Spaghetti Squash Recipe with Raisins


When I was a kid & even as a teen, I hated squash.  It didn’t matter what kind it was, I wasn’t interested.  You can ask anyone in my immediate family & they will gladly tell you they never thought they’d see the day that I willingly ate squash.butternut squash halves

My how things change as we grow up!  Over the past two years, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with butternut squash & I’ve also come to enjoy acorn squash as well as both yellow summer squash & zucchini.  Additionally, this spring I discovered something called kabocha squash at the farmers market.  Often referred to as a Japanese pumpkin, this type of squash is very similar to acorn squash but has a sweeter taste & a smoother texture.  Anyway, all that remained of the major squash varieties was the spaghetti squash . . . that is, until tonight.

This is a kabocha squash or Japanese pumpkin . . . if you can find them, they are delicious!

This is a kabocha squash or Japanese pumpkin . . . If you can find them, they are delicious!

Earlier this evening I chatted with a college friend with whom I hadn’t spoken in a very long time.  We got to talking about cooking & sharing recipes, so I started perusing the recipes I have copied & pasted into a Word document as my “digital cookbook.”  In so doing I stumbled across a Dr. Axe recipe for spaghetti squash, & for one reason or another I had a sudden desire to try it.  Off I rushed to the nearest grocery store to gather the necessary ingredients that I didn’t already have available, namely the butternut squash & raisins.spaghetti squash

I obviously did not think of this recipe myself.  I have to give credit where credit is due, so please see the hyperlink above for the recipe itself from Dr. Axe’s website.  But in case you, like me prior to tonight, are unfamiliar with cooking spaghetti squash, I’m providing a few pictures below to make things even easier.

This is what each half of the squash should look like after your scrape out the seeds.

This is what each half of the squash should look like after you scrape out the seeds.

When the recipe says cut the squash & half & lay it rind side up, this is what it means. I would recommend spraying or oiling the aluminum foil.

When the recipe says cut the squash in half & lay it rind side up, this is what it means. I would recommend spraying or oiling the aluminum foil.

I almost always get my groceries at Kroger, but Harris Teeter is actually the closest grocery store to me so I just went there for the 2 things I needed tonight. And I must say these golden raisins are sinfully good!

I almost always get my groceries at Kroger, but Harris Teeter is actually the closest grocery store to me so I just went there for the 2 things I needed tonight. And I must say these golden raisins are sinfully good!

My picture doesn't look nearly as pretty & appealing as the one on Dr. Axe's website . . . but I can assure you the final product was muy delicioso!

My picture doesn’t look nearly as pretty & appealing as the one on Dr. Axe’s website . . . but I can assure you the final product was muy delicioso!

P.S. I left out the gouda cheese because the only kind we have is sliced which didn’t seem quite right, plus I just felt like goat cheese was more than sufficient anyway.  If you don’t like goat cheese (I’ll admit it has a rather quirky flavor), an easy substitute would be feta or mozzarella.  I also used pecans instead of walnuts because I despise walnuts but love pecans.

In summary, this recipe fits my 3 criteria for being worthy of making & sharing:

  1. Easy!
  2. Healthy!
  3. Delicious!

Give it a try & let me know what you think!  Also feel free to check out the rest of Dr. Axe’s website.  He has tons of great resources for holistic/all-natural cooking & health.

Indian Style Butternut Squash Recipe


This is one of my favorite recipes & I am proud to say I created it myself.  Considering there is nothing new under the sun, I’m sure it’s not truly original, & I did take inspiration from various sources, but in any case I’ve perfected my version of it just from my own experimentation.  I make it almost every week now since both my husband & I really like it.  Quite often my coworkers have told me it smells delicious when I bring it to work for my lunch, so today I decided I would share it on here.

I’m starting to enjoy cooking a lot more, but it still isn’t exactly something I do just for fun.  However, this recipe meets all three of my fundamental requirements for something I take time to cook: it’s quick/easy, healthy, & reheats well so it can be used for multiple servings over the course of a week.

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash
  • Several tablespoons of olive (or other cooking) oil
  • 1 TBS Vietnamese sweet lemon curry (will be pictured later)
    • Could substitute regular yellow curry if needed
  • 1 TBS cumin
  • 1/2 a 13.5 oz can of light coconut milk

Start out by cutting the ends off of the butternut squash

P1100477Next, hold the squash vertically & cut it down the center so that you end up with 2 halves like this:P1100478This is the point at which you can see how closely butternut squash are related to pumpkins.  The seeds are almost identical.  The next step is to scrape out the seeds & the stringy flesh around the seeds.  This works best with a grapefruit spoon, but if you don’t have one, a regular spoon will do the trick; it’s just a bit more work.P1100479I usually buy a large butternut squash, so what I’ll do at this point is place one of the halves into a Ziplock bag & save it in the fridge until next week.  I’ve found that if I try to cook the whole thing at once we can’t eat it all in one week; plus it’s harder to cook the whole thing at one time.  If you have a larger family, you might want to use the whole squash, but I’d still recommend actually cooking each half separately.

