I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! We had another weekend filled with soccer games. Thankfully, we will be operating under our normal schedule moving forward. We typically only have games on Saturday. As much as I do not like spending the majority of the weekend at the soccer field, it was wonderful watching the kids play. They are both so passionate, although my daughter is much more athletic than my son is. We also went to the public library, the grocery store and completed the typical weekend errands. All in all, a productive and enjoyable weekend. However, I am so glad to have an extra day to the weekend to spend some time working on the blog. I am amazed and so grateful for the support that I have received so far.
I thought we would start the week off with a recipe. I love cooking, but it is certainly tough to make anything too complex during the workweek. By the time I am done with the day, I am ready to kick up my feet and have a glass of wine. However, life has a different idea. We have a lot going on and I need to make things as easy as possible. Throughout the week, we have a staple of recipes that we rotate. This makes things so much easier on everyone. The last thing we have time for is an epic recipe failure. Even though I am a self-proclaimed foodie, I have had several recipe fails. I remember one time when I attempted to make a 30 minute meal that consisted of some type of stuffed chicken breast and risotto. First of all, I am yet to find a recipe that actually takes less than 30 minutes. The recipe testers must be cooking ninjas or something. This particular recipe took me over an hour and I was so happy to dig in, only to find out that the chicken was still raw in the middle. I never made that recipe again.
I love to get the kids in the kitchen with me as much as possible, but that is certainly not for my benefit. As you know, it takes twice as long to make anything when you have little helpers involved. They love to be in the kitchen and it is great opportunity to spend some quality time with them and build on some important life skills. This is all the more reason to keep things simple or that glass of wine may have to become an entire bottle!
As I have said previously, I am not that great at writing my recipes down. I knew I wanted to share this particular recipe, since it is a family favorite. My little man was helping me out this night and was curious why I had a notebook out. When I explained to him what I was doing, he told me that he wanted to start a blog too and needed to write the recipe down with me. I could not resist getting him involved and what boy does not need to improve their handwriting? I had to take this picture because he was so serious. He also helped me prepare the dish and even ate the “green stuff”. If you are struggling with getting your kids to eat certain foods, getting them involved in the cooking process is a game changer. My son actually came home from school this week and told me about a cooking experiment that they did and he could not stop talking about the recipe. He was raving about how good it was and I nearly passed out when she said it was a vegetable slaw. He was the “special helper” and was proud of his creation.
So, now to the recipe. This is one of our favorites in the fall and it is fairly simple if you do a little bit of preparation over the weekend or the night before. I like to peel, dice and roast the butternut squash ahead of time to make this a very quick meal. If you do that, this truly will be a 30 minute meal. The smoked kielbasa is pre-cooked, so you are really just warming it up. If you are into what you put into your body, please use a sausage that is nitrate free. We use the Pederson’s brand, which is very tasty and also not too spicy for the kiddos. You can really use any type of pasta that you like. We used a gluten-free orzo, but you could also use with penne or any of your other favorites. If you are against the spinach, you could leave it out or use kale. This recipe is very versatile, which makes it perfect for a weekly meal rotation.
Orzo with Butternut Squash & Smoked Sausage
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 14oz Smoked Kielbasa, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 butternut squash, roasted
8 oz orzo pasta
5 oz bag of baby spinach
1/4 cup pasta water
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss butternut squash with 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread squash out on baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through.
2. Cook orzo pasta according to instructions on package. Prior to draining, reserve 1/4 cup of the past water.
3. In a large sauté pan, heat of 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 2 minutes. Once onions are opaque, add sliced sausage and cook for another 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook one more minute.
4. Add roasted butternut squash to sausage mixture.
5. Add spinach to mixture and continue to cook until spinach is wilted down. You can add it two batches, if your pan is not big enough.
6. Add cooked orzo pasta to the sausage and squash mixture and fold everything together.
7. Add pasta water and parmesan cheese and fold again. The water will help make a sauce to bind everything together.
8. Plate and top with a generous amount of Parmesan cheese.