Sausage, Apple, & Cranberry Stuffed Butternut Squash

Ingredients

  • 2 med/large butternut squash
  • 3 Tbsp avocado oil or olive oil, divided
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 3 cups kale chopped
  • 1 medium apple, chopped (honeycrisp or pink lady)
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425° degrees F and prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut open each butternut squash lengthwise so you have 4 long halves. Scoop out the seeds and strings, then drizzle with 2 Tbsp of the oil and sprinkle generously with sea salt and pepper.
  3. Place halves face down on the baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until softened (check at 30 minutes).
  4. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Cook sausage into the skillet until almost done.
  5. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until soft and fragrant.
  6. Add in the fresh herbs and continue to cook for another minute.
  7. Stir in the kale, apples, and pecans, and cook for another minute or two until just softened.
  8. Remove from heat, stir in the cranberries, and season the mixture to taste with sea salt and black pepper.
  9. Once the squash is done, allow it to cool until you are able to scoop out the squash, leaving about 3/4” border around the sides and bottom.
  10. Stir the scooped out squash into the sausage mixture.
  11. Generously fill the sausage mixture into the squash boats.
  12. Place filled squash boats onto the the baking sheet and broil on high until the top of the stuffing and squash are golden brown, 2-4 minutes or so.  
  13. Garnish with additional fresh herbs, salt, and pepper to taste.

Thanks to the original recipe found here.

Macaroni and Cheese

Makes 6-8 Side Servings

Ingredients

  • 12 oz elbow pasta
  • 1 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 16 oz velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
  • 4 oz pepper jack cheese
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Prepare an 8×8 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Boil water in a large pot. Make sure to add a pinch of kosher or sea salt to the water.
  3. Add pasta and cook following box directions until pasta has reached al dente.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan heat milk over medium heat until it begins to simmer. In batches, alternating, stir in both cheeses. Continue to stir until cheese has melted.
  5. Stir in both salts and pepper.
  6. When pasta is done cooking, drain and combine with cheese sauce.
  7. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish and broil on high for 2-3 minutes. Keep a close eye on your dish to avoid burning. Serve and enjoy!

Thanks to the original recipe found in The Hungry Fan’s Game Day Cookbook (pp. 201).

The Story Behind the Recipe

I grew up in a town that could be referred to as small three months of the year and the other nine, our population more than doubles. The area I live in is a college town, home of the Penn State Nittany Lions. From the moment I can remember, fall has meant tailgating season.

I’ll continuously be on the hunt for great make-ahead dishes that can be easily reheated at the tailgate. To make this recipe for a tailgate, simply omit the last step of broiling and add a bit of water to rehydrate the dish while reheating. Eats great out of disposable food paper tray such as this.

French Onion Soup

Makes 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 lbs yellow onions, halved and sliced
  • 2 lbs red onions, halved and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • baguette, 8 diagonal slices (1/2-inch)
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese

Instructions

  1. Scatter butter on the bottom of a 6-7 quart slow cooker.
  2. Add oil, thyme, garlic and bay, then onions.
  3. Add salt and pepper.
  4. Cover and cook on high for 8 hours.
  5. When 15 minutes remain, prepare cheese toasts and broth.
  6. Position rack in upper third of oven. Prepare a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking oil. Lightly oil bread slices and top with cheese.
  7. Add beef broth and dry sherry to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  8. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf from the slow cooker and pour in the broth. Continue cooking on high for 10 minutes.
  9. Broil cheese toasts on high for 1-2 minutes until cheese is melted.

Thanks to the original recipe found in EatingWell Soups (pp. 182).

COOKING TIPS

To reduce tearing while cutting the onions, refrigerate whole onions for 30 minutes before slicing.

For a more cheesy soup. Ladle soup into oven safe bowls, top with preferred amount of cheese, and broil until cheese has slightly browned.

Sausage Stuffed Shells in Roasted Butternut Squash

Makes 3-4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 pound sausage
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 pound jumbo shells, cooked al dente
  • 15 ounces ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, shredded
  • Additional parmesan, shredded
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Arrange onion and butternut squash in an even layer on a lined baking sheet.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Roast for 40 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook sausage over medium heat. When sausage is mostly browned, add spinach and garlic. Cook until spinach is wilted and remove from heat. 
  5. Place roasted butternut squash and onion in a food processor or large bowl. Puree with processor or immersion blender.
  6. Stir in milk and vegetable broth.
  7. Pour butternut squash sauce into base of a 9×13 baking dish.
  8. In a large mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, parmesan, and egg. Add sausage and spinach into ricotta and stir until evenly distributed.
  9. Fill cooked pasta shells with 3-4 tablespoons of filling.
  10. Arrange shells in butternut squash sauce in the 9×13 baking dish.
  11. Bake for 30 minutes covered with aluminum foil followed by 15 minutes uncovered.
  12. Option to serve with additional parmesan.

Thanks to the original recipe found here.

Chicken Fajita Pasta and Avocado Dressing

Ingredients

Chicken Fajita Noodles
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 10oz diced tomatoes & green chiles
  • 7oz pasta
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 scallion, sliced
Avocado Lime Dressing
  • 1 avocado seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup sour cream 
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice

Instructions

  1. Slice chicken into bite sized strips. Season with pepper and salt. 
  2. Heat a deep skillet with 1 teaspoon olive oil to high heat. 
  3. Add chicken, stir and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove chicken from pan and place into large bowl. 
  5. Turn heat to medium and add a teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet.
  6. Add garlic to hot skillet and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  7. Immediately add onions, peppers and seasonings through salt. 
  8. Cook and stir vegetables until onions are translucent, about 7 minutes. 
  9. Move cooked vegetables into the same bowl as the prepared chicken.
  10. Using the same skillet, add chicken broth, diced tomatoes and uncooked pasta.
  11. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 15 minutes until pasta is tender and most of the liquid has absorbed.
  12. Meanwhile combine all dressing ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.
  13. Return the chicken and vegetables to the skillet until heated, about 2 minutes.
  14. Stir in sour cream. 
  15. Serve with scallions and avocado dressing. 

