BUTTERNUT SQUASH & BACON STUFFED SHELLS

Hello Lovely,

Let me start this post by saying, I really hate making stuffed shells. They are by far one of the most tedious recipes I can think of. Having to cradle al dente pasta shells, while stuffing them without tearing them is just not my idea of fun. That’s why there’s only one other stuffed shell recipe on this blog. I made this recipe about two weeks ago during the week for lunch. The original calls for sausage, but I had more bacon and wanted to quickly use it before it went bad in the fridge. This recipe has a lot of steps so I would recommend saving it for a Sunday dinner.

Despite the hassle, it’s very delicious and filling. Other than the carbs in the pasta, it’s still a relatively healthy dish that is sure to give everyone perfect Autumn feelings.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH & BACON STUFFED SHELLS.jpg

BUTTERNUT SQUASH & BACON STUFFED SHELLS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

  • 1 onion, sliced

  • ¾ cup milk

  • ¾ cup vegetable broth

  • 1 pound bacon

  • 2 cups spinach

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 1 pound jumbo shells, cooked al dente

  • 15 ounces ricotta

  • 1 egg

  • ¼ cup parmesan, shredded

  • Additional parmesan, shredded

  • Olive oil

  • Salt & pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Arrange onion and butternut squash in an even layer on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Roast for 40 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, cook bacon over medium heat. When bacon is mostly browned, add spinach and garlic. Cook until spinach is wilted and remove from heat.

  4. Place roasted butternut squash and onion in a food processor.

  5. Pulse until a smooth puree forms. Allow to cool. Stir in milk and vegetable broth. Pour butternut squash sauce into base of a 9x13 baking dish.

  6. In a large mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, parmesan, and egg. Add bacon and spinach into ricotta and stir until evenly distributed.

  7. Fill cooked pasta shells with 3-4 tablespoons of filling. Arrange shells in butternut squash sauce in the 9x13 baking dish.

  8. Bake for 30 minutes covered with aluminum foil followed by 15 minutes uncovered. Top with additional parmesan.

Campanelle with Shrimp & Mushrooms in White Wine Cream Sauce

Campanelle with Shrimp & Mushrooms in White Wine Cream Sauce

Earthy, delightful mushrooms are front and center in this seafood dish.  It’s hearty and deliciously interesting and affirms once again that mushrooms, seafood and pasta are great companions. The addition of a dry white wine to the sauce makes this indulgent dish too good to stick to one serving!

Read More

Salmon Pasta Salad

Hello Lovely,

Eating well is so important. Lately I just do not have the energy to cook or bake. Time isn't a factor but the creative energy and the physical energy are just....not...there! I had a week of meal prepping and while it helped me tremendously to cut down on time spent getting ready in the morning, it left me feeling drained. One of the things I was able to create before throwing in the towel was a delicious Salmon Pasta Salad!

I love easy pasta dishes and I had a salmon fillet in the freezer for weeks that I didn't want to go bad. So I thought, what about a pasta salad with Salmon? It was really easy to put together. If you thaw and marinate the salmon overnight, all you have to do in the morning, is grill it and boil the pasta. You could even save some of the marinade as a dressing for the pasta. So before I hop on a plane today for the annual VIVA conference tomorrow night, I thought I'd share this quick and easy lunch dish that anyone can make!

Salmon Pasta Salad.jpg

Salmon Pasta Salad

Serves 1 (simply double ingredients to serve more)

Ingredients

  • Salmon fillet thawed
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes 
  • 2 cups pasta of your choice (I used Rotini in lieu of Bow Tie pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 cup Kraft Raspberry vinaigrette
  • 1/8 cup Kraft Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • pinch of salt
  • grated cheese for topping

Directions

  1. Thaw salmon then mix the vinaigrette, seasoning, salt and olive oil in the salmon pouch. Allow to marinate overnight.
  2. Boil pasta according to directions on box, then drain.
  3. Saute the salmon in a skillet while the pasta cooks.
  4. Once pasta is complete, combine the noodles with the salmon, marinade and tomatoes in a dish. Feel free to add other items like corn, bacon or spinach. I just used what I had on hand because I was in a mad rush.
  5. Top with grated cheese and serve!
  6. Enjoy!
Salmon Pasta Salad 2.jpg

If you try this and any of my other recipes, don't forget to shout me out on Instagram by tagging @life_by_olivia or #lifebyolivia; or on Twitter at @lifebyolivia!

