Monday, January 26, 2015

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bowls

I think I am one of few people I know that doesn't eat pasta very often. And this is not a new thing...as far as meal planning is concerned, I've never been one to have any sort of pasta on a regular basis. I know this is unheard of for a lot of people and incomprehensible, but it is what it is. J, however, loves him some marinara sauce (which I am also not a huge fan of), so I'm always looking for different meals that incorporate his beloved sauce without always needing pasta.

When I saw this recipe for spaghetti squash lasagna bowls, I figured he would probably enjoy it AND it was healthy!

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bowl 2

I have actually attempted to make spaghetti squash dishes a few times and it has usually not ended well for me. The first time I roasted it whole in the oven. For 45 minutes. And it still wasn't completely done. That is tooooo long for me, y'all. 

The second time I tried it in the microwave after a little tip from my mom. Much shorter time frame, but I still didn't get it cooked through all the way. 

And the third time...oh boy, the third time was certainly a "charm." I attempted the microwave method again, only THIS time, something went terribly awry and from the living room I hear this bang! in the kitchen, I run in there to see that the microwave door has been flung open and spaghetti squash is...all over the place. It had quite literally exploded in the microwave. Awesome. 

Needless to say I was done trying to make the wretched little thing. Until I saw the recipe for this. 

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bowls

One more time, I thought. Just try it one.more.time. 

Well, thank goodness I did. Because this time it turned out perfectly. Now, cutting that little bugger in half was a bit of a challenge - those suckers are HARD. But once I got it started it was easy. And roasting the in halves...much better. Much, much better. 

I'm usually a 30-minutes dinner kinda gal, and this falls right there in that category. The filling/sauce can be cooked while the squash roasts, and then you just broil it to melt the cheese and it's ready to consume! 

Oh, oh! And you really only have to dirty ONE PAN!! Yeah. This is definitely my kind of dinner.

I will never say that spaghetti squash is "just like pasta", because it's not. But it is a great substitute and it has a pasta-like appearance, so there's that. 


Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bowl

I am sad that I didn't get to enjoy more of this meal than the couple of bites right after I made it, but I got really sick the next day and couldn't breathe or taste anything. And instead of wasting it, I let J eat it all for lunches/dinners. It just seemed like a waste for me to eat it and not be able to taste it. 

That just means I'll have to make it again, very soon! As should YOU!

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bowls
As seen on Sweet Remedy

Ingredients
  • 2 small spaghetti squash, cut in half, seeds removed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp basil, chopped
  • 1 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 1 cup partially skim mozzarella, shredded

Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, line a baking sheet with foil and set aside. 
  2. Brush the inner flesh of the spaghetti squash with oil, season with salt and pepper, and place on the prepared baking sheet, flesh-side down. Cook for about 30 minutes or until softened. 
  3. While the squash is roasting, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the turkey, stirring and breaking it up until cooked through. 
  4. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and fennel seeds. Stir and cook about 1 minute. 
  5. Add the turkey, tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, bay leaf, paprika, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer about 10 minutes, or until the spaghetti squash is cooked and then mix in the basil and remove from heat.
  6. Remove the spaghetti squash from the oven and use oven mitts or a spatula to help flip the squash over. Use a fork to scrape the strands loose into "noodles". 
  7. Spoon about 1/4 cup of cottage cheese into each half, then top with the turkey and sauce mixture and cheese. 
  8. Turn the oven broiler on hi and broil until the cheese is melted, browned and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes. 
  9. Remove from oven, top with additional basil if you'd like and enjoy, right out of the "bowl"! Of course be careful when transferring to a plate as the squash skin will be hot. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sweet Musings

4 months, 1 week, 5 days.

In 4 months, 1 week, and 5 days I will be preparing myself to walk down the aisle to marry the love of my life. Surrounded by my bestest friends, I'll spend the morning primping and getting all dolled up. And then, just moments before 5 pm, I will walk in the door of our wedding venue and make my way back to the aisle. The aisle that I will walk down to become a Mrs. The aisle at which on the other end stands my heart. My love. My best friend. My forever. 


I remember before we ever got engaged, I had made up my mind that when/if it ever happened I didn't want a long engagement. 6 months, max. Well, we got engaged in August 2014 and then decided on a date in October. June 6, 2015. 8 months from when we chose the date. 9 1/2 months from when we got engaged. Seems fast to a lot of people I'm sure, since many take a year or more to plan a wedding. But for me, at the time, it felt like 8 months was forever away. Even J said it was a long time. But for various reasons, we just couldn't do it any sooner. Well, not and have an actual wedding ceremony and reception, anyway. 

So, the date was set and I got busy with all my planning. Budgeting, searching, stressing, crying. You know...the usual chaotic mess that is wedding planning. Finding a venue was somewhat difficult. We had a pretty specific idea of what we wanted to be able to do on our own, what we were willing to spend, and the level of formality we wanted to have. Which was minimal. We wanted pretty casual. Not all the fuss and muss and traditional formalities. We wanted a venue where we could do our own catering, bring in our own alcohol, and ideally just have a big, informal party after the ceremony. 

It took some searching, but we finally found exactly the type of place we wanted, and for an amazing price. I won't say it's all be easy breezy, but for the most part the planning since we found and booked our venue has been smooth sailing. Just had to get over that one hump first. Now, 4 months has almost flown by and while I have almost everything on my list checked off as reserved, purchased, ordered, etc. I find myself checking it all the time to make sure I'm not missing anything. 

Buying my dress last Saturday was definitely one of the highlights for me. You see, I'm a do-everything-I-can-online kinda gal. If I can get info, order, book, reserve, or whatnot everything online...that's what I'm going to do in most cases. But the dress...well, I wasn't taking any chances on that one. I had to try them on and see what they looked like on me before I'd make that purchase. It was such an exciting day. My mom and three of my closest friends (who are 3 of my 4 Matrons of Honor and Bridesmaids) were with me, which added to the fun. I can't even explain how I felt when I walked out of the dressing room in the dress that would wind up being mine. Let's just say that I am not a fan of shopping or trying on clothes. I don't get excited about it and I very rarely get excited about the way things look. 

But this dress, you guys. I felt like it was made for me and like it made me look so beautiful and so skinny. Like OMG skinny. And that's what a bride wants to feel like on her wedding day, right? Beautiful. And that's what she wants her hubby to see when she steps out onto the aisle. The most beautiful thing he's ever seen. That's how this dress makes me feel. 

Le sigh. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sammich Saturday: Southwest Turkey Burgers

Is it summer yet? Seriously, y'all. I'm not built for cold, rainy, gloomy weather. It's miserable and depressing. Thankfully today is sunny and considerably warmer. And it's Saturday, so I'm not cooped up in an office all day and can actually enjoy it. As a matter of fact, I'll be spending part of the day with my Little today, so I'm extra excited about that!

I'm also very excited to (finally) share this delicious burger with you!! Delicious turkey burgers packed full of smoky, southwest flavors. You can't go wrong with a burger like this.

Southwest Turkey Burgers

I've actually made this burger a couple of times, and finally got a photo of it this time 'round. The ingredient list is really quite simple, despite the amount of flavor you get with each bite. The roasted poblano gives it a nice smoky flavor, as does the chipotle chili powder. And the chipotle mayo. 

Mmm. 

The light, crispness of the lettuce and tomato are a nice balance with the smoky heat of the burger. You can, of course, adjust the amount of chipotle you put in the mayo, or nix it altogether if you aren't a spicy fan. But I don't recommend it. Add a little less maybe, but you want it. Trust me. 

We had our with chipotle sweet potato fries, so we were getting the heat from all sides. Ketchup is a nice "heat" cooler. Just a little helpful tip there for ya!

Southwest Turkey Burgers
As seen on The Redhead Baker

Ingredients
  • 1 lg (or 2 small) poblano pepper(s)
  • 2 Tbsp plain bread crumbs, plus more if needed
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder, divided
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground red pepper
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey breast
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup miracle whip or mayo
  • 4 whole wheat hamburger buns, split and toasted
  • 4-8 tomato slices
  • 4 lettuce leaves

Preparation
  1. Turn your broiler on hi, line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with cooking spray. Cut the top off your poblano pepper(s), remove the seeds, and slice in half. Lay the pepper(s), cut-side down, on the baking sheet and broil for 5 to 10 minutes, or until you see blistered (black/brown) spots on the skin. 
  2. Remove the pepper(s) to a plastic bag or container with a lid and seal or cover for about 15-20 minutes. This helps the "steam" the skin so it is easier to remove. Remove from the container and peel the blistered skin off of the pepper(s), then dice. 
  3. Combine bread crumbs and milk in a large bowl and set aside for 5 minutes. Then add 1/2 tsp chili powder, cumin, salt, black pepper, red pepper, ground turkey and diced peppers. Use your hands to gently combine. Divide the mixture into four ½-inch thick patties.
  4. Spray a grill pan or skillet with cooking spray and cook the patties for about 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. 
  5. Meanwhile, combine the miracle whip or mayo and the remaining 1/2 tsp of chipotle chili powder in a small bowl. Spread the mixture on one half of each of the buns, then top each with a leaf of lettuce, a couple of tomato slices, and a patty. Add a little extra sauce, if you'd like. 
  6. Serve with sweet potato fries or your favorite side!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Things to come...

