Spaghetti (Squash) Bolognese

Farmer has been sending us so many spaghetti squash! I begged my friend Meghan to take one off my hands; I made a HUGE lasagna with squash strands instead of noodles; one is cooked in my refrigerator waiting to become Pad Thai; 2 more arrived yesterday (at least those 2 are tiny).

Recently I made a variation on the healthy version of spaghetti Bolognese linked here:


  • 2 small spaghetti squash
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 12 oz. lean ground turkey
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 oz. grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper


  1. Poke holes all over spaghetti squash; microwave on High 15 minutes.
  2. In large saucepot, heat olive oil on medium-high; add onion, red pepper, garlic, and salt. Cook 10 minutes, stirring often. Add lean ground turkey, breaking up meat with side of spoon. Cook 5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes. Simmer 10 minutes. Stir in grated Pecorino cheese and black pepper.
  3. Cut squash in half lengthwise; scoop out seeds and scrape strands with fork. Serve sauce over squash. Garnish with Pecorino.

About 435 cals, 25 g protein, 59 g carbs, 15 g fat 94 g sat), 14 g fiber, 790 mg sodium.

It was paired with a classic spaghetti Bolognese in the same feature in January 2016’s Good Housekeeping (


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. ground beef chuck
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 oz. grated Pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • basil leaves


  1. In large saucepot, heat olive oil on medium-high. Add onion, garlic, and salt. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ground beef chuck. Cook 5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes. Simmer 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in grated Pecorino cheese and milk. Toss with spaghetti, cooked. Garnish with basil leaves and Pecorino.
About 575 cals, 27 g protein, 70 g carbs, 21 g fat (7 g sat), 6 g fiber, 485 mg sodium.

I didn’t necessarily want this dish to be meatless; my original intent was to make spinach lasagna and serve it in the squash shell, but I came across this recipe and managed to morph the two for a healthiER version of the classic.

I did use a pound of lean ground beef, which I cooked with the onion and a yellow pepper (and the garlic and some basil salt). I added about a quart of homemade marinara instead of the crushed tomatoes. I spooned the sauce over the squash strands and topped it with a Parmesan Reggiano blend (I was too lazy to go to the garden for some basil, which would have rocked the photo).


Verdict:  My sauce was a little heavy on carrot and yellow tomatoes, so the sauce came out more orange than red.  Other than that, I thought this dish was fantastic.  The flavors were bursting with the tomatoes, garlic, and seasoned beef, and the squash was sweet and a little crisp in spots.  The recipe wasn’t too labor intensive, and other than the time it took to microwave the squash, it came together pretty quickly.  I would definitely make this dish again.



Old-fashioned Potato Salad

Potato salad is one of those things I hate to buy.  It’s not that hard to make, but it is a little time consuming.  I found this classic potato salad recipe and one with a twist published in the Chicago Tribune‘s Food Section in May of 2015.  The online version was slightly different from the printed version; the ingredients listed here are from the print version.–tms–foodstylts–v-e20150511-20150511-story.html

Old-Fashioned Potato Salad

Serves 6-8

3 pounds medium red rose or bliss, tan-skinned or yellow (Yukon Gold) potatoes
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 ribs celery, finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 teaspoons celery seed
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon grainy mustard
Salt and white pepper

2. Cook the potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the potatoes until tender but slightly resistant when pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool. Cut into 2-inch chunks; place in a medium bowl.

3. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, celery, green onions, celery seed, parsley, chopped egg, mustard, salt and pepper. Mix well.

4. Pour mixture over potatoes; mix gently until coated. Taste for seasoning. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to one day ahead.

I decided to make this dish for my mother-in-law’s Labor Day cookout.  For the most part, the recipe went off as written.  This potato salad is so ridiculously fresh: farmer potatoes, farmer celery, parsley from our garden.  I also added a large handful (2-3 T) of farmer dill, chopped finely.  In the interest of health, I combined 1/2 cup each of light sour cream, olive oil mayo, and non-fat greek yogurt for the dressing base.  We had everything else listed except celery seed, so I substituted a teaspoon of celery salt instead.


Creamy, light, alternating textures of soft potato and crisp celery, and herby goodness in every bite.  I would have added another 1/2 teaspoon of (regular) salt, but other than that, all party-goers seemed to receive it well.  I would definitely make this version again for its simplicity and classic style.  I could see adding chives without changing the profile too much.  Can’t wait for Memorial Day!



