Spaghetti Squash Pie

spaghetti squash pieWould you believe we still have spaghetti squash from last year’s garden? I’m amazed at how well and how long they have kept!

We’re eating it at least once a week – using it to replace pasta, or as a yummy side, and sometimes as a main dish.

Speaking of main dishes – this is one of our favorites! I used my spaghetti pie recipe to create it and served it to rave reviews.

It’s easy to make ahead and refrigerate. I’ve even made it in the crock pot (just heat on high for about 4 hours or low for 6.)

Spaghetti Squash Pie

spaghetti squash (3-4 cups of cooked squash)
1/4 cup butter
1 garlic clove, chopped
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Greek or Italian spice mix
1 cup cottage cheese
2 cups spaghetti sauce
1 pound Italian sausage
1 cup mozzarella cheese

Cook spaghetti squash until soft. (Click here for my tutorial.)

Use a fork to “string” it into the noodles.

Melt butter in a pan with the chopped garlic clove. Add cream cheese, Parmesan and spice mix.

Pour over spaghetti squash. Use a fork to gently toss together. Set aside.

Brown sausage and drain. Add spaghetti sauce.

Place spaghetti squash mixture in the bottom of a greased 11 x 7 inch pan.

Cover with the cottage cheese followed by the spaghetti sauce and sausage mixture.

Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Serve hot and bubbly to an appreciative family!

All of the amounts are flexible. Use more spaghetti sauce if you want it saucier. Add more cheese.  Use more or less spaghetti squash. Try hamburger instead of sausage. Add mushrooms or peppers. This recipe is versatile enough to make it your own!

Enjoy!

Let’s Talk – Spaghetti Squash!

Let’s talk about spaghetti squash!

Wait! Stop! Don’t click away!

Come on – keep reading!

Give it a chance!

First – let’s end some misconceptions.

DSC_0187This watermelon shaped yellowish squash does NOT taste like spaghetti noodles.

Nor does it have the texture of spaghetti noodles.

It is NOT spaghetti.

But after cooking – it can be forked out of the shell into a strands that have the shape of spaghetti and are a great whole food substitute for pasta.

It really doesn’t have much flavor at all – allowing it take on whatever flavor you add.

Now that you have mentally prepared and alerted your taste buds – are you ready to give it a try?

Good! Let’s cook it.

Although there are many different methods –  the most important thing to remember is to cut vents in it so it doesn’t build up steam and explode (think baked potatoes).

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To avoid this – and as an extra precaution – I always cut mine in half, scoop out the seeds, and place them upside down in a baking dish with a little water in the bottom.

Then I cover them with foil and bake them at 350 degrees until the insides are tender – or – if I’m in a hurry – I’ll skip the foil and microwave them on high till soft.

It’s hard to set baking time since they vary in size (especially when home grown) but plan on at least an hour in the oven and 20 minutes in the microwave.

Then you take your fork and “string” the flesh into spaghetti like strands.

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See? It’s easy!

Now you can get creative.

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Add butter, garlic and Parmesan cheese for a yummy side dish.

Or butter, cream cheese and Ranch dressing mix.

Or cover it in an Alfredo sauce – add some diced ham or cooked sausage and you have a yummy entree.

Or switch out the Alfredo and ham for ground beef and spaghetti sauce.

How about a “loaded baked potato” dish with bacon, cheddar cheese and sour cream?

The flavor combinations are endless!

An added bonus? You can cook the squash in advance and refrigerate it – with or without the additions – until you need it.

Enjoy!

Crepes

DSC_0004The work load increases on the farm as the weather warms up.

The hours of daylight in the evening after school and work are the busiest, making it hard for the family to sit down for a meal.

One of my favorite meals for nights like these are crepes.

What’s a crepe? It’s a fancy word for a thin pancake that acts like a tortilla shell.

The batter can be mixed up in advance.  Then I stand at the stove and fry up fresh crepes to serve the troops as they file in from gardening, mowing, fixing fence, or bringing in the laundry.

For fillings I’ll set out whatever I can find in the fridge – left-over meat, cheese, rice, beans, lettuce, veggies. You can be creative with this and use up those bits of left-overs.  It’s always first come – first served on crepe night.

When they’ve had their fill of savory crepes – they can move on the sweet ones. I use the same batter but we fill it with fruit or pudding.

Combinations like strawberries, sour cream and brown sugar are favorites here.  Chocolate pudding and whipped cream is yummy, too! No pudding? Just throw some chocolate chips on your whipped cream and wrap it up!

Crepes

2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons melted butter

Combine all the ingredients in the blender. Place the batter in the fridge for 1 hour. (You can skip this step – but the batter may tear some when you try to flip the crepes.  If I’m in a hurry – I just cook them since my crew doesn’t really care how they look!)

Heat a small non- stick pan. Add some butter and pour a spoonful of batter in the middle of the pan. Swirl it around to coat the pan. Cook for about 30 seconds and flip carefully with a spatula. Cook another 30 seconds and serve hot to hungry family members!

If you have batter left when the troops are fed, it can either be refrigerated for a few days to use later, or you can fry up the extra crepes and keep them in the fridge up to a week or the freezer up to a month.

Enjoy!

Pizza Soup

SoupaWith yet another snow storm expected tonight – I guess winter isn’t quite done with us yet!

There’s still time to put  some hearty and warming soup on the menu.

One of our favorites is this very easy pizza soup.

Just a few ingredients to stir together and heat up, either on the stove top or in the crock pot.

It’s warm, satisfying, and really yummy.

We love it with a green salad, fresh rolls, Italian bread sticks, or even grilled cheese sandwiches.

Pizza Soup

1 pound ground beef or sausage
2 cans (26 ounces each) condensed tomato soup
6-1/2 cup water
1 jar (28 ounce) spaghetti sauce (I use one quart of homemade)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1- 16 ounce bag rotini noodles
2 cups cheddar cheese

Brown the ground beef or sausage. Drain the grease.  Add to soup kettle or Dutch oven with the tomato soup, water, spaghetti sauce, and Italian seasoning.

Bring to boil. Add the package of rotini noodles. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until tender, about 15 minutes,  stirring often.

Stir in the cheddar cheese.

Serve warm with additional cheese to garnish.

You can make this soup in the crock pot – just add the browned meat, tomato soup, water, spaghetti sauce and Italian seasonings to the crock pot. Cook on high for three hours. Then you can either add the noodles and cook for another 30 minutes, or just cook the noodles on the stove and stir them in just before serving.

To spice things up – add some pepperoni, a can of mushrooms, or some  Canadian bacon pieces. Or throw some diced onion and green pepper into the meat while it’s browning.

Need it gluten free? Use your favorite gluten free pasta or omit it altogether and add extra meat or veggies.

It’s as flexible and versatile as pizza!

Enjoy!

Hot Chili Dip

ChiliI know that a “dip” is usually considered an appetizer or maybe even a snack.

But I have to confess that this is one dip we eat as a main dish!

My sister-in-law shared the recipe with me years ago and it’s been a family staple ever since.

The original recipe calls for a can of chili – but my favorite way to make it is using left-over homemade chili. Sometimes I’ll even freeze that little bit left in a batch just to make this dip.

You can bake it, layer it in a crock pot or even pop it in the microwave.  Don’t worry too much about exact measurements – just use what you have. It’s an easy recipe to double or triple if you’re feeding a crowd.

Chili Dip

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 can refried beans
8 ounces sour cream
1 can Hormel chili (or homemade)
8 ounces cheddar cheese

Spread the cream cheese in the bottom of a greased 8 x 8 baking dish. Layer the remaining ingredients in order.  Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted.

Serve with tortilla chips and – if you want to be fancy – peppers, onions, black olives, tomatoes, lettuce, and salsa.

Enjoy!