Pepita Pesto Pasta with Roasted Squash

I just had the most amazing lunch.

I found this recipe in Rachel Ray's Magazine and knew immediately it would be a hit.

The very last of my fresh basil couldn't have been put to a better use.
It's really easy and fast to make. has roasted squash. Yum!

Linked with Sunflower Supper Club: Weekend Potluck,
Rattlebridge Farm: Foodie Friday,
Fresh Eggs Daily: Farm Girl Blog Fest,
Six Sisters Stuff: Strut Your Stuff Saturday,
The Chicken Chick: Clever Chicks Blog Hop.

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Pepita Pesto Pasta with Roasted Squash
Serves 4

Salt and pepper
1 pound whole wheat penne
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (for pesto), plus more for drizzling
Nutmeg, for grating
1 cup packed mixed herbs, such as cilantro, basil and flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/3 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded
2 cloves garlic, crushed or pasted
Juice of 1 lime

Pre-heat the oven to 450ºF.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the starchy cooking water.

While the pasta is working, on a baking sheet, drizzle the squash with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. Roast until tender and charred at the edges, about 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, using a food processor, pulse 1/3 cup olive oil, the herbs, cheese, pepitas, chili peppers, garlic and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the pesto, reserved starchy cooking water and the squash to the drained pasta. Toss gently and serve.


Ginger Brown Rice with Kale

This was suppose to be for supper tonight but turned out so good we couldn't wait.
So...lunch and supper it is. No complaining from me.

It's awesome!

I ended up adding just a touch of salt and pepper once it was done 
but that's going to depend on how salty your broth is. 

We ate it with a drizzle of soy sauce, but it would also be 
great with a drop or two of sesame oil  and/or toasted sesame seeds. 

Linked with Sunflower Supper Club: Weekend Potluck,
Rattlebridge Farm: Foodie Friday,
Addicted to Recipes: Scrumptious Sunday and
Six Sisters Stuff: Strut Your Stuff Saturday.

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Ginger Brown Rice with Kale
Serves 6-8

1 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Onion, small dice
2 Carrots, small dice
2 Garlic Clove, minced
1 tsp Fresh Ginger, microplane or finely minced
Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
1 1/2 cups Brown Rice
1 1/2 cups Kale, stems removed and chopped (3-4 large stalks)
3 cups Chicken Broth
2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Tamari or Soy Sauce

Heat up olive oil in a large saucepan. Add onion, carrots, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes; sauté 3-4 minutes. Stir in rice until well combined; stir in kale. Add broth, vinegar and soy sauce. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 35-45 minutes. Let sit covered for 5-10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. 

Serve with a drizzle of soy sauce or a few drops of sesame oil, if desired.


Vegetable Quinoa and Kale Soup

Good for you or not, this is now one of my favorite soups.

Really filling, healthy and delicious with very low fat and calories per serving.

I served a couple of the Mini Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins with Orange Drizzle along side. The savory from the soup and the slight sweetness from the muffins was "WOW".  
A perfect flavor combo. So good! 

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Vegetable Quinoa and Kale Soup

3 slices turkey bacon
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp sage
Pinch red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper
7 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 15 oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups chopped kale, remove stems
2 cups chopped broccoli

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot. Chop up the bacon and brown; remove with a slotted spoon.

To the same pot add onion, carrots, celery, bay leaves, sage, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute on med-low 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Return to a boil and stir in quinoa, reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Add beans, kale and broccoli and simmer covered for 15 minutes more. Stir in the reserved bacon and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if desired, turn off the heat (replace cover) and let sit for 10 minutes.


Beef and Cheese Burritos (Crockpot)

This is such an easy recipe with amazing flavor. 

If you read my last post, I know you're probably a little surprised, but this was the
 last thing I cooked before the challenge started. It was so good.

The meat is cooked in the crockpot, then broken up with a little of the sauce in a hot 
skillet with olive oil for a few minutes to let the meat absorb sauce/reduce before 
you fill the shells. It's a great "make ahead" too.

I baked them in the oven at a fairly high temperature to not only melt the cheese, but get a slight caramelization on the enchilada sauce. 

Speaking of enchilada sauce, I used canned for this dish, but I have a super easy enchilada sauce recipe that I usually use. You can find the recipe here.


Linked with Sunflower Supper Club: Weekend Potluck, Rattlebridge Farm: Foodie Friday,

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Beef and Cheese Burritos
6-8 burritos

2 lbs stew meat
19 oz can Enchilada sauce
2 tsp beef bouillon
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp olive oil
5 oz Sharp Cheddar cheese
Flour or corn tortillas

Cook the stew meat in the crockpot by placing the meat in first; sprinkle over 2 tsp of beef bouillon, garlic powder, onion powder and cumin; then cover with enchilada sauce. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

Preheat oven to 400*.