Korean Chili Glaze

I’m trying really hard to keep up with the CSA box despite being back to work, and I find myself flipping through piles of recipes on a regular basis to keep ideas fresh in my mind.  When an item pops up in the box, it’s nice to be able to think, I just saw a recipe for that bunch of beets.  I put together this spicy sauce while anticipating the arrival of eggplant, and upon seeing the white beauty’s tiny size on pick up day, added broccoli to the recipe.  The article was in the Food & Dining section of The Chicago Tribune on July 13, 2016.  The link showcases all 4 of the recipes in the feature; I am posting only the 2 recipes I tried.

Red chili steak sauce

Prep: 5 minutes
Makes: about 3/4 cup

1/4 cup medium-hot Korean gochujang
1/4 cup rice wine, mirin or dry sherry
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 to 4 tablespoons ketchup, to tame the heat
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon refrigerated ginger paste or 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Refrigerate covered for up to several weeks.

Nutrition information per tablespoon: 34 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 6 g carbohydrates, 4 g sugar, 1 g protein, 240 mg sodium, 0 g fiber

This sauce came together in no time.  I recently bought a jar of gochujang at the Asian market Jin frequents.  I think you can probably get it in the ethnic aisle of most grocery stores if you don’t have a decent international market nearby (sriracha might be an acceptable substitute, but I really have no idea).  I used rice wine vinegar and changed the ginger component to a teaspoon of ginger powder because I was in a hurry too lazy to mince the fresh stuff.  I used 3 tablespoons of ketchup (it was all we had left in the bottle) and be warned:  this sauce is HOT (but delicious)!  Even husband says so, and he has a very high tolerance for spice.  A couple of days later, I made this:

Red chili glazed eggplant

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 6 or 7 minutes
Makes: 2 servings

1 large eggplant, ends trimmed, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
Coarse salt
Vegetable oil
2 to 3 tablespoons red chili steak sauce, see recipe
Finely sliced cilantro and green onion
Sesame seeds, optional

1. Sprinkle eggplant slices generously with salt. Let drain in a colander in the sink while the grill heats.

2. Prepare a charcoal grill for direct grilling or heat a gas grill to high heat. Put the grill in place and let it heat thoroughly.

3. Rinse the eggplant slices; pat dry. Spritz eggplant generously with oil on both sides. Set the slices on the grill directly over the heat source. Cover the grill; cook without turning. 4 minutes. Flip the eggplant; smear with a light coating of the chili sauce. Cover the grill; cook, 1 minute. Flip and smear the other side with the sauce. Cook until fork-tender, 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Remove the eggplant with tongs or a spatula. Serve hot or at room temperature sprinkled with the cilantro, onion and sesame.

Nutrition information per serving: 151 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 19 g carbohydrates, 11 g sugar, 3 g protein, 245 mg sodium, 6 g fiber

Since my eggplant was on the small side, while it drained in step 1, I chopped 2 small heads of broccoli and tossed them in the glaze.  I did the same with the sliced eggplant in step three, omitting the oil (mistake). I laid out the slices of eggplant on a foil-lined baking sheet and put the broccoli on a separate sheet. I roasted the pans at 350º.   Despite checking the eggplant slices frequently, the thinner ones dried out and because the glaze is so sticky, I had a hard time peeling them off the foil (should have used the oil or some non-stick spray).  The broccoli took about 25 minutes and it was pretty soft.  I put the two vegetables together (ok, I admit, I ate most of the eggplant as I peeled it off the sheet).  Tasty, but so spicy!   This is a great side dish to spice up a boring meal or to add to a Korean-themed dinner.  I could see putting these veggies in tacos or in a rice bowl for another twist.   I think this would also be great on potatoes or carrots.  If you are not a fan of the heat, temper this glaze with more ketchup or a greater vegetable to sauce ratio.  Have the fire extinguisher nearby!


Upside-down Cake in my Upside-down Life

I’ve been cooking up a storm, but back to school is upon us, and we’ve had some family stuff going on, so time has been a precious commodity.  I just haven’t had the time or energy to write up my creations.  But my favorite cooking season is coming, and with it comes soup, stew, chili, roasts, and a hundred other possibilities.  During the summer I cook most days, but once the work schedule is back to normal, most of my major cooking happens on the weekends. Sometimes, since cooking is my therapy, I do have a burst of energy on a weeknight and get a few things done.  Last night was one of those nights, and cake makes everything better.

