Butternut Squash & Sausage Stuffed Shells

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Can you believe that it is the last week of October? Each week and month seems to go by faster than the next. Before you know it we will be celebrating the New Year and it will take me 2 months to get used to writing 2016 instead of 2015 on everything! Ok but I am getting ahead of myself! IMG_5664The fall weather has been gorgeous and I have been cooking all of my favorite fall recipes including Stew in a Pumpkin, which was the first recipe I posted on Ski Boots in the Kitchen three years ago last week! It’s hard to imagine it has been three years! It has been so much fun cooking and writing recipes and even more fun when I hear that you’ve been cooking my recipes. This year I am doing Thanksgiving dinner at our new house in Park City and I have already started to think about what I am going to make, stay tuned in the coming weeks for some fun Thanksgiving recipe ideas.

I came across this recipe for Butternut Squash and sausage stuffed shells and it sounded so good I had to try it. It was a delicious balance of fall flavors, spicy sausage, and creamy cheese. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash and Sausage Stuffed Shells (Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange onion and butternut squash in an even layer on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Roast for 50-60 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook sausage over medium heat. When sausage is mostly browned, add spinach and garlic. Cook until spinach is wilted and remove from heat.
  3. Place roasted butternut squash and onion in a food processor or blender.
  4. Pulse until a smooth puree forms. Blend in milk and vegetable broth. Pour half of the butternut squash sauce into base of a 9×13 baking dish.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella and egg. Add sausage and spinach into ricotta and stir until evenly distributed. Fill cooked pasta shells with 3-4 tablespoons of filling.
  6. Arrange shells in butternut squash sauce in the 9×13 baking dish. Pour the rest of the butternut squash sauce over the top and bake for 30 minutes covered with aluminum foil followed by 15 minutes uncovered. Top with additional parmesan.
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Cheesy Baked Rigatoni

IMG_2490I have been posting a lot of pasta dishes lately and its for one reason… pasta is delicious and easy. Maybe its because I have some Italian blood in me as well but I just can’t resist a plate of pasta with a big glass of red wine! Since I always love cooking for crowds and since I’m pretty bored with lasagna I decided it was time to play with a new recipe that is good for a group. I also made this recipe for the first time because I have a friend that loves (and I mean LOVES) sour cream and I knew this would be right up her alley.

I know it sounds a little odd to add sour cream to a pasta recipe but it makes the sauce extra creamy and amazing! The recipe also calls for 3 different kinds of cheese which makes it gooey and melty and everything you’d ever want in a pasta bake. There is no need to spend lots of time on a yummy meal and that is what I love about this recipe! Everything can be prepared in about 15 minutes and then all you have to do is throw it in the oven for 30 minutes to let all the cheese melt and presto… Dinner is ready!

Cheesy Baked Rigatoni (Serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dry rigatoni pasta
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 pound ground Italian sausage (mild or spicy depending on your taste!)
  • 2 26oz jars sweet basil spaghetti sauce
  • 6-8 slices provolone cheese
  • 16 oz ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×13 baking dish and set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add the pasta. Cook for 8 minutes until al dente- do not cook for as long as you normally would, you want the pasta to have a little crunch so it does not get soggy when you bake it!
  2. In a large skillet cook the sausage and onion until brown. Once the sausage is totally cooked, add both jars of pasta sauce and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes remove the mixture from the heat and carefully stir in the sour cream.
  3. Layer half the drained/cooked pasta into the bottom of the pan and top with half the sauce mixture. Layer 6-8 slices of provolone cheese on top. Layer remaining pasta, and remaining sauce and spread evenly. Lay slices of fresh mozzarella on top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Enjoy!

“Appy Hour” Pear and Boursin Cheese

IMG_2332I’m always on the look out for fun new apps to try when we have people over. The problem with having a big tray of appetizers out to nibble on before dinner is I usually end up filling up on the snacks and I’m not hungry for dinner! I mean who can resist a cheese and charcuterie board?! This app is much lighter and slightly healthier then a basket of bread and crackers and you won’t fill up before you sit down for the meal. This would be perfect before Easter brunch or dinner this weekend! IMG_2333Added bonus, this appetizer is gluten free and I am always trying to think of yummy apps that are gluten free! One of my favorites are these smoked salmon and cucumber rounds with Boursin cheese (they are always a big hit!) So it turns out I might have a slight obsession with Boursin Cheese and this appetizer is proof of that! Find some delicious ripe pears at the store and serve them along side this cheese, its heaven on Earth!

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe pears
  • 1 container Garlic and Fine Herb Boursin Cheese

Directions:

  1. Wash, core and slice the pears (leave the skin on). Remove Boursin from its foil and place on a platter with the pears around it.

