Butternut Squash and Spinach Pasta Bake

Butternut Squash and Spinach Pasta Bake | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

If this isn’t your first time here, you know that I love my slow cooker.  Like a lot.  Like use it whenever I get the chance.  So of course, when I saw on Pinterest that it was possible to cook a butternut squash in the slow cooker, I jumped.

I love butternut squash, but the cooking process always really annoys me.  You’re either trying not to cut your finger off, hacking away at it with a huge knife or trying to peel off the skin, and then scraping the seeds out like a pumpkin.  On top of it, you have to bake it for an hour before you can even really get started with your recipe.  So ugh to that.  Too much work for a normal day with a toddler and an infant.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Pasta Bake | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

When I read online how easy it was to cook it in the slow cooker, I thought it was wrong.  It couldn’t be.  Simply wipe the skin clean and pop it in for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.  Remove, cut in half (easily, without risking your fingers), and scoop out the seeds (without having to scrape the heck out of it) and use a spoon to scoop out the delicious cooked insides.  That’s it, people.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Pasta Bake | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

I didn’t believe it could be true.  Too easy to be true.  I couldn’t have been spending all of these years and risking all of these fingers for there to be this easy of a solution.  That requires a crock pot.  Which I clearly already have living on my kitchen counter and use any excuse that I can to plug in.  But it was so true my friends.  I will never bake another butternut squash as long as I live.  Crock pot forever!

Mmmk so the recipe.  I was envisioning this as kind of a lasagna type dish and then Trader Joe’s was out of lasagna noodles and I was too lazy to drive all the way to Target.  Fun fact, if you mix lasagna ingredients into pasta and bake it, it makes a delicious dish reminiscent of said lasagna without all of the obnoxious work of layering.

And it’s cold and rainy and yuck here.  So anything with squash and pasta and warmth and deliciousness is just right in my boat.  Enjoy!

Butternut Squash and Spinach Pasta Bake | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Butternut Squash & Spinach Pasta Bake
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 medium butternut squash, cooked and skin and seeds removed
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1 lb pasta, cooked according to package
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1½ cups mozzarella
  • ½ cup parmesan
  • 1 T preminced garlic
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t black pepper
  • ¼ t nutmeg
  • ¼ t cinnamon
  • A dash of ginger
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  2. Mash butternut squash in a large bowl
  3. Add chopped spinach, ricotta, milk, garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger and stir to combine.
  4. Stir in 1 cup mozzarella and cooked pasta
  5. Spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick cooking spray and turn entire mixture into the pan
  6. Top with remaining ½ cup mozzarella and parmesan.
  7. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, then uncover and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and slightly brown.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Pasta Bake | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Cheesy Bacon & Vegetable Tortellini Bake

Cheesy Bacon & Vegetable Tortellini Bake | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

And just like that, It’s the new year.  We’re supposed to be setting resolutions, eating healthier and moving in new and exciting directions with our lives.  But right now I feel more like pouting that the holidays are over and snuggling up under a warm blanket.

This is the perfect recipe to warm those tummies in the cool weather and bring the family back together around the table.  Is it healthy?  Oh heck no.  It’s creamy, indulgent, cheesy and delicious.  And bacon.  Because, why not?  I keep it healthy around here most of the time.  And you can diet next week.

Cheesy Bacon & Vegetable Tortellini Bake | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

I’m keeping this one short and sweet, because there are so many other things to do right now to clean up from the madness of the last few weeks, so I’m going to be #lazyblogger today.  Go crank up the Christmas music and pretend we don’t have to wait another 50 weeks until Santa comes back around!

