Try This— Penne With Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

This Fall inspired variation on the classic Cacio e Pepe is the ultimate comfort food.

Maybe I’m unlucky in life, but the entire time I was in Rome this summer, I didn’t have one single incredible food moment. The stars aligned and I was truly blessed enough to travel around Europe. We spent a full week in the Eternal City, and I could barely contain my excitement about sampling the food. In fairness, I had heard so much about how great the food in Rome was that I probably built it up in my head until my expectations could never be satisfied. After crawling around Rome from Monti to Trastevere looking for delicious food, I finally just gave up. Our last night in Rome, we stayed in and I made this Cacio e Pepe dish in the kitchen of our vacation rental.

Since being back, I’ve been so over Italian food. I don’t know if it has anything to do with my experience in Rome, but I just haven’t really had that Italian food craving that has been an ever present part of my life. Anyway, this weekend I suddenly had that old Italian food itch that I’ve been missing so much, and I decided to make this Fall inspired cacio e pepe I discovered on Food Network. The subtle sweetness of butternut squash paired with the tartness of goat cheese is a game changer. You must try this!!!

Penne With Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1 (2-pound) butternut or kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 onion, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1 packed cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan

Directions

  1. Put an oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Spray a baking sheet, liberally, with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. Mix the squash and onion together and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bake for to 40 to 45 minutes until the vegetables are golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
  4. While the squash mixture is cooling, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 2 cups of the pasta water. Put the pasta, goat cheese and 1 cup of pasta water in a large serving bowl. Toss until the cheese has melted and forms a creamy sauce. Add the squash and onion mixture, the walnuts and the basil. Toss well and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with Parmesan and serve.

Try This— 4 Hot Beverages You Can Enjoy Instead of Coffee

These 4 hot beverages will scratch your coffee itch without all the caffeine. The perfect coffee alternative for anyone that needs some sleep!

The one good thing about the temperatures plummeting the way they did this weekend is that I was able to pull my chunky throw out of retirement, curl up on my couch, and sip on some totally delicious hot beverages. I’m definitely a coffee girl, but with all the talk about self care and the importance of sleep, I know that I shouldn’t indulge my coffee addiction after dark when I’m watching Castle Rock on Hulu. With that in mind, all weekend long I made sure that I never had an oatmeal latte after noon (you have no idea how hard that is to do if you’ve never had one), and when I craved a little something to warm my bones in the evening, I picked one of these delicious drinks instead! You must try this!

Lavender Bedtime Milk

Lavender Bedtime Milk

This recipe checks all the boxes. Not only is it warm, soothing, and delicious, but it will help to wash away the stresses of the day. Get the full recipe here.

Slow Cooker COconut Hot Chocolate

Slow Cooker Coconut Hot Chocolate

Um. Coconut and chocolate. ‘Nuff said, right? I’ve even added Nutella to this decadent, slow cooker recipe and it never, and I do mean never, disappoints. Get the full recipe here.

Pumpkin Spice Matcha Latte

Pumpkin Spice Matcha Latte

I might be the only person in the world that doesn’t really like pumpkin spice lattes, but this delicious twist on the classic makes nonbelievers like me take a second look. Matcha really is the star of this tasty drink. Get the full recipe here.

Chai Hot Chocolate

Chai Hot Chocolate

With only 3 ingredients, this chai hot chocolate is as easy to prepare as it is delicious. Get the full recipe here.

Make-Ahead Summer Vegetable Lasagna

Before I jump right into the recipe, I have to tell you that these next several weeks are going to be pretty busy for me. If you’ve been checking out my posts, you know that I’m heading over to Rome and London next week. Yay! I’ve been writing lists and getting organized for the trip. I am seriously neurotic when it comes to packing luggage, and I am a total carry-on-only warrior. I’ve got my travel journal ready and all my TSA approved snacks and travel size organic toiletries. Anyway, since I’ve been planning everything right down to the smallest of details, I realized I’d forgotten one of the most important things to consider. After returning home from a long trip, the last thing you want to think about is grocery shopping and cooking. I needed to come up with a meal that I can take straight from the freezer and pop in the oven as soon as I set down my bags.

Because farmer’s markets and summer CSAs are in full swing, and because I have more summer squash than I know what to do with, I decided to make a Summer vegetable lasagna. Lasagna is one of my favorite meals, y’all, and this recipe is nothing short of amazing. The Béchamel sauce really makes every bite a cosmic experience. The best part is that you can make this ahead of time and then freeze portions for a quick, healthy, and oh so tasty meal when you return home from your own vacay. You must try this!!!

Summer Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients

For the vegetable filling:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 lb. (250 g) cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 yellow or green summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) dice
  • 3 jarred roasted red bell peppers, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can (28 oz./875 g) plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (1 oz./30 g) fresh basil leaves, minced
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the béchamel sauce

  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) (2 oz./60 g) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) whole milk
  • 3 cups (24 oz./750 g) ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 lb. (250 g) no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 3/4 lb. (12 oz./375 g) mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions

1. Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C).

2. To make the filling, in a 5-quart (5-l) Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Stir in the bell peppers, tomatoes, basil and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Clean the pot.

