How to Cook a Spaghetti Squash

 

Know what’s one of the best foods in the whole world?

Pasta.

I’ll take my noodles any way I can get them. Even—and here comes the hippie vegan in me—in the form of spaghetti squash. Because sometimes, though I love noodles SO MUCH, pasta dishes can just be too heavy for me.

 

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I tried spaghetti squash for the first time last winter with my mom. Nervous? Yep. Scared? I sure was.

It seems kind of weird at first, but it seriously blew me away.

When one of the sous chefs at work recently brought in a squash from his mom’s garden, I was all over it. Free vegetables? It’s a vegan’s wet dream.

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If you’re a little scared and putting it off for awhile, that’s ok. Squash keeps for months if you store it in a cool, dry place.

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Spaghetti Squash is super easy to bake, and even easier to eat. If you’ve never tried it, I’ve got a super simple step-by-step photo process for you.

 

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

 

Step One:

Cut Spaghetti Squash in half.

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Step Two:

Scrape out it’s guts and seeds.

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Step Three:

Fill a casserole pan with about 1/4 cup of water.

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Optional: Use a way scratchy pan to give you kitchen cred. This does give me kitchen cred, right?

 

Step Four:

Place 2 squash halves, face down, in pan.

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Step Five:

In oven pre-heated to 350 degrees, bake for 30-35 minutes, until tender.

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Step Six:

While spaghetti squash is baking, clean the seeds out of the guts and rinse off the seeds.

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(I like to write the word ‘guts’. Maybe it’s the fact that Halloween’s coming, it makes me feel spookier.)

 

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They’re now perfect for roasting!

For an awesome step-by-step recipe, see Oh She Glows.

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Step Seven:

Once the spaghetti squash is cooked through, you should be able to take a fork and scrape out the meat of the squash.

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Oh my gosh, it looks like spaghetti!

 

Spaghetti Squash is so easy to bake. And so fun. And so cute. Lookit this little guy:

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The best way to serve spaghetti squash is to heat it up with a little Earth Balance, spaghetti sauce (I used a jar from Trader Joe’s for maximum laziness) and add a few herbs to the mix—I used dried basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary.

Serve on a bed of spinach, and tada! You have a enjoyable easy healthy meal that tastes just like pasta, but totally light and gluten-free.

I find that a whole spaghetti squash serves four, unless you have a voracious appetite. In which case, Go, you!

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All together now:

Step One:

Cut Spaghetti Squash in half.

Step Two:

Scrape out it’s guts and seeds.

Step Three:

Fill a casserole pan with about 1/4 cup of water.

Step Four:

Place 2 squash halves, face down, in pan.

Step Five:

In oven pre-heated to 350 degrees, bake for 30-35 minutes, until tender.

Step Six:

While spaghetti squash is baking, clean the seeds out of the guts and rinse off the seeds.

Step Seven:

Once the spaghetti squash is cooked through, you should be able to take a fork and scrape out the meat of the squash.

Step Eight:

Heat with marinara sauce and herbs and enjoy.

 

Autumn Walk {Photo Essay}

 

Fall is hands-down my all-time favorite season. I mean, spring’s awesome, and summer’s gorgeous, and winter is cozy, but there’s just something so… satisfying about Fall.

It involves crisp chilly air, shorter days, bright sun-speckled leaves, pumpkin everything, maple anything, root vegetables, things involving spices like cinnamon and clove and nutmeg, creamy chai lattes & hot chocolates,  bright vibrant hues of reds and oranges and yellows, and my favorite autumn wardrobe staples: tights and cardigans with boots.

 

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Every fall, I seem to end up taking a walk and taking photos. This year, it came about as an invite from a new friend. Who am I to turn down a lovely Autumn stroll with good company?

We sort of started out aimless, and ended up walking up to Alberta Street, probably about 2 or 3 miles each way. It took us a good 3 or 4 hours, but that included two stops into everyone’s favorite gluten-free vegan bakery in Portland, Back to Eden, and lunch at my favorite taco shop in the multiverse, El Nutri Taco.

Before we hit up the delightful tacos, we strolled and stopped to take pictures of whatever caught our fancy. I’m always a sucker for flowers, bright colors, sunlight through leaves, and spider webs.

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Sunflowers and bright orange pumpkins: check.

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We walked through the Sabin neighborhood, which had community gardens and a Hydro Park. How cool is that? A Hydro Park. Never heard of it before, but it was just a quiet little playground in the shadow of a couple of water towers.

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We spotted lots of fruits and vegetables growing. Tomatoes, figs, and what I thought could be an apple tree, but was actually… a persimmon tree! Cool.

 

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Love this rose:

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We had a fun discussion about squirrels while we strolled. We spotted a lot of them–hoarding nuts, bounding across yards, and running up trees. I asked my friend if he could trade places with a squirrel for a day, would he? (Would you?)

He answered in the affirmative. Makes sense. If I could trade places with another animal for a day, I totally would. It would be weird for a minute, but very interesting. And what would happen to your body while you were in another creature’s body? I think your body would then be inhabited by whoever’s place you took. But think how weird that would be, for the other creature. \ If a tiny little squirrel were suddenly in a big ol’ bulky human body, would it move around? Would it just lie still for the day, afraid to move? I imagine it would take some time to get used to so much more body mass than one is used to. It would probably feel so small, rattling around in a big human body, having to stand upright and everything.

Or, alternatively, can you imagine occupying a human body for so long, and then being in a tiny little squirrel body that can climb trees? Would you go for it, scampering up trees all day long, or would you stay close to the ground? I think I would go for it and scamper the heck out of my squirrelness for  day.

Anyway. Here’s a little plant doing jazz hands:

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…And once we got to Alberta, and off the squirrel talk,  there were bumper stickers…

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…And a big chain, locking out who knows what. The riff raff of Alberta Street, I suppose.

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…And then, finally (FINALLY), there were tacos:

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Hello, gorgeous.

El Nutri is my jam. I ordered the Green Taco (beans, avocado, lettuce, cilantro, tomato and I ordered it without the vegan cheese) and a potato taco—the same as the bean but minus the avocado and beans and with potatoes.

They were good.

Like, really good.

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…And the long walk back home was made a little more poem-y by finding this on the way:

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A Poetree!

Which wouldn’t be complete without a poem:

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I like that it’s about disorder and untidiness. It speaks to me. Well, it speaks to the general state I keep my house.

 

Last picture:

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These are called Hen and Chicks, and I had no idea they had such a random and cool name. Cute little succulent buggers. 

For previous posts and photo essays about Portland Fall:

* Fall 2008

* Fall 2009

* Japanese Gardens 2010

* Fall 2010

* Fall 2010 Apples and Gin Tasting

* Fall in Cave Junction 2011

 

Labor Day and Autumn Eats and Drinks

 

Happy Labor Day!

Did you know that Oregon was the first state to make Labor Day a holiday, in 1887 (According to Wikipedia)? Let’s hear it for Oregon!

I typically celebrate Labor Day by working (a common malady in the service industry), but if you are the type to have a three-day holiday weekend, here is a collection of perfect-for-fall recipes for Labor Day and beyond. Autumn is my favorite season, so I’m realllllly looking forward to pumpkin and root vegetables and corn and warm drinks and did I mention pumpkin?

 

Golden Beer-Battered Tempeh Nuggets (<—My mom’s recipe!)

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This is my mom’s recipe. I might be biased, but she is basically a culinary genius, plus she has a blog. Plus, she’s really cute.

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Dijon Dill Pasta Salad

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This is the best pasta salad in the universe. The multi-verse. Forever and Ever. Etc.

 

Vegan Dijon Dill Burger with Cold Soba Noodle Salad

Dijon Dill Vegan Burger

The soba noodle salad is from vegan wonder-woman Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.  The burger is a concoction from my kitchen, and easily adaptable for your personal likes and dislikes.

 

Farmer’s Market Caprese Fettuccini (gluten-free)

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Basil makes my world go ‘round. This recipe calls for basil, big juicy tomatoes, balsamic reduction, and gluten-free fettuccini noodles.

 

Mac and Cheese

vegan mac and cheese with field roast

This recipe is as old as the hills. It’s from 2008. When I make macaroni and cheese, I usually make some variation of this recipe. Lately I’ve been adding broccoli and bread crumbs to the top before toasting it.

For a Man Vs Tofood video featuring another Mac and Cheese recipe of mine, click here.

 

Individual Baked Apple

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Raw oats are polarizing, but if you don’t like raw oats (weirdo), just leave ‘em out. It’s worth it.

 

Dance Magic Bars

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These were inspired by Jenna’s recipe some time back. They’re vegan Magic bars and they’re wonderful.

 

Cashew Cream Tart with Sugared Berries

Cashew Cream Tarts with Sugared Berries

These little suckers are just delightful. They’d be great with big ripe juicy fall peaches.

 

Spiced Pumpkin Pie Cocktail with Maple Oatmeal infused Rum

Pumpkin Pie Cocktail

You heard that right.

Please excuse the picture. It’s a reverse ratio: For as boring as this photo looks, the drink tastes that good. What’s that? Yes, it does have to be really good then, huh? Trust me, it is.

 

Vegan Baileys Whipped Cashew Cream

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If you’ve tried my recipe for vegan Baileys Irish cream, you could take it to the next level and make baileys whip cream for all the pumpkin pies you’ll be making come pumpkin season. You can eat this with a spoon (and if you do, I won’t tell anyone).

 

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

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Mini Pumpkin Pies because I have no picture of this smoothie.

This is your basic pumpkin pie smoothie recipe. I make this every fall as much as humanly possible. I still stick with this recipe, but now I add a banana to it.

 

Hope you enjoy the tail-end of summer and the beginning of fall! Happy Labor Day, everyone!

 

Angel’s Rest Hike, Neahkahnie Mountain, The Yellow! Party, and General Summer Merrymaking

 

Last year, summer didn’t exist in Portland. Sure, there was a weekend here or there that happened to not be rainy and bleak, but mostly we Oregonians spent 2011 summer months thinking, “Any day now, summer will begin….” And then BAM, it was October. And it rained. Until June 2012.

THIS year, though, summer is here, and it is hot and beautiful and bikeable and hikaeble. I’ve had a successful summer so far: between the busy busy day job and the other busy conference planning job, I’ve made time to:

* Hit up the annual Oregon Beer Fest.

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* Watch the sun set on the Portland skyline while kickin’ it on a sailboat.

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* Head up to the Washougal River for a few hours of sun and water and sunburn with some gal pals.

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Aforementioned gal pals:

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* Venture out to the Gorge for a hike up Angel’s Rest, followed by a sojourn into Hood River for veggie burgers and brews.

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* Spend a full day at the Oregon coast with my best friend Abby, hiking up Neahkahnie Mountain for gorgeous views, picnicking in the sand, and camping in the forest.

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At Hug Point, the most adorably-named place in Oregon.

 

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* Co-host with my roommate a themed party, “The Yellow! Party”.

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Naturally, the host of The Yellow! Party has to have yellow everything, including fingernails.

 

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Yep, these are vegan ginger-lemon jello shots.

 

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I’ve had a dang good summer so far. And it’s really only half-over. So much more fun to be had! It reminds me of a quote I recently read:

“Isn’t it wonderful to think that some of the best days of our lives have yet to happen?”