Mexican Corn Off the Cob

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Good Morning! I am just back from a wonderful vacation with my family and friends! Celebrating weddings, birthdays and enjoying some time by the ocean. It was nice to unwind! Even though I was not posting recipes on my blog, I was doing some cooking and research on some delicious new recipes to post and boy did I test some good ones!! photo-604Since I was by the ocean, I was cooking a lot of seafood- clams, mussels, lobster and fresh stripped bass. There is nothing better than super fresh, local seafood. It is one of the things I miss most about living in a land locked state! Stay tuned for some of those tasty recipes, I will post them soon! But for now, one of my new favorite ways to eat corn… Mexican corn OFF the cob… because no one likes getting corn stuck in their teeth. IMG_8049Don’t judge the fact that there is mayonnaise in the recipe, a friend who hates mayonnaise, LOVED this dish. The comb of lime juice, cheese and the little kick from the chili powder is the perfect balance of salty, spicy and tangy! You’ll have trouble eating corn the “normal” way every again! This recipe was part of my collaboration with Blonded by Style, see our full menu here!

Mexican Corn Off the Cob

  • 8 ears of fresh corn, grilled with the husk on.
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ cup crumbled Cotija Mexican Cheese (You can substitute Queso Fresco or Kraft Parmesan cheese if your grocery store does not have Cotija)

Directions:

  1. Wet the outside of the corn-husks with water, and place them on a pre-heated grill. Turn ever 2-3 minutes until the outside of the corn is charred but not burned. Once the corn has cooled, shuck the husks off. Cut the kernels off the corn and place in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lime juice, chili powder and generous pinch of salt. The dressing should have a similar consistency as creamy ranch dressing. Pour mixture over the corn, sprinkle with cheese and toss to combine.
  3. Season to taste with salt. Garnish with more crumbled cheese and a dash or two of chili powder on top. Serve immediately.

Green Eggs & Ham Quiche

photo 3-24Can you believe its almost May?! May is such a great month because there is so much to celebrate! First off Cinco de Mayo… since my favorite day of the week is Taco Tuesday and I drink margaritas like they’re water, it’s my ultimate holiday! Then comes Mother’s Day and who doesn’t like celebrating mom? Moms are the best!

Finally, we kick off summer (and the right to wear white pants!) with Memorial Day! It’s a pretty action packed month. If you’re looking for an extra special way to show mom how much you care this year, make her a delicious meal! Mother’s Day is a great day to show mom how much you love her with homemade brunch and Bloody Mary’s (in bed?!) Now that sounds like a great morning! photo-574I feel like sometimes quiche is thought of as a wimpy ladies luncheon dish but serve this delicious spring dish along side a bacon Bloody Mary and you won’t hear anyone complaining! It is also a fun dish for kids to make because its super easy (the hardest part is sauteing the asparagus and onions)! photo 2-31Plus its a spin off the Dr. Seuss book “Green Eggs and Ham” read the book, make the quiche and you might even get the kids to eat some of it! So whether you’re hosting a bridal shower, brunch, lunch or Mother’s Day extravaganza (really whatever you want!) this quiche will be a hit! photo 2-32Green Eggs & Ham Quiche (click for printer friendly version)
Ingredients: (Serves 8-10)

  • 1 9-inch Pillsbury refrigerated pie-crust (from a 15-ounce package)
  • 2 12-ounce boxes frozen Stouffer’s spinach souffle (microwave for half the suggested time to thaw but not cook)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups cups (6 ounces) grated mozzarella cheese (you can substitute Pepper Jack for some added spice)
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup diced ham, prosciutto or bacon (if using bacon, cook before adding it) if you are vegetarian you can leave this out
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375° F. Unroll the pie-crust and press it into a 9-inch pie plate.
  2. In a medium skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 2-3 minutes, add asparagus and saute until just tender and onions are translucent, about 5 minutes more.
  3. Combine the spinach souffle, eggs, cheese, ham and asparagus mixture in a large bowl. Add a few turns of fresh pepper and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell.
  4. Bake until set in the center and the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes.

