Lentil Soup with Sausage and Ditalini

I suppose it’s that time of the year again when we crave warm cozy meals. this is perfect for sunday dinner (or any night ) will feed about 6-8 people nicely. freezes perfectly. and served with a beautiful salad and some bread it’s an awesome meal. i make so many soups and will be following up throughout the winter with all of my wonderful soup recipes, but this one is really special. the lentils add a wonderful flavor and texture, the sausage adds a savory spice. i mix hot and sweet sausage but feel free to go all sweet, i also like the sausage to have some fennel in it, i use italian pork sausage. you can obviously substitute with turkey or chicken sausage. so cozy on up to this one, it’s a true keeper. I believe this recipe came from a cookbook by julia della croce, who has the most awesome italian recipes. i’ve made a few changes for myself, but maybe you will too. this is filling enough as a meal which is how we eat it.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. (1 1/2 cups) lentils

10 cups chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 lb. sausage, I used 1/2 sweet and 1/2 spicy italian pork sausage , feel free to use turkey sausage /chicken sausage. I like fennel in my sausage, so the italian ones usually have it. i have made it with turkey and it’s delicious.

3 tablespoons olive oil , You may need a little more after you cook the sausage. (see directions)

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 onion chopped (yellow)

1 large celery stalk chopped ( leaves included)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 16 oz. can plum tomatoes, i use the chopped, peeled and seeded ones, along with the juice.

1/2 cup ditalini or any little pasta

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

some flat leaf parsley chopped up (optional)

grated fresh parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

pick over the lentils, remove any stones, imperfect ones, etc. wash the lentils in cold water ( I use a colander to pick through) Transfer to a large pot ( my trusty Le Creuset) large dutch oven. Cover the lentils with broth and add the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer immediately. Simmer for about 15 minutes. while the soup is cooking , remove sausage from it’s casing ( butcher can do this for you as well) In a large ample frying pan, put the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and when the olive oil is heated up , put in sausage, and break it up with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 10 minutes. Remove sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon. Leave whatever oil is still in the pan, should be about 1 tablespoon.  I usually add a little more olive oil here about 1 more tablespoon should do it. then  add the garlic, onion, celery, and thyme and saute till vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. When veggies are softened, return sausage to the pan. in a bowl or measuring cup i take a few ladles of broth out of pot and mix the 3 tablespoons of tomato paste into it. then add to sausage mixture .  add all ingredients into lentil/broth plus can of chopped tomatoes in their juice.  let all ingredients blend together and bring back to a low boil, then simmer for about an hour. before i serve it i return to a boil and add pasta, it only takes about 8 minutes for pasta to cook through. discard the bay leaf, ladle into soup bowls, add freshly grated parmesan cheese and you’re good to go with a super authentic italian soup. we eat it as a meal alongside salad and some very good bread

*should serve 6- 8 as a meal, with a little left over to freeze

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

This is a staple in my Chinese Restaurant take out , I love it. It’s sort of on the “lighter” side of most Chinese main entrees. It is usually in the appetizer section of the menu. img_2523

 

It’s super easy but contains a lot of ingredients that you may not have in the house so some grocery shopping may be involved.  I highly recommend this recipe for a lovely lunch or delicious dinner!! I didn’t even use salt or pepper because it had so very much flavor it didn’t even need it. I would taste for it though since everyone’s taste is a little different where salt and pepper is concerned.

This recipe literally cooked in less than 1/2 hour and it really was delicious. This is a dish the whole family may enjoy.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound ground chicken or turkey–I prefer dark meat because I think it’s more flavorful use whatever you prefer

2 cloves garlic minced

app. 1 medium onion (yellow), diced

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

2 Tablespoons soy sauce –I use low sodium

1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1/2 -1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger–you can use a full tablespoon if you really love ginger, it was fine with 1/2

*1 Tablespoon Sriracha, totally optional. This didn’t make it super spicy just gave it a little kick. You can use Sriracha on the table if you like.

1 8 oz. can whole water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped. I had sliced in the house and I just gave them a rough chop

2 green onions ( scallions) green and white, sliced thinly

*Kosher Salt and Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 head butter lettuce or large leafs of iceberg lettuce– either one is fine

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add ground meat and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Make sure to crumble the meat as it cooks, drain any excess fat.

Stir in garlic, onion, hoisin sauce, soy sauce , rice wine vinegar, ginger and Sriracha until onions have become translucent, a few minutes.

Stir in the chopped water chestnuts and green onions until tender, another few minutes. Now taste for salt and pepper, as I said I didn’t use any salt and pepper at all.

