Butternut Squash Stuff Shells

It’s been a busy couple of weeks and I haven’t had much time to think about my favourite time of the season, Fall! I live for Fall every year, pumpkin spice lattes, sweaters, coffee next to the fire, crisp dewy mornings with red, orange and yellow leaves blowing in the breeze. Along with those things, squash comes into season this time of year. Besides pumpkin, butternut squash is the only squash type I enjoy eating. The prep for squash before cooking takes a little time but it’s so worth it. You can buy preskinned, cut up squash to save time for this recipe but I guarantee you it will cost way more. I recommend peeling and cutting the squash the day before to save some time. For this dinner, I paired it with baked and breaded chicken breasts. It was perfect. Again the prep time was a bit more due to also having to roast the squash and then stuffing the cooked pasta shells. 

I’ve tried premade squash filled ravioli, and I liked it but I wished there was more squash filling. I’ve also seen recipes that call for ricotta cheese or meat to mix into the filling but I just wanted seasoning. I actually enjoy squash by itself. Because of this, there are very few ingredients in this recipe which my husband brought a cool idea for this post, this will be an interactive post, where I ask the readers to contribute their missing ingredient. For example, my husband said it would have been good with marinara sauce and I said spinach. 

So, here’s my challenge to you readers out there, make this recipe but add your special ingredient and then tell/show me how it went! 

Prep time: 25 minutes    Total cook time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

1 box of large pasta shells
1 butternut squash
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 or 4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
¾ cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups of Italian blend shredded cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven 400°
  2. Peel and cut the squash, put into medium/large baking dish, drizzle olive oil evenly over cut cubes, cook for 30 minutes
  3. While you wait for the squash to cook, you can boil the pasta shells, cook as directed from box. Cool down with a cold water rinse, set aside.
  4. Remove squash from oven once softened, use a potato masher or hand mixer and add butter, allspice, sage and pepper. Let sit for a few minutes to cool
  5. Reduce oven heat to 375°
  6. Using another medium/large baking dish, add chicken or vegetable broth to the bottom of pan. This will prevent the shells from drying when cooking.
  7. Once shells and mashed squash is cooled, take one shell at a time and stuff away, add to pan. Cook for 25 minutes, remove from oven, add shredded cheese and put back in oven for an additional 5 minutes to melt cheese.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, serve and enjoy!


Blueberry Crisp

I would have had this post up and ready but we had a crazy thunderstorm last night, our electricity was in and out and I didn’t want to be in the middle of this post and it lose my progress. But it was an amazing storm, one lighting strike after another, BOOM BOOM BOOM! For two hours straight. So my family turned off all the lights, turned off the TV and lit a bunch of candles around the house and opened up the windows and just watched in awe of nature’s power.
So this morning I’m playing catch up. This week I bring you blueberry crisp! Not a lot of ingredients and pretty common items found in the kitchen. The prep takes about as long it takes to cook. 25 minutes prep, 30 minutes to cook. Before you start this recipe, I highly recommend taking out a stick of butter a few hours before start putting the ingredients together. I made the mistake of trying to mix cold butter with the dry ingredients, even with a pastry cutter it was difficult.
In my house, you can find pounds of frozen blueberries, thanks to a very special grandmother. One of my son’s favorite snacks. Blueberry pancakes, blueberries and ice cream, blueberries and yogurt, blueberry smoothies, you get the point.
I love blueberry crisp, especially when it’s paired with our favorite local ice cream. Old Fashioned Vanilla Tillamook ice cream. The warm and cold combo is a must! If you want to add a little more, add your favorite cut nuts, like almonds.
So, here you go!

Prep time; 25 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon of lemon zest

Topping

½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup of old fashioned oats
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick of room temperature butter

  1. Preheat the oven at 375°, lightly butter, grease or spray a medium/large baking dish. I used a 13” X10” dish
  2. Grab a medium mixing bowl and mix blueberries, granulated sugar, cornstarch. Add lemon juice and zest, and mix in. Make sure the berries are coated with sugar. Pour into the baking dish and set aside.
  3. In another bowl mix the dry topping ingredients, flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Cut the stick of butter into small chunks and add to mixture. Either by using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut the butter into smaller pieces. If you are using two forks, hold each fork in each hand, facing away from each other and use them as if they were scissors, tearing away at each piece.
  4. Pour over blueberries and bake for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven and let rest for a few minutes, it’s best-served while it’s still warm. Can be reheated in the oven if there are leftovers.

Fried Squash Blossoms

I was reading a cookbook from the library and it had a recipe for stuffed fried squash blossoms. It took me by surprise because I have never come across a recipe where you cooked and ate a flower. I remember stumbling into a vegan restaurant once because I was beyond hungry and I didn’t want to walk any further, I sat down and the waiter told me to feel to eat the flowers on the table, as they were the free appetizer that came with the meal. I ate the edible flowers and was completely turned off from vegan food at that point.
I recently started listening to a local Indigenous podcast, and the topic was eating Indigenous food and why it’s good for you. I did a little research on local Indigenous foods and found that it was common for Native’s to eat squash blossoms, cooked or raw. They are high in vitamin A & C. Anyways, the take away I got from that podcast episode was the next time you go grocery shopping, “take your ancestors with you”. Basically look at what’s sold and ask yourself, would your ancestors eat this? If yes, buy it. So that has stuck with me and I scanned our local farm produce stand and found they sold bundles of squash blossoms. I remember seeing a squash blossom recipe I’ve been wanting to try, so here you go! It’s not stuffed just plain deep fry batter. But if I did stuff these, I would use wild rice and maybe some kind of cheese.
My husband gave it a try and said it mostly tasted like the fried batter and a little bit of the blossom, he didn’t like it. And my toddler isn’t a fan of fried foods unless it’s fries or a corn dog. Oh well, I like it. If I could compare it to something, it’s really similar to eating fried asparagus, if you’ve ever had that.
I used a basic beer batter for this recipe, which makes the outer part really crunchy and really coats the flower nicely.
You will most likely only find squash blossoms sold at farm stands, farmers markets or specialty grocery stores. I highly recommend this recipe as an appetizer or just plain snack food. It’s definitely a discussion piece at the table.

Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

Bundle of squash blossoms
2” frying oil (vegetable or corn)
1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
11 or 12 oz of lager beer or club soda

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a fryer safe pot to medium until it reaches approximately 350°
  2. Using a medium /large mixing bowl combine flour and salt and then wisk beer or club soda into flour. Try to not over mix, it’s ok to have some lumps. Overmixing will deflate the batter.
  3. One at a time dip and or sweep flowers into batter and twist or shake off excess, add flowers to heated oil. Don’t overcrowd the pot.
  4. Fry each flower until it’s browned and lay on a paper towel on a plate to drain oil. Serve immediately, the colder it gets, the batter gets gooey.

Overnight French Toast

There’s a bunch of baked french toast recipes out there, but this is the easiest. And I was so excited to make this recipe I made a second trip to the grocery store to make sure I used good bread and fresh cream cheese. The cream cheese I had in the fridge I noticed was approaching the expiration date and I wanted this to turn out amazing, and it did! I was so surprised because I thought soaking bread overnight in a carton of eggs would make the bread into bread pudding. Turns out letting the bread soak, makes it all the more flavorful.
I was tempted to use this recipe for a dinner night but I wanted my toddler to wake up to great breakfast. I started to make this the night before and my husband leans over and says “You should just make something else for your blog and feed my crew at the job site”. I laughed, said no and told him as long as this recipe is a success I will make this again for his coworkers. He later texted me and said, “Send me a picture of your finished recipe”, he showed the pictures off to his coworkers, now I have to make it again. That’s ok, this recipe is super yummy!
I wanted to make something special for my son because he was sick with a terrible throat infection. I stayed home all week to take care of him and felt we should celebrate the end of his cold with a great meal. To be honest, he wasn’t a huge fan of the strawberries, but I added cut up bananas and he scarfed it down. I also forgot I wanted to add powdered sugar and cinnamon, but it’s optional. You can add your own favourite french toast toppings to this recipe.

This is great dish for when you have guests over. Anyways here you go, an easy overnight just place in the oven in the morning baked french toast recipe!

