Chicken Chili in the slow cooker

I hope you are able to keep in good spirits during this trying time in our world. I know the local government in every state are having to make a lot of decisions they have never had to make in their lifetime as well as us as citizens. So the topic of conversations we have had all start with what’s going on. I am OK with discussing the world but my hope is there are other things that come up so we don’t wallow in it and able to keep some normalcy to our lives.  I am still going to be making food to feed my family and if it’s worth sharing I will. 

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I had some chicken breast I took out of the freezer and needed to use them up. There were four chicken breasts so I took three of them and put them in the crockpot and the last one I sliced up, seasoned and pan seared it for chicken salad. This chili has a lot of ingredients I keep in my pantry pretty much at all times.  When canned goods are on sale I load up on them and save them for a rainy day. In comparison to other states I feel NH is only misting right now. If you get my reference.  

img_4700This is a great meal to set it and forget it. I do wish it wasn’t so cold outside I would love to get out into the garden and turn the soil and start my list of what we are going to grow for the season.  I also hope the garlic I planted last fall will bring me joy. Every year is different for me, some years I hit the mother load and others is utterly disappointing.  Stay tuned I am sure I’ll share with you the results.
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Chicken Chili in the slow cooker

Donna Clark - Cooking at Clark Towers
quick throw together warm comforting meal that also freezes well
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 8 mins

Ingredients
  

  • Boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cans of beans - great northern navy pea beans, black beans Or any combination
  • 1 can hominy
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 1 can chopped green chilis
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • Chicken broth

Instructions
 

  • Place chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker
  • saute onions and garlic till they are soft
  • Top with beans
  • In a medium bowl combine taco seasoning, Chilis, Rotel, soup and broth. Pour over beans
  • Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours
  • Before serving shred chicken to your liking.
  • Top with shredded cheese, sour cream and chives or green onions
 

Pantry and Freezer time

I started writing this morning about how I opt to play Switzerland and play nice in the sandbox on social media and mostly in “real” life. I learned that behavior very early on in my life. I had three paragraphs written and then deleted the whole thing. I am at a loss to what we are seeing in our world today. I don’t understand the whole TP buyout debacle of 2020.

 

I am going to keep my blog light and as positive as I can. We have a enough doom and gloom going on in the world today so I even though I didn’t make anything special this past week to share. I did meet up with a few girlfriends yesterday for a nice and pleasant visit and they thought I should share some tips and tricks to help get people through the next few weeks and hopefully not months. Time to put those packets of Ramen noodles to good use.

When I see what I use on sale I tend to buy several of them at that moment. My pantry is full of different kinds of pasta, several different kinds of beans and rice options. pasta sauce and San Marzano tomatoes to name a few. I feel we are in pretty good shape.

When I make meatballs I more than double the batch and freeze what we don’t eat. I do the same with chili and some soups. Frozen shrimp is so easy to make into a quick dinner. Butterball turkey burgers are in the freezer section and delicious. If you have never froze bread you are missing out. I will buy sliced bread on sale and freeze a loaf. When I am in Montreal I buy several loafs of there fresh baked bread and freeze all but one loaf to eat that night for dinner.

I do know personally quite a few of the people who read my blog and they have on occasion reached out to me to ask a food related question and I do not have all the answers but if you have a few things in your home that you are not sure what to do with; give me a shout out and I will try to help with suggestions if I can. Stay safe and strong!

Chicken cutlets in a sun-dried tomato cream sauce

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So today is already starting out by losing an hour; lets hope it gets better from here. I have never been a fan of daylight savings; it totally messes with my whole being. I have a hard enough time sleeping and twice a year having to jolt the system to a new schedule for what is now not really necessary seems to me we really don’t need to do this to ourselves anymore. Plus now I get to run around the house changing close to a dozen clocks.
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Since I love history and trivia I wanted to know a little more of the who and whys of daylight savings. We all know it was Benjamin Franklin; I learned that in school many years ago but I was surprised to read that he only mentioned the idea in a published essay in 1784. I was also surprised that the first country to adopt this was Germany but not until 1916 which was 132 years later. I will admit I thought it was only a US thing, that shows a little of my ignorance. The US didn’t start using it until 1918 and bully for Arizona to be the only contiguous state to stop observing daylight savings. Hopefully that was some fun facts for your morning reading now back to some food.
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I have been noticing a huge difference in the chicken I have been getting; to the point where I will not buy just any kind. I am sure some of you might not find this as such a surprise but I have been buying a certain brand for as long as I can remember and also store brand chicken when something strikes me. I don’t know if it is me or if they changed whats happening with the chicken but if I can’t find a Bell and Evans or a Misty Knoll roaster chicken, we won’t be having our usual Sunday roaster it has come to that.
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I made this recipe with store brand chicken cutlets and while the recipe I will make again as we all loved the flavor but I won’t be making it unless I can find the better chicken at the store.
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chicken cutlets with a sun dried tomato cream sauce

