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Archive for the month “January, 2013”

Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs

I will preface this entire post by saying this was my first adventure with spaghetti squash. This first run was how I learned you can’t trust the internet, or at least just what you want to believe from the internet. I knew this would take awhile to cook, so I wasn’t in for a 30 minute meal or anything, but I still woefully underestimated cooking time… alas, can’t win them all. BUT it still turned out pretty delicious, so here goes…

What you need:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • olive oil
  • italian herb blend (oregano, basil, garlic, onion etc)
  • tomato sauce (though I admit I generally use stuff out of the jar, for this I did the whole diced tomatoes, herbs, garlic, onions, simmered down and then used to cook the meat balls in… was DELICIOUS. Highlight of the meal actually)
  • meatballs (I’ll put a few photos at the bottom, but I really just used this highly rated meatball recipe from Food Network – even includes a variety of ‘quick sauce’ on the page too… fancy)

For those who don’t know, this is a spaghetti squash

Step 1: Cut the squash/scoop it out 

Like any other squash, use care in cutting this. My strategy was to cut off each ends, and then split it long way.

And then you get this! (which is probably what you expected to see…. but hush you)

So then you scoop. Out of this lovely squash, we got about a pint glass of seeds, inner goop etc.  Mmmm refreshing, huh?

Step 2: Season & Bake 

Alright, at this point, when my squash was scooped, I put it in a large baking dish. I rubbed the inside with the italian blend and a teaspoon of olive oil, and covered it with foil.

I was told by the internet to bake like this for an hour… But this was a blatant lie. If you go the baked route, put aside at least 90 minutes, and consider putting about 1/4 inch of water in the bottom of the pan to speed up the cooking/steaming process. Live and learn I suppose… but seriously, we were VERY hungry by the time this was actually done.

Step 3: Shred

If your squash doesn’t shred easily, it’s not fully cooked. It should be easy to get long strings of squash out of one of these.

Step 4: Cover with sauce & meatballs. As I noted, while the squash was cooking, I simmered  2 cans of diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, and the meatballs in order to make our sauce. But jar sauce is fine here too. I would’ve written out all the meatball details, but honestly that recipe was perfect just the way it was, so no need to rehash. Here are some pics though for your mouth-watering enjoyment.

Searing the outside seals in the flavor

Once they’re seared, you simmer them in the sauce for 30-45 minutes… the meatballs are then fully cooked and tender, and your sauce has an absolutely delicious flavor

Next time I will try this with turkey meatballs or even vegan tempeh or quinoa based meatballs (worth a try!), but for this go, we used the traditional pork/beef cholesterol balls. Nom.

So our meal looked like this (the grated parm is mostly for looks when your sauce is this good)

This is a great way to eat a much less starchy version of a classic dish. The squash was a bit al dente, and though it doesn’t taste JUST like pasta (duh) it is a good healthy option to balance out fatty meatballs and enjoy a yummy sauce. Let me know what else you do with spaghetti squash — or how you cook it faster! Seriously… faster ways have to exist!



Cakes for Congress

It started with a joke. My dear friend Emily Grace and I are about as opposite on the political spectrum as two Americans can be. We are both passionately political… it can create some really challenging twitter debates. But every once in awhile, we agree entirely on an issue or idea. And when we do, we always joke that we should bake cakes for ourselves/everyone we know in celebration.

So today, after hearing that House Republicans have agreed to extend the debt limit for 3 months, with the provision that in that time Congress must pass a budget, I tweeted that I’m totally fine with this. While some may say this is still a deal with strings, this democrat-aligned lady would really like our legislature to pass a budget for once (it hasn’t happened in awhile if you’re not a congressional budget nerd). And, sure enough, Emily Grace, the dear libertarian-ish republican that she is, said she totally agreed. We were on the same exact page! Hooray!

But so what if we agreed? What does it matter? Well… why not share our joy with Congress? If they can get a budget passed, perhaps they should be rewarded? Sure, it’s their job. And sure, they haven’t been very helpful to the public lately. But perhaps, just maybe, they only need some encouragement and positive reinforcement. It certainly can’t hurt. So, after checking the ethics rules, which we believe we would not be in violation of, we made a plan.

