Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce, Spicy Sausage and Baby Spinach

I was in the mood for pasta, but I didn’t want just regular pasta with red sauce. I stumbled upon this Skinnytaste recipe and I had to give it a shot! I wouldn’t say it was difficult to make, but it did have quite a few steps. However, it was worth it! The creaminess of the butternut squash, paired with the spicy sausage was delicious! Give it a shot and let us know what you think!

Meghan  

Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce, Spicy Sausage and Baby Spinach

Ingredients
  

11 oz (4 links) spicy chicken Italian sausage

    1 lb butternut squash, peeled and diced (I bought chopped)

      1 tbsp whipped butter

        10 oz pasta, wheat or gluten-free (I used whole grain)

          1/4 cup shallots, minced

            3 cloves garlic, minced

              2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped

                2 tbsp fresh shaved parmesan cheese

                  4 sage leaves, sliced thin (I did not use these)

                    kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

                      Instructions
                       

                      Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add butternut squash and cook until soft.

                        Remove squash with a slotted spoon and place in a blender, blend until smooth.

                          Add pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions for al dente, reserving at least 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.

                            Meanwhile, in a large deep non-stick skillet, sauté sausage over medium heat until browned, breaking up with a spoon as it cooks. When cooked through, set aside on a plate.

                              Reduce heat to medium-low and melt the butter, sauté the shallots and garlic until soft and golden, about 5 – 6 minutes.

                                Add pureed butternut squash, season with with salt and fresh cracked pepper and add a little of the reserved pasta water (I used about 1 cup) to thin out the sauce to your liking.

                                  Add baby spinach and stir in parmesan cheese and sage. Toss in cooked pasta and sausage and mix until well coated.

                                    Serve with additional parmesan cheese on the side if desired.


                                      Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

                                      You all know how much I love my slow cooker meals… maybe it’s because they are easy, maybe it’s because I am lazy, but in any case, this one is fantastic! There are minimal steps for this recipe, and not much to prep before sticking it in the crock pot. I even made more than I needed so I could take it for lunch a few days this week. Check it out and let me know what you think! Enjoy!


                                      Meghan

                                      Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

                                      Ingredients
                                        

                                      2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

                                        2 cans (15 oz each) diced tomatoes, undrained

                                          1 can (4 oz) chopped mild green chilies, drained

                                            1 cup chicken broth

                                              1 yellow onion, diced

                                                2 cloves garlic, diced

                                                  1 tsp cumin

                                                    ½ cup of Monterey Jack cheese

                                                      ½ cup of crushed Tortillas

                                                        A few pinches of cilantro

                                                          1 avocado

                                                            Salt & pepper to taste

                                                              Instructions
                                                               

                                                              Place chicken in crockpot

                                                                Combine, tomatoes, chilies, chicken broth, onion, garlic, cumin and pour over chicken

                                                                  Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours

                                                                    Take chicken out, shred, and add back to the crockpot for another 20-30 minutes

                                                                      Just before serving, add tortillas and cilantro, and stir.

                                                                        Add to bowls, top with cheese avocado and more tortillas if desired.


                                                                          Seven Layer Tostadas

                                                                          I feel like I have been living under a rock for my whole life because I JUST discovered tostadas recently (see BBQ Tostadas Recipe ), and I am now obsessed! I found this Seven Layer Tostadas recipe and had to give it a shot. I’m grateful my husband is not a picky eater, and is dealing with my new obsession of tostadas. The real recipe is vegetarian, but my husband’s one request is that our meals have some sort of meat, so I added ground turkey. I guess maybe I should call this eight layer tostadas?? In any case, they were so easy to make, you know how I love that, and so good! I would add these to my weekly meal rotation! Give them a shot.

                                                                          Meghan

                                                                          Seven Layer Tostadas

                                                                          Ingredients
                                                                            

                                                                          1 can (16 oz.) refried pinto beans

                                                                            1 1/2 cups guacamole (purchased or homemade guacamole)

                                                                              1 cup light sour cream

                                                                                1 tsp. Taco Seasoning Mix

                                                                                  1 cup finely grated low-fat cheese such as Four Cheese Mexican Blend

                                                                                    1 cup chopped tomatoes

                                                                                      1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

                                                                                        1/2 cup sliced black olives (or use a 4 oz. can sliced olives)

                                                                                          4-6 flour tortillas, 6 or 8 inch inch size

                                                                                            ⅓ pound of ground turkey

                                                                                              olive oil for greasing baking sheet, about 1 tsp.

