kid-friendly · Recipes

Butternut Squash, Sage & Sweet Chicken Sheet Pan Meal

Years ago, I saw this on one of those online Trader Joe’s recipe forums where folks share the meals they make using only TJs ingredients. It took me until now to try it, with a few tweaks to suit our tastes, and it’s a definite keeper for weeknight cooking. It involves minimal cleanup and barely any prep, especially if you buy those grocery packages of chopped fresh butternut squash instead of rasslin’ with a whole one yourself. I chose to use poultry seasoning here because it’s quick to grab in the produce section pre-packaged and we like the taste of it; you could swap it for something you like better. It WILL make your house smell like Thanksgiving morning!

I’ll also point out that you can swap another kind of squash, too. This recipe isn’t fussy. We really like caramelized red onions, but again, any type will do.

Butternut Squash, Sage & Sweet Chicken Sheet Pan Meal

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 a butternut squash, cubed (or buy pre-cut; it’s much easier)
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 package chicken sausage, halved (I used TJ’s apple maple flavor)
  • 1 packet poultry seasoning (thyme, sage, rosemary)
  • 4-6 garlic cloves (peeled and left whole)
  • olive oil for the pan
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350F. Prep the squash, sausage, garlic and onion.

On a sheet pan lined with foil, lay out the squash, onions and sausage links and drizzle with olive oil, shaking to coat. Nestle the garlic cloves and whole branches of herbs around the edges for flavoring. Season the entire tray with salt and pepper to taste, then place in the oven.

Cook between 20-30 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until everything looks browned and the squash are cooked through. Times may vary depending on your oven.

Discard the sage, rosemary and thyme — it’s ok if a few pieces stay on the food — and keep the garlic and the onion if you like them. They should be softened and mellowed out in taste, and thus OK to eat. Taste for seasoning and add more if you feel it’s needed. Serve warm!

I love this because it only uses one tray, so cleanup is fast.

I actually had a whole butternut squash hanging around, so I used half of it here and then roasted the other half, cubed, in a smaller baking sheet on the rack below this in the oven and ate it later in the week with a rotisserie chicken I bought on the way home from work. Done that way, you get two easy after-work dinners out of it!

Georgia loved eating the tender roasted squash and the sweet sausage, too. Trader Joe’s has so many varieties of chicken sausage and you could use any of them here. You could also use spicier sausage instead of sweet, but it will make the dish that much greasier and a tad less healthy. The whole point, though, is that it’s customizable, cheap, and doubles well if you have a larger family. If you try it, let me know what you think!

 

Baby & Toddler · Books · Holidays · kid-friendly · minted · Tips and Tricks

Our Easter Menu + Baby Easter Gift Ideas!

It’s Easter (and Passover) Week, and even though the weather won’t cooperate, we are still going to assume it’s Spring and will celebrate this quintessentially Spring holiday accordingly! Mark, as always, has to work on Easter, so once again I’m preparing a pared-down menu with help from family for a nice, low-key day. Here’s what we are making! Photos of babies in bonnets to follow shortly.

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One year ago. How time flies! My lil’ bunny!

Our Easter Menu

  • Glazed Ham
  • Warm buttered rolls
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Butternut Squash
  • Cold Potato Salad
  • Applesauce
  • Honey Mustard
  • Cheesecake, Coffee & Tea

This year Easter is so early that I really refused to buy any kind of special dress, not knowing whether she’d even be able to wear it (or fit into it, since she just finished a growth spurt from 12-18 month clothes into 18-24 and even 2T). Last year, though, her Nani in Florida had sent her this gorgeous dress that we paired with a darling white Easter bonnet with patent leather crib shoes for church:

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Where does the time even go!!!

I think Georgia is still a little bit young to enjoy an Easter Egg Hunt or Easter-themed toys, but that won’t stop us from trying. I’m cajoling my brother into hiding eggs and I am fairly certain her Grammie will be showing up with some presents for our bunny!

If you need Easter gift inspiration, beyond candy, you’ve come to the right place.

the classic

something different

Hide & Squeak Eggs, $10.80 on amazon

something huggable

skip hop “hug & hide” lamb, $18, Amazon

a nightlight

$10.95, Land of Nod

a lovey

angel baby blankie, $13, amazon

a push toy

$19, amazon

a party in a box

easter egg hunt kit, $18, Land of Nod

treat bags

personalizable! pottery barn, on sale from $9.99 to $30
personalizable, via pottery barn, on sale from $9.99

munchies

a bit of seasonal decor

frameable bunny art from $22 via minted.com (in five colors)

Last but not least, one Easter craft idea for the family and three fun recipes:

Italian Easter Bread

Rice Krispy Treat Eggs

Easter Egg cake

neon dipped eggs by Joy Cho/Oh Joy! via Merrimentevents.com

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Recipes

Easy Apricot Chicken

Got this recipe from LaurenConrad.com, and it turned out to be a winner! I set the bar low these days. Recipes need to be quick, with very few ingredients that I can purchase at a major retailer, with a two-month-old in tow. Ideally, my husband and I would both eat it. This has been easier since I’ve been nursing and have started incorporating some meat into my diet to better balance my nutritional profile.

