Butternut Squash Arborio with Mushrooms

So it dropped down into the 70's for a week here, and I quickly pulled out my fall recipes to take advantage of the cool weather before it heated back up again. One of the recipes that I've been dying to try is this one. I love that it's an all-in-one skillet meal and that it features butternut squash. It's been a long time since I made arborio or risotto. I just never think of it as a full meal and now that I don't eat meat anymore I find it hard to find something to pair it with that would go with it. However, with the squash and the butternut squash, I thought this made a delicious dinner. It had a lot of flavor and different textures that I didn't feel like I was eating just a bowl of flavored rice. However, if you want to have something with this dish, chicken or salmon would be perfect. I actually warmed up some of the leftovers and broiled a piece of salmon to go with it and it was delicious.

This dish was easy to make and easy to clean up (which I love). If you wanted to shave some time off of making this dish you can always used pre-peeled and chopped squash from your grocery store. However, you will be saving a lot more money if you just buy a whole squash and do it yourself. Sure, it takes a little more time and effort but you can do it all ahead of time, and store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to make dinner. I wouldn't use the frozen squash though. I tried recreating this dish with the frozen squash I had on hand and the butternut squash pretty much disintegrated into the rice.

recipe adapted from Savory Tooth

  • 1 cup risotto rice or arborio rice
  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 10 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  •  Parmesan* or Asiago cheese, finely grated, for garnish (optional)

  1. Heat olive oil in a large 5-quart nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Add butternut squash, salt, and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use a pan sufficiently large so that the butternut squash chunks sit in a single layer on the pan.
  2. Add mushrooms and garlic to the pan, sautéing for a few minutes.
  3. Add rice and vegetable stock. Mix everything together. Bring to a boil and then decrease to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer on medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan and check that the rice is tender and done. Simmer with the pan uncovered for a few minutes to evaporate any excess liquid.
  4. Add butter to the pan and stir as it melts. Serve immediately and optionally garnish with finely grated cheese.

* Parmesan cheese is made with animal rennet. However, there are some brands that do not use animal rennet in their cheese. If this is a concern for you, be sure to check the ingredients of the cheese to ensure that animal rennet is not listed.

Curried Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

One of my favorite things about fall is all the squash recipes I can make. I'm a big fan of butternut squash and pumpkin, but I love acorn squash. It's perfect because you don't really have to do anything to it. You cut it in half, rub some oil on it, and bake it in the oven until it's soft. I've had it baked with brown sugar and butter for a sweet treat, and I've had it a couple different savory ways like this. I think the whole bowl aspect is my favorite because it's just so darn awesome looking. This is by far my favorite acorn squash bowl because it mixes two of my favorite things, curried quinoa and the squash. It also reminds me of the spiced quinoa that I make just about once a month in the cooler months. So, I suppose, this is kind of a more spruced up version of that.

While this isn't a quick meal, it is super easy to make. The most time consuming part is waiting for the squash to roast. Now, I've read recipes that say you can microwave your squash to cook it, I have never done that. Not only do I find that the cooking of things in the microwave are inconsistent and some areas get cooked more than others, but things tend to get a bit gummy and chewy after they've been nuked. So, I prefer the traditional method of roasting them in the oven. It's not so bad though because while the squash is roasting, you can work on the quinoa, clean up the kitchen, and kick your feet up for a bit before you have to start assembling them. I suppose you could always roast the squash ahead of time and then on the day of, make the quinoa and assemble the dish. That would cut down your time by 40 minutes. Although, I would pop the squash in the oven for the time the quinoa is cooking, otherwise the squash will be cold, and trust me, you want the squash to be hot for this dish. ;)

Recipe adapted from Well Floured

  • 2 acorn squash, medium size, cut in half, seeds and pulp removed
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil divided
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped apple
  • 1 cup of quinoa, I used rainbow
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable stock, water or chicken stock could also be used
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese or feta 

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425°f
  2. Rub the inside of the squash with 1 Tbsp olive oil, season with salt and pepper
  3. Roast cut side up for 1 hour
  4. While the squash is roasting, heat the remaining olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat
  5. Add the onion and apple, and cook until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes
  6. Stir in quinoa, and cook until toasted, about 5 minutes
  7. Stir in the curry and the stock
  8. Cover,bring to a boil, and reduce the heat
  9.  Simmer until the liquid has been absorbed,about 15 minutes
  10. Remove from the heat and let site for 5 minutes
  11. Fluff with a fork, and divide the quinoa among the 4 squash halves
  12. Top with the cheese, if desired
  13. Serve immediately

Pumpkin Spice Creamer

Okay, I know that fall hasn't "officially" started, but c'mon, school's started back up, the local pools are closed, and it's starting to cool down. I don't know about you, but to me, that means fall is upon us. And if I'm being completely honest, I break out my fall decor the moment it hits September. The Mr. always looks at me like I'm nuts but to me, September is the start of fall, regardless of the day. Plus, I miss the seasons! I've lived in an area where it's sunny and warm all year round for over 5 years now. So, sue me if I break out my metal pumpkin decor, my artificial maple leaf branches, and start putting pumpkin in everything.

 Which leads me to this beauty. With the temperatures no longer in the "I'm melting" range, I find myself drinking more coffee and less tea. I love creamers but I hate the ingredients in them. I mean, have you ever read the back of those suckers? Vegetable oil... in my coffee?! No, no thank you. So, I've been trying fancier (and more expensive) creamers that are all natural. However, they have a TON of sugar in them. Which is probably why it tastes oh so good. I also wasn't a huge fan that it was dairy milk since I'm slightly allergic to dairy and try to limit it when I can so that I can enjoy cheese when I want to.  ;) So, I found some non-dairy creamer that was made with almond  and coconut milk. Well, let's just say that was not the route to go. It left this weird aftertaste in my mouth and I wound up dumping the rest of it, and my cup of coffee, down the drain. So, needless to say, I'm in the market for a good creamer that's natural, non-dairy, and delicious. Thankfully this one foots the bill.