Donna Clark - Cooking at Clark Towers

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound chicken cutlets
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cupr slivered oil-packed sun dried tomatoes plus 1 tablespoon oil from the jar
  • 1.2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley - I didn't have any

Instructions
 

  • season chicken cutlets with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the sun dried tomato oil in a large enough skillet over medium hot heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until browned and cooked through, use an instant-read thermometer and insert it into the fattest part and it should read 165'F. roughly 6 minutes. transfer chicken to a plate.
  • Add the sun dried tomatoes and the shallots to the pan. Cook stirring for a minute or so, increase the heat to high and add the white wine. Cook, scraping up and browned bits, until the liquid has mostly evaporated. about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the cream, and any juices from the chicken plate. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 2 minutes. Return the chicken back to the sauce; turn to coat with the sauce. Serve chicken topped with sauce.

Notes

Adapted from Eating Well

Braised Leeks and Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

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OK so maybe the title didn’t grab your attention but let me tell you these were melt in your mouth delicious. A few weeks ago I was going through a bunch of recipes and making my grocery list.  Sometimes this works out fabulously and sometimes not so much. I was a little to over ambitious with how many things I had wanted to make and so I started crossing things off my list.
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I was planning on making something with leeks; changed my mind but never crossed them off the list. SO now I had the leeks and nothing else to go with them. What to do! Well firstly they sat in the fridge for a week, then my yankee ways set in and I needed to use them before they went bad. I don’t buy them very often and when I do it is usually for potato leek soup. I wasn’t feeling it so I decided to try a recipe I saw online for braised leeks and Parmesan.
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If you like leeks you will love this, if you have never tried leeks you will love this. If you have always saw them in the store and thought. Why are they so big and what the hell do you do with them. Pick them up and make this; you will love it.
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Braised Leeks and Parmesan Cheese

Donna Clark - Cooking at Clark Towers

Ingredients
  

  • 3-6 leeks
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Instructions
 

  • Cut the ends and the dark green leaves of the leeks off and discard, cut he leeks in half lengthwise. Place in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes, then run under the faucet to remove any sand that may be lingering in between the layers. Peel off thick outer layers and discard.
  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a wide, heavy skillet that will accommodate all of the leeks in one layer. Place the leeks in the pan, cut side down, and cook, shaking the pan and moving them around with tongs, until they are lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Using tongs, turn the leeks over and cook on the other side until they are lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Turn the leeks back over so that the cut side is down. Peel off the outer layers if they are papery, as they will not soften when the leeks are braised.
  • Pour in the wine and stir to deglaze the bottom of the pan, then add enough water or stock to come just to the top of the leeks. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, until the leeks are thoroughly tender when pierced with a knife. Most of the liquid should have evaporated by this time. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler.
  • Using tongs, turn the leeks so that the flat side is up. If there is still a lot of liquid in the pan, pour it off. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the leeks. Place under the hot broiler until the cheese has melted and is beginning to color. Remove from the heat and serve

Notes

Adapted from New York Times
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roasted chicken breast acorn squash sheet pan

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Most of the time I go to the grocery store with a plan of what I need to pick up based on what we want to eat for the week. Or more like what I feel like making for the week. I do ask; sometimes what the house wants but really it’s mostly up to me.
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I also mostly go to the store alone but this time my daughter was with me and instead of a spaghetti squash we came home with an acorn squash instead. Guess she is not a fan of spaghetti squash I do try to have on hand a few fresh veggies for a quick side. Usually broccoli, cauliflower always carrots and I guess now acorn squash. It was easy, a great side and we all loved it. So much so my husband stated we will be adding it to the garden this year.
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Quick during the week meals are a must in everyone I personally knows world. We all work and time is tight and dinner needs to be easy to make, which means few ingredients and mostly hands off. This meal was just that and very satisfying. 