                                                                                                Instructions
                                                                                                 

                                                                                                Preheat oven to 450F

                                                                                                  Cook ground turkey until brown and add ½ tsp of taco seasoning mix.

                                                                                                    Put flour tortillas on the baking sheet with a touch of olive oil and toast tortillas in the oven until they’re crisp and barely starting to brown, turning several times. This will take less than 5 minutes so watch them carefully.

                                                                                                      While tortillas are crisping, put the refried beans in a bowl, stir to break them apart, and microwave 2-3 minutes, or until they’re hot.

                                                                                                        Stir the remaining taco seasoning mix into the sour cream.

                                                                                                          Chop the onions, slice green onions, and slice the olives.

                                                                                                            Put crisped tortilla shell on a plate and top with:

                                                                                                              a thin layer of refried beans (1-2 tablespoons)

                                                                                                                a thin layer of guacamole (1-2 tablespoons)

                                                                                                                  a thin layer of seasoned sour cream (1-2 tablespoons)

                                                                                                                    several generous pinches of finely grated low-fat cheese

                                                                                                                      Put back in the oven for 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted then top with chopped tomatoes, thinly sliced green onions, and sliced olives

                                                                                                                        Serve right away, with salsa or hot sauce if desired.


                                                                                                                          Spinach Turkey Meatballs

                                                                                                                          Usually once a week we have a pasta night. It is mainly due to being easy to make, and to be honest, we love pasta! Our normal pasta night consists of penne/ziti/whatever is in our cabinet, marinara sauce, and frozen turkey meatballs.  I thought to myself, how hard is it to make meatballs? Well, the answer is… not hard at all! There are so few ingredients, and even fewer steps to make them. My husband doubted my ability to make meatballs because I never had done so before, but he couldn’t stop raving about them! Give them a try. Enjoy!

                                                                                                                          Meghan

                                                                                                                          Spinach Turkey Meatballs

                                                                                                                          Ingredients
                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                          1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

                                                                                                                            1 egg, beaten

                                                                                                                              1 cup soft bread crumbs

                                                                                                                                2 tablespoons grated onion

                                                                                                                                  1 teaspoon seasoned salt

                                                                                                                                    1 pound ground turkey

                                                                                                                                      Instructions
                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                      In a bowl, combine spinach, egg, bread crumbs, onion and seasoned salt. Add turkey and mix well.

                                                                                                                                        Shape into 2-in. balls.

                                                                                                                                          Place meatballs in a greased baking pan/sheet.

                                                                                                                                            Bake, uncovered, at 400°F for 20 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink.

                                                                                                                                              Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers

                                                                                                                                              Finished Recipe

                                                                                                                                              I was in the mood for Mexican food, but I didn’t want tacos since we had made them a few nights prior.  I was doing a little recipe grazing, and stumbled upon this one. I am so happy I did too. It was so easy and really fulfilled my want for Mexican food. It also sent my husband for seconds and thirds!  I am not sure if I didn’t fill the peppers to their fullest, or if the peppers I bought were small, but I had enough leftover for another meal! This was a win! In the freezer they go! 

                                                                                                                                              Enjoy! 

                                                                                                                                              Meghan 

                                                                                                                                              Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers

                                                                                                                                              Ingredients
                                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                                                              • 4 large Red Bell Peppers
                                                                                                                                              • 1 pound Ground Turkey
                                                                                                                                              • 1 cup Cooked Rice
                                                                                                                                              • 1/2 cups Frozen Corn
                                                                                                                                              • 10 ounces Canned Black Beans
                                                                                                                                              • 1 cup Salsa
                                                                                                                                              • 1 tablespoon Taco Seasoning
                                                                                                                                              • 2 cups Mexican Cheese

                                                                                                                                              Instructions
                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                              Rinse black beans and thaw corn. Combine it together with cooked rice, cheese and salsa.

                                                                                                                                                Cook ground turkey in a skillet until brown and add taco seasoning.

