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!

Sweet Potato Fries

DSC_0004Please don’t tell my boys that sweet potatoes are a vegetable!

Why?

Because I’ve tricked them into eating them.

How?

I bake them up as fries.

Super easy. Super yummy. And -since we bake them and don’t fry them – they are super good for you.

Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins, are a slow burning carb, and (here’s the kicker) –  they are full of beta carotene which the experts say will help ward of the effects of aging.

Sounds good to me – bring ’em on!

Sweet Potato Fries

2 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil

Scrub the sweet potatoes well; then slice them into wedges. (The smaller your wedges – they faster they bake.) Place in a mixing bowl.

In a small bowl mix together the salt, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and black pepper.

Drizzle the olive oil and spice mix over the potatoes and toss to coat.

Place in a single layer on a greased baking dish and bake at 400 degrees till you get the desired crispness. We usually figure about 30 minutes to make a softer fry; 45 minutes or more if you want it crispier.

This should serve 2 people, unless one is really hungry.

But if you’re like me and are serving a family, or have people who eat meals at odd hours – you may appreciate a short cut.

We make the spice mix up in bulk and store it in a container in the cupboard. Then we can whip up a batch of fries without having to haul out all the spice jars.

Master Spice Mix

6 teaspoons salt
6 teaspoons cumin
6 teaspoons chili powder
6 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons black pepper

We figure about a teaspoon of spice mix per sweet potato – but if you like it spicy – add more!

Enjoy!

Old-Fashioned Scalloped Corn

cornBefore the great cannonball episode the other night, we actually enjoyed a nice meal together.

The highlight for several of the men folk was a large batch of their favorite old-fashioned scalloped corn.

I found this classic recipe in an old cookbook, and it’s been making my family happy for many years.

Pedro loves it. Absolutely loves it.

We eat it often on those years that we have a freezer full of our homegrown frozen sweet corn. And when we don’t (like this year) it still works well with with canned corn.

It’s a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs, let’s make this meal a little special kind of dish – perfect for the cold days of January.

Old-Fashioned Scalloped Corn

2 cups corn (frozen or canned)
1 cup milk
2/3 cup saltine cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon minced onion or onion powder

Beat the eggs and add the milk and crumbs.

Add the corn, onion, salt, pepper, and melted butter.

Mix together well and pour into a greased 9 x 9 casserole.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Serves 6, unless Pedro is eating. 🙂

It doubles well.

Enjoy!