For serving, spoon meat into the center of a lettuce leaf.

If you’d like you can serve with hoisin sauce and sriracha on the side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad

IMG_3355IMG_3349

Time to lighten up the menu just a little after Thanksgiving and before the next round of holidays. This was a very refreshing light salad . This salad had some lettuce and brussels and apples and walnuts and parmigiana cheese!!!! A-mazingly delicious and super fresh tasting.

I found it on a blog site Once Upon a Chef and made a few changes to it but it was absolutely delicious. Easy ingredients and you can prep ahead and stick it in the fridge all dressed and ready to go. My kind of salad and one I will be making all winter long. The original recipe called for all brussels sprouts but I did 1/2 lettuce mix and 1/2 brussels. You can do whatever you’d like .

Dressing was fresh and sweet because of the honey. This would be amazing as a dinner salad with any protein added.

*salad should serve 4-6 as an appetizer size salad.

Enjoy! and follow me on Instagram @cookingwithcandi

Ingredients:

I used  about 1 12 ounce package of shredded Brussels Sprouts

app. 9 – 12 oz. of any lettuce you’d like I used a combo of different lettuces

1 large apple such as Honey Crisp

3 Tablespoons minced shallots, app. 1 large shallot

4 Tablespoons extra virgin Olive Oil

4 Tablespoons vegetable oil

6 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 Tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped –to toast the walnuts –pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and set an oven rack in the middle position. Arrange the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. ( no need to spray or oil the pan) Bake, checking frequently until lightly toasted and fragrant (if you smell them you better remove them, they burn rather easily) set the timer for 4 minutes but they will probably take 6 minutes. Allow to cool and chop them up.

3/4 cup thinly sliced  Parmigiano-Reggiano — I use a peeler to slice cheese while it’s cold it’s easier to slice.

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the shredded Brussels Sprouts, lettuce, apple, vegetable oil, olive oil, shallots, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt and pepper; toss well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours to allow the sprouts to soften and the flavors to meld together.

When ready to serve, toss the walnuts and cheese with the salad. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary , then serve.

 

Pumpkin Walnut Bread (no butter)

I just love pumpkin and I can’t stop posting about it. Pumpkin Season is here.  I love baking this bread because the smell in the house is beyond. I usually serve pumpkin bread and a banana bread in my bread basket on Thanksgiving. It’s hard to believe that there is no butter in this moist, delicious bread. I make both of these way ahead of time, because they freeze so well. You can even double the recipe if you have two loaf pans, and eat one now and tuck one away for another day like Thanksgiving. It’s a nice thing to bring to someone’s house as a gift as well if you’re so inspired. Also, this bread is loaded with aromatic spices.   This recipe will make one perfect loaf.

It is also a lovely gift to bring to someone’s house .

*this bread freezes beautifully for up to 8 weeks. Double wrap it in plastic and put in a resealable plastic freezer bag, and put the date on it. Defrost, still wrapped in the plastic to avoid condensation on the bread, at least 2 hours before serving. I take out of freezer the night before I’ll be using it.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour (I sift)

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup water

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1/2 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup chopped walnuts (obviously this is optional)

You will need a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, parchment paper, large bowl, medium bowl, whisk, silicone or rubber spatula.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position oven rack in the center of oven.

Lightly coat the loaf pan with melted butter and dust with flour, or spray with Pam. I line my loaf with a piece of parchment paper that extends one inch beyond the edge of the pan (this makes it easy to life the bread out. It is optional , just make sure you grease pan in one way or another first. If you’re not comfortable working with parchment paper, skip it. I like it but it can be tricky in a loaf pan. Just grease well, or give it a good spray.)

In a large bowl, sift the flour. Then, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, and salt until thoroughly blended. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and the water. Add the sugar and blend well. Add the pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract and blend well. Add the pumpkin moisture to the dry ingredients and whisk until well blended and smooth. Add the walnuts and stir until they are well distributed. Use a spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake for 55 – 65 minutes, until the bread is firm to the touch and a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean from the center of loaf.  I let it cool for about 10 minutes, then I turn it out onto a rack to cool completely. I don’t freeze it until it is completely cool.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

This cheesecake is a bit of a twist on the traditional pumpkin pie. The combination works quite well–the pumpkin adds a velvety smooth texture and delicious flavor even if you’re not a pumpkin pie fan and the caramel topping goes well with the pumpkin cheese filling. It’s a bit of work with a lot of moving parts so if you’re feeling ambitious this could work for you.  The gingersnap crust is also a departure from the traditional graham cracker crust. If you don’t like gingersnaps you can always substitute graham cracker crumbs. You’ll also need a 9-inch springform pan. I love Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma for their pans.

Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours.

Enjoy and keep on cooking with Candi.

Ingredients: 

Crust:

About 40 gingersnap wafers (about 2 cups cookie crumbs)

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Filling:

4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature — I wrote up a little note on softening cream cheese at the bottom of this recipe

1 2/3 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

9 tablespoons whipping cream

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground all-spice

4 large eggs

caramel sauce (store-bought) or melt caramel candy if you can find those little squares

Directions:

Crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the cookies and brown sugar until well combined and crumbs are uniform and ground up. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and add the cooled, melted butter. Combine thoroughly, first with a spoon and then with your clean fingers, until the mixture is evenly moist, crumbly, and holds together when you squeeze a handful. Press the mixture evenly over the bottom and part way up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Chill for 5 minutes and then bake for 10 minutes. Let cool.

Filling:

Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in bowl until light. Transfer 3/4 cup mixture to a small bowl; cover tightly and refrigerate to use later for topping. Add pumpkin, 4 tablespoons whipping cream, vanilla,  cinnamon, and allspice to mixture into balance of filling in bowl of mixer and beat until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined. Pour filling into crust (it should almost fill the pan.) Bake until cheesecake puffs up, the top browns and the center is a little loose when pan is shaken (about 1 hour 15 minutes.) Transfer cheesecake to rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Run a small sharp knife around the cake pan sides to loosen cheesecake from the pan. Let it sit till completely cool.  Cover tightly in pan and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, bring the remaining cream cheese mixture (that you set aside for the topping) to room temperature. Add remaining 5 tablespoons whipping cream and stir to combine. Press down firmly on edges of cheesecake till even thickness. Pour cream cheese mixture over cheesecake, spreading evenly. Now, either use a spoon or pour the caramel sauce over cream cheese mixture and with a knife tip, swirl caramel sauce into cream cheese mixture. (Make 1 day ahead , cover and refrigerate. I wouldn’t make too many days ahead, because the crust may get soggy.) I will make the cake on Tuesday and the topping Wednesday to serve Thursday for Thanksgiving.

*Many people bake cheesecake in a water bath. I find this difficult sometimes, because water can seep into the pan (even though it shouldn’t) and you have to cover the whole pan with aluminum foil to avoid it (and it still happens!) I find if I place a long glass Pyrex dish with water on the rack below the cake it helps to prevent a crack in the center. If the cake still cracks, don’t despair. That’s why I like this recipe because you will be covering it with topping!!! Yeah, a cake fixer!!! Gotta love it. Good luck and keep me posted if you’re game for this.

How to soften cream cheese bars:

Place completely unwrapped package of cream cheese in a microwaveable bowl . Microwave on HIGH for 10 seconds, check it to see how soft it is. Add time in small increments if you need to , like 3 seconds at a time, if you’re doing 2 bars start at 15 seconds.

Banana Pudding from Magnolia Bakery – One of my Top Ten Desserts that you don’t even bake

Since the first time my daughter Jenn made this dessert we have added it to our Thanksgiving Table. Just what you need after that big dinner is this dessert!!! We love it and can’t get enough of it. Whether you’ll be making it for Thanksgiving or anytime just be prepared to fall in love with it. Completely decadent and totally ridiculous in calories and richness it is love at first bite.

It is actually a subtle taste of bananas, but I wouldn’t make this if I didn’t like bananas. I happen to just adore bananas and I absolutely love love this pudding. I cannot have it in the house because I will continually find an excuse to go into the fridge and eat it till it’s pretty much all gone.  As full as I was last year and swearing I wasn’t going to eat another thing for at least a week, when I saw this  pudding I knew I was going to eat it.  I find it impossible to resist, and I know others who suffer from this same fate. If you’re in the market for a purely decadent rich over the top dessert then this is it for you. Probably up there in my top ten desserts ever. This is from the More from Magnolia Cookbook so how could it be bad?

*this recipe really needs time , so you must start the day before to let initial pudding set, and then you’ll need at least 4 more hours minimum before serving. So you must factor time into your preparing of this awesome pudding but it’s so worth it.

Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours.

Ingredients:

1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 1 /2 cups ice-cold water

1 3.4 ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix ( preferably Jell-O brand)is there another brand?

3 cups heavy cream

1 12 ounce box Nabisco Nilla Wafers ( no substitutions) is there another brand?

