Spaghetti Squash with Sausage, Spinach, and Creamy Butternut Sauce

Happy Friday! This has been quite a week here in New England with the “Blizzard of 2015″…we got about 2 feet of snow! However, we ended up having a lot of fun during the storm playing charades, making a big breakfast, watching some movies, and playing football in the snow. I also got to do a good amount of cooking and baking!

The night before the storm, I headed to the grocery store to make sure I had everything I needed to cook some stuff while I was snowed in. This ended up being the perfect dish for a cold and snowy night! I also appreciated not having to rush through cooking it, and having the time to experiment a bit, since I had a much-needed rest from my busy schedule this week. I also made some yummy no-bake bars – that recipe will be up soon (have to eat dinner before dessert, right?) Enjoy! 🙂

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Spaghetti Squash with Sausage, Spinach, and Creamy Butternut Sauce

Adapted From: Skinnytaste

Ingredients:

  • 4 links Italian chicken sausage
  • 1 1/2 lbs butternut squash, peeled and diced (or pre-cooked cubes, I found them at Walmart!)
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance or other buttery spread
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus 1/4 tbsp for brushing/spraying onto squash before baking)
  • 6 cups cooked spaghetti squash (about 4.5-5 lb raw squash)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond)
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt, black pepper, and chili powder, to taste

Directions:

1.) Cook spaghetti squash (instructions here). Scrape into a large bowl/strainer lined with paper towels and set aside.

2.) Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add raw butternut squash and cook until soft. Or heat pre-cooked cubes in microwave for about a minute to soften them. Then add squash to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Add milk and blend again until creamy, adding salt and pepper (if desired).

3.) In a large skillet, melt 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic for a few minutes, then add in the chicken sausage and brown. Add in spinach, one handful at a time, until it fully wilts.

4.) Add creamy butternut sauce to the skillet and mix everything together. Add in cheddar cheese and stir, then season with salt, pepper, and chili powder, if desired.

5.) Divide spaghetti squash among 5 bowls/containers and then top each with sauce mixture until it’s evenly divided.

Nutrition Info (Per serving, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 311
Fat 15 g (4 g saturated)
Fiber 5 g
Carbs 33 g
Sodium 548 mg
Protein 17 g
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Two Recipes with Zucchini and Squash “Noodles”

Happy Monday everyone (if there is such a thing)! I had a great weekend with family and friends enjoying the last few weeks of summer. Grad school classes start next Wednesday for me…I can’t believe September is almost here!

I recently picked up the Veggetti (mentioned in my post here), so I wanted to try making squash and zucchini “noodles” and see how they came out. I decided to make a couple “pasta” salads to bring to the beach this weekend, so I grabbed a couple summer squash and a zucchini and tried the Veggetti. It was SO EASY; you literally just twist the veggies into it and they come out in long, spiralized noodle form. I literally turned around and my boyfriend had already turned an entire squash into noodles. Then you just chop them a bit so they aren’t so long, add your favorite ingredients, and a healthy salad is born. Doesn’t get much easier than that!

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I decided to make two salads this weekend; one with pesto and feta and the other with Italian dressing and parmesan. Both were a huge hit with my parents and friends; everyone was surprised they were zucchini and squash noodles!  I left the noodles raw in each recipe rather than saute them, since I was serving them cold. I think I will try sauteeing them in olive oil when I make a hot main dish with the “noodles”! For each recipe, add however much of each ingredient you like, mix together, and enjoy!

Zucchini and Summer Squash Noodle Pesto Salad

Ingredients: zucchini and summer squash “noodles”, pesto, Feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, salt and pepper

Zucchini and Summer Squash Noodle Italian Salad

Ingredients: zucchini and summer squash “noodles”, Italian dressing, parmesan cheese, cucumbers, red peppers, salt and pepper

Anyone have any other recipe tips for using the zucchini and squash noodles? I would love to hear any new ideas!

Lightened-up Italian: Spaghetti Squash Sausage Lasagna!

So we all know I love Italian food. I’ve been eating cheesy, saucy deliciousness probably since birth (when I was 2 my favorite food was spaghetti). Now that I am trying to make healthy versions of my Italian favorites, my go-to has been spaghetti squash. I had yet to try a “lasagna”, so when I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it (plus the picture was mouthwatering!) Last week I had picked up two hefty spaghetti squashes at the local farm, so last night I got to work and whipped this up! I tweaked the recipe a bit, because my squash were pretty big, and I made it as a casserole rather than in the little boats (which are much cuter, but the two squashes were too big).  I also added diced tomato because I had a bunch of fresh tomatoes! I am not a huge fan of ricotta, so I didn’t add a ton, but feel free to add more if you would like!

