Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Jack O’ Lantern Pepper Pumpkins

Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O Lanterns Halloween Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

I’ve been wanting to make these jack o’ lantern pepper “pumpkins” for a long time, so I was very happy when October arrived.  :)

One of the best parts was when my two-year-old looked into the fridge drawer, saw the orange peppers, and exclaimed, “Pumpkins!”

And that was before they had faces.

Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O Lanterns Halloween Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

Don’t they just look amazing?  And I didn’t even do a spectacular job of carving them.

I mean, they’re not magazine cover worthy or anything, but my kids thought they were pretty awesome.

But no – in case you’re wondering – we didn’t actually eat the peppers.

The pieces carved from the faces were added to the spaghetti, but the peppers themselves were rinsed after dinner and used the next day in an omelet.  A breakfast for dinner kind of thing.

Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O Lanterns Halloween Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

If you’re in a hurry, or planning to do this on Halloween evening itself and don’t think you’ll have time to make it, you could prep it by cutting all of the veggies ahead of time and storing them in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.

Or you could just use jarred sauce.

But I put together this recipe because I wanted to have a bit of spice in my meal, seeing as how I was going to be serving it in peppers and all.

And it is easy.  Look at the photo:  just a handful of ingredients.

The hardest part was carving the “jack o’ lanterns,” and, really, the peppers are MUCH easier to cut than actual pumpkins, so I have no complaints about the process.

Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O Lanterns Halloween Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

You’ll notice that I call for 6 to 8 peppers in the recipe, but I only used 3.

The peppers were pricey when I bought them, and I simply refused to buy more than enough for me and my two daughters.  But the recipe makes quite a bit of spaghetti and you can fill quite a few more than 3 peppers.  The final amount, however, is up to you and depends on your needs and desires.

Another important note:  before you buy the peppers, it’s helpful to check and see if they can stand on their own.  You can always balance them on top of the spaghetti when serving them, but it’s nice if they can stand up all on their own without falling over.

Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O Lanterns Halloween Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

As I said, the meal itself is pretty easy to make, and I would certainly suggest not just reserving it for a once-a-year treat.

If you want to celebrate autumn and not Halloween specifically, you could serve the spaghetti in the peppers without carving them.  Or serve it in small hallowed out pumpkins instead.

For the spaghetti, after you cook the veggies, you just stir in the tomato sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes to get all that yummy flavor dispersed.

Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O Lanterns Halloween Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

Then toss in the noodles – oh, I’m sorry:  worms.

My kids loved the fact that we were eating worms for dinner.

It’s why I used linguine instead of spaghetti.  We eat spaghetti noodles all the time, and they would certainly work for this recipe, but the linguine gave us a slightly different texture.

More worm-like.

But scrumptious worms.  Seriously:  this is good stuff.

Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O Lanterns Halloween Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

Come on … don’t those jack o’ lanterns filled with worms just look devilishly delicious??

I just can’t get over how adorable these are!

If you agree, please leave me a comment telling me all about it.  And don’t forget to Pin your favorite pics to remind yourself that you totally have to try this recipe.  :)

Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O Lanterns Halloween Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O’ Lanterns

Ingredients:

6 to 8 orange sweet peppers
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 medium sweet onion, diced
28 to 32 ounce can tomato sauce
1 pound linguine

To make the jack o’ lanterns: cut the tops off of the orange sweet peppers. Scoop out the insides and discard. Using a small, sharp knife, carefully cut out faces in desired patterns. Reserve the pieces.

To make the spicy spaghetti: add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large pan and warm over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until nearly translucent, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add garlic, jalapeno, and diced pieces of reserved pepper from the jack o’ lanterns to the onions, adding a little olive oil if the pan appears dry. Continue to cook over medium for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until peppers are softened, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomato sauce to the onions and peppers. Combine well and gently simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.

Meanwhile, cook the linguine according to the package directions. Drain pasta and add it to the tomato sauce. Toss to combine.

To serve: scoop the linguine and sauce onto a large platter. Place the jack o’ lantern peppers on the spaghetti. Fill the peppers with spaghetti and top with the pepper stems.

[Note: after the meal, the peppers can be rinsed and reused in another dish, such as an omelet.]