                                                                                                                                                  Combine meat with the rice mixture.

                                                                                                                                                    Cut bell peppers in halves and remove seeds from the bell peppers.

                                                                                                                                                      Stuff each piece with the mixture. Top with some Mexican cheese (I ran out, so I used sharp cheddar)and bake for 30 minutes at 350 F


                                                                                                                                                        Loaded Baked Omelet Muffins

                                                                                                                                                        Eating a healthy breakfast was a goal of mine while meeting with a dietitian. I needed something that would fill me until lunch, with the right balance of protein and carbohydrates. I tried this Skinnytaste recipe, Loaded Baked Omelet Muffins, without the bacon and it did not disappoint! For three weeks now, I’ve meal prepped these on Sunday, and pulled out two each morning for breakfast. I paired it with whole wheat toast with some peanut butter. This week I’m trying it with a half of Ezekiel whole grain english muffin. The only complaint is cleaning the muffin pan, so if you have any additional tips, I’m all ears! Enjoy! Melissa

                                                                                                                                                        Loaded Baked Omelet Muffins

                                                                                                                                                        Ingredients
                                                                                                                                                          

                                                                                                                                                        nonstick cooking spray

                                                                                                                                                          9 large whole eggs

                                                                                                                                                            1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

                                                                                                                                                              black pepper

                                                                                                                                                                3 strips cooked chopped bacon **I opted not to use bacon as we discussed the lack of nutrients it really contains**

                                                                                                                                                                  3 tablespoons thawed frozen spinach, drained

                                                                                                                                                                    3 tbsp diced tomatoes

                                                                                                                                                                      3 tbsp diced onion

                                                                                                                                                                        3 tbsp diced bell pepper

                                                                                                                                                                          2 oz shredded cheddar

                                                                                                                                                                            Instructions
                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                            Preheat the oven to 350F.

                                                                                                                                                                              Spray the muffin tins with cooking spray.

                                                                                                                                                                                In a large bowl whisk the eggs, season with salt and pepper.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Mix in the remaining ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Fill and place tins on a cookie sheet and bake 20 to 25 minutes, until set.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Weight Watchers Fresh Vegetable Soup

                                                                                                                                                                                      I love vegetables, but in the winter I don’t want to eat them in a delicious salad. A goal of mine was to make a vegetable soup, so i could get the nutrients I wanted in a different way. What better than a warm soup on a cold winter day! Here’s a completely guilt free way of eating a filling snack or meal (paired with half a sandwich)! I also paired it with a crunchy Wasa cracker. This is now another prepped meal I make on Sunday to eat for lunch throughout the week. Some of the vegetables last from one week to the next. This past weekend, my son was very sick so I made my own variation of the recipe by getting a lot of pre cut veggies from Wegmans. I couldn’t spend much time in the kitchen. Some of the vegetables I grab from the freezer section in the grocery store like the cauliflower and broccoli. Enjoy! Melissa

                                                                                                                                                                                      Weight Watchers Fresh Vegetable Soup

                                                                                                                                                                                      Ingredients
                                                                                                                                                                                        

                                                                                                                                                                                      garlic clove(s) 2 clove(s), medium, minced

                                                                                                                                                                                        uncooked carrot(s) 2 medium, diced

                                                                                                                                                                                          uncooked zucchini 2 small, diced

                                                                                                                                                                                            uncooked savoy cabbage 2 cup(s), shredded, or other variety, shredded

                                                                                                                                                                                              uncooked Swiss chard 2 cup(s), chopped

                                                                                                                                                                                                uncooked cauliflower 2 cup(s), small florets

                                                                                                                                                                                                  uncooked broccoli 2 cup(s), small florets

                                                                                                                                                                                                    uncooked onion(s) 1 medium, diced

                                                                                                                                                                                                      sweet red pepper(s) 1 medium, diced

                                                                                                                                                                                                        uncooked celery 1 rib(s), medium, diced

                                                                                                                                                                                                          fresh thyme 2 tsp, chopped

                                                                                                                                                                                                            fat free reduced sodium vegetable broth 6 cup(s)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              fresh parsley 2 Tbsp, or fresh chives, chopped

                                                                                                                                                                                                                table salt ½ tsp, or to taste

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  black pepper ¼ tsp, or to taste