 

 

Easy pasta dinner

Hello lovely,

I don't like complicated. Relationships, hair and especially not food. I'm a busy girl who likes to keep things simple and affordable. You may have noticed in some of my recipes that I use the same spices over and over. My go to spices are garlic and pepper seasoning, Italian seasoning (when it's around) and Cajun seasoning. I never cook with salt or black pepper. Not even to salt the water for pasta (I feel like I just confessed to a culinary sin). 

I mentioned that while I was in London, we cooked most of our meals. When it was my turn to make dinner, I wanted something simple yet elegant (but still on a budget). It needed to have meat in it for my friend but he already used all of the chicken. So I got creative and set out to make the poor man's pasta (which almost became the name of this recipe).

Easy Pasta Dinner 1.jpg

I call it the poor man's pasta because I took the deli sliced turkey and added it to the pot. I added tomatoes for extra nutrients and colour and grabbed a piece of basil from the plant in the window sill as garnish. This dish is so easy there's really no need for a recipe.

Ingredients

  • Penne pasta
  • Deli sliced turkey or ham
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Grated cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk of your choice
  • Seasonings (I used garlic and pepper, and Italian blend)

Instructions

Simply boil your favourite pasta noodle according to the directions on the box and drain once complete.

Add your seasoning, sliced turkey or ham, tomatoes and milk. Stir until combined.

Top with grated cheese, serve and enjoy! It doesn't get any easier than that guys!

Wow your guests with this amazingly simple recipe the next time you're short on time and ingredients for dinner. And if you want to go the extra mile, you can even lightly sautee the deli meat and tomatoes before adding it to the pasta.

Easy Pasta Dinner 2.jpg

Chicken and Shrimp Stuffed Shells

Hello Lovely,

File this recipe under fancy dinner date ideas to impress your lover with! Also file this under, I've had this recipe sitting around since August and I'm only just remembering to share it! I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a Sunday morning, I had just come from church and I had to figure out what we were going to eat for dinner. I had the whole day to prepare something because my boyfriend didn't get off work until 6 but trust me, this is not one of those recipes that will keep you in the kitchen all day!

I made this recipe with some leftover ingredients we had, but still had to go to the food store for more shrimp (you could never have too much shrimp). Just because I was on vacation was no excuse for me to slack off in the kitchen. You know what they say, if you want something done right, do it yourself. I paired this with a glass of wine, and everything was complete! You can't really complain about a dish that covers all food groups. You've got your carbs, your meats, dairy (cheese) and of course veggies! I even used the spicy tomato sauce just for him even though tomato sauce and anything spicy are the worst things for me. He was a little ashamed to admit that he couldn't even finish his plate because it was so filling. He loved it so file this one under boyfriend approved! So if you're looking for a recipe to impress your sweetie with, keep on reading.

CHICKEN AND SHRIMP STUFFED SHELLS

INGREDIENTS

 

§  1 12 oz. box Jumbo Pasta Shells

§  15 oz. Ricotta Cheese

§  8 oz. Parmesan Cheese, Grated, Divided

§  1/2 cup Grated Romano Cheese

§  2 Tablespoons Minced Parsley

§  Salt And Pepper, to taste

§  2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

§  1 jar tomato sauce

§  2 lbs. cooked chicken breasts, chopped in small pieces

§  2 cups cooked shrimp

§  2 cups cooked mixed vegetables (I used a broccoli and carrot mix)

 

 

INSTRUCTIONS

 

Cook pasta shells for half the cooking time; make sure not to overcook. Drain and rinse in cool water. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix ricotta, half the Parmesan, Romano, salt and pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Stir until combined. Add half of the chicken and shrimp, to the cheese mix.