Now I know everyone goes nuts over fancy pumpkin lattes from a particular coffee shop. I know I've had to have one at some point but it doesn't stand out to me. So, I cannot in good conscious say this is just as good as that since I don't have anything to compare it to. What I can say is that it tastes like I blended a piece of pumpkin pie in my coffee. You can smell the spices the moment you pick up your cup, and you can not only taste the spices in the coffee but you can taste the pumpkin, too. Plus, the pumpkin adds a bit of creaminess that my usual coffee lacks. I honestly can't believe it's taken me this long to make my own creamer. It's so easy to make. I just put it all in my small personal blender, blended it up, poured what I wanted in my cup, and then put the rest in a mason jar for later. Seriously, put down that gross coffee creamer and start making your own!

  • 1/4 cup pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used cashew milk but any milk works)
  • 2 tsp. sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. Add all the ingredients together in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Transfer the creamer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Shake before using.

Gnocchi, white bean, and sun-dried tomato skillet

Sorry for the lull in posts. We recently moved and I was a little busy packing up the house and moving. I still tried to make new dishes throughout the process so that I would have something to share when we got settled into our new place. This is a recipe that I found online. It's easy, quick to make, and doesn't take much prep work.

I love gnocchi. I used to make my own a lot but, well, when you're in the process of moving, the last thing you have time and energy for is making things from scratch. This recipe is pretty much the easiest recipe I've ever done. I used a can of beans, Julienne sun-dried tomatoes, and even used packaged frozen spinach. The only thing I really did was slice mushrooms and then cook everything. I will admit that I did forget a lot of ingredients when making this though. I blame the move. You will see in the pictures that they are not all the same. I was picking at the dinner as it was cooking (I found out that sauteed gnocchi with a little salt and pepper is DELICIOUS!) and I think, to me, it tasted great, and then I plated it. It wasn't until a few bites in that I realized it was missing the beans. Then I saw the package of sundried tomatoes sitting on the counter and quickly added those too. So, I suppose if you don't have everything on hand and still want to make this, you can. I think as long as you have the gnocchi, you will be good.  ;)

Aside from forgetting to add all the ingredients to the dish on the first go, this was a no-brainer. There's no fancy cooking involved and it was hearty and delicious, which was exactly what we needed after a day of extreme packing. The only downside to this dish is that it's not that great warmed up the next day. I mean, when you first make it, the gnocchi is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. However, once it's sat in the refrigerator, it looses that crispiness. So, it wasn't that it tasted bad the next day, it just didn't have the same texture it did when it was fresh. I still enjoyed the leftovers but missed the crispiness of the gnocchi.

recipe adapted from Sweet Peas and Saffron

18 oz packaged gnocchi
1-2 tablespoons olive oil salt and pepper
¼-1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
⅓ cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
4 cups loosely packed spinach [I used 1 (10 oz) packed of frozen spinach, thawed]
1 (15 oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed
 Parmesan cheese

  1. Heat oil in a medium pan over medium heat. 
  2. Add the gnocchi and separate them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring occasionally for 8-10 minutes, or until golden and slightly crispy. 
  3.  Remove from pan. 
  4. Add the mushrooms, and cook for 3 or so minutes until soft (add additional olive oil if needed). Return the gnocchi to the pan and add the sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and white beans. Stir until spinach is wilted and everything is heated through. 
  5. Add additional salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. 
  6. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

BBQ Pulled Sweet Potato Sandwiches

I need to be honest here. I cannot believe that I'm still a vegetarian. I've always wanted to try it since I was a little girl but could never manage to actually do it. I just loved my meat too much... I just didn't like thinking about the animals themselves. So, I'm shocked that after 2 years, I've stuck with it. It hasn't been easy though. There have been a few times where I've gone to parties, events, even restaurants, and my choice of a meal is pretty much carrots and ranch dressing. It made me very aware of the fact that we focus a lot on meat. That also includes myself as well. I have thrown parties and events where the only non-meat item was the dip, potato salad, and the dessert. Now, it seems like I can't even eat a deviled egg without there being bacon in it. And boy, let me tell you, when the warmer weather starts kicking in I miss a good BBQ. I'm sorry but tofu dogs and bean burgers just don't compare to good ol BBQ. Which is why I just about peed my pants in excitement when I made this recipe and realized that it was almost as good as a pulled pork sandwich. I mean, it's missing that greasy pork quality but then again... it's missing that greasy pork quality. Which, I'm sorry to say, is not exactly a bad thing.


This is a super easy recipe to make. The most difficult part was grating the sweet potato. For some reason, the grater and I just don't get along and I always end up fighting with it... and losing. Which is why I usually enlist the help of the Mr. when it comes time to grate anything. Aside from my struggles with the grater, this was almost as easy as making pulled... which is usually just a -plop-everything-into-the-crockpot sort of thing. I'm really happy with this recipe. It will definitely be my go-to for this summer.

 recipe adapted from Yup... It's Vegan
  • 1 medium-large sweet potato (about 2.5 cups grated)
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 c. BBQ sauce of choice
  • buns
  • coleslaw
  1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet. When hot, add the grated sweet potato and quickly stir to distribute the oil. Sprinkle with salt.
  2. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring and flipping the sweet potato several times.
  3. Once the sweet potato is starting to dry out and is browned in several places, add the BBQ sauce and stir. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sweet potato is cooked to your preference.
  4. Serve a big scoop of the BBQ pulled sweet potato on a toasted bun with coleslaw.