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.

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck, Foodie Friends Friday.

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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.

Earthy Frittata

This frittata combines earthy mushrooms, yellow squash, and oregano with sweet corn for a wonderful savory summer meal. The cheesy, crunchy topping will make you come back for seconds and thirds! 

Earthy Frittata | thepajamachef.com

I first fell in love with frittatas a few summers ago when we got a CSA through a vendor at our local farmer’s market. Man, I miss that farmer’s market so much. I just haven’t found one in Nashville that compares! :(But that’s alright, Nashville wins in plenty of other ways [read: BBQ. beautiful parks. our awesome church. our cats getting along. I could go on and on and on.]. Maybe someday I’ll find a farmer’s market I adore. But back to this frittata. It is gooooooood! And chock-ful of all your summer favorites, ready to eat hot or cold for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Earthy Frittata | thepajamachef.com

Though I still make this kale frittata more often than a certain husband of mine might like, I do try to branch out in my frittata-making. Aside from this pizza frittata, I think this one is the most different, simply  because of the crunchy topping. I usually finish off my frittatas with a sprinkling of cheese on top but now I know the secret for impressing Ben with a frittata: add cheese AND panko! Seriously! It sounds weird to add bread crumbs to an egg dish, but it works! It almost makes this healthy meal into a hearty comfort food casserole, and almost keeps him occupied enough not to notice the mushrooms [which aren't his favorite thing ever]. I used shiitake mushrooms because Ben likes those more than traditional white mushrooms, but either can work.

Earthy Frittata | thepajamachef.com

The best thing with frittatas is that they are totally customizable, so feel free to play around with the mix-ins. Use zucchini instead of squash, or tomatoes instead of corn. Use another herb or a different type of cheese. But don’t forget about the topping… it’s what really makes this frittata stand out! Enjoy!

two years ago: Oatmeal Buttermilk Bread
three years ago: Pillow Cookies
four years ago: Tomato Pie

Earthy Frittata

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes active + 30 minutes for squash to rest
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Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced [white mushrooms also would be fine]
  • kernels from one ear of corn
  • crushed red pepper
  • 8 eggs
  • 2-3 sprigs Greek oregano [or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano]
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 ounces Swiss cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Herb Panko breadcrumbs [or add a little Italian seasoning and a dash of Parmesan to regular toasted breadcrumbs or Panko]

Directions:

Place sliced yellow squash in a large colander in the sink. Sprinkle with salt and let rest for 30 minutes to draw out excess moisture. Roll in a clean kitchen towel and gently press squash to dry and draw out moisture.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a 10 inch oven proof skillet, melt butter over medium heat. When hot, add squash and mushrooms and cook 3-4 minutes until they begin to soften. Add corn and season with crushed red pepper and stir to combine. Cook another minute or so.

Whisk eggs, oregano, and water together, then pour into skillet, taking care to distribute vegetables evenly throughout egg mixture. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes until eggs are starting to set.

Next, top frittata with cheese and breadcrumbs, then bake for 10-15 minutes or until eggs are fully set and cheese is melted. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Lightened Up Cheesy Sausage Grits Breakfast Casserole

Since moving South, Ben and I have been exposed to many new things. From language [y'all] to restaurants [meat and threes] to just a slower pace [though Nashville isn't quite as sloooow as other places in the South], life here is different. We love it here, but have become pretty proud of our Northern roots. Case in point: my birthday is coming up next month and I am begging Ben to get me a super sweet Indiana-shaped pendant necklace from an etsy shop. Gotta support Indiana from afar!! Though there are some areas/stereotypes of Southern culture that we don’t embrace, there is one MAJOR one that we do: the food! And what is more Southern than grits?

Lightened Up Sausage Cheese Grits Breakfast Casserole | thepajamachef.com

I actually [willingly] ate grits before moving to Nashville, but they are all over the place here, but these… oh my… THESE are the best I’ve ever had! It’s probably because they were made in the South. :) I don’t think it was the cheese that helped, do you?

Lightened Up Cheesy Sausage Grits Breakfast Casserole | thepajamachef.com

This breakfast casserole is a fun alternative to the traditional potato-based breakfast casserole. The leftovers fed us breakfast [and lunch and dinner] for days, which is absolutely wonderful for busy weekday mornings. Though it seems pretty funny to call this recipe “lightened up” because it’s so indulgent, it is light compared to many recipes.

