starts to brown.
  5. When the onions have begun to caramelize add in a 1/2 teaspoon of chicken base and 1/2 cup of water. Make sure to get all of the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add the raw spinach and a lid to the dutch oven to begin to wilt it down.
  7. About this time, your squash should be ready, and your pasta water boiling. Add the roasted squash to the dutch oven.
  8. Just before you drain your pasta, add one ladle worth of liquid to the pan. (this starchy water will help build up your sauce to cling to your pasta). Then drain and add everything to the pan. Now add your lemon zest.
  9. Stir everything in the pot for a few moments before platting and finishing.
  10. Finish with fresh parsley and LOTS of grated cheese.
  11. ENJOY!

Sausage over creamy Polenta

This recipe came to be after a 20 mile bike ride where we found ourselves starving and looking for something that was easy but also a little bit of a reward (I mean we did just bike 20 miles!) so we came to this recipe! And have made it many times since!

Sausage Over Creamy Polenta

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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A creamy satisfying revamp of sausage and peppers.

Ingredients

  • 3 Bell Peppers
  • 6 Italian Sausage (hot or sweet)
  • 1 Onions
  • 1 Cup Polenta
  • 2.5 Cups Water
  • 1/2 Cup Milk, or a splash of cream
  • 1 Cup Shredded Parmesan
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • A dollop of mustard and garlic powder

Directions

  1. Slice peppers and onions into strips, cook in a skillet until tender.
  2. Grill the sausage.
  3. Follow the instructions for cooking polenta as dictated on package. Mine called for three cups of water to 1 cup of polenta. I added 1/2 Cup milk to help boost the creaminess. Once the polenta is cooked, about 30 minutes, add in the garlic and mustard (just a little to help bring out the creaminess), and the Parmesan.
  4. Once everything is ready, assemble and enjoy!

Stuffed Up

Goat Cheese and Bread Stuffed Peppers

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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A unique twist on stuffed peppers with light airy filling.

Ingredients

  • 6 Red Bell Peppers
  • 1/2 loaf crusty bread
  • 6oz crumbled goat cheese
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • powdered garlic
  • tablespoon oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Wash and dry peppers and grill whole until tender and blistered. If you do not have a grill, these can be roasted in an oven. 425 for 20 minutes.
  2. Once peppers are tender, cut off the tops and carefully remove the seeds. Create a small opening, but maintain some structural integrity of the pepper.
  3. Cut your bread into 1/2 inch cubes and toast in a pan or oven with oil and a light dusting of garlic powder.
  4. Once toasted, combine in a bowl with chopped capers, the lemon zest, and the goat cheese.
  5. Stuff into the peppers and enjoy!

Cotechino Sausage with Cous Cous Saute

Last week I went to hear Mario Batali talk at Harvard, and everything he talked about brought me right back to Italy this summer, and my god I missed it.  After listening to him talk and watch him cook for an hour, I kicked myself for letting my passion for cooking and maintaining this blog fall by the way side. But it is a new month, soon to be a new year, and the time to change is now. This recipe took parts from what I saw while at Mario, and turned it into a new dish.  This sausage was what Mario made for us and I am obsessed.  It has so much flavor, probably from how many types of meat are in it and it also comes from Modena, so naturally it is fantastic. This can be made vegetarian and is a simple fantastic meal to enjoy whenever.

Ingredients:

  • Cotechino sausage (or other Italian Sausage)
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 3/4 cup cooked cous cous
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan
  • salt and pepper
  • balsamic vinegar

How to:

  1. Slice the sausage into disks.
  2. In a pan, place your butter in and then cook the sausage until crispy and a dark/golden brown on the edges.
  3. Remove the sausage from the pan and place on the side.
  4. Take your zucchini and onion and shred them.
  5. Then add them into the same pan your were cooking the sausage in, add in the garlic
  6. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and cook down until everything is tender.
  7. Add in the cous cous and continue to cook for a few minutes until incorporated.
  8. Add in the parmesan and cook on low heat until everything gets cheesy.
  9. Remove from heat and add the sausage back in.
  10. Drizzle with a bit of balsamic dressing and more cheese, and enjoy!

