Spaghetti Squash as a "Pasta"

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppMy mom introduced me to Spaghetti Squash as a substitute for spaghetti back in the 70's when we were dieting. We still craved our taste for Italian pasta dishes served with sauce and sausage or meatballs. 

This was in the days before microwaves, which now makes it faster and easier to cook.

The squash has a very mild taste but a texture similar to pasta and so low in calories or carbs it's practically nothing: 40 calories versus 200. So whenever deciding to "diet" this is a good choice for a "noodle" substitute.

I cook my sauce, sausage or meatballs separately, then combine with the prepared squash as I would do for regular spaghetti. 

This veggie is tasty by itself with grated Parmesan as a side dish for any meat dish, but as a substitute for pasta works well.

Spaghetti Squash
    Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
  • 1 small spaghetti squash, about 2-1/2 pounds
  • 2-1/2 Tabs. butter
  • 2-1/2 Tabs. finely chopped fresh soft herbs, such as basil, chives, parsley 
  • or 2 tsps. of dry mixed herbs
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • Cheese: Parmesan, or Feta,
  • spaghetti or marinara sauce
  • Add ons: sausage, mushrooms, meatballs
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppPierce all over with a with a knife or metal skewer so steam releases, and microwave for 5-10 minutes, or until soft. Cool for handling then cut in half lengthwise.  Remove seeds with a spoon (discard or save and use as you would for making pumpkin seeds).

Or cut in half lengthwise and bake cut side down in an oven at 375 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, until squash is soft.
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
With a fork scrape insides forming "spaghetti" strands and put in a bowl.  Use for recipes as you would for regular pasta spaghetti. Heat a skillet, adding the butter, spaghetti squash, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper and toss to heat and combine. 

Serve immediately or cover and keep warm until ready to serve. Top or toss with sauce, cheese and desired meat. Yields about 6 cups or more of  "spaghetti." Serves 6 to 8.

Estimated cost of  squash: $3.00 or less; .50 cents a serving or less.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Stuffed mushroom make great appetizers, or can be the star for a light meal.  I've made them with several different kinds of "stuffing" but this one is a favorite.

The basic stuffing is cream cheese and/or Parmesan with other additions such a sausage, bacon or crab meat; other stuffing can include cheese, spinach and bread crumbs.

Stuffed Mushrooms
8 oz.  large (2 inch wide) button mushrooms, about 8
2 to 3 oz. seasoned breakfast or Italian sausage
1/8  cup finely diced onion 
1 clove finely diced garlic
2 oz. softened cream cheese
1/8 cup mayonnaise 
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese,
salt and pepper to taste

Stuffed Mushrooms, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppClean mushrooms by wiping with a damp clean cloth or paper towel.  Twist and pull, or scoop out stems using a teaspoon or melon ball gadget to hollow out cap. Finely chop stems and set aside.
Stuffed Mushrooms, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppStuffed Mushrooms, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Over medium high heat, crumble and brown sausage, add diced onions and garlic and cook a few minutes until onions are soft, then add diced mushroom pieces.  Saute a few minutes more. Salt and pepper to taste.

Set aside to cool. In a bowl, combine cream cheese and mayonnaise,  Stir in Parmesan cheese, then add cooled sausage mixture. With a spoon, smear mixture into of each mushroom cap, making a mound on top.  

Mushrooms can now be frozen and baked later, baked and served, or baked, cooled, frozen and reheated later for serving.
Stuffed Mushrooms, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppBake at 350 degrees on a cookie sheet for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool slightly before serving or keep warm until ready to serve. Makes 8 stuffed mushrooms, serves 2 to 4.

As a light lunch or dinner for two serve with a salad or soup, allow 4 per person. As an appetizer allow two per person.  Recipe can be doubled or tripled for larger gatherings or a buffet table.

Estimated cost: $3.00 or less.   
Foodie Friends Friday

Roasted Red Potatoes & Veggie Medley

This side dish goes well with just about any meat or seafood entree.  I often cut potatoes and roast them in the oven or fry on the stove top in quarters or wedges with oil and rosemary. 

With garden veggies so available this year, I added some zucchini and chopped tomatoes.  It makes for a colorful dish of harvest veggies.

Any potatoes would work, too, but I happen to grow my own red potatoes in half barrel tubs.  And I'm always looking for way to use up zucchini besides using for a relish or bread.

Roasted Red Potatoes & Veggie Medley
4 medium red potatoes cut in 1/2 inch wedges
2 tsp. dried rosemary or fresh sprigs
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves of minced garlic, or 2 tsps. jarred minced garlic
1 cup of sliced zucchini, about 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped green onions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary in a baking dish. Add potatoes and vegetables and coat well with mixture. Roast 30 - 35 minutes, turning potatoes once or twice lightly browning on all sides. 

Turn heat down to 325 and roast another 20 to 25 minutes, or until potatoes turn golden brown. Makes 4 - 6 servings.

Estimate cost: $2.00; .50 cents a serving or less.

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini BreadAs usual each year, one zucchini plant does not disappoint and produces and abundance of zucchini.  Either that or a neighbor or co-worker is bound to give you "extras."

Besides zucchini relish,  and zucchini fries, I make a batch or two of zucchini bread in the fall, and freeze.  I also grate and freeze zucchini to have on hand for recipes as I also put zucchini into vegetable soup.  

Grocery stores seem to carry them year round. And when sliced lengthwise and thin, they can be used as "noodles" for a low carb diet lasagna.