A few chicken breasts, an acorn squash, some seasonings, a sheet pan and your oven. You will be enjoying a nice warm meal in an hour.

roasted chicken breast acorn squash sheet pan

Donna Clark - Cooking at Clark Towers
A quick, delicious, satisfying meal

Ingredients
  

  • Chicken Breast bone in skin on a piece or two per person
  • 1 acorn squash
  • kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • maple syrup
  • crop dust or your favorite all purpose seasoning

Instructions
 

  • Spray your sheet pan with cooking spray or line with tinfoil
  • Preheat oven to 375'F
  • dry each chicken breast with a paper towel
  • season each breast on both sides with salt, pepper and your all purpose seasoning
  • wash and slice the acorn squash, scoop out the seeds.
  • place everything on the sheet pan, season the squash with the same seasonings
  • drizzle the squash with a little maple syrup
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
 

 

Tiramisu

I found it kinda funny how on Friday morning my husband reminded my son that it was Valentines Day! Our son was all over it. He was making dinner, she made dessert they had a plan. This is our 31st Valentines day together and I wouldn’t say he has ever forgotten it but let’s just say some years have been better than others.

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My husband was more prepared than I was this year – hey it happens! I bought flowers for the table at the beginning of the week. I knew what I was making for dinner; seared scallops over a bed of risotto and some swiss chard. But until my son mentioned dessert the thought never crossed my mind. So after work I braved the local grocery store. Probably the first time I have seen the store so full of men. I did check out what they were buying because I’m nosy that way. Most had covered the bases with the flowers, chocolates and cards in hand. A few went above and beyond the holiday staples and were picking out some seafood for dinner, quite a few were looking over the steaks.
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Back to why I went to the store. I decided to pick up one of my husbands favorite desserts tiramisu, which of course they didn’t have. Now what? I walked around the bakery section and was not impressed; or at least nothing I wanted. Went to the frozen section and still nothing.  So that’s when I decided to just make my own.  I have made it a couple of times and thought I can do this! I picked up lady fingers, which they didn’t have so I substituted with Stella D’oro Margherite cookies. grabbed some heavy cream and some mascarpone cheese. I have everything else at home. BTW since I didn’t get him a card I was going to pick one out, I did look but the ones left were lame so I passed.

I got home and he had a chocolate martini ready – he’s a keeper!

Tiramisu

Donna Clark - Cooking at Clark Towers

Ingredients
  

  • 6 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 16 ounce containers mascarpone cheese
  • ½ cup strong brewed coffee room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • 2 packages ladyfinger cookies or Margherite cookies
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder – use a strainer to help distribute cocoa evenly

Instructions
 

  • In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended.
  • Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Don't walk away or you may end up with scrambled eggs. Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  • Cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour
  • In a medium bowl, beat cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form
  • whisk mascarpone into yolk mixture until smooth.
  • In a small bowl, combine coffee and rum.
  • Split ladyfingers in half lengthwise and drizzle with coffee mixture. Once they get wet it is hard to move them, so if you want to place them in their spot and then drizzle it will work out better for you.
  • Arrange half of soaked ladyfingers in bottom of 10x10" (don't worry about the size, use what you have) dish.
  • Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers
  • then half of whipped cream over that
  • Repeat layers and sprinkle with cocoa.
  • Cover and refrigerate 4-6 hours, until set
all of these pictures were from several years ago – I didn’t take any of the one I made the other night

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Stay on top of this, you don’t want to make scrambled eggs.

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I think I should have soaked them more with the coffee and rum


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Valentine Dinner Fare

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Whether you are a fan of Valentines Day or not it’s all on you! But I do hope you are on the same page as your partner. It kinda sucks if one of you is looking forward to something on this day and the other treats it like; say a Tuesday. Yes I know it’s now known as a Hallmark kind of holiday but according to Wikipedia (see below) it’s been around a lot longer than Hallmark that started back in 1910 in Kansas City, MO.

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There are numerous martyrdom stories associated with various Valentines connected to February 14, including a written account of Saint Valentine of Rome’s imprisonment for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his judge, and he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell before his execution. The Feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496 to be celebrated on February 14 in honour of the Christian martyr, Saint Valentine of Rome, who died on that date in AD 269.

