Truffle Oil Butternut Squash, Broccoli and Black Bean Tortilla Lasagna

I think I’m on a roll. Not to brag, but this little creation…jackpot.

As I sit here typing this, I’m a few margaritas into the start of an amazing three day birthday celebration for both my sister Brooke and me. Her birthday is the 22nd (“today” by the time this post is published) and mine is the 24th (Friday). I drove to Orlando to be with her and my grandparents for a few days this week since I have some time off between jobs.

Best decision ever.

Brooke completes me. Yes, I have a husband who truly is my better half. But the bond between sisters cannot be compared to anything else. Being able to celebrate our birthdays basically back-to-back is the best. We are soaking in all of the short time we have together, so I’m going to wrap this up fairly quickly today. 
These layers you see? They are layers of soft flour tortilla, melty Colby-jack cheese, and wholesome veggies roasted in sinful white truffle oil. 

Are you sold yet? Maybe I should mention this meal is “man approved’ too. Does that help? One of my biggest challenges in the kitchen is making something both Greg and I will enjoy. Sometimes that means getting extra creative in the kitchen to use what we have on hand without giving into the temptation of a frozen pizza just because anything else is too complicated. But this? Yes! Even Greg loved it. Maybe I should also mention I’m putting the word “love” in Greg’s mouth. He doesn’t often say he loves something, so I may be exaggerating. BUT! He did go back for seconds and help himself to leftovers the next day without me needing to ask. That, my friend, is saying a lot. 

If this vegetable and bean combination wasn’t delicious enough on its own, you can be sure the white truffle oil will make all the difference. I have never cooked with the heavenly substance before, but knew how amazing it is thanks to the life changing mac and cheese. It takes the meal to another level and will satisfy any appetite. Birthday, non-birthday, weekday, weekend…whatever day it may be, the day calls for a vegetables roasted in truffle oil then layered in cheese and tortillas. 
Can I get an “Amen!”?

Truffle Oil Butternut Squash, Broccoli and Black Bean Tortilla Lasagna

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:
6 small tortillas, cut in half and divided
1 medium butternut squash – peeled, seeded and diced (about 3 cups)
3 cups broccoli florets
1 teaspoon white truffle oil
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup mined jalapeno
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 ounces shredded Colby jack cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 9×9 inch dish with nonstick spray and set aside. Also line a cookie sheet with foil and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine diced butternut squash, broccoli, truffle oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, sage and rosemary. Stir until all ingredients are well distributed. Add this mixture to the foil-lined cookie sheet, cover with another sheet of foil, and bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until vegetables become lightly browned. Remove from heat. Turn oven temperature down to 350 degrees.
3. While veggies are cooking, combine black beans, jalapeno, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cayenne pepper in a small-medium bowl. When veggies are finished roasting, combine them with the black bean mixture in a medium bowl. Stir well.
4. Spread out six of the tortilla halves evenly on the bottom of the 9×9 inch pan. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the shredded cheese on top. Add half of the butternut squash/broccoli/black bean mixture. Layer the remaining six tortilla halves on top of that, followed by 1/3 of the cheese, the rest of the vegetable mixture, and finally the last of the cheese. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for about five minutes. Slice in squares and serve hot.

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Roasted Carrot, Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

There are officially less than three months until my wedding. WHAT?! That is insane. Most of the planning is done, just some little things here and there to finalize. But you know what is super annoying right now? Postage.

I really want and need to get the invites out like, yesterday. I sent Greg to the post office to get postcard stamps for the RSVP cards but they only had apples. I do love apples, but not on my wedding postage. On the bright side, at least Greg was smart enough to know this was not okay and didn’t buy them. So I’ve been looking online and I don’t think wedding postcard stamps exist. At least not for face value. I don’t want to spend $1 for each customized one. That is insane.

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Now that the wedding countdown begins with, “two months and ___ days,” it’s time to get serious about wedding body shape! More importantly, honeymoon shape. Did I mention we’re going to Maui?! Well, we are. We just about have everything booked for our Hawaiian getaway.

I like to think I do a pretty good job of eating a balanced diet on a regular basis, with the occasional weekend indulgences. But it’s easy to get a little too comfortable with the comfort foods during cold winter days.

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A hot, filling, and somewhat spicy soup like this does the trick of satisfying my belly, while keeping me on track and ready for Hawaii!

I’ll just be daydreaming about another cup of this soup and maybe the postcard stamps I need will magically appear.

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Because that makes sense.

Roasted Carrot, Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
(Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray, Jan/Feb 2013)

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced (about half of a medium squash)
1 sweet potato, diced
1/2 pound carrots, sliced (about 25 baby carrots
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese for topping, if desired (about 1 tablespoon per cup of soup)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lay squash, sweet potato and carrots on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil and gently toss everything to evenly coat with oil. Roast about 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables begin to brown.
2. Add roasted vegetables to a large saucepan over high heat. Add water and vegetable broth. Bring to boil then turn heat to low. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes.
3. Pour contents of saucepan into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add to a clean saucepan over low heat. Stir in sage, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Ladle soup into individual bowls and top with a tablespoon of crumbled goat cheese immediately before serving.

*Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to one week.

~About 65 calories per cup~

Butternut Squash Baked Ziti

Friday, Friday, Friday. The day I have been waiting for since Monday (…Monday, Monday). What else is new, right? I’m pretty sure I say this every week, but what can I say. I love my weekends.
I have a busy couple of weekends in a row starting today, with a week-long Caribbean vacation thrown into the mix in just about two weeks. Ahhhhhhhh! 
So besides daydreaming about the trip, I’ve been in the kitchen whipping up a lot of new recipes this week too. I’ve already showed you the sweeter things – cookies! But I made a savory dinner to keep everything balanced.

I bought my first butternut squash at the Daniel Island Farmers’ Market last week and spent a good three or four days brainstorming the best way to use it. I finally decided on a pasta bake. I researched a few recipes, but in the end came up with my own concoction. 

The version I made could have used more cheese, but I was trying to keep it as healthy as possible. So if you want to use this recipe, just make note of that. Otherwise it was great, especially with a side of steamed broccoli florets on the side that I ended up mixing right into the pasta. 

Butternut Squash Baked Ziti
Makes about 4-5 servings
Ingredients:
3/4 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups chopped)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

2 1/2 cups dry ziti pasta
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 cup shredded Colby jack cheese (divided)
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup panko style breadcrumbs
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil. Add chunks of squash to the sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Top with chili powder, salt and pepper. Use spatula or tongs to gently toss. Bake for about 40 minutes, removing half way through to flip squash. (When finished baking, you will want to turn oven down to 350 degrees to bake the pasta shortly after)
2. While squash is baking, boil pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Add butter and 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Stir until butter and cheese is melted. Add butternut squash and stir again to evenly distribute.
3. Pour pasta into 9-inch pan. Top with remaining 3/4 cup cheese, followed by breadcrumbs. 
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until breadcrumbs become golden brown.