Before it was cooked

Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 60 minutes

Ingredients

¾ loaf of french bread cut into bite-sized pieces
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese cut into small cubes
1 lb of strawberries cut into pieces and divided into two halves
12 eggs beaten
2 cups whole milk
⅓ cup of maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar (optional)
Nonstick cooking spray

Directions

  1. Coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray, add cut bread pieces in an even layer, carefully mix in cream cheese, half of the strawberries
  2. Using a large mixing bowl, stir eggs, vanilla extract, salt and maple syrup together and pour over bread cubes, cover with aluminium foil and let sit overnight
  3. When you’re ready, take out the baking dish and let sit for 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  4. Place in oven, bake for 30 minutes covered, and then uncover and cook for an additional 30 minutes until the egg mixture becomes solid.
  5. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Add the second half of the cut strawberries on top of the dish or use for each plate serving. Add your favourite additional toppings and sprinkle a little magic like powdered sugar

Jack O Lantern Stuff Bell Peppers

Having a toddler in the house means making meals that are kid friendly and fun to make and eat. My two year old wants to participate when I cook, he wants stir the pancake batter, put a lid on a pot, sprinkle shredded cheese on a casserole. I make most of our meals family friendly, with the occasional spicy adult meals.
This week my son and I pulled into the grocery store parking lot and saw they were selling Halloween garden decor already. Of course we both excited and then I knew what I wanted to make for dinner. Jack O Lantern Stuffed Bell Peppers. It’s fun and quick. A little heavy on prep because you need to make all the stuffing ingredients before you throw the bell peppers in the oven. I cut a corner and used boxed rice to cut down on prep time. I wish I used fresh diced tomatoes with this recipe but I made it so quickly I forgot to add. This is a great recipe if you have company over that has little ones.
Anyone who knows me it’s about this time of year that I get anxious for Halloween season. As Fall and Halloween is my favorite time of year.
The stuffing I make can be used also for nacho topping, or taco stuffing.

He was super excited about carving pumpkin faces

Prep time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 or 5 bell peppers (color is your choice)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 3 oz diced jalapeno peppers
  • 1 cup of diced onion
  • Shredded cheese (desired amount and type)
  • 1 lbs ground beef
  • Box of instant rice (desired flavor, I used Zatarain’s Salsa Verde)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Diced avocado (optional)
  • Salt & pepper (desired amount)
  • Diced tomatoes (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 °
  2. Start by browning ground beef on medium/medium high heat in a large skillet and then add onion
  3. Add desired amount of pepper and salt to taste
  4. Add red pepper flakes, cumin, chili powder and jalapeno peppers, mix and stir till warm, remove from heat
  5. Follow directions on instant rice and then add to skillet, mix into meat
  6. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and add and spread vegetable oil
  7. Begin cutting the tops of the bell peppers, remove inner seeds and ribs
  8. Using a small sharp knife, cut your Jack O’ Lantern faces into the sides of the peppers
  9. Stuff the bell peppers with the meat, rice mixture, top off with shredded cheese and put the tops back on the peppers, place in lined baking pan
  10. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes
  11. Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes, and then serve with optional toppings and enjoy!

Sweet & Spicy Pork Tenderloin

Sometimes I come across recipes that I have to try for myself. This recipe is fast, easy and is packed full of flavour! Sweet and spicy pork tenderloin. I came across this recipe reading an old magazine. I was hesitant about the amount of spice that goes into this recipe. I believe if your meat needs that much spice than you’re cooking it wrong. But wow, I was surprised by the first bite. It was like there was a fight in my mouth between sweet and spicy heat.
And I’m not going to lie, I was out of aluminium foil in my kitchen so I was scrounging through my bookshelf for a pork tenderloin recipe that didn’t require foil. Another great thing about this recipe is that it only uses one pan. I used my favourite non-enamelled cast iron dutch oven. Simply brown on the stovetop and then immediately transfer to a preheated oven. You could also use a large cast iron skillet.
Our toddler was not a fan of this pork recipe, but he did eat the butter chicken broth cooked wild rice. This would have been even better if we served it with pineapple slices to balance the spicy but my husband and kid ate all of the sliced pineapple overnight….lol!
This is a perfect recipe to add some kick to your weekday routine.

