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spaghetti squash bolognese

A new favorite? Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

Have you ever had a favorite recipe you suddenly didn’t like anymore?

For as long as I can remember, my favorite food has been spaghetti with meat sauce. I devoured it. I used to eat a portion larger than my father’s – when I was eight!

Mom’s meat sauce was simple and convenient: ground beef, a jar of spaghetti sauce, and a package of seasoning mix. It was a regular meal, at least every two or three weeks. I mean, it was so easy to make, and it was my favorite food.

Until it wasn’t. *frowny face*

Something happened while I was pregnant with Baby Number Two. My tastes started changing. At first I thought it was the day; you know, how something just doesn’t taste good to you that day. But after a few more times, I knew that wasn’t it. So then I thought maybe my preferred spaghetti sauce had changed its formula.

I think we tried five or six or more different brands and variations of jarred spaghetti sauce, trying to find something that suited me. I could still eat it, but in much smaller amounts. My girls, who had always eaten it, were now ALSO turning their nose up at it. Therefore, we were not eating up the leftovers, and not really enjoying our meal.

I’ve mentioned before my husband’s desire to go paleo. Our favorite paleo cookbook features a great recipe for Spaghetti Squash Bolognese. We’d made it several times and liked it very much. We’ve always served it over squash, as in the recipe, but I thought I’d give it a go over pasta.

Well, I now have my new go-to spaghetti sauce recipe.The combination of meats and the thick sauce are savory and satisfying. Unfortunately, it is not nearly as convenient as the previous version, so I’m planning to make it in large batches, freeze some, and maybe experiment with the crockpot.

If you’ve ever had an old favorite turn into a least favorite, why did it happen and what did you do?

Also, if you have a simple, tasty spaghetti sauce recipe, please share!

Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 2 Tbsp. bacon fat or butter
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely diced
  • 1 glove of garlic, finely diced
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk (you could try whipping cream. If you do, let me know how it goes!)
  • 3 ounces (1/2 small can) tomato paste (I measured this at 6 Tbsps.)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise so that two shallow halves remain. Scoop out the seeds and inner portion of the squash, sprinkle with seas salt and black pepper. Place both halves face down on a baking sheet. Roast for 35-50 minutes until the flesh of he squash becomes translucent in color and the skin begins to soften and easily separate from the “noodles” that make up the inside.

Allow the squash to cool enough so that you can handle it, and then scoop the flesh o9ut from the inside of the skin into a large serving bowl. Set aside until the sauce is finished.

While the squash bakes: in a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the bacon fat or butter, and saute the onions, carrots, and celery until they become translucent. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.

Add the ground meats and bacon, cook until browned through. Once the meat is done, add the coconut milk, tomato paste, and white wine/broth. Simmer over medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes or until the suace is well combined.

Add sea salt and black pepper to taste before removing he sauce from the heat. (This is essential! I learned the hard way that you need to taste and then season. The sea salt makes ALL the difference in this dish.)

Serve sauce over roasted spaghetti squash.

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Sometimes oldies are goodies. Here’s how this classic food found its way back to my table.

When I was a kid, my mom made tuna and noodles once in a blue moon. It wasn’t exactly a favorite of mine, and I hadn’t had it in YEARS.

Then I had a kid. A sort-of-picky kid. And in desperation, I dusted off this recipe (i.e. I asked Mom for it.) I tried it and it was a hit. I couldn’t believe it!

I quickly decided to change it up. The original recipe had only one small can of tuna, one can of cream of mushroom soup, and 3 cups egg noodles. It hardly seemed like a real meal. (Sorry, Mom!)

My new recipe has double tuna, and has added in vegetables. Frozen stir-fry veggies are one of my favorite go-to add-ins.

Tuna and noodles

Tuna and Noodles

 

Makeover Tuna & Noodles

  • 3 cups dry egg noodles
  • 1/2 of a 14-ounce bag of frozen stir fry veggies
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 (5-ounce) cans of tuna (I prefer albacore, but often do one albacore and one chunk-light to reduce cost.)
  • Lemon pepper and mesquite seasoning, to taste.
  1. In a large saucepan, boil noodles, adding veggies to the boiling water about 5-6 minutes before end of cook time. (I use kitchen shears to chop the veggies smaller after they’ve thawed in the boiling water, but this is optional.) Drain in colander.
  2. Add mushroom soup and tuna to pan. Heat on medium low heat for a few minutes, stirring regularly. Return noodles and veggies to pan, stirring until heated through.
  3. Serve with lemon pepper and/or mesquite seasoning. (We just put it on the table and sprinkle over our individual servings to our liking.)

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BC (Before Children) my husband and I only cooked for the two of us. This was one of our favorite quick and simple meals; the simple pasta sauce whips up on the stove in less than 15 minutes, and makes just enough for two.We love the flavor garlic adds, and the crushed red pepper flakes give it just enough zing to be exciting.

Once the kids were born, it was knocked out of the rotation because “I don’t like tomatoes” and “it’s too spicy” became just annoying.

Every once in a while, I get the house to myself and even a meal to myself, (What?!?! Yep, it happens.) and I decided I wanted Quick Marinara. We had some leftover spaghetti noodles and some leftover cooked chicken pieces in the frig, so it was meant to be.

In retrospect, I should have left out the chicken. It interrupted the flavor of the sauce. Now, if you had some well-seasoned chicken breast on hand, it might be a different story.

Quick marinara

Quick Marinara, with cut-up chicken breast pieces to add protein.

Quick Marinara for Two

  • pasta of your choice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. grated or shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Advance preparation:  Mince the garlic. (Did you know that letting minced garlic sit for several minutes before cooking may make it healthier for you? So mince it up and let it rest while you get the pasta going and heat the oil in the skillet.)
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  3. Heat oil in medium skillet. Saute garlic in oil for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced. Serve over pasta. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired.

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Sometimes, the kids just won’t eat what you want to eat. Annoying. This is a big part of why I hate Menu Planning Day. But I try to find ways to still make what I want and yet get them to eat SOME of it.

Rule in my house: you take one bite. One of my past daycare providers called it the “No- Thank-You Bite.” You don’t have to eat any more than that, but one bite is important. The other day, my daughter actually liked a salad I made her try. Like, with lettuce! Today, she helped me shake up the vinaigrette for this to go with our hamburgers off the grill.

Tortellini Salad (2)

This is a cool, crisp, tangy side for a picnic, or with any meat main dish. It is one of my favorite ways to eat broccoli. My youngest likes this – usually. My oldest turns her nose up at it – I think the vinaigrette is too strong for her – but she will eat raw broccoli and carrots with ranch dressing, so I just save some out for her. But she still has to taste it. Every. Time.

Tortellini Broccoli Salad

Recipe says it serves 4, but it goes farther than that in our house.

  • 1 pkg (7oz) cheese-filled tortellini (I like the dried ones in the pasta aisle rather than the frozen kind. They cook up better.)
  • Garlic Vinaigrette (below)
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 medium green onions, sliced (optional)

Garlic Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup cider or balsamic vinegar (I prefer balsamic)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. (If the package says to use salted water, DO IT. The salt makes a big difference.) Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again.
  2. Make garlic vinaigrette by placing all the ingredients in a large bowl with a tight lid. (I use the container I put the salad in. Make sure it will hold 7 cups, as any smaller will be too small.) Either close lid and shake to mix, or whisk gently.
  3. Add the carrot, broccoli, onions (if using) and pasta to the bowl. Toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate one hour, up to 24 hours. (I find it keeps well for several days, though it is good to toss the salad again before serving in case the vinaigrette settles.)

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