The day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it grew into an occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”). Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. In Europe, Saint Valentine’s Keys are given to lovers “as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart”, as well as to children to ward off epilepsy (called Saint Valentine’s Malady).

Date Night Dine In
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Regardless of what you plan on doing it is damn near impossible to go out to dinner in our little town unless you have already made a reservation somewhere plus the crowds are crazy so we generally stay home and I make something a little more special than our typical meal. I think this year we will be having seared scallops over creamy risotto.

Pan Seared Scallops
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Over the years I have shared a few meals that I think would fit the bill for the night that you could make for your sweetheart!

Chocolate Martini

Individual Chocolate Lava Cake

 

Game day fare

So today is the big day! The San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs should be a pretty good game I think most of us New Englander’s are rooting for the 49ers since there quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo used to be a Patriot though I am torn because last year I thought and said out loud that Patrick Mahomes from the Chiefs is someone to watch and here we are – just saying!

Are you already preparing for the game later today? I haven’t started yet but I do have a plan and will be starting some Crockpot Chicken Chili once I finish writing this blog. The only thing my husband asked for was some wings. I am going to be doing some name dropping here. Franks Hot Sauce is our families favorite hot sauce. Which is saying something, we are not really hot sauce kinda people. We all like a little heat but there is a fine line and we all tend to stay away from ordering anything spicy out just in case their fine line is much higher than ours.

Last Friday at the office we had a tailgating party of sorts in preparing for the Super Bowl – yes even though the Patriots are not in it this year; not to say that everyone at work is a Pats fan but the majority is but we all like food so there’s that! I brought Espinaca dip which is always a hit. We will be having the rest of it a little later today.

I haven’t shared this dip recipe before so here it is. 32 ounce brick of Velveta, 1 brick of cream cheese, 2 cans of Rotel, 1 block of frozen spinach, thawed and drained. Add everything to a pot for the stove top or a slow cooker and heat until everything is melted and mixed together.

Here are a few other items I think would be awesome to share with your football fans, or the people who like to socialize with the people who like football fans. Or the ones that just show up to watch the halftime and commercials. Spam Bacon Bites would be a perfect fit for a party as well as Chicken-Parm Sliders to name a few. If there were more than just a few us I would make the seven layer dip Huevos Rancheros and 7 Layer Mexican Dip but since there isn’t I will just make some Guacamole & Sweet and Salty Wings for the big game

I do hope JLO and Shakira rock the house this year!

Portuguese Braised Pork and Clams

 

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I will be making this again – Soon!

Last weekend I made up for the lack of spending time in the kitchen. I almost made too many things if that is possible. We had leftovers all week long which for us is not a bad thing. I know so many people that do not like leftovers. I wonder why that is. Do they make things that don’t reheat well? What they ate didn’t taste good the first time around? Do they not know how to reheat things? Is it a childhood “thing” meaning there parents didn’t eat leftovers so they won’t eat them? With that being said there are some things that do not reheat well.

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I improvised with paprika and pimento peppers – use what you have on hand I say!

IMG_4946IMG_4947While I was making this I kept thinking about my friends SF and BF plus their family; the ones they share with us every Labor Day weekend when we become honorary Portuguese family members. SF you are going to want to make this; it is so good and reheats perfectly minus the clams; which we finished split those up before packing up the leftovers.

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I found it easier to put a strainer over a bowl and just pour the pork out of the bag 

IMG_4964 - CopyIMG_4965IMG_4967I will give you a heads up the pork needs to marinate overnight; I know some of you will stop reading and won’t even try this recipe but you can do this I promise; before you put the pork away after buying it slice it up and throw it in the marinade for tomorrow nights dinner. You got this!

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San Marzano whole tomatoes is my go to and I always hand crush them into my pot!

