Baked Ziti {with Pumpkin, Sausage, Spinach + Mushrooms}

The weather has finally dipped into the 70's this week and we are getting a glimmer of Fall around here.
I even wore boots for the first time this week! Yay!
Fall weather makes me crave casseroles & warm pasta dishes.
Every Sunday afternoon I do my meal planning for the week & go to the grocery store.
This past weekend we didn't get back from Tahoe until the evening and I was too tired to go to the store, plus the 49ers were playing the Broncos on Sunday Night Football and I wanted to watch the game.
Our fridge was pretty bare, but I had some sausage, mushrooms & fresh spinach.
I always keep pasta in my pantry, so I had a box of that. During the Fall, canned pumpkin is also a staple in my pantry. I decided to get a little creative & make up a recipe.
One of my favorite things to do is to test out different ingredients and make up recipes.
Sometimes they don't turn out so good and sometimes they turn out to be a winner.
This one was a winner! It was delicious.
Baked Ziti {with Pumpkin, Sausage, Spinach + Mushrooms}
 Here is what you need:
 1 (1lb) box of Pasta
1 lb of Sausage (I use Sweet Italian)
1 can (15 oz) canned Pumpkin
4 cups of fresh spinach
Diced Onion (I use pre-diced because my eyes are so sensitive to chopping onions)
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cayenne pepper
1 can (12 fl oz) Evaporated Milk. (I used low fat, but you could use non-fat)
2 cups Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup  Parmesan cheese

{Boil water for your pasta & have your pasta cook while you are making the sauce. Cook pasta according to package directions}
Cut your sausage links into slices.
 Cook your sausage & diced onions.
 After your sausage is fully cooked, remove the sausage from the pan & set aside. I kept some of the onions & sausage grease in the pan.
In the same pan, add the can of pumpkin, garlic powder, salt & cayenne pepper.
 Stir it up.
 Then add the can of evaporated milk (you could use half & half, but I didn't have that, so I used evaporated milk!)
Slowly add evaporated milk, stirring until smooth. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken slightly.
 Then, add the sliced mushrooms to the sauce (if you don't like mushrooms, leave them out...we love mushrooms!)
 Then add the sausage back into the pan. Stir & cook over meduim heat for another 2-3 minutes.
 Your pasta should be done cooking by now, so in a big bowl, mix the pasta, spinach, sauce & 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese.
 Mix it all together so the sauce has coated everything. Put into a 9x13 baking dish.
 Add another 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese & the 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan to the top.
 Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Then for an additional 5-10 minutes bake with out the foil.
This dish turned out delicious! It was full of flavor & not too pumpkin-y at all. 
In fact, I didn't even tell Kevin there was pumpkin in the pasta until AFTER he ate dinner & declared it delicious. I think if I told him there was pumpkin in it, he would have been skeptical about eating it. Ha!
Plus, he thinks I over do it with pumpkin during October & November. 
What? You can never have too much pumpkin :)
We had pumpkin beer with this meal & it was a yummy combo.
I love it when I can make a meal/recipe out of random things that I have in our fridge/pantry.
I also love that this dish had a lot of veggies in it....pumpkin, fresh spinach & fresh mushrooms!
This dish made a lot of food and it tasted great as leftovers the next day.

Check out more of my Pumpkin Recipes in my Recipe Box on my Toolbar!
Enjoy & Happy Friday!!!


Lake Tahoe in the Fall

We are having an October heat wave here in California.
The first 2 weeks of October it was in the 90's.
It was awful. Way too hot and it was causing me to be grumpy.
I am not a grumpy person, but 90 degree heat in October makes me grumpy.
Think I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, some people get that when they don't get enough sunshine, I was getting it because there was TOO much Sunshine!
It was LACK of seasons that was causing it. I needed Fall weather & I needed it ASAP.
So, last weekend we beat the heat and headed to Lake Tahoe for the weekend.
Lake Tahoe in the fall is beautiful.....the crisp mountain air & pretty fall colors.
It was awesome.
As we headed into the mountains, the temperatures were dropping and the Fall color was all over.

