Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Juju's Spaghetti Squash Cream Pesto Pasta

Wow! That title is a mouthful! 

I was inspired for this dish by a photo that I saw on Pinterest. It was called Spaghetti Squash Parm. 
Um. Hello! Sounds delicious!! 
Unfortunately for me, I could not trace the picture back to the link.
Fortunately for me (and for you), I have created my own! :)

Equally inspiring in this feat, was a little friend I like to call..

When weather is bad, the AeroGarden always saves the day! 
I received this as a gift from my mother-in-law. These are about the only plants that I can keep alive in my life. I love this thing dearly, because you can have fresh herbs in your dishes without the substantial mark up at the grocery store.

Any who, I needed to use up a LOT of basil. So I thought, hm....
I could make a pesto!
So that is exactly what I did after I trimmed all the basil.
Trimmed a LOT of basil.

So here is where this recipe gets complicated. I am going to separately explain each element that I made, because at the end, you put them all together to create this fantastic dish!
First up... 

Spaghetti squash noodles:

I started using spaghetti squash as noodles after we went paleo. It took me awhile to start using them because I had heard so many people that eat paleo complain about how boring the noodles are.
I am here to tell you that that is not the case!
It's what you DO with them that makes them not boring!

To make spaghetti squash noodles all you need is a spaghetti squash and some EVOO.

I preheated my oven to 425 degrees.

Then I chopped this bad boy in half hot dog style (yes, I am in first grade).

Starting in the center, take your knife and start slicing towards the end of the squash. Although it looks and sounds easy, it is not. I should have included a video of me BANGING my knife through the squash. I can only imagine what you would think.
Whatever you have to do to get this thing sliced, do it without reserve. Just please, be careful not to cut yourself or anyone else!

Once you get your squash cut in half you will see this...

See all that pumpkin inside looking stuff in the center? Like a halloween pumpkin? Take a spoon and scoop out the seeds and some/most of the pulpy inside. You do NOT have to be perfectionist on the pulp. This stuff will not be any different than the actual meat of the squash once it is baked.

Now that your oven is preheated and you haven't cut your finger off, place your squash on your stone or baking sheet, meat side up. Drizzle flesh with EVOO.

Turn squash over so that they are skin side up. Put in the oven and set your timer to 30 minutes.

If you are just using this recipe for making these noodles I will go ahead and finish with after you take your squash out of the oven.

Just a warning, they will be hot!!

Flip each squash over and get out a regular fork.
Using your fork, scape out the meat of the squash. As you start to scrape you will notice that it comes off in strings. These are your noodles!

If you are making this dish, while your spaghetti squash is in the oven, you can start making your...

Cream Pesto:

For the pesto, you need the following:

2 cups basil (I used 1 cup lemon basil and 1 cup globe basil)
1/2 cup walnuts (pine nuts are too expensive!)
2 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 cup coconut creamer (My FAV item at the grocery)
1 lemon, juiced
4-6 cloves garlic (I am OBSESSED with it so I do 6)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste

Put your basil, garlic, and nuts into the food processor and turn it on until fine.
With the processor on, drizzle in EVOO using the spout on your processor. 
Scoop out your mixture into a mixing bowl. Whisk in coconut creamer and lemon juice.
Add a lot of salt and pepper! Do it to taste, but I found that the more I added the better and more pronounced the flavors were.
I found this sweet spot where if you add enough salt, it REALLY brings out the flavors of the garlic and the fresh lemon juice. I included a picture so that you would know I meant a LOT of salt and pepper. Now add the cheese and mix well.

Once this is all mixed up, your pesto is done and ready to be added to the pasta mixture at the end.


For the rest of the pasta, you can add your own veggies according to what you like. This is what I added...

1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
1 purple onion, sliced
1 box portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 jar artichoke hearts, cut in half (so tasty)
1.2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed small

After everything was chopped up, I drizzled some EVOO into a large non-stick skillet on medium-high heat.
First I added my chicken until cooked on the outside (once it was white on the outside). This dish would still be awesome without chicken (just a hint for all you vegetarians out there).

Once the chicken was white, I added in the onions. 

I cooked these for a few minutes before adding the bell peppers. I cooked the mixture until the bell peppers were almost done (soft enough) before adding in the mushrooms. 