Cheesy Bacon & Vegetable Tortellini Bake | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Creamy Bacon & Vegetable Tortellini Bake
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 20 oz tortellini, cooked according to package and drained
  • 6 pieces of bacon
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 T preminced garlic
  • 1 - 1.5 cups asparagus, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 t basil
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1 t parsley
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1½ T flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cook bacon in a large skillet on medium high until crispy. Set aside and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Drain all but about 2 T of bacon fat from the pan and add onion and garlic, and cook for 3-5 minutes
  4. Add asparagus, zucchini, bell peppers, basil, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes.
  5. Stir in flour until everything is coated and there are no chunks
  6. Stir in milk and let cook for an additional approximately 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in cooked tortellini, crumbled bacon and 1 cup mozzarella until heated and combined.
  8. Spray a 9x11 pan with nonstick spray
  9. Turn tortellini mixture into the pan and top with remaining 1 cup mozzarella and 1 cup parmesan.
  10. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until bubbly and beginning to brown
  11. Enjoy immediately topped with additional parmesan cheese if desired.

Cheesy Bacon & Vegetable Tortellini Bake | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Creamy Shrimp and Vegetable Fettuccine

Creamy Shrimp and Vegetable Fettuccine | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

This was meant to be a different meal.  I chopped and prepped and threw everything in the slow cooker as usual.  Except, as I may have mentioned, I’m using my janky old slow cooker because I’m too cheap to get a replacement pot for my new one.  It has a dial on it and doesn’t light up to tell me it’s working.  But 7,320,302 slow cooker meals later, I assume everything is fine.  Except when I walk over three hours later and see that it’s not steamed up.  And put my hand on it and it’s cold.  #slowcookerfail

So we went to plan B.  I threw together this pasta with some frozen shrimp, a box of fettuccine and some vegetables we had on hand.  I used one big ol’ skillet for everything except for cooking the pasta, and I’m not going to lie, this was great stuff.

Creamy Shrimp and Vegetable Fettuccine | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

As I finished serving up Hubby and I, my two year old was already chowing down and I noticed that she was making some cute “yummmmm” noises.  I asked her what she was doing.  She said “this is yummy mama!”  Completely unprompted.  And then “I love you mama!”  And then my heart melted just like all of that delicious cheese that I threw in the pasta.  Clearly she’s just like her mama and the way to her heart is through her tummy.

Creamy Shrimp and Vegetable Fettuccine | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Hubby loved it too.  But his reaction wasn’t nearly as darling.

This made a humongous amount of food, which was perfect for leftovers for days afterwards.  It’s good, hearty, soul warming food, which is perfect as we slowly enter the cooler seasons of the year.

So clearly I’ll be making this again.  Because you can’t beat that kid’s reaction.

Creamy Shrimp and Vegetable Fettuccine | Little Kitchen, Big Bites Creamy Shrimp and Vegetable Fettuccine | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Creamy Shrimp & Vegetable Fettuccine
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 T + 1 T olive oil
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 T preminced garlic
  • 1 lb shrimp, cleaned, peeled, deveined and tails removed {you can use fresh or frozen}
  • 1 t + 2 t salt
  • 1 t + 2 t pepper
  • 1 t + 2 t basil
  • 1 t + 1 t parsley
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 1½ cups mushrooms, chopped
  • ¾ cup milk {I used nonfat}
  • 1 T flour
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded, plus more to top
  • 1 lb fettuccine, cooked according to package and drained
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 T olive oil, onion and garlic in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Add shrimp and cook for 2 minutes on each side, seasoning with 1 t salt, 1 t pepper, 1 t basil and 1 t parsley.
  3. Remove from pan.
  4. Add an additional 1 T olive oil and heat.
  5. Add bell pepper and zucchini and cook for 4-5 minutes
  6. Add mushrooms and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes
  7. Stir in shrimp mixture, milk, flour, and cheeses. Cook for 4-6 minutes, or until everything is combined, hot, and the sauce has thickened.
  8. Stir in cooked fettuccine and make sure all is combined and pasta is coated with sauce
  9. Serve hot and garnish with additional parmesan cheese.

Creamy Shrimp and Vegetable Fettuccine | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Jambalaya Pasta

Jambalaya Pasta | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Alternate Title: That Time That Everyone Went Back For Seconds

…and wanted to go back for thirds.

