Butternut Squash Stuffed Pasta Shells




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This butternut squash stuffed shells recipe is the epitome of a hearty dish.  It’s not packed with meat, on the contrary, it’s vegetarian but so flavorful.  I have tried different versions of this recipe and this is by far my favorite and it just so happens to require less steps, go figure!

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Now, you can absolutely use the frozen chunks of butternut squash purchased at the store and defrost it. I just so happened to have a butternut squash that needed to be used so I roasted it.  Now, I will say that the roasting does caramelize the squash giving it a sweeter and richer flavor.  I roasted the squash the day before which worked just fine as I did endless loads of laundry.

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I also had some fresh mozzarella leftover that I wanted to use that I actually may not use again.  I can’t believe I am saying this, BUT, it was too much cheesiness.  Not something I really believe in as I probably eat cheese at every meal.  I could live like a Parisian and eat cheese, cured meats, and drink wine every day.  However, in this instance I should I have stuck with just the shredded mozzarella.

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells – Serves 4

The Goods:

  • 3 Cups butternut Squash (roasted or defrosted)
  • ½ C. Ricotta Cheese
  • ½ C. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 12 oz. Jump Pasta Shells
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

The Process:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Defrost the Butternut Squash
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta shells according to the package
  4. Once done, drain and let cool, set aside
  5. In a food processer, mix the butternut squash and ricotta together, until it’s smooth
  6. Season the mixture with salt and pepper
  7. Oil the bottom and sides a glass baking dish 9 x13 so the shells don’t stick
  8. Stuff each shell with about 1 Tablespoon of the mixture, just enough to fill each.
  9. Lay each in the baking dish
  10. Top with shredded mozzarella and fresh cracked pepper
  11. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until the cheese has melted
  12. Let cool and serve

Reverse Sear – Ribeye Steak

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Yes I am so beyond late for contributing to this thing.  I don’t have a good excuse either, I’m always cooking a ton but I forget to take pictures of what I make.  So here is one of the simple things I made that I feel compelled to share.  When it comes to steak, I am picky and am usually not a Ribeye fan.  I really detest fat hence my natural inclination to Filet.  However, I saw some Ribeye steaks at the store that looked pretty good and decided “what the hell” I’ll go all out for the man tonight.  Well, it paid off!  For the guy who rarely is speechless or struggles to find words he was.  He ate each bite slowly and almost purrs “mmm” takes another bite “mhmmm.”  SUCCESS!

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Yes this was another easy recipe, shocker right?!  I’m all about it!  What I liked about this technique is the sear stays crispy whereas when you sear first and cook later you loose that crispy outside.  Now, does it make a huge difference?  I don’t know if I would notice if it was seared first or after nor would be picky enough to snuff off a steak dinner.  I am always interested in trying new techniques and will use this one again.

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This was after the steaks cooked in the oven

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 Ribeye Steaks – I got the thin cut
  • Grill mates Steak rub
  • Roasting pan or any pan with sides
  • Cooling rack (like the kind you use for cookies)
  • Cast Iron pan

This is what I did:

  1. Preheat over to 250 degrees
  2. Cover both sides of the Ribeyes with the Grill Mates rub evenly (don’t overdo it)
  3. I put the cooling rack on top of the pan and then placed the Ribeyes on it.
  4. Cook for 20 minutes (for the thin cut, 40 minutes for the regular cut) or until thermometer reads 165
  5. Heat you cast iron man on high heat until toasty
  6. Place the Ribeyes in the hot pan and let brown and crust on each side for about 1 minute (the corners should be a dark brown/black color).
  7. Enjoy!

 

 

Grilled Artichokes

IMG_2331A favorite restaurant in town serves grilled artichokes as an appetizer during the summer that are positively heavenly.  It’s a guarantee that I will order them so after my Birthday dinner comprising of said Grilled Artichokes, I was determined to re-create them at home.  The result was perfection!

Honestly, they are so easy to make you just need to have the time to boil the artichokes first before throwing them on the grill.

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These should be a staple of everyone’s entertaining menu during the summer.  Plus they are so pretty that you hardly need a centerpiece for decoration; instead you eat it!  Lemons in a bowl are out, Grilled Artichokes are in!

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Try these, you will not be disappointed.  Unless you don’t like artichokes and then you have bigger problems!

