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.

Lentil and Sausage Soup for a (warm) winter’s night

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Although its starting to feel too much like spring here- I there’s nothing more satisfying than a big bowl of soup for dinner, even if it doesn’t look anything like winter out your door. This is more of a stew than soup, but it has a lot of fresh veggies and fresh spinach which gives it vibrant color and delicious flavor! I modified this recipe and used vegetarian sausage from Whole Foods instead of meat sausage and vegetable stock to make the stew vegetarian. photo-231The sausage was so tasty you’d never know it was vegetarian- I bought the Italian style with garlic and red pepper to give it a kick! Any sausage you use will taste great. I also added twice the amount of spinach as I am a huge fan of spinach and I wanted more green in my soup. The red wine vinegar really opens up all the flavors so don’t leave it out- its a must! Enjoy!!

Lentil & Sausage Soup (Click for printer friendly version)
Serves 4 hungry adults with lots of leftovers.
Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cup French green lentils
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 or 4 sausages made with herbs and/or garlic
  • 1 large yellow or white onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup sturdy red wine
  • 3 stalks of celery, and their leaves if possible
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram or an equivalent amount of fresh
  • 4 or 5 carrots, depending on their size
  • 4 cups chicken or beef stock (or vegetable)
  • 3 tablespoons organic ketchup
  • 2 cups chopped spinach (I did 4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Red wine vinegar, to taste

Directions:

  1. Fill at tea kettle and bring it to a boil while you prep the other ingredients.
  2. Heat the 4 cups of stock either on the stove or in the microwave if you don’t have time (or space) on the stove.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in large pot/skillet with one bay leaf and cook sausage until browned on each side (even if the sausage is already fully cooked) remove with slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. Rinse the lentils in cold water two or three times, pick out any stones or other debris, and put the lentils on the stove in a saucepan with at least three cups of hot water from the kettle. Cook lentils over medium heat, stirring occasionally. (don’t worry if the lentils are not fully cooked when you add them to the soup.)
  5. Meanwhile, dice the onions so they are about ½” square; chop the garlic. Cut celery into small dices and carrots into slices or chunks depending on how thick they are, and set them aside. Add the remaining oil, as well as the onions and garlic, to the pan in which the sausages were browned; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the onions start to look a bit translucent, push them aside with a spoon and add the wine. Cook for a minute or two to deglaze the pot.
  6. Stir the lentils in with the cooking water. It doesn’t matter whether they are cooked. Just add them now, and add the stock to the pot with the onions and garlic. Add the celery and marjoram and stir well, continuing to cook.
  7. Add the carrots to the pot, with the reserved sausages, and the salt and pepper to taste, and stir well.
  8. Cook for at least another ten minutes, adding more water if necessary and stirring occasionally, to prevent the lentils from sticking.
  9. Add the ketchup and stir well (I didn’t measure the ketchup I just added enough till it looked good- but I am also weirdly obsessed with ketchup). Cook until the carrots are tender. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Add the spinach and the parsley. Heat soup until very hot!
  10. Pass the red wine vinegar separately, for people to add, to taste. Serve with a hearty whole grain bread and fresh butter.IMG_6965

Original recipe from Food52

Cornbread, Sausage and Pecan Stuffing

Another very important part of Thanksgiving day… Stuffing. For years I have subscribed to the ultimate food lovers guide (food porn) magazine… Bon Appetit. Nothing compares to opening my mail box and finding it waiting with wonderful recipes, restaurants and ideas. But I am guilty… after drooling over every amazing (and complicated) recipe, I revert back to my collection of familiar cook books and my unused Bon Appetit stack grows. So I’ve vowed not to be intimidated by the long lists of ingredients or seemingly complicated recipes and try to cook at least ONE (I know its not a lot but its better than NONE) recipe each month. So in honor of my commitment… this stuffing recipe is from the November Bon Appetit Thankgiving Issue, it turned out not to be as complicated as I though and its absolutely delicious! This can be made 1 day ahead too, which makes it even better. Enjoy!

Cornbread, Sausage and Pecan ‘Dressing’

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter plus more for baking dish
  • 1 lb. day-old cornbread, Broken into 1 1/2″-2″ Pieces (two boxes of Jiffy Mix)
  • 1 lb. breakfast sausage links, casings removed (I used maple sausage)
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 cups slices celery
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped toasted pecans (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • (I added 2 leeks because I love them! roots and green stems removed, white part cut into thin rounds)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Butter a 13x9x2″ baking dish; set aside. Scatter cornbread in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Bake until dried out, about 1 hour, stirring often. Transfer to very large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up into 1″ pieces with a wooden spoon until browned, about 8-10 minutes. Drain fat and transfer to bowl with cornbread but do not stir.

Heat 3/4 cup butter in same skillet; add onions and celery (and leeks if you choose to add them) and saute for 10 minutes or until soft and they begin to brown. Add to bowl with cornbread.

Return skillet to heat. Add vinegar and cook for 1 minute scraping up browned bits from the pan. Add to cornbread mixture. Gently fold in 1 1/2 cups broth, pecans, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Let cool.

Turn oven up to 350 degrees. In a small bowl whisk 1 1/2 cups broth and eggs together. Fold gently into cornbread until thoroughly combined taking care not to mash cornbread (mixture will look wet). Transfer to buttered baking dish, cover with foil, and bake about 40 minutes or when a thermometer inserted into the center of the stuffing reads 160 degrees. If making a day ahead, remove foil after baking and let cool. Cover and chill. Reheat for 15-20 minutes or until stuffing is warm all the way through.

Turns out stuffing is really difficult to photograph and still look appealing (Even though the magazines picture is perfect, go figure). While this looks like a bowl of mush…It tasted AMAZING and looks much prettier in person.