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Now it’s time for a confession. There is an ingredient I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t look it up before I went to the store. SO I made up my own version of what I thought it might be. I thought I might just stumble upon it at the store; I did not. I did look it up when I got home and now it makes sense so I will tell the ones who do not know what it is it might be in the spice section of your grocery store; if not substitute it with a smoked paprika that you can find and like. Not the pickle, olive mustard aisle. Pimenton de la Vera dulce.  I figured it was something to do with Pimento peppers obviously I don’t speak the language. It is actually a Spanish smoked sweet paprika yeah I know not even close!
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They used Cilantro for garnish – I didn’t have any so I chopped celery tops for added color

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Portuguese Braised Pork and Clams

Donna Clark - Cooking at Clark Towers
A warm and savory soup
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lb boneless pork shoulder cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes. (I used pork butt)
  • 2 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper divided
  • 6 garlic cloves divided
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Pimenton de la Vera dulce smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil divided
  • 1 medium sized yellow onion diced
  • 1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes crushed by hand - recommend San Marzano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth divided
  • 2 lb baby Yukon Gold potatoes halved
  • 2 lb Manila clams or cockies scrubbed - I used clams I could find at my store
  • scalions diced for garnish - or they had fresh cilantro on theirs
  • serve with crusty bread for sopping up all the goodness

Instructions
 

  • Season pork all over with 1 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. In a large ziploc bag add the pork. Smash 3 cloves of garlic, add to the bag along with the wine, bay leaves and Pimenton. Seal and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 350'F
  • Remove pork from marinade saving the marinade, pat the pork dry with a paper towel. Remove and discard the garlic and bay leaves. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add pork and cook until lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to pork to a plate continue with the rest of the pork.
  • Chop remaining garlic cloves. Add the onions and the remaining oil cook for a minute then add the chopped garlic continue cooking for another minute or two. You want them to be slightly browned but not burned stirring often. Add the tomatoes, red pepper and the reserved marinade.
  • Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer stirring often for about 3 minutes. Return cooked pork to the pot. Stir in 1 cup of stock until pork is mostly submerged. Cover and bake in oven until pork is fork-tender. 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  • Stir in potatoes and remaining 1 cup of stock, Cover and bake until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Transfer Dutch oven to the stovetop over high add the cleaned clams. Cover and cook until clams open. 3 to 5 minutes. (remove and discard any unopened clams) Season with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Garnish with diced scallions

Notes

Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine
 

Pasta Sausage Squash and Swiss Chard

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This is the first meal this year that was something we haven’t already had a million times over the years. I guess I just haven’t been interested in cooking yet. We have been very busy but we are always busy so that’s no excuse. It might also have something to do with my stupid cough that is better but not completely gone. I start the day with a list of things I want/need to do then I get home from work and am exhausted and end up doing nothing. It’s getting pretty old.

IMG_4948So I am going to thank you for getting me back in the kitchen. I made a list of things I want to make and last night started two of them. I wanted to make something new to share with you all. According to my family we had a keeper for dinner last night. The first question my husband asks me is if I wrote it down so I can recreate it. How rude of him to think I didn’t; he knows I tend to make things even from a recipe more to our tastes mostly out of necessity. Sometimes I can’t find what the recipe puts in their dishes so I improvise with what I have on hand. I hope you all do that; though through some of my experiences at a few of my cooking classes I hold at my home this is not always the case. In his defense he and my son keep bringing up a Mahi Mahi recipe I didn’t keep track of and have never been able to replicate it again. I don’t even try anymore.
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Last night I gave my fam an option of a couple of meals; my daughter said past and sausage two things we love. So that was it and here it is for you.

Pasta Sausage Squash and Swiss Chard

Donna Clark - Cooking at Clark Towers
This would be a great weeknight meal, it comes together pretty quickly
Total Time 35 mins
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 box of penne pasta
  • 2 cups diced butternut squash 1/2 inch pieces mine was larger than this
  • 4 cups lightly packed chopped swiss chard
  • 3 links sweet italian sausage casing removed and broken up diced for a chunk works too
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallot
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes optional

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 2 minutes. Add the squash and cook for 6 minutes. add the chard and cook until the pasta is tender. 1 to 2 minutes longer. Drain and return to the pot.
  • Combine sausage, shallot and butter to a large saute pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is soft about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the thyme and cook another minute. Sprinkle with flour cook stirring for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook whisking occasionally until the sauce starts to thicken. About 5 minutes. Stir in the cheese season with salt and pepper to taste. sprinkle with a little crushed red pepper to your liking. Cook until the cheese melts and the sauce is thick.
  • Pour the sauce mixture over the pasta mixing to coat, serve with extra grated cheese.

Notes

You can find butternut squash generally peeled and diced in large supermarkets to make it easier
Adapted from Eating Well
 

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