Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash with Black Bean Guacamole

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Tomorrow I am having a play-date with one of my oldest friends. We grew up on the same street and went to the same school until my family moved away when I was 11. We didn’t reconnect until we both began having children, many years later. Our kids happen to be all the same ages, just give or take a couple months apart, and it has been like we have just picked up from where we left off 2o years ago. Mind you, we are not doing cartwheels in clown costumes on our front yards, having lemonade-popcorn stands, or climbing trees, but we are watching our kids begin to be adventurous and curious, seeing glimpses of our creative natures resonating inside of them.  We have both highly intelligent, little adult first borns, quiet, secretly smart second borns, and then our thirds. No words, perhaps not enough words to describe their little fear-less personalities. It has been a great joy doing life with Jen and being able to tackle all the obstacles life brings in our way together as sounding boards for one another. For sure there is always something to laugh about, it is just a given. I know I am going to miss her greatly when she moves next month, but I also know that this is just part of the story of the greater picture. What that picture is, I am not exactly sure, but I do know there is a preparation taking place for the perfect plan designed for her life. I am excited to see how it all unfolds for her and her family. They will be impacting, inspiring and influencing all those they meet in Fort St. John, and they themselves will be impacted, inspired and influenced, too. God is good.
Tomorrow we will be breaking bread with this meal from Oh She Glows.

Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash with Black Bean Guacamole

Inspired by: Oh She Glows

Ingredients:

For the spaghetti squash:

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • ground cumin
  • ground chili powder (I didn’t use)
  • dried oregano
  • salt & pepper

For the black bean guacamole:

  • 2 avocados, pitted and flesh scooped out
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 small tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed (about 1.5 cups cooked beans)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
  • fine grain sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • red pepper flakes, to taste

How To Play:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice off the stem of the squash and place the squash cut side down on a cutting board. With a chef’s knife, carefully slice through the squash lengthwise to create two long halves. Scoop out the seeds and guts with an ice cream scoop. Brush some olive oil onto the squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place squash halves cut side down on the baking sheet and roast for 30-50 minutes, depending on how large your squash is. When the squash is tender and you can easily scrape the strands with a fork, it’s ready. Be sure not to cook for too long or it will turn mushy.
  2. While the squash is roasting, prepare the black bean guacamole. Mash the avocado flesh in a large bowl. Fold in the onion, tomato, drained and rinsed black beans, and cilantro. Season to taste with lime juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  3. Remove squash from the oven, flip over, and scrape the flesh with a fork in vertical motions. Do this until you’ve scraped all the strands off the skin. Now sprinkle on some chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper (as much or as little as you want). Top the squash with guacamole and serve warm. You can also plate the spaghetti squash, if preferred.

Enjoy.

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Channa Masala with Basmati Rice

I watched a show the other night that impacted as well as challenged me.  It is called Forks over Knives. It was, well, less gory, in my opinion than Food inc, but nevertheless has reminded me the importance of healthy eating.  Now that my 30 pound challenge is drawing near to its end, with only a few more pounds to go…I am embarking on a new one.  My goal is to not make the 2 meals a night for my family, but one. I am endeavoring to cook with meat once a week.  The meat will be chicken, not beef.  The meal plans I do have often based on Sean and the kiddies likes, but I want to shake things up a bit…oh man, I don’t know how this is going to go down, but like I said, this is going to be a challenge, a family one!  Before I got pregnant with 3, I was dabbling in vegetarian meals and so forth, but once the morning sickness kicked in, all that went out the window.  In good humor I have joked saying 3 would be my vegan baby, well, we might be on the road to making it happen.  He gobbled this up last night.  He is 11 months old and he loves hummus, lentils, and now channa masala.  The other 2…uh, not so much.  Sean said this was a meal he would like to see on the meal plan every week.  It is pretty scrumptious and not too hot, but if you like heat, maybe add a bit of red pepper powder…either way, I hope you like.

Channa Masala with Basmati Rice

(adapted from Oh She Glows)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chick peas, cooked
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 14 oz diced organic tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp  Curry Powder Madras to taste (I used 3 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp. sugar, to taste (I used 2.5 tsp)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. sea salt, or salt to taste
  • 4 tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped ( I used more)
  • 1.5 tsp. Garam Masala
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp cumin seed
  • grapeseed oil 

How To Play:
Rinse chickpeas and drain. Set aside. In a medium-sized pan, heat oil on medium-high heat and add in chopped onions. Add diced tomatoes and cook for one minute. Add curry powder madras spice to make a paste. Fry paste for a couple of minutes. Stir in cooked chickpeas and add water to make a consistent sauce. Add salt and sugar to taste. You can use the cilantro and garam masala as a garnish, I however added them with the salt and sugar. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with basmati rice. Serves 4

Basmati Rice:
I make Basmati rice the same way I make oatmeal, that is without measuring. I would imagine 1 cup rice to 1.5 cups of water? Anyhow, I have it so the water is covering the rice by an inch. Once the water and rice boil, I turn the temperature down and cover it, letting it simmer for about 15 minutes or so. I fluff it up with a fork and test it to see if indeed it is cooked. When it is, I drizzle it with grapeseed oil and stir in about a tablespoon of cumin seeds, then cover until it’s ready to be served.

