low carb dinner

Entrée, Fall, Gluten Free



We've talked potatoes and pumpkin pie to death so let's move on to solving dinner problems for all other days of the year. I would take one of these lasagna squashes over a majorly brown thanksgiving plate any day. Sorry, bah humbug. Last year, I had dinner with some of my dearest college girlfriends at Malibu Farms (have you seen their cookbook? It's beautiful and casual and colorful) and I still think of this spaghetti squash dish we shared. It was creamy, but not overly so, could be ordered vegetarian or not, tasted like comfort food but didn't sit in your gut as such. I know in the season of cooking and romantically long prep time with your glass of wine and holiday tunes, this recipe may come off as old news, but a simple dinner is what I am more interested in in the long term. I made four, and my kids mostly poked at it. They saves well and can handle a reheat the following day or perhaps you have another couple over to share. I made a few notes in the headnote on meal suggestions. 
Grateful for this space - that my life and cooking may grow and change and these pages reflect the process of such. Happy belated Thanksgiving to you, lovelies.  


I served this with a simple arugula salad on the side. If you have animal-protein-hungry people in your life, brown some ground turkey or beef and add it to the marinara layer. The squash can be roasted in advance to get ahead and everything else comes together pretty quickly.
No dairy? Kite Hill makes a fabulous almond based ricotta if you can find it (try Whole Foods) and maybe you can top it with some toasted breadcrumbs or pine nuts to give it the richness it will lack from the other cheeses. Trader Joes also started carrying a premade, vegan cashew pesto in the fridge section that I imagine would be lovely mixed in with the shredded squash layer. I trust you can make adjustments where needed. 

2 small spaghetti squash
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
8-10 oz baby spinach or kale
8 oz./ 1 cup ricotta
1 tsp. dried Italian herbs (or dried oregano or fennel seeds if that's what you have)
4 oz. / 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, plus more for topping
1/3 cup parmesan, divided
juice of half a lemon
2 cups homemade or your favorite store-bought marinara
fresh parsley, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 400'. Halve your squash and scoop out the seeds. Rub all sides with a thin coat of oil and roast the squash, cut side down, for about 45 minutes, or until the squash shreds easily. Let them cool for 15 minutes and then carefully shred all the strands into a bowl, keeping the squash shell intact. Reserve squash shells. Squeeze them with a dishtowel to remove some of the moisture if the squash looks soggy. 
Warm a generous tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions along with a pinch of salt and saute for a few minutes until fragrant and softened. Add the garlic and saute another minute. Add the baby spinach and saute until just wilted, about 1-2 minutes. Add the spinach to the bowl of squash, along with the ricotta, dried herbs, mozzarella, half of the parmesan and the juice of half a lemon. Stir everything to mix. Taste for salt and pepper, it will likely need both. Line the bottoms of the squash shells with marinara and sort of push it up the sides. Add the cooked ground meat here, if using. Be generous on the sauce, it needs the acid to balance the creaminess. Distribute the squash mixture on top. Sprinkle the tops with a little extra mozzarella and parmesan. Line a baking tray with parchment and bake the squash for 20 minutes to warm through. Broil them for a couple minutes at the end to finish and brown the tops. 
Garnish the tops with fresh parsley and serve warm. 


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Entrée, Gluten Free, Summer



I'm doing what I swore I would never do and cooking three versions of one meal. Hugh has been doing a super zero sugar/carb/happiness diet and my kids already require limitations because, well, they're toddlery, so cooking has not been that fun lately. I don't have a big enough ego to keep from you that I've actually been angry about it at times. Angry because the three of them have made this task complicated and also because I've been jealous of Hugh's self control. I have pretty good eating habits, but have never been one to stick to a diet, so WHO was going to eat ice cream on the couch with me after the kids went to bed?! I was mad that now I'd be accountable for my late night sweet tooth. Collectively, they had morphed cooking into a chore, something I had to do as opposed to the way I get to nourish and serve them. I know a lot of people who are really burdened by the task of cooking and I had never quite felt that, until recently. 
And yet, the kids are kids and Hugh is a grown man who can decide to eat whatever he'd like despite my paradigms about health, so as I tell Curran when he is whining or getting frustrated, "problem solve!" I can dig my heels in and complain, or I can come up with a solution. Or maybe there isn't a solution, but perhaps there is another way through.