As soon as we got to our cabin, we rejoiced with the fresh mountain air and went on walk in the woods.
Luke found a snow sled in the garage & wanted to be pulled around in it. Hysterical.
Friday night was Friday Night Pizza Night as usual, but it felt so much better eating our pizza by the fire. (My favorite pizza toppings....pepperoni, pineapple & jalapeno. YUM!
Wine by the fire & watching "Mom's Night Out" Super cute movie!
Loved waking up Saturday morning and being COLD!!!!! 
This weather makes me so happy. I swear I should live in New England or in a state that actually gets Seasons & cold weather. No wonder I loved going to University of Colorado!
Hot coffee in the cold mountain air. Glorious!
Love the morning light shining through the trees.
Our plans for the day were for Kevin to take the girls on a Daddy/Daughter Adventure.
They went to Tahoe Tree Top Adventure where they did a Ropes Course up in the trees and did the ziplines.
 They had a such a fun Daddy & Daughter Day. We were so proud of them for being Brave and going on ziplines even when they were nervous about being so high up in the trees.
While Kevin & the girls were on their adventure, Luke & I got to hang out & we went adventuring in the woods. He loves going on nature walks.

I loved wearing boots, a scarf & a flannel. Fall clothes are my favorite!
Later that afternoon the 5 of us headed to the Lake.
I loved seeing all Fall colors around Lake Tahoe.
But, I couldn't believe how low the Lake is. So sad. We need rain in California!
I love Fall in Lake Tahoe. The last time we were in Lake Tahoe during the Fall is when I was pregnant with Kate!
I love the simplicity of going to Tahoe. No internet (besides our phones), getting to explore nature & all 3 kids love playing with all the old school toys at our cabin.
It was such a nice little weekend away, the only downfall was that we discovered a woodpecker has been chomping away at the cabin & Kevin had to patch a hole the size of a tennis ball on the side of our cabin.
So nice to get away for 48 hours as a family and enjoy real Fall weather :)
We are back home and sweating in the 80 degree weather. 
I really need to move to a state that has seasons, or just move to Tahoe full time :)


We've been BOO-zed

For the past few years, our kids have gotten Boo-ed by various friends.
It's such a fun tradition.
But, then this year some of our friends BOO-zed us!
What does it means when you get BOO-zed?
Boo-ing is for kids....Boo-zing is for adults!
So fun!
We pulled up to our house one evening & this was on our porch:

I thought we got Boo-ed, but then I looked inside...
We got Boo-zed! Love it! Inside our friends but some beers for Kevin & wine for me! 
I  knew I wanted to pass on this tradition and Boo-ze some of my neighbors, but I needed a printable explaining what to do, since our bag didn't have one.
I was going to make one, because you know I love making printables, but then I realized I was too busy & why re-invent the wheel when I am sure I could find one on Pinterest.
I knew there would be a variety of Boo-zing signs there.

 I searched Pinterest for "You've been Boozed" signs. There were lots, but I found one I liked. You can get it {HERE}
I put together some drinks

 Put them in a bag & added a copy of the "Boo-zed" instructions.
 Our friends who we Boo-zed also have kids, so I put together a "We've been Boo-ed" bag for their kids.
 I asked the girls what they wanted to put in the "Boo-ed" bag and they picked out Halloween cupcake mix, frosting, Halloween Cupcake liners and some stickers. Thank you, Target.
 I got the "We've been Booed" {HERE}
 Here are our 2 bags of goodies....a Boo-ze bag and a Boo bag.
 I absoutlely loved getting Boo-zed and can't believe this was the first time I have heard about it!
So, next time you "Boo" your friends kids, make sure you "Boo-ze" the adults as well.
Why should the kids have all the fun? :)


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