Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fettuccine with Roasted Butternut Squash, Garlic, & Herb Sauce

This recipe was way too good to not share it with you.

I looooove fall, and I am excited this year to experiment with seasonal produce, like squashes. Trader Joe's just got in all their fall items, and butternut squash is among those. I've been keeping my eyes open for recipes that incorporate fall/winter produce, and the September issue of Clean Eating has an entire guide for prepping and cooking all kinds of squash!

Have I mentioned that I love Clean Eating? Every single recipe (every one!) is as healthful as it can be. It's great to know I can flip to any page and find a recipe that is low-fat, made with fresh ingredients, and super flavorful.

So needless to say, this pasta recipe came from the pages of Clean Eating, and it calls for butternut squash. After eating this meal, I am a huge fan of butternut squash.

Fettuccine with Roasted Butternut Squash, Garlic, and Herb Sauce

Serves: 6
Time: 1 hr. 

  • 1/2 of a whole butternut squash
  • 1/3 c. vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 7 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp. fresh sage, finely chopped 
  • 12 oz. fettuccine 
  • 2 c. chunked, cooked chicken breast meat (I had some leftover roasted bone-in chicken breast meat from a dinner I made last week, so I just coarsely shredded that and used it. Rotisserie would work too, or anything you have on hand.)
  • A few more tablespoons of finely chopped fresh sage 
  • Chopped hazelnuts (I didn't have any so I used chopped pecans and it was fine)
  • Extra olive oil for roasting squash

  1. Preheat oven to 400. 
  2. Prep squash. Peel it with a vegetable peeler, then cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Take one of the halves, slice it and dice it until you have a pile of little squash cubes (cubes should be about 1").  
  3. Toss squash cubes with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper; distribute evenly in a glass baking dish and bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes, or until squash is tender. 
  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain, toss with a little olive oil, and set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, make garlic, oil, and herb sauce. To make sauce, start by combining cornstarch and vegetable broth in a small bowl. Set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the garlic, Dijon, salt, oregano, basil, and sage in 1/3 c. olive oil until garlic begins to brown, about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  6. Give a quick stir to the cornstarch/broth mixture; then add it to the pan. Stir until sauce thickens; then remove it from the heat and whisk it until completely mixed (e.g., broth and oil are no longer separating). Taste and add more salt if needed. (You may just want to eat spoonful after spoonful of the sauce right now. It is so good. But trust me: Wait for the final product!)
  7. Once the squash is ready, combine it with the garlic, oil, and herb sauce in a food processor and process until creamy and smooth. Taste and add more salt if needed. (Isn't it good?)
  8. Toss the butternut sauce with the pasta and the chicken. You may not want to add all the sauce at once. Add most of it; then taste it and see if it's the right creaminess. It's pretty rich, so add the rest if you're up for it. 
  9. Serve pasta and top with chopped hazelnuts and fresh sage. (The fresh sage really completes this dish). 
  10. ENJOY!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Honey Tree

It has been a BUSY two weeks! Mostly lots of meetings with parents after school, but I've also been busy working on Etsy items for my store's re-launch in November. Yay!

Well I came across The Honey Tree this morning on Etsy, and these photo prints are so beautiful I just have to share them with you! Once again, this shop makes me wish I had another wall in our apartment just waiting to be decorated with lovely prints.

I could hang a series of landscapes....

Or pretty apartments with shutters and flowers that make me want to get on a plane right now....

Or a collection of colors and textures....

I love them all!

A little tip I've learned about buying photography is this: Most photographers (at least on Etsy) have a listing for a combo deal, where you get to choose any four prints for a set price. The set price for the four prints is usually much cheaper than buying several prints individually. What's even better, is that these combo deals are usually for a smaller print size-- say, 5x5, 5x7, or 8x8. Personally, I like these smaller sizes much better than a larger 8x10 size. For me, the smaller prints are just easier to work with. The Honey Tree is no different! She offers a "choose any four" special for $37.00.

Now the hard part... which four would I choose?

Monday, September 13, 2010

One Apartment = 24 Rooms

Have you seen this?

What do you think?

Would you go nuts having to move everything around every time you needed the kitchen?
Does the bonus of space efficiency outweigh the need to move walls around?
Could more than one person live here comfortably?
Would you spend the money on a larger home?
Would you choose a home like this if living space was a precious commodity?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Laugh Attack

Ready for more wisdom from a fourth grader?