3. To make the béchamel sauce, in the same pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer half of the sauce to a bowl. Spread the remaining sauce evenly on the bottom of the pot. In another bowl, stir together the ricotta, egg and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper.

4. Cover the sauce in the pot with a single layer of lasagna noodles, breaking them if needed to fit. Spread one-third of the ricotta mixture evenly on top, then one-third of the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with one-fourth of the mozzarella. Repeat the layering 2 more times, starting with the noodles. Top with a final layer of noodles and the remaining béchamel sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella. Cover the pot with aluminum foil and bake until the noodles are tender, about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top is browned, about 15 minutes longer. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm. Serves 8 to 10.

***To freeze, cut it into individual portions. Wrap the portions in aluminum foil and when you’re ready to reheat, just pop them in the oven for about 45 minutes at 375°F.

Source: Williams Sonoma

Natural Tonic for Improved Mental Health

This brain-boosting tonic with adaptogenic herbs will aid in improving your overall mental health by balancing your neurotransmitters to keep you happy, stress-free, focused, and energized.

Mental Health Natural Tonic Ingredient Breakdown

Lemon

Citrus fruits are high in vitamins, and a healthy dose of vitamin C can fight infection, reduce kidney stones, relieve indigestion, decrease headache pain, and help detoxify the body.

Cucumber

Cucumbers help maintain water balance in the body.

Fresh Turmeric Root

Turmeric is known to improve mood and feelings of depression.

Fresh Ginger Root

Ginger fights inflammation and is great for healing and protecting the gut.

Beets

Beets support heart health and liver function by helping our bodies maintain healthy blood sugar levels. While the antioxidant power of beets improves nerve function.

Pears

Pears are a low-sugar fruit. They are excellent for anxiety as they soothe the nervous system with vitamin C, which triggers the production of norepinephrine and serotonin, the happy neurotransmitters. They are also a great source of potassium, an essential electrolyte for the proper function of nerves, muscles, joints, and the heart.

Adaptogens

During cold and flu season, the addition of adaptogens like goldenseal and elderberry extract have both been shown to support a health immune system and are available as herbal tinctures (liqud form) that you can easily add to your tonic just before drinking it. To help alleviate stress, add ashwagandha and astralagus, which are both adaptogens known for their calming effects on our bodies.

Mental Health Natural Tonic

Ingredients

  • One whole lemon with peel cut off
  • One whole cucumber with peel
  • One 2-inch root of ginger (if you’re not a fan of ginger, cut this amount in half)
  • Two 3- to 4-inch roots of turmeric
  • One whole pear
  • One yellow or red beet

adaptogens such as

  • extract of ashwagandha
  • extract of astragalus
  • extract of goldenseal
  • extract of elderberry

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in a juicer, and add extracts of ashwaghandha and astragalus (for further adaptogenic support) or goldenseal and elderberry during flu season.
  2. Serve immediately.

Try This—Banana+Coconut+Cardamom Ice Cream

Banana, Coconut, Cardamom Ice Cream. A quick and simple banana based ice cream with a little bit of spice. This post first appeared last year and is still one of my favorite nice cream recipes!

I’m not sure if I could have told you what cardamom was good for if you had asked me a couple of weeks ago. It’s one of those spices that I have on the spice rack, but I never use. I spent a weekend at my bestie’s house and she spiked our morning coffee with a little bit of cardamom. I wasn’t really down with it, but I drank it anyway because coffee. To be fair, I’m not really that into flavored coffee (this iced coffee recipe is as close as I get), so it wasn’t the cardamom that threw me off. Maybe coffee and cardamom isn’t for me, but I could totally see myself combining it with something else. I started to think about recipes that might benefit from that distinct herbal, citrusy flavor. With Summer right around the corner, I decided to make some ice cream.

Dude. This may have been the best decision I’ve made in a while. Even though it was absolutely freezing in the city this weekend, this ice cream was so good that I turned the heat on, curled up with a chunky throw on the couch, watched some Netflix, and totally gorged myself on what was supposed to be enough ice cream for two servings. Don’t judge me, just try this!

Banana+Coconut+Cardamom Ice Cream

recipe from Chitra Agrawal’s Vibrant India

serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 tablespoons dried unsweetened shredded coconut, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom powder
  • 1 tablespoon bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
  • granulated brown sugar, for garnish
  • sliced almonds, for garnish

Directions

  • peel the bananas and cut them into 1/2-inch disks.  place in a glass bowl or freezer bag.  freeze the bananas for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
  • using a food processor, pulse the frozen banana pieces.  they will first get crumbly, then gooey, then look like oatmeal pieces, and then start to bunch on one side of the bowl.  scrape down the sides and keep pulsing through these stages.  eventually, the banana will become smooth and creamy resembling soft-serve ice cream.  pulse the processor until the mixture aerates and becomes somewhat fluffy, then mix in the coconut, cardamom powder, and chocolate chips.
  • you can the ice cream immediately; it will be like soft-serve ice cream, or transfer it to an airtight container and freeze until solid, like traditional ice cream.
  • serve with an optional healthy sprinkling of jaggery (find it here), sliced almonds, and more grated coconut on top.

Source: Dolly and Oatmeal via Chitra Agrawal’s cookbook, Vibrant India.