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    fresh lemon juice 2 Tbsp, optional

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Instructions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Put garlic, vegetables, thyme and broth into a large soup pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low and simmer, partly covered, about 10 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Stir in parsley or chives; season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Dip (Skinnytaste)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Super Bowl is here, so it is time for yummy appetizers! This is my one day of year where I give myself a free pass to pick at food all day, and not actually eat a meal, so I am going to enjoy every single bite of this dip! This recipe is also a family favorite, especially since my husband is OBSESSED with all kinds of buffalo chicken. This was super easy to make too! Enjoy! Meghan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Dip (Skinnytaste)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ingredients
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 (16 ounces) boneless skinless chicken breasts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened (Philadelphia, is there any other kind?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 cup fat-free sour cream or Greek yogurt (I prefer sour cream)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1/2 cup Franks red hot sauce (or whatever hot sauce you like)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (I don’t like blue cheese, so I substituted with Monterey Jack)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 teaspoon white vinegar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      scallions, optional for garnish

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        cut up celery sticks and carrot sticks, for dipping

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Instructions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          To make the shredded chicken, place chicken in the slow cooker and add enough water or chicken broth to cover. Cook high 4 hours. Remove and shred with two forks, discard the liquid.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese, sour cream and hot sauce together until smooth. Add half of the Monterey Jack cheese.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Transfer to the slow cooker with the chicken, mixing well and return to the slow cooker, cook low 2 to 3 hours.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Transfer to a serving dish and top with the remaining Monterey Jack cheese, garnish with scallions. Serve hot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Butternut Squash Salad with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This was a recipe I got on the whim from a coworker. I looked it up, and found the “official” recipe on the Internet. It’s a vegetarian meal, but I added chicken to make a side dish for lunch to go with my soup. I have to have the protein to fill me up! I’m loving the delicious combinations of flavors! Plus it was super easy to make ahead for lunch. I LOVE not having to think about packing a lunch all week!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Enjoy!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Melissa 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Butternut Squash Salad with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Pecans and Cranberries

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ingredients
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Brussels sprouts (cut in half) **Bought a bag at Wegmans in the produce section**

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Butternut squash (cubed) **Bought in produce sections already precut**

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pecans

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Cranberries **Ocean Spray now makes a 50% less sugar option**

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 tablespoon of Olive Oil (x2)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 tablespoon Maple Syrup

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A pinch of salt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A pinch of Cinnamon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Instructions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Toss brussels sprouts in olive oil and salt. Roast in the preheated oven at 400 F for about 20 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Toss cubed butternut squash in olive oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Roast in the preheated oven at 400 F for about 20 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In a large bowl, combine roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted cinnamon butternut squash, cranberries, and lightly toasted pecans.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Add a small amount of maple syrup and toss!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          15 Minute Healthy Roasted Chicken & Veggies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Recently, I have been feeling like I am in a food rut. We have the same things week after week. Part of the problem is that I feel like I don’t have enough time after work to make a new dinner. I stumbled upon this recipe, and OMG was it EASY, HEALTHY, and DELICIOUS. When I say it only takes 15 minutes to cook, I am not joking. I prepped everything the day before, and the night of I put it in the baking dish and popped it in the oven. I also served this over a little rice. Try it out and let me know what you think! Enjoy! Meghan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          15 MINUTE HEALTHY ROASTED CHICKEN AND VEGGIES

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ingredients
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 medium chicken breasts chopped

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 cup bell pepper chopped (any colors you like)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1/2 onion chopped

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 zucchini chopped

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 cup broccoli florets

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1/2 cup tomatoes chopped or plum/grape

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 tablespoons olive oil

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1/2 teaspoon salt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1/2 teaspoon black pepper

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 teaspoon italian seasoning

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1/4 teaspoon paprika optional

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Instructions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Preheat oven to 500 degree F.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chop all the veggies into large pieces.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    On another cutting board, chop the chicken into cubes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Place the chicken and veggies in a medium roasting dish or sheet pan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Add the olive oil, salt and pepper, italian seasoning, and paprika. Toss to combine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bake for 15 minutes or until the veggies are charred and chicken is cooked. Enjoy with rice, pasta, or a salad.