Butternut Squash Lasagna with Parmesan Spinach Sauce

Butternut Squash Lasagna with Parmesan Spinach Sauce

Lasagna takes on a unique twist with butternut squash and a Parmesan spinach sauce. I hope the vegetables won’t turn you off because it’s everything you would expect from a traditional lasagna and more with layers of gooey cheese and carb-laden noodles. Even vegetable haters will like it, if you can convince them to give it a chance.

The butternut squash finds its way into the filling along with a trio of vegetables including onion, roasted red pepper and garlic. There’s also the requisite ricotta cheese, mozzarella, fresh parsley, Italian seasoning and a couple pinches of nutmeg.

The spinach sauce is crazy-easy to make and so moreish you could pour it right into a bowl and eat it straightaway with a spoon. Or a straw.

Running down the short list of ingredients you may not get the impression that the total sum of their parts could be so delicious. All you do is whiz together chicken broth, fresh baby spinach and sour cream in a food processor then stir in Parmesan cheese and a touch of red pepper flakes for an optional albeit subtle kick of heat. That’s it. Use as is. No cooking needed, it will thicken up all on its own as it bakes.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Let’s talk noodles. There’s three different types: fresh, oven-ready and dried. I prefer to use fresh ones. There’s no worries over whether they’re cooked enough like with oven-ready noodles. The dried noodles add extra time to an already time-consuming recipe plus you have to deal with breakage and noodles sticking together. The fresh ones are the easiest to work with and, I think, the best tasting. Plus, they’re time savers because you can use them straight from the package. Look for them in the refrigerated section where the fresh tortellini and ravioli are found.

The squash gives it a subtle sweetness that is well-balanced by all the savory goodness of the gooey cheese and the creamy, spicy spinach sauce that helps brighten everything up.

Truth be known, if this were to replace the traditional lasagna I’ve eaten my entire life, from here on out, I might not miss it at all.

Don’t tell my Mom.

Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagna

Butternut Squash Lasagna with Parmesan Spinach Sauce

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Yield: 8 servings

Butternut Squash Lasagna with Parmesan Spinach Sauce

Butternut squash lasagna with a creamy Parmesan spinach sauce. I hope the vegetables won't turn you off, it's everything you would expect from a traditional lasagna and more with layers of gooey cheese and carb-laden noodles.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 roasted red pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
salt and fresh black pepper
butter, for greasing the pan
3 cups firm cooked butternut squash, diced small or lightly mashed
15 ounces ricotta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1/8 teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg or ground cinnamon
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
12 ounces fresh lasagna noodles (or 9-10 ounce oven ready - no cook noodles)
Sauce:
1 can (14 ounces) reduced sodium chicken broth
3 cups fresh, uncooked baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Instructions:

  1. In a medium skillet or saute pan heat the oil over medium low heat and cook the onion, pepper, garlic and Italian seasoning until soft, seasoning well with salt and pepper and stirring often. Allow to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and butter a 9x13 lasagna or casserole pan with deep sides.
  3. Meanwhile, make the sauce:
  4. Add the broth, spinach, sour cream and red pepper flakes to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse until smooth with some flecks of spinach. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. In a medium bowl mix the squash, eggs, ricotta, parsley, nutmeg, the sauteed onion mixture, and a 1/2 cup of the mozzarella together with a couple dashes of salt and pepper.
  6. Cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of the sauce then cover with noodles. Spoon half the squash mixture over the noodles and spread out evenly with the back of the spoon. Cover generously with a layer of sauce. Sprinkle with a third of the mozzarella.
  7. Repeat the layering - start with a layer of noodles, the remaining squash mixture, more sauce and another third of the cheese.
  8. To finish top with another layer of noodles, a generous layer of sauce and the remaining mozzarella. You may have a little sauce left, you can simmer that in a small saucepan for five minutes to serve with the lasagna.
  9. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 50 - 60 minutes until piping hot in the center. Remove the foil 20-25 minutes into the cooking time so the top can brown. Allow to set for 10 minutes before cutting. Slice into squares and serve with a ladle of sauce if you have any leftover and fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Notes:

Copyright ©2013 Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice by Reeni Pisano All Rights Reserved

http://www.cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com/butternut-squash-lasagna-parmesan-spinach-sauce/

Greek Mac and Cheese

Greek Mac 'n' Cheese

This mac & cheese starts with classic white cheddar cheese and then hands it a Greek twist with feta cheese, baby spinach, roasted red peppers, dill weed and cinnamon. Yes, you read that right. Cinnamon. It joins forces with all the other flavors and kind of fades into the background so it doesn’t jump right out at you.