To assemble, coat the bottom of a baking dish with sauce. Fill each half-cooked shell with the cheese mixture. Place face down on the sauce. Top with vegetables and a little more chicken and shrimp. Repeat with shells until cheese mixture is gone. Top shells with remaining sauce. Sprinkle on extra Parmesan. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

They don't call these babies STUFFED shells for nothing! Enjoy!

Looking for more dinner ideas? Check out these recipes below!

Grilled Lemon Chicken Pasta

Love crispy garlic chicken and buttery parmesan noodles in a fresh lemon cream sauce?? You will love this quick and easy Grilled Lemon Chicken Pasta! I love the combo of light angel hair pasta with this fresh creamy lemon sauce. And the slightly crispy garlic chicken is the cherry on top! It’s so easy to make for a weeknight dinner, and all you need are a few fresh and simple ingredients. If you love lemon, chicken, and pasta, make this for dinner tonight! :)

Read More

Seafood Margarita Alfredo

Hey hey hey!

It's Tuesday, which means we survived Monday!

You know, after completing that workout, I felt so proud of myself, that I thought I deserved a treat. At first I was going to settle for a Peanut Butter sandwich, you know for protein. But then I remembered I was worth far more than that. And since Monday's are my usual pasta for dinner days, I began to fix some pasta. I was pouring the contents of the Alfredo Knorr's Pasta Sides into the pot, when I saw the back of it. You know how these things usually come with recommendations for how to spice up the meal and make it something really interesting? Well guess what was on the back! Chicken Margarita Alfredo! Immediately I knew I had to try this. But chicken can be so over-rated. Now seafood, that's the good stuff! And I just so happened to have some in the freezer.

What I love about this meal is that not only is it a one-pot meal, but it was ready in less than 10 minutes and cost less than $10 to make! Now that's economical! Last week, I bought a bag of something called seafood combination for only $5.67 (yes I remember the price) and it did not disappoint! With real pieces of shrimp, octopus and mussels, this was worth every penny! Knorrs pasta sides are $1.89 here and tomatoes really aren't costly. While I didn't have any Basil, I did have the broad Thyme leaves that one of the teachers gave me. I toasted some bread, sprinkled it with garlic and had a delicious 5 star meal all to myself! I even had leftovers for lunch today!

So if you're looking to impress your friends by saying you're having margarita alfredo, or if you just want to treat yourself to a restaurant quality meal at home, you've got to try this recipe!

SEAFOOD MARGARITA ALFREDO

Makes 2 servings

Cook Time: Under 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package Knorrs Pasta Sides Alfredo prepared according to directions
  • 1/8 cup tomato diced
  • 1/4 cup mushrooms diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen pre-cooked seafood mix
  • Basil to garnish (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese for topping (optional)
  • Two slices whole-wheat bread
  • Garlic and pepper seasoning or minced garlic

DIRECTIONS

  1. While pasta is cooking, add mushrooms and seafood mix. Remove from heat once pasta is tender.
  2. Sauce will be thin so allow for it sit for up to 5 minutes once heat is removed.
  3. Transfer your pasta to a dish. Top with tomatoes and basil. Add the parmesan cheese if you like it extra cheesy.
  4. Toast bread then spread either minced garlic or garlic and pepper seasoning on top. Use the minced garlic if you want a buttery feel, the seasoning if you like it dry.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

I hope you guys liked this recipe! Make sure to leave comments and ask questions if you decide to try the recipe. And of course, don't forget to invite your friends to subscribe to get super cool recipes and free printables!

XoX,

Olivia

Meatless Monday: Spaghetti with Coconut Tomato Sauce

Woo sa!