**********

And click here to print the free PDF version of the recipe:  Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O’ Lanterns

Enjoy!

Roaming Rosie Signature

Advertisements

Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce

Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce Recipe

This dish has such a fun flavor, and it’s a nice change to the everyday (albeit wonderful) regular ol’ marinara sauce.

Spaghetti with spice.

This recipe is based on Penne with Vodka Sauce by Giada De Laurentiis.  I’ve been making it for years, and, in the beginning, I was pretty much following her recipe word for word.

Then, one day, I went to make it and discovered that the only vodka we had in the house was orange flavored.

Hmmm.

Well, I threw caution to the wind and, for one of the first times in my life, I changed up a well-tested recipe.

I was not disappointed.

This stuff is awesome.  First of all, the vodka – any flavored vodka – adds a nice sweetness to the finished product.  Regular vodka may not have much of a flavor on it’s own, but when you simmer it with tomatoes, it makes a very rich sauce.  By using the orange flavored vodka instead, you also give the dish a noticeable citrus touch.

And it makes your kitchen smell amazing as it cooks.

Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce

I’ve been making this version for quite a while now, and I just can’t go back to the regular recipe.  I love the fruitiness.  It’s one of the more unique flavors in my repertoire.

And it’s easy to make.

All of the ingredients are pictured above, so the only thing I don’t usually already have in my pantry is the heavy cream.  When I pick some up, I make this dish.

I use the Traditional Ragu bottled sauce because it’s a very basic sauce:  just tomatoes, mostly.  No overpowering herbs, no big chunks of veggies – I don’t want things like that to overshadow the awesomeness of the flavor behind the meal.

It’s also quick.  The whole thing from start to finish only takes about a half hour.  Just make sure you simmer it for a full 20 minutes, to cook off the alcohol.

Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce

It’s a pretty basic process.

And the noodles can cook while the sauce simmers.

I usually throw them in some boiling water when the gravy  sauce is about halfway done.

And you don’t have to use Rigatoni.  I’ve used Penne as well, but I prefer the bigger noodles for this.

Also, once you mix the sauce and the noodles, it may appear at first as though there is too much sauce.  Keep mixing and the sauce will absorb into the macaroni.

When I dish it up, I sometimes add a scoop of Ricotta to the top.  Some people like to mix it in, but I leave it like that, picking up a little cheese and a couple noodles in each bite.  I like the contrasting textures.  But the Ricotta is not necessary.  Just a nice touch.

Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce

Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce

Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6+

Ingredients:

1 quart (or 6 cups or 2-24 Oz. jars) of smooth marinara sauce
1 cup Orange-flavored Vodka
1 tsp. each pepper & garlic powder
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 grated Parmesan
16 Oz. Rigatoni
Ricotta, to taste (optional)

Cook the pasta, according to directions.

In a large saucepot, combine the marinara sauce, vodka, and spices. Bring the marinara sauce and vodka to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. The sauce should reduce by about 1/4.

Stir in the cream and gently simmer for a few minutes until heated through.

Stir in the Parmesan. Continue to heat until the cheese is melted and fully combined.

Stir the cooked and drained pasta into the sauce. Mix well.

Serve with a scoop of Ricotta, if desired.

*****

Click for the Free Printable PDF:  Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce

Enjoy!

Roaming Rosie Signature

Ocean Sensory Play Bath

ocean sensory play bath

This was a wonderful activity – so easy to set up and so much fun for the girls!

I incorporated this into Letter O Day.  (I know, I know:  I’m a little behind in posting all of the Alphabet Activities and their free printables, but I’m getting there…)  It’s an activity that I found on Pinterest, originally from Growing a Jeweled Rose.

The girls have always loved sensory bins where they search for small toys in a little tray or bowl, but I loved the idea of allowing them to immerse themselves in a giant sensory bin!

I made it in much the same way as my inspiration, with just a small change:  I didn’t add food coloring to the water.  I didn’t think it was necessary, and, as the bath went on, a little of the food coloring seeped from the noodles and colored the bathwater anyway.

ocean sensory play bath

As you can see, in the above photo, I started with plain bathwater.  I threw in the noodles, spread them around, tossed in a few ocean-themed toys, and let the girls climb in.

