S’ghetti Squash Bake

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I eat a lot of squash. I’m no paleo fanatic, but I can’t get over how much I love these sweet noodles. So tasty!SAM_5825

So I’ve had my eye on some spaghetti squash bakes for a while. I finally decided to try this one. A lot of them are overloaded with cheeses–which you know will make me so sick–but this one is fresh and zesty. Plus, a sprinkle of parm on top gives it a nice cheesy taste that won’t upset the lactose intolerant.

Interestingly… When I went to make these, I thought it would be cute to place them in a ramekin. (You know, to be more single-serving like.) Imagine my surprise when all the noodles could fit into 3! What does this tell me?

First, these would make adorable sides.

Second, I eat a lot of squash noodles on a regular basis. I usually eat an entire one–a small one, but an entire one no less. And maybe that’s another reason why I like them so much. You get a lot of food that will fuel your body in a healthy way. That’s pretty great.SAM_5844

And pretty tasty.

Ingredients

1 small or half of one medium spaghetti squash

1 small roma tomato or a handful of grape tomatoes

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2 T onion, chopped & to taste

1 T parmesan

chopped basil

dash of cayenne

1 T olive oil

spritz of lemon
DirectionsSAM_5848
-To “bake” the squash in the microwave, you’ll want to halve the squash and spritz with cooking spray. Microwave on high for 3 minutes facing down. Turn squashes upward and microwave another 3 minutes. You may need to microwave for another minute if you can’t take a fork to the squash and pull out a few tender noodles with ease. Scrape out all the noodles into a medium bowl and set aside.SAM_5835
-Meanwhile, prep ramekins by spraying with cooking spray and setting broilers on high.
-Meanwhile and meanwhile, you can start sautéing onions and tomatoes in a small frying pan with cayenne, to taste.
-Now once your squash is finished and your veggies sautéed, mix both together in one large bowl. Now spritz with lemon and toss in oil and basil.
-Dish out the squash mix evenly into ramekins. Top with a little Parmesan, if desired.
-Broil until desired crispiness is achieved. I waited about 4 minutes, once the Parmesan crumbs had melted down a bit.
-Serve right out of the oven, nice and warm.
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Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup for the Crock-Pot

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Remember my adorable Crock-Pot? The one with the damask pattern my mom surprised me with? I used it like crazy over winter break, and now I’m back at it again, Crock-Pottin’ away (my new favorite verb). SAM_4942

Lately, I’ve been using it a lot to create tasty soups. I’ve blogged about this before, lots actually, that I love making big portions of soup.

Yes, this sort of goes against my single-serving approach, but it’s the one kind of cuisine I (1) can’t get enough of, and (2) one that I actually like having as leftovers. Why go against my usual routine? Because soups freeze so well. They almost never taste like leftovers.

Here’s what I do: After making a big batch of soup, I portion the remaining soup out to mason jars and old glass salsa jars I’ve saved. I like to freeze in glass because it’s more sustainable, reheats well, and freezing glass doesn’t break down chemical compounds as plastic containers do. So anytime I need a quick lunch-on-the-go, I grab one from the freezer in the morning, let it thaw throughout the day (leading up to lunch), and then heat it right in the glass jar. It’s kind of fun eating soup from a little glass jar, but you can always pour it into a bowl if you don’t get a kick out of that like I do.SAM_4947

So to make this very easy Crock-Pot soup, here’s what you need and need to do:

Ingredients
4 cups water
2 cans cream of chicken (or mushroom or celery) soup
2 cups cooked, chopped chicken (10 oz.)
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (or -10 oz. bag)
1 t garlic pepper seasoning
1.5 cups dried egg or rotini noodlesSAM_4952

Directions
-Turn the Crock-Pot on low if you have time to let it cook for 6-8 hours, high if you only have 3-4 hours.
-Stir in water, then condensed soup until well blended.
-Add in chicken, vegetables, and seasoning. Cover and cook.
-About 20-30 minutes before serving, add in the dry noodles. If you’re using the low setting, switch now to high. Serve once noodles are tender.

