What a week.

Phew, how much has happened over the past week?? Me and Lindsey were in California for vacation when all this blew up. Finally made it back to Virginia where we’re under quarantine for 2 weeks. How should I pass the time? With you, of course! Please ask me your questions, send topic ideas, or comment on posts. Let’s get through this together.

Before you ask, we’re both feeling fine and doing okay on day 3 of our quarantine. Lots of reading, cooking, and working out. Thankful for the small things in life. 

Enough about us, it’s finally time to unveil our first recipe and what better time than when we’re stuck in our houses because of COVID-19, and with the kids? I’ve got something that tastes good and some wine recommendations (hopefully you have something you can drink in the house). Or, you can order some wine here in Virginia by the glass to be delivered from your local Taste restaurant (where they have amazing sandwiches and food). How crazy is that? For my coastal Virginia readers, see below and place your order at Taste

From recent taste email sent out today…

Before we dive in, I want to explain to my readers that I LOVE cooking. It’s a definite hobby of mine and my wife can attest to how many cooking shows and cooking related topics I research (Chopped, anyone?). Alton Brown from Good Eats is my hero. We try to eat balanced and healthy as much as we like to enjoy good (not so good for you) food, and we’ll share more as we go.

Now the inspiration for this recipe is questions I get: “How do I get my kids to eat more fruits and vegetables? How do I introduce some variety in their diets?”

No surprise this is a question I get ALL. THE. TIME. One of the biggest reasons kids become picky is we allow them to take control during meal time. I’ll talk more about that in an upcoming post “Reclaiming Meal Time”. 

In the Recipes series we’re going to share with you different meal ideas that might just help you achieve your goals. Easy and packed full of vegetables, our recipes are made for parents (and expectant parents!) who are looking to add some variety into their weekly routine. 

First, a word on Food Values. We’re big believers in fresh local food and feel that you should too! Food values are important and help improve the sustainability of the entire food market. I’d love to hear what some of your food values are, so share them below 👇. 

In this week’s first recipe, we’re going to start with one of my personal favorites: Spaghetti using spaghetti squash. We love regular pasta, of course, but how cool is a vegetable that looks like pasta? This is honestly a “once a week” recipe for us and it can be tweaked in so many ways PLUS it’s a breeze.

Ingredients:

Yields at least 4 servings

  • 1 medium-large spaghetti squash
  • ¼ cup Avocado oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder 
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder 
  • Marinara sauce (we like Rao’s Arrabiatta because it is no sugar added and made with simple ingredients- or you can make your own in an upcoming recipe. Arrabiatta is slightly spicy so if you or your kids aren’t up for it, sub something else but make sure it doesn’t have any added sugar)
  • Lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions

Preheat oven to 425F. 

Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon. Cover inside with avocado oil (high smoke point!) and sprinkle with salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder. You can also use Trader Joe’s Chili Lime seasoning alone, it’s fantastic (you can even buy it on amazon during the quarantine). 

Place flat side down on parchment paper lined baking pan and cook for 40-45 minutes until fork tender. 

While that’s cooking, prep the sauce. Heat the rest of the avocado oil over medium-high heat. Add in onion and bell pepper, and when they are almost done add in the minced garlic until fragrant but not burnt. Add salt/pepper to taste. It should sauté for 6-7 minutes until onions are translucent and soft, meaning they’re done. 

Decrease heat to low-medium and add in pasta sauce, mixing together until well combined and starting to bubble. Decrease to simmer. 

Brown the meat in a separate pan for more flavor or in the same pan as the vegetables to make clean up easier. We honestly go back and forth on this but I feel that you get more meat flavor if they are browned separately. Combine with simmering sauce once almost cooked through, typically 6-8 minutes. 

Once the spaghetti squash is fork tender remove it from the oven and carefully flip them over to cool them for handling. Using a fork, scrape the inside of the spaghetti squash lengthwise to remove the meat in tendrils that resemble pasta. Either mix in sauce or place directly on a plate and add the sauce/meat mixture on top. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese (my favorite part!). 

Bon appetite! 

Pairs well with: I can’t talk about a recipe and NOT give you an idea of what to drink with it. 

I like a good spicy merlot with this meal, it brings out the spices of the food but also some of the sweetness of the tomatoes. I’d recommend this one, the Horse Heaven Hill (H3) Merlot. It’s from the Columbia Crest family of wines grown in Washington State. It’s a great price point (sub $20) but is fantastical peppery with some fruit notes to it. You could also order that Merlot off the Taste

If you’re willing to be adventurous, this Pierre Henri Morel Tavel rose would be a fantastic pairing as well (rose goes well with harvest vegetables like spaghetti squash). It has the structure to hold up to a nice red sauce and has some subtle spice with it. Grab it at total wine!

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