Archive: Feb 2011

  1. Spaghetti Squash ‘Casserole’

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    Today was cold, windy, and intermittently drizzly. Shaun and I walked around Balboa Park and got a chuckle passing people bundled in knee-length coats, fuzzy scarves, and beanies. Anything under 60 is an excuse to break out the snow gear here in San Diego. Today’s people watching  resuscitated  the little details of  extreme temperatures from my travels abroad that you can’t see in the pictures. Hiking the Great Wall of China in jeans and sneakers at sub-zero temps was cold. So cold. No like, coldest I’ve ever been in my life, cold. I didn’t see anyone wearing UGGs on the Great Wall. In fact, the only people I see wearing UGGs anywhere is Southern California. Hmmm… something wrong with this picture. 55’ in San Diego is warm enough for a walk without a down comforter, but I’ll concede that it was brisk enough for cooking up something cozy and homey for supper.

    I’ve had this big ‘ole spaghetti squash taking up all the space in my fruit bowl since Tuesday, and tonight some inspiration finally came upon me. This is sort of my take on a “casserole…” a term I sort of hate, because for some reason I always think of tuna and some creepy creamy sauce with peas. This is nothing even close to a traditional casserole, but its layers baked together resemble the classification.

    This recipe serves two people, but can easily be doubled.

    • 1 big bundle of spinach
    • ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • ¼ cup basil, chopped
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 can plum tomatoes
    • 1 medium sized spaghetti squash
    • olive oil for brushing
    • 2 eggs

    Preheat oven to 425’

    First things first, give the squash a good whack lengthwise. Scoop out the insides, and rub some olive oil on the flesh. Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Flip the squash halves flesh side down hard side up, and send ‘em to the oven for 45 (+) minutes.

    In the meantime prepare your spinach, onions, garlic, and basil and set in a bowl to the side. Time wise, this dish takes a bit longer than most, but it’s just because the squash needs time to loosen up. When there is about 10 minutes left on the timer for the squash, heat a large skillet with olive oil and toss in the bowl of spinach, etc. sauté and remove from heat before the spinach turns too dark.

    Remove the spaghetti squash from the oven when the outside gives a bit when you press it with your finger. Switch your oven to broil mode, high. While you let the squash cool for a sec, spoon a hearty layer of sautéed mixture to the bottom of a grotto dish or medium sized ramekin. Next, spoon out one large plum tomato from the can with a generous amount of tomato liquid atop of the spinach mixture. Scoop out the stringy squash with a fork, and allocate between the two dishes filling them to the top.

    Now, here’s the final task: crack one egg over the squash, sprinkle with a little herbamere or salt. Place the dishes back on the cookie sheet and off they go back into the oven.  Timing at this point is tricky; we want to cook the egg but still keep it a bit runny in the middle. Let it cook for about 5 minutes, then check every 30 seconds or so thereafter because the eggs are super volatile under the broiler. Use your intuition.

    Viola. Dinner. The grottos or ramekins will be extremely hot, so serve with caution. We enjoyed our “casserole” with a warmed multigrain loaf. Enjoy!

    P.S… didn’t Shaun’s pictures turn out great on these?

  2. Girl Scout Cookie Renovation

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    The Girl Scouts have taken over. I can’t go anywhere these days without seeing adorable eight and nine year-old girls waving colorful boxes of cookies and alluring the sugar-addicted masses to support their (worthy and important) programs. I take a deep breath before I write this, because I don’t want to come off as a total cynic, but have you taken a peek at the nutrition labels on those bad boys lately? Yikes! How do those tiny treats pack such a harsh punch? Here’s what I found on the Girl Scouts website for the Samoas variety:

    140 calories per serving, 70 calories from fat. Total fat 7g, Saturated fat 5g. Sugar 10g. Ingredients: Sugar, vegetable oil (partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil and cottonseed oil, soybean and palm oil, enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), coconut, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, cocoa, sorbitol, glycerin, invert sugar, cocoa processed with alkali, cornstarch, salt, carmelized sugar, dextrose, soy lecithin, carrageenan, baking soda, monocalcium phosphate, natural and artificial flavor.

    Red flag! Cottonseed Oil! Last year I read an excerpt from Dr. Andrew Weil’s Eight Weeks to Optimum Health that asked readers to go through their pantry and throw out anything made with cottonseed oil. He considers it “unhealthy because it’s too high in saturated fat, but even more, it is notorious for containing natural toxins and unacceptably high levels of pesticide residues… cotton is not actually classified as a food crop, and farmers use many agrichemicals when growing it.” But cottonseed oil isn’t the only offender, try artificial food dyes, hydrogenated oils, partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, GMO Soy products, GMO corn products, and artificial flavors to boot.

    There are ways to enjoy a little coconut-y chocolate-y goodness without all the processed gunk. It’s been a while since I’ve consumed an original Girl Scout confection but from what I’ve heard “on the street,”  cookie season just leaves people feeling guilty and unhappy. A cookie is still a cookie… it’s pretty hard to turn it into a “health” food, but we can strip it of unnecessary additives and use wholesome ingredients that treat your body with the tenderness and respect it deserves!

    Try this renovation on the classic Samoas and I dare you to tell me it’s not heavenly…

    Visit Sprouted Kitchen for the full recipe of “Dark Chocolate Dipped Macaroons.”

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