Eat This: Spaghetti Squash Casserole

I don’t have a picture for you today on two accounts.

First, this week has been dark and cold and dreary and rainy. Natural light has been lacking and I’m never inspired when taking pictures with flash is concerned.

Second, this casserole, while delicious, is not terribly photogenic and I don’t think that any amount of staging would make it so. In fact, if I did manage an attractive photo of this casserole I fear that it would be deceiving. You’d see the gorgeous dish and rush to make your own. Then you’d curl up in puddle of tears and disappointment when you pulled yours from the oven. Attractive, no. Delicious, absolutely. Healthy, yes. Quick, yup, that too.

We can’t all be pageant winners.

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

A quick and simple meal that packs a nutritious punch.

Ingredients

  • 2 Spaghetti Squash, cut in half, seeds scooped out and baked at 375 for about 45 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 bunch swiss chard
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup cheese blend, we like one that has mozzarella, asiago and parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Scoop out the cooked spaghetti squash innards and place them in a large (seriously big) bowl.
  • Chop remaining vegetables – leeks, green onions and chard – and add to the large bowl with the squash.
  • Add the garlic, sour cream, and cottage cheese to the big bowl and stir into all the ingredients are well mixed.
  • Pour the contents into a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  • Sprinkle the cheese on top.
  • Bake at 375 until heated through and the cheese is all melty – about 30-40 minutes.

Make it. It’s good. Your toddler may even proclaim, as mine did, that it is “dinner cake.”

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Development Mountains

It’s wild watching how development goes. Fits and spurts, much like the way I do business these days. I feel like we have long plateaus followed by massive mountains.

The past week has been a massive mountain kind of week, for both boys.

Xander, as I’ve mentioned, is mobile. Still not hands and knees or even forward motion for that matter, but mobile all the same. With the same unique slide that Ewan used.

Oh, and he’s an eater too. He’s tried bananas, avocado, pumpkin and sweet potato. All mixed with copious amounts of mama milk. His favorites, by far, are the avocado and pumpkin. So very different from his fruitatarian big brother.

Ewan, on the other hand, has become a true helper. When he wants to, of course.

Tuesday nights are our nights alone, while Aaron is at grad school. It can be a long day. What’s more, it can be a long night, cleaning up the day’s detritus once the boys are in bed. No need to wait until after bedtime, as it turns out.

Ewan, singlehandedly, cleaned up nearly every toy in the place. After I turned it into a little game. It was GLORIOUS to come out to a picked up house when bedtime duty was done.

Oh, and he can help with the chopping too.

Equipped with his own knives, safe but still capable of cutting, he now helps with the dinnertime chopping.

Here are his peppers.

He chops all sorts of things – tomatoes, garlic, parsley, and he loves it. And, I love having him in there with me.

I think tomorrow we are going to wash windows. I’m pretty sure I can get him on board with that!

Mountains. They are awesome. But I’ve gotta say, the plateaus are nice too. It’s nice to slow down and drink in these two little ones. Cliche, I know, but they are growing up way.too.fast.

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Eat This: Banana Bread Pudding

So, I’m giving you fair warning. If you’re the sort that is easily tempted by sweets. By banana. By pudding. Close.your.browser.now. Otherwise, it is a near guarantee that you will be spending the next hour or so in the kitchen working on creating what has got to be the world’s best banana pudding ever. That is, if you have enough bananas.

Roasted Banana Pudding

Ingredients

  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 box Nilla wafers, separated
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Directions