4 cups sliced ripe banana

Directions:

In a small bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the sweetened condensed milk and cold water until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the pudding mix and beat well, about 2 minutes more.* Cover and refrigerate for 3 – 4 hours or overnight, before continuing. It is very important to allow the proper amount of time for the pudding mixture to set.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer , whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the pudding mixture into the whipped cream until well blended and no streaks of pudding remains.

To assemble the dessert, select a large, wide bowl ( preferably glass) with a 4 – 5 quart capacity. Arrange one-third of the wafers to cover the bottom of the bowl, over-lapping if necessary, then one-third of the bananas and one-third of the pudding. Repeat the layering twice more, garnishing with additional wafers or wafer crumbs on the top layer of the pudding . ( Just crush up a few remainder cookies in food processor) Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the refrigerator for *4 hours–or up to 8 hours, but no longer! Serve and behold the love! My camera broke on Thanksgiving and I took these pictures with my Iphone, sorry I don’t have more.

Serves anywhere from 12- 15

It’s a large dessert and a substantial one. It stands alone beautifully!

Candied Yam Souffle (Easy Peasy)

sweet potatoes pre marshmallows

 I have always felt obliged to have this recipe on my Thanksgiving table because everyone wants it. Believe it or not children and adults alike will always look for this tasty concoction of sweet potatoes and marshmallows. It just wouldn’t be the same without some version of this.  It is easy and I just felt I owed it to all of you to pass it along. It is especially good for those of you who need to bring something to someone’s house, and don’t have time for fuss and muss.  So here you go. And those darn mini marshmallows which you just gotta have. I have to admit that I love this recipe!

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped pecans

2 large cans of yams or app. 3 lbs. sweet potatoes, drained

1 small can (I like 8 oz.) crushed pineapple (optional)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

mini-marshmallows (1 bag will more than cover it) or one jar of marshmallow topping

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and pecans. Simmer for a  few minutes. In the meantime, place drained yams in a large bowl and mash them (you can leave a few chunked pieces.) If you’re cooking your sweet potatoes , peel and cut into quarters (cubes) fill a large pot of water to cover potatoes , add a little salt to water and bring water to boil. Boil for about 12 minutes till you can pierce potato with a fork easily. Remove and drain potatoes. I always place my potatoes back in pot to steam off excess water.

Pour sugar/pecan and pineapple mixture over the yams. Stir until combined thoroughly. Add in cinnamon and nutmeg. Transfer to a pie pan, actually any baking dish will do. Oven to Table is perfect here. Bake for about 15 minutes. Then remove, put mini marshmallows on top to cover, and raise the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes to brown the marshmallows. Don’t let it burn.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

photo 3 (7) photo 2 (9)This is my go to recipe for the creamiest mashed potatoes around. I make them a few times a year and mostly on the holidays. Occasionally I’ll whip them up for dinner . They are rich and delicious and just the way mashed potatoes ought to be. I’d like to tell you that I don’t use butter and cream but I do. These are pretty easy to make, all I would say is to buy a good potato masher they come in pretty handy for a lot of other uses as well ( great for egg salad) .  I like to work with Yukon Gold Potatoes. This recipe is for 5 lbs. and feeds about 10 – 12 people , just perfect for a holiday dinner. These are my Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes.

* see also Mashed Potato Casserole with Sour Cream and Chives for another way to go.

Ingredients:

5 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes or Russet Potatoes

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1 8 oz. package of Cream Cheese, softened

1/2 to 3/4 cups half and half

1 /2 to 1 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt ( more to taste) I used at least 1 teaspoon you’ll have to taste for yourself.

1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed black pepper. ( more or less to taste)

Directions:

Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size.

In a large enough pot to cook all of the potatoes fill pot with cold water to cover the potatoes. I bring to a boil and cook for about 30 – 35 minutes. When potatoes are cooked through, a fork should easily slide into the potatoes without resistance, potatoes should be soft but not falling apart.

Drain the potatoes in a colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot back on the stove. Mash the potatoes with masher over very low heat, allowing the steam to escape, before adding the other ingredients.

Turn off the stove and add 1 1/2 sticks of butter, an 8 oz. package of cream cheese and about 1/2 cup of half and half. Mash, mash and mash away.

Add about 1/2 teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

Stir well and place in a medium-sized baking dish and taste for salt and pepper. I ended up using at least a teaspoon of salt, and a bit more pepper.  Place a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350 degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes have warmed through.

* if making a day or two in advance–place potatoes in baking dish,  leave covered in fridge. Take it out of the fridge about 2 – 3 hours before heating up to bring to room temperature. Place your butter pats on top and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 1/2 hour or so till completely warmed through.