 

Pasta Carbonara With Peas

As you saw from my previous post I made a delicious Italian meringue buttercream, which was awesome but left me with several egg yolks with no purpose.  Although a pasta dish isn’t exactly what I wanted after a meal based completely on cake, I couldn’t let the opportunity to try this classic pasta dish pass me by.  This was definitely different then I expected when making this, but it was delicious and surprisingly simple.  I added peas, which isn’t traditional, but having little bits of green made me feel better about a dish full of bacon and pasta. Try this dish when you have extra egg yolks on hand, or if you just want a really delicious meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion
  • 3 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 strips of bacon (or pancetta)
  • 1/2 cup frozen (or fresh) peas
  • 1/2 dry white wine
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cups shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup pasta water
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • fresh ground pepper

How to:

  1. Begin by getting your salted water ready to boil.
  2. Chop up your bacon and onion.
  3. In a pan begin to heat up the oil and once hot add in the bacon and the onion.
  4. Cook for 8 minutes until the bacon starts to brown and the onions start to tender.
  5. Then add in your wine and peas, cook until it has begun to reduce.
  6. At the same time, in whatever bowl you will be serving the pasta in, add the egg yolks, parsley, and cheese. Whisk together with a fork.
  7. Once the bacon and onion has reduced, turn off the heat and let cool for a few minutes.  You don’t want to add it too hot to the eggs or it will cook them, which will make the sauce stringy.
  8. Your water has hopefully boiled during this time and your pasta is on it’s way to being perfectly al dente.
  9. Right before it is done and ready to be strained, add the bacon mixture to the egg mixture and stir.
  10. Once your pasta is ready, strain and transfer right away to the egg/bacon mixture.  Add in the pasta water to help create a creamier sauce.
  11. Flavor with fresh pepper and a bit of salt, and of course cheese.
  12. Eat quickly since it is only hot because of the pasta.

A Party Without Cake is Just a Meeting

There is a quote from Julia Child that says “a party without cake is a just a meeting” and I thought that was a wonderful theme for a party! So I decided to have a tea and cake party and try my hand at making three different types of cakes.  The results were wonderful! I will admit that these three cakes have three different levels of work, so you can choose accordingly. There is so much to celebrate, so don’t forget to take a break and enjoy some cake!

The cakes:

  • Matcha Mille Crepe Cake with honey whipped cream and raspberry jam
  • Cheese Cake
  • Orange Cake with Mango filling and an Italian Meringue Butter Cream

Cheese Cake

The easiest to make is the cheese cake.  You can make this with any of your favorite cheeses but the ones I chose were Edam (with the beautiful red wax shell), a wheel of brie, and colby jack cheese sticks.  Basically you are going to make a “cake” out of different cheeses, and decorate using some cream cheese “frosting”

How to: Begin by making the cream cheese “frosting”.  Mine was sun dried tomato and basil flavored, but you can do whatever flavor you desire. Take block of cream cheese. Add in 1.5 tablespoons of sun dried tomato chopped or dried, one teaspoon of basil, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Salt and pepper to taste.  Add a bit of water and whip together to soften it and make it pipe-able. I added a bit of dye to make it a bit more red.

Cutting the cheese sticks into cubes and make a circle layer base. Then top with the brie, then the edam.  I topped it with a few sprigs of basil and filled the plate with crackers.  This was a lovely presentation, but just know you will have to take it apart to eat most of it.

Matcha Crepe Cake

This is an average hardness level recipe.  The components are all simple together, but are a little time consuming to put together.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon matcha powder
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 raspberry jam

How to:

  1. In a large bowl add your flour and matcha powder and make a well.  Add the eggs to the well and begin to beat them into the flour.  Slowly add in the milk and whisk the mixture until smooth. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  2. In a nonstick pan, spray with a little pan spray and set to medium low heat. Then ladle in the crepe batter, about 1/4 cup per crepe.  Make sure the batter is even across the bottom of the pan.  If cooked on low they will cook through so you don’t need to flip them.
  3. I made these the night before and put them in the fridge until the next day.  You can make this all the same day but depending on your filling you will want the crepes completely cooled.
  4. To make the whipped cream, simply whip the cream, add honey and a tough of vanilla and boom. Done.
  5. Begin layering the crepes. I did a layer with whipped cream (just a ring around the outside and a bit in the center), then a layer of thin raspberry.  Traditionally it should be at least 20 layers tall, but I lost count.
  6. I love color so I made the whipped cream bright blue, but you don’t have to do that.

The last cake is a labor. I wanted to do it to test my culinary skills but it has a lot of components, and without a stand mixer, it was a bit of a bear.  So with a stand mixer, this could be a breeze, but if you don’t have one, would not recommend. I also am not going to post this recipe yet because I can definitely improve it, so when that happens, it will be here! For now enjoy some of the pictures!  I can’t wait to develop my decorating skills.