Spaghetti Squash with Garlic and Parmesan

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Two weeks ago,  I purposed to eliminate refined sugars and flour from my diet. The new and kind of drastic change in eating habits has inspired me to try new vegetables and clean eating recipes. The first four days of detox were painful to say the least, but I’m so glad that I have made this change. I have more energy, I’m more clear-headed and I don’t feel sluggish or bloated. This veg is on of my new favorites and I have purchased six in the last two weeks. They’re cheap, versatile and a great substitute for spaghetti noodles.

This side dish is so darn quick, easy and flavorful that I could eat it daily – the hardest part is cutting the squash in half. All you need is a roasted squash, good olive oil, chopped garlic and Parmesan cheese to make this savory and satisfying side dish. The first time I served it along side sautéed tilapia and steamed peas. The next three times I served it along a spinach salad with my favorite maple Dijon dressing. Soon I will share with you the other clean eating recipes I have tried, like my favorite peanut butter, banana and chocolate smoothie, stuffed zucchini boats; and a spaghetti squash bake that tasted even better the next day. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Garlic and Parmesan – adapted from Chow

    • 1 large spaghetti squash or two small ones
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil
    • Kosher salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 2-3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped (*if you have it on hand*)
    • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Directions -

Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Brush the flesh with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place the squash halves cut-side up on a baking sheet and roast until fork tender, about 40-50 minutes.

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Remove the squash from the oven and let sit at room temperature until cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes. Scrape the flesh with a fork to make long strands; set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and shallot, season with salt and pepper, and cook until softened and lightly browned, about 3 minutes.

Add the reserved squash, toss with tongs to coat thoroughly, and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cheese a handful at a time while tossing the squash to evenly coat. Serve with freshly ground black pepper and extra cheese.

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Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki and Flat Bread

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Quick Post: Greek night is one of my favorites and the leftovers taste even better :) Thanks for reading, enjoy!

 

Chicken Gyros – adapted from Elly Says Opa

  • 1.5 to 2 pounds chicken breast, split
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • Juice of one lemon, about 3 TBSP
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 heaping TBSP Greek yogurt
  • 1 TBSP dried oregano
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup tzatziki sauce
  • sliced tomatoes
  • salad greens
  • crumbled feta
  • flat bread

Directions -

Combine garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, yogurt, and oregano in a bowl – then pour over chicken, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the grill (or broiler, pan, ect.) Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and cook until done – about 5-7 minutes a side. Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before slicing.

Top the pita with the chicken, tzatziki, tomatoes, feta and onions. Roll up and eat!

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Tzatziki – adapted from Culinary Cory

  • 2 (7 oz) containers of Greek yogurt
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, seeded and unpeeled
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbl. white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbl. fresh dill, minced (*I used about 1 tsp. dried*)
  • 1 ½ Tbl. garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • assorted fresh vegetables
Directions -
Shred the cucumber with a grater and squeeze out the excess liquid. Add the dip ingredients to a medium mixing bowl. Stir until well combined. Garnish with any remaining dill. Serve with assorted fresh vegetables. Makes approximately 2 cups of dip.
bread
Flat Bread – adapted from King Arthur Flour

Wrap bread

  • 3 cups AP flour (361 grams)
  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup potato flour OR 1/2 cup potato buds or flakes
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast

Directions -

1) To make the bread: Place 2 cups of the flour into a bowl or the bucket of a bread machine. Pour the boiling water over the flour, and stir till smooth. Cover the bowl or bucket and set the mixture aside for 30 minutes.

2) In a separate bowl, whisk together the potato flour (or flakes or buds) and the remaining 1 cup of flour with the salt, oil and yeast.

3) Add this to the cooled flour/water mixture, stir, then knead for several minutes (by hand, mixer or bread machine) to form a soft dough. Note: You can allow the dough to go through the entire kneading cycle(s) in the bread machine, but it’s not necessary; about a 5-minute knead in the machine, once it gets up to full kneading speed, is fine. The dough should form a ball, but will remain somewhat sticky. Add additional flour only if necessary; if kneading by hand, keep your hands and work surface lightly oiled.

4) Let the dough rise, covered, for 1 hour.

5) Divide the dough into 8 pieces (each about the size of a handball, around 3 ounces), cover, and let rest for 15 to 30 minutes.

6) Roll each piece into a 7″- to 8″-circle, and dry-fry them (fry without oil) over medium heat (about 325°F in an electric frying pan or on an electric griddle) for about 1 minute per side, until they’re puffed and flecked with brown spots. Adjust the heat if they seem to be cooking either too quickly, or too slowly; cooking too quickly means they may be raw in the center, while too slowly will dry them out.

