Monday, September 29, 2014

Simple Baked Spaghetti Squash

I kept seeing recipes for spaghetti squash on Pinterest, and really wanted to try it, especially after I had it as a side with a seafood entree last time David and I went out to dinner at Pappadeux's. I'm always hesitant to try a new food, knowing full well my hubby won't go near it with a 10 foot pole.'s true. My husband eats many different things, but will not eat any kind of winter squash. No buttternut, acorn, or pumpkin squash ever crosses his lips (except for pumpkin pie). I made this Carrot Apple Ginger Soup and he didn't like it...even though it has NO squash in it! So yeah...I've given up. :-( 

Anyways...we recently have cut out a lot of carbs in our diet. Not completely, but David and I definitely don't reach for chips, crackers, or bread anymore. I try to serve more veggies or fruit instead. I haven't really pushed the kids in this direction, If I tried to take every bit of carbs out of their diet, I would have 5 very unhappy kids. And while I'd be perfectly happy having mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, and quinoa instead of whole family would be up in arms...and this momma ain't got time for that! Right? 

My sweet Rebecca and I are the only ones who will eat spaghetti squash...and I guess I will keep trying to get the rest of the kids to try in. Meanwhile, that just means more for the two of us. ;-) 

Simple Baked Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash, wiped clean if necessary
2-4 tablespoons butter (I like 4 :-) ) 
2-4 cloves minced garlic 
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1-2 teaspoons fresh herbs (I used thyme, but you can use basil or another herb of choice)
salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

You can bake the squash 2 different ways. A) Cut the squash in half. Season with the salt and pepper. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until tender. A knife inserted in the flesh should go in easily without any resistance. B). Leave the squash whole (my preferred method). Use a small, sharp knife and stab (yep...stab) the squash at least 6 times, You need to do this or you will have a squash explosion in the oven...and let's not even imagine what a mess that would be. Bake the squash at 375 for one hour. If you push on the rind and it doesn't give at all, let it bake an additional 15 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and let cool for about 15 to 30 minutes. If you're short on time, just go ahead and cut it in half with a big knife. Just be's going to be very hot and steamy! 

Once you cut it open, scrap out the seeds and any pulp that clings to the seeds. 

Now comes the fun part! Take a fork and scrap out the flesh. It will fall apart into strings, that look amazingly like spaghetti. See? 

Keep going until you have both sides scraped out. Now, you could serve this as is, with a little salt and pepper. But I like to add some more flavor. 

Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Melt the butter, then add the spaghetti squash. Stir it around a few times to evenly coat with the butter. We're not cooking it any more, just adding some seasonings. Now toss in the thyme (or herb of choice), garlic, and parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately, with a fish fillet, pork chops, hanger steak...anything! It's the perfect substitute for pasta. After I made this the first time, I made a bolognesesauce and baked another spaghetti squash to go with it. It was least, Rebecca and I fought over the leftovers. I did make regular pasta for everyone else. :-) 

We got our first hint of fall last week here in southwest TX by way of a "cool" front, meaning we had 2 days of highs in the upper 80's and lows in the upper 60's, plus lower humidity. I'm sure any Yankee reading this is laughing their heads off. But fall means winter vegetables are on their way, and you should be able to find spaghetti squash easily in your grocery store. Buy one, bake it, and serve it won't regret it. 

God bless your table tonight! 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Finally, A New Recipe and an Answered Prayer

Hello!  I'm so sorry it's been forever since I posted.  My hard drive on my laptop crashed just after Christmas.  So we found an old drive and limped along for a little bit.  My hubby was so busy at work he just didn't have time to get it up to 100%.  Then that old drive crashed...WTH?!  Luckily the original drive was still under the 1 year warranty.  I know, I know, it didn't even last a year...what is UP with that anyway DELL!? 

So...we sent the corrupt drive off, and finally got the new one last week.  My techie spouse worked for hours to get my laptop set up again, so now I can finally blog again.  I could have gone upstairs and used the kids' computer, but loading pics from their old CPU is not fun...that's all I'm going to say. 

And...David was laid off for the second time the first week of June.  Good news...he as a contract job for 4 days/week. Please pray it will become a permanent position! It will take a year recoup financially, especially since our first round of unemployment in 2013 lasted 6 months. Thank you! 

Now, on to a NEW RECIPE! I'm sorry it's been SO LONG. I also started working 2 days a week last year and well...between that, homeschooling, and five kids...I honestly needed to sleep more than I needed to blog, although I missed cooking and posting recipes dearly. 

Over the summer, we harvested some beautiful beets from the garden.  I've had beet greens in salads plenty of times, but I confess, (gasp!) I've never cooked beets before.  Of course, I didn't dream of wasting them, so I polled my Facebook friends to get ideas.  I made a yummy Roasted Beet Salad...
and borscht!  I had borscht when I was younger, but didn't like it.  Thank goodness taste buds do grow up.  I made a big batch, and didn't regret it one bit.  I used fresh dill from the garden too...amazing!  There's a few more beets ready to pull from the vegetable bed...I can't wait to make another batch.  Best of all, borscht is meant to be served cold...perfect for a refreshing, healthy, summer lunch.

 (adapted from Weight Watchers)

4 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
5-6 fresh beets, scrubbed clean and finely diced/shredded
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 cups finely shredded red cabbage
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped (plus more for garnish)
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup sour cream

In a large stockpot, bring the chicken stock, water, beets, scallions, and brown sugar to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer (covered) for 15 minutes. Add the cabbage and dill. Continue to cook (covered) until the beets and cabbage are completely soft. 

Remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Leave the soup chunky or pureed in a blender (or use an immersion blender). My borscht was a little chunky but that was fine with me. Pour the soup into a nonreactive container (glass or plastic) and chill for 2-4 hours. 

Serve in pretty bowls with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of fresh dill. Isn't it pretty? I hope you can make this and enjoy it where ever you are. It's still hotter than heck here in Houston, so a cold soup really cools us down on a scorching hot day! 

God bless your table tonight!