Spaghetti Squash Lasagna (Grain-Free)

As much as I absolutely love reading, I’ve never been a fast reader. In fact, I’m downright and embarrassingly slow when it comes to reading.

Miraculously, I’ve been able to survive college so far without this interfering with my grades (I just have no social life). But this semester, the pressure is on thanks to my upper-level history course.

Who in their right mind assigns a 300+ page book to be read and heavily noted within 6 days on top of “light reading” of another 72 pages???

I’ve done nothing for the past few days except reading.

Thankfully, my dad picked up some spaghetti squash to ease my sufferings.

I don’t really view spaghetti squash as the equivalent to traditional pasta. Rather, I see it as vegetable with its own distinct taste and texture. That being said, I see nothing wrong in pairing it with cheese, meat and sauce to create a meal similar to the traditional lasagna.

Its comforting, yummy layers momentarily makes me forget the “light reading” I now need to attend to…

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna (Grain-Free)

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna (Grain-Free)

Ingredients:

1 large spaghetti squash

12 oz precooked italian sausage, cut into small pieces

1 (15oz) container of whole-milk ricotta cheese

1 egg

2 and 1/4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Marinara Sauce:

1 (28oz) can of crushed roasted tomatoes and juice

1/2 cup tomato paste (about 1 can)

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tbsp garlic powder

1/2 tbsp dried oregano

1 tsp basil

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp rosemary

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Cut squash in half, remove seeds, and place face down on pan. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes. Once squash is done, allow to cool and run a fork through the squash to make “spaghetti.” Place in the fridge to cool for a few hours (this prevents lasagna from becoming watery!)

Meanwhile, bring all marinara ingredients together in a pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Combine ricotta cheese and egg in a bowl. Set aside.

Once cooled, pack a THIN layer of spaghetti squash to the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Press a paper towel over top to remove excess water.Top squash with half of the ricotta and spread. Top with 3/4 cup mozzarella. Top with half of cut-up sausage. Top with half of marinara sauce. Repeat all layers. Once you get to the sauce again, top with the remaining 3/4 cup of mozzarella.

Cover lasagna with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes (or until cheese on top is melted). Let cool for 20 minutes before eating for lasagna to set.

Curried Squash and Spinach Soup (Paleo)

Snowy Saturday = (sweats + Netflix + hot soup) +  x

x = homework

I’m leaning more on the “-x” for the equation.

Anyway, comfort food is a must on a snow day and this soup definitely fits the bill!

Curried Squash and Spinach Soup (Paleo)

Curried Squash and Spinach Soup (Paleo)

Ingredients:

1 tbsp avocado oil

2 cups onions, chopped

2/3 cup celery chopped in small pieces

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

4 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth if vegetarian or vegan) 

2 cups water

4 cups cooked and pureed butternut squash

salt and pepper

5 tbsp tomato paste

5 cups fresh spinach

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add in onions, celery, and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes. Add in curry and turmeric and sauté until fragrant, about an additional minute. Add in chicken broth, water, squash, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Afterwards, use an immersion blender to make smooth. Stir in tomato paste and cook for another 10 minutes. Add in spinach and allow to wilt before serving.

Shrimp and Chicken Fajitas (Paleo)

As a kind of tradition, I try to make a nicer-than-usual meal the Tuesday night before classes start again (I visit my mom on Tuesdays). To me, this means seafood. And combined with chicken, I’ve got myself some surf n’ turf fajitas!   

Although there’s some chopping in this recipe, it’s soooo worth it. The best part is (besides the taste) you can make this in advance, so all you have to do is plop it in the oven before serving. Enjoy!

Shrimp and Chicken Fajitas (Paleo)

Shrimp and Chicken Fajitas (Paleo)

Ingredients:

Seasoning:

1 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp salt

pepper

—-

3 tbsp avocado oil

1 lb uncooked and thawed shrimp, peeled and cut in half

1 lb thawed chicken, cut into thin strips 

1 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips 

1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips 

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips 

1 orange bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 large onion, cut into strips

1 lime

Directions:

Combine seasoning ingredients.

In one bowl, toss together shrimp, 1 tbsp oil, and 1 tbsp seasoning. Set aside to marinate for at least 2 hours. 

In another bowl, toss together chicken, bell peppers, onion, 2 tbsp oil, and the rest of the seasoning. Set aside to marinate for at least 2 hours.