Zucchini Pizzas

As I continued to eat my way through the infant-sized zucchini I’d picked up at the Des Moines Farmers Market in late July, I remembered coming across a grilled zucchini pizza recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen.

But my apartment, like so many others, isn’t exactly conducive to grilling, and I wasn’t fortunate enough to have a George Foreman at my disposal. So once again, just like with my Grilled Corn Without the Grill recipe from July, I improvised with broiling.

The little za’s were a huge success! They tasted great. And I felt great knowing that I incorporated more healthy veggies into my lunch simply by swapping out traditional pizza dough crust with squash.

You’ll notice, too, that my zucchini rounds were pretty big, but I think using a smaller zucchini would make for adorable appetizers. Make them for your friends with gluten allergies (or gluten-free diets) and I promise they’ll love them.

Or if you’re trying to incorporate more veggies into your kids’ diets, let them make the zucchini za’s with you! They’ll be smiling bigger than this very happy zucchini face.

Ingredients

-3 large or 9 small zucchini rounds (about5-6 mm thick)

-1-2 T olive oil

-1/3 cup marinara sauce

-1/3 cup cheese

-1 t Italian seasonings

Toppings of choice

Directions

-Set broilers to high. Lightly grease a broil safe pan. Set aside.

-Coat each side of the zucchini rounds lightly with oil. Place on broiling sheet and broil on each side for about 3 minutes. Remove from oven once they’ve crisped up quite a bit.

-Spread sauce on each round. Top with cheese, seasonings, and desired toppings. Broil for another 3-5 minutes or until cheese starts to bubble and melt. Serve warm.

Zucchini Cookies & Mini-Muffins

 

Zucchini bread, otherwise known as Z bread to some, is a delicious treat. The best Z I’ve had came from a good friend of mine last winter. A Miss Angela Walther of Pleasureville, Kentucky, baked each of her friends a gift box full of southern treats right before we all left for Winter Break. They were all too tasty, especially the Z bread, and I loved that she shared with us the best recipes of her culture.

In cookie form

I’m not sure what was in Angela’s bread that made it taste so good, but I imagine lots of butter and sugar. I’ve got nothing against those ingredients. I’ll admit they’re tasty. And when a friend offers them to you, of course you enjoy them.

But I’ve found a Z bread recipe that rivals Angela’s sweet southern one. It comes from a mommy blogger committed to clean eating, and I just can’t get enough of it.

Makes four good-sized cookies, mini-muffins, or two regular muffins.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat or spelt flour
  • dash of cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and vanilla extract
  • 1/2 egg, mixed up
  • 2 T coconut oil (or vanilla yogurt or applesauce)
  • 1 T + 1 t honey
  • 1/2 cup grated zucchini
  • Optional: chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheet, muffin tin, or small loaf pan (depending on what kind of bread you’d like to make.
  2. Blend the dry ingredients.
  3. Make a hole in the center and pour in the egg, oil, honey, and vanilla, but do not overmix.
  4. Fold in zucchini (and chopped nuts if using).
  5. Pour batter into baking dish or choice and bake until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the baked good. About 12-15 minutes.

    Are you feeling more mini-muffin or cookie-like today?

Enjoy each little treat thoroughly.

Or if you’d like to save some for later, these will stay fresh in the freezer for quite a long time.

 

“Squashed” Bread Pudding

So I had a lot of butternut squash leftover and wasn’t sure what to do with it. Until, that is, I found a dessert recipe for butternut squash.

Hmm. I’m always up for trying new desserts, especially ones featuring squash.

Much to my surprise, the end result was pretty good. You’d never know squash was in this recipe. And it tastes almost exactly like warm bread pudding.

Top it with a dollop of ice cream and you’ve got a winning combination.

