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Pumpkin Rigatoni with Turkey Bacon

October 23, 2015

PumpkinMac_1I’ve been making some version of this easy pumpkin sauce for more nights than I can count. It’s ultra-easy once you get the hang of making it and goes with pasta as well as roasted veggies. Although my husband’s preference leans strongly toward pasta with turkey bacon, my preference is for spooning it on top of roasted broccoli with a side of toast.

This dish could easily be made a day in advance and tossed in the oven for a quick dinner. Since it’s just me and Joe eating dinner (and feeding small bites to Ainsley now and again) I scaled this dish down a bit from the typical casserole size. We love eating leftovers but not leftovers for an entire week!


Pumpkin Rigatoni with Turkey Bacon
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 to 3 servings
  • 2 cups rigatoni pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup chicken stock (or broth)
  • ¼ cup 2% milk
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of salt and ground black pepper
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 pieces turkey bacon, crisp-cooked according to package directions and crumbled
  • Additional grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Heat oven to 350F. Spray a small baking dish with cooking spray - I used a 6x6-inch dish. Set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain.
  2. In a small saucepan or skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the flour and whisk together until smooth. Continue to cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until flour is cooked slightly. Whisk in the stock and milk and continue to cook 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken just slightly. Whisk in the Parmesan cheese, pumpkin puree and ricotta cheese. Stir in the basil, thyme, nutmeg, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add the pasta to the sauce along with ¼ cup of the mozzarella cheese and all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon. Spoon mixture into the prepared dish.
  4. Top the pasta with the remaining ¼ cup of mozzarella cheese, an additional 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese and the remaining crumbled bacon.
  5. Bake 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.



Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

February 18, 2014


Note: After my post about switching from eating vegetarian to eating meat, I thought an update was in order. After about two months my body really started to reject eating paleo-style. I began to crave the vegetarian fare (and whole grains!) that I was so accustomed to. I have since decided that while it was interesting to give paleo-style eating a go, it isn’t for me and my body. I plan to write a full recap soon, but I wanted to get that out there for honesty’s sake.

Although I’m no longer eating meat, I will continue to be cooking a lot of meat, as I always have. Since I’m not ethically against eating meat, I do try everything that I prepare and share on this blog to make sure that it’s worth posting. My husband, of course, is also a fantastic resource and is always willing to provide his opinion on what he likes and doesn’t like. In this case, Joe was a huge fan of these Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches.

These sandwiches are incredibly easy to make and require very little hands-on time, meaning you can go do other things, like play with your puppy or paint your nails, while your dinner cooks. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but the key to good slow cooker chicken is to use a cut with a little bit more fat, like these boneless, skinless chicken thighs. They become incredibly tender and moist in the slow cooker and shred easily for sandwiches.

Since we love spicy food at our house, I added in a can of diced green chiles to the mix. And a little bit of brown sugar, which I think really rounds out the flavor of the sandwiches and balances the heat of the buffalo sauce.

Oh, and one more thing! A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a recipe over at Pinch of Yum which suggested that you shred your meat and broil it after slow cooking to give the meat pleasant crispiness resembling barbecue. For the longest time my biggest complaint with slow cooker food was that it tasted mushy and, well, slow cooked. This step of broiling the meat was a total game changer. Give it a try and be impressed!


Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
Recipe type: Slow Cooker Entree
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
This recipe is incredibly easy and makes a great weeknight dinner. I love shredding the meat and broiling it once it has cooked for a little extra texture and smoky flavor. It prevents the meat from tasting like, well, a slow-cooker recipe.
  • 1 package (20 oz) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1½ cups buffalo wing sauce (such as Frank's Red Hot brand)
  • 1 can (4 oz) diced green chiles
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Whole wheat bakery buns or rolls
  1. Place chicken and buffalo wing sauce in a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker. Cook on High 2 hours or Low 4 hours.
  2. Use two forks to shred the chicken in the slow cooker. Stir in the green chiles and brown sugar and cook, uncovered, 30 minutes more.
  3. Turn oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place shredded chicken on baking sheet and broil 10 minutes or until the ends of the chicken become slightly charred and crispy. Serve on sandwich buns.

Β Madison


End of Summer Salad

August 26, 2013


We have been swimming in produce over here! This weekend my mom brought us a basket full of peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and other veggies that were absolutely beautiful! And then there is the abundance of produce we have at our house: cherry tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, basil. Oh, and did I mention we’re also members of a CSA, so we get a box of produce every week? Yeah, like I said, we have a lot of produce at our house.


This week I bought a ton of lettuce (one of the few produce item we don’t have) and decided that this week is all about eating down the veggies in our house in the form of salads. Already this past weekend I consumed four large salads and I don’t see my salad consumption slowing down. But in order to keep things interesting, I’ve been playing around with flavor combinations and cooking methods, like adding roasted corn on the cob to a crisp Romaine salad.

I also picked up a bottle of light spicy Thai peanut salad dressing at Target this week that I’ve fallen in love with. When left to my own devices, I tend to gravitate toward creamy salad dressings like Caesar or blue cheese. But it was nice to mix things up with something a little fresh that brings out the flavor of the veggies rather than mask them. This salad is ultra simple and hardly counts as a real recipe, but when my mom said it was one of the best salads she had eaten in a long time, I figured it was worth sharing, if nothing else than for the fact that it might serve as salad inspiration.


End of Summer Salad
Makes 3 servings
*2 hearts of Romaine lettuce, chopped
*1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
*1/2 to 3/4 cup grape tomatoes, sliced
*3 heads sweet corn, grilled or boiled, salted and removed from cob
*1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
*Mild Thai Peanut salad dressing (I like this brand I bought from Target)

*Divide the lettuce among three bowls, Top with the avocado, tomatoes and sweet corn. Sprinkle with the fresh basil. Lightly dress with the thai peanut salad dressing. Serve immediately.

Happy cooking!

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