Saturday, January 28, 2012

Spaghetti Squash..again

Yes, again. But you have to understand something - there are infinite possibilities with spaghetti squash!! Just think of all the pasta recipes out there and replace the pasta with the squash...see what I mean! Then, take something like a stir fry - how many stir fry recipes are there?! Now, replace the rice with the squash...

It's just yummy. It's filling and soo nutritious (here's a little article about the health benefits of winter squashes including spaghetti squash: So, I hope you once again enjoy this lovely spaghetti squash pairing!

Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Veggies and Shrimp

  • 1 lb. wild caught, USA shrimp
  • 2 large spaghetti squash or 3 small spaghetti squash (I used 3 smalls and it was perfect for my parents and I)
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • about 2 TBS. Italian seasoning
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400F. Cut spaghetti squash in half longways, remove seeds, and place in baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle Italian seasoning and salt and pepper over the squash. Roast at 400F for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile...

Chop all other vegetables and place on foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. When there are about 20-25 minutes left for the squash, place the vegetables in the oven with the squash for remaining time. 

If you have another oven, preheat it to 425F. Wash, peel, and de-vein shrimp. Place on another foil lined baking sheet so they are not touching. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in oven at 425F for about 8-10 minutes. If you do not have another oven, you can grill the shrimp on the stove. Simply place on grill pan or large saute pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and grill each side for about 3-5 minutes or until pink.

Remove squash and vegetables from oven when done roasting. Scrape squash out of the skin into a large bowl. Mix in vegetables and shrimp. Season to taste and enjoy hot!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

We Wuv Wegetables!!

Tonight's dinner was a big bunch of vegetables. One half was roasted, the other half was a nice, fresh salad. Both were delicious and satisfying!

I think one of my favorite things about dishes that are vegetable based and have very little extra *stuff* to make them heavy, and unhealthy is that you can