To make the noodles, I took 3 pounds of spaghetti and cooked it in two pots.  One pound went in one pot, with quite a few drops of green food coloring, to make the “seaweed,” and the other two pounds went into the other pot, with a LOT of blue food coloring, to make the “water.”  Or “blue seaweed,” or “coral” or “algae.”  Whatever.

After cooking the spaghetti, I rinsed it off in a colander in the sink to get rid of excess food coloring.  I didn’t want to turn my girls blue, after all.

ocean sensory play bath

After spreading around the spaghetti, we threw in their ocean animal squirt toys and a handful of mermaids.  It wasn’t a ton of toys, but it was enough.

They mostly played with the noodles, anyway.

ocean sensory play bath

Before climbing in, the girls stood outside the tub, feeling the spaghetti with their hands, then gently dipping in their toes.  Lots of giggles.

Then they jumped right in.

They held the spaghetti in their hands, wiggled it between their toes, “wrote” on the sides of the tub with it, and dumped handfuls on each other’s heads.

ocean sensory play bath

We made all kinds of shapes out of the spaghetti on the tub sides and on the tile wall.  My 20-month-old did a lot of swirling and slow movements with her hands and feet in the noodles.  My 3-year-old made patterns on the edge of the tub for her mermaids to sit in.  She concentrated pretty hard on her projects.  But even with all that focus, there was so much laughter and endless smiles.

They even helped me dump the spaghetti into a plastic bin before draining the tub.  They thought it was fun to use the little metal colanders with handles to help scoop it all up.

And, afterwards, the girls got a good scrub, and I made sure to dump some baking soda and white vinegar down the drain, because some noodles did escape me.

Overall, a great, great project.  So much fun!

It’s been requested multiple times, although I may do it in a little blow-up pool next time.  Kinda like our blustery day water play.  We’ll see.  :)

Roaming Rosie Signature

Easy Spinach Alfredo with Chicken

Spinach Alfredo with Chicken

This is one of my go-to recipes when I want something easy to make that my kids will eat.

I know it may seem strange, but my girls have always eaten this, ever since they started on solid foods, and even though it has spinach in it.

Maybe it’s because I’ve always served spinach, but my kids like it.  Of course, they like it best smothered in Alfredo sauce.

So I’m advocating this recipe as not only “easy,” but also “kid-friendly.”

Spinach Alfredo with Chicken

Anyway, the recipe can be altered to your tastes.  For example, I tend to change up which Alfredo sauce I buy.  Depends on what’s on sale.  :)

And I always make this after I’ve made chicken of some kind.  The chicken seen here is shredded chicken thighs that were “grilled” on the stove top the night before.  You can use white or dark meat, or both. Just make sure it’s seasoned.  Plain chicken is sooooo boring.  To me, at least.  So make your chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, or whatever you normally use.

I like to shred it by pulling it apart with my fingers (which is the fastest method I’ve found) the night that it’s cooked.  That way I can just pull the shredded meat out of the fridge when I’m ready to make this.

Spinach Alfredo with Chicken

And when it comes to the spinach, I have no idea how much you would use if you’re using fresh.  I’ve always used frozen for this, because I always have frozen spinach on hand.

Here I used the steam-in-the-bag spinach from Target, because that’s what was the cheapest when I went shopping, but I usually stock up on the boxes (that are the same size:  10 oz.) when they’re on sale.

Either way, make sure you drain the spinach really, really well.  Spinach holds a lot of water and that water will make your dish far too soggy and keep the sauce from sticking to the pasta.

To drain the spinach, I usually press it into a mesh colander with a fork until no more water drips out.

And I suggest mixing in the spinach before stirring in the chicken or noodles, to make sure there are no dense clumps of spinach hiding in your finished meal.

Spinach Alfredo with Chicken

And that photo is just a close up to show you what I used this time:  Roasted Garlic Parmesan Alfredo.  But any type of Alfredo will work.  Could even make your own Parmesan white sauce instead.

