What are you up to this weekend?
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My husband was traveling most of last week so we're all really happy he's home. We've been canceling plans, eating from a big pot of chili, and taking some time for ourselves
Since the weather is warmer here in Iowa ( the 40s! ) we've been going for lots of walks with the puppies at the park. Which, of course, means they run around and roll in the mud, we give them a bath, and the cycle repeats itself. We've got it down to a science ..
In between .. a bit of self-care. After stepping up my exercise game for the 10-Week Challenge at the gym .. I'm feeling it(!) Oh my. So this overachiever has been taking herself to hot yoga and got a massage #lessonslearned #paceyourself
Friends, this weekend I also have a favor to ask. As 2018 kicks off .. there are a number of posts planned for the year ahead .. but I'd also love to know
What would you like to read about?
Are there topics you'd like to discuss?
Would you like to see more of a certain kind of recipe?
We've talked about fun things .. like gratitude .. parenting (and grandparenting). Mid Week Inspirations like books .. signature dishes .. easy weeknight cooking .. and what's playing on our iPods. We've also talked about serious things .. like grief .. saying “no” .. addiction .. friendships lost .. and missing someone like crazy
But is there anything specific that's on your mind? Or that you'd like to read more about?
Smoothies? Kitchen Gadgets? Specific vitamins & minerals? Going gluten-free? Fermented foods? Healthy treats for the pets we love? Cookbooks? People who inspire? Superfoods? The best meal to impress a girl that's easy to make?
Let me know and I'll get started
In the meantime .. whatever you're up to this weekend .. I hope you're having a good one!
For the weekend .. a few fun links from around the web
Following (or thinking of) following a Ketogenic diet? Add this to your must-listen list [via Tim Ferriss – YouTube]
U R A Hot Dish: Made me smile (and looks delish too) [via My Name is Ya]
Nothing says over 40 like two spaces after a period. Who knew? [via Cult of Pedagogy]
Feeling bloated? You just might be pouring your beer the wrong way [via Life Hacker]
The 50 best podcasts from 2017 [via The Atlantic]
For those of us still wondering what to do with our Instant Pot .. Heidi Swanson has us covered! A Starter Guide .. 40 Essential Links .. How to Become an Instant Pot Whisperer .. and lots of great recipes [via 101 Cookbooks]
Might I suggest Healthier Zucchini Banana Bread Muffins for snacking? [via Iowa Girl Eats]
A beautiful reminder that it isn't just a diet, instead it's a way of life [via Healthyish]
I just love Terri Gross and not long ago she gave a really great interview about herself and her career [via Vulture]
Listening to: Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things
More often than not pasta bakes are deliciously cheesy affairs
We all know the formula by heart .. pasta, a bit of sauce, and an awful lot of cheese. The cheese being the decadent glue holding the rest of the casserole together. It's what tempts me back for that second piece
Truly there aren't many things I love more than a fork-full of oven-browned cheddar straight from a hot piece of lasagna. But truth be told, there's only so much I can take, and I rarely cook or eat this way anymore. It's too heavy, too much, and I always start to feel a nap coming on
While I still like to make the occasional pasta casserole, I'll typically serve it as a side, and try to lighten things up a bit in terms of ingredients
In this case, to keep things creamy, butternut squash forms the base of the sauce. In went Parmesan and plenty of garlic to make it savory. Greek yogurt and basil to brighten it up, and red pepper flakes for heat. After baking until golden, I finished things off with a sprinkling of toasted hazelnuts, fresh basil, and an extra sprinkling of Parmesan
~ Adapted from Bon Appetit
Baked Butternut Squash Pasta
- ½ cup hazelnuts or walnuts
- olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more or less, depending on your tolerance for heat)
- 1 medium butternut squash weighing about 2 ½ pounds, halved, seeded, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 6 -8 cups) - alternatively, I like to buy frozen squash that has already been cubed
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock (or broth) + more as needed, to thin the sauce
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 1 ½ cups Parmesan, finely grated (about 2 oz), divided + more for serving
- 1 pound paccheri or rigatoni (use gluten-free noodles to make the entire recipe gluten-free)
- 1 cup basil leaves, torn
- fine grain sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
- Toast the Hazelnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 deg F with a rack in the middle.
- Toast hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing halfway through, until golden brown ( ~ 6-8 minutes ).
- Let them cool before chopping and transferring them to a bowl
- Roast the Squash
- Turn the oven up to 400 deg F. Prepare a 9x13 (or equivalent sized) baking vessel and set aside
- Combine squash and oil in a large bowl, along with a glug of olive oil, a strong pinch of salt, and a grind or two of black pepper
- Arrange the squash in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for ~ 30 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender
- Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes
- Boil the Pasta
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it generously, and cook the pasta until it’s three minutes shy of al dente
- Drain and set aside
- Sautee the onions
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm a small amount of olive oil
- Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they’ve begun to soften and are golden brown ( ~ 8 - 10 minutes )
- Add the garlic and red pepper flakes (if using) and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant ( ~ 1 minute )
- Let cool slightly
- Make the Sauce
- To the bowl of your food processor (or blender) add the sauteed onions, 1 cup chicken stock, 1 cup Parmesan, and the roasted squash (** Note, you may have to puree in batches)
- If the sauce is too thick, thin it with more chicken stock ( The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon )
- Pour the sauce into the skillet you used to saute sautee the onions
- Over low heat stirring frequently, add the greek yogurt and warm it through, taking great care not to let the sauce boil
- Bake and Serve
- Set your oven to 350 deg F
- Pour a half-cup of the sauce into your baking dish and spread it to the edges
- Scatter the pasta on top, and pour the remaining sauce over. Stir gently to combine
- Top with ½ cup Parmesan
- Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes. Uncover and increase the oven temp to 425 deg F
- Continue to bake until the top has darkened in spots and the sauce is bubbling (~ 10 - 15 minutes)
- Top with the toasted hazelnuts and basil