Thursday, December 31, 2009

Creamy Spaghetti Squash Casserole

I've been looking for a good spaghetti squash recipe for a while so I decided to try this one. I generally LOVE Tammy's recipes and this one sounded delicious. Who knew that spaghetti squash could be comfort food? We all really loved it, even my husband who had never even heard of such a thing. (You should have heard the conversation we had when I tried to explain to him about spaghetti squash... :) It will definitely be a regular on my meal plan. I love any kind of creamy pasta, but I also know that pasta is not the healthiest. So I am pumped to finally try such a yummy substitution! This recipe was fairly easy to make and I am curious if it will freeze well. I will probably start substituting spaghetti squash for noodles in a lot of my recipes now. I have no idea why I waited this long to try out such a common squash :)


2 medium-large spaghetti squashes (about 6 [packed] cups of cooked squash all together)
2 tablespoons butter
1 small-medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
8 ounces (2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese
2 ounces (1/4 cup) shredded cheddar cheese, optional
8-12 ounces (about 1 1/4 to 2 cups) cooked ground beef
4 cups spaghetti sauce (can use a 26 ounce jar or a quart of homemade)
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning


1. In a large stock pot, put about 2-3 inches of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Wash outside of squash, cut squash in half and place in the stock pot of boiling water, flesh side down. Cover and boil for 15-20 minutes, until squash is tender.

2. Drain squash. Holding halves with a potholder, use a fork to scoop out the stringy "spaghetti". Set aside.

3. In a large stock pot or saute pan, melt butter. Add onions, garlic, and bell peppers and saute until tender. Add squash and cook and stir until heated through.

4. In a separate saucepan on low heat, melt the cream cheese. Add the sour cream, salt, pepper, and parsley flakes, stirring to make a smooth white sauce.

5. Stir the white sauce into the cooked squash mixture.

6. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Spread the white squash mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Spread about 1 1/2 cups of the shredded mozzarella cheese over the squash.

7. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, spaghetti sauce, sugar, and Italian seasoning. Spread over the layer of shredded cheese. Top with the remaining shredded mozzarella cheese and cheddar cheese (if using). Sprinkle with dried basil or oregano flakes for garnish if desired.

8. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees (325 for glass dish) for 30-40 minutes, until casserole is hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly (10-15 minutes) before serving.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mom's Mouth-Watering Orange Blossom Bites

These are super sweet and tangy and definitely one of my favorite Christmas treats! But I'll warn you, they aren't particularly healthy :)


3 eggs

1 1/3 cup sugar

½ cup water

1 ½ cup flour

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

Sauce Ingredients (Double this recipe)
1 ½ lb powdered sugar
juice of 2 lemons
juice of 2 oranges
rind of 1 lemon
rind of 1 orange

Directions: Mix sugar and eggs first, then remaining ingredients. Bake in small buttered mini muffin tins @ 350 for 8 – 10 mins. Dip in sauce while hot. Place on wax paper.

*Double the sauce recipe in order to have plenty!

This post is part of Kelly's SUYL desserts! Click on over for more yummy desserts!

Favorite Christmas Candy and Fudge

Kelly is doing a fun "Show us your Life Christmas Treats" post and I thought I'd join her and share my favorite Christmas treats with you:

Mom's Mouth-Watering Orange Blossom Bites
Pumpkin Pie Fudge
Healthy and Yummy Chocolate Fudge
Crockpot Peanut Clusters
Cinnamon Fudge
Gigi's Chocolate Fudge
Gigi's Peanut Butter Rolls
Hawaiin Turtle Cups
Pumpkin Pie Fudge
Mom's Favorite Gingerbread Cookies
Grandma Connie's Orange Blossom Sticks

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Taco soup made healthier

This post is part of the Whole Food for the Holidays Progressive Dinner! My family LOVES taco soup! Even my picky toddler will gobble it down if I tone down the spiciness with some sour cream or cream cheese. We have really enjoyed THIS recipe but since I'm trying to make all my recipes healthier, I wanted to do without the packaged taco seasoning. And I had a leftover cup of butternut squash that needed to be used, so I thought I'd give it a try. I also randomly decided to throw in some spinach to see if anyone minded. I was utterly amazed that it didn't bother them at all and my husband actually said that it was the best taco soup I had made yet! So hopefully I can remember how I did it :)

1 pound taco meat
1 cup (or more, depending on how thick you want it) of home-made chicken stock
1 jar organic salsa
1 green pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 can organic Italian style diced tomatoes (make sure you look at ingredients to make sure there is no HFCS!!!)
1 1/2 cup soaked, cooked beans (we like black beans, but you can use whatever you like)
1 1/2 cup frozen organic corn
1 cup of butternut squash puree (optional)
1 box frozen spinach, thawed and drained (optional)
chili powder to taste if it is not spicy enough for you