I made this masterpiece once before for a dinner and games party we were attending about a month ago.  The recipe is from Good Housekeeping’s June 2016 issue. It surprised me that it was so recent– I don’t remember tearing out the page, and I couldn’t even tell why I pulled it; the other recipes included cocktails and a tzatziki sauce, which are also right up my alley.  But I’m sure glad I tried this recipe, because it’s a winner.

When you flip this cake out of the skillet, the gorgeous summer fruit will be on display. Try using the following measurements for the stone fruit of your choice:

1 1/2 lbs. peaches, peeled, halved and cut into eighths OR
3/4 lb. cherries, pitted and halved OR
1 1/2 lbs. plums, halved and cut into eighths

PREP: 0:25
YIELD: 10 servings

  • 3 tbsp. plus 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
  • Choice of fruit (see above for measurements)
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. whole milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In 12″ heavy skillet with oven-safe handle, melt 3 tablespoons butter on medium, swirling to coat side of pan. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter and continue to cook 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add fruit, cut sides down, to fill entire bottom of skillet.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat remaining 1/2 cup butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla until well blended. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture and milk, alternating, until just blended.
  4. Pour batter over fruit in skillet; gently spread into even layer. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cake in skillet on wire rack 15 minutes. Loosen sides of cake from pan with mini offset spatula or paring knife.
  5. Place large serving platter over skillet. Carefully invert cake onto platter and remove skillet; cool slightly to serve warm or cool 2 hours and serve at room temperature.
Nutritional Information (per serving): Calories 360; Protein 5g; Carbohydrate 53g; Total Fat

The first cake I made with plums, which I picked up on clearance at Woodman’s.  I felt like cutting the fruit into eighths was too large, but I followed the directions for a change instead of following my instincts.  (Turns out eighths was perfect, and I’ll explain why in a minute).  The only skillet we have that we know is oven-proof is cast iron, so that’s what I used.  The butter and brown sugar melted beautifully, and I managed to arrange the fruit quite artfully.  The stone fruit is recommended in this cake because it has the density to stand up the the hot pan in step one, as well as 40 minutes in the oven in step 4.  Leaving it in large slices helps keep it from disintegrating while baking.  I used 5 plums, and they were on the large side, so the slices looked pretty thick.


The cake batter came together perfectly.  It is a thicker consistency, more like a pound cake batter, so it took some careful spreading to get it to cover the fruit without moving the slices around.  I think the cake baked for about 35 minutes.  I was worried that it would bubble over, but it rose just enough and stayed exactly put (measure your baking powder precisely, and it wouldn’t hurt to line the bottom of the oven with foil or a baking sheet just in case). The cake turned the most beautiful golden brown, but it looked very dry.  Don’t worry!  Once you flip the cake out of the skillet, it is sweet, moist, and gorgeous!


I wouldn’t change one thing about this recipe, and I can’t begin to describe how it tastes.  Sweet and caramel-y, but well-balanced from the neutral flavor of the cake (shocking to me, because a cup of sugar seems like a lot for the volume of batter produced.  I made this cake again for no occasion at all, except that I bought some peaches at the farmer’s market and wanted to see if my first attempt was beginner’s luck.


It was not beginner’s luck!  This cake is so user-friendly, but I have to give a shout-out to Husband, because flipping this pie out of the cast iron definitely takes four hands. Tendinitis has weakened one of my wrists, and I just don’t trust that I’d be able to handle the weight of the skillet and the giant glass platter on my own.  So Husband flipped and I supported the platter as the cake released (2 for 2 with nothing sticking in the pan).  Make this cake! Because it’s easy, because it’s beautiful, because it’s delicious.  Because it’s the end of summer and the fresh fruit is waning.  But mostly, because it’s cake!

Quinoa Overload

I may have mentioned that I made too much quinoa for my 2 previously posted salads.  Not knowing if quinoa freezes well, I wanted to use up as much of the cooked grain as possible before leaving for our big vacation.  I came across this recipe in the August 3 Food & Dining Section of the Chicago Tribune.  Grain-free, meatless, and a cup of quinoa?  Sign me up!