Winter isn’t my favorite season, but winter squashes are quickly becoming my favorites! Try this recipe next time you’re feeling adventurous.

Ingredients

2 T + 2 t squash puree

1 T stevia

2 t vegan butter

2 t lemon juice

1/5 of an egg, mixed (or try a flax egg)

1.5 T spelt flour

dash of baking powder, ginger, salt, cinnamon, and allspice

Surprise! I shaped a hole in the center of my pudding and filled with a little chocolate cake batter. Yum.

Directions

-Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a small ramekin and set aside.

-Mix puree, stevia, and butter. Blend in juice and egg.

-Then slowly add in the remaining dry ingredients. Once well mixed, transfer to ramekin and bake for 12-14 minutes.

If you like a gooey bread pudding, take the dish out a little early.

And don’t skimp on the ice cream. You deserve it!

Butternut Squash Fries

Butternut squash is a “winter squash,” i.e. one that’s harvested most in early fall to winter.

So as cold weather approaches, I’m trying out new winter squash recipes like there won’t be another winter coming. Remember my butternut squash mac-n-cheese? Too tasty for words!

Now I’m trying butternut squash–French-fry style. And the recipe is so easy, it’s practically foolproof.

Makes one generous serving of fries.

Ingredients

-about 1 1/2 cups butternut squash

-cooking oil or spray

-seasonings of choice (I used a little onion salt)

Directions

-Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside.

-Slice squash into fry-like strips. Toss in 1 t or less oil, or lightly coat with cooking spray. Lay on sheet and sprinkle lightly with seasonings.

-Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove sheet and flip fries, so the sides bake evenly. Bake another 20 minutes or so. Once the fries start to brown, remove from oven. If you like a crispier fry, broil for 3-4 additional minutes.

Serve warm with some tasty ketchup (my favorite comes from Trader Joe’s!).

Harvest Pumpkin Chili

If you follow this blog, you’ve read about my friend Sareena more than once. I’m mentioning her again because this time I cooked something for her and her new family last Sunday.

It started as a sweet idea: Our friend Sarah started a Facebook group for friends to sign up to bring the new family–“new” since the coming of their new baby, Lydia, in late August–a home-cooked meal. Several of us took turns making sure this new family was well fed.

Since it’s fall, high-time for chili eating, and Vince loves pumpkin-based dishes, I went with a pumpkin chili recipe from SnackGirl.

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical. I don’t normally like mixing sweet and savory.

But this recipe was really good! Not too sweet at all.

I’ll link here to SnackGirl’s full-size recipe (serves 6), but you can find a single-serving version below:

Ingredients

3 oz. lean ground turkey

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

5 oz. crushed tomatoes

1 T green chili peppers

1/4 cup chickpeas (black beans would work well, too)

1/2 T chili powder, oregano, and cumin

2 T diced red onion

red pepper flakes to taste

Directions

-In a skillet, saute onion in cooking spray or 1 t olive oil for 5 minutes or so (’til golden brown).

-Add in ground turkey. Let it cook all the way through before adding in all remaining ingredients.

-Simmer for as long as you like. The longer, the better. But if you do let it sit for a few hours, you might want to add a T of water or so to keep it from drying out.

Serve warm with your favorite wheat roll or corn muffin.

Barley-Stuffed Acorn Squash

When my mother mistakenly bought an acorn squash instead of a butternut squash, I saw an opportunity.

Although I had never heard of acorn squash before, and there aren’t an overwhelming number of recipes featuring this winter squash, I did find one that sounded intriguing. Barlety-stuffed acorn squash cups. It sounded intriguing.

The final result? Pretty good. I have to admit that the squash itself tastes a little plain, but the second time I tried this recipe I coated the pre-baked squash pulp with a little sea salt and chili-flavored olive oil, and added crushed garlic to the barley.

Much better.

And a fairly easy recipe for a cold day in late fall.