Now it’s time to peel the squash.  I highly recommend using an actual vegetable peeler because these things are a real menace to peel without one.  You may notice some green striations in the flesh of the squash; these are totally normal.P1100480Next, slice up the squash into sections like this:P1100481Now it’s time to get the oil heated up.  I never measure, but I just use enough olive oil to thoroughly coat my iron skillet, & I turn the burner onto medium.  Also I’ve found dishes taste better if I allow the spices to simmer in the oil as it warms up (I don’t measure, just a quick sprinkle of each spice).

The spices pictured below are the ones I use for this recipe (& for many other dishes).  The Vietnamese curry comes from Savory Spice Shop in Lafayette Village off of Falls of Neuse Rd in North Raleigh (see http://www.savoryspiceshop.com/ where you can purchase spices online if you aren’t in the Triangle area of NC).  You can certainly use a regular yellow curry, but I’ve found this sweet lemon curry pairs extremely well with the cumin.  The cumin I use comes from Sam’s Club, but you should be able to find it at just about any grocery store.  P1100482While the oil is heating up, use this time to further cut the squash into bite-size pieces like this:P1100484By time you finish this, the oil should be hot.  Now place the bite-size pieces into the hot oil & cover with more of the curry & cumin.  I never measure, but I’m guessing about 1 TBS of each is sufficient.

Once I’ve placed the squash into the pan, I turn the temperature back to medium low.P1100485Cover with a lid & stir every 3-5 minutes to ensure even cooking.

After about 10 minutes or when the squash are starting to soften up a bit, it’s time to add 1/2 a 13.5 oz can of light coconut milk.  Make sure you shake the can well before opening it.

Pour about half the coconut milk over the squash & allow to cook for about another 10 minutes.  You can pour the other half of the can into a tupperware & save it in the fridge for later use (it will keep for over a week at least).P1100486You will know the squash is done when it is visibly softened & can easily be cut/mashed with a fork.  This usually takes about 15-20 minutes total, ideally half of the time before adding the coconut milk & half after.P1100491The key to keeping the squash moist is NOT draining the oil/milk after cooking.  Make sure to save all of it because it helps keep the dish both moist & flavorful as you reheat it for days to come.  Yes, the olive oil & coconut milk add a few extra calories, but they also contain very healthy fats that are important in a nutritious diet.

Here is a portion of the finished product, ready to be served.  Delicious!P1100494An essential component of this recipe is having a corgi running around the kitchen while you’re cooking.P1100488Just kidding.  😉

Again, I love this recipe because it’s quick/easy, healthy, & reheats easily.  And of course most importantly it’s DELICIOUS!  Let me know if you decide to try it & how it turns out for you.

Sweet Potato Curry Stir-fry with Quinoa


If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, or if you know me in real life, you probably know that cooking is mostly a chore for me, & it’s not exactly my forte.  Furthermore my husband & I have somewhat different tastes in food so it’s difficult to make something that truly appeals to both of us.  However, this weekend I hit the jackpot & created a delicious stir-fry that BOTH of us loved.  I originally made it just for myself, but my husband smelled it & got curious, so he tried it.  Turns out he loved it as much as I did!  I came home from work on Monday morning to find that he had taken a sizable portion of the stir-fry to work with him for his lunch that day.  And he texted me later on that day asking me to make more of it the next day so we could have it all week.  This has pretty much never happened before in our relationship, as between the two of us he is a far more talented cook, & more often than not we each cook for ourselves because we do have such differing tastes in food.  Cue me feeling like a domestic goddess!  Haha!

This of course got me to thinking that this recipe might be worth blogging so others could give it a shot.  Not only am I excited that I finally found something that both of us really enjoy, but I’m also proud of the fact that I created this dish purely out of my imagination.  This is not to say someone else hasn’t made exactly the same thing before, but I truly didn’t follow a recipe here.  I just took some ideas I’d found online & adapted them to what fit my own tastes & the vegetables I had on hand in our pantry.  Alright, enough talking it up . . . Here’s the recipe!

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Start out with your quinoa.  I used this kind that I got at Kroger which is a blend of quinoa & brown rice.  Now that I know I love quinoa, I’m going to buy it in bulk at Whole Foods since this kind does have a bit more sodium than I think is necessary (400 mg for the whole box, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t that much, but still).  The spices that are in it are all things I already have in my kitchen so I no longer feel l need to buy it like this.  But if you’re just starting out with quinoa, I think this kind is a great way to get into it.  For this kind, you just add 1 3/4 cups water & let it boil until all the water is gone.  Once the boiling has started, turn the heat down to medium.