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Spaghetti Squash Sausage Lasagna

Adapted from: Skinnytaste

Ingredients:

  • 2 large spaghetti squash (I actually only used the “spaghetti” from 1.5 of the squashes and froze the last half – it made a ton!)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Italian seasoning, to taste
  • 1 tbsp basil (I used 3 of the Trader Joe’s frozen cubes)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used part skim)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 14 oz (4 links) Italian turkey sausage
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes (or any pasta/marinara sauce!)

Directions:


1.) Preheat oven to 400ºF. Poke a hole in the side of the squash and heat for 1 minute in the microwave (I find that this softens it a bit before cutting). Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and membrane. Season lightly with salt and black pepper; bake about 45 minutes (or longer if needed) on a baking sheet, cut side down.

2.) While the squash is cooking, 
heat oil and add onions and garlic in a large sauté pan on medium-low for about 3 to 4 minutes, until soft. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up into smaller pieces until browned and cooked through.

3.) When sausage is cooked, add the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and basil, then cover, reducing heat to low. Simmer 20 to 30 minutes.

4.) 
When spaghetti squash is cooked (it will feel soft when you poke it with a knife/fork), let it cool for about 10 minutes, keeping the oven on.

5.) In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning.

6.) When the spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to remove flesh, which will come out in spaghetti looking strands. Drain the squash on paper towels to soak up any excess liquid (I line a colander with paper towels), then toss with half of the sauce in a 9 x 13 baking dish.

7.) Top with remaining sauce, ricotta cheese mixture, and  mozzarella cheese, then bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted. Then cut into 8 squares and enjoy!

I was recently given a large basket of fresh veggies (thanks to my friend Gary and Harvey’s Farm!) so I used some of the tomatoes in this sauce. I also had big ambitions to cook another Skinnytaste recipe (Eggplant Rollatini!) last night, since there was some eggplant in the basket and I had never cooked it before. However, I didn’t realize quite how long it would take me to make the eggplant dish, since I was already using the oven for the squash; basically I was just trying to be a beast in the kitchen and failed.

I had cut the eggplant into strips, salted it (to remove moisture/bitterness), and baked it, but that was as far as I got since the parchment paper under the eggplant tried to set itself on fire in the stove (while the lasagna was in there of course).  I pulled the eggplant out of the oven, fuming and running around trying to do 20 things at once, until my boyfriend convinced me to calm myself and just sit down and watch TV. He also helped me do dishes and finish the squash lasagna (bless his soul for dealing with me in the kitchen!) So in the end, I froze the cooked eggplant, hoping I can come back and finish the rollatini at another time, and successfully made the squash lasagna. Note to self: don’t try to make multiple complicated dishes at once! However, later this week I plan to try at least one zucchini/summer squash “spiralized noodle” recipe – stay tuned!

Mexican Rice-less Stuffed Peppers

I made these delicious stuffed peppers on Monday after a friend provided me with the recipe…thanks Jess! You should all check out her blog Rookie Running Life; she posts lots of healthy recipes, running tips, and more! The peppers were super easy, and I liked that they didn’t have rice because I didn’t have to spend a lot of time cooking the stuffing. It also makes them pretty low-carb. Genius!

One half of a pepper along with some fruit was filling enough for me. I also tried one with salsa on top and it was really good! I did have about 1 1/2 cups of stuffing leftover, so you could either make an extra pepper or save the extra stuffing to put on salads (which I did). Delicious taco salads plus stuffed peppers = win. Enjoy!

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Mexican Rice-less Stuffed Peppers

  • Servings: 6 half peppers
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Adapted from: Rookie Running Life

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 package of taco seasoning (I used low sodium)
  • 3 large red or green bell peppers, halved, de-seeded
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese

Directions:

1) Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Place pepper halves in the dish, facing upright. Bake them at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

2) While the peppers are in the oven, drizzle some olive oil on a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft. Then add in the ground turkey and cook through. Add the taco seasoning once the turkey looks almost done.

3) Add the beans and corn to the turkey mixture and cook for an additional 5 minutes or so.

4) Scoop your turkey stuffing into the pepper halves and sprinkle a good heaping of cheese on top. Place in the broiler for about 3-5 minutes, until bubbly. Watch them to make sure cheese doesn’t burn!