7) Transfer the cooked breads to a rack, stacking them to keep them soft. Serve immediately, or cool completely before storing in a plastic bag. Note: If you plan on making these into folded sandwiches, gently fold them in half when you take them off the griddle, rather than laying them flat. That way, they’ll retain that folded shape as they cool, and will be easier to make into sandwiches.

 

Cafeteria Sloppy Joes

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Yum! These are the least fussy sloppy joes that I came across in my search. The flavor was kid friendly without too sweet or bland – I loved it and happily ate leftovers the next night. My picky eater quickly ate her portion without any coercion from me – that almost never happens and that is a win in my book ;) Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Cafeteria Sloppy Joes – adapted from Food Network

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 TBSP brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Brown 1 pound ground beef in a large skillet with olive oil. Add 1 chopped onion, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons each ground cumin and smoked paprika and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper; cook 1 minute. Stir in 1 cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1/2 cup water and simmer until thick, about 15 minutes. Serve on slider rolls with potato chips

Whole Grain Waffles

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My kids love waffles – what’s not to love? I get to make a weeks worth of school breakfasts in less than an hour, and the kids get another maple syrup delivery system ;) I I like to use wheat pastry flour because it’s mild enough that the kids don’t mind, and I like that I can sneak a little fiber into breakfast. This batch makes about 10 waffles, most of which get cooled, divided, bagged and frozen. Warm them up in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or mere seconds in your microwave. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Whole Wheat Waffles – adapted from Cookie and Kate

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (you can also use spelt, rye, cornmeal or buckwheat)
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk (make your own: add 2 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice to 2 cups milk, and let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey)
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter (original recipe called for one full stick of butter)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions -
  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees and heat up your waffle iron.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and syrup or honey.
  4. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir just until they are mixed.
  5. Add the melted butter and mix well.
  6. Pour batter into your waffle iron until the butter reaches the edges of the iron. Cook until crisp and golden.
  7. Place each waffle on a rack in the oven (in a single layer) to keep them warm until you’re ready to serve. Five minutes in the oven may actually help them get a little crispier.

Chocolate Cream Pie with Oreo Crust

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Quick Post: I know I’m late to the game here, but this was our first year to “celebrate” Pi Day. This chocolate cream pie was amazing, and the flavor was even better with age. The first day, it was all mocha; but the next day it became the most perfect chocolate flavor – swoon worthy, amazingly rich, velvety and thick! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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Chocolate Cream Pie – adapted from King Arthur Flour

Crust – *recipe link*

  • 24 Oreos
  • 4 TBSP butter, melted

Filling -

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate, chopped (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional; for richer chocolate flavor
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 2 cups milk

Stabilized Whipped Cream – *recipe link*

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
  • 2 TBSP water
  • pinch of salt
  • chocolate curls (optional)

Directions -

For the Crust - 

In a medium-sized bowl or a food processor, add the Oreo cookies and blend until the texture of coarse meal or crumbs. Add the melted butter and blend until well combine. Place the ground crumb mixture into a 9- or 10-inch deep-dish pie pan and press onto the bottom and up the sides evenly. Try to make the crust about 1/8 inch (1/3 cm) evenly all around. Refrigerate the crust for at least an hour before you add the filling of your choice.

For the Filling - 

1)Place the chopped chocolate, butter, and vanilla extract in a 2-quart mixing bowl; set aside.

2) In a medium saucepan away from heat, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, espresso powder, and salt. Whisk in 1/4 cup of cold heavy cream until the mixture is smooth, with no lumps. Repeat with another 1/4 cup of the cream. Whisk in the egg yolks.

3) Place the saucepan over medium heat, and gradually whisk in the remaining cream and milk.

4) Bring to a boil, whisking constantly as the mixture thickens; boil for 1 minute.

5) Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture over the reserved chocolate and butter.

6) Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

7) Pass the filling through a strainer into a bowl to remove any lumps.

8. Place plastic wrap or buttered parchment paper on the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and chill thoroughly.

9. Pour the chilled pudding into the chilled Oreo crust and top with whipped cream and chocolate curls.

For the topping - In bowl sprinkle gelatin over cold water. Scald 2 tablespoons of whipping cream and pour over gelatin. Stir until dissolved. Refrigerate about 15 minutes. Then whisk until smooth. Mix remaining cream, sugar and salt. Mix in smooth gelatin mixture stopping to scrape bowl twice.