Mini loaves make a nice hostess gift during the holidays, are handy for a quick dessert, or anytime for a breakfast cake. This recipe makes 2 large loaves, or several mini loaves.  Slice and serve with cream cheese, or top with fruit and whipped cream.

Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 tsps. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3 tsps. ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups grated, raw zucchini

Beat the eggs until foamy. Add  sugar, oil, and vanilla  mixing lightly. Combine flour, salt, soda, baking powder, and cinnamon;  add and stir into egg mixture.

Stir in zucchini and nuts until all is combined. Pour into two greased loaf pans, or 4 to 5 mini loaf pans. Fill 1/2 to 3/4 full.  Or if you prefer, make them in a muffin pan and bake less time than for a loaf, about 25 minutes or less.

Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 50 to 60 for large loaf; 30-40 minutes for small loafs. Insert toothpick to test if done. Toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Remove from pans and cool on a rack. These freeze well. Makes 12-16 servings.
Estimated cost: $3.00 or less; .75 cents per mini loaf or less; .25 cents a serving or less.

Pan Fried Chicken Tenders or Nuggets

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppI seem to post many chicken recipes, about a dozen so far. But honestly, there's so many ways to enjoy such an economical protein! 

Watching for sales on skinless chicken breasts, you can then cut them into your own sized pieces, or buy them already cut.

Sometimes I cut them into nuggets.  It just depends on what else I'm serving.  I might do nuggets if I'm making fries, or have them as tender strips if making sides of a salad, veggie, or mashed potatoes.

We like them served with dipping sauces, homemade or commercial.

They can also be deep fried at 360 - 365 degrees about 4 minutes, if desired.  But for me, pan fried is just as good, and easier than heating up a big pan of oil.

 Pan Fried Chicken Tenders or Nuggets
1 pound chicken breast cut into strip tenders, or nuggets
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
egg beaten with a shell of water
1 Tab. water 
3/4 cup Italian style bread crumbs or seasoned Panko crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
canola oil for frying, about a quarter inch deep in pan
Favorite dipping sauces, if desired
Chicken Tenders, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Lightly salt and pepper tenders and dust with flour on all sides.  (Shake in a plastic or paper bag).  Beat egg with a shell of water in a bowl and coat tenders.  In a separate bowl or bag, mix crumbs with cheese and coat tenders.  Put aside for 10 minutes to let coating set.
Chicken Tenders, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Heat oil to 340 (medium high) and fry about 4-6 minutes on each side, until golden brown.  Serve with favorite dipping sauces: blue cheese, BBQ, or honey mustard (see below).  Dipping sauces can be made from just about any salad dressing or BBQ sauce mixed with mayonnaise or not.  I especially like honey mustard, BBQ sauce, and a purchased yellow pepper mustard sauce.  Serves 4.

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 Tabs. mustard of choice
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1 Tab. vinegar
1/2 cup sour cream
Combined and whisk ingredients together
Makes 1-1/2 cups, refrigerate after using

Estimated cost: $3.00 or less for tenders or nuggets; .75 cents or less per serving.

Crispy Waffles

PhotobucketI seldom make waffles now that the kids are grown. In fact years ago I discarded my old, round waffle iron. 

When raising three kids my husband liked to make waffles every so often for the whole family on Sunday mornings, and it was a fun family affair. I'm sure then, we probably used Bisquick or a mix.

Now I have detachable waffle insert plates for my Panini maker, which I've used a few times in recent years, so decided to make waffles I saw made on the PBS show America's Test Kitchen.

They said this method makes crispy outsides with soft insides which is ideal for quality waffles.  I happened to have powdered buttermilk on hand, as I use it for bread recipes.

If not having buttermilk powder and seltzer on hand,  I also included a traditional waffle recipe my foodie friend "Angel" gave me, which is also delightful and uses ingredients everyone usually has on hand.  They were crispy on the outside with a soft inside, too.

Now I make a batch for the two of us, then freeze extras to have on hand and reheat in the microwave. They make a nice weekend breakfast treat without a lot of fuss.

Crispy Waffles
2 cups flour
1 Tab. sugar
3/4 tsp. table salt
1/2 cup dried buttermilk powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp, vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1-1/4 cups unflavored seltzer water

Waffle Batter

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Set a wire rack on baking sheet and place baking sheet in oven.  As you make waffles, put in oven on rack to keep warm and crisp.

Whisk flour, sugar, salt, buttermilk powder, and baking soda in large bowl to combine. Whisk sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and oil in medium bowl to combine. Gently stir seltzer into wet ingredients. 

Make a well in center of dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir until just combined. Batter should remain slightly lumpy with streaks of flour. If appearing too thick, add more seltzer to thin batter.

Heat waffle iron and bake waffles according to manufacturer’s instructions (use 1/4 to 1/3 cup for 7-inch waffle). Transfer waffles to rack in warm oven and hold for up to 10 minutes before serving with butter, maple syrup, jam and/or powdered sugar. 

Makes 6-8
 waffles depending on waffle iron size and thickness of batter.
Estimated cost $2.00 or less; .33 cents or less per waffle or less.

Angel's Waffles
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsps. baking powder
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter (4 Tabs.) or vegetable oil
Optional: 1 Tab. of sugar if wanting darker waffles

Beat eggs in a bowl, add milk and oil/melted butter. Add all dry ingredients and mix together to form a smooth batter, using a whisk or mixer. If looking too thick, add a little more milk to thin out. Keep in a 250 oven to keep warm and crisp until ready to serve.

Makes 6-8 waffles depending in size of waffle  iron maker.
Estimated cost: $1.50 or less; .25 cents a waffle or less.