Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Long Time, No Blog

So its been about three years since I've posted to the blog. That's a daunting length of time to over-come. I find it ironically funny that while Life things got in the way of maintain the blog, new life things have inspired me to start writing and cooking again.

So what have I been up to all this time? In a nut shell, I got busy with my job and wrapped up in a new relationship, and I'm sure involved in many activities that took up my time.

I also stopped cooking as much, partly because of my hectic schedule, partly my new partner was also cooking for us. There's been some sporadic cooking events, and I will probably refer back to those recipes going forward.

Pinterest has been a major source of recipe inspiration (as well as an amazing time suck)

Recently I've decided to quit my job and go back to school, and once I got my schedule settled, it has been an interesting challenge.

I've also started a part time job at a local gym, its fun, and I get to exercise!

All that adds up to a reawakening of my interest in fitness and nutrition. Many of the recipes I've tried lately have been low carb, and low fat, and full of veggies.

For instance, this past Sunday I put together a Spaghetti Squash Lasagna based of a Pin found awhile ago, called "Million Dollar Spaghetti" The original recipe called for traditional spaghetti noodles, lean ground beef, tomato sauce, butter, and a cheese layer made of cream cheese, cottage cheese, and sour cream. Admittedly, that sounds fantastic, but it also has a lot of unnecessary fat and calories. At 12 servings, each serving would be 555 calories, with 36 g of fat, 30 g of carbs, and 28.2 g of protein.

I substituted some ingredients, such as spaghetti squash for the pasta, 2 TBSP of olive oil for the butter. Other ingredients were omitted like the ground beef (personal preference) and the cream cheese (unnecessary). My version, divided into 12 servings has 135 calories per serving, with 13.4 g of fat, 23.6 g of carbs, 12.7 g of proteins. Less of each, but lean ground beef could easily be added back in if you desire more protein, but the dish don't need it to be amazingly delicious. Its a good thing this is healthier, its so good you want to go back for seconds, every time.

Million Dollar Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

1 med Spaghetti Squash, about 4 cups cooked
6 cloves, Garlic - minced
1 container 100% Natural Diced Tomatoes, 14.5 oz Can
2 cans of Tomato Sauce (15 oz cans)
2 tbsp(s), Oil - Olive
1/2 cup(s), Sour cream
8 oz(s), Cottage cheese - Lowfat, 1% milkfat
1 cup, Mozzarella Cheese Shredded
1/4 cup(s), Cheese - Parmesan, shredded

Pre-heat oven to 350* Prep spaghetti squash by cutting in half and removing seeds and guts. Drizzle on 1 tbsp of the olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste to cut side o squash. Place cut side down in baking dish and bake for 45 to 60 minutes in 350* oven. I like to check squash at the 45 minute mark, and if it needs more time, I flip them cut side up and bake for 15 more minutes. The flesh should be tender and flake away when scraped with a fork.

While squash is baking, make the sauce: Heat the other tbsp of olive oil on medium heat, in a sauce pan and add diced garlic, cooking until tender. Add canned tomato sauce and canned diced tomatoes, stir to combine. Reduce heat and bring to a simmer. Add any additional seasonings to tastes, such as Italian herb blends, and red chili flakes. Allow sauce to simmer for 30 - 45 minutes to reduce and thicken, stirring occasionally. Optional: after sauce has cooked down, blend with in a blender, food processor, or with a stick blender.

While sauce is simmering, combine the sour cream and cottage cheese in a medium bowl, stirring until combined, and set aside.

Once the squash is done, scrape the flesh with a fork to create the "noodles". Allow to cool slightly while getting the rest of the ingredients together for layering. The lasagna should fit into the same casserole the squash was baked in, so less clean up!

 I start the layers with a 1/2 scoop of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Then add the squash noodles from one of the halves. Try to keep the layers even as you go. Next is the cottage cheese/sour cream mixture, use a spoon to dollop the entire mixture evenly across noodle layer. Next sprinkle on a handful (approximately 1/4 cup) of the shredded mozzarella cheese. Pour about 3 cups of the sauce evenly across. Then start the layers again, with the second half of the squash, another handful of mozzarella, and the rest of the squash. The rest of the mozzarella and the parmesan cheeses go on top to get all melted and delicious. Pop the casserole dish back into the hot oven for 10 - 15 minutes to warm through and melt the cheese layers.

Make sure the lasagna cools a bit before eating, its so tasty, eating it piping hot may lead to burnt mouths.

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