Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

ONE- Obviously, blogging has been taking a back seat lately. I do love doing it, but I think I've realized that, for me, it's just going to have to be a no-pressure, do-it-when-I'm-struck-with-inspiration thing. I can't always work my meals and schedules around blog posts, and honestly, sometimes there are hobbies I choose to do over writing a post. Maybe I'm not a naturally gifted writer, because unless I feel inspired, it's hard to sit down and write anything. I still love to share stuff with you (especially delicious recipe finds!!), but I'll just be honest that it doesn't always make the top of my list of things I need/want to do. :)

TWO- One thing that is topping my list of things I want to do is THIS.I'm just kind of in love with it. Trying to work in a trip to the yarn store to pick out the perfect yarn for it. I'm thinking coral. Wouldn't that just be a lovely early spring accessory??

THREE- I recently took advantage of Shutterfly's offer of 101 free prints (although I only printed about 60 I think) and got prints made of pictures from Fall/Christmas. I couldn't wait to get the pictures in the mail and hang them up! Now I can't stop looking at all the beautiful photos all over my house! I just love having lots of pictures. I don't live close to my family or best friends, so having them all over the house just makes me feel close to them somehow, and I can always look at their sweet faces (well, most of them are sweet).

FOUR- You know those Page-a-Day calendars? Ugh, we are so bad at those!! Hubby got one for his birthday and I think we stayed on top of it for a week. If that. I'm pretty sure we're at least two weeks behind. And when you're that far behind it just takes too much work to catch up!! Ours is a Bible Crossword calendar. What's yours? Do you do it faithfully?

FIVE- Speaking of gifts, I got Hubby tickets to a hockey game for Christmas and we're going tomorrow! Last I heard, the team had only scored 3 goals in the last 4 games (ouch!), so here's hoping they're in better form tomorrow!! I want to see a win!! Oh, and speaking of sports (which I am general NOT into), we (haha) are pretty excited about the Seahawks victory last weekend. I normally take absolutely NO interest whatsoever in football, but this video made me really interested to watch these players (not like I actually watched more that 2 min. of the games, but hey- I was present!) handle glory. Whatever you think of Sherman's post-game interview (yeah, not the best), you gotta admit there are some guys with character on the team. Okay, that's all. Take my uneducated opinion or leave it. :)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Pasta with {Slightly Skinny} Butternut Parmesan Sauce

A few months ago I was given a few butternut squashes (Is "squashes" correct? Or would that be "squash"? As in "deer"...or "fish"...or "moose"? I give up) from a relative that grows them in her garden- how fun is that- home-grown squash! Lovely, rich, smooth, gorgeously golden squash! 

As you can imagine, I was more than happy to accept her offer of a few to take home and have been on the hunt ever since for something to do with it other than soup (although I absolutely adore butternut squash soup and have tried several delicious recipes!). Recently I came across this pasta sauce recipe on Pinterest (of course) and decided to give it a whirl!

This sauce is really very simple to prepare. The only time consuming part is baking the squash, which could easily be done ahead of time. You can even make large batches of squash puree and freeze them in 3 cup amounts to have on hand when you need a quick go-to sauce for a weeknight meal! How easy would that be?? 

And, as usual, the squash does not disappoint. It is smooth and nutty as always, and combined with the flavors of sage and Parmesan, it makes a delicious addition to your favorite pasta.

Oh, and that amazing side dish you see in the picture? The one with the almonds? And more Parmesan? That's my sis-in-love's fantabulous roasted zucchini that ever since this summer has been my absolute favorite way to eat zucchini. I could seriously eat a whole bowl of THAT for dinner. Oh, now you want the recipe? Well, you're in luck! It just so happens I  know the lady who wrote a blog post about that... ;) You can thank me later.

Pasta with Butternut Parmesan Sauce
slightly adapted from Good Life Good Eats
serves 6

1 butternut squash (about 2 1/2 lb.- if using pre-made puree, this takes about 3 cups)
12 oz. penne pasta (or other favorite!)
1 TB olive oil
1 shallot, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup skim milk
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground sage (or use 1 TB fresh!)
1 tsp parsley (or 1 TB fresh! If using fresh parsley, add with lemon juice at the end of cooking)
2 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
broth or water as needed to thin sauce

Preheat oven to 350. Cut the squash lengthwise in half (see here for an easy way to do this!) and scoop out strings and seeds. Place squash cut sides down in a glass baking dish and add 1/4 cup water. Bake about 40 min. or until easily pierced with a fork. Cool 10 minutes, then scoop flesh from skins. Puree squash in a blender or food processor or using a stick blender until smooth.
Cook pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, make sauce. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a wide skillet. 
Add shallots and cook about 5 min., or until soft and translucent. 
Add squash puree and cook about another minute, stirring to combine. 
Add milk a little at a time, stirring continuously to incorporate.  
Stir in cheese and spices. If needed, add water or broth to thin the sauce to your liking. When sauce is hot, remove from heat and stir in lemon juice (and fresh parsley, if using). 
Serve over hot pasta with extra cheese and herbs if desired.
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