Monthly Archives: November 2012

Butternut Squash Bowtie Pasta Bake

It is my opinion that butternut squash is one of the most versatile of vegetables in all the land. You can roast it, bake a pie with it, use in a salad, in a soup, in muffins or in a rich and savory pasta bake.

The pasta bake is no joke. I think I made it once a month last fall/winter.

It has shallots which are one of my favorites.

BN squash is such a pretty color too.

The roux helps thicken it up and makes it rich.

And the pancetta adds a great smokey flavor.

A potato masher is a great way to break down the squash after you roast it. Otherwise, you could use a large fork.

Milk and marscapone cheese create a decadent sauce.

The green sage leaves add a burst of color.

Bubbly cheese tops it off!

Topped with crisp, crumbled pancetta.




1 pound peeled and cubed butternut squash (you can peel it yourself and end up with a pound or buy it already cubed)

1/4 teaspoon  nutmeg

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 shallot, diced

1 tablespoon flour

4 oz mascarpone cheese

1 cup milk

1/2 pound bowtie pasta (i used barilla plus)

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

olive oil for roasting squash

fresh sage leaves

sea salt

freshly grated pepper

cooking spray

10 paper thin slices pancetta (you could use crisp bacon if you didn’t have pancetta)

Instructions and Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl,  toss cubed squash with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Lay cubed squash on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast for 40 minutes. Remove squash from oven and put into a bowl. Mash with a potato masher.

Line Pancetta on the parchment lined baking sheet and cook for 10-12 minutes until crisp. Remove from oven and drain on a paper towel.

Prepare pasta by cooking according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add butter and shallots. Whisk until the butter and the shallots start to brown. Immediately whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add milk, mascarpone and squash mash, then whisk until combined. Add nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add pasta to the mixture in the pan. Toss to coat.

Spray an 8 or 9 inch casserole dish. Fill with pasta mixture. Top with grated mozzarella and parmesan   Arrange 6-8 fresh sage leaves on top. Bake 25-30 minutes until cheese is golden and bubbling. Serve and top with crumbled Pancetta.

Sloppy Joes and Roasted Okra

These messy sandwiches are a childhood classic with a homemade twist. An old family tradition courtesy of mi madre. She’s been cooking up sloppy joes as long as I can remember. I am not sure if this is her exact recipe but I wanted to give credit where credit is due.  We didn’t rely on Manwich back in the day. Oh no. I’ve actually never had Manwich  but I am sure these are better.

When you hear the phrase “Sloppy Joes” do you immediately get Adam Sandler’s SNL song stuck in your head? Just me?

You start out by browning ground beef with onion. I have made them multiple times with ground turkey and they are just as delicious.

The secret ingredient for these bad boys is gumbo. Yes gumbo. If you don’t have any leftovers you can use a can of gumbo soup. I suggest Campbell’s Chicken Gumbo.

Sampling. So important and the biggest advantage to being the cook!

Another comfort food recipe in the books.

If you are looking for a satisfying side dish for these beauties try roasted okra.

Okra is such an underrated vegetable in my opinion and it seems like it is always fried.

All you need is okra, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes on 400 degrees. They are the shape of fries and you can eat them with your hands but they are green and good for you too!



1 lb lean ground beef (or ground turkey)

1 small onion, finely diced

10 oz leftover gumbo (or 10 oz can of Campbell’s Chicken Gumbo Soup)

1/3 cup ketchup

2 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard

2 teaspoons dried parsley, optional (but not optional if you are taking pictures 🙂 )

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon salt

10 grinds of freshly ground pepper

Instructions and Directions:

Over medium heat brown ground beef or turkey and diced onion in a large skillet. There should be no need to drain if you use lean ground beef. After the meat is no longer pink, add remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to low and cook until mixture thickens. About 5-7 minutes. Serve on hamburger buns and with roasted okra!

Roasted Okra: 

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tops off of 1 pound (approximately 35 pods) of okra. In a large bowl toss okra with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and 10-15 grinds of fresh pepper. Bake on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet for 20-25 minutes.