Once shrimp and chicken are marinated, heat the oven to 425 degrees. Spread chicken mixture in a glass casserole dish. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Take out and quickly mix in shrimp mixture. Place back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Take out of oven and squeeze lime juice over fajitas before serving. 

Sausage-Stuffed Peppers (Paleo)

I think someone needs to slip me some sedatives. I have an issue when it comes to relaxing. Simply, I can’t. I become too antsy and guilty with doing nothing. Surely I can begin some project or be productive in some way during winter break?

Now if I lived in my ideal world, I would cook and bake all day. Unfortunately, I don’t think this would do much for my wallet and jeans :/ So substitute teaching it is! In addition to my other part-time jobs, that is. Consequently, a hectic schedule has ensued.

On the plus side, I’ve become best buds with about 100 kindergartners from subbing in one school all week. Nothing can make you feel like a rock star more than little people coming up to hug you from behind and yell “Miss K, Miss K” from down the hall to get your attention. I’m more of a middle-school person, but I have to say, little people have grown on me… Anyway, it’s been a crazy week with a lot of running around.

In the middle of it, I found time to make some stuffed peppers. I’ve always loved the combo of sausage, onions, and peppers. It’s practically comfort food to me. Confined to a “pepper cup,” it was perfect to eat while cuddled up on the couch after a long day.

Sausage-Stuffed Peppers (Paleo)

Sausage-Stuffed Peppers (Paleo)

Ingredients:

4 green bell peppers

1 lb ground sweet italian sausage

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

salt and pepper

Optional: mozzarella cheese, shredded

Sauce:

1 (28oz) can of peeled whole tomatoes and juice

1/2 cup tomato paste (about 1 can)

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tbsp garlic powder

1/2 tbsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp rosemary

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut off the tops of the green bell peppers. Chop the removed pepper around the stem into small pieces. Reserve for later. Place bell pepper “cups” on a baking pan and place in the oven for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the sauce ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and allow to cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally and squashing tomatoes gently with the back of a spoon.

While the sauce cooks, brown ground sausage in a deep skillet. Once mostly brown, add in onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and reserved bell pepper. Cook until onions begin to brown.

Once everything is cooked, spread a thin layer of sauce into a baking pan or 2 bread pans. Place bell peppers in baking dish/ bread pan. Distribute meat mixture evenly between peppers. Pour the remaining sauce on top of and around the peppers. Place in the oven for 25 minutes. If desired, top with mozzarella cheese and place back in the oven until cheese is melted. Serve.

Cheesy (yet cheese-less) Butternut Squash Mash

Oh. My. Goodness. I cannot think of a better recipe to post to start off 2016. Just thinking about this sauce makes my mouth water- no lie.

Luckily, it requires just throwing everything in a pot and cooking until hot. And I swear, it looks and tastes like this dish is cheese-heavy. Yet, no cheese is used!

Not that I mind cheese, but I tend to eat an indecently large amount of this mash whenever I make it and I’d rather avoid that meaning that I just ate a block’s worth of cheese.

Hmmmm, I was so excited to introduce this recipe that I forgot to start off by saying Happy New Years. So Happy New Year, everyone! I’m not a big new years resolution person- simply because I start my goals whenever throughout the year- but I thought of a couple things that I want to start doing.

  1. Drink green tea everyday- particularly between 3pm-4pm (the time I usually begin picking at food before dinner)
  2. Listen to music more! Listening to music generally puts me in a better mood and gets me up and moving, and yes, sometimes dancing (only in private though ;) )

Sounds simple and silly? That’s because it probably is! But these are mini improvements that I actually want to incorporate into my well-being. So, all is well.

And with that, I’ll leave you with a quote that has pushed me these last few years (and even inspired to travel to India and recently decide on new traveling destinations): “Great things never came from comfort zones.”  Here’s to 2016!

Cheesy (yet cheese-less) Butternut Squash Mash

Cheesy (yet cheese-less) Butternut Squash Mash

Ingredients: 

2 cups cooked and diced meat (whatever you fancy!)

2 cup broccoli stems, diced (or another cut-up veggie)

1 cup butternut squash, mashed

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

3 tbsp ghee

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (do NOT omit!)

1 tbsp stoneground mustard 

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

Directions: 

Combine all ingredients in a pot over the stove. Cook until thoroughly heated. Serve.

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