Easy Spaghetti Squash Mexican Casserole

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 On Wednesday I shared my tips on how to cook one of my favorite veggies, spaghetti squash. I promised to come back today to share my go to spaghetti squash recipe.

This meal is cheap and super easy to prep and make but is also very filling.  I need to say that it is impossible to make spaghetti squash, or any “casserole” for the matter, look amazing in photos. So you’ll just have to take my word (and Ryan’s) for it. 

This dish satisfies any mexican cravings you may have but fills you up with veggies, protein, fiber, and vitamins. 

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Ingredients:

  • One large spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb of chicken breasts (or other meat of your choice or go 100% veggie!)
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of chili beans
  • 1 can of green chilis
  • Taco Seasoning
  • 8 oz of Cheddar Cheese
  • Salsa and Greek yogurt (drizzled on top)

Directions:

  • Cook the Spaghetti Squash (follow these instructions if you don’t know how)
  • Grill the chicken in taco seasoning
  • Once the chicken is cooked, add the beans and the chilis
  • Spray a 13.x baking dish
  • Spread a layer of the spaghetti squash on the bottom on the baking dish
  • Add a layer of the chicken, bean, and chili mixture
  • Add a layer of cheese
  • Repeat the layers until you run out of ingredients
  • Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes
  • Top with Salsa and Greek Yogurt (our sour cream, but did you know Greek yogurt taste just like sour cream when mixed?)

 What do you like to make with Spaghetti Squash?

I’m headed off for a girls’ weekend in NYC! I hope you enjoy this crisp Fall weekend.

I’ll be back on Monday for another Think Positive Monday.

How to Cook a Spaghetti Squash

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I love spaghetti squash. I cook with it about once a week and keep inventing new ways to incorporate it into recipes or turn usually carb heavy recipes into vegetable heavy ones.

Yet, a year ago I barely knew what a Spaghetti Squash was let alone how to cook it. The first time I bought one was last September at a small produce stand alongside the road. It was $1.00 and I thought, “Why not?”

I brought the beast of a squash home and had no idea what to do with it. After a few Google searches and frustration I quickly figured it out. I fell in love with the sweet crunchy taste and filling nature of the noodle looking squash. 

So this post is for any of you out there who were like me a year ago, clueless as to how to cook a spaghetti squash. Below are simple step by step directions and photographs.

I wish I had something this simple when I was first experimenting, hope it helps!

1. Pick out your perfect Spaghetti Squash.

I like when they are golden-yellow and about 8 inches long.

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2. Place the spaghetti squash in the oven pre-heated to 350 degrees. Cook for 20 minutes. 

This allows the squash to soften up a bit before you do anything to it.

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3. Carefully remove the squash from the oven. Cut the squash into two perfect halves.

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4. Place the two halves back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of your squash)

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4. Carefully remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Then use an ice cream scoop to remove all of the “icky” parts of the squash.

Think of it as removing the inside of a pumpkin when you are carving it. Remove the area in the middle that is full of seeds and “mushier”.

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5. Next, grab a fork and start scraping at the edges of the squash. This pulls apart the meaty part of the squash and creates the noodle like appearance that gives the spaghetti squash its name.

Place the noodle looking parts to the side.

Keep scraping and scraping until all that is left of the squash is the hollow skin.

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6. Look at all of this! All from one spaghetti squash! 

You can now use the spaghetti squash in a recipe as is, or put the pulled squash back in the oven for a bit longer of a crisper taste.

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Enjoy in the place of regular spaghetti, in a casserole, roasted with a few herbs and spices, or in Asian dishes.

Pretty simple, right?

The hardest part is leaving the time set aside for baking in the oven prior to being able to enjoy it.

Come back on Friday and I’ll share my newest favorite spaghetti squash recipe: Spaghetti Squash Mexican Casserole.

Zucchini Brownies

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Who doesn’t love a way of eating chocolate that can be labeled as “healthy”?

These zucchini brownies are a healthier way, (no eggs and no butter) of indulging in dessert. Even though they still contain sugar, you also reap the benefits of eating zucchini, hidden within all that chocolate goodness.

One benefit of country living is scoring produce for super cheap. Last weekend I procured two monster zucchini. They were the largest zucchini I ever saw. They were each about the length of my forearm and the width of my calf. Actually that sounds a bit awkward. Anyways, they were huge.

I decided to experiment with one of the zucchini and make a chocolate version of zucchini bread, realizing that they are actually zucchini brownies. They turned out moist, delicious, and not tasting of zucchini at all. 

Here is the easy recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1/4 cut coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • handful of chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Chop of the raw zucchini into small pieces
3. In a food processor, puree zucchini
4. After awhile add the coconut oil, sugar, yogurt, and vanilla extract to the food processor. Continue to puree until well mixed. It will be a very fluid like.
5. In a separate large bowl mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
6. Add the zucchini mixture and then add chocolate chips. 
7. Pour into greased 9×13 baking pan.
8. Bake for 25 minutes.
9. Enjoy!
 

What other healthier dessert options do you like?

 

Quinoa Pizza Bits – Healthy Snack

quinoa pizza bites

I’m a HUGE snacker.

I like to graze throughout the day instead of eating 3 meals. I also prefer appetizers to actual main courses. A night watching my favorite TV is not complete with out something to munch on. This gets me in trouble as it sizes me out of my skinny jeans.

I’m always looking for healthy yet tasty and fun snacks. There is only so many carrots and celery a girl can eat. I also would like the snack to be filling and nutritional. How many of us have sat and gone through an entire bag of baked BBQ chips and end up still starving? Or is that just me?

That’s when I decided to mix up and bake these Quinoa Pizza Bites. They’re fun (pizza!), easy, and healthy!

You get all the powerful benefits of Quinoa. In case you didn’t know Quinoa is a SUPER food which:

1. Is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat.

2. Is FILLED with Fiber – making you feel fuller longer with fewer calories.

3. Contains Iron – to help keep our red blood cells healthy as well as increases brain functionality, regulation of body temperature, and aids in aids enzyme activity and energy metabolism.

4. Contains lysine – essential for tissue growth and repair.

5. Is rich in magnesium to help with migraines, reduce Type 2 diabetes, detoxification, energy production and formation of healthy bones and teeth..

6. Contains a high content of manganese – a powerful antioxidant which helps prevent damage and protect red blood cells.

 Let’s get cooking!

Ingredients:
1/2 c. uncooked quinoa
1 large egg
1/4 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. fat free shredded mozzarella
1 t. minced garlic
1 T. dried basil
1 t. dried oregano
pinch of salt
pizza sauce for dipping
Directions:
1.  Boil the quinoa and 1c. water and cover. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes (until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender).
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2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all of your ingredients (except the pizza sauce) in a mixing bowl until it is well mixed.
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3. Lightly spray the bottom of a mini-muffin tin with olive oil spray. Scoop ~1T. into each muffin tin.
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4. Bake them for 15-20 and let cool. Serve them warm with pizza sauce to dip in!
I’ve also dipped them in ranch and honey mustard for a twist! They are very filling and just 2 or 3 will fill you up as a snack. Enjoy!