Ingredients:

1-1 ½ pound pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons olive oil

Rub:
2 teaspoons granulated salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon of black pepper

Glaze:
¾ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce

Directions:

1)Preheat oven at 350°, add olive oil to cast iron skillet or dutch oven, turn the burner to medium-high heat.
2)Mix all rub ingredients and rub onto pork, massage in well
3)Add pork to heated skillet or dutch oven, cook for 3 to 5 minutes total, turning on all sides to brown
4)Mix glaze ingredients with a fork, and spread over pork and transfer to preheated oven, cook for 20 minutes
5)Take pork out of the oven, grab a sharp slicing knife, make slits on top of pork. Spoon cooked glaze into the slits and let pork sit for 10 minutes and serve

Bruschetta Chicken

I love Italian food. If I could, I could probably eat pasta every day. Macaroni and cheese is probably my favorite food. I wanted to make chicken and pasta but I wanted it to look as appetizing as it tastes. I came across a recipe from an old ‘80s cookbook I picked up from the thrift store years ago. Bruschetta chicken.

This recipe is easy, classic and would satisfy the pickiest of eaters…..*coughs “kids” * My toddler isn’t always hungry but if I make something look appetizing enough he usually gets interested and then tries a bite. He likes this recipe since I used grape tomatoes. One of his favorite snacks.
There are various ways to cook this chicken, breaded, barbecued, fried even. But I like my starch so this recipe calls for breaded and baked chicken. I encourage you to try to cook the chicken to your liking. The breading is crispy and sticks well.
I used fresh basil from my indoor window planter, the smell and the flavor is much stronger and gives this recipe a good pop of mint. I would suggest boiling the pasta while the chicken is in the oven, so by the time your chicken is done, so is the pasta.
The only thing I would have liked to do differently was to use freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I had a bag of pre-shredded cheese in the fridge already. But it turned out great anyway.

Time: 40 minutes total          Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

½ cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs lightly beaten
4 boneless chicken breasts
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 large tomatoes chopped into small pieces or 3 cups of chopped grape tomatoes
3 tablespoons minced basil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Place flour and beaten eggs in separate shallow bowls. Dip chicken in flour, then eggs. Place in a greased baking dish.
  2. Combine the Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs and Italian seasoning. Pour melted butter and minced garlic over dry ingredients and mix with a fork until well blended.
  3. Sprinkle 3./4 of the mix onto the chicken
  4. Loosely cover the baking dish with foil. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes.
  5. Uncover and bake 5/10 minutes longer until the top is browned
  6. Take out of the oven and sprinkle remaining dry mix and then chopped tomatoes and basil on top of the chicken, return to oven, cook for another 5 minutes until tomatoes are heated and serve!

Crispy Thin Berry Pastry Tarts

I knew I wanted to make a new pastry recipe this weekend, so when I was at the grocery store this week I came across phyllo pastry dough. Instead of getting puff pastry, I got phyllo dough. This was my first time working with phyllo dough, so this recipe was a learning opportunity. I didn’t realize how thin the dough sheets are. Thin and fragile like gift tissue wrap. Let me tell you this isn’t exactly a beginner’s baking recipe. I think it would be helpful if you had little experience with pastry dough before you experiment with this variety. The preparation is the most tedious portion, but after you assemble the layers, you just throw it in the oven for 10/15 minutes and then it’s done. This is a great recipe if you have kids to help you and you a little more time. Squares can be refrigerated. The glaze can be replaced with honey.
The filling can be replaced with your favourite jam, or spread. I used raspberry jam. Next time I’m trying this with chocolate hazelnut spread! Kid tested, kid, approved! My son enjoyed tearing apart the square layer by layer.

Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes

Tools:
Parchment paper or aluminium foil
Cookie sheet pan
Pastry dough cutter or pizza cutter
Small mixing bowl
Basting brush

Ingredients:
10 sheet of phyllo dough
1 stick of melted butter
½ cup of your favourite spread

Vanilla Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 or 6 tablespoons water

  1. Preheat oven 400 degrees
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminium foil
  3. Carefully layer 5 sheets of dough 1 at a time. Each layer brush with melted butter
  4. Butter and add spread on 5th layer
  5. Layer remaining sheets, butter between each sheet
  6. Brush the remaining top layer with butter and cut dough into 8 or 10 squares with a pastry cutter or pizza cutter
  7. No need to move pastry squares, just pop in the oven for 10-15 minutes until brown
  8. Take out of the oven and let cool

Vanilla Glaze directions:

  1. In the small mixing bowl, combine powdered sugar, vanilla extract and water. I would recommend adding one tablespoon at a time and mix to your desired thickness.
  2. Use a spoon to pour glaze on squares. The glaze will harden as it sits.

Triple Berry Pie Filling


I love pie. Who doesn’t? After all, this American dessert coined the term “as American as Apple Pie”. What’s funny about this post, was that I originally wanted to show one of my chili recipes but when I woke up this morning I thought “I WANT PIE”.
I’ve achieved mastering a pie crust recipe after a few years. It’s flaky, thin and perfect for meat and fruit pies. (let me know if you want my pie crust recipe). But with this dish, you can use premade pie crusts from your grocery store. Also, you don’t need fresh fruit for this pie, using frozen fruit works just the same. Note this recipe is for a 9” 1.2 deep pie pan. You can use any berries you like, for this pie I chose dark cherries, blackberries and blueberries. This pie filling can be made and put in a freezer-safe container to be used for later.

Cooking time: 45 minutes
Total time: 3 hours (including cooling time)

Supplies:

9” 1.2 deep pie dish
Colander or strainer
Heat safe bowl
Basting or pastry brush (optional for a browned top crust)
Small bowl for egg wash (optional for a browned top crust)
Medium sauce pot for berries
Cooking spoon

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups of berries
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
4 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg beaten

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven 400 degrees
  2. Pour berries, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium sauce pot, heat over medium heat.
  3. Simmer between 5-10 minutes until warm. (Add additional sugar to your liking) Stir occasionally
  4. Drain juice from the pot into the strainer and heat-safe bowl. Add one tablespoon of corn starch and stir, repeat one tablespoon at a time. Stir until blended and smooth
  5. Bring berry pot back to a simmer, add cornstarch mixture slowly. Gently stir, try not to smash berries. Simmer, stir, repeat for about 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, add butter, and gently stir. If berry mixture isn’t as thick as you want it, let sit for a few minutes
  7. Pour berry mixture into pie crust. Add the pie crust top. Pinch the ends together, crimp edges if you want.
  8. Brush optional beaten egg wash on top of pie crust. This makes that pretty brown glossy finish. Sprinkle an optional pinch of granulated sugar on top
  9. Bake at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Check at 25 minutes and place tin foil over the top if gets too brown too fast
  10. Remove from oven, cool for at least a couple of hours or throw in the fridge overnight and serve the following day.
    Serve with Tillamook ice cream or whipping cream, enjoy y’all!

Easy 30 Minute Turkey Soup

Our family is always looking for healthy easy recipes because when we get home we have approximately one hour to cook up something and then another hour to eat and relax before the weeknight routine starts. Anyone with kids knows what this is like.
Here is a recipe for a quick and healthy turkey soup. What I like about this recipe is that it calls for common kitchen produce. Items you don’t have to find a speciality food store. This recipe can be changed to use wild or brown rice.

Ingredients

2 or 3 pieces of thin uncured bacon
1 lb ground turkey
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup chopped red onion
½ cup of chopped carrots
Half of a yellow bell pepper
Half of a green bell pepper
¼ cup dry white wine or white cooking wine
3 cups of chicken broth
1 cup cooked white rice or wild rice
½ cup chopped parsley
Pinch of salt and black pepper

Directions:

1)Heat skillet or cast iron dutch oven over medium heat, while the stove top is warming chop bacon into spoon/bite-sized pieces. Add bacon to skillet. Brown until crispy. Remove bacon onto a paper towel to soak fat drippings. Drain all but one tablespoon of fat.
2)Add turkey to skillet, brown for about ¾ minutes. Stir in onion, garlic, carrots. Salt and pepper to your desire. Saute for 1 minute.
3)Add bell peppers, wine and chicken broth. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Stir in rice and parsley until warmed. Serve immediately. Add bacon on your soup. Enjoy!