At first bite you taste the creamy richness of the sauce peppered with the salty bite of feta followed by the brininess of jarred red peppers and tender baby spinach. There’s a little touch of sweetness from the dill weed and cinnamon. All of it wrapped around chewy elbow macaroni.

I’ll let you in on a macaroni & cheese secret. One I learned from my Mom. Because I like you lots and lots. Instead of mixing the cheese sauce into the macaroni and then pouring it into your casserole dish, put the macaroni in the casserole dish and pour the sauce over top. It will turn out a lot creamier and less dry. I think it’s because the macaroni doesn’t have a chance to soak up the sauce as much as when it’s mixed in. I tested this theory when I first started making mac & cheese – mine wasn’t turning out as good as my Mom’s – this is why. You can use this technique with any mac & cheese recipe. It will look you have too much sauce but it will soak in as it bakes. Trust me.

Anyhoo, this takes more time to prep than it does to bake. It’s time well spent. Trust me. You start by sauteing onion, garlic and red peppers then you make the cheese sauce while the macaroni cooks. The cheese sauce has butter, flour, dijon, milk and lots of white cheddar cheese. The feta, spinach, dill, cinnamon and cooked aromatics get mixed into the sauce then poured over the cooked pasta, topped with panko for a little bit of crunch and baked.

Twenty five minutes later the most comforting and delicious tasting mac & cheese you will ever want to meet will come out of your oven.

Trust me.

Greek Mac and Cheese

Greek Mac & Cheese

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 - 6 servings as a side dish

Greek Mac & Cheese

This mac & cheese starts with classic white cheddar cheese and then hands it a Greek twist with feta cheese, baby spinach, roasted red peppers, dill weed and cinnamon.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots or 1 small red onion, diced
1 (jarred) roasted red pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
coarse salt and fresh black pepper
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter, plus more for greasing the pan
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
3 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
1 + 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
3 cups baby spinach leaves
8 ounces elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs

Instructions:

  1. In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and saute the shallots, red pepper, garlic, a big pinch of salt and a dash of black pepper until tender, stirring often about 7 - 8 minutes. Remove to a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In the same pan over low heat melt the butter and stir in the flour. Cook, stirring 4 - 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk and mustard then turn the heat up. Bring to a simmer, still stirring and cook 5 minutes.
  3. Turn heat down to low and whisk in the dill weed, cinnamon, nutmeg and cheddar. Stir until the cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Stir in the onion mixture, feta and spinach. Taste and season lightly with salt and heavy with black pepper.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water to al dente. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9x13 or similar sized casserole pan.
  5. Drain the pasta and add half to the buttered casserole pan. Ladle half the sauce over it. Add the rest of the pasta and then top with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the top with panko.
  6. Bake 25 minutes until bubbly and lightly golden around the edges. Remove from oven and let sit 5 - 10 minutes before serving.

Notes:

Adapted from Saveur

Copyright ©2013 Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice by Reeni Pisano All Rights Reserved

http://www.cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com/greek-mac-and-cheese/

Chicken Spaghetti

Chicken Spaghetti

Chunks of chicken are simmered in tomato sauce until tender and tossed with chewy, twirly spaghetti noodles in this classic family recipe I’ve been eating my entire life.

The sauce has onion, garlic, lots of Italian seasoning and two types of peppers in it – green bell and fire roasted red peppers because I love lots of peppers in my chicken sauce. They’re so delicious together – the peppers are kind of sweet against the acidic backdrop of the tomatoes and add a ton of flavor that plays well with chicken.

This is just the kind of dish you want to curl up with in the middle of a snow storm. Or make for a Sunday supper when the entire family has time to eat together. It’s also easy enough for a weeknight meal.

Italian Chicken Spaghetti

Chicken Spaghetti

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 - 6 servings

Chicken Spaghetti

Chunks of chicken are simmered in tomato sauce until tender and tossed with chewy, twirly spaghetti noodles in this classic family recipe I've been eating my entire life.