*

The Stuffing that Will Be on Our Table

I made this recipe for the first time Thanksgiving 2011 and it is now the only Stuffing I make.  I found it in a Barefoot Contessa cookbook, loved all of the ingredients and thought it was delicious. I know there a lot of stuffings out there and unfortunately  this one is not vegetarian  This year I will be adding a vegetarian stuffing to my table so be on the look-out for that recipe.

I don’t cook my stuffing in the turkey. I make it ahead of time and cook it in a buttered/sprayed baking dish the day of.

Enjoy and Happy Cooking with Candi

Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup diced dried figs, stems removed

3/4 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup Calvados or brandy (I used Calvados, bought the bottle last year)

2  yellow onions, diced (approx. 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1 cup (3 stalks) celery, diced about 1/2 inch

1 lb. pork sausage (I do 1/2 sweet and 1/2 hot. Feel free to substitute any kind of sausage you would like. Try to get the butcher to take it out of casing for you. It’s one less thing to do.)

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (please don’t leave this out)

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (put in oven at 400 for about 5 minutes and watch them!)

3 cups herb-seasoned stuffing mix –I use Pepperidge Farm Brand

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 extra large egg, beaten

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place the dried figs and cranberries in a small saucepan and pour in the Calvados and 1/2 cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat, add the onions and celery and saute until vegetables are softened and onions are translucent (don’t burn them.) Add the sausage, crumbling it as you go. Continue to saute, stirring frequently and breaking up sausage. Keep cooking for about 10 minutes, until cooked and browned up. Add the figs and cranberries with their liquid, the chopped rosemary, and pine nuts, and cook until all ingredients come together, for a couple of minutes. Scrape up and remove all the brown bits with a wooden spoon.

Place the stuffing mix in a large bowl. Add the sausage mixture, chicken stock, beaten egg, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and mix well. (This can be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator overnight, which is what I do. It’s just too much to do the day of.)

I put the stuffing in a well-sprayed, slightly buttered (optional), baking (gratin) dish. If you put this in the preheated over, you will likely cook it for at least 45 minutes and probably more like an hour to two hours if it’s doubled.  I also stir frequently while it is cooking, and then let it go for the last 15 minutes and it browns up. Taste for Salt and Pepper.

obviously if you are doubling this recipe you will need to use a large (very) frying pan. Or you can just do it in batches. You will need a very large pan to cook it up in though. You need to spread it out while it cooks so it cooks through. Once it is cooked you can always put it in a pretty baking dish and as it heats up just mix it through every once in a while so top doesn’t burn and bottom won’t be soggy.

I know everyone thinks that their stuffing is the best, but if made properly this one is absolutely amazing!

*This will probably serve at least 8 as one of many sides, but feel free to double.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Penne Bake

IMG_9874IMG_9875I love pumpkin as you all well know by now. That’s why it’s odd that I only make it in the fall and mostly only on Thanksgiving. I suppose that’s what keeps the ingredient so special plus it’s hard to find the pumpkin puree at the supermarket after Thanksgiving. I always buy a few extra cans of pumpkin so when that pumpkin urge hits I am ready.

I like to have a pasta dish every year at my Thanksgiving dinner.  This year I am making this delicious baked pumpkin penne. I am going to make it on Monday and freeze it without putting the mozzarella cheese on top.  I will take it out of freezer Wednesday night and Thursday will  put cheese on top and bake till bubbly , you’ll want to make certain that it is completely defrosted and room temperature before putting it in the oven.  I will keep aluminum foil on it to re-heat and take off foil for last 20 minutes or so till it gets slightly brown.   It should start bubbling and put a fork right in the middle to test for readiness. If it needs more time and is getting too browned put foil back on and continue heating it up. You will cook it at 350 degrees as directions state.

One of the best things about baked pasta dishes is that they freeze so well. Making them some of the easiest dishes to prepare ahead. This whole thing including chopping up sage took maybe 1/2 hour to prep. My kind of dish!

as a side dish it will serve about 10-12, as a main dish figure about 6-8 depending on your eaters

Ingredients:

1 lb. box of penne pasta, cooked and drained well

1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling

3 – 4  cups shredded mozzarella, divided , I used about 3 cups in pasta and another 1 cup on top. ( 2 packages 8 oz. shredded cheese) you’ll have a little left over

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped or 2 teaspoons dried sage

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine cooked penne, pumpkin,  2  cup- 3 cups mozzarella, heavy cream, sage, salt and garlic powder. Stir to combine. Taste for salt.

Transfer mixture to a greased or well sprayed 3 quart baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella.

Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and melted. Since I was freezing I pulled it out after 20 minutes, cooled it down and wrapped it tightly and put in freezer.