What’s for dinner?

Whenever I grumble about coming up with something to make for dinner I should consider my grandma. She made 20 meals a week. Seriously.

I’ve gotten in a rut with making the same old stuff and if I don’t like the idea of the old stuff then we starve. Ok, not really. We end up spending money on some so-so take out. So I’ve been trying to find new dinner recipes.

Pleasing Matthew with a new recipe is like trying to get five stars out of the NYT food critic – nearly impossible. But folks he really liked this one – most likely because cream and bacon were involved.

Bacon and Butternut Pasta, Cooking Light, January/February 2012
* The only ingredient I deviated from was creme fraiche. Emma was launching herself out of the grocery cart so I used cooking cream I found near the cream cheese instead of hunting around for creme fraiche. It worked just fine.

The ingredients:

  • 5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 12 ounces uncooked ziti (short tube-shaped pasta), campanile, or other short pasta
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 2 bacon slices
  • 2 cups vertically sliced onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese

The preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Combine squash and oil in a large bowl; toss well. Arrange squash mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until squash is tender.
3. Cook pasta 7 minutes or until almost al dente, omitting salt and fat. Add kale to pan during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta mixture.
4. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
5. Bring 1 3/4 cups broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Combine remaining 1/4 cup broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to broth. Cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir in crème fraîche.
6. Combine squash, pasta mixture, bacon, onion mixture, and sauce in a large bowl; toss gently. Place pasta mixture in a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned.

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