Spaghetti Squash Pizza Bake

Wow! It has been a minute since I posted last!! Life has taken some unexpected, crazy, and sometimes gut wrenching turns over the past few months. And I am guessing I am not the only one who feel like this out there. 2016 was a rough year for ALOT of people, but I also feel that 2016 brought many of us out of a complacent slumber, opened our eyes to what is going on, and revved up the activist fire within us. Those of you that know me personally, have seen my meteoric race to becoming a full-time activist as Co-founder of HELP, the Human Equality Love Project and as the Milwaukee chapter event lead for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. And that is in addition to my roles of mom, wife, friend, chauffeur, food blogger, and entrepreneur. Throw in a pelvic reconstructive surgery two days after Christmas and you got yourself one nutty mama with a crazy high BP.

Needless to say, my doctor recommended a “vacation” from anything “stressful” until after my surgery. Once I got over the sheer hilarity of that statement, I did realize one thing about my “vacation” and upcoming surgery. I was being given a rare gift, that most stay at home moms rarely (if ever) get. A hall pass to do ALL the things I NEVER have the time to do. Like what you ask? Well, there is the redecorating of my office, the family photo albums of 2013,2014,2015, and 2016 (I’m a little behind, ok?!). The re-organization of my kitchen pantry, the kids baby books (am I the only one whose books are still wrapped??) A stack of books I have been meaning to read since 2014, and binge watch all 6 seasons of Game of Thrones. And last, but certainly not least is to bake, cook and blog my way to happy town. So enough about me, let’s talk food!

This recipe is a MUST for those of us with kiddos! It is the age-old problem of every parent. The kids want carbs and dairy and you would like at least a fleck of vegetable to go with their beloved carbs and dairy. Spaghetti Squash Pizza Bake to the rescue! My oldest loves to help sprinkle the cheese and place the salami. She prefers salami as it tends to be less spicy than pepperoni. I also love this recipe because it doesn’t “hide” the vegetable it just presents it in a manner that is appealing to kiddos. Because believe me, this does not look like pizza!! The kids will know immediately that you are full of…beans. But, it won’t matter in the end because it tastes like PIZZA!!!! Enjoy! nom nom

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 large or 2 medium spaghetti squash, appx 4 cups cooked spaghetti squash
  • 3 cups marinara sauce, I used Rao’s homemade marinara sauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 1/2 oz thinly sliced salami (or pepperoni, which my daughter thinks is too spicy!)
  • 1/2 vegan parmesan cheese, I use Go Veggie Parmesan style Cheese or make my own.** You can also just use a bit more mozzarella and leave out the parmesan.
  • 1/2 cup vegan mozzarella cheese, I use Daiya brand

**Here is a quick and simple way to make vegan parmesan

Instructions

Spaghetti Squash

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Cut ends off the squashes, place cut side down and slice in half.
  3. Clean out and discard the insides of the squash
  4.  Drizzle each half with olive oil, salt and pepper
  5. Place cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until spaghetti squash is soft and slightly browned
  6. Remove from oven, let cool until you can handle the halves. Shred with a fork and remove “spaghetti” from the skin

Pizza Bake

  1. Once the squash is cooked, drop the oven temperature down to 350 F.
  2. In a medium skillet over medium high heat, brown the Italian sausage until cooked through.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the sausage, marinara sauce, eggs, sea salt, oregano, and garlic powder.
  4. Add the spaghetti squash to the marinara mixture. Stir to combine and put into a 9×13 baking dish. Smooth mixture into an even layer.
  5. Top with half of the salami/pepperoni, a layer of parmesan cheese, and then a layer of Mozzarella cheese.
  6. Top with the remaining salami and bake for 30-35 minutes until it sets and is bubbling.

Slow Cooker Beef Lettuce Wraps

Another AMAZING slow cooker summer dish is here!! Lettuce wraps are very versatile and can be a great alternative to your traditional bread laden sandwiches or heavier taco wraps in summer. The cucumbers and carrots are in season right now and lend a great vibrant crunch to the beef. And the beef…well, its super tender with a subtle sweetness to balance out the umami flavor. Translation, it is good enough to eat all by itself!

My hubby thought these were the bomb, and even though my kiddos were not keen on the lettuce wraps, they did devour the beef with some brown rice and the veggies on the side! So that is a win win in my book. This recipe is courtesy of Cooking Light magazine. I made a few minor adjustments to the recipe to ensure it was gluten free. And while they had you soak the cucumbers and carrots for 15 minutes, we thought they were much better when they marinated longer. Enjoy!!! nom nom

gluten-free / dairy free 

Prep time: 35 minutes

Cooking time: 8 hours on low

 

Ingredients:

1 large onion, cut into slices

8 garlic cloves, crushed

1 1/2 tsp canola oil, plus more for slow cooker liner

1 (2-3 lb) boneless chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat

1/2 cup unsalted beef stock

1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce

11 TBS rice vinegar, divided

2 TBS sesame oil, divided

2 TBS coconut palm sugar (brown sugar works as well)

2 TBS unsalted tomato paste

1 TBS white miso (soybean paste)

3/4 tsp crushed red pepper

16 Bibb lettuce leaves

2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

 

Quick Pickles

3/4 cup thinly sliced english cucumbers

3/4 cup julienne-cut-carrots

1 cup of water

1 TBS granulated sugar (I use turbinado)

3/4 tsp kosher salt

**The quick pickles are best if they marinate overnight. If you don’t have the time, let them marinate for at least 30 minutes.

  • Place cucumber and carrots in a shallow container with a lid. Combine remaining 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 cup of water, and granulated sugar in small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and pour vinegar mixture over carrots and cucumber. If you are marinating overnight or all day, let mixture cool and then place in refrigerator. Remove from fridge about 15 minutes before serving; drain well.

 

  1. Coat bottom and the sides of slow cooker with canola oil. Place onion slices in the bottom of slow cooker; top with garlic.
  2. Heat canola oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chuck roast to pan; cook 2-3 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Place beef on top of onions and pour any drippings from pan over the top.
  3. Combine stock, soy sauce, 3 TBS vinegar, 1 TBS sesame oil, and next 4 ingredients (through red pepper) in a medium bowl, and whisk together. Pour mixture over beef and onions. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.
  4. Transfer beef and onions from slow cooker to a large platter; shred with 2 forks. Reserve 1/2-1 cup of the cooking liquid and discard  the remaining liquid and garlic. Sprinkle evenly with salt and 1/4 cup of the reserved liquid, toss to coat.
  5. Divide beef and pickles among lettuce leaves, sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Steak and Sweet Potato Bowl

It is bowl time again my friends!!! And this time we are taking a Latin approach. This recipe is super simple albeit a little putsy with the marinade and dressing. But have no fear, I wrote down a few time-saving tips at the end to make this an easy option for weeknight meals. This has an earthy spice rather than a hot spice so it can work well for the kiddos too!! And if you want to make this vegetarian, it’s easy!! Just double up on the black beans or add in pinto beans for some variety! Add in some extra vegetables like sautéed corn and peppers and voila, a vegetarian bowl!!! This recipe is great the day after for lunch if you are so lucky to have leftovers!!! Enjoy! nom nom!!

gluten free / dairy free / grain free option / vegetarian option

Makes 2 bowls.

Sweet Potato Bowl 

1 cup cooked organic brown rice or Cauliflower Rice

2/3-3/4 cup black beans

1 avocado; sliced

1 cup of sweet potato (approximately 1 large sweet potato); peeled and cubed

6-8 ounces of flank steak; marinated for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking

2 TBS roasted pumpkinseed kernels; usually found in bulk section

4 TBS. fresh cilantro, chopped

2 TBS. salsa verde

Steak Marinade

2 TBS neutral tasting oil, I like grapeseed or EVOO

1/4 cup orange juice, preferably fresh

2 TBS lime juice; preferably fresh

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 TBS cilantro, chopped

1/2 tsp jalapeno, diced (optional)

Honey-Chipotle  Dressing

1 TBS olive oil

1 TBS adobo sauce

2 TBS honey

1 TBS fresh lime juice

  1. For the marinade, combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Place meat in large ziploc bag and pour mixture into the bag. Make sure the bag is sealed and massage bag until the marinade has coated the steak evenly. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes though all day is preferrable to ensure the meat is tender!
  2. Preheat oven to 425.
  3. Prepare rice according to package directions. Once cooked, toss the rice with salsa verde and set aside
  4. Meanwhile, place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and roast until crisp with slightly dark edges, approximately 20-30 minutes
  5. Heat a large non stick skillet over medium-high heat and cook the steak to your desired doneness. For medium rare, cook on the first side for 8 minutes, flip and cook for an additional 6 minutes. Remove to plate and lest rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice against the grain 1/4-1/2 inch thick.
  6. For the Honey Chipotle Dressing, whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  7. Once all the components are done you can assemble your bowl!!! Start with the rice as your base followed by the sweet potaoes, black beans, 3-4 ounces of sliced steak, sliced avocado and pumpkin seeds to finish
  8. Drizzle with Honey Chipotle dressing and enjoy!!!

Time Saving TIPS!!

  1. Prepare the marinade and dressing the night before. The steak can marinate overnight and just remove the dressing once you start dinner so it can come to room temperature
  2. Buy the sweet potaoes already cubed!! Either frozen and make sure to thaw them before baking or Trader Joe’s has cubed sweet potaoes in the refrigerated produce section
  3. You can also make the rice ahead of time! We eat alot of rice so we make a big batch on Sunday and use it throughout the week!