 

 

“Appy Hour” Cheese & Charcuterie Boards and Smoked Salmon Cucumber Rounds

photo-85I’m a huge fan of appetizers, tapas, small plates… basically anything you can share. There is something satisfying and social about ordering ‘family style’ and taking little tastes of each cheese or meat plate. Talking about the food in front of you actually requires you to stop and TASTE it, rather than shoveling it in to your mouth as quickly as possible because you’re distracted by the TV, or the dog, or the other chaos going on in your house during dinner time.photo-84 I love cheese boards. Growing up when we would visit my grandmother in France, they would bring out a cheese cart full of the most divine stinky blue cheeses, creamy goat cheese, mild brie, you’d have 25 different options- the smell was overwhelming. Then you add the meats, Prosciutto, Soppressata, Salami and my favorite… Tartufo Truffle Salami! Served with a crispy baguette, some French stone ground mustard and Blood Orange Pepper jelly…I’m drooling on my keyboard. Check out the jelly aisle in your grocery store or Whole Foods, they usually have some interesting compotes and jellies that go nicely with cheese- fig preserves, jalapeno jellies or even honey work well! photo-85From left to right here are the cheeses we sampled with our meat board. Far left is the Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog Chevre which is a mild goats milk cheese. The thin layer of edible vegetable ash give this cheese a subtle tangy flavor which goes nicely with pepper jelly. The Second cheese from the left is a Valdeon Blue Cheese which is strong flavored cow and goats milk blue cheese that is a bit stronger than Stilton. Valdeon is wrapped Sycamore leaves which gives it a rich and complex flavor. If you’re not a huge fan of stinky blue cheese this might not be the best blue to start with. The third cheese is the Fromager d’Affinois which is a rich and creamy cows milk cheese. d’Affinois is a double-cream cheese and positions its self between a traditional brie and a triple-cream like Saint Andre (not picture here but another amazing cheese… I can already see another cheese board post in the works..) d’Affinois goes great with honey or any fruit/pepper jelly. The last cheese farthest to the right is creamy Gorgonzola which is a blue cheese made from cows milk. This cheese is more mild than the Valdeon and is good ‘gateway’ blue cheese. Try both the Valdeon and Gorgonzola with out any jellies or honey to start, their rich flavor can be overwhelming at first with too many additions. You should be able to find most of these cheese in your local grocery store and will have not problem find them at Whole Foods or specialty food shops. photo-86

Next in the Appy Hour… Smoked salmon and Boursin cheese on cucumber rounds. This is a really easy, light summer appetizer (Gluten Free too!) and its a huge crowd pleaser. All you need is-

  • One English cucumber
  • One 5.2oz box of Boursin Garlic & Herb cheese
  • Small package of smoked salmon or lox
  • Lemon

Slice the cucumber into bite-size rounds, between 1/8″-1/4″. Spread Boursin cheese onto cucumber rounds and top with a few small pieces of smoked salmon. Squeeze a few lemon wedges over the salmon and serve! Don’t forget to make extras, they’ll be gone in a flash. Enjoy!

Pumpkin, Spinach, and Tomato Gratin

It’s fall and fall means pumpkin season! Pumpkins and squash are my favorite to cook- they have great flavor and are easy to prepare. This yummy recipe is super easy and a healthy alternative to the classic potato gratin (which I also love)! I got this recipe from the Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco. Their monthly news letters always have great seasonally inspired recipes. Enjoy!

Pumpkin, Spinach, and Tomato Gratin

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb. sugar pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, seeded,  and cut into 1-inch wedges.
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb. fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 28-oz. can San Marino tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 lb. cave-aged Gruyere cheese

Pre-heat oven to 400. To cook the sugar pumpkin, place it on a baking sheet, coat with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.  Roast in a 400 degree oven, until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork (about 20-30 minutes).  Turn half way through the cooking, so that it browns slightly on both sides. (I used sugar pumpkin when I made this but I would recommend using butternut squash instead).

While the pumpkin or squash is baking in the oven wilt the spinach. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Drop hand full of spinach into boiling water until wilted. Remove spinach from water with tongs and place on baking sheet lined with paper towels until all the spinach is cooked.

Next, cut tomatoes in half and set a side the juices. I used San Marino tomatoes since the fresh ones in the store didn’t look amazing. Grate cheese on large holes of box grater. I used Jarlsberg cheese, I prefer its flavor.

To assemble, line a Pyrex or ceramic baking dish (about 14 by 10 inches) with a layer of squash, cover with the spinach, then the tomatoes, cut side up.  Sprinkle with the grated cheese.  Bake in 350 oven, until the tomatoes and cheese have melted, about 30 minutes.  Serves 8.

This dish is great served with chicken, fish or enjoyed on its own. I used the leftover juices from the tomatoes to make my own version of chicken Parmesan.

Easy Chicken Parm

For the Chicken I took 4 chicken breasts and dipped them in 1 egg (whisked). I dredged them in Panko Bread crumbs and placed them in a skillet coated with olive oil on high heat. Let the chicken breast cook about 4-5 minutes on one side before flipping and turning down the heat to medium-low and covering. Let chicken cook for another 10 minutes on low before pouring remaining tomato juices and topping with grated Parmesan cheese. Cover and turn the off heat. Let chicken marinate for a couple of minutes covered on the stove. Serve with Pumpkin Gratin and Enjoy!