Tres Leches Rice Pudding

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Rice pudding is the nostalgic comfort food of my childhood. My dear Gram would often make a big pot of arroz con leche for breakfast, which I happily ate then and will continue to enjoy – even if the pot is all for me. Sadly, (and strangely) my family doesn’t have an appreciation for this kind of treat. Last night, I did get my girl to try two small tastes of this (she’s the picky one), and she said it was pretty good. I will make a believer out of her yet! ;)

Most recipes call for chilling the pudding for a couple of hours in the fridge – forget that! Why wait when this stuff begs to be eaten hot with just a pinch of cinnamon on top? This pudding was luxurious and creamy and not too sweet. Near perfect! Gram’s will always be the standard, but I think she’d approve of this ;) Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Tres Leches Rice Pudding – adapted from Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

  • 1 cup (180 grams) long- grain white rice
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 large egg
  • One 12- ounce can (11/2 cups or 355 ml) evaporated milk
  • One 13.5- ounce can (1 cups or 415 ml) unsweetened coconut
  • One 14- ounce can (11/4 cups or 390 grams) sweetened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Ground cinnamon, to finish

Cook the rice: Put the rice, 2 cups of water, and the salt in a medium saucepan with a tight- fitting lid. Bring to a boil- you should hear the pot going all a flutter under the lid and puffing steam out the seam. Reduce to a low simmer, and let the rice cook for 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Remove the rice pot from the heat.

Once the rice is cooked, whisk the egg in a medium bowl, and then whisk in the evaporated milk. Stir the coconut and sweetened condensed milks into the rice, then add the egg mixture. Return the saucepan to heat and cook the mixture over medium- low heat until it looks mostly, or about 90 percent, absorbed (the pudding will thicken a lot as it cools), about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the vanilla, then divide the pudding among serving dishes. Chill your puddings for at least an hour if desired – I love mine warm with a sprinkling of cinnamon :)

Hungry for More??

arroz2

Coconut Milk and Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

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Arroz con Leche

One Big Pizza

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As I rolled out this batch of dough, I realized it would not fit on my stone. Rather than split it in two, I pushed it into the perfect sized rectangle for my half sheet pan. I’m glad I did, and this pizza was so stinkin’ good. I used this Italian chicken sausage that I crisped up in a large skillet, while the crust was par-baking in the oven. I used at least four types of Italian cheeses on this and flavored the crust with olive oil and other seasonings. My family loved this pizza and my son requested it for his birthday dinner :) Thanks for reading, enjoy!

One Big Pizza - 

For topping the crust:

  • olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • kosher salt
  • dried oregano

*Optional Equipment – pizza stone and a silicone pastry brush

Directions -

Preheat oven to 475. Place a pizza stone on a rack placed on the lowest level of the oven.

Roll out dough onto parchment lined sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 5 minutes.

Top the crust with pizza sauce and bake for another 5 minutes.

Spread about 1/2 the shredded cheese on the top, and bake for another 5-7 minutes.

Using a pastry brush, paint the crust with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic powder and kosher salt, sprinkle with oregano all to taste. Top with browned sausage and the remaining cheese, bake until golden brown and bubbly – about another 7 minutes. Take a peek at the bottom of the crust to make sure it’s golden brown – if not, continue baking until it’s done.

Simple Rice Pilaf

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Quick Post: Years ago, before I was a food snob, I bough boxed rice and pasta sides without thinking twice. This is a great substitute for a basic Rice-a-Roni side and it has way more flavor, not to mention ingredients that I can pronounce ;) Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Simple Rice Pilaf – adapted from Simply Scratch

  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 cup Orzo pasta
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 2.5 cups chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions - 

Melt butter in a 2 quart saucepan until hot and bubbly. Add the orzo and toast until it becomes lightly golden. Add the cup of rice, stir. Pour in the chicken stock and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 18-20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Chicken and Potato Soup

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Quick Post: Florida is experiencing 80 degree temps lately with ridiculously high humidity – but I know you Northerners could still use some warming soups. This is perfectly comforting, rich and creamy; and I wish that it was cooler here so I have a good excuse to make some. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Chicken and Potato Soup – adapted from Damn Delicious

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, (*fresh if you have it*)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth (*I used homemade chicken stock*)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups diced cooked chicken breast
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Directions -

  • Melt butter in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in chicken broth and milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in potatoes.
  • Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 12-15 minutes. Stir in chicken and cheese, a handful at a time, until smooth, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the chowder is too thick, add more milk as needed.
  • Serve immediately