Marche-East Nashville-Review

I was lucky enough to get to go to Marche once again this week with a friend of mine. Marche is one of my favorite Nashville restaurants and I am showing them off so that they might be one of your favorites too!

It happened to be their 6th birthday when we were there too so Happy Birthday Marche! Stick around!

(this lovely picture was not taken with my hungry apple. i borrowed it from the internet)

They have a simplistic  menu that changes on the 1st of every month. I anticipate seeing what they will come up with each time.  Nothing is overdone but everything is big on taste.

I started out with a beer I have never tried from Stone,  it was called Levitation and it was delicious! It was a really hoppy amber ale (I am no beer expert mind you) and it was perfect for a fall dinner.

Next up was a Shaved Squash Salad with pumpkin seeds, goat cheese and cranberries.  It was straight forward and light.

The Mushroom Agnolotti (stuffed pasta) with marscapone cheese and sage butter was really rich and the pasta was perfectly pillowy (is that a word?).

The star of the meal though was the Red Wine Braised Short Rib. It was served with polenta, Brussels sprouts and fried shallots. It was full of flavor and really to die for. I may have to have it again before the month is up.

If you get a chance to try Marche during the month of November I would highly recommend their current menu but I am sure whatever they bring in for December and 2013 will be equally delicious!

If I were rating this meal on a scale of say 1-10 apples 🙂 I would give this meal an 8. Thanks Marche!

Roasted Salmon

Do you ever want to try a new food but you don’t know what to do with it? That is the way I have always felt about lentils.  Not so fast! Don’t go anywhere yet. You don’t even know anything about them yet!

I know (especially in green) that they aren’t the prettiest legume but it turns out my hunch was spot on. They are hearty and delicious! And as luck would have it they go great with this salmon. I am actually not a huge salmon fan but this is one of my favorite ways to make it.

In addition to being healthful this recipe has complex flavors that really play nicely together without being overwhelming. It is  a great way to start out a week where perhaps you indulged all weekend. I wouldn’t know anything about weekends like this but I hear they can be quite excessive.

It’s fast too. Did I mention that? I did have to go to The  Fresh Market to find canned lentils. It would take much longer if you had to soak the lentils and such.

So if you haven’t ever had lentils but you wonder about them too, try this. You won’t be sorry.

Roasted Salmon with Lentils

Serves 4


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced small

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

4 skinless salmon fillets, 4 to 6 ounces each

sea salt and  freshly ground pepper

2-14 ounces cans of lentils, rinsed and drained

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Salt and pepper

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Instructions and Directions: 

Heat broiler, with rack set 8 inches from heat. In a large broiler-proof skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cumin and cook, stirring, until onion is golden, 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, rub mustard on salmon and season with salt and pepper.Add lentils to skillet, stir, and season with salt and pepper. Nestle salmon in lentils and broil until opaque throughout, 5 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Adapted from Everyday Food

Buffalo Chicken Pizza with McDougal’s Gold Suace

Buffalo Sauce. It’s not just for wings and dips any more!

This pizza has the best of the wing experience in each bite. Add bread, add cheese, replace celery with green onion.  Then prepare to excite your taste buds.

For you local readers, my favorite wing sauce comes from McDougal’s Chicken.  McDougal’s has lots of different delicious sauces but the one I used for this pizza is called Gold.  8 sides of gold actually (or 1/2 a cup) . 7  for the pizza and 1 for dipping the crust.

They should sell this sauce by the bottle because I know what you’re thinking. Am I really supposed to go in this restaurant and order 8 sides of gold sauce to go?  It seems like it would be embarrassing but it isn’t really.  Actually that’s a lie. I am not sure since I have ever actually bought it myself.

By the way. If you haven’t eaten here you really must go.  Their food is so fresh. Their chicken is well seasoned and perfectly crispy. They don’t have freezers and they make their french fries fresh every day. Which brings me to their fries. They are so good. Hopefully they have won awards for them because the awards would be well deserved.  They have great beers on tap too. And get this, at the end of the meal….you get free ice cream.

