Buddy’s Taco Popcorn

taco popcornI think it’s safe to say that Buddy is addicted to popcorn.

He has some at least once a day – some days twice.

There are even days when he pops popcorn before the dishes from the last meal are dried. But then – he is a teen age boy and thus – a bottomless pit.

Good thing popcorn is cheap and filling.

Most days he tops his freshly popped popcorn simply with salt and butter. But at some point this last winter he started to experiment a little.

He was like a mad scientist with all kinds of spices in front of him.

Multiple batches of popcorn later he had a winning combination.

The result was this yummy snack with a Mexican kick.

And I do mean a kick!  You may wish to up your popcorn to spice mixture and maybe skip the dash of cayenne. 🙂

Taco Popcorn

1/3 cup unpopped popcorn (8 cups popped)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic
1/8 teaspoon paprika
dash cayenne
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon cheddar cheese

Pop popcorn. (Buddy always uses the brown bag in the microwave method.)

Mix the seasonings together.

Melt the butter. Add the cheese and stir till melted. Pour over the popped popcorn and sprinkle the seasoning over the top. Toss together.

Enjoy!

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!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse

pumpkin cheesecake moussePsst!

Still need a dessert for your Thanksgiving meal?

Do you have a hankering for a little more pumpkin wonderfulness – but really don’t want to make a pie crust?

Maybe you’ve got a can of pumpkin left that’s needing to be used?

Here’s the perfect recipe for you!

Creamy pumpkin wonderfulness that can whipped up in a flash.

Angel Girl and I are addicted. We just finished our third batch this month – but who’s counting. 🙂

Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cup pumpkin puree (or 1 can of pumpkin)
2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup of sugar (or1/3 cup Truvia )
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together the cream cheese, pumpkin and spice. Add sweetener.

In a separate bowl whip the cream with vanilla until soft and fluffy.

Gently fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture.

Spoon into individual serving dishes, or into a graham cracker pie crust for a pie.

Serve it with a dollop of whipped cream and some freshly grated nutmeg.

You could take a short cut and use Cool Whip – but why? The real whipping cream takes just a few minutes and is so amazing!

Want to take it to the next level? Whip up a batch of Bavarian Cream to dollop on top.

Bavarian Cream

8 ounces cream cheese
2/3 cup brown sugar (1/4 cup Truvia)
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1 pint of whipping cream

Mix cream cheese, brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Set aside. Whip cream. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese.

This will stay stable and keep in the fridge for about a week if well hidden from the children.

<happy sigh>

No wonder we’re addicted!

Enjoy!

Oatmeal Cravings

apple oatmealI’m not a huge oatmeal eater.

But every so often – like maybe once a year – I decide that for some reason oatmeal sounds really good.

I’m not sure why I think this since the last time I had a bowl of oatmeal that I actually enjoyed was …

Hmmm….

Let me see…

Still thinking here….

Hmmm…

Okay…that would be never.

But still – the urge hit last week.

I wanted a bowl of steaming hot oatmeal for breakfast.

I got the water boiling, added my oatmeal and decided in my foggy just barely awake mind that an apple would taste yummy in this bowl of delicious healthy food.

So I went to the porch to choose an apple – the perfect apple – from the box of “just picked from our very own trees” apples.

By the time I returned to the stove with my perfect apple washed and diced – my oatmeal was scorched on the bottom of the pan.

This should have been my first warning. But did I heed this warning? No. I started a second pot of water, added my oatmeal and apple, and began to scrounge in the cupboard for the cinnamon, because everyone knows that oatmeal with apples needs cinnamon.

I tear the cupboard apart looking – while stirring my oatmeal every few minutes – until I find the jar.

The almost empty jar.

The “there is just a dusting of cinnamon in the bottom” jar.

I pour all 1/120th of a teaspoon of cinnamon into my oatmeal.

This is sad.

Then I remember that we have cinnamon sticks. In my sleep deprived mind I thought surely I could just grate a cinnamon stick on a micro plane and have fresh cinnamon.

Brilliant!

Or not.

After grating for several minutes (while stirring my now done oatmeal) all I had was a few flecks of cinnamon in my oatmeal and two fingers missing skin.

On to plan C.

What if I break off a piece of cinnamon stick and grind it the coffee grinder?!

Brilliant!

Or not.

After several seconds all I had done was break the stick into lots of little sticks.

But I added them to my now overdone mushy oatmeal anyway – figuring they would eventually soften and dissolve. Right?

Wrong.

These are called cinnamon sticks for a reason. They are sticks. Sticks don’t grate. Sticks don’t grind. Sticks don’t dissolve.

Sticks stay sticks and I was picking them out of my teeth for the rest of the day.

So much for this year’s oatmeal craving.

I should be good for another 12 months.