The original recipe inspirations for the fajita and avocado dressing can be found here.

Slow Cooked Chicken Tikka Masala

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs chicken breasts, cut into 1½-inch chunks
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed 
  • 1 (29 oz.) can of tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin 
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves

30 Minutes Before Serving

  • 1 cup / 250 ml heavy cream (or coconut milk)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Lightly spray crockpot with nonstick cooking spray olive oil. 
  2. In a large crock-pot, combine all ingredients through olive oil. With a large large spatula, stir to combine.
  3. Place two bay leaves on top of the mixture.
  4. Cover and cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
  5. Once cooked, in a small bowl combine heavy cream and cornstarch. Gently stir mixture into the crockpot. Cook an additional 20 minutes to thicken.
  6. Finally stir in lemon juice.
  7. Serve with brown or white rice and garlic naan.

Thanks to the original recipe found here.

Bacon and Butternut Squash Pasta

Ingredients

  • 3 cups peeled butternut squash, cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 6 strips of turkey or regular bacon
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 8oz pasta, any type
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups reduced-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup provolone, shredded
  • 1/3 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese

Instructions

Squash, Bacon, & Onions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Prepare two oven safe cooking trays with foil. 
  3. Spray one pan with cooking spray and spread cubed butternut squash evenly over pan. Top with garlic powder, rosemary, salt and pepper.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Meanwhile, place bacon onto the second prepared pan and set a second timer for 10 minutes. 
  6. After 10 minutes check the bacon. Continue cooking bacon in 5 minute increments until bacon is brown and crisp, but not burnt. 
  7. Allow bacon to cool on paper towels and then crumble.
  8. While bacon cools, spray a medium sized pan with cooking spray (or coat pan with bacon grease) and cook onions on medium low until translucent.
Pasta & Sauce
  1. When squash is browned and done baking, increase oven temperature to 450F.
  2. Cook pasta according to directions until al dente, drain.  
  3. Meanwhile combine flour and a pinch of salt in a dutch oven, over medium high heat. 
  4. Slowly add milk while constantly whisking. Continue stirring until sauce comes to a low boil, cooking an additional minute until slightly thickened. 
  5. Remove sauce from heat and stir in provolone cheese until melted. 
  6. Add cooked squash, bacon, and onions to pasta and sauce mixture. Sprinkle with parmesan and bake for 10 minutes. 

Thanks to Cooking Light Comfort Food  for the original recipe! (p. 212)

Fall Chicken Dinner

Makes 5 Servings

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary, minced
  • 5 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large sweet potato, chopped into 3/4″ cubes (skin on)
  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 2 medium fuji apples, cored and sliced into 3/4″ pieces
  • 2 shallot bulbs, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 4 slices hickory smoked bacon, chopped 1″ pieces
  • Garnish with 2 Tbsp parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. 
  2. Pour 2 Tbsp olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and herbs into a gallon size resealable bag. 
  3. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper then seal bag and massage mixture over chicken while working to evenly distribute herbs. Set aside and let rest while chopping veggies.
  4. Place sweet potato, brussels sprouts, apples and shallot on a rimmed extra large baking sheet. 
  5. Drizzle with remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil then toss to evenly coat, season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread into an even layer.
  6. Set chicken thighs over veggie/apple layer.
  7. Sprinkle bacon on top. 
  8. Roast in preheated oven until chicken and veggies are golden brown, about 30 – 35 minutes (chicken should reach 165 degree F). Option: Broil during last few minutes for a more golden brown crispy skin.
  9. Garnish with parsley if desired and serve warm.

Thanks to the original recipe found here.

The Story Behind the Recipe

I became enlightened about one pan meals with this recipe. I had tried several one pan meals before, but none had compared to this one. This is literally fall on a plate.

Not only was it simple to cut everything up, but it’s all on one pan (which makes for easy clean up) and quick! Exactly what you need when the kids are heading back to school and new activities are starting to take up any time you may have had to prep for dinner.

The start of every fall, I kick things off with this meal. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Lasagne Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 lb hot sausage, ground
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 32 oz container chicken broth
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 6 whole-wheat lasagna noodles, broken into small pieces
  • 6 teaspoons dried basil
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the sausage, onion, bell pepper and garlic. Stir occasionally, until the sausage is crumbled and browned, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salt and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil. 
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. 
  4. Add the noodles and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring to break up the noodles for 10-12 minutes. Check to make sure noodles are cooked.
  5. Remove from the heat. Stir in mozzarella, basil, and Parmesan.

Serve With

Italian Salad and/or Garlic Bread

Thanks to the original recipe found here.

The Story Behind the Recipe

There are a lot of things I could say about this recipe, but mainly I would like to share that it is a hit with everyone. When I was watching my calories and still craving Italian food, this was one of my favorite dishes. I still make this recipe at least twice a month in the cooler months because it is quick and warms the soul.

During a period of time when my husband and I were transitioning out of the military, we stayed with my family. I made this meal for them and it became a family favorite. My father requested it often and my younger sister asked me to teach her how to make it.

Feel free to add your own spin to the recipe or make it as is and hopefully it will become a family staple.