quick meals

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A brief respite in the cooler weather made for a perfect opening to have a room temperature salad for dinner last night. With warm air streaming through the windows, I got to work breaking down a pumpkin from our visit to Verrill Farm to serve as the star of the show.

sugar pumpkin

The second I cut into the pumpkin, that smell hit me, and I was suddenly standing there daydreaming about sitting around our dining room table as a little kid, newspapers laid out to take the pumpkin guts and seeds. In that moment I literally felt like I shouldn’t be holding the knife, that my dad should be doing the carving while my sister and I drew our designs and our mom brought out cider or snacks.

I hadn’t planned on toasting the seeds, but that happy memory said that I had to, the later taste and crunch again bringing me home. It’s pretty amazing how senses can do that.

pumpkin carving

Once I snapped out of my daydreaming, I got to work once again on dinner, starting with the pumpkin. I simply roasted it at 400 degrees until the flesh was tender, then peeled the blistered skin off and chopped it into cubes.

roasted pumpkin

To finish off the pumpkin, I sautéed it in brown butter and a sprinkle each of cinnamon and cayenne pepper.

roasted pumpkin with cinnamon and brown butter

Next I got my salad dressing ready, mixing apple cider, maple syrup, olive and oil, and hot paprika until it tasted just right.

maple apple cider dressing

I also cooked a cup of lentils and then got started building the salad on beds of Olivia’s Organics baby kale.

baby kale

I topped the mix of pumpkin, lentils, and kale with creamy goat cheese and the toasted pumpkin seeds. The combination was absolutely delicious! It felt great to eat salad without feeling cold inside, and I loved the mix of seasonal ingredients.

roasted pumpkin salad

I saved the remainder of the pumpkin to toss in a smoothie in the morning, a blend of vanilla soy milk, yogurt, cinnamon, pumpkin, and steamed spinach. With less than three weeks until NYC Marathon time, I need all the nutrition I can get!

I am excited to be participating in a Vouvray tasting with TasteLive tonight. So far it’s been a good week, and I hope keeping that positive attitude will only make it get better.

What’s making you happy this week?

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Tags: dinner, easy dinners, goat cheese, healthy recipes, lentils, pumpkin, quick dinners, quick meals, recipe, salad, Vegetarian


sweet potato gnocchi



chicken sausage


purple cabbage

Dinner is served!

gnocchi with chicken sausage and cabbage

Trader Joe’s sweet potato gnocchi, Johnsonville smoked apple chicken sausage, and an entire head of purple cabbage, chopped. All sautéed in olive oil, ready to eat in under 15 minutes.

That’s my kind of meal this week.

What easy, semi-homemade masterpieces have you been whipping up?

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Tags: cabbage, chicken sausage, dinner, easy recipe, Food, gnocchi, quick meals, quick recipes, recipe

Also known as a meal I magically threw together using only ingredients we already had in the house. While I spent last weekend out of town visiting my family, my husband spent the weekend working 15 hour days until he finally got to come home at 1:15 am on Monday. Needless to say, neither of us got to the grocery store this weekend, and coming up with a delicious meal became a daunting task.

Trader Joe's cappellini

Luckily, we always have some sort of random items in the cabinets and freezer. I started with a half package of Trader Joe’s cappellini. I love super thin pasta, and this one is a bargain. It really does cook in three minutes, as the package promises.

I busted out a can of black olives, also from Trader Joe’s. Canned black olives might not be the most highbrow menu item, but I really like them. I used half the can in my sauce and the other half as my snack while I patiently waited for the husband to get home Smile

black olives

I had some jarred capers left over from many months ago. They were still good!


And I had the last of my gift from the Muir Glen tomato dinner, their super fancy Meridian Ruby Reserve tomatoes. I can’t wait to order some more Muir Glen products. Their tomatoes are truly superior.

Muir Glen Meridien Ruby Tomatoes

To make a nice puttanesca-style sauce, I added five chopped cloves or garlic to some olive oil and started the garlic cooking until it sizzled. I then added the chopped olives, capers, more olive oil, and the tomatoes, liquid and all.


I let the mixture simmer, added some garlic powder and crushed red pepper flakes, then got started steaming some lobster tails I have had in the freezer for awhile. My mom really spoils me with all sorts of food items when I go home! Smile

lobster tails

Steaming the lobsters was quick and easy, as was cutting the shells, removing the meat, and cleaning out the vein. I was left with sweet lobster meat which tasted freshly caught.

lobster meat

I boiled the pasta and at the very last minute, I added the hot pasta and the chopped lobster to the sauce. I didn’t want the lobster to cook any more as I did not want it to get tough. Mixing it with hot pasta and hot sauce made it the perfect temperature while leaving it nice and tender.

lobster puttanesca

Not too bad for someone who had NO clue what dinner was going to be at 5:00 last night!

Canned tomatoes and pasta are must-haves in my pantry. What do you always have on hand?

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Tags: canned tomatoes, capers, easy recipes, Food, garlic, lobster, Meridian Ruby tomatoes, Muir Glen, olives, pasta, puttanesca, quick meals, recipe, spaghetti, tomatoes

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