Saturday, December 31


Serves: 10
  • 5 1/2 - 7 1/2 cups (~225 g) 1-inch bread cubes (depending on type of bread)*
  • 7 large eggs
  • 2 cups (480 ml) milk (any kind)*
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup (87 g) pumpkin butter (or 1/2 cup pumpkin puree)*
  • 3-4 tablespoons (41-55 g) brown sugar for topping
  • optional: Nuts, like pecan or walnuts
  1. Cut any kind of bread into 1-inch cubes - I recommend a crusty, whole grain variety, but sandwich bread will work, too. Just use enough slice to fill a lightly greased 9x13-inch baking dish quite full.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, pumpkin butter and pie spice until well combined. Pour over bread and push down with a spoon or your hands until it's all soaked and mostly covered. Cover with saran wrap or lid and refrigerate overnight.
  3. In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C), uncover and top with brown sugar, additional pumpkin pie spice and nuts (optional). Bake for 35-45 minutes or golden brown and no longer wet.
  4. Serve immediately with maple syrup, honey or agave nectar. Store leftovers in the refrigerator covered for up to a couple days.
* For the bread cubes, just use as much bread as it takes to fill the bottom of your dish generously, plus up about 1 to 1.5 inches. If you've added too much to soak up the liquid, just remove some. And if it looks too wet, add some more bread.
* I HIGHLY recommend using pumpkin butter as it has a concentrated pumpkin flavor and is much sweeter than puree. But if using puree instead of butter, it's important to compensate the flavor by adding a bit more puree, pumpkin pie spice, and a little agave nectar, brown sugar or maple syrup to the batter. Otherwise, it will lack that delicious fall, pumpkin flavor you're going for.
* I used 2%, but use skim or low-fat for a lighter recipe. Alternatively, use non-dairy such as soy or almond.

Photo and recipe from The Minimalist Baker!!!

Crockpot Butternut Squash, Chicken, and Quinoa Soup

Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 6 -8


  • 1 and 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 (4 cups) small butternut squash
  • 1 can (15.25 ounces) kidney beans
  • 1 can (15 ounces) corn
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 packet (1.12 ounces) fajita seasoning mix
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: fresh parsley, sour cream, cheddar cheese


  1. Remove the fat from the chicken. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve to remove the bitter saponin coating.
  2. Peel, seed, and chop the butternut squash into small bite-sized pieces (or buy pre-chopped butternut squash for an even faster prep).
  3. Rinse and drain the kidney beans and corn.
  4. Lightly grease your slow cooker with nonstick spray (I use a 6-quart crockpot). Add in the chicken, quinoa, chopped squash, kidney beans, corn, undrained tomatoes, garlic, and fajita seasoning packet. (OR try a chili seasoning packet if you enjoy those flavors better).
  5. Pour in the chicken broth and give everything a good stir.
  6. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or until the quinoa is cooked through and the squash is very tender.
  7. At this point you can remove some of the squash and mash it with a potato masher and then put it back in the soup. This is totally optional, but makes it a bit heartier.
  8. Add some salt and pepper to taste and any other seasonings desired. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.
  9. If desired, stir in some sour cream (we use and love reduced fat or fat free) and some freshly grated cheddar cheese.
  10. NOTE: slow cookers are known for cooking at different speeds - if yours tends to cook faster your chicken and squash could be done even earlier than 3 hours and alternatively everything may take longer to cook in a cooler slow cooker. The longer this cooks the more liquid the quinoa absorbs - if you don't mind that's fine, otherwise you can always add some more chicken broth and seasoning.

Recipe and photo from

Friday, December 30

One-Pan BBQ Chicken Burrito Bowls

Serves 4
For the chicken and rice:
8 ounces Roma tomatoes (about 2 or 3), cored and coarsely chopped
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, or mixture of both
To finish:
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons barbecue sauce
Optional toppings: Shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, sour cream, diced avocado, salsa, hot sauce, diced green onions, shredded lettuce, crushed tortilla chips
For the chicken and rice: Place the tomatoes, broth, garlic, onion, 1/4 teaspoon of the cumin, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Measure the amount of purée; you should have 2 cups. If you don't have enough, add more chicken broth or water.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is fragrant and starts to crackle, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato purée and bay leaf, stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any stuck grains of rice, and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cumin on both sides.
Add the chicken to the pan, nestling it into the rice. Make sure all the rice around the edges is submerged in purée. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer undisturbed until the rice is tender and the chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, use a rubber spatula to push the rice at the edges of the pan into the simmering liquid so that it cooks evenly.
To finish: Remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board, scraping off any stuck grains of rice back into the pan. Stir the rice, sprinkle the corn over it, then add the black beans over the corn in an even layer. Cover again and let sit undisturbed for 10 minutes for the corn and beans to heat through and the rice to finish steaming.
Meanwhile, when the chicken is cool enough to handle but still warm, cut it into bite-sized pieces. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the barbecue sauce, and toss to combine.
Stir the rice mixture to incorporate the beans and corn and remove the bay leaf. Taste and season with salt as needed. Serve with the chicken and toppings.

No-Boil Chicken & Tomato Pasta Bake

Serves 4 to 6
8 ounces dried rigatoni pasta
2 cups (about 8 ounces) chopped cooked chicken breast meat (omit to make vegetarian)
4 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups shredded cheese, such as mozzarella or a mix of mozzarella and provolone
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups milk (see Recipe Note)
For the cheesy basil topping:
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, and sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
Heat the oven to 400°F and lightly grease a 3-quart casserole dish, Dutch oven, or 9x13 casserole pan with olive oil.
In a large bowl, mix the dried pasta, chicken, garlic, and tomatoes (with their juices). Stir in the salt and a healthy quantity of black pepper. (If the tomatoes you are using have no salt in them, add an additional 1/2 teaspoon salt.) Stir in the shredded cheese and the Parmesan. Spread this mixture in the prepared baking dish or pot and pour the milk over top.
Cover the dish or pot tightly with a lid or a double layer of aluminum foil. Bake until the pasta is tender, about 50 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and turn the oven up to broil.
Meanwhile, prepare the herb topping. In a small food processor or chopper, whiz the breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, blending until the texture resembles wet sand.
Slowly remove the lid (or foil) from the casserole dish. Be careful, as steam will billow out. Spread the herbed breadcrumbs over the bubbling pasta and return the uncovered dish to the oven. Broil for 5 minutes or until the topping is toasted and crispy on top.
Take the casserole out of the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Recipes Notes:

  • Milk: The more fat in your milk, the thicker and more luxurious this dish will be. I have only made this with whole milk, which worked very well. I see no reason why lower-fat milks would not work as well, but they may be soupier, with a thinner sauce, when you first remove them from the oven.