Hearty cocoa black-bean burgers

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Makes: 4 burgers

From “Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking: 101 Entirely Plant-based, Mostly Gluten-Free, Easy and Delicious Recipes” by Dana Shultz.

1 cup raw walnuts
2 to 3 tablespoons grape seed or avocado oil, divided
1/2 medium white onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of salt and pepper, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon coconut sugar, optional
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed, drained, patted dry
1 cup cooked quinoa

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread walnuts on a baking sheet. Toast for 10-12 minutes, or until fragrant and light golden brown. Allow to cool slightly.

2. In the meantime, heat a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon oil, onion and garlic. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper; cook until onion is fragrant and translucent, 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.

2. Add cooled walnuts to a food processor or blender with the chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, coconut sugar, if using, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend well. Set aside.

3. Put the beans in a bowl. Mash well with a fork, leaving only a few beans whole. Add quinoa, nut-spice mixture, and sauteed garlic and onion; mix to combine. The mixture should have the texture of moldable dough. If it’s dry, add an extra 1-2 tablespoons of oil or water. If wet, add more walnut meal or breadcrumbs. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

4. Divide into four even patties. (To help form them, line a 1/2 cup measuring cup with plastic wrap, pack in the burger mixture, lift it out and flatten slightly.

5. Heat the same skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add enough grape seed oil to form a thin layer on the bottom of the skillet. Carefully add the burgers. Brown on each side, flipping gently and controlling the heat if they brown too quickly, 3-5 minutes. Serve on toasted hamburger buns with desired toppings. (To crisp and firm up the burgers, place them in a 375-degree oven for 10-20 minutes.)

Nutrition information per patty: 386 calories, 24 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 37 g carbohydrates, 3 g sugar, 13 g protein, 358 mg sodium, 13 g fiber

Note: To freeze the burgers, brown them on both sides as instructed. Cool completely and freeze on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 4-6 hours, or until firm. Transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container. Freeze up to 1 month. Reheat in a 375-degree oven for 20-30 minutes, or until warmed through and golden brown.

While I toasted the walnuts in a skillet over medium heat (it was much too hot out to turn on the oven), I started gathering the other ingredients, returning to the skillet frequently to toss the nuts so they wouldn’t scorch.  While cooking the onion and garlic, everything else went in the food processor, including the beans (after step 3).  The mixture came together beautifully with no additional water, oil, or breadcrumbs (I did not use the coconut sugar).  Some of the burger edges were cracking off as I was cooking them, but I think that was more a result of my freeform patties than the texture of the “meat”.


I was hesitant to put all 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder into the mix, and I was right.  There was a definite pasty bitterness, not so much in the bite, but in the aftertaste.  The bite itself was great– cumin and chili spice came through, and for a meatless burger, the texture was not too far off a real burger (minus the juiciness).  After a couple of bites, we added green salsa as a condiment, which added some heat and the missing moisture.  We talked about what other condiments or toppings we could add without it clashing with the cocoa (cheese? probably not). We decided mayo or a beet ketchup we’ve picked up on our travels might work, as well as mild salsa or hot sauce.  The tomatoes weren’t strange against the burger, so a traditional salsa would probably work.  Verdict:  I would probably try these again, reducing the cocoa powder by at least a tablespoon, and possibly increasing the onion and garlic.  They are an interesting vegan option, so if you are looking to liven up or expand your number of Meatless Mondays, these are worth a try.  After all, chocolate is its own food group.

Farmers’ Market Finds

CSA season is about half over, and Jin has gone home to see her parents for a few weeks. This leaves me with the entire box, which is exciting, terrifying, and exhausting.  I’ve read many a blog post (tongue-in-cheek) about the joys and tragedies of having a CSA share.  Seriously, if you do not love to cook, I’m not sure how you handle all this produce.  We are currently overrun with cucumbers (3 batches of pickles), zucchini (brownies and zucchini bread), corn (6-8 ears a week!), and here come the tomatoes, peppers, and basil (1 batch of sauce yesterday handled those three in one application).  We are still sort of doing the grain-free thing at our house, and I used the box of quinoa-based pasta in a salad last week, so I decided to make this pasta salad with quinoa instead.  It’s from June 2015’s Good Housekeeping. I can’t find an online version anywhere except a picture of the clipping on a Pinterest page:

