Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Best Spaghetti Squash Recipe Ever

We had an abundance of spaghetti squash in this year's garden. I searched the Internet for some recipes, and stumbled upon this one in several different variations. I tweaked it a little to suit my own tastes, and the result is awesome! My husband, who does not like spaghetti squash, told me that "Now I *love* spaghetti squash, as long as you always make it like this!"
1 spaghetti squash
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
½ cup cream
1½ cups milk
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
3 Tbsp. flour (I like to use Wondra for sauces like this)
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shredded pepperjack cheese
  • Cut spaghetti squash in half; remove seeds; place in large pot of boiling water; boil for approximately 30 minutes, or until you can insert a knife into the rind of the squash and have it come out easily.
  • Remove cooked squash from water, cool. Once it has cooled, you can scrape the inner flesh into a big bowl with a fork. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Put minced peppers into a small sauce pan; add cream; bring to a simmer.
  • Add milk; cook just until bubbles form around the edge of the pan; remove from heat and let it set for 15 minutes.
  • Strain the minced peppers out of the cream mixture.
  • In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  • When the butter stops foaming, whisk in the flour and cook, whisking over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens.
  • S l o w l y pour in the cream mixture, whisking constantly, and cook over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens.
  • Once mixture is thickened, stir in salt.
  • Pour sauce mixture over the spaghetti squash and mix well.
  • Place all into a 2-quart casserole/baking dish; sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top.
  • Bake until brown and top and bubbling throughout, approximately 30 minutes.
This is great as a side dish, or as a main entree with a salad and some warm bread/rolls.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lentil Tomato Soup

4 1/2 cups of water
4 medium carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup lentils, rinsed
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley (or 2 tsp. dried)
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. garlic salt)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dill weed
1/4 tsp. dried tarragon (or 1 tsp. minced fresh )
1/4 tsp. pepper

  • In a large pot, combine the water, carrots, onion, and lentils; bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat; cover and simmer 20-25 minutes, or until veggies and lentils are tender.
  • Stir in the remaining ingredients; return to a boil.
  • Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
This is a quick fix for a cool fall, or cold winter, night. Add some biscuits or bread, and you have a good meal.

(I adapted this recipe from the November 2011 Taste of Home magazine.)

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Best Traveling Birthday Cake Ever

Years ago I started mailing my homemade angelfood cake to my niece, Meghan, for her birthday, so no matter how far away from me she may be, I'll always be with her in some small way for her birthday. It's tradition now, so for every birthday for her, and for AA&T, I bake an angelfood cake, wrap it in plastic wrap, pack it in a foil-lined box filled with air-popped popcorn for packing, and mail it off. I make a kickass angelfood cake, if I do say so myself. Here's the recipe:

1 cup flour (cake flour OR regular flour)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups egg whites (12 JUMBO eggs, warmed to room temperature BEFORE breaking)
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Mix flour and powdered sugar together, set aside.
  • Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in large mixer bowl on medium speed until foamy.
  • Beat in granulated sugar on high speed, 2 Tbs. at a time; continue beating until stiff and glossy.
  • Add salt, vanilla, and almond extract with last addition of sugar. Do not underbeat!
  • Sprinkle flour/powdered sugar mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, over meringue, folding in just until flour/powdered sugar mixture disappears.
  • Pour batter into ungreased tube cake pan (not a bundt pan; use a regular angelfood cake pan).
  • Cut gentlely through the batter with a metal spatula.
  • Bake until cracks feel dry and top springs back when touched lightly.
  • Invert pan onto empty glass (wine) bottle and let hang until completely cool.
  • Remove from pan.
You can glaze or frost the cake as you wish. We prefer our angelfood cake naked, sometimes with a little bit of fresh berries for garnish.

And the secret ingredient, corny as it may sound, is love. Make this cake with patience and lots of love, and it will be beyond perfection!