Heat up a skillet with the olive oil. Remove meat with a slotted spoon with just a little of the sauce (about 1/4 cup or so), and add to skillet. Smash up the meat with a spoon and simmer until any liquid is absorbed by the meat (don't get it too dry). Remove to a bowl. Grate up the cheddar cheese.

In the same skillet, add the rest of the sauce. Dip the tortilla shells in the sauce; fill with meat and cheese, and roll. Place into a 9x13 baking dish. (I actually put a little sauce into the bottom of my dish, laid the tortilla in, flipped it over and filled and rolled it in the pan). Once all shells are filled, pour over any remaining sauce and top with remaining/additional cheese.

Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes.

Adapted from Chef in Training.


Healthy Wage Challenge

So, here's the deal.
You've probably noticed I haven't been posting much lately and here's the reason why.

I'm starting a weight challenge tomorrow and I've been eating mostly junk for the last 
couple weeks. I'm sure you career dieters know what I'm talking about.

Anyway, I am so excited. 
You get together a team of 5 (or join a team) and which ever team looses the biggest percentage of their weight wins $10,000. That's right. Pretty great incentive.

We all have to go have our weight verified by a health club or your doctor the day the challenge begins, then once more when it's over. It starts 10/16 and ends in January.

I hate that it runs through the holidays, but I know I can do it. Also, I won't be one of the people waiting until January 1st (or 2nd) to start that fitness routine, like we do every year.

What I wanted to tell you is that, I will still be posting, but pretty much all the recipes are going to be lean and healthy, which is a good thing (for awhile). It may not be as consistent as in the past (not the last 2 weeks past) because I'm sure there's going to be quite a few ordinary salads and chicken breasts. That being said, I do have some wonderful "light cooking" recipe books and am actually pretty good at coming up with original low calorie and fat food. Honest! I know that's kinda hard to believe by the looks of things (me).

I'll also be sharing our teams progress and all interesting and exciting happenings.
If you want to keep up with the new recipes and progress (success:) of our team, 
enter your email address in the subscribe box at the top right of the page 
and new posts will be sent directly to you.

If you want more information check out
Make a team of your own or join another team already in place. You can start up to 2 weeks after it starts (the sooner the better). They place everyone who signs up.

Wish me much loss!

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Easy Sausage Gravy and Biscuits

 This has to be one of the easiest sausage gravy recipes out there.
5 ingredients, including salt and pepper and it tastes, oh so delicious!

Most the time I use canned biscuits, cause let's face it, they can be pretty tasty. 
But if you want, by all means, make em fresh. All the better.

Linked with Food on Friday.

Easy Sausage Gravy and Biscuits
Serves 4

8 oz (half roll) of Jimmy Dean Sausage, any flavor
2-3 tbsp flour
2 cups of milk, plus
1 can large biscuits, any type

Cook biscuits according to package instructions.

While biscuits cook, brown the sausage in a skillet. Sprinkle over the flour and stir to combine. Cook mixture 3-5 minutes stirring often. While stirring, pour in 1 1/2 cups of milk; stir to combine and cook until it starts to thicken, adding more milk as it cooks to achieve desired thickness of gravy. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve over halved warm biscuits.

Mini Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins with Orange Drizzle

These muffins are so good!

I found them in a book by Pam Anderson called "The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great". It's a great recipe book and if you don't already own it, you should. 
It will become and instant favorite.

I love serving them with soups and stews, especially Spicy Sausage and White Bean Soup, which is another favorite I found in her book.

I like to have them around all the time. I freeze them, then I can just microwave a 
few at a time for snack, tea time, or any time.

To glaze these (I double the glaze), I set my cooling rack on a piece of parchment paper and just drizzle it over with a spoon. Makes clean-up easy. And if you don't feel you have enough glaze on them, scrape up the run off and add that too.

Linked with Sunflower Supper Club: Weekend Potluck and 
Rattlebridge Farm: Foodie Friday.

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Mini Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins with Orange Drizzle

1 can (15 oz.) 100% pure pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup flavorless oil (vegetable or canola)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt


1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 teaspoons orange juice

Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 24 mini muffin cups with vegetable cooking spray.

Place pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, to blend flavors, about 3 minutes. Pour hot puree into a medium bowl. Whisk in brown sugar and oil, then slowly beat in eggs.

Whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk pumpkin mixture into flour mixture until just combined.

Divide batter among muffin cups (a 2-tablespoon spring-action ice cream scoop works well) and bake until golden and cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Let muffins stand for a couple of minutes, then remove from the cups and place on a wire rack to cool.

Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl. Drizzle over warm muffins.