I don’t know why you’re still reading this. You should be at McDougal’s.

*After writing this post I found out that McDougal’s in Franklin has closed. However, the Hillsboro Village location is still open*



1 Large Publix pizza dough (or dough of your choice)

1 Pound boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1/2 Tablespoon sea salt

10 grinds freshly ground pepper, plus more for sprinkling crust

1/2  Cup wing sauce (I used McDougal’s but you could also use Frank’s or your favoirte)

6 oz Monterrey pepper jack cheese (or more if desired), shredded

5 green onions, sliced small

1 pat cold butter

3 tablespoons of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions and Directions:

Marinate chicken in olive oil, salt and pepper. Return chicken to the fridge to marinate.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat grill to medium-high heat. Grill chicken for 4-5 minutes. Turn over and reduce grill to medium-low. Grill for 4-5 minutes longer or until chicken is cooked through but still juicy. Let chicken rest on a plate covered in foil until it is cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, spread the dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8 minutes and remove.

Cut chicken into small cubes. In a bowl, toss the chicken with the wing sauce. Then spread the chicken onto the partially baked dough. Next, top with cheese and green onion.

Bake on 375 for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling.

Remove pizza from the oven and set oven to broil.

Run the cold pat of butter along the pizza crust, this will help hold the pepper and Parmesan cheese to the crust. Sprinkle the pepper (to taste) and the 3 tablespoons of freshly grated cheese around the rim of the pizza.

Return to the oven for approximately 1 minute until cheese is bubbling and Parmesan crust has browned.                          (Do not leave unattended! This part happens quickly!!)

Let the pizza rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Top with more Parm, dip in ranch or blue cheese dressing if desired.

Weekend Food Finds and Kale Chips

Did you have a great weekend? Do anything special?

We took an early morning trip to East Nashville on Saturday  to try out Barista Parlor. (They are also on Facebook) We heard that they served the Stumptown coffee we were so fond of in Portland. So, off we went. This place did not disappoint.   It has a great vibe and a super nice staff.

How cute is this coffee tray?

They had fluffy biscuits and a great atmosphere too. We will return for sure.

We also got a chance to check out the new Gus’ Fried Chicken. Gus’ is out of Memphis and  I have been eating at the Mason, TN location since college.  The new spot has a few more side dishes  available and a larger variety of beer and although the kitchen is setup just a little differently than we are used to, the chicken is still tasty. The staff at the Nashville/Brentwood location was friendly and attentive. Check them out!

We found another cool coffee spot a little closer to home this weekend too. The Good Cup is located in the Grassland area and is a great spot to meet up with friends or get some work done. They also make a good sausage biscuit.

(Farm Burger-Fried Egg. Yum!)

Sunday night we went back to East Nashville to meet some friends for dinner at The Pharmacy Burger Parlor.

These burgers were big and tasty and the service was fast. The Farm Burger was our favorite and the beer was great too.

Have you ever tried making Kale chips? They are a delicious, healthful snack.

All you do is cut the leaves from the stems. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Bake on parchment paper lined pan at 275 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until desired crispiness. For best and most crispy chip eat within 2 days of making.

Hope your Monday is off to a great start!

Sara’s Simple Spaghetti

Forgive me, I couldn’t resist the title with the S’s and all.

Spaghetti is my ultimate comfort food. It always makes me feel cozy. The smell of it cooking, the taste and the way it sticks to your ribs, all leave me feeling satisfied.

 Sometimes I hear from people that they don’t have a good homemade spaghetti recipe so they just brown ground beef and add a jar of sauce. Well that changes today! This isn’t much more difficult than opening that jar and it is so much tastier!

On this chilly night I took the opportunity to drink the bottle of wine that I brought back with us from our trip to Portland  It was as good as I remembered! Maybe better!

The sauce line up:  Celery salt is the not-so-secret ingredient.

Some people don’t like mushrooms but I am a  fungi fanatic!

Tomato paste thickens things up but can sometimes be difficult to get out of the can. To combat this problem I open both ends of the can and just push it from one side to the other.

I love sampling spaghetti sauce while it cooks and ever since I was young this has always been fun to do using a measuring cup. I have no idea why but I don’t question it.  Don’t skip this step.                    I’m watching you.

Do you mix your spaghetti together with the pasta or eat it with the sauce on top of the pasta? Our house is 50/50. I like the sauce on top of the pasta so I get a good amount of sauce with each bite.

Since I am not much of a baker I usually take help in that department. Alexia all natural frozen products help with my shortcoming. Have you tried their garlic bread? It is simple and has a great crust as well as a soft chewy interior.  It comes in a twin pack so it works out if you don’t want to use it all at one time. Alexia also makes great bake-able fries and onion rings. Check them out! Disclosure: Alexia has no idea who I am 😦 I just really like their products.

Top with freshly grated Parmesan!

P.S. This spaghetti is great the next day too!

Sara’s Simple Spaghetti

A Hungry Apple Original

Serves 4-5


1 pound lean ground beef (you could also use turkey)

1 small onion, finely diced

1 8 oz package mushrooms (i used button) (optional)

1 14.5 oz can of petite diced tomatoes

1 6 oz can of tomato paste

1 cup water

2 small beef bouillon cubes

2 tsp garlic powder (or 3 cloves minced garlic)

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp sea salt + more for seasoning pasta water

1/2 tsp celery salt

15 grinds fresh pepper

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 pound pasta of your choice, i use wheat angel hair

freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions and directions: 

In a large skillet or saucepan brown the lean ground been with the onion. The meat should be lean enough that you don’t have to drain the fat. When the meat is no longer pink add the mushrooms and cook until they have lost their their water content or 5-7 minutes. Add the ingredients from tomatoes through red pepper flakes. Stir ingredients until well combined and simmer on low for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile heat a large pot of water for pasta and season liberally with salt. Boil pasta according to package directions or until al dente.

Top (or toss) pasta with sauce. Top with Parmesan cheese.

Stuffed Acorn Squash and Happy November!

Happy November!

The first day of the month is always my favorite day of any month. So many things to look forward to and so many meals to plan!

Like a lot of people I love the usual things that come with fall, like the leaves, the brisk temperatures and football. However, as you can imagine my favorite thing about fall is the food! In particular, all things pumpkin and squash.

When I stumbled upon this recipe in this month’s issue of Everyday food, I tore it out immediately! (Don’t worry, the magazine was mine.)

For some reason to me, stuffed veggies look complicated and elegant but these are really quite simple.

First you just cut the squash in half and remove the “guts”.

I find the simplest way to do this is with a grapefruit spoon.

Next you line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and roast the squash which just involves your oven, olive oil, salt and pepper. That’s easy enough.

Meanwhile, you make the rice to stuff into the squash. Now the kitchen is smelling divine.

When the rice is ready, stuff the squash and top with Parmesan cheese and broil in the oven for two minutes.

Now it’s ready to eat! Easiest when eaten in a bowl. Otherwise you’ll be chasing that squash all over the plate! Trust me!


Adapted from Everyday Food (Serves 4)


2 acorn squash (1 pound each), halved crosswise, seeded and bottoms trimmed to lie flat if desired

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 pound mushrooms your choice (i used button, portobella and cremini)

1 medium yellow onion, finely diced

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup long grain white rice

2 cups vegetable or chicken broth

sea salt and freshly grated pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Instructions and directions: 

Heat oven to 450 degrees. On a foil lined baking sheet drizzle cut sides of squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season squash with salt and pepper. Cover tightly with foil and roast until tender 35-45 minutes.  (Mine took 45)

Meanwile in a medium straight sided skillet, heat remaining oil over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, onion and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until mushrooms are golden. Add garlic. Saute 1 minute. Add rice and broth and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove squash from the oven.

Turn oven on broil.

Carefully scoop out 2 to 3 tablespoons of flesh from each squash have and stir into rice. Season rice with salt and pepper to taste. Divide rice mixture among the squash halves. Sprinkle each half with Parmesan and broil for 2 minutes.