Something big will happen to me tomorrow… I will wake up and discover that I am a millionaire! Yeah right, I wish! Tomorrow, I am hiking/running my very first race. DFJ and I signed up for this together a little over a month ago. It's a 15k race up a mountain (this mountain is not that big… it’s more like a huge hill), some flat road, and up the mountain again. This is something I would never have considered until DFJ suggested that we do it together. It would be pretty darn sweet to do my first race with my special someone. Unfortunately, when we were training two weeks ago, he lost his footing at the top of the mountain and sprained his ankle. The worst part was him hobbling down the hill on a bad foot. Ouch! The doctor says nothing is broken but he has to take it easy for 3 more weeks or so.
Now, I'm on my own and am so nervous about how I will do. For the most part, I plan on hiking the uphill and running the downhill. Then run/walk on the flat. Why in the world did I not train properly for this? Also, this being my first time, I have no clue what to expect. How crowded will the event be, what does it feel like to be in a race, what happens if I need to pee, what if I faint, what if I decide to quit in the middle of the race and go back to bed, and the worst is what if someone accidentally pushes me off the side of the mountain? Aaaaahhh! On top of all these anxiety issues, the weather will be ugly: rainy and windy. Some crazies will be doing the 100 mile run and they already started this morning… my goodness, running for two days straight… CRAZY!
Friends, please send me positive thoughts and energy tomorrow morning at 8.
On another note, in case you didn’t know, the Mega Millions is now $640,000,000! I stood in front of the lottery machine yesterday, no clue what to do, because I have never bought lottery tickets before. Eventually, I figured it out and bought 3 tickets. That amount of money is too ridiculous… I really hope 20 people or more will win it so the bounty will be spread. Who needs $640,000,000? Well, it probably will just be $300,000,000 more or less after taxes and all that stuff… but still, what in the world will you spend that much money on in your entire lifetime? Give some to your parents, kids, grandkids, invest in a business, travel the entire world, build a school, buy a restaurant, buy an airline, buy a sports team, buy the loveliest property in the South of France, move to New Zealand and live on a secluded beach? The possibilities are endless! Tell me, what would you do?
Meanwhile, as we ponder things to spend millions of dollars on, I bring to you a special pasta sauce that I am very proud of myself for coming up with… butternut squash pasta sauce with browned butter and sage. Ideas formed in my head and meticulous notes were taken. Then, I decided to check online and see if this sauce has already been invented. Well, duh, of course! The first one that came up was Martha Stewart’s recipe. Why? Why did she have to come up with everything already? Especially this sauce that I thought myself a genius for coming up with. Mind you, the recipe I made up was already written in my journal before I looked at Martha's. When I realized how close our recipes were, I added something extra to make me feel good about being creative... apples.
The roasted squash and apples tasted like the sweet heavens… The full flavors of the squash came out nicely and the sauce was sweet and creamy… the kind that sticks to every pasta instead of sliding off. Rich and flavorful in the healthiest way…
5 cups butternut squash, roughly chopped1 tbsp olive oil
about 4 large sage leaves, torn (or more)
4 garlic cloves, pressed
½ tsp salt
pepper, freshly ground
2 cups apples, roughly chopped
Browned Butter and Sage
1 tbsp butter, salted
about 4 large sage leaves, torn (or more)
Move the oven rack to the upper shelf and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large roasting pan, coat the butternut squash with olive oil and add the sage leaves, pressed garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix everything together well and make sure all the chopped squash gets coated with olive oil. Put the pan in the oven and roast for 30 minutes.
Take the pan out of the oven and add the chopped apples, then give everything a good stir. Roast for 15 more minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, stir, and let cool.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small nonstick pan on medium low heat. Once all the butter has melted, add the sage leaves and cook until the leaves turn brown. Turn off the stove and move pan away from heat.
Mash the roasted squash and apples with a potato masher or a fork. Move to a blender or food processor and puree until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour in the melted butter with browned sage leaves and blend some more.
Enjoy this sauce on various kinds of pasta, gnocchi, or some healthy greens.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Sauce Pasta with Lots of Vegetables
4 slices of bacon
1 tsp olive oil1 shallot, sliced
1 large portabella mushroom, roughly chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
2 cups roasted butternut squash and apple sauce
2 handfuls of baby spinach or baby arugula (if you don’t mind the arugulas peppery bitterness)
1 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper
2 ½ cups cooked penne
¼ cup or so of pasta water
Cook the penne according to package instructions.
In a nonstick pan, fry bacon slices over medium heat until nicely brown and crispy. Remove bacon from pan with tongs and move to a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Cover the bacon with another paper towel and crush into pieces with your palms. Move to a small bowl and set aside to be used as garnish.
In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. When the pan is hot, cook the shallots until slightly soft, about 1 minute. Throw in the chopped mushrooms and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Season with 1/8 teaspoon salt and some freshly ground pepper. Add the bell peppers and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the sauce and cook until it starts to simmer, about 4 minutes.
Toss the penne with the vegetables and sauce. Pour in the pasta water to thin the sauce a bit. Turn the heat to medium low and add the spinach. Mix well until the spinach has wilted. Throw in the frozen peas and stir a little bit more. Turn the heat off.
Serve with some Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese and bacon.
P.S. I’m officially on spring break!!!