Directions: If you are making taco meat, saute the green peeper and onion with the ground beef until tender, adding in the other ingredients as the recipe call for them. Then add the taco meat along with all the above ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low all day. If your taco meat is already made, just throw it along with everything else into the crock pot. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and chips or on top of quinoa.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

2 fabulous chili recipes

I've never had a favorite chili recipe. A long time ago, I found this basic, easy chili recipe and have used it a "guideline" ever since. It is nothing special by itself, but I can turn it into something awesome, depending on what I feel like putting in it. (My chili never turns out the same. Never.) And sometimes into something not-so-awesome, like the time I experimented by just using sausage instead of ground beef. Not my family's fav. But anyways, I've been wanting to find a really, really "awesome-every-time" chili recipe and recently pestered two of my friends enough to get them to give me their awesome recipes. I think I'm going to have to have my own chili-cook-off because I haven't decided which one like better :) I will probably tone down the chilies in these, however, because my family doesn't like it quite so spicy :)

Jason's Awesome Chili

(can be made with either chuck roast or hamburger/sausage mixture)

1 can light red kidney beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can pintos
1 can black beans (all bush's preferably)
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow/orange bell pepper
1 sweet onion
1 small can of diced tomatos and green chilis
half a pack of applewood or smoked bacon
1 large can of crushed tomatoes (hunts)
1 packet of McCormick original chili seasoning
1 packet of McCormick mild chili seasoning
1 small can of tomato paste
a little less than a 1/4 of a cup of mustard, and the same for ketchup
1 3lb Chuck roast/ 1 lb of lean ground hamburger and 1 lb of Jimmy Dean Spicy Sausage
3/4 cup of light brown sugar
1 tsp of cinamon
1/4 cup of molasses
cover the top of the chili with chili powder once, mix, then cover lightly with cayenne pepper once and mix
salt and pepper to taste.

For Chuck Roast:
1. chop bacon into small bits and cook in a large skillet
2. chop peppers and onion into small bits and sautee in bacon grease
3. put bacon, sauteed veggies, and whole chuck roast, diced tomatoes with chiles, McCormick original chili mix, and tomato paste in crock pot and cook on low for 4 hours
4. add beans and large can of crushed tomatoes cook on low for 4 more hours checking every now and then to make sure the chuck isn't burning
5. add everything else, mixing after each ingredient, if meat is tender enough to shred at this point do it, otherwise check later to shred meat.
6. Cook for 4 more hours

For Hamburger/Sausage:
1. chop and cook bacon
2. saute veggies in bacon grease and drain
3. mix all beans, peppers, onion, crushed tomatoes, tomatoes and chiles, mild chili seasoning
4. cook on low for about 2 hours
5. mix hamburger and sausage together thoroughly, brown and add original mccormick mix.
6. add meat to crockpot
7. add everything else seasoning to taste
8. cook on low for about 6 hours

Theron's Awesome Chili:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons bacon grease, or canola oil
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 jalapenos, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 3 Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled, chopped
  • 3 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, chopped
  • 2 yellow onions, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 head garlic, minced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 pounds ground beef, coarse grind
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 2 teaspoons granulated onion or onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans pinto beans, with juice
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans kidney beans, with juice
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar


In large stock pot over high heat, add butter and bacon grease. Add bell pepper, jalapeno, chiles and onion and cook until caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute a minute longer. Add chuck and brown. Add ground beef and sausage to brown and stir gently, trying not to break up the ground beef too much. Cook until meat is nicely browned and cooked through, about 7 to10 minutes. Add in granulated onions, granulated garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add in tomato sauce and paste and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in beef and chicken stock. Add beans, lower heat and simmer for 2 hours.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The way we do spinach...

As a kid, I thought that spinach was a gross health food. I stayed away from it as much as possible until I met something amazing called spinach dip. There are many varieties of spinach dip, and I've never met one that I didn't like :) But this post isn't about spinach dip. I decided that I wanted to find a way to eat spinach that wasn't as expensive to make as dip and healthy enough to be served as a side dish at our table. When I discovered the surprisingly delicious Sweet-Potato-Spinach Bake, I realized that it really isn't hard to make spinach delicious, even without the sweet potatoes. So here is the way my entire family enjoys spinach:

1 box frozen spinach, thawed, or fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 to 1/2 of a small sweet onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic
4 Tbs. flour
1 cup milk
cheese as desired (I use about 1/4 cup of swiss and some Parmesan sprinkled on top)
dash of nutmeg

Directions: Melt butter in pan. Saute minced garlic and onions in butter til soft, then add spinach. )The spinach will soak up most of the butter. ) Sprinkle flour and nutmeg on spinach, mix thoroughly. Slowly add milk, and stir til the sauce thickens. (It is kind of like making a basic white sauce.) Add in cheese and stir til melted. Serve and enjoy!