Ingredients

-1/2 acorn squash, pulp scraped out of center

-sea salt

-olive oil (flavored or regular)

-1/4 cup uncooked barley

-2 T chopped veggies of your choice (carrots, tomatoes, peas, etc.)

-1 t crushed garlic

-1 t vegan butter

-parsley and pepper to taste

Directions

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take the squash and coat with salt, oil, and other seasonings you like. Place the pulp side down on a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.

-Meanwhile, boil the barley ’til soft. Drain.

-In the same pot, spray a little cooking oil and start sauteeing the veggies you chose. Mix in garlic and butter. Then mix in drained barley ’til evenly mixed and most of liquids are absorbed.

-Stuff the squash with the barley mix and bake for another 5 minutes or so.

Serve warm (right out of the oven), and enjoy!

Butternut Squash Mac-n-Cheese

I have a hard time believing anyone who says they don’t like squash.

“Seriously?”

“Have you ever tried it?”

Squashes of all sorts can enhance any dish. The flavors are agreeable, and the texture can vary significantly, depending on how you prepare it.

But most importantly, squashes are packed with nutritional benefits. Take butternut squash, for example. Whole Living calls it a “power food” because it’s packed with fiber, phytonutrients to fight off cancer, and carotenoids that help prevent heart disease.

Sound even yummier? I thought so.

So try this Butternut Squash Mac-n-Cheese, adapted for one from O Mag’s recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dry whole-wheat elbow macaroni
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 1 t wheat flour
  • 2 T non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup butternut squash
  • 3 T shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
  • pinch or so of salt, paprika, and pepper

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the macaroni and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain in a colander.

While the macaroni is cooking, coat a large saucepan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the oil, then the flour, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture resembles a thick paste but has not browned, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the milk and cook, stirring every now and then, until the mixture begins to thicken, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the squash puree, Cheddar, and seasonings and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Stir in the macaroni and serve warm.

I’ve seen similar recipes with interesting mix-ins: apple-smoked turkey bacon, crisped apples, and so on. Although I loved this one with squash only, some protein or meat mix-ins would make for an even more flavorful combination.

Zucchini Lasagna

I’ve tried a lot of Italian-inspired squash dishes.

Spaghetti Squash.

Italian Squash Bakes.

Involtini. (Probably my favorite.)

They’ve all been delicious and fairly simple to make.

But this one… Well, this one takes the Italian wedding cake!

And the odd thing is, it’s almost too easy and quick to taste as good as it does.

I suppose you could spend some more time sauteing the zucchini, marinating the meat, or roasting red peppers in herbs all day to go on top.

But who really has time for that? Not this grad student and teacher. So rest assured that this quick-and-easy, gluten-free lasagna for one tastes just as good as anything you’d spend all day preparing, especially when it’s laced with hunger sauce.

Ingredients

cooking spray or olive oil

4 large zucchini rounds, sliced thinly

1/2 cup tomato sauce (try my Sauce From Scratch recipe!)

3 T ricotta

1 T whole-wheat bread crumbs

Italian seasonings mix

1/4 cup meat (I used ground venison, but shredded chicken, or ground turkey or tofu would make for nice alternatives)

freshly grated Parmesan

Directions

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet with oil or spray. Place zucchini rounds on top and grease the tops of those, too. When the oven is preheated, pop the rounds into the oven for about 5 minutes on each side.

-Meanwhile, lightly grease your ramekin and spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the dish. Set aside.

-In a small bowl, mix ricotta, bread crumbs, and Italian seasonings.

-Once the zucchini are finished in the oven. Take them out and let cool slightly. Place one round on the bottom of the ramekin. Cover with ricotta mix, 1/3 of the meat, and then a layer of sauce. Repeat.

-When you get to the last zucchini round, simply top with sauce and as much Parmesan as you like. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the edges start to get crispy and the cheese has melted a bit.

Remove and serve warm.