Many moons ago, before I even started this blog, I had another blog. Well, it still exists, but I rarely update it. It's my "personal" blog, for any- and everything that may be going on in my life. I recently decided that there is no point in trying to manage two blogs (especially when no one reads the other one - ha!) when I can just post it all right here. I mean, why not share all the facets of my life with you, my friends?? So, I'm going to start a couple of weekly posts to throw into the mix, to let you all get to know me a little better. One will be a throwback post, with pics (lord help us all) and little tidbits of info from my childhood to present, and the other will be current musings about the happenings in my life as I'm planning our wedding, embarking on married life, starting a family, and all the things in between. After all, this blog is about all the sweet beginnings in life, love, and food!

I hope that you all will enjoy these posts and getting to know the girl behind the food curtain a leetle bit better! I know I'm excited about it!

Keep an eye out for:

Throwback Thursday




and

Sweet Musings



coming soon, to a blog post near you!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Venison Meatloaf

Happy hump day, friends! I'm still suffering from whatever sickness took hold of me Sunday and still hasn't let go, but it's not the flu so I'm thankful for that. It would be nice to breathe, however. And taste. Yeah. I haven't been able to taste anything I've eaten or drank in the past two days. Awesome, right? Notsomuch.

I will say that I am grateful that the sickness didn't grab hold of me until Sunday, since Saturday was wedding dress shopping day! My parents came into town, and my mom and three of my bridal party went to find my dress. It was crazy busy in the bridal shop, but we found the dress. The first one I tried on, actually. I tried on a few more, but ultimately went back to that first one. And I can not WAIT for J to see me in it on our wedding day! Of course he's tried to get me to show him the dress or a picture, but no dice love. You must wait!

And of course when I made this amazing meatloaf I still had my ability to taste, thankfully.

Venison Meatloaf

Since we have a good amount of venison hamburger meat in our freezer, I've been trying to think of different ways I can fix it. I basically thought of ways that I use other ground meats, and found recipes using venison instead. This meatloaf was one of those recipes. 

You guys...

It was awesomesauce. J said it was the best meatloaf EVER. That's a pretty bold statement from someone who loves meatloaf. 

So in other words, you need to make this. Like, yesterday.

Venison Meatloaf
Adapted from Grit 

Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 2 lbs ground venison
  • 1 tsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1/2 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried onion flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground thyme
  • Dash of ground cinnamon
  • Dash of paprika
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Preparation
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 5x9 loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside. 
  2. In a large bowl,add the egg and whisk lightly. Add the bread crumbs and venison and lightly mix. Add in the mustard, cilantro, garlic powder, onion flakes, thyme, cinnamon and paprika. Mix again by hand until all ingredients are well combined and evenly incorporated.
  3. Place the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and lightly pat it down so it's evenly distributed in the pan. 
  4. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meatloaf registers 160 F on a meat thermometer.
  5. While the meat is cooking, combine the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and add additional honey or Worcestershire if desired. At the end of the 40 minutes, remove the pan from the oven, spoon and spread the ketchup mixture over the top of the meatloaf, and return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Seared Salmon with Wasabi and Lemon Cream Sauce

Helloooooo! Happy middle of January. How is it already the middle of January?? The days and weeks sure are flying by, and the wedding will be here before we know it. I'm so excited, anxious, overwhelmed, but mostly...blessed. Blessed to have found the love of my life and to be so close to starting our journey as husband and wife. And of course, I want to look my very best on our special day so I've been extra diligent about going to boot camp and cooking healthy meals for us. So far so good. And this one. Well...this one right here...is healthy and freaking amazing.

Seared Salmon with Wasabi and Lemon Cream Sauce 001

I actually made it awhile back but the wasabi powder I used must have been old and it tasted...not good. At all. So, I bought some wasabi paste from the International aisle at the grocery store and it made all the difference. J and I both love wasabi, but we're also aware of it's ability to sneak up and turn your nose into a fiery inferno of pain. Anyone who eats sushi is bound to have had this experience. More than once. I know you feel me. 

Anyway, I point this out only to say use caution when adding your wasabi paste to the sauce mixture. Little at a time to reach your level of heat. Oh, and if there is any leftover that you'll be eating the next day as leftovers, keep in mind that it gets hotter as it sits. It's amazing though. Creamy with a kick of heat and a great flavor.  We both enjoyed it, thoroughly. 

Seared Salmon with Wasabi and Lemon Cream Sauce 002

If you love salmon, sushi, and/or wasabi, then this needs to go on your to-make list right away! It's gotten a lot of interest since I posted a pic of it on Instagram and Facebook a few nights ago, so...here ya go friends, as promised!! Enjoy!!

Seared Salmon with Wasabi and Lemon Cream Sauce
As seen on Fuss Free Cooking

Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • black pepper, to taste
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1-2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 4 salmon fillets
For the Wasabi & Lemon Cream Sauce
  • 4 Tbsp sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp mayonnaise or miracle whip
  • 2-3 tsp wasabi paste (use your own discretion and tolerance for spiciness - wasabi is spice-eeeey!)
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp chopped green onion
  • Water

Preparation
  1. In a shallow baking dish, combine the olive oil, soy sauce, pepper, lemon juice, and chili flakes. Place the salmon in the marinade (skin side UP if your salmon has the skin on it...if not turn to coat both sides.)
  2. Preheat a large skillet or grill pan over medium heat. Place the salmon fillets, skin side down if it has the skin, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Flip, (if skin-on, gently peel off with tongs) and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until seared and nearly cooked through. (If you had skin-on salmon, flip one last time for an additional minute to get a good sear on that side as well with the skin removed.)
  3. While the salmon is cooking, combine all the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl. Be careful with the wasabi! Add a little, taste, and add more if you want it. Add water a teaspoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. I like mine a little thicker, so I didn't put much water. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 
  4. Serve the salmon with a generous helping of the sauce on top and extra green onions if you'd like. Also with a good grain and veggie, of course!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Grilled Chicken Taco Salad with Spicy Cilantro Lime Dressing

Happy Tuesday, friends! How are you all holding up in this wintry weather? Staying warm and cozy, I hope. At this point I'm wishing I could stay home all day, every day eating warm soup and drinking hot apple cider. Sadly, life must go on despite the sub-Arctic temps. (Yes, you all know I live in Texas and it's nowhere near THAT cold, but cut me some slack here...that's how it feels to me!)

Now, I don't have a warm soup or taco recipe to share with you today, but I do have a taco salad of sorts. Does that count? Well, either way, it's a delicious dish! I opted not to include tortillas strips or chips which would have made it more taco-like, but you can certainly add them! Just think of it as a deconstructed taco salad. All the delicious filling components with the "shell" sprinkled on top. or nixed altogether. Your choice.

Grilled Chicken Taco Salads with Spicy Cilantro Lime Dressing

I just love salad, in general, but especially and entree salad that includes chicken, avocado, and a spicy dressing. Yep, I'm all over that. I mean, just look at it!!! 

I want to stuff my face with all of that goodness, right.this.second. 

Grilled Chicken Taco Salads with Spicy Cilantro Lime Dressing 3

This makes a great weekend lunch or a light, weeknight dinner. Whatever time of day you prefer to eat salad, try this one out!

Grilled Chicken Taco Salad with Spicy Cilantro Lime Dressing
As seen on Creme de la Crumb

Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp taco seasoning
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to ½ inch thickness
  • 6-8 cups your favorite salad mix (I use a baby spinach, kale, and Swiss chard mix)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 large avocados, peeled, pitted, and diced
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
for the dressing
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt 
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 6 Tbsp mayo or Miracle Whip (I used Miracle Whip Light)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 jalapenos, roughly chopped (you can also use pickled jalapenos if you prefer)

Preparation
  1. Heat a large skillet or grill pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. 
  2. In a small bowl, combine the taco seasoning, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Sprinkle the mixutre onto the chicken breasts, then lightly rub it in with your hands to help it stick. 
  3. Cook the chicken 4-5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and cut into strips or bite-sized pieces.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, combine the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Cover and chill until ready to use. (During this time I also like to put my black beans in a small pot over medium-low heat and season with some garlic powder and cumin, and just warm them a bit.)
  5. To make the salads, divide your salad mix among your bowls, top with black beans, avocado, chicken, and tomatoes. Drizzle generously with dressing. If you'd like you can also top with additional cilantro, jalapeƱos, and tortilla strips or crushed tortilla chips.

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