Ingredients:

olive oil, for sauteeing
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 (jarred) fire-roasted red pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
coarse salt and fresh black pepper
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
1 + 1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
12 ounces spaghetti (like whole-grain Barila)
fresh grated Parmesan, for serving

Instructions:

  1. In a large Dutch oven or saucepan heat 2 - 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the onion, peppers and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and about 1 teaspoon of the Italian seasoning. Cook, stirring often until they start to soften about 10 minutes.
  2. Season the chicken well with salt and pepper and add to the pan with the vegetables. Add the remaining teaspoon Italian seasoning and cook, stirring often until the chicken is white on all sides.
  3. Push the chicken and vegetables to the sides of the pan and add the tomato paste to the center. Let it cook for a minute in the center before mixing the vegetables and chicken into it.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes, bay leaf and season again with more salt - about a teaspoon and black pepper - about 1/4 teaspoon. Mix in 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer.
  5. Maintain a simmer for about 35 - 45 minutes, stirring often. Taste and season the sauce, if needed, halfway through. If it seems too thick mix a little more water into it. If it's highly acidic mix a teaspoon of sugar into it. Remove and discard the bay leaf before serving.
  6. Cook the pasta in plenty of salted, boiling water to al dente according to package directions. Drain and mix with sauce just to coat. Serve topped with more sauce and lots of Parmesan cheese.

Notes:

Copyright ©2013 Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice by Reeni Pisano All Rights Reserved

http://www.cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com/chicken-spaghetti/

Lemon Ricotta Chicken Parmesan

Lemon Ricotta Chicken Parmesan

A combination of panko and seasoned bread crumbs form the crunchy coating on chicken cutlets that are pan-fried  and topped with lemony ricotta and mozzarella cheese. They then bake until the ricotta reaches a molten hot state and the mozzarella melts and gets some wonderful caramelized spots on it.

Rather than the traditional tomato sauce chicken parmesan is served with, the very same one I’m bored with, this has a lemon sauce that you can add a little white wine to. . . or not. It’s perfectly delicious all on its own flavored with a little garlic, a little parmesan cheese, chicken broth and fresh-squeezed lemon juice.

Bright, fresh flavors that make old-fashioned chicken parmesan new again. Chicken parmesan reinvented.

You’re welcome.

Lemon Ricotta Chicken Parmesan

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 - 5 servings

Lemon Ricotta Chicken Parmesan

Crunchy chicken cutlets topped with lemony ricotta and mozzarella cheee served over with linguine with lemon sauce.

Ingredients:

2 eggs
1/2 cup panko crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
vegetable oil, for pan-frying the chicken
1 + 1/4 pounds chicken cutlets
salt and fresh black pepper
1 + 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest (just the yellow part not the white pith)
1 teaspoon fresh grated parsley
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
Sauce:
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 can (14 ounce) chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine, optional
1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
12 ounces linguine (I like whole-grain Barila)

Instructions:

    Make the chicken:
  1. Set up a dredging station: beat the eggs with a tablespoon of water in a wide, shallow bowl. On a large dish mix the panko and seasoned bread crumbs together.
  2. In a large deep-sided saute pan or skillet (big enough to pan-fry half the chicken at once) pour in enough oil to generously cover the bottom (about 1/8-inch) and heat over medium heat.
  3. Season both sides of the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper and working one at a time, using tongs, dip them in the egg, allow excess to drip off then coat them with the bread crumbs, patting them on with your hands.
  4. Cook 2 - 3 minutes until golden brown then turn over and repeat. You don't have to cook them all the way through you just want to cook until crispy. Remove to paper towels to drain. Add more oil to the pan as needed and cook in batches.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a large roasting pan or baking sheet with sides lightly with oil. Place the cooked chicken on it an inch apart.
  6. In a small bowl mix the ricotta with the lemon and parsley. Spoon it over the chicken and spread across the top edge to edge. Top with mozzarella. Bake about 25 minutes or until cheese is melted with some brown spots.
  7. Meanwhile make the sauce and cook the spaghetti:
  8. In a medium saucepan melt the butter over low heat, add the garlic and saute 1 - 2 minutes. Whisk in the flour and continue cooking 2 - 3 minutes, stirring often. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth then the wine, if using.
  9. Turn heat up to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Maintain simmer for 3 minutes, stirring often. Whisk in the Parmesan and continue cooking 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the lemon juice, about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.
  10. Meanwhile cook the pasta in plenty of salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water before draining.
  11. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce with the reserved cooking water. Set the pan over low heat. Gently stir to coat the pasta with the sauce, continue for 2 minutes or so then remove from heat.
  12. To serve: top the pasta with a chicken cutlet and lots of fresh grated Parmesan.