Once the mushrooms were soft enough, I poured this mixture into a side bowl. 
By this time, my veggies were done, my meat was done, my pesto was made, and the timer for my spaghetti squash had gone off. Now, take a fork and scrape out the inside of your spaghetti squash if you didn't already do that while everything was cooking up. Add this back to your pan on low heat. 
Add the veggies/meat and stir it all up.
At this point, I decided I wanted the dish to have an extra kick, so I added about 1/2 Tbsp of crushed red pepper flakes. It was spicy so only add it if you can handle it!
Now add the pesto to everything. Mix it up REALLY good so that everything is coated in the pesto cream mixture.
Make sure everything is heated through before you serve!

This is where I tried it, and LOVED it! 
I topped off each portion with a little parm for fun!
This is the kind of meal that reminds me why we went paleo. It also reminds me of why I don't consume noodles anymore. It really is that delicious.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Saving Time

Hope everyone has enjoyed their week. My hubby has been traveling this week, so I have been keeping myself more than busy with work, schoolwork, and house work. That is a lot of work!

After my last post, I thought I would share one of my all time favorite winter secrets. I tend to use the crockpot A LOT, especially because I work all day and want a hot meal when I come home. One of the things I have discovered that saves me SO much time is this lovely invention...

Via www.frugalcouponliving.com

These puppies are a life saver! 

You know after you cook something in a crockpot, and gunk is all stuck to the sides of the pot (or burnt) and you have to let your crockpot soak overnight and then scrub away until it all comes off?!
Using these, you don't have to lift a finger! All you do is open a liner and line your crockpot, put all your food in, cook, eat, and simply lift the liner out and put it in the trash. I don't wash my crockpot until I have cooked in it a few times, or the few times that the bags have leaked (don't cut your meat inside your crockpot, it cuts a hole in the liner).

This is especially helpful when I work 2 days in a row. The other thing I don't want to have to do when I get home is scrub my crockpot so that I can put another meal in it for the next morning. 

You can find these kitchen helpers in the section where all the cling wrap, tin foil, baggies, etc. are located. I am trying to find the best deal on them, but until then you can find them anywhere.

I will soon post another crockpot recipe that I made this week. Good recipe for St. Patty's Day coming up soon!

Have a great weekend! :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Juju's Easy Pot Roast

Alright you guys. No more studying or taking tests or quizzes for today. My eyes are tired.

Other than school, my life has been full of work. I work loonngg days (at least 12 hours) and the last thing I want to do when I get home is cook dinner. When I was working night shift, dinner was WAY more convenient. I would wake up and cook dinner and enjoy it with my husband before running off to work. Since I have been on day shift, dinner has needed some adjusting.

Before we got it (kinda) figured out, I was pretty much picking up Five Guys 2 times a week. 
Can we say healthy?! 

We pretty much gained weight like crazy for a year straight and we are still trying to recuperate from our bad, old ways.

One of the main ways we have been able to maintain some sort of health is by using one of my favorite inventions. 


Let me go ahead and rave over how easy the crockpot makes your life. I received my first crockpot for a wedding gift. I ended up having to buy another one because the last one went out. It was a sad day. I found a crockpot on clearance at Target for about $25.

Totally worth it.

I have been toying with my crockpot and making a lot of Pinterest recipes or converting recipes to crockpot recipes. These recipes are tasty, easy, and perfect for cold and/or rainy days!

I am going to share with you guys one of the mainstays that I have found in making an easy, inexpensive, delicious, healthy, home cooked meal.

Juju's Easy Pot Roast

1 Pot Roast (your choice of poundage)
1 packet Ranch
1 packet Zesty Italian
1 packet gravy (I used Publix brand mushroom gravy)
1 bottle of dark beer*
2 Tbsp arrowroot powder
3-4 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 package mushrooms of your choice, sliced
1 bag purple potatoes (could use russet or sweet)
salt and pepper
2 bay leaves

*I use my husband's home brew beer for all my recipes. Last time I made this I used a cherry stout that he brewed. The tasty malts along with the sweetness of the cherries made this the perfect beer for this!

Get out your crockpot. Put a crockpot liner in your pot (will explain how amazing these are in a later post). Open up your pot roast and put in the crockpot. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
Get out a small mixing bowl. Add the beer, making sure not to make it too fizzy (pour down the side of the bowl). Whisk in the 3 packets (ranch, italian, and gravy). Next, whisk in the arrowroot powder to thicken the sauce. 
Add all the sliced veggies to the pot. Then, pour saucy gravy over everything.
Add salt and pepper to your taste.
Throw in your bay leaves.
Put your crockpot on low for 8 hours.
Let that sucker cook all day while you are out doing your job or watching your kids or whatever you do. When you get home and it's time to cook dinner, guess what?!