Also, taste it before serving, because, if you’re like me, you may want to mix in a little extra pepper or garlic powder if your chicken wasn’t seasoned enough.  I like my spices to be noticeable.  :)

Easy Spinach Alfredo with Chicken

Easy Spinach Alfredo with Chicken

Ingredients:

3 cups penne pasta
2 cups shredded chicken
10 oz. chopped frozen spinach
2 jars (16 oz. each) Alfredo Sauce (I used Roasted Garlic Parmesan Alfredo)

Cook the pasta and the spinach (separately) according to the directions on the package.

Drain all water from the spinach, through a mesh colander or towel, or your sauce will be too wet.

Pour the sauce into a very large saucepan.  Stir in spinach, combining well.  Then stir in chicken and cooked pasta.

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

*****

And here is the FREE printable PDF:  Easy Spinach Alfredo with Chicken

Or, you can Pin this photo:

Spinach Alfredo with Chicken Recipe

Enjoy!

And I’m curious:  do your kids like spinach?

Roaming Rosie Signature

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

When I was five years old my favorite food was macaroni and cheese.

Nothing’s changed.

Seriously, I could eat this stuff every day.  But it IS nice to change up the elbows and cheddar routine.  And one of my favorite ways to do that is with Gouda.

As you’ll see, I also incorporated sausage into this.  You could do that in a variety of ways, but I chose to fry the sausage and cut it into half-slices.  You could also remove the casing and crumble it into the pan to cook, if you think you’d prefer that.

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

I also added half a sweet onion for flavor.  As you can tell from the photos, I removed most of the onion before adding the sausage pieces to the macaroni because they’d become a little too dark for my taste.  I didn’t want the taste of the burnt onion pieces in my final dish, but cooking the sausage with the onions gave it a nice depth of flavor.

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

This recipe also calls for a basic roux.  Butter, flour, milk, cheese:  voila.

And pepper.  Gotta have my spice.

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

Also, I used Corkscrew pasta.  I like to change up the shapes of pasta sometimes, but keep in mind that when using a different shape of pasta than what the recipe calls for, you may need to adjust the amount.

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

You could easily use regular breadcrumbs, but I like using Panko sometimes.  I used it here.

If you’re not going to bake it right away, wait to add the breadcrumbs until just before baking.  Sometimes I put a little bit of my mac mixture into a small ramekin or two to keep in the fridge to bake another day.

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

And, if your breadcrumbs don’t brown as much as you’d like by the time the sauce is bubbling nicely, then just broil it for a couple minutes.

As you can see from my photo, the Panko don’t brown as quickly or evenly as regular breadcrumbs.  But they’re still toasty, even the parts still light in color, so it still adds a nice crunch to the dish.

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

Sausage and Gouda Mac & Cheese

So, here’s the path to yumminess:

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

2 cups corkscrew pasta
2 to 4 sausage links
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 Tbs olive oil
5 Tbs butter, separated
3 Tbs flour
2 tsp pepper
3 cups whole milk
2 cups (8 oz.) apple smoked Gouda, shredded
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Heat olive oil in a pan. Add onion and sausage and cook until onions are translucent and sausage is at least mostly cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove sausage from pan and slice into 1/4 or 1/2 inch slices, and cut the slices in half. Return sausage to pan, adding extra olive oil if the pan is too dry, and cook until the pieces are well-browned on all sides. Drain on paper towels, removing any onions that have become too dark (or all of them if you only want the flavor of them in the meat).

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions. Also, in a small dish, melt the 2 Tbs butter and mix the panko into it. Set panko aside.

Melt 3 Tbs butter in a saucepot. Sprinkle flour over it and stir well to create a roux. Add pepper and stir for a minute to lessen the taste of the flour. Remove from heat and whisk in milk. Return to heat and cook at medium high, stirring frequently, until just starting to boil. As soon as it starts to bubble, turn heat to low and stir in cheese. Stir until cheese is fully incorporated.

Stir the cooked pasta and sausage into the cheese sauce. Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle the panko over the top.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5 minutes more, or until sauce begins to bubble. If desired, you can broil it for 2 minutes to achieve a well-browned crust on the breadcrumb topping.

(Note: Dish can be stored in the fridge or freezer before baking. Let sit at room temp at least 30 mins from fridge before baking and add 10 mins to baking time. Do not add panko until ready to bake.)

*****

Print the FREE PDF of the recipe:  Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

Enjoy!

Roaming Rosie Signature