I have a love/hate relationship with my internal clock. On one hand, my inner clock makes it easier to wake up at my regular time on work days. I generally pop right up when my alarm buzzes at 5:45 every morning. On the other hand, it makes sleeping in on weekends virtually impossible.
This is how it usually goes. At the end of my workweek and I’m so excited to have the upcoming day off. I can picture sleeping in until 10, waking up to the daylight streaming in my window, birds chirping, and I burrow deeper into the covers because, guess what? I don’t have to get out of bed. I don’t have to be anywhere, or do anything. Breakfast and tea in bed is a thing, and I can’t wait for it.
The reality? I wake up at 5:45 like I always do, in the dark, listening to the sound of traffic and waiting for the alarm to go off. It doesn’t, because it’s the weekend, so maybe I can force myself to grab a few more hours of sleep. I fall back into a weird, groggy sleep and wake up at 7:00 to a puppy burrowing into the covers beside me (he’s allowed on the bed on Saturday and Sunday mornings and he wastes no time hopping up and into the covers). He wakes me up while he snuggles in and gets cozy. Then, I lay there, boyfriend snoring beside me, puppy snoring in between us, and I inevitably get up.
Sigh. No breakfast in bed, no tea and reading under the covers.
You know it’s bad when sleeping in until 7 in the morning is considered “sleeping in”. Oh well. Getting up early keeps my schedule in check, even on weekends, and it lets me get things done around the house that might not get done in the afternoon hours.
Side note: do any of you guys have dogs that like to sleep in? It’s the strangest, greatest thing. I swear, Parker doesn’t even have a bladder. If there’s a warm bed to be cuddled in, he could go all day without having to pee!
Today is one of those days. Instead of getting up, though, I grabbed my laptop and decided to write a blog post. It’s a little hard to type with Parker’s head on my tummy, but I’ll make do.
This is a recipe that knocked my socks off. I was a little skeptical when I started making it, maybe even a little worried. I didn’t know how it was going to turn out, so it was an experiment. Turns out, it was a really, really good experiment.
I semi-based this sauce on the filling Finn uses in this enchilada recipe. The first time I tried her enchiladas, I knew we would be great friends. She simmers some butternut squash with some chicken, beans, and spices until it breaks down into a sort of creamy, hearty sauce. Whenever I make those enchiladas I always end up eating the filling right out of the skillet because it’s so good.
I was craving it one day, but didn’t want to go to the store to buy tortillas. So, I checked in my pantry to see what I could use. Quinoa? Naw. Pasta? Heck yes. Carbs are some of my closest friends.
While I did base the sauce off of Finn’s recipe, I did change some of the ingredient ratios.
Once this creamy, hearty sauce was made, I tossed it with some pasta, covered it in cheese, and baked it in the oven. The result is a hearty pasta bake, or casserole, with al dente noodles covered in a cheesy, creamy, healthy butternut squash sauce. If you like butternut squash, let’s be friends and eat this straight outta the pan.
The best part about this casserole (besides the flavours and textures!) is that it’s easy to prepare ahead of time. If you plan on serving this to guests, you can prepare the dish and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve. Then, simply reheat in the oven and eat!
Also, this is so good the next day as leftovers, once the flavours have all melded together overnight. In fact, I have some sitting in my fridge right now, and I just might crawl out of bed for a pasta-bake-breakfast. Creamy carbs for breakfast might make up for waking up so early on a day off.
|Butternut Squash, Black Bean & Chicken Pasta Bake|| |
- 1 large onion, diced
- Olive oil
- 3 cups vegetable stock, or water
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1½ tsp chili powder
- ¼ tsp red chili flakes
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 540ml can black beans, rinsed and drained
- Pre-cooked shredded chicken, about 2 cups
- 2 cups applewood smoked cheddar
- ½ cup mozzarella
- 450g rigatoni pasta
- Salsa, to serve (optional)
- Sour cream, to serve (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 13x9-inch (or equivalent) casserole dish; set aside.
- In a large skillet, saute onion in oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add vegetable stock and butternut squash; cover and cook, stirring often, for 20-30 minutes until squash is soft and begins to break down. Add a bit of water if necessary and mash with a fork or potato masher as you cook - you really want the squash to break down into a sort of sauce. If it's too thick, add more water, if it's too thin, simmer to evaporate some of the water.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Once squash has broken down, stir in cumin, chili powder, red chili flakes, salt, and pepper.
- Optional step: use an immersion blender (or transfer to a blender or food processor) and blend the sauce to completely smooth it out. If you don't mind a chunkier sauce, skip this step, however, if you want a silky, creamy smooth sauce, blending will achieve this.
- Stir in beans, chicken, and ¾ of the cheese. Toss squash mixture with pasta, then transfer to casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
- Serve warm with salsa and sour cream, if desired.