Snack Time: Green Goddess Dressing

Greeen Goddess Dressing_A Little Yumminess

Pretty much everything tastes great after a dip in this classic, creamy, delicious Green Goddess Dressing: vegetable crudite, steamed or roasted green beans or asparagus, slices of leftover roasted chicken, even potato or pita chips. Make a big batch of this dressing over the weekend and pack it into small containers for easy weekday snacking.  I am known to to just grab a spoon and eat it by itself from time to time.  In addition, aside from being a “dip”, it is a dressing, and instantly “wake ups” an everyday salad! Continue reading

Picnic Time: Savory Cheddar Muffins

Cheddar-Bacon Muffins

This past summer the San Jose Mercury featured several recipes that we created specially for them, for picnics and pool time adventures.  In the Bay Area, the months of September and October bring us some of our best weather.  It has been so super hot on some days the past weeks few, that some of us have found ourselves (secretly) wishing for fog.  However, while it is warm, and before the rains come (fingers crossed), some of these grab-and-go snacks are great to have lying around.  These cheddar-bacon muffins are a fun cooking project to do with the kiddos on the weekend, before you head out on an adventure. Continue reading

Picnic Recipe: Penne with Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese

I made this for our recent food adventure picnic at the de Young.  I used pre-cut butternut squash from Trader Joe’s and roasted it on a baking tray lined with foil (easy clean-up) the night before the picnic.  To make it kid friendly, I fine diced the onions and omitted the basil from the kids version (lest “green-phobia” lead to rejection of dish).  You can omit the nuts if you have allergies.  If the little ones are picky, the butternut squash can be pureed after roasting and mixed in versus having it in bite sized chunks.  Penne with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese by Giada De Laurentiis is satisfying, yummy and the perfect picnic food.

Penne with Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese


  • Vegetable oil or cooking spray
  • 1 (2-pound) butternut or kombucha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (I used less)
  • 1 onion, chopped in small dice
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)
  • 1 packed cup chopped fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan


1) Place an oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2)  Spray a lined baking sheet, liberally, with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.

3)  Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bake for to 20 to 25 minutes until the vegetables are golden and cooked through. Turn squash pieces over and scatter onions around squash and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

4) Boil pasta per package directions. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Put the pasta, goat cheese and 1 cup of pasta water in a large serving bowl. Toss until the cheese has melted and forms a creamy sauce (easy mac & cheese?). Add the squash and onion mixture, the walnuts and the basil. Toss well and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with Parmesan and serve.