 

Grilled Artichokes with Aoili – Serves 4

*Make the Aioli ahead of time and let sit in the fridge while the artichokes are cooking/grilling.

Aioli

  • 1 Egg Yoke
  • 1/4 C. Mayo
  • 1.5 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice (a bit of the zest as well)
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • Pinch of Salt and Pepper
  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl well.  Taste to adjust seasoning.
  2. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

2 Artichokes

  1. Trim the tops of the 2 Artichokes as well as tops of the leaves and a bit of the bottom stem.
  2. Fill a pot of water and bring to a boil.
  3. Heat the Grill to high heat.
  4. Boil the Artichokes whole for about 30 minutes.
  5. Pull them out of the boiling water and put in an ice bath to stop the cooking (water and ice cubes)
  6. Once cool, cut in half.
  7. Scoop out the fuzzy hairs inside.
  8. Cover the flesh side in olive oil and salt and pepper.
  9. Place artichokes flesh side down on the grill and let cook for about 10 minutes.  Check on them to see if they have a good char on them.  May need to adjust cooking time accordingly.
  10. Remove from the grill once the right char has been achieved and serve with the Aioli.

 

 

 

 

Lite Turkey Taco Salad

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I know my entire family tries to eat lighter and let’s be honest, it’s better for us and we typically feel better too.  My sister shared this recipe with me while experimenting with lighter dinner options while on her diet.  By the way she lost 50 pounds and looks fantastic.  This taco salad substitutes the higher fat content from ground beef with lean ground turkey meat without losing the flavor.  I know some of you might be thinking, “well turkey is so bland in flavor.”  Yes you are right but it is a great substitute because it can take on so many different flavor profiles without being too overpowering.

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This is a one pot recipe that is so quick to make and delicious that you need this in your recipe arsenal.  If you don’t want the taco salad version, you can use the filling in tacos and I am going to use the leftovers as the stuffing inside Stuffed Poblanos!

 

Lite Turkey Taco Salad

Serves 4-8 mouths

The Goods:

  • 1 Lb. Ground Turkey (90% lean)
  • 1/2 Pkg. Taco Seasoning (I got mine from Trader Joes)
  • 1 12 Oz. Can Diced Tomatoes (with juice)
  • 1 12 Oz. Can Can Back Beans (strained)
  • 1 12 Oz. Can Corn – Drained
  • 1 Carrot – Grated
  • 1 Zucchini – Sliced in half and then sliced into 1/4 inch pieces.
  • 1 Head Shredded Cabbage
  • Shredded Cheese (I used cheddar) *Optional
  • 1-2 Avocado (cubed)
  • Sour Cream/Greek Yogurt *Optional
  • Tortilla Chips *Optional

 

The Process:

  1. In a large skillet, cook the turkey, tomatoes, zucchini, corn, taco seasoning, and black beans until cooked through (about 5 mins).
  2. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. On a clean plate, put a handful of shredded cabbage in the middle of the plate.
  4. Top the cabbage with the taco mixture.
  5. Garnish with cubed Avocado, Greek Yogurt/Sour Cream, Cheese, and Tortilla Chips

 

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

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It’s summer and I start my venture of cooking lighter food.  Out with the roasts, lasagnas, stews, and in with the salads, cold dishes, tons of fruit and these amazing Mediterranean Turkey Burgers.  I had a craving for cucumber dill sauce one day and had ground turkey so I decided to make a light turkey burger and to my delight they turned out great.  Super easy to make and oh so delicious.  Trust me these are a must this summer!

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Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

Serves 4

The Goods: 

  • 1 Lb. Ground Turkey
  • 2 Tbs. Olive Tapenade (or chop up some of your favorite olives)
  • 2 Tbs. Sun-dried Tomatoes (chopped)
  • 2 Tbs. Feta Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Pita Pockets
  • Dill Pickles, sliced thinly
  • Cucumber dill sauce
  • Lettuce
  • Feta Cheese

 

The Process:

  1. Heat the grill to med-high heat
  2. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. Season with a bit of salt and pepper
  4. Form into Burger patties and pat down slightly.
  5. Place the patties on the grill and cook on each side about 5 minutes or until they have those great dark brown grill marks.
  6. Once done cooking, let sit for a few minutes.
  7. Cut the Pitas in half
  8. Assemble the turkey burgers by putting some cucumber dill sauce inside each pita pocket.
  9. Then put in the lettuce, the turkey burger, top with pickles, feta cheese, and more cucumber dill sauce.

 

 

Eggplant Parmesan Pizzas

IMG_2090 This is absolutely the lazy man’s version of Eggplant Parmesan.  I love Eggplant Parmesan but don’t always have the time or patience to make the entire layered process so this ended up being a great and quick substitute. IMG_2088 Instead of pan frying the eggplant slices, I grilled them instead which gave them a slightly smokey or charred flavor which I really liked.  I am sure I am the only one who thinks about that minuscule detail but it somewhat changes the entire flavor profile of the end result.  So yes, I am completely nerding out on the difference between pan frying and grilling the eggplant. IMG_2089 These were great coupled with a nice big arugula salad but would also be great appetizers or a side dish. The Goods

  • 1 Medium-Large Eggplant
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 C. Parmesan Cheese
  • 1-2 C. Mozzarella Cheese
  • 3 Large Tomatoes
  • 2 C. Pasta Sauce of your choosing
  • 1 C. Fresh Basil, chopped finely

The Process

  1. Turn on the grill to a medium-high heat and the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Slice the Eggplant about 1/4 inch thick and coat evenly on both sides with olive oil.
  3. Season the slices with salt and pepper.
  4. Slices the Tomatoes in 1/4-1/2 inch slices and top with olive oil and salt and pepper.
  5. Put the tomatoes in an oven proof dish or baking sheet and roast in oven for about 10 minutes while the eggplant is grilling.  Once done, remove from the oven and set aside.
  6. Lay the eggplant slices on the grill and cook on both sides for about 5-6 minutes or until you have nice brown grill marks and have significantly reduced in size and become soft.
  7. While the Eggplant is cooking, chop the Basil and set aside, and Mix the cheeses together in a separate bowl.
  8. Once the eggplant is done remove from the grill and place in a glass baking dish coated with olive oil or non-stick spray.
  9. Top each eggplant slice with your pasta sauce of choice, a bit of the cheese mixture, and layer a tomato slice on top of the sauce.
  10. Top with remainder of cheese and the fresh basil.
  11. Place the eggplant in the oven and let broil for 3-5 minutes until the cheese has completely melted.
  12. Let cool and serve warm.

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Creamy Polenta

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These stuffed peppers were the product of needing to use up 2 beautiful bell peppers and I was craving a really savory and filling meal.  I determined what I wanted to incorporate and then just went for it.  I was incredibly happy with how it turned out and would definitely make it again for a dinner party as it presents so nicely.  It makes for a perfect winter meal since it is on the savory side and is best served warm.

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Stuffed Bell Peppers with Creamy Polenta – Serves 4

The Goods:

Stuffed Bell Peppers

  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 C. chopped Basil
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 3 lg artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Shredded mozzarella

Creamy Polenta:

  • 18 oz. Polenta, pre-cooked.
  • 1/2 C. milk
  • 1\2 C. Parm cheese
  • 2 tbs butter
  • Salt and pepper

 

The Process:

Bell Peppers

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cut off the tops of the bell peppers and save the tops but discard the ribs and core.
  3. Coat the outside of the pepper with olive oil and place in a baking dish upright.
  4. Roast for 30-45 mins until tender.
  5. 1/2 way though the roasting, on the stovetop on medium heat saute the bell pepper and onion in olive oil for 3 minutes. Season lightly with salt and black pepper.
  6. Add the ground turkey, garlic, red pepper flakes, and carrots and cook until done.
  7. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix, and let simmer until well cooked.
  8. Once done remove from the heat.
  9. Once the bell peppers are done pull out of the oven and leave on.
  10. Spoon the turkey mixture into each bell pepper.
  11. Top with mozzarella cheese.
  12. Put back into the oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

 

Creamy Parmesan Polenta.

  1. Remove cooked polenta from its package and into a large saucepan and heat over medium-high Mash up with a potato masher.
  2. Add milk and butter and mix well removing all the clumps.
  3. Add the Parmesan mix in until melted.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Once done, remove from heat.
  6. Spoon polenta onto the middle of the plate.
  7. Place the stuffed bell pepper in the middle of the polenta and  Enjoy!!!