Monday, June 1, 2009

Best of Diva: Noodles Edition

So, how's about a little navel-gazing today? What do I mean, you ask? Well, as it happens, my blog will turn one year old tomorrow. Its my blog-o-versary! Birthdays, anniversaries and the like, naturally put me in a reflective state of mind. Such occasions prompt me to look back on where I've been and contemplate where I'm going; and my blog-o-versary is no exception.

I began Beach Eats on a whim, with no clear idea what I was doing or who might actually read me. With much trepidation, I sent a blanket email to everyone I've ever met after my second post and, happily, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Encouraged, I continued, and eventually my little corner of the web morphed into a legitimate food blog - one with pictures and everything!

But it wasn't always that way. In fact, as silly as it seems, it didn't occur to me to add pictures of my food until sometime in August or September. Duh! What was I thinking?!

In honor of my anniversary, I'd like to take the opportunity to revisit a few of my all time favorite posts this week. If you've been with me from the beginning, I apologize and beg your indulgence ... if you're a new reader, welcome to my past! Even without the pictures, the recipes are every bit as as delicious and I hope you'll enjoy reading these oldies but goodies as much I have.

Bon appetit!
I Dream of Noodles in a Big White Bowl: June 3, 2008

No, that's not a joke, I really did dream about noodles on Friday night. And this after only four days on South Beach. Yikes! Go ahead and mock me, its fine, I mocked myself - the important thing is that I didn't eat them. Dream calories are not real ... and rarely are they satisfying either. So, what's a pasta deprived Diva to to do? Why put on her thinking cap - er, tiara - and head for kitchen.

After some thought I realized that it wasn't necessarily the pasta I was missing, but more the taste of Italian food. Drum-roll please ... enter ... spaghetti squash ... conquering hero of the starch deprived. Sort of.

Now let's be clear - spaghetti squash, miraculous as it may be, is in no way a true replacement for pasta. But, its a fine substitute and a great vehicle for sauces. It may look like spaghetti, but the texture is different. Duh, its a vegetable. You won't be fooled into thinking you're scarffing down a toothsome bowl of Italy's finest, but read on and I can assure you it will be delicious.

Do not faint at the long list of ingredients or instructions here - most of this stuff will already be in your pantry - and if its not, you need to go shopping! This really is a quick meal. It took me less than half an hour to prepare and then a simple 20 minutes of baking time. Honestly, it was the most satisfying meal I've had in ages. The husband loved it too. Its South Beach and Weight Watcher friendly and all around healthy period. As for serving size, well, that's up to you. Our squash was fairly large so we split one half and were totally satisfied ... and that leaves us a half for left-overs. Guess what we're having tomorrow night?

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, choppped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 lb. very lean ground beef, preferably grass-fed (gr. turkey breast would also work well)
  • dried oregano (or fresh if you have it)
  • dried basil (or fresh if you have it)
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • 24 oz. jar of Marinara Sauce - any brand that contains NO sugar or HFCS, I like "Rao's"
  • 1 tbsp. high quality tomato paste - I like Luigi Vitelli brand
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • minced fresh parsley (Fresh, not dried ... that stuff sucks)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Pierce squash in several places with a sharp knife. Make sure the knife goes through to the middle. Place squash in microwave and cook on high for 2 minutes. Remove and cut squash in half, lengthwise. Remove seeds and stringy pulp from squash and place both halves in a dish, cut side down, filled with about a 1/2 inch of water. Microwave on high for @ 7 minutes, or until just tender. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the squash. Start with 7 minutes and continue in one minute increments if needed. Remove squash from microwave and let cool.

Make the sauce: heat olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onions, red peppers and garlic, stir to combine and saute until the onion is just translucent but not browned. Add the ground beef, stirring to break up the meat, and cook until done and starting to brown. Add in the oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine. I've given no amounts here because its really a matter of choice. I like my sauce well seasoned, but any amount you like is fine and any other seasonings you wish to add are fine too. Stir to combine.

To the meat and vegetable mixture, add 1/2 of the jar of sauce and the tomato paste. Stir well to combine. Throw in a few tbsps. of the grated parm - and there's your sauce. Turn the heat to low and let the sauce simmer while you attend to the squash.

Using a fork, scrape the squash into long, pasta-like strands by running your fork lengthwise down the inside of it. Repeat until you have shredded the majority of the pulp, leaving a thin layer behind so that the veg. will keep its structural integrity. Place the squash shells on a large, rimmed baking sheet and reserve.

Add the squash strands to the sauce, stir well and heat the mixture through over medium-high heat. When well combined, remove from the heat and stuff the sauce/squash mixture back into the empty squash shells in equal amounts. Top with a bit more of the sauce from the jar, sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with fresh parsley and enjoy!


Annabel said...

Bravo!!! Just the inspiration I needed to take my copy of the South Beach Diet from the bookshelf and dust it off.

The recipes sound great.

My favorite breakfast? Berries, nonfat plain yogurt, artificial sweetener and 1/2 oz. almonds or walnuts. Really good way to start the day.

The Diva on a Diet said...

Hi Annabel - thanks so much for your comment and here's to inspiring one another to cook more and eat healthier!

Love the sound of your breakfast too, especially since the strawberries are getting good right now. Have you tried the nonfat Greek yogurt? Its taste and texture are similar to sour cream ... not for everyone, but I really like it. I just discovered it recently.

Thanks again and hope to see you here often!

Becky said...

Sounds delicious. Now if only I could get someone to get me a spaghetti squash

The Diva on a Diet said...

Becky - indeed, one would hate to be reduced to be reduced to hunting and foraging amongst the commoners at Fairway for one's own squash. LOL

Love you, mean it!

Marta said...

Happy Almost Blogaversary!!!!!!!!!
Thanks for treating us to your favourite recipe! I love spaghtti squash. Leanrt to eat it when I was on South Beach, and I've been hooked ever since! Must try this recipe now!

The Duo Dishes said...

Many congrats to you as celebrate the first year of your blog. Quite an achievement!

Deb said...

Diva hard to believe it's been a year - how time flies when you're having fun and fun it's been reading your blog and seeing it grow. Many more years of blogging!


Mom said...

Happy early blog-o-versary! You're my hero!

Debbie said...

Happy blog-o-versary, Diva! I've enjoyed reading along this year!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Marta - Thank you!! This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy spaghetti squash ... I'm planning to make it later in the week. :)

Duo - Thank you both so much for the anniversary wishes!

Deb - a HUGE thank you to you as well. You were my first reader who wasn't related to me! You have such a special place in my heart!!!

Mom & Debbie - Thank you both!! Not just for the support here, but for all the "behind the scenes" support as well. You guys are the best!!! xoxoxo

Anonymous said...

Great idea to revisit your favorite posts! These are great recipes!

Christie's Corner said...

Happy anniversary!

Strangely enough, I'm digging into my archives too, but not to celebrate something like a one year milestone. I'm simply on the road and unable to blog.

Congrats and here's to a successful Year 2!