Our family usually eats our portion and finishes up {other than little miss “more”…mostly with her fruit and snacks rather than her zucchini…}.  We don’t do a lot of seconds of things unless they’re so good that we’re willing to stuff ourselves with them.  This recipe was that good.  And then some.

Jambalaya Pasta | Little Kitchen, Big Bites Jambalaya Pasta | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Jambalya was one of the first meals that Hubby and I ever made together.  And when I say “made,” I mean mixed together a box of Zatarain’s with some precooked sausage and were ridiculously proud of our “cooking skills.”  In a dirty little apartment in Los Angeles.  We probably ate it off of paper plates.  But we both loved it.

This variation uses pasta to bulk up the meal a bit and throws in some good ol’ bell peppers so the kid is getting a little bit of veggie mixed in.  And, mostly because I realized we were out of cajun seasoning when I went to make it, it features a homemade cajun blend.  If you’ve got a shaker of the premixed stuff, feel free to use that in place of the listed spices.

Jambalaya Pasta | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Jambalaya Pasta
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Cajun
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1.5 lb spicy sausage {or go with a sweet sausage if you're more sensitive to heat}
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 T preminced garlic
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 t garlic salt
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 2 t paprika
  • 1½ t cayenne pepper {less if you're sensitive to spiciness}
  • 1½ t thyme
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup pepper jack cheese
  • 1 box penne pasta, cooked
Instructions
  1. Prepare hot water and cook pasta according to the box. When finished, drain and set aside.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  3. Add sausages and cook until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove and chop into bite sized pieces and return to skillet to brown.
  4. Add onion and garlic and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add bell peppers and spices and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Stir in milk and pepper jack cheese until cheese is melted.
  7. Stir in cooked pasta and combine until everything is coated with sauce and cheese.
  8. Enjoy immediately.

Jambalaya Pasta | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Spinach & Basil Tortellini

Spinach & Basil Tortellini | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

One of our resolutions this year is to spend less money.  I guess it’s always a good resolution, but it’s especially important now that we’re down to only one income.  One of the things that we could easily cut back on is the amount of money that we spent on food.  I always knew that I could come up with recipes that used some fresh ingredients, but did so cheaply and used things that we already had on hand.

I think we’re probably going to be eating a lot more pasta, but we’re going to try to do it in a way that’s still moderately healthy, and doesn’t get too boring.  Hopefully, we’ll come up with some fun ideas that you can use at home too.

Spinach & Basil Tortellini | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

This recipe was simple and delicious.  You make your own sauce out of things that you probably already have in your kitchen, and it has loads of spinach, tomatoes and onions that give it a little more than your average pasta.  Added bonus?  It was quick and easy to whip up while my husband played with the baby on the floor.

Spinach & Basil Tortellini | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Spinach & Basil Tortellini
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 bag dry tortellini {I used pesto tortellini from Trader Joes}
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • ½ t red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • ¼ cup basil, cut into thin strips
  • 1 - 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 1½ t salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, plus more to top
Instructions
  1. Cook the tortellini according to the instructions on the bag
  2. While it's cooking place olive oil, onion and garlic in a large skillet at medium high heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add flour and milk and whisk to combine.
  4. Add basil, salt, pepper, and red pepper and whisk to combine. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add diced tomatoes, including juices, and whisk to combine. Continue cooking at a low simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add spinach and cook for an additional minute, or until wilted, and remove from heat.
  7. Drain pasta and place back in the pot.
  8. Pour sauce over pasta and stir in Parmesan.
  9. Serve hot and top with additional Parmesan.

Spinach & Basil Tortellini | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Easy Garlic Pesto Gnocchi & Cooking Planit T-Fal Giveaway!

Easy Garlic Pesto Gnocchi | Little Kitchen, Big BItes

So there’s this app for your iPad or iPhone.  It’s called Cooking Planit.  And it’s pretty frickin amazing.

It’s not just your average recipe app.  Yes, it does have amazing recipe ideas and a grocery store portion that makes it super user friendly.  But it also puts together full meal ideas for you, including side dishes, and lets you pick how many people you’re cooking for. And gives you a list of what cooking tools you’re going to need {because I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely gotten into a recipe and realized that I have to improvise because I didn’t realize that I was going to need to pull my deep fryer out of the garage…}.

And then when you’re actually ready to cook, it literally walks you through it.  Like turn by turn driving directions, except for your meal.  And it helps you coordinate it so that everything is ready at the same time.  This may not be revolutionary for everyone, but it sure is for me.  It’s always a struggle to try to figure out if the sides are going to be ready at the same time as the main course and if everything will make it to the table nice and hot.  That’s why I use my slow cooker so often and do my one pot wonders…then I don’t have to worry about it.  But with Cooking Planit, there are no more worries.  Just simple instructions to put together an easy, delicious, hot meal without a second thought.  It’s perfect for dinner parties, or just for throwing something nice and well balanced together for your family at the end of the day.

Easy Garlic Pesto Gnocchi | Little Kitchen, Big BItes

 

In addition to being awesomely amazing, Cooking Planit is partnering with me and other bloggers to give away a whole new fabulous set of T-Fal Stainless Steel with Thermo-spot 12-Piece Cookware Set, including an 8” Sauté pan, a 10” Sauté pan, a 1 Qt. saucepan & cover, a 2 Qt. Saucepan & cover, a 3 Qt. Saucepan & cover, a 5 Qt. Dutch Oven & Cover, and a 2 Stainless Glass Lids.  It’s a gorgeous stainless steel, nonstick cookware set with technology that indicates when the pan is perfectly pre-heated and ready to go.  Are your pots and pans getting a little nasty?  Is it time to upgrade your cookware?  Just click below to enter in the seriously easy rafflecopter and you could win the Cooking Planit T-Fal giveaway!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Phew.  And finally, here’s the recipe, which is slightly modified {as usual} from the brilliance that I found on the Cooking Planit app…

5.0 from 1 reviews
Easy Garlic Pesto Gnocchi
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup basil
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 3 T preminced garlic
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound premade gnocchi
  • 2 T pine nuts
  • 3 T + 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Put garlic, basil, parmesan, pine nuts and 3 T olive oil in a food processor and pulse to combine
  2. Cook gnocchi according to package instructions
  3. Drain gnocchi and return to pan.
  4. Add olive oil and heat on medium.
  5. Stir in pesto until gnocchi is well coated, and then remove from heat.
  6. Serve hot.

Easy Garlic Pesto Gnocchi | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Soy Peanut Pad Thai with Stir Fried Tofu & Veggies

Soy Peanut Pad Thai with Stir Fried Tofu & Veggies | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Stir fry is usually what happens in my house when I’m not sure what I want to cook.  I’ve built up quite a collection of Asian flavors, spices, and sauces in my pantry, and I’m usually able to whip something up without much thought.

This dish was literally born out of leftovers in my fridge and pantry…a little from this leftover veggie platter and a little from that half empty box of noodles, and why not throw in the tofu that I didn’t use from a few weeks ago?  It was quick and easy, and the Asian flavors can do no wrong in my eyes.  I ended up with a hearty, relatively healthy {minus the noodles for my low carb-ers…sorry guys} dish packed with vegetables and tofu.  Hubby had seconds.  And then took it for lunch the next day.  And ate it for dinner the next night.  So I think he liked it.

Soy Peanut Pad Thai with Stir Fried Tofu & Veggies | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

5.0 from 1 reviews
Soy Peanut Pad Thai with Stir Fried Tofu & Veggies
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Asian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 package extra firm tofu, drained and pressed between two paper towels, and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 T preminced garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, chopped
  • 6 green onions, chopped, plus more to garnish
  • ¼ cup peanuts, chopped, plus more to garnish
  • 3-4 cups pad thai noodles, cooked according to package and drained
  • 3 T sesame oil, divided
  • 4 T soy sauce
  • 3 T peanut butter
  • 1 t chili oil
  • 1 t rice wine vinegar
  • 1 t red chili pepper
  • 1 t sesame seeds, plus more to garnish
  • ½ t lime juice
Instructions
  1. Heat 1½ T sesame oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high.
  2. Add tofu and garlic and fry for 6-8 minutes, or until tofu is firm and beginning to brown
  3. While tofu is cooking, combine remaining 1½ T sesame oil, soy sauce, peanut butter, chili oil, rice wine vinegar, red chili pepper, sesame seeds, and lime juice in a small bowl and wisk until relatively smooth.
  4. Add bell pepper, mushrooms, snap peas, onions and peanuts and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
  5. Turn heat down to medium, add sauce and let simmer for another 3-5 minutes.
  6. Pour the entire mixture over hot, drained noodles and stir in
  7. Garnish with green onions, peanuts and sesame seeds

Soy Peanut Pad Thai with Stir Fried Tofu & Veggies | Little Kitchen, Big Bites Soy Peanut Pad Thai with Stir Fried Tofu & Veggies | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Pasta Alla Hubby {with veggies & sausage}

Pasta Alla Hubby {with veggies & sausage} | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Happy week after Christmas!  I hope that you’re relaxing and doing lots of laying around and being lazy like us.  And if you’re anything like me, you really don’t feel like cooking after all of the baking, roasting, cooking and garnishing that you did for the holidays.  You kind of need a break for a bit.  Even on the grocery shopping.

So sometimes, you lean on your husband to whip something up from what you’ve got in the pantry.  And sometimes, he does a pretty extraordinary job.  And you tell him that you’re going to photograph his meal for your blog and he’s just about as happy as he was on Christmas morning.

So this is my sweet husband’s original recipe for delicious, quick and easy pasta.  Enjoy!

Pasta Alla Hubby {with veggies & sausage} | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Pasta Alla Hubby
Author: 
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 box pasta
  • 1 zucchini, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 squash, chopped into bite sized pieces (feel free to throw in whatever veggies you have on hand!)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • ½ t sage
  • ½ t basil
  • ½ t rosemary
  • ½ t garlic powder
  • 2 precooked Italian sausages, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 bottle Alfredo sauce (we used sun dried tomato Alfredo)
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in frying pan. Add zucchini, squash and spices and cook on medium for 5 - 8 minutes, until cooked through. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add sausage to the frying pan and cook for about 10 minutes, until thoroughly cooked.
  4. Drain cooked pasta and place in a large bowl. Add veggies, sausage, sauce and cheese and mix until combined.
  5. Serve hot and garnish with additional cheese.

Pasta Alla Hubby {with veggies & sausage} | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Pasta with Mini Portabellos and Caramelized Onions

Sometimes you just need to throw together an easy pasta dish.  Pasta is Hubby’s favorite, and I always know that I can default to it if I don’t feel like dealing with anything else.  It may not be the healthiest thing in the world, but it’s always delicious.  And sometimes, you need that.  Like in the middle of your busy season at work when you can barely see straight.

This was so delicious and filling that it immediately brought a smile to my face.  Is it weird that a good plate of food can do that for me?  Maybe weird, but pretty awesome too.


Pasta with Mini Portabellos and Caramelized Onions
Author: 
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 t brown sugar
  • 1 t pre-minced garlic
  • 1 pack baby portabello mushrooms
  • 3 T freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 t crushed red pepper
  • ½ t fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 box pasta, cooked al dente
  • 2 T infused herb olive oil {use regular olive oil if you don't have this}
  • 1½ - 2 cups Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Put olive oil in a hot skillet. Add chopped onions and brown sugar and cook on medium for 5 - 8 minutes.
  2. Add mushrooms, parsley, red pepper and black pepper and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
  3. Mix in mushroom and onion mixture to hot cooked pasta.
  4. Add herb infused olive oil and Parmesan cheese, and mix thoroughly.
  5. Serve hot and top with extra parsley.

Inspired by this recipe.

 

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