We haven’t had a weekend at home, just the 4 of us, in quite awhile. So we made it a productive one. We started with Trick-or-Treating on Friday evening at a local nursing home. Small kids, trick-or-treating, and avoiding the elements? Happy mama. The girls were darling – Shea as Elsa and Piper as Olaf from the ever-popular movie, Frozen. With her little snowman hat on, everyone kept saying, “He’s so cute!” in reference to Piper. Poor chickadee!
We got the girls in bed and then I made an angel hair pasta dish with seared scallops for a little date night in. And finally, we finished Big Brother. We’re only a month or two behind.
Saturday was chaotic, starting with tennis for me, “princess” ballet/tap class for Shea (sorry not sorry for all the Insta stories!), Mark taking the jet ski to Kalamazoo for winterization, and assembling Shea’s big girl bed. It was a full day and as the day wore on I felt worse and worse. I’m definitely sick. I nearly canceled our babysitter for date night, but decided to power through, knowing that today could be a long day at home with more cold, dreary weather and nothing on the agenda.
Our date night was a casual meal out at a restaurant right up the street from our house. We watched the World Series while we ate at the bar – my salad and Malbec were on point! It was early to bed after watching the last half of the Illinois football game. If there is such a thing as a respectable loss in a losing season, I guess I shouldn’t be overly upset about the 10-24 loss versus #5 Wisconsin. As Mr. Prevention and I talked about over dinner, maybe someday Illinois will be decent at football…
Today I’ve spent the day in the kitchen whipping up all sorts for the week. I’m trying to get better about meal prepping on the weekends because as the days get shorter, I seem to need all the help I can get in making the evenings go more smoothly. Of course I’m always game for a night or two of leftovers, because…why not? Easy, healthy, and fast!
When I whipped up this Chicken Pumpkin Pasta Bake last week I could hear my mother’s commentary:
Nicole, must you put pumpkin in everything? To which I reply YES and post this recipe, ready to receive her eye roll. Except, MOTHER…this is delicious! Pumpkin is the best in that it can switch hit in sweet and savory recipes alike. With those caramelized onions and the rubbed sage, the pumpkin is the perfect addition to this perfectly fall pasta bake!
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup whole milk
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1½ tsp rubbed sage
- pinch ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 lb dry whole wheat macaroni
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup (4 oz) fresh mozzarella, shredded
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- Heat the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the onions and cook for 5-10 minutes, until softened. Add the wine and continue cooking until onions are caramelized and golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- To the onions, add the garlic and saute for 30-60 seconds or until fragrant. Add the pumpkin, chicken broth, milk, olive oil, salt, sage, nutmeg, and pepper; cook until heated through.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about 9-10 minutes. Using a large slotted spoon, remove the pasta to a strainer and run under cool water, reserving the pasta water.
- To the pot with pasta water over medium-low heat, add the chicken. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and chop into bite-sized pieces.
- Add the pasta and chicken to the pumpkin sauce; stir well. Add ½ of the mozzarella cheese and gently mix. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Let stand a few minutes before serving.
Weekly Menu: October 29th – November 2nd
- Sunday: Chipotle Copycat Burrito Bowl Carnitas
- Monday: Bolognese-Stuffed Peppers
- Tuesday: leftovers – tennis league night
- Wednesday: Beef Cabbage Stir-Fry
- Thursday: breakfast for dinner – pumpkin pancakes, fruit, chicken sausage