It's already cooked!

And that, my friends, is why I love the crockpot!

More to come! :)

Friday, February 15, 2013


Happy late Valentine's Day to everyone! 

I hope everyone celebrated with someone that you love, regardless of whether that person is someone you are in a romantic relationship with. I believe love can be found in all relationships, not just romantic ones.

My Valentine's Day started out just like any other day. 
Woke up, got dressed, dropped off the dog for someone else to take her to doggie day care (thanks mom!), and went to work. 
I was excited about those long 12 hours to be over with, not only because then I could go home, but because I was going home to finally be with my husband. He has been traveling like a crazy person for work, and he was getting back from his trip during the day. Distance always makes the heart grow fonder, for sure! I didn't even care it was Valentine's Day, I just wanted to see him.
We had actually told each other early in the week that we weren't even going to celebrate this year, and just go out for dinner later in the weekend sometime.
I left work somewhat on time (unusual) and raced home to see him.
When I got home, the smell of yummy food was in the air as soon as I walked in. He was cooking me a homemade meal (2nd time in a week by the way) that he had worked so hard to prepare. From being lost and confused at the grocery store to slaving over the stove, he had worked hard.
I went and took a quick shower to get all those germs off me (ew!) while he finished preparing the meal. He made a Pad Thai dish along with some homemade egg drop soup. The meal was delicious.
Before we ate he told me to read a small, folded note that was placed neatly in front of my place setting. It was so sweet it made me want to cry.
Then at the end was a P.S. - that I had a present.
He said it's sitting next to you in the chair.
Confused and upset that I didn't have a gift for him, I reached down and lifted a heavy box off the chair and onto the table. A knife had been carefully and thoughtfully placed next to me so I could open my gift. I slid the knife through the tape and down the side of the box. Then I slowly opened the side of the box and these are the words I saw written on the side of another box...

MacBook Air

I don't even know what I said. 

I was so surprised and so taken aback by such an extravagant gift that I started to cry. My husband started to explain that he thought that I needed it for school and that now I would be able to do my virtual studies even more virtually - not from the desk in the office, but anywhere I wanted to be.

So, ladies and gentlemen, this is my first "virtual" post from the comfort of my bed! :)

Still can't believe I own one of these things.

Now I can truly become an occasional blogger - or at least that is what my husband said. Haha!

P.S. I am going to go do some school work so I can go to IKEA tomorrow. I have found what I have been searching for on IKEA's website and I hope to find it at the store and bring it home with me so that I can finish my curtains. 
DIY to come (hopefully sooner rather than later!). 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Just an Update

Just thought I would drop a line and say hi. I doubt I am saying hi to anyone but myself, but I thought I would put forth some effort. I have been crazy busy with work and with school, leaving me NO time for the things I would actually like to do. I can't complain... I signed up for this, but it has been hard... really hard. I am not the type that works and works without stopping. I am just sucking it up or sticking it out or whatever you want to call it. For now at least. I am pretty sure I am just typing nonsense in an effort to not open my textbook and read my 7th chapter for the day. I just needed to do something besides study for today. Hope you guys are living it up, crafting it up, playing it up, or something that is fun.

Just a side note, I found a few new singers that I really like! They are pretty much light-hearted, roll the windows down, and let it all go kind of singers (hope you know what I mean). The first one I found is Rachel Platten. I found her because she sings the opening tune to one show that I used to watch on Netflix called "Jane by Design." Unfortunately, the show didn't come back for a second season (much to my dismay since I watched the whole first season not knowing this), but the song is awesome! I looked up the rest of what she sings and it is pretty good! I think I am going to buy her CD on Amazon.
The other singer that I found is Mindy Gledhill. I just found her by clicking through related artists on Spotify. Her voice is just dreamy and creamy! Songs are really great, too! I think I will get her MP3's on Amazon, even though I want the real CD because the CD cover photo is awesome!

Via http://careerdecisionsmadeeasy.blogspot.com/

Maybe sometime soon I will post something worthy of reading, but for now I am just going to have to stick with a short and sweet post.

Hope you guys have a good night!

P.S. I hope you like the new design. I am not 100% happy with it, but it will get there one day. :)