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I’ll write more about my decision to start eating some meat again in a future post, but for now I’ll start by saying that it emerged from a medical need while I was pregnant, and now that I’m breastfeeding it has continued to be the right choice. I am not sure where this will leave me once Georgia is weaned, but I don’t think I have to figure that out right now. I have enough to think about, from the difficulties of nursing to the stress of getting an infant to sleep at night — not to mention having to contemplate my return to work full time in December (cringe). For now, I’d just like to start getting some recipes back on the blog again! Starting with:

Easy Apricot Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken cutlets
  • 1 packet of Lipton’s onion soup
  • 1 jar of apricot preserves (about a cup)
  • 1 bottle Russian or Thousand Island dressing
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I like to pound chicken cutlets thin, so they are easier to cut and eat. Too thin might affect cook time, so if you choose to do this, just keep an eye on them!

Directions

Start by pre-heating the oven to 375.

Mix the onion soup packet, apricot preserves, and dressing in a bowl. Beat the clumps out with a fork until it’s as smooth as you can get it.

If you are pounding the chicken cutlets flat, which is optional, do so now and set aside.

Pour the sauce mixture into a 9×13 baking dish, reserving some to cover the chicken. Place the cutlets in the dish and cover with the remaining sauce.

Cook uncovered for 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Since I was making fresh butternut squash, too, I roasted them for about 15 minutes before putting the chicken in, and then took both out at the same time.

Serve the chicken over rice with a side of squash or any veggies and enjoy!

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I was just making this for Mark and I, so I only bought three pieces of chicken. There was way too much leftover sauce! You should buy more than this and save leftovers. I’ll be doing that next time so as not to waste anything.

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Because I had a butternut squash hanging around, I decided to roast it and serve mashed on the side. It went great with this chicken, which I also served with jasmine rice! Trader Joe’s makes a nice variety of frozen jasmine rice that comes in frozen two-serving containers. They’re great for busy weeknights.

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Start by cutting the squash lengthwise and then scooping out the seeds with a spoon. Roast cut side up in the oven at the same temperature as the chicken for a little bit longer than the meat stays in, or until it’s soft.

I like to add a touch of butter and a tiny splash of real maple syrup to mashed butternut squash for flavor. Yummy!

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I do a lot with Lipton’s dried onion soup. Besides the obvious onion dip (if you’re unfamiliar, you just use one packet with a container of sour cream and chill in the fridge for a couple hours), I also make some SUPER delicious roasted potatoes with just a splash of olive oil and one packet of dried onion soup. They’re totally yummy for breakfast OR dinner. Check ’em out!

I hope you find this Easy Apricot Chicken recipe to be a useful weeknight dinner. And now, for a picture of baby at two months — enjoy this too 🙂

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Recipes

Fall Comfort Food Recipes…

…from the Boston Globe. There are more than 50 featured, so I selected my favorite vegetarian (and seafood) options from among the group:

Pizza with butternut squash, onion and spinach

Courtesy: Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2012/02/01/recipe_for_pizza_with_butternut_squash_caramelized_onion_and_spinach/

Fish roasted on caramelized onions

Courtesy: Boston Globe.  http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2012/06/20/recipe_for_fish_roasted_on_caramelized_onions/

Baked Shrimp with Feta & Orzo

Courtesy: Boston Globe.  http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2010/12/29/baked_shrimp_with_feta_and_orzo/

Seared Sea Scallops with Parsnip Puree

Courtesy: Boston Globe. bo.st/P0Dkxa

Click each picture for the full recipe. I’m trying the pizza one this weekend!

CSA 2011 · Recipes

Butternut Squash enchiladas

Enchiladas are fast becoming one of my top go-to meals when I’m out of inspiration. These are more of a fall dish, since they make use of butternut squash, which is fresh in season during October and November. But I actually think it’s easier to use pureed frozen squash here anyway, especially for a weeknight dinner. Next time I make it, I’m going to try pureed pumpkin since I preserved so much from my CSA this fall!

