Creamy Butternut Squash & Sage Pasta (mostly allergen-free)

I think I surprised myself a bit with this one – because it is SO. DELICIOUS! You’re welcome!

Creamy Butternut Squash & Sage PastaCreamy Butternut Squash & Sage Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 medium onion, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO (Extra-Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 20 leaves fresh sage, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 8-12 oz.  gluten-free pasta
  • ¼ cup butter or dairy-free option
  • ½ cup chicken/vegetable stock
  • 1 cup full-fat canned coconut milk
  • Optional: add chicken or top with Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Coat squash and onions with EVOO, sprinkle with salt & pepper, spread evenly on cookie sheet.
  3. Roast squash and onions for 30 minutes, stirring at 15 minutes.
  4. Start boiling water for pasta – cook according to package directions.
  5. Make sauce: Melt butter in medium skillet over medium-low heat. While simmering, add sage and garlic. Sauté 2 minutes. Whisk in coconut milk, broth, and ½ teaspoon salt. Simmer 5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.
  6. Remove roasted vegetables and let cool 5 minutes.
  7. Reserving a ½ cup vegetables for garnish, puree remaining roasted vegetables and sauce using a food processor.
  8. Mix sauce and pasta in the sauce pan.
  9. Add garnish to individual plates and top with Parmesan cheese (if desired).
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Healthier Easy Alfredo Sauce

I always feel sorry for people who buy jarred or canned Alfredo sauce because it has the potential to be so, so much better. I have it pictured below with cheese tortellini. We added roasted red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes to the sauce – awesome addition. The great part is, this sauce is pretty easy to make and doesn’t take a lot of time.

Healthier Easy Alfredo Sauce (www.espinosakitchen.wordpress.com)

Healthier Easy Alfredo Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup cold low-fat (1%) milk (or 3/4 cup skim milk with 1/4 cup cream or whole milk)
  • 1/2 cup evaporated skim milk (not condensed milk)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour and milk, stirring until the flour is dissolved. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the milk-flour mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more.
  4. Add the evaporated skim milk, the salt, and the cheese and cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted, about 1 minute.
  5. If needed, reserved a little pasta water to loosen the sauce if it’s too thick.

Spicy Malaysian-Style Stir Fry

When we were cooking this dish, we realized how funny it is that Asian food rarely use cream. The sauce we made for this recipe smelled and tasted incredible.  Although I really liked this dish, there are few things I would recommend or change the next time I make it.

Spicy Malaysian-Style Stir Fry (www.espinosakitchen.wordpress.com)

Spicy Malaysian-Style Stir Fry

Ingredients:

  • 1 (12-ounce) package water-packed extra-firm tofu, drained (Optional: Pan-fry the tofu)
  • 1 (12 oz.) package fresh Chinese lo mein egg noodles
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced
  • 4 heads baby bok choy, trimmed and cut crosswise into 2-inch-thick strips (then washed)
  • 2 tablespoons Chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Juice of ½ fresh lime
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (for garnish)

Directions:

  1. Place the tofu on a plate and line the top and bottom with a double layer of paper towels. Place a plate on time for weight and let stand 20 minutes. Cut tofu into ½-inch cubes.
  2. Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid and drain the rest in a colander.
  3. Heat sesame oil in wok over medium heat. Add the bell peppers – cook 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  4. Add salt and bok choy and cook 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Stir in ½ cup reserved cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 4 minutes.
  5. Combine remaining ingredients, stirring until combined. Add noodles, remaining 1/2 cup cooking liquid, and sauce mixture to pan; toss to combine. Cook 30 seconds or until thoroughly heated. Add tofu and toss to combine.

Penne with Eggplant, Thyme and Goat Cheese

After raining (yes raining in January) it finally snowed and got cold again. It has been a busy week juggling my new job and my counseling, but things should settle down soon once I get into the swing of things. Either way, I’m definitely loving this new schedule! And I’m amazed that I can actually turn down requests for job interviews. Imagine that!