I pulled this recipe from Dana over at Minimalist Baker after seeing it on a friends' Instagram. I was bored of the salads I was making for one (because God forbid there was a fresh peach or strawberry in there! The sugar! I'm mostly kidding, Hugh, I get the science). I started off making these stuffed peppers for me, as warm food sounded good, and then realized I could make this meal work for everyone. The kids ate the filling wrapped into a tortilla with some avocado and a little more cheese. For Hugh, I skipped the beans and added shredded, pre-made carnitas. There we were, eating together at the same time, which I think is what I was missing the most. I may have had to do an extra step or two but really, no big deal. Deep breaths, just be flexible. It sounds silly when I read this over, trite even, given the state of the country, but I think many of our larger lessons can be taught within the scale of our small reality. I suppose with time and grace, our guards come down and we realize that as easy as it is to blame other people and get mad, we have the power to be part of the movement forward. What a responsibility we have to our own families - to people we love, and to those we don't know. What a refining process it is to care for them well, even if it doesn't look like our way. Now, for more of that, on a bigger scale. 

Speaking of, I am including a few links for giving towards those affected by the storms in Texas, the Carribean and Florida. These are organizations that have a good Charity Watch rating. This isn't an easy season for me to leave the roost, but I wish I could be there with boots on the ground, holding babies and feeding people. I'm inspired by those giving so much of their time and resources. Unfortunately, I know there will be another time I can do this in the future. I know there are many more, so go ahead and tell us about them in the comments if they are something you've looked into.

Houston Food Bank
Preemptive Love Coalition
The Texas Diaper Bank needs diapers, obv
Save the Children


Adapted from Minimalist Baker

Dana's original version is vegan, but I see that you can take this recipe any direction towards what your family eats. I added a small amount of sour cream and goat cheese to keep the insides creamy and the whole thing not overly dietetic, but you could leave those out to keep it dairy free. You could go with no cheese, or use goat, cheddar or queso fresco (I am sounding ambivalent about the cheese choice, but I think all work here). I have added chopped grilled chicken or prepared carnitas for company. This way you can do a few vegetarian peppers and then add meat for those that prefer it. It's pretty flexible. 
The times given below will leave your peppers with some texture. If you prefer yours really soft, add 5 minutes to both roasting times. 

3 bell peppers, ribs removed
extra virgin olive oil, for brushing

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (coconut or avocado work too!)
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb. riced cauliflower (store-bought or from one, medium cauliflower)
1 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
1/3 cup prepared salsa
5 green onions, chopped
1.5 cups cooked black beans (roughly a can, drained and rinsed)
1/3 cup sour cream
3/4 cup (about 6 ounces) goat cheese, white cheddar, queso fresco, plus more for serving

avocado, green onion, limes, sour cream, hot sauce, for serving


Preheat the oven to 400'. Grease a large baking dish with coconut oil or whatever you use. Put the halved peppers in the dish and rub them all over with said oil. Roast for 15 minutes for them to just soften. Turn the heat up to 425'. 
While the peppers roast, make your filling. In a large dutch oven over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the garlic, cauliflower rice and salt and stir to mix. Let it cook for a minute or two. Add 1/4 cup of water (this will help the cauliflower soften) and stir again. Add the chili powder, cumin, prepared salsa, green onions and stir. Cook another 5-10 minutes until the mixture is softened but not soggy. Set it aside to cool slightly. Stir in the black beans, sour cream, cheese and mix. If you are adding any other cooked protein, add it now. 
Stuff the mixture into the peppers - be generous. Pop it all back in the oven for 15-20 more minutes to warm through. For serving, garnish with sour cream, avocado, green onion, hot sauce, go crazy!

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