  • Place all four bananas into a baking dish. Put in a cool oven and turn the temperature on to 350 degrees (no need to preheat). After 20 minutes, remove two of the bananas. Leave the other two bananas in for an additional 20 minutes.
  • Cool all the bananas. Peel the two that had been cooked longer and mash.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch and salt.
  • Bring 2 cups milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir often and watch closely to avoid a boil over.
  • Remove the milk from the heat and whisk a bit at a time (about 1/2 cup) into the egg mixture. You must do this slowly to avoid scrambling the eggs.
  • Wash out the saucepan. I know it seems silly, do it anyways.
  • Put the milk/egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until it thickens. Remove from heat.
  • Stir vanilla and 2 tbsp. unsalted butter into the pudding.
  • Set aside about 15 wafers.
  • In an 8×8 baking/serving dish, spread a layer of Nilla wafers and slice one of the remaining roasted bananas.
  • Top with 1/2 of the pudding and spread flat with the spatula.
  • Add another layer of Nilla wafers and slice the last remaining roasted banana.
  • Top with the remaining pudding and spread flat.
  • Chill. Chill. Chill. At least a few hours.
  • Just before serving crush the fifteen reserved wafers and mix them together with the 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1 tbsp. melted butter.
  • Sprinkle the mixture on top of the pudding and serve.

Yes, it is as good as it sounds.

While I haven’t tried it yet, I imagine this would be a lovely pudding without the Nilla wafers or topping. Especially with the lack of added sugar, it would make a perfect treat for the toddler set.

I see a handful of bananas sitting in a bowl on my counter, if the two-year-old doesn’t eat them all before I get a chance, perhaps I’ll give it a go and report back. I’m not terribly optimistic. Bananas don’t last long around here, much to the chagrin of this banana baked good loving person.

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Brewing Soda!!

We’ve been long-time homebrewers, starting the hobby out of necessity when we lived in a country filled with lagers (so, not our fave). We’ve continued because it’s fun. It’s something to do together. It’s cheap. And it’s always nice to have a variety of brew just waiting on the pantry shelves.

We still brew beer. In fact, we have two batches (IPA and our annual barley wine) fermenting in the basement as we speak. But now that we have little ones, little ones that show a particular interest in the beer we brew, we thought it might be fun to throw together a little something that Ewan could enjoy.

Enter soda.

Here’s our very first batch of homebrewed soda, fermenting away on the countertop.

We followed a recipe for a ginger lemon soda that we found over at Mother Earth News.

We haven’t yet tried the carbonated soda, but its un-carbonated form was quite tasty. I got to try just a few sips before Ewan made off guzzling the rest. That’s his way of giving two thumbs up.

I’ll report back with the results post-carbonation and any future batches we put together.

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Eat This: Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Friday is a day for celebration around here. And in our house that has meant just one thing, Pizza on Friday. (oh the cuteness when little Ewan runs around screaming this as loudly as he can on Friday morning)

We’ve been having pizza on Friday, homemade most weeks, since we moved back to the States nearly two years ago. It’s been fun eating and experimenting week-by-week.

With the arrival of Summer, we’ve come to add another element to our weekly celebration.

Ice cream. Homemade ice cream. (Not to worry, we usually have a salad or some other veg to accommodate an otherwise unhealthy meal)

We’ve had a mango sherbet, beer cardamom, and this past week, a strawberry cheesecake version of my own devising.

I’m telling you about it today so that you can get out and get the ingredients to start your own ice cream Friday. Once you see the pictures, I know you’ll want to.

See, I told you. And the picture doesn’t lie. It really is that good.

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk

Directions

  • Start by slicing the strawberries into a bowl.
  • Add the 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla. Stir.
  • Put the strawberries in the refrigerator and wait at least an hour before proceeding (the strawberries need a little time to make some juice).
  • In a medium-sized bowl, put the softened cream cheese. Now, if you’re like me and don’t want to wait for the cheese to soften you can put it in the microwave to speed it along. About 25 seconds did the trick for me.
  • Mix the softened cream cheese and 1/3 cup sugar together.
  • Slowly add in the whipping cream. Stirring with each small addition to prevent lumps of cream cheese from forming.
  • Do the same with the milk as you did with the whipping cream.
  • Grab those strawberries and pour the juice from them into your ice cream mixture.
  • Once you have the mixture all set to go, put it inside your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturers instructions.
  • You’ll probably have to put the ice cream into the freezer to harden a bit. When you’re ready to serve, scoop some of the ice cream into a small dish and top with the fresh strawberries and any leftover sauce.

Super delicious, right?! Yeah, I told you it would be…

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