Ingredients

  • 1 package frozen butternut squash (about 12 ounces), or 2-3 cups fresh
  • 1 can of black beans
  • cream cheese (about 6 ounces), either plain or Philly Sante Fe Cooking Creme
  • 1 can of green chilis
  • 1 packet taco seasoning mix (2-3 teaspoons, to your taste)
  • 1 package flour tortillas (you’ll need about six)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I use cheddar or Mexican blend)
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • optional: cumin to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 and prepare a glass baking dish with your choice of cooking spray.

Meanwhile, mix together the butternut squash and cream cheese in a medium sized bowl. Once blended, add in the chilis, taco seasoning mix and beans, and stir.

To assemble the enchiladas, cup a flour tortilla in the palm of one hand, and scoop the squash mixture into the middle, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Roll the tortilla up into a tube, and place face down (so the seam is on the bottom) in your glass pan. Repeat until you’ve fit all you can into the baking dish.

Spoon the enchilada sauce on top, taking care to get it down between the edges and all around the tortillas so they don’t burn while they’re cooking. Sprinkle some cheese on top before placing into the oven.

Bake for at least 30 minutes — it may take up to 40 depending on your oven — and remove when the cheese has browned.

This is a great vegetarian option for Mexican food. Serve with a salad, re-fried beans, spicy rice, a big dollop of extra sour cream, whatever!

 If you liked this recipe, check out my spinach ricotta enchiladas!

Recipes · Tips and Tricks

Two gnocchi recipes

It’s taking us a lot longer to get unpacked and settled into our new house than we expected, so I’m posting a collection of recipes from other bloggers I love as inspiration. Who doesn’t need to expand their recipe box anyway? Gnocchi is one of my most-loved Italian dishes (it’s pronounced NYO-kee), and these are just a few variations I’ve been dying to try. And, once I figure out which box my pots and pans are hiding in, I will!

Pan-Fried Pumpkin Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage

Courtesy: SteamyKitchen

This recipe, from steamy kitchen, shows that gnocchi don’t have to those be hard-as-a-rock, boring-as-heck potato dumplings you may have experienced. With a lightness in the mixing, you can avoid the kind of overworked dough that often leads to tough, chewy gnocchi.

serves 4-6

  • 1/2 cup skim milk ricotta
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmegiano reggiano
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (use a microplane grater) (plus extra reserved for garnishing)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour, sifted plus more for dusting (see sifting tip above)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 3 sprigs fresh sage, plus more for garnish
  • shaved parmegiano reggiano for serving (use vegetable peeler)

Preheat oven to 300F

1. Combine ricotta, pumpkin parmagiano, yolk, zest and salt in large bowl. Mix well. Sprinkle half of the flour on the mixture, gently turn with spatula a few times to incorporate. Dump mixture on clean, lightly floured countertop or you can still do this in the bowl. Sprinkle remaining flour on top of the mixture. Gently knead with your fingertips, just bringing together the mixture until flour is incorporated through. This only should take a minute or two. Any longer and you will be over-kneading.

2. Dust a clean, dry surface with a generous sprinkling of flour. Divide dough into 4 parts. Take one part and roll into a long, 1″ diameter log. Cut gnocchi into 1″ pieces.

3. Heat a large frying pan or saute pan with just 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add a few gnocchi – enough to cover surface but not touch each other. Fry on medium heat for 1-2 minutes, turn and fry for another 1-2 minutes. Remove gnocchi, place on large baking sheet to put into oven to keep warm. Repeat with rest of gnocchi.

4. When all gnocchi is finished, discard butter/oil in pan and clean pan with paper towel. Heat pan on medium heat and when hot, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add the fresh sage. Let the sage brown and sizzle (but not burn) for a couple of minutes until very fragrant. Remove the sage and discard if you want (or keep it in to eat — as many people in the comments below like to do!) To the pan, add the balsamic vinegar and whisk. Let simmer on low for 1 minute and pour over the gnocchi.

5. Serve with shaved parmegiano reggiano and a sage leaf for garnish.

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Butternut Squash & Mascarpone Gnocchi

Courtesy: FoodWishes.com

This recipe comes to us from the Food Wishes blog, and features small-plate gnocchi that are designed more for appetizers or sharing. I love that concept!

Ingredients for about 12 appetizer-sized portions
  • 2 cups cooked butternut squash
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese, or cream cheese, goat cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 oz (about 1/2 cup) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (if you’re going to use fake Parmesan cheese for this, don’t even bother)
  • 1 packed cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick unsalted butter for frying, used in batches
  • cayenne, salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup sliced sage leaves

This blog has great how-to video recipes. His step-by-step instructions for making the gnocchi are very easy to follow, so I’ve decided to share them by video. Gnocchi really is very simple to make, so I hope you are all inspired to take a stab at them now!

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