Notes:

Copyright ©2013 Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice by Reeni Pisano All Rights Reserved

http://www.cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com/lemon-ricotta-chicken-parmesan/

Baked Poppy Seed Chicken

Baked Poppy Seed Chicken

Baked bites of tender chicken and chewy egg noodles in a creamy poppy seed sauce with a buttery bread crumb topping. Pure, unadulterated comfort food.

This is the perfect vehicle for using leftover or rotisserie chicken – I’ve included instructions for cooking the chicken too in case you don’t have any on hand.

The sauce is the center of attention. It’s lush and creamy with milk, sour cream, Parmesan cheese and oodles of poppy seeds. They can’t be avoided so don’t even try feeding this to a picky poppy seed hater. If there’s such a thing. What’s there to hate?

It may almost seem like you have too much sauce but it will thicken as it bakes and the poppy seeds will soak some of it up. If you have trouble finding poppy seeds look for the Bob’s Red Mill Brand, I’ve found them to be the most reasonably priced and you can store them in your refrigerator in a glass jar for a long time.

The poppy seeds add a ton of texture and when there’s this many in the mix, flavor too. I’m not exactly sure how to describe the flavor. Some say it’s kind of nutty but I don’t find them all that nutty. . . their flavor is subtle. . . and indescribable. I’m at a loss for words. . .

Guess you’ll just have to make this to see what I’m talking about.

Poppy Seed Chicken

Baked Poppy Seed Chicken

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 - 5 servings

Baked Poppy Seed Chicken

Baked bites of chicken and egg noodles in a creamy poppy seed sauce with a buttery bread crumb topping. Pure, unadulterated comfort food.

Ingredients:

1 + 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or about 3 cups cooked chicken, cut in bite-size pieces
coarse salt and fresh black pepper
1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon dijon or yellow mustard
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 + 1/2 cups sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1/4 cup poppy seeds (I like Bob's Red Mill )
8 ounces egg noodles
Topping:
2 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces

Instructions:

  1. If starting with cooked chicken skip this step and go right to step 2! Cut the chicken into large bite-sized pieces and season well with salt and pepper. Heat enough oil to generously cover the bottom of a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning to brown on all sides. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium-low heat, whisk in the flour and cook 3 minutes, stirring often. Slowly whisk in the milk and mustard. Turn heat up and bring to a simmer, cook 3 - 4 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Turn off the heat, whisk in the parmesan and let it cool slightly.
  4. Meanwhile cook the egg noodles in plenty of salted water to al dente. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and grease a 9 x 13 or similar sized casserole with butter.
  5. Add the sour cream to a small bowl and whisk in a few tablespoons of the warm sauce, one at a time to temper it. Whisk the sour cream into the sauce, then stir in the parsley, poppy seeds, 1 teaspoon coarse salt and about 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
  6. Once the noodles are cooked, drain and add them back to the saucepan with the chicken and the sauce. Mix well and pour into the buttered casserole dish.
  7. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over top then dot with the butter. Bake for 25 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Notes:

Copyright ©2013 Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice by Reeni Pisano All Rights Reserved

http://www.cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com/baked-poppy-seed-chicken/

Southwestern Cheddar Chili Mac

Southwestern Chili Mac

Chili meets pasta in this hearty skillet meal with ground beef, cheddar cheese, green chiles and tomatoes. It’s seasoned with all my favorite Tex-mex spices including chile powder, cumin, smoked paprika and Mexican oregano. Aside from boiling the pasta it’s made entirely in one skillet making it a contender for a fast weeknight meal…. 

Read More »

Orzo with Chickpeas, Zucchini and Feta

Orzo with Chickpeas, Zucchini and Feta

Orzo pasta tossed with zucchini, chickpeas, feta and basil with a lemon-kissed dressing. You can eat it warm or cold, as a side or a main, for dinner, lunch or a midnight snack. The bright, tangy flavors will have you coming back for more…. 

Read More »