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.

Deep Dish Pepperoni and Sausage Pizza

I know I have said this of dinner a lot lately, but really – this was just so good! Instead of the recommended 9″ skillet (who can find that size anyway?) I used 9″ cake pans. I loved that two pizzas can go in the oven at a time, whereas with my usual method (bottom of the oven on a pizza stone), I can only bake one pizza at a time. The crust was pillowy, chewy and slightly crisp because of the olive oil. The kids and I enjoy dipping our crust in pizza or marinara sauce (I had some of this – it’s my favorite), and the salad is a mix of organic Romaine, baby spinach and Roma tomatoes and this dressing. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Basic Pizza Dough – adapted from The Comfort of Cooking

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/3 cups warm water
  • 1 envelope yeast

Directions:

Add the yeast to the warm water and set aside for 5 minutes.

Mix together the flour, salt, sugar and olive oil. Stir the yeast into the water and make sure it’s all dissolved. Add it to the flour mixture. Mix until everything is combined, and knead with a dough machine or by hand for about 8 minutes.

Oil two bowls lightly with olive oil and set aside. Divide the dough into two pieces and roll into balls. Place each ball into the oiled bowls, seam side down, and brush the tops with a little olive oil. Top each bowl with plastic wrap or a clean, dry towel and place the dough in a warm place (I use a turned-off oven). Let rise 2 hours.

Once risen, use the dough or wrap in plastic wrap, then a plastic bag, and freeze or refrigerate.

Chunky Pizza Sauce – adapted from Annie’s Eats

  • 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Allow to cook for at least 15 minutes.  Once finished cooking, remove from the heat.  If you prefer a smoother sauce, use a potato masher or immersion blender to break up the chunks of tomato.  Alternatively, simply leave it as is if you prefer a chunkier sauce.  Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Deep Dish Pepperoni and Sausage Pizza – adapted from The Comfort of Cooking

  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 6 ounces Italian sausage, casings removed
  • sliced pepperoni, roughly chopped
  • 12 ounces pizza dough
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella, shredded
  • Parmesan, Asiago, Pecorino Romano or other hard Italian cheeses, grated (to taste, optional)
  • olive oil mixed with true garlic powder for painting the crust

Directions

Cook sausage over medium heat until browned, making sure to break the meat up into crumbles.

Heat oven to 400° F. Coat a 9-inch oven-proof skillet or cake pan with 1 ½ tablespoons of the oil. Stretch and press the dough into the pan, covering the bottom and sides. Top the dough with chunky pizza sauce, top with half the mozzarella, sausage, pepperoni and remaining mozzarella. Grate Parmesan, Pecorino Romano and Asiago (optional – I had remnant blocks of these in my fridge) over all. Paint the crust with olive oil/garlic powder mixture and sprinkle dried oregano over top all. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes.

Creamy Garlic Pasta

Quick Post: This was so yummy! I served it along side roast chicken and roasted potatoes. My picky five-year old liked it, so that was an added bonus; and my neighbor and her one year old son really liked it too. I will make this again and again because I’m a sucker for carbs, but also because it’s so quick, easy and flavorful. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Creamy Garlic Pasta – adapted from The Cheese Pusher

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ¼  tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 3 cups chicken stock or broth
  • ½ lb angel hair pasta
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¾ cup heavy cream (*I used half and half)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Directions:

In a pot, bring the olive oil to medium-low heat. Add the garlic and stir, allowing it to cook for 1-2 minutes. Mix in the butter until melted. Add the salt, pepper and chicken stock. Raise the heat to high and let it come to a boil.

Once it is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook for as long as the box’s directions indicate. Reduce the stove to medium heat and mix in the parmesan until completely melted. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream and parsley. Serve immediately.

Lemony Yellowfin Tuna Over Pasta

Quick Post: This was pretty good, but I will definitely modify the recipe for next time. I had slightly more than one pound of yellow fin tuna  and I seasoned it according to the recipe, which I should have changed. I will make sure to add more lemon, chili flakes and white wine and probably even some lemon zest to the foil packet. Also, I’ll make sure to use a sharper cheese, like the Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. It has great potential to be really flavorful, but it was my fault that I didn’t compensate for the amount of food I made. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Lemony Ahi Tuna & Olive Oil Pasta – adapted from Simply Scratch

  • 10-12 ounces fresh or frozen Wild Caught Ahi Tuna Steaks{thawed if frozen}
  • 3/4 of a pound of Fettuccine or Linguine
  • 1 Lemon, sliced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, pressed through a garlic press or minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1/4 cup Parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Reserved Pasta Water
  • Salt and Fresh Black Pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan or Pecorino Romano Cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and bring a large pot of water to boil. Season the water with lots of kosher salt.

On a piece of parchment or foil, lay a few of the lemon slices. Place the tuna on top and season with salt, pepper and top with more lemon slices.

In a small bowl; combine pressed garlic, red pepper flakes, wine and oil. Whisk it together and pour over lemons and tuna. Seal up the parchment or foil to eliminate any steam from escaping and place the foil pack on a rimmed sheet pan. Place pan on the middle rack in your oven and cook for 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of your tuna. {The tuna is done when a toothpick glides easily through the thickest part without meeting any resistance.}

After 10 minutes have elapsed since the fish has been in the oven, drop the pasta into the seasoned water and cook as directed on the package. Pastas have different cooking times so adjust your times accordingly. When the pasta is al dente, reserve a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of starchy pasta water then drain the pasta and transfer pasta to a large bowl

When the fish has finished cooking, carefully open the foil pack from the top and remove the fish, being careful to keep the juices from spilling. Break apart the tuna into bite size pieces. And combine the cooking liquids with the pasta water. To the pasta; add the parsley, tuna and sauce liquids. Season with more salt, pepper and shaved cheese.

Toss and serve immediately!

Fettuccini Alfredo with Grilled Chicken

Quick Post: Super simple dinners that can be whipped up quickly are a mom’s best friend! I thought this one up while looking through the weeks sale items on the Publix website. I was happy to find boneless, skinless chicken on sale and snapped up a few packages. Hopefully I can come up with good ideas for the four or so pounds of chicken that I have in the fridge! Thanks for reading:)

Grilled Chicken and Fettuccini Alfredo – a Mom Makes original

  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • juice of one whole lemon
  • salt, pepper and dried oregano to taste
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast – pounded to an even thickness
  • 1 pound fettuccini noodles
  • 1 jar of alfredo sauce (I had a few jars I needed to use, or I would have made this one)

Directions -

1. Mix the oil, lemon juice and seasonings together then pour over the chicken. Let marinade for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.

2. Preheat your grill and cook the chicken about 10-15 minutes or until done.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a generous amount of kosher salt and add the noodles – cook to package directions, drain and set aside.

4. Take the chicken off the grill, add the alfredo sauce to your cooked and drained noodles. Slice the chicken, serve up the fettuccini alfredo and top with the grilled chicken. Serve with a nice green salad and garlic bread. Enjoy!


Three Ingredient Crock Pot Dinner…(and it’s good, too!)

Quick Post: Easiest.Dinner.Ever. Crock Pot meals are so convenient and this one is no exception. If you want to use the store bought ingredients, it’s even easier. I had some carrots that I needed to use up so I roasted them in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes seasoned with kosher salt, pepper, and some olive oil. I didn’t roast any garlic for the potatoes described on the blog, so I just mashed my potatoes with Parmesan, some butter, half and half, milk, salt and pepper. They’re really basic, but that’s okay because the pork makes its own gravy – yum! Thank for reading, enjoy!

Ranch House Crock Pot Pork Chops – adapted from Picky Palate

Directions -

Place all ingredients in a crock pot – cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.

Puh-sketti and Meat Sauce

Quick Post: Yum! I used this marinara sauce but before I started the marinara sauce directions, I browned three links of Italian sausage and one pound of lean ground beef. I knew M wouldn’t appreciate it unless there was meat in it…If the sauce becomes too thick for you, add tomato sauce or water if you’d like. I ended up adding two 8 ounce cans of tomato sauce and the same volume  of water to make it a little thinner. Once the spaghetti noodles were finished cooking, I ladled about five cups of the sauce along with parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheese. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Spring Green Risotto

I needed a side dish for my salmon in foil, so I immediately thought starch and vegetables, and this fits my needs perfectly because this risotto recipe is two sides in one. I came up with this by combining two risotto recipes that I found on FoodNetwork.com. I liked that Ellie Krieger used asparagus, peas and spinach and far less ingredients than Ina Garten’s; but I like that Ina uses butter, lemon zest, and more parmesan. I think I came up with a good mix of healthy with a little added richness by using more cheese, a little butter and brightness from the lemon.