Penne with Eggplant, Thyme and Goat Cheese (www.espinosakitchen.wordpress.com)

Penne with Eggplant, Thyme and Goat Cheese

Ingredients: penne pasta, olive oil, eggplant, sun-dried tomatoescrushed red pepper, garlic cloves, salt, dry white wine, fresh or dried thyme, and goat cheese.

Our modifications included:

  • whole wheat pasta
  • 1 medium purple eggplant (we couldn’t find white)
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

This was really good!

Peanut Butter Shrimp Pad Thai

Yesterday was a busy day of running errands and catching up on household chores. Since starting my new job on Thursday, I have been slowing adjusting to my new schedule. I put together a grocery list and convinced Carlos to come shopping with me. I’m usually pretty quick in the stores as I arrange my grocery list according to the layout of the store. Unfortunately, HyVee decided to rearrange everything in their store this week so I was running all over the place trying to find everything. That was so NOT fun!

I absolutely love mushrooms and would put them in almost everything if I could; however, Carlos does not really care for mushrooms, so sometimes it takes a little convincing to allow for them in certain dishes. Luckily, this dish was so amazing that he realized how the mushrooms only added to the taste.

Peanut Butter Shrimp Pad Thai (www.espinosakitchen.wordpress.com)

Peanut Butter Shrimp Pad Thai

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil of EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 pound thin whole wheat spaghetti or angel hair pasta
  • 1 pound large shrimp
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Lime, for garnish and juice
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Directions:

  1. Heat water in a large pot for pasta. Cook according to package directions.
  2. Whisk together soy sauce, water, peanut butter, brown sugar and vinegar in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large wok over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant – about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook until juices begin to evaporate – about 4 minutes. Add green onion and red pepper and cook an additional 2 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan over medium heat and cook shrimp according to package directions.
  5. Add cooked pasta and shrimp to wok and toss. Add peanut sauce and toss to coat.
  6. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper. Squeeze juice of 1/2 lime over pasta.
  7. Garnish with cilantro. (Don’t skip this step. The cilantro adds such an amazing freshness to this dish!)

While we were cooking this dish, we discussed why we weren’t using pad thai noodles. After further discussion, we came to the conclusion that by using the wheat pasta, it would keep us full longer than the pad thai noodles would. Have you ever gone out for dinner and had either pad thai or fried rice and felt full when you were done eating, but then were starving again 1 hour later? That’s probably because the nutritional value is so low in white rice and enriched pasta that it doesn’t keep you full for long.

Tortellini Bolognese

Oh yes. It is almost 9 p.m. on a Saturday and Carlos and I are just starting dinner. (If you are a frequent reader of my posts, this is the same night that we experimented with the carmelitas.) Carlos picked this recipe out about a year ago and it was so, so good. When I initially read the ingredients, I wasn’t impressed, but when I tasted it, it was a different story! Man, this is good! The recipe is a modification from a supposed Olive Garden recipe. I worked there for five years (if you didn’t know) and I don’t remember this recipe, so it must have been there and retired long before I was there. Anyway, this is a must for your recipe list this week.

Tortellini Bolognese (www.espinosakitchen.wordpress.com)

Tortellini Bolognese

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag frozen cheese-filled tortellini
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 1 small yellow onion or 1/2 large, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced or cut into quarters
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 oz. ground beef
  • 3 oz. Italian sausage, ground
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1/2 tsp. fresh)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage (0r 1/2 tsp. fresh)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions:

  1.  Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrot, onion, garlic, and mushrooms, and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add beef and sausage to saucepan, breaking meat into small pieces. Cook 10 minutes over medium heat stirring occasionally.
  3. Add wine and stir to deglaze pan. Reduce until wine is evaporated.
  4. Add tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Simmer slowly for 15 minutes.
  5. Cook tortellini according to package directions, drain.
  6. Toss hot pasta in sauce and top with Parmesan cheese as desired.