Farmers’ Market Pasta

1 pound campanelle or penne pasta
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed
1 tsp. plus 1/4 cup olive oil
4 large ears corn, husked
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, crushed with press
12 oz. multicolored cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

  1. Heat outdoor grill on medium-high. Cook pasta as label directs. Soak onion in ice water for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Fold 12″ by 30″ sheet of aluminum foil in half. In large bowl, toss green beans with 1 teaspoon of oil and 1/8 tsp of salt. Place beans in center of foil. Crimp edges of foil to seal tightly. Grill 15 minutes, turning over once halfway through. Grill corn 8-10 minutes or until charred in spots, turning occasionally.
  3. Transfer bean packet and corn to cutting board, let cool. In large bowl, whisk together vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, 1/4 cup oil, 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Add cooked pasta and tomatoes to bowl, tossing to combine.
  4. When cool enough to handle, slice beans into 2 inch lengths and cut corn kernels from cobs. Add to bowl with pasta along with basil, tossing until well combined. Drain onions, pat dry, and add to pasta, tossing.

    Serves 8: about 355 cal, 11 g protein, 60 g carbs, 10 g fat (2 g sat) 4 grams fiber, 275 mg sodium

    I cooked 3 cups of dry quinoa, intending to use it in another recipe (post coming soon).  Oops!  It made much more than I expected.  I sauteed my grean beans and microwaved my corn.  I’m sure the grill flavor is lovely, but my corn was already cooked before I decided on this recipe, so maybe I’ll grill the veggies next time.  I didn’t have sherry vinegar, so I used a raspberry balsamic vinegar instead.  Our grean beans were from the farmers’ market, and I added some peas that we got there as well.  It was handy that the CSA contained red onions this week. Only the tomatoes came from the store.


Verdict: delicious!  The quinoa was light and highlighted the crisp vegetables.  I loved the sweetness of the raspberry in the vinaigrette (but you could just as easily use a store-bought Italian dressing or other flavored vinaigrette).  The onion and basil added great pops of flavor, as did each vegetable in turn.  I will definitely be making this one again. This would make a perfect picnic dish or side dish if you wanted to bring something fresh and healthy to a barbecue or dinner party.  People might rather have the traditional pasta salad, but I thought the quinoa substitution was great (adjust your nutrition information accordingly).

Edamame Hummus

I’m not finding myself in a very Olympic mood this year, which is odd because I usually can’t get enough of the non-stop coverage.  I finally had some people over this week for a get together, and grabbed this recipe for a little international flair.  It was published in Parade Magazine on May 17, 2015, and Husband clipped it because a) we love hummus, and b) we always have edamame in the freezer.

Asian Edamame “Hummus”



  • 1 (10-oz) pkg frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans)
  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp Sriracha sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 6 Tbsp ice water


  1. Thaw edamame according to package directions. Place in a colander and rinse with cold water; drain.
  2. Combine edamame, oil, peanut butter, salt, Sriracha, juice and garlic in a food processer or blender. Process to combine, pausing to scrape down sides as needed. With motor running, add ice water through food chute; process until smooth.
  3. Scrape into a bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop.


Serve with: Cut-up vegetables and rice crackers.

I decided to thaw my edamame in the microwave (in the bag, for 3-4 minutes), as I do when we serve it as a side vegetable.  I had to let it cool a few minutes before I could shell it (which I did on the couch in front of the TV, not tuned to the Olympics).  I love my food processor!  It made quick work of all these ingredients.  I was afraid that I added too much water; my hummus looks a little wet or thin in the pictures, but a little time in the refrigerator firmed it up.


I served this hummus with pita chips, cucumber slices, baby carrots, and celery sticks.  The flavor was rich and salty.  It was VERY sesame forward, which I didn’t mind but it was very powerful with each bite.  If you aren’t a fan of the sesame oil you could reduce the sesame and replace it with half olive oil to decrease the pungency.  My spread seemed a little grainy, which may be the nature of this dish, or it might have benefited from a little more processing time.  Either way, I thought this dip was great.  You go go a little heavier on the lime and/or the Sriracha without it becoming overpowering; it could actually help tame the sesame flavor. Verdict: I will definitely make this again, and probably soon, because it was gone within 2 days of the gathering.