Girl w/o a Plan Makes Dinner: Baked Penne w/ Butternut Squash & Ricotta

Hello Your Own Home Store readers. Holly here! Misty has asked me to share some of my experiences with using Thrive food in my everyday cooking. I have to admit that I don’t really think of Thrive products as food storage, rather just food -good food that is healthy and convenient and often saves my meal. I’m excited to share just how it happens in my kitchen even if it means admitting to how unprepared I really am. It’s official. I am a “Girl Without a Plan”.

And when you’re a Girl without a plan, 3pm-4pm is the most stressful part of the day. You know…that moment when you must attempt to answer life’s most persistent question, “WHAT’S FOR DINNER?” And if you’re like me, it’s not just about getting something, anything on the table. I like to cook what I want, when I want and Thrive makes that possible. Planners and organizers take a deep breath in and let it out slowly as you prepare to enter my world.

 

Step One: Find a Recipe

All last week I had been making eyes at the curvy butternut squash on my countertop, so when Friday afternoon came around pizza was out and butternut squash was in. Google was good to me and lead me to this yummy dish at food.com (original recipe at the end of this post):

Baked Penne With Butternut Squash and Ricotta

 

Step Two: Start Cooking

First, I set the oven to 375ºF and started peeling and chopping my squash, trying unsuccessfully to get them all even and uniform (it’s just not in my nature). I tossed them with some olive oil, salt and pepper and placed them on a baking sheet to roast (20-30 minutes). Then, I got the pasta going and started on my white sauce. Which brings me to my next step.

Step Three: Discover The Missing Ingredient(s)

And the missing ingredient of the day was…MILK! We weren’t exactly out of it but we didn’t have enough to make a white sauce and still have cereal in the morning. So I guess you can say THRIVE saved my dinner and breakfast. I used my powdered milk and butter powder and some flour to make a quick batch of “Magic Mix” from Heather over at Cooking with My Food Storage, which is great for a basic white sauce. Here is the recipe:

Magic Mix

What you need:

What to do:

  • Mix everything together!
http://www.yourownhomestore.com/baked-penne-w-butternut-squash-ricotta/

To make the sauce I combined ½ cup Magic Mix and 1 cup water in saucepan, along with some garlic powder, salt and pepper. I cooked the sauce over medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickened.

Step Four: Add Something Just Because I Can

I don’t know about you but when I think of baked pasta I think of melted cheese; cue, freeze dried mozzarella. So while the pasta cooked, I put a cup of cottage cheese (substituted for the ricotta) into a small mixing bowl and added the mozzarella. The fun didn’t’ stop there. I also added 1/2 cup of freeze dried spinach. Spinach is often my “Just Because I Can” ingredient. (That 1/2 cup is like adding 3 cups of fresh spinach leaves. It’s just too tempting). I added some water add let it sit while the pasta finished cooking.

Step Four: Sit Down To Eat And Persuade The Little Ones To Do The Same

Finally, my squash had fulfilled its destiny and I was ready to dig in. My work, however, was not done. Once I added that spinach I knew the dish would become 100% less appealing to my five year old. I told him that he wouldn’t even taste it and how healthy and strong it would make his body. And as a last resort, I told him it was broccoli (a green vegetable I know he will eat). Success! And we all ate happily ever after.

Recipes:

Here are the two recipes: First, the original and then my modified version:

 

Baked Penne w/ Butternut Squash & Ricotta

Original Recipe can also be found here at food.com

What you need:

  • 20 oz. butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1/8 tsp. table salt
  • 12 oz. whole wheat penne
  • 1 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped divided
  • 1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup walnuts

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 375ºF. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Coat a 2 1/2- to 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Place squash on prepared baking sheet; roast until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Place in a large bowl and mash.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. After squash has been roasting for about 10 minutes, cook pasta according to package directions; drain and return to pot.
  • In a medium saucepan, whisk together milk, flour, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking frequently; reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in mashed squash and 2 1/2 teaspoons of thyme. Add sauce to pasta; toss to mix and coat.
  • Transfer pasta mixture to prepared baking dish; dot with spoonfuls of ricotta and then sprinkle with Parmesan and walnuts. Bake until top is lightly browned in a few spots, about 15 to 20 minutes; remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of thyme.
http://www.yourownhomestore.com/baked-penne-w-butternut-squash-ricotta/

 

Baked Penne w/ Butternut Squash & Ricotta: THRIVE Style

What you need:

  • 1 medium size butternut squash, peeled, cubed
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 12 oz. whole wheat penne
  • 1/2 cup “Magic Mix”
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/c cup freeze dried mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup freeze dried spinach
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 375ºF. Toss cubed squash in bowl with olive oil and season to taste. Place on baking sheet and roast until tender (20-30 minutes). Place in a large bowl and mash.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. After squash has been roasting for about 10 minutes, cook pasta according to package directions; drain and return to pot.
  • Place cottage cheese in a small mixing bowl and mozzarella cheese and freeze dried spinach. Add about 2/3 cup of water. You don’t want it too dry, but not too soupy either. Let mixture sit while pasta and sauce cooks.
  • In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1 cup of water with 1/2 “Magic Mix”. Add garlic, salt and pepper and stir continuously until thick. Remove from heat; stir in mashed squash and 2 1/2 teaspoons of thyme. Add sauce and cottage cheese mixture to pasta; toss to mix and coat.
  • Transfer pasta mixture to prepared baking dish; sprinkle with parmesan and bake until top is lightly browned in a few spots, about 15 to 20 minutes; remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of thyme.
http://www.yourownhomestore.com/baked-penne-w-butternut-squash-ricotta/

 

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2 comments on “Girl w/o a Plan Makes Dinner: Baked Penne w/ Butternut Squash & Ricotta

  1. Brigette Dennis on said:

    Thanks, Holly. I think I’ll mix up a batch of Magic Mix today. It sounds like it’s a real time saver.

    Brigette

  2. Jennifer on said:

    Sounds like dinner tomorrow night!!!! Thanks :-)

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