Enjoy.

Meatballs


Our kids love spaghetti and meatballs.  I have never been a big pasta person, but I do like this, just without the noodles.  I remember I used to walk miles to the butcher when 1 was a baby, then walk back home and prepare this.  The memories of it all are fond.  Now, two more children later, I am not walking to that particular butcher anymore, for it would take a lot longer than a long time.  These meatballs are Jamie Oliver’s. They are tasty- cheesey goodness, with a fine hit of basil, which makes them so great!

Meatballs

(From Jamie Oliver)

Ingredients:
2 lbs ground meat
2 slices of bread
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 level tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 tsp cumin seed, pounded
1/2 small dried red chilli, pounded
1 level tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 egg yolk
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 jar of favorite tomato sauce
2 handfuls of fresh basil, torn
2 oz mozzarella cheese, broken up
2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated

How To Play:
Use a food processor to turn the slices of bread into bread crumbs.  Add the bread crumbs, dried oregano, cumin, chilli, rosemary and egg yolk to the meat and season with 2 level teaspoons of salt and a good twist of pepper.  Add onion, garlic, and Dijon mustard.  Mix well, and, with wet hands, roll and pat into meatballs the size and shape you want.  Heat a thick-bottomed casserole over high heat, add 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil, swirl around the bottom of the pan and add your meatballs.  Fry them until they are browned all over, being careful not to break them up but just moving them the pan around so that all sides of the meatballs get nicely colored.  Turn heat down and cover with tomato sauce, loads of torn fresh basil and a little mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese.  Cook in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is golden.  Serve with garlic bread, Caesar salad, and noodles.

Enjoy.

Monday Meal Plan

Like planning?  I do.  I plan lots of different things.  I think it really all began to take form when I was a landscaper in my early twenties.  We would have dead lines.  We would have to have a variety of tasks to get done by a certain hour, or if not, we would have to work over time in order to have the projects done.  I know many careers are like that, but something happened to me then.  I began to compartmentalize not only  lawn care and garden care, but everything outside of work.  I find I do it a lot at home, too, with the three kids, and cooking and cleaning.  I almost get a rush doing it.  Is it crazy?  Maybe.  I have been meal planning for nearly 3 years now.  I was influenced greatly by a good friend of mine, Lizzie.  She would do this all the time when she and her husband were first married.  So, this week…
Monday– Pot Roast Meatloaf, inspired by the one and only, Jamie Oliver
Tuesday– Roast beef dinner
Wednesday– Turkey Tacos
Thursday– Mustard Chicken with Jewel Rice and Broccolini
Friday– Date night with Sean, my good friend Michelle, and sister Jojo
Saturday-Chicken Teriyaki
Sunday– Leftovers

Pot Roast Meatloaf

(Inspired by Jamie Oliver)

Ingredients:
2 medium onions
olive oil
1 level teaspoon ground cumin
1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
12 cream crackers
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 heaped teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 pound good quality ground beef
1 large organic egg
2 cloves of garlic
1/2- 1 fresh red chile (I used dried chile flakes. I just sprinkled it in).
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 can of chickpeas
2 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes (I didn’t have tomatoes, so used a jar of marinara sauce)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
12 slices of smoked bacon (I used 5-6)
1 lemon (optional)

How To Play:
Preheat on the oven to 475 degrees. Peel and finely chop one of the onions. Place in a large skillet on medium high with 2 lugs of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the ground cumin and coriander. Fry and stir every 30 seconds for about 7 minutes until soft and golden brown. Put in a large bowl to cool. In a food processor, blend crackers, until fine, add to cooled onions, along with the oregano, mustard, and ground beef. Add egg and salt and pepper. Mix well and shape meat mixture into a large football shape. Rub with a little oil. Place the meatloaf in a Dutch over type pan or baking dish and put in the preheated oven, and turn down the temperature immediately to 400 degrees. Bake for half an hour.
To make the meatloaf sauce: Peel the other onion and chop into 1/4 inch pieces. Peel and slice the garlic. Finely slice the red chile, or sprinkle dried chile. Place the onion, garlic, chile in a large skillet on a medium high temperature with 2 lugs of olive oil, the paprika, and a pinch of slat and pepper. Cook for around 7 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until softened and lightly golden. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chickpeas, tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and let it slowly simmer for 10 minutes. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper if needed.
To Finish off and serve: Pick the rosemary leaves off the woody stalks and put them into a little bowl. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and pour all the fat from the pan over the rosemary leaves and mix up well. Spoon your sauce around the meatloaf. Lay the slices of bacon over the top of the meatloaf and sauce. Scatter over the rosemary leaves. Put the pan back into the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the bacon turns golden and the sauce is bubbling (I cooked it for 20-25 minutes). Serve with a mixed leaf salad and some wedges of lemon for squeezing over. Since I am so into spinach these days, I made another spinach salad and cooked peas and carrots for the kids.

Enjoy.