This is definitely more fussy than the average rice recipe – but it’s not at all difficult to manage. Mine probably took more than 30 minutes, but it turned out great. Obviously, I left out the peas and spinach because once the asparagus was added, there was no room in my pan for anything extra. The lemon zest is a must to brighten up the flavor of the risotto or it would be a one note dish. I was tasting it before adding the zest and I was a disappointed because it was a little bland. The lemon woke up the flavors – even M noticed something different. He did like it though, which is always appreciated since he can be really picky and hard to please at times;) Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Spring Green Risotto – a mix of these two recipes

  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cups white wine
  • 5-6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 pound thin asparagus, steamed and cut into 3/4″ pieces
  • 10 ounces frozen peas (not enough room in the pan…maybe next time)
  • 1 TBSP lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1-3 cups baby spinach (oops!)

Directions -

Bring the broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Heat the oil and butter in a heavy saucepan over moderately low heat and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add wine
and simmer, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup of the hot broth, the salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper and simmer, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding hot broth, about 3/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing the broth to be absorbed before adding more, until rice is almost tender and creamy-looking, about 18 minutes.

Add the spinach and peas and cook until the spinach is wilted. Add the asparagus and cook just until the vegetables are hot. Stir in the Parmesan, lemon zest and more broth if the risotto seems too thick.

Vodka Cream Pasta with Italian Sausage

I was introduced to tomato/cream pastas some time last year…dangerous! I don’t make them very often at all and our favorite so far is Penne al la Betsy via The Pioneer Woman. The first time I made it, I subbed chicken for the shrimp – see that was before I was comfortable cleaning, deveining, and cooking shrimp. My family loves shrimp, even my picky eater loves shrimp. Thankfully, she loves sausage (and bacon) too, and if she knows what’s good for her, she’ll eat some of this too!

I cooked the sauce much longer than what the recipe specified – actually, it doesn’t give a time limit at all. I also thought it best to use 1/2 cup of vodka and about the same amount of heavy cream, because 1 cup of each seemed like over-kill to me!

Verdict: rich, creamy, flavorful, yum! This makes a lot of pasta, so unless you want to deal with all the leftovers, invite some friends over! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Vodka Cream Pasta with Italian Sausage Ingredients – adapted from Eclectic Recipes

  • 5 links sweet Italian sausage, cut in bite size pieces
  • 1 32 oz can Italian tomatoes (I used crushed San Marzano tomatoes)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup vodka (I used 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup cream (I used about 3/4 cup)
  • a large bunch of basil, roughly chopped or torn
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • penne pasta (I used angel hair)

Directions –

Preheat large skillet. Drizzle with olive oil and add sausage to pre-heated pan. Brown sausage. Add onions and garlic and saute until translucent. Add tomatoes. Add vodka. Turn heat to a simmer. Break up tomatoes with a spoon or potato masher.

In a separate saucepan, while sauce is simmering, bring water to boil for pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions.

When pasta is done, Add cream to sauce and bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Add basil and stir until just wilted. Serve over pasta, and don’t forget the garlic toast!


Simple but Elegant Lunch

This was really good, and I love that I can easily throw this kind of meal together cause I have such a well stocked pantry and fridge. I was able to use some of the pesto that I made over the weekend,  crimini mushrooms, minced onion and some grape tomatoes to create a tasty pasta “sauce”.  Today I picked up some quinoa pasta shells because there is way more protein  and other good-for-you stuff that regular pasta can’t offer. I would have loved to add some peas to this, but sadly I had no frozen peas! Anyway, I am really happy with how this turned out, and I think having pesto on hand in the fridge or freezer is something I will have more often. It isn’t hard to make and it tastes worlds better than any pre-made pesto with unpronounceable ingredients. Thanks for reading, enjoy!