Penne with Sausage and Pumpkin Tomato Sauce

This baked penne recipe is our favorite cozy comfort food. I add pumpkin to the tomato sauce for a silky-smooth sauce and replace the mozzarella with a creamy parmesan fondue.

Are you tired of the same old pasta dish? This recipe takes the boring midweek pasta to the next level with a few restaurant worthy additions. Of course, I have heard of adding pumpkin to tomato sauce, but I have never gone there. This year, with an outstanding pumpkin harvest, I decided to give it a try. I have one word, Wow!

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Pork Ragu with Squash and Sage Pappardelle

This is one of those perfect fall dishes that takes advantage of the fall vegetables and herbs. Pork simmered in a rich and savory broth served with pappardelle, sage, and thinly sliced butternut squash.

Our fall vegetable garden, much like the season itself, is filled with color. Pumpkins, squashes, and gourds are bursting throughout the garden and I do mean bursting. These vine plants can take over a garden if you are not careful. I give them their own garden away from my stalks, but there is a movement towards three-sister planting.

Three-sister planting is the process of planting corn, beans, and squash together. The Three Sisters, work together to help one another thrive and survive. I tried it once but it really messed with my compulsive organization personality. It felt cluttered and messy and I just could not deal with it. So my pumpkin and squash live together in their own little plot and we all seem to be happy with that.

One of the benefits of having them off by themselves is I do not accidently step on or nick the rind as it ripens and readies for harvest. This will lead to rapid deterioration. This gives us plenty of pumpkins which we use for our Fall Festival that includes pumpkin bowling and painting. Activities loved by all the children. And it gives me plenty of butternut squash. I love cooking with butternut squash.

Benefits of Butternut Squash:

Butternut squash is rich in important vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting antioxidants. It is low in calories, rich in fiber, and can protect against conditions like high blood pressure, cancer, and mental decline. But I love how versatile and easily it is to cook with. It can be added to both sweet and savory dishes and the burst of color is so much fun to work in recipes. For this recipe I fried it in butter with fresh sage leaves and added to my pasta. Those little half-moons add a brightness to the dish and they are absolutely delicious fried. It adds crunch to an otherwise soft dish.

Ragu vs Bolognese:

I wanted to use a Ragu for this dish. I just like how its hearty, rich flavor compliments fall dishes and vegetable like butternut squash. The main difference between Ragu and Bolognese is that Ragu sauce is thicker in texture. It uses a full-body red wine like burgundy or cabernet sauvignon. Ragus are also heavier on meat and minced elements. Whereas Bolognese is more of a red sauce with meat, ragu is meat in a red sauce. I added a whole white onion and garlic cloves to give it a bold and savory full flavor and opted for pork. And believe me, it is bold and delicious!

Pork Ragu with Squash and Sage Pappardelle

Cedar Oak Farms
Do not be intimidated by the cooking time. It is a simmer and forget three hours that will make your home smell cozy and warm, filled with bold scents. Your neighbors might be stopping by with bowl in hand as this simmers and releases its fragrant aromas.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4


  • 1 large onion peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, fat trimmed
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1-2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup strong red wine
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 can (15 ounces) canned pureed tomatoes
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup butter, 1 stick
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 batch (4 servings) homemade pappardelle
  • salt
  • freshly grind black pepper


  • Cut the pork into 1” chunks. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch Oven. Add the pork, onions, garlic, and herbs to the pot and fry for 5 – 6 minutes.
  • Stir in tomato paste. Deglaze the roast in 2–3 steps with red wine. Boil it down completely with each addition. Add the chicken broth and pureed tomatoes. Add bay leaves and bring to a boil. Then cover and simmer slowly over low to medium heat for 2 1⁄2–3 hours.
  • In the meantime, wash and core the butternut squash and cut into thick wedges. Use a vegetable slicer or mandolin to thinly slice the wedges together with the skin. Fry them with the butter and sage in a large skillet over a medium heat for about 4–5 minutes. Season with salt.
  • Cook the pappardelle in plenty of boiling salted water. Fresh pasta cooks up quickly, usually in 6 minutes, drain. Carefully fold in the squash.
  • Finally, season the pork ragu with salt, and pepper. Stir in the rest of the olive oil.
  • Plate the pappardelle and top with the pork ragu.
Keyword Pasta, Pork

Beef and Pumpkin Stew

A thick and hearty stew filled with fall flavors perfect for those chilly evenings.

It is that time of the year where the garden is coming to an end with just a few stragglers hanging on. Today I picked the last of the tomatoes, some herbs, a pumpkin, and a handful of onions. This may sound like a random array but isn’t that the best thing about soups and stews. You can pretty much throw anything into them, and they will come out perfect.

The Spices:

What spice goes well with pumpkin? For me, that’s cinnamon! Cinnamon gives food warmth, adds a natural sweetness, and mixes in a depth of flavor that is irresistible in this stew.  I use a teaspoon of cinnamon for this recipe, but if you are not used to using cinnamon in savory dishes you might need to adjust it a bit. It is such a distinctive flavor it might require easing into.


