Pumpkin Chicken Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash

These Pumpkin Chicken Meatballs are a fun topping to a garlicky, buttery base of spaghetti squash. Though this dish takes awhile to prepare, it’s totally worth it!

Pumpkin Chicken Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash | thepajamachef.com

I don’t know about you, but I’m on a quest to eat as much pumpkin in the next three months as possible. It’s my goal to make/blog about at least one pumpkin dish per week! We’ll see how I do. :) So first…I have a confession to make. I made this dish last year. In fact, it was one of the first new recipes I made in our new Nashville kitchen after we moved here last year. And it just didn’t make it on the blog. Oooops! Moving to a new state and starting a new job kinda takes a lot of time. :) But despite the length of time between eating this dish and sharing it here, I think it’s utterly fabulous! Most people think of pumpkin as a sweet ingredient [helllooo pumpkin pie, cookies, bread, muffins, yada yada yada] but I love it when used at dinnertime. Though pumpkin by itself is actually a little bland, it can add some color, moisture, and substance to sauces, meatballs, or soups when used in a savory sense.  This was my first time using pumpkin in meatballs and I must say I’m super impressed! These meatballs were sooo flavorful and indulgent… if meatballs can be indulgent, haha.

Pumpkin Chicken Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash | thepajamachef.com

And don’t forget about the spaghetti squash! It’s garlicky and buttery and just plain perfect. It was Ben’s first taste of spaghetti squash and he loved it… especially because of the bacon. Everything’s better with bacon, right? Even pumpkin! With this dish you’ll certainly have one of the more unique ways to enjoy pumpkin. And it’s awesome! Hope you enjoyyy!

one year ago: Autumnal Muffins
two years ago: Peach Raspberry Clafouti
three years ago: Peach Shortbread
four years ago: Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken

Pumpkin Chicken Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 2 hours, most of that not active so don't freak out
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from We are not Martha

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 pound ground chicken [ground turkey would also work too]
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons Star Fine Foods Butter Olive Oil – or regular butter or olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Carefully poke holes all over the spaghetti squash with a sharp knife. Place in a baking dish and bake for 80 minutes, rotating halfway through.

While spaghetti squash is cooking, prepare meatballs. In a large bowl, mix together ground chicken, pumpkin, ginger, thyme, panko, parmesan, and egg. Scoop mixture into golfball-sized balls and place in a baking dish that has been greased with cooking spray. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until cooked through and crisp on the outside. [Hint: put the meatballs in the oven after the squash has cooked for about 65 or 70 minutes--that'll be good timing so everything is finished about the same time.]

 

After 80 minutes, remove squash from oven and let cool.

When cool enough to touch, carefully cut in half. Scoop seeds out, then use a fork to remove the “spaghetti” and set aside.

In a large skillet set over medium heat, add olive oil and cook garlic for one minute. Add squash, sage, and crumbled bacon, then cook for about 3 minutes until tender.

Serve meatballs over spaghetti squash with parmesan on top.

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Sausage and Ranch Potato Skillet with Fried Eggs

This easy sausage and potato skillet is seasoned with a healthy herb ranch blend and topped with a fried egg, making it a perfect breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner! Delicious!

Sausage and Ranch Potato Skillet with Fried Eggs | thepajamachef.com

I love skillet meals! One dish meals are seriously my go-to for weeknights. Less courses=less dishes=less clean up=more time to read on the couch/bake pumpkin treats/watch tv/brush our little spoiled cats or anything else my little heart desires. Usually my skillet meals include rice, pasta, or quinoa, and cheese. Always cheese! But sometimes you want something a little lighter and fresher. Not that rice or pasta dishes can’t be light, but you know what I mean, right? For me, the key to delicious light meals is lots of flavor. Like ranch! Mmm, ranch dressing. Whoever invented that stuff was a genius!

Healthy Herb Ranch Seasoning | thepajamachef.com

A few weeks ago, on a whim, I made a batch of healthy herb ranch seasoning and used it for some roasted potatoes alongside a little breakfast-for-dinner meal with cheesy scrambled eggs, oatmeal scones, and berries. Not that you’ll NEED extra ideas for using this ranch seasoning [I think it's going to become a standard addition to my pantry] but let me just say that ranch seasoning on popcorn is amazingggg! Mmm, it’s 8 am and I want some ranch popcorn. Haha.

Ranch Potatoes | thepajamachef.com

Now, that meal was good…but I had visions! Visions of a ranch-seasoned skillet meal with crispy roasted potatoes, crumbled breakfast sausage, bell peppers, onion, garlic, jalapeno and a fried egg on top! Well, my fried eggs are actually over-easy eggs but same diff. :) I am happy to report that this skillet was everything I dreamed it would be… a fresh, filling meal full of ranch flavor AND the best part was that it’s healthy! That’s why I used that ranch seasoning blend… all the flavors of a hearty, creamy ranch without tons of salt, sour cream, or mayo. To make the potatoes super crispy I roasted them in the oven with some of the ranch seasoning, then tossed them with the sausage and bell pepper mixture after everything was cooked. Don’t forget the avocado on the side… a bite of creamy, cool avocado alongside this spicy ranch-y skillet is just divine! Enjoy!

P.S. Don’t forget about my giveaway for Healthy Solutions Spice Blends! Ends Saturday! :)

Sausage and Ranch Potato Skillet with Fried Eggs | thepajamachef.com

two years ago: Peach Ginger Pie
three years ago: Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad
four years ago: Chili Burgers

Sausage and Ranch Potato Skillet with Fried Eggs

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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Sausage and Ranch Potato Skillet with Fried Eggs | thepajamachef.com
Ingredients:

  • 1 pound red potatoes, cut into eighths [quarter, then half each quarter]
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon ranch seasoning, divided [see below, or use your favorite]
  • cayenne pepper – optional
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound breakfast sausage
  • 1 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced – optional
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 eggs
  • diced avocado, for serving

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss red potatoes in 1 tablespoon ranch seasoning, a sprinkling of cayenne, and olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until fork-tender. I like to bump the heat up to 475 for the last 5 minutes or so of baking to get a nice crispy crust.

While potatoes are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon. Drain grease and return sausage to pan. Add onion, green pepper, red pepper, and jalapeno, if using. Saute for 10 minutes or until onions are soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Cover and remove from heat. When potatoes are done, add to skillet with sausage and vegetables and stir in remaining 1/2 tablespoon ranch seasoning.

Cook fried eggs to desired doneness, then serve a fried egg on top of each serving with diced avocado.

Healthy Herb Ranch Seasoning

  • Servings: 1 cup
  • Time: 5 minutes
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Healthy Herb Ranch Seasoning | thepajamachef.com

from Wildflour’s Cottage Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried chives
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried minced onion, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a Mason jar and shake to combine. Store covered until ready to use.

Can combine with 1 3/4 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt for a ranch dressing/dip; just mix well and thin with milk or buttermilk to reach desired consistency.

Linked up with Weekend Potluck.

Mystery Dish: Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa + Cookbook Giveaway

These Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa are tied together with a creamy mint-almond pesto. An easy, healthy dinner that comes together quickly!

Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa | thepajamachef #mysterydish

I had a really tough time with this month’s Mystery Dish. I’m not sure why–pretty much ALL the ingredients on the list are things I love. I was just uninspired I guess. But I don’t think my recipe reflects that… this meal was pretty darn delicious. Andi from Weary Chef was our host and she asked us to use three ingredients from this list: pistachios, wine, mint, gluten-free flour, red pepper flakes, fish, agave nectar, applesauce, blueberries, parmesan cheese, milk, and corn.

A couple weekends ago, we were going to grill turkey burgers [Ben makes a to die for turkey burger with Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt, and pepper] but we were rained out and I had some ground turkey thawed in the fridge. We could have grilled indoors, but instead I decided to make some Mystery Dish magic with these Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa. And you guys… they are so good! I love a good turkey meatball anyway, but add some fresh mint to your typical garlic and onion mixture and they’re definitely amped up a notch. To fulfill the ingredient requirement, I used gluten free flour to help hold the meatballs together and red pepper flakes instead of normal black pepper. In hindsight, I wish I would have used more flour because the meatballs didn’t hold together super well. Though that was three ingredients, I decided to make the flavors even more apparent by making a mint pesto to serve over the meatballs and to toss with the quinoa I decided to serve on the side. If quinoa isn’t your thing, try rice, pasta, or some other grain/starch. Though my pesto wasn’t a true pesto it was still pretty addictive and a great sauce that was nutty, minty, and creamy all at once.

Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa | thepajamachef #mysterydish

The mint in this dish balances perfectly with the crushed red pepper. I was somewhat generous with the red pepper flakes, but it was definitely an approachable level of spiciness so if you aren’t a spicy person you’ll be okay here. I was supposed to tell you that that description was Ben’s idea, and I was threatened with a lawsuit if I didn’t. :) Ha ha, a lawsuit from my husband. Moving on… I loved how minty this dish is… enough flavor to make things interesting but not so much you think you’re eating toothpaste. I love having a great repertoire of healthy, easy dinners and I know this dish will go into my usual rotation. Hope you give it a try!

And, as a special treat since we’ve been Mystery Dishin’ it up for a YEAR now [whoa], we have a special giveaway for our lovely readers… copies of cookbooks from MasterChef Season 3 Winner Christine Ha and Season 4 Winner Luca Manfe! I wish I could win! Go HERE to enter.

Enjoy!

one year ago: Roasted Peach Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel 
two years ago: Brown Rice, Feta, and Tomato Salad
three years ago: Healthy “Fried” Rice –> I make this ALL the time with different veggies, meat, and/or tofu. A must try!
four years ago: Cornmeal Pizza Dough in the Breadmaker

Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 40 minutes
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Ingredients:

for meatballs

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green onion, diced
  • 3 sprigs fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca flour [or other flour, gluten free or otherwise + more if you need it]
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • crushed red pepper flakes, about 1/2 teaspoon or to taste

for quinoa

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups water [or stock if preferred]
  • 1 cup prepared pesto [above]

for pesto

  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint
  • 1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons half and half
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan
  • crushed red pepper flakes, about 1/4 teaspoon or to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for the meatballs–garlic, green onion, mint, flour, egg, turkey, and crushed red pepper flakes, to taste. Mix well with your hands, then shape into 16 meatballs. Place half the meatballs in the preheated skillet and cook on each side for about 2 minutes per side until browned all over. Remove meatballs from skillet and place in a large oven safe dish, misted with cooking spray if not nonstick. Repeat with remaining meatballs then bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.

While meatballs are cooking, prepare quinoa according to package directions. Bring rinsed quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 15 minutes until all water is absorbed.

Prepare pesto by combining mint, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons half and half, and almonds in a food processor. Pulse until combined, adding more oil and/or half and half if desired. Stir in parmesan and red pepper flakes to taste. Pesto yields about 1 cup.

When quinoa is ready, pour about 3/4 cup pesto in the quinoa and stir to combine. Serve meatballs with quinoa and reserved mint pesto, along with sides like green beans or crusty bread.

Be sure to check out what my Mystery Dish pals whipped up this month:

Mystery Dish | thepajamachef.com

  1. Tuna Tacos with Avocado Corn Salsa by The Weary Chef
  2. Blueberry Scones by Yummy Healthy Easy
  3. Parmesan Crusted Tilapia by Culinary Couture
  4. Minty Berry Fruit Roll Ups by I Want Crazy
  5. Baked Blueberry Donuts by Chez CateyLou
  6. Hearty Minestrone Soup by Joyful Healthy Eats
  7. Blueberry Lemon Pannacotta with Pistachio Tuilles by Flavor the Moments
  8. Minty Turkey Meatballs with Quinoa by The Pajama Chef
  9. Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cake by I Dig Pinterest
  10. Pistachio Drop Scones with Blueberry Compote by The Well Floured Kitchen
  11. Grilled Corn & Blueberry Flatbread with Whipped Goat Cheese, Pistachios, and Basil Vinaigrette by Baking a Moment
  12. Pistachio Crusted Tilapia and Peach Salad by Blahnik Baker

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.

Greek Dressing

Who says simple is boring? This quick and easy greek dressing takes just a few minutes and a few ingredients but is so good that you’ll never want to buy bottled dressing again!

Greek Dressing | thepajamachef.com #simple #healthy #salad

 

Greek salad has been my LIFE recently. I’ve eaten a huge bowl for lunch everyday the past couple weeks, and think that’s going to happen again soon. [But I need more tomatoes!] My philosophy is… a big salad for lunch means dinner can be whatever I want. Even mac & cheese from Panera. That stuff is so good and I’d never ordered it myself until last Wednesday, much to Ben’s relief [on Panera dates before I'd always steal like half his bowl]. Because salad for lunch = indulgence for dinner. Or something like that. Right?!?

Greek Dressing | thepajamachef.com #simple #healthy #salad

Anyways, salad. And this dressing. I just can’t get enough! It’s creamy and tangy and so so fresh. I know my Greek salad isn’t exactly authentic and this dressing isn’t either, but it’s close enough. It’s full of flavor–all garlicky and lemony and herby! Just perfect. Some salad dressings are a little too oily without enough vinegar and acid to balance things out, but this half and half combo is just how I like it. I adapted a grandma recipe [not my grandma, but Laurie's] so that’s why it must be so good! :)

Greek Dressing | thepajamachef.com #simple #healthy #salad

I use this dressing to top off a simple Greek salad of romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, red onion, and feta. Heavy on the chickpeas and feta for me, please! If you like, you can add olives or chicken or whatever else sounds good. Apparantly the dressing is also a killer chicken marinade. Filing that bit ‘o info away for next time! BTW this dressing keeps for about a week in the fridge, so feel free to make a double batch. You’ll need it!

three years ago: Cinnamon Bacon Carbonara
four years ago: Lime Yogurt Cake with Raspberry Sauce

Greek Dressing

  • Servings: 8 ounces
  • Time: 5 minutes
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adapted from Simply Scratch
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup oregano, loosely packed [or 1 teaspoon dried oregano]
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
  • to serve with a simple salad: torn romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, red onion, feta

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. I love my immersion blender for this! Taste and season with additional salt or pepper if necessary.

You can also finely chop the oregano and mince the garlic and shake all ingredients together.

Store in a jar, refrigerated, for up to a week.

Linked up with Weekend Potluck.

Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce

These baked chicken nuggets and homemade honey mustard sauce are an easy way to satisfy fast food cravings at home!

Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce | thepajamachef.com

Even though I love salads, vegetables, and all sorts of healthy goodness, as well as eating at local restaurants, sometimes fast food just sounds SO good. Do you know what I mean? I rarely indulge, except on road trips or nights that I really really have no desire to cook and we have no leftovers. [This is super rare.] To be completely honest, the health aspect is only part of the reason I don’t indulge that often. It’s the cost. It just seems ridiculous to me to spend $7+ on a “good” fast food meal… especially keeping in mind what fast food is really made of. So what to do, what to do. Make my own fast food, of course! Chicken nuggets and chicken tenders are my absolute fave. Always have been, always will be.

Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce | thepajamachef.com

True, it takes longer. And it’s not exactly like what you’d get at a fast food place. But seriously… if it’s just the crunch of chicken and the endless vats of dipping sauce that you desire, this will be well worth it! I’m not going to lie; these chicken nuggets aren’t healthy. They’re baked, not fried, so there is some redeeming qualities to them, but healthy they are not. Their breading is held on by an unexpected blend of balsamic vinegar and honey, a combination that’s sweet and savory all at once!

Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce | thepajamachef.com

Though you can dip these chicken nuggets in whatever sauce you like–ketchup, BBQ sauce, mustard… might I suggest this homemade Chick-Fil-A sauce? Before seeing this recipe I didn’t realize that Chick-Fil-A had their own special sauce besides their honey mustard, so I can’t vouch for the authenticity of this recipe. I can speak for the taste though–it’s amazingly, utterly, wonderfully delicious! So next time you have a craving for fast food, why not make some at home? I bet you have most of these ingredients in your pantry and fridge right now! I know I do. :) Enjoy!

Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Double Chocolate Banana Muffins
two years ago: Pesto Potato Salad
three years ago: Salmon with Lemon, Tarragon, and Garlic Sauce
four years ago:  Summer Mexican Soup

Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Print

from Macaroni and Cheesecake

Ingredients:

for chicken nuggets

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs, Panko if possible – if regular bread crumbs you may want to toast in a dry skillet for a few minutes until golden brown
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

for Chick-Fil-A sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce

Directions:

Line a large sheet pan with foil and lightly grease with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together honey and balsamic vinegar. Place bread crumbs in another shallow bowl. Roll chicken in honey then dip in bread crumbs, being sure to coat each side. Place on prepared pan and repeat until all chicken is used. Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

After chicken is in the oven, whisk together all ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate while chicken cooks, about 30 minutes, to allow flavors to marry.

Serve chicken nuggets with sauce, ketchup, etc. Extra sauce will keep in the refrigerator for a couple weeks.