As I'm picking up my class from recess and we're walking up to the classroom, a particular student says in a matter-of-fact tone, "Mrs. Hildebrand, I wanted to tell you that sometimes I get a random laugh attack during a lesson while I'm sitting at my desk, so I just wanted to let you know so you can be prepared."

"Oh," I say. "Well how about instead, you have self-control and stop the laugh attack before it happens?"

"Oh," he says. "Yeah I guess that's a good idea. I didn't think of that."



Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Quick and Easy #5

I'm going to introduce you to one of Adam's favorite meals: the Chicken, Tortilla, and Black Bean Soup.

Don't you love those meals that you can cook without even glancing at the recipe? This is definitely one of them because I've made it so often. I originally got it from a Bon Appetit magazine, but the recipe was kind of vague and hard to understand, and I've made some modifications, so you get the perfected version!

Time: 45 minutes ( that includes 15 minutes of simmering time)
Serves: 6

  • 2 dried ancho chilies
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into big chunks
  • 1 onion, cut into big chunks
  • Olive oil
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2-3 c. cooked, shredded chicken (Rotisserie chicken from Costco is my fave)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 avocados (Depending on how much you like avocados. We loooove them so I put half an avocado into each of our bowls)
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Lime wedges
  • Crumbled queso fresco 

  1. Fill a small pot with water and add the ancho chilies. Bring water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let chilies simmer for about 5-10 minutes until chilies are softened. Turn off the heat. Use a pair of tongs to pull the stems out of the tops of the chilies. Use the tongs to swirl the chilies in the pot of water so all the seeds wash out. Let chilies sit in the water until you're ready to use them for their next step.
  2. While the chilies are simmering, shred the chicken. 2-3 cups is an estimate; I usually just use half of a rotisserie chicken and call it good. 
  3. In a food processor (if you don't have a food processor a blender might work), puree the seeded, soaked ancho chilies, tomato, onion, and garlic until very smooth. The smoother the better.
  4. In a large soup pot, drizzle some olive oil and heat up the pot. Pour in the puree and cook it over medium heat for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Stir frequently.
  5. Add 6 cups chicken broth, shredded chicken, and black beans to the pot. Stir well and bring to a soft boil. Softly boil, uncovered, for 15 minutes. 
  6. Meanwhile, get your condiments ready. Chop the cilantro, dice the avocados, crumble the cheese, crumble the chips, and cut the limes. 
  7. When the soup is ready, dish into bowls and garnish with cilantro, avocado, queso fresco, chips, and lime juice. YUM!!! 

You can do variations on the chicken. You don't have to use a rotisserie, but that's what's easy for me. I have a Costco close by, and a huge chicken is only five bucks, and it gives me leftover chicken for another recipe later in the week. If you have some chicken thighs in the freezer, just defrost them and throw them in with the chicken broth and simmer them in the soup until they're cooked through. Then take them out, shred the meat off the bones, and put the shredded meat back into the soup. You could do the same thing with breast meat. 

I didn't know what ancho chilies were when I first found this recipe, but I was sure that my local Vallarta would carry them so I looked them up online to see what they looked like before I went grocery shopping. To save you a search online, here they are:

They were easy to find once I knew what they were, and they're cheap! You get four chilies for $1.49, so that's enough for two pots of soup!

As always, if you try the soup, let me know what you think!!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Quick and Easy #4

This, friends, is a comfort food night.

It's a rare cool and cloudy September day here in L.A., and we've got to make the most of it!

Therefore, I present you with Bow-Tie "Lasagna".

(You will quickly see, however, that I thought I bought bow-tie this week, but did not find it in the cupboard tonight, so dinner turned into a use-up-whatever-pasta-I-have night. And that huge penne noodle right in front is bothering me now).

Husband loved it, and if you have kids, they will love it too. The original recipe is from

Time: 25 min
Serves: 6

  • 1 lb. ground beef, ground chuck, ground turkey, or whatever you prefer
  • 5 c. bow-tie pasta
  • 3 c. spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • A few twists of the pepper grinder
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning (I didn't have any so I just shook my containers of oregano and basil over the pot a couple times)
  • 1/2 c. mozzarella
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • Olive oil

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, return to pot, and drizzle/toss with a little olive oil. 
  2. Meanwhile, cook ground beef in a pan until no longer pink. 
  3. When pasta is ready, mix in the spaghetti sauce. Add cooked meat and seasonings; stir well and heat through. 
  4. Fold in the cheese and sour cream and cook over low heat for a few minutes to allow the cheese to melt and the flavors to combine. 
  5. Serve it up! It was great with garlic bread and a salad. I was really craving parmesan green beans, but the fresh green beans that I forgot to use up last week weren't edible anymore. Oh well. 


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Plate Wall

Some time ago, I was inspired by Lisa Congdon's plate wall, and decided that I would tackle the project of compiling my own plate wall.

Lisa's plate wall:

I love it! Of course, I want a cat too, but that will have to wait.

So I determined to do my plate wall [mostly] the hard way: Hunting thrift stores. No e-bay, no Etsy. However, I do drool over Anthropologie's dinner plate collection, and for my last birthday, Adam and his mom gave me three Anthropologie plates, so those are a completely unashamed part of my collection.

Oh, and the new Anthropologie catalog came in the mail this week.... looove.

Ok now we're getting distracted like my fourth graders. Back to the plate wall.

Lisa's kitchen is much larger than mine, so the good news is that I need less plates.

Here's the blank wall:

And here is the plate progress so far:

I think I need a couple of small, solid-colored plates, like that cute yellow one. What do you think? I don't want it to look too crazy with too many colors and patterns.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Quick and Easy #3

My ambitions for posting these recipes every day were a little unrealistic, I think.

But here's another one anyway!

I got this recipe from my trusty friend, Design Sponge. D*S got this recipe from a gal by the name of Kate Flaim, whose personal blog is chock-full right now of fast and fresh dinner ideas-- the main lists of ingredients comprised mostly of locally grown veggies from her weekly CSA box.

Today's meal is Kate Flaim's Absorption Pasta. It's so light and flavorful and I can't wait to try some of the winter season variations that she mentions on the original D*S post.

One modification I'll mention first is that Kate calls for 2-3 slices of chopped pancetta, which is then cooked until crispy, the fat drained off, and mixed in with the pasta near the end. I'm not a bacon-flavor person (I've never liked bacon), so I substituted chopped proscuitto for a milder flavor. I will list the ingredients with proscuitto, but revert to pancetta if you prefer a bacon flavor.

Serves: 4-6
Total time: 30 min.

  • 3/4 lb. penne (I used whole wheat penne for more nutrition)
  • 2 finely sliced shallots or 1/2 white, yellow, or brown onion, very finely sliced
  • 4-5 sliced of proscuitto, chopped
  • 1 lb. asparagus
  • 1/3 c. crumbled feta
  • Zest of one lemon (Save the rest of the lemon for garnish)
  • 4 c. chicken stock
  • Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • Olive oil for sauteing 

  1. Cut 1-2 inches off the end of your asparagus. Then cut the asparagus into 2-inch lengths, keeping the stalk parts separate from the tips (they will need to cook for different amounts of time).
  2. Saute the shallots/onions in a drizzle of olive oil until soft and lightly browning, 1-2 minutes. When shallots soften, add penne and stir the penne around to toast it just a little. 
  3. Pour in 2.5-3 cups of the chicken stock. The stock should come just barely to the level of the pasta. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and then reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally for 5-7 minutes. 
  4. After 5-7 minutes, the chicken stock should be about half-absorbed by the pasta. Keep stirring occasionally to allow all the pasta to be coated by the absorbing chicken stock. Toss in the stalk parts of the asparagus and stir them into the pasta. Let cook, stirring more frequently as the stock cooks away, for 2-3 more minutes.
  5. When the pasta is getting close to done (keep testing the pasta as you stir), add the asparagus tips. 
  6. You don't want the pan to get totally dry, so add a splash or two of the extra stock if things start to dry out. The pasta should be coated with a silky-sticky-barely-there "sauce". The starch in the pasta is what helps to thicken the stock that hasn't boiled away completely. 
  7. When the pasta is al-dente, remove from the heat and stir in half of the feta, half of the proscuitto, and half of the lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  8. To serve, dish the pasta onto plates and top each serving with more feta, more proscuitto, and more lemon zest. I love fresh lemon, so I serve each plate with an extra lemon wedge to squeeze over. 

If you try this recipe and you like it, check out Kate's original post on Design Sponge for the winter variations I mentioned. Can't wait to try those-- especially her sausage and kale suggestion!