Do not throw any of that pumpkin away. Did you know you can eat every part of the plant? Pumpkin flowers, leaves, stems, seeds, flesh, even the skin are all edible. Some varieties are better for eating than other. Your smaller pie pumpkins are sweeter than your heirloom varieties, but all are edible. The harder varieties, like butternut or Queensland blue, are better for soups and stews. Soft varieties tend to make the soup watery.

Beef and Pumpkin Stew

Cedar Oak Farms
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 small pumpkin peeled and cut into 1” cubes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth divided
  • 4 – 5 tomatoes peeled and sliced
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 can (14 ounces) garbanzo beans, undrained
  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup roasted & salted pumpkin seeds optional
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley


  • In a 4-quart Dutch oven heat the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the beef on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove beef and keep warm.
  • Add the onion to the Dutch oven and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté for another minute.
  • Return the beef to the Dutch oven. Add 2 cups of vegetable broth and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to a rolling boil. Carefully, add 2 – 3 tomatoes to the water and let boil until the skin cracks, about 1 minute. Immediately place in cold water. Repeat until all the tomatoes have been processed. Set aside. Cut the pumpkin in half, discarding the pulp, but reserving the seeds. Cut the pumpkin into slices that are easy to peel. Cut into 1” chunks. Set aside.
  • After an hour, add the pumpkin, tomatoes, tomato sauce, garbanzo beans, orzo, and spices to the Dutch oven. Stir in the remaining 2 cups of vegetables broth. Bring to a slow boil then reduce to heat to low. Let simmer for another hour.
  • If you are choosing to use the pumpkin seeds, roast them during this time.
  • Stir the stew and taste. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Serve in bowls and garnish with the pumpkin seeds and parsley.
Keyword Beef, Soups & Stews

Gingered Cantaloupe with Sage Honey.

Fresh fruit makes the simplest dessert and is that perfect sweet ending to any meal.

We always look forward to the early summer garden with fresh corn-on-the-cob and tomatoes bursting in bright vivid colors. But there’s really something to be said about the early fall garden. For us here in Central Illinois that’s when our “orange” fruits and vegetables ripen giving us big beautiful pumpkins, the sweetest sweet potatoes, plump carrots, and a personal favorite, juicy sweet fruits like redhaven peaches and cantaloupe. It’s the cantaloupe that is highlighted in this fruit dessert.

Cantaloupe is perfect sliced in wedges and eaten plain, but if you want to elevate the flavors cut the fruit into melon balls and mix them with freshly grated ginger and a drizzle of sage honey. That peppery tang in the fresh ginger just hits the tongue in the most delightful way and changes the cantaloupe giving it a more dynamic flavor. Then the sage honey comes in with a sweet, clover-like flavor and tames the ginger. But what really brings it all together is the floral undertones in all three of the ingredients. The flavors explode in your mouth and then come together in a gentle swaying dance.

Just use a light hand with both the ginger and honey. Fresh ginger can be very potent and can overtake the more mellow cantaloupe. You know the rule: you can always add more, but you cannot take it away.

Black and Blue Salad

It’s product recipe time and this one couldn’t be easier, or tastier! The classic Black and Blue Salad using our Spaghetti and Steak Seasonings.


What is it about the bottom of a loaf of bread that is just so sad? In our kitchen the older the bread gets the less love it receives until it starts to look like a science project. That is until we decided to look at stale bread with new eyes and giving it a second life. One of our favorite ways to use older bread is to make homemade croutons. Croutons are extremely easy to make and with garden season just ahead perfect with salads giving them that wonderful crunch. We like to use rustic bread which gives the croutons an airiness, but you can use any bread you have on hand. Season the bread with our Spaghetti Seasoning to give it a kick of flavor. Blends especially well with a black and blue salad.


We know blue cheese dressing sounds like the obvious choice here, but we really love the taste of balsamic vinaigrette with steak. To tie the croutons and the salad together we mix up our own vinaigrette using an envelope of good seasons zesty Italian.  Here’s the recipe: Mix 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, 3 tablespoons water, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese with a package of Italian seasoning.

Black and Blue Salad

Cedar Oak Farms
A simple, yet delicious, salad using the bold blend of our Steak Seasoning. Homemade croutons made with our rustic country bread and spaghettis seasoning.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Salad
Cuisine American



  • 2 black angus boneless strip steaks
  • 2 tablespoons COFarms Steak Seasoning
  • 4 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese


  • 1/4 loaf rustic country bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons COFarms Spaghetti Seasoning


  • Sprinkle both sides of steak with Steak Seasoning and set aside bringing to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes and place in large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and Sprinkle with seasoning. Toss to coat. Arrange the cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 15 – 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  • Heat a grilling pan over medium-high heat, add the steaks and cook 3 -4 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Let steak stand 5 minutes before cutting across the grain into thin slices.
  • Divide the lettuce and parsley between to large salad bowls. Arrange onion, avocado, tomatoes, croutons and crumbled blue cheese on lettuce. Top with sliced steak. Serve with dressing of your choice.
Keyword Beef, Salad, Spaghetti Seasoning, Steak Seasoning