Hi Friends!

How ironic is it that making a post on what to do when you're having a bad day, here I am having a bad day. Well, morning. Nothing else has sucked so far. Here's what happened:

I was all excited to take a picture of my lunch to share with you guys today. I had everything prepared and was about to go out the back door, to get more sunlight on the back patio. I didn't realise that the alarm was still set so opening the door set off the alarm. I had to rush my put my stuff down, lock the door back (it's the only way it will stay closed) and try to turn the alarm off. In the process of putting my stuff down, I tripped over all of the detergant bottles and plastic bags my mum seems to leave laying in wake, just waiting for an accident. This of course caused all of my stuff to fall down, including my dish....which was porcelain.....and my FAVOURITE dish to eat out of. Nevermind that my cell phone also fell (and I'm still trying to keep a steady signal on it) and the food. But my favourite bowl absolutely shattered! You could ask anyone, I eat EVERYTHING out of this bowl! It was a beatiful square bowl and I can't even remember where I bought it from to replace it.

The fortunate part was that I had already separated what was for my lunch and what was for photo purposes. So after cussing to the moon and back over the loss of my favourite bowl, I threw away the broken pieces, got a new bowl, scooped everything up into the new bowl, re-garnished everything and cautiously proceeded outside to take the photo. (Hey the show must go on right)? It really was too pretty to not share (even if no one was going to be able to eat it). It hurt to have to throw it away when I was done, but at least I can share the recipe so that if I ever decide to make it again, I'll remember what I did (and what not to do when photographing it). And you can stare at food you may not believe is actually unedible.

But before I give you the recipe, here's how I actually got to make this. There were no leftovers from Sunday dinner and I needed something for lunch. I quickly decided to improvise with some spaghetti. I know that spaghetti isn't the most fabulous, high end meal, but when you're fridge is empty and so it your wallet, you've gotta improvise. I saw some leftover coconut milk and even though I despise the taste and smell of coconut (So why did I have it? Good question. Remember that Coconut Milk Leave in Conditioner I made? And the DIY Body Wash? Great. Glad we cleared that up) I immediately searched the internet for ways to use coconut milk as a sauce for spaghetti.

When I found one I liked (I was so lazy I just went with the first one I saw, I began.

It was so simple, and kinda pretty. I wasn't blown away by the flavours, but that could be due to not having any white onions. That may have done more for the flavour. But again, this was a whatever-I-have-left kinda sauce. I was sceptical about the coconut milk, but it really wasn't bad. Probably because I masked it with some almond milk. Still this is a great dairy free recipe (well it was until I sprinkled it with parmesean cheese. You know I like my cheese!) The coconut milk was a light addition to this sauce that kept the dish vegan and healthy! So here's the recipe!

Recipe Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Prego Marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (+ 1/4 cup almond milk- I only had that much left in the carton so I tossed that in too)
  • 2 Tablespoons margarine
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced (or 1 teaspoon pre-minced garlic)
  • 1/4 medium diced onion (I didn't have this so I use 1 tablespoon diced green onion but I would recommend combining the two)
  • 1 teaspoons white wine vinegar (I didn't have any but feel free to add it)
  • Cooked spaghetti (I have no idea how much)
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Recipe Steps

  1. Melt margarine in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.

  2. Add in the diced onion and minced garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent.

  3. Add the white wine vinegar and then the marinara sauce. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes.

  4. Pour in the coconut milk stirring frequently.

  5. Once combined stir in the garlic chili sauce, salt, and pepper.

  6. Simmer for 5 minutes and serve over pasta.

I'm glad I finally got back into the kitchen and tried something new. This took about fourty minutes when you consider that I was also making breakfast. I actually still have some tomato sauce on my toes from the aftermath. I thought I scrubbed it all off, but it's not the worst thing to have stuck on your toe. If you're not sure what to do for Meatless Monday, I'd definitely suggest giving this recipe a try!


XoX,

Olivia