P1090776Once the quinoa is on the stove, you can start on your veggies, but first get out your skillet & whatever kind of oil you’re going to use.   I always cook with iron skillets because I think they’re healthier than Teflon & they make things taste better too.

P1090775

This is the coconut oil I use.  I get it at Sam’s Club.  I cook almost everything with coconut oil or sometimes olive oil because I think they are the healthiest AND taste the best.  You can turn your heat onto medium so that the oil heats up while you’re peeling & cutting up your sweet potato.

P1090779

Peel your sweet potato & cut it up into bite-sized pieces.  Then cover with curry.  I never measure but 1-2 TBS is probably about right.

P1090778Above is the curry I use.  It is also from Sam’s Club.  Curry is full of antioxidants so it’s a very healthy spice/seasoning that is also FREAKING DELICIOUS!  However, it does have a tendency to stain everything it touches a very BRIGHT yellow, so just be sure to rinse your counters/cookware as soon as you’re done cooking/eating so the stain comes off easily.

I had never heard of sauteing sweet potatoes until last week, but it’s actually a very easy & delicious way to cook them!  However, it does take a while, so the first step for the stir-fry is to add your sweet potato chunks to your now warmed oil.  Depending on your stove’s settings, you may want to turn the heat down to medium low once you’ve added the sweet potatoes to the oil.  Allow them to saute for a good 10 minutes before adding any other vegetables because they take a lot longer to soften than most veggies do.  Stir occasionally &, if you desire, add additional curry (or any other spices that suit your fancy).

P1090781

Use a fork to test the sweet potatoes for softness.  Once they soften a bit, you can add your other veggies.  I used frozen white corn & pearl onions, pictured above (both from Kroger).  I also used frozen yellow squash.  All of these veggies cook very quickly, so again make sure your sweet potatoes are more or less done when you add these veggies.P1090780Once you have all the veggies in your skillet, you can add your curry sauce.  I used Rogan Josh curry sauce, pictured above.  I love the Patak’s brand of curry sauces because they are all-natural, relatively low in sodium, & just plain delicious!  Someday maybe I’ll make my own curry sauces at home.  But I’m not THAT much of a domestic goddess yet, ha!  I usually get my Patak’s sauces at Kroger but I know Food Lion sells them also.

P1090785Doesn’t that look yummy?!

P1090784In case you’re not familiar with what quinoa looks like, above is the finished quinoa.  If you time things just right, the quinoa should finish about the same time as the stir-fry finishes (about 15 minutes).  Pour the stir-fry over the quinoa & your dish is ready to serve!

P1090787Finished product!  This is so delicious.  AND it reheats well which is really essential if you’re like me & need to be able to cook something that can last for several meals throughout the week.

 

You can easily make this a non-vegetarian recipe by adding beef or chicken or whatever meat you desire.  My husband & I are both devout carnivores, but we both really enjoy this stir-fry without any meat, so it’s definitely perfect as a vegetarian dish also.  Easy, healthy, & delicious; what more could you ask?

To sum up, below are the necessary ingredients:

  • 1 whole sweet potato
  • Frozen (or fresh) corn, yellow squash, & pearl onions (regular onions would work just fine too)
  • 1-2 TBS (or more) Curry
  • Rogan Josh curry sauce (many other curry sauces would work also)
  • Coconut oil (or whatever your preferred cooking oil is)
  • Quinoa/brown rice mix (plan quinoa or plain rice would work too)
  • About 15-20 minutes of time to devote to cooking

And here is a quick summary of the directions in case you want to copy/paste them into your computerized recipe book.  (Let’s get real: my recipe book is a Microsoft Word document in which I copy/paste recipes I find online.  Maybe it’s not all cutesy like an old-fashioned recipe book, but it works.  I can’t be the only person who does this.)

1. Bring quinoa/brown rice mix to boil.  Turn down to medium heat once boiling begins.

2. Bring coconut oil to medium heat.

3. Peel sweet potato & cut into bite-sized chunks.

4. Pour curry over sweet potato chunks.  I never measure but 1-2 TBS is probably about right.

5. Add sweet potatoes to warmed coconut oil.  Depending on your stove’s settings, you may want to turn the heat down to medium low while they cook.  Stir occasionally & add any additional curry or other spices as desired.

6. After about 10 minutes, or whenever sweet potatoes start to soften, as tested by a fork, add other veggies (corn, squash, & pearl onions).

7. After a minute or two, add the Rogan Josh curry sauce.  Continue to stir occasionally.

8. At this time, your quinoa ought to be finished.  Whenever the water is all gone, remove from stove & add to bowl/container.

9. Pour contents of stir-fry over quinoa.

10. Voila!  You’ve got a delicious, healthy, & easy dish to eat & share!  🙂

I hope you’ll give this dish a try.  If so, comment below to let me know how it turns out!