The plan is Cakes for Congress. Here, this will sum it up:


So that’s it. We’re doing it. I’ll be starting a blog just for cakes for congress (hopefully this weekend), and we’re looking into Kickstarter to raise some funds for this endeavor. Should they pass a budget, this would mean we’re baking 541 cakes (435 Representatives in the House, 100 Senators, and 6 non-voting members from territories etc. like Puerto Rico and DC… which since I’m a DC resident, we must include — BTW *aside* DC should really be a state).

So if you’d like to join us in this crazy plan, leave a comment, or tweet either of us: (my personal acct) (Emily Grace’s acct) (you know this one, don’t be silly)

More details to come! And more posts soon… seriously. Promise! Spaghetti squash post is like 75% done. Enjoy! And happy inauguration weekend from DC.

Black Eyed Pea & Corn Salad (New Years!)

In the South, New Years Day has food traditions as strong as Thanksgiving or Christmas. For good fortune in the new year, you have to eat corn bread and greens (both symbolizing the literal fortune we hope to earn/win/be anonymously gifted through paypal) and black eyed peas (just for the good luck part, so they say). Generally you make black eyed peas with some kick, some sugar and a good portion of ham hock (or bacon if you can’t find the ever cheap but off the beaten path ham hock). However, this probably isn’t the beacon of health and purification many of us are aiming for in the new year……… enter this salad.

Alright, so I’ve made a bet with a friend to keep us both on our weight loss/health goals this year. This means traditional southern dinners, complete with honey butter and pork bits, are probably not going to be on the menu for awhile. This is, I assure you, very sad. BUT, with challenges come innovation and this salad seriously was an amazing creation, so enjoy it!

What you need:

  • baby spinach
  • 1 can black eyed peas (any kind will do, try to buy some w/o seasoning, but if you can’t find them, that’s ok)
  • 1/2 green pepper (diced)
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion (diced)
  • 2 stalks of celery (diced)
  • 2/3 cup frozen corn
  • 1 tomato (diced, optional)
  • cilantro (just a little bit, but makes a difference)
  • chili powder, adobo, cayenne pepper, salt, garlic salt, black pepper (adobo is optional, it’s pretty much salt, garlic powder, onion powder etc… but it is nice to just add a dash)
  • maple syrup (just a little bit)
  • white vinegar & olive oil (dressing)

Step 1: Drain black eyed peas

Yup, that’s it. Drain them, put them in a bowl.

Step 2: Roast the corn

Toss the frozen corn in your cast iron skillet on high. This will both defrost, but also char the corn a bit which tastes delicious. When the corn starts to brown, toss it into the bowl on the black eyed peas.

Step 3: Lightly cook peppers/onions (optional)

I dislike raw bell pepper and raw onions… I don’t know why. But when they’re cooked a little? Nom. Who knows. So while you may want to throw these into the salad mix raw, I prefer to toss them into the hot pan once the corn is done, with a spray of pam if sticking is a problem, and cook for 3-4 minutes to soften them up a little. Toss the onions & peppers, along with the raw diced celery, into the bowl when you’re done.

Step 4: Cilantro & Spices & Syrup

Dice up a few springs of cilantro into small bits and toss them into the bowl. Then dash in the spices. Of course, I didn’t measure, but I’ll say you can go heavy on the garlic powder and chili powder, medium on the adobo, and light on cayenne, salt and black pepper. Then drizzle on a teaspoon maple syrup.

Step 5: Pile it all on the spinach

Yup, just stir and scoop. Pile a large amount of this concoction on a big old plate of spinach (and the tomatoes if you went with those… which I’d suggest because they add some bite to the whole deal). When you have it set up, pour a mix of about 2 teaspoons white vinegar to 1 teaspoon olive oil. I didnt’ really even mix the two, just drizzled across the outside with both. It just adds a little bit of extra bite to the greens, and gives a little liquid to get the juices from the bean mix throughout.

While it may not be jalapeño corn bread and honey butter — this was one of the most yummy salads I’ve ever made. And even with about 3/4 of a cup of the black eyed pea stuff on top, this salad is still around 200 calories all totaled. So, needless to say, I was damn proud, and I hope you like it too! Best of luck in 2013! Enjoy!

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