Lightened Up Cheesy Sausage Grits Breakfast Casserole | thepajamachef.com

Serve this casserole with fruit, potatoes, toast, or any other traditional breakfast sides and I can guarantee you this meal will be absolutely devoured, day after day! It is so good. Enjoy!

one year ago: Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd Filling and Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
two years ago: Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken
three years ago: Sweet and Spicy Peanut Soup

Lightened Up Cheesy Sausage Grits Breakfast Casserole [adapted from South Your Mouth]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups quick-cooking grits
  • 1 pound breakfast sausage [regular or turkey]
  • 6 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces skim milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 5 egg whites, beaten
  • 3 eggs, beaten

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring water and chicken broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in grits and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Brown sausage in a large skillet, breaking apart with a wooden spoon to crumble. Drain well and set aside.

Add cheese, milk, butter, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne to the grits. Stir until the cheese melts, then stir in sausage and eggs/egg whites.

Pour mixture into a 9×13 baking dish. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. A knife inserted in the center should come out clean. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Time: 90 minutes [20 minutes active].

Yield: 16 servings.

Notes: 6 whole eggs can be used instead of the 5 egg whites/3 egg combo that I chose. To make ahead, prepare casserole as directed then cover and refrigerate overnight. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking as directed above.

Linked up with: Tuesday Talent Show.

SRC: Chili Relleno Casserole

Finally! Time for another edition of the Secret Recipe Club! We took a break in January, but now we’re back and it feel sooo good. :) I just love being part of this club. It’s fun to get to try out new recipes and get to know new bloggers.This month for SRC, I was assigned to Ilona’s Kitchen. Ilona shares tons of recipes on her blog every month that are family tested and approved. She loves to feed her family new recipes and old classics… a great combination, I think! She’s also loves to shop, bake, and go to the gym. A woman after my own heart!! Well, I run, but you get the idea. :) When perusing her blog, I found quite a few recipes I wanted to make: Blueberry Popovers, Chicken & Spinach Tortilla Bake, and Coconut Tea Cake. The last option sounds AWESOME! She just posted the recipe, otherwise that is definitely what I would have made. But alas, Chili Relleno Casserole it was. And it did not disappoint, even though it’s not the most photogenic recipe ever!

Chili Relleno Casserole | thepajamachef.com

Ilona has about three Chili Relleno recipes on her blog… some have been flops and others have been great. Ilona claimed this was the best of the three, and we found it to be pretty wonderful. It seriously tasted great! I’ve never had a real chili relleno, so I can’t testify to the authenticity [it is a casserole after all], but the flavors are phenomenal. It’s just a simple mix of ground beef and vegetables, topped with eggs, oregano, garlic, tomato sauce, and cheese. What’s not to like? Plus, it’s quick and easy to throw together–perfect for those busy weeknights. Ben actually made the whole dish and it was ready waiting for me one night after work. That must be why I like it so much. :) I have no doubt that we’ll be making this again soon! Thanks, Ilona, for introducing me to this great recipe! Can’t wait to try more of your recipes. :)

Chili Relleno Casserole | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Baked Jalapeno Popper-Ranch Dip
two years ago: Fried Eggs on Pesto-Parmesan Toast
three years ago: Mini Meatloaf

Chili Relleno Casserole [from Ilona's Kitchen]
click to print

Ingredients:

  •  1 pound ground beef
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cans [4 ounces each] chopped green chilies
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded mexican blend/taco cheese, divided
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a skillet, brown ground beef. Drain fat and then add green pepper. Cook until tender, then stir in oregano, garlic, and chopped green chiles. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.

Layer half of the meat and 1/2 cup cheese in prepared baking dish. Top with the rest of the meat and another 1/2 cup cheese. Pour egg mixture on top of everything,

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove and spread tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese on top and return to oven for 7 minutes.

Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting, then slice into squares to serve and enjoy.

Time: 40 minutes [10 minutes active].
Yield: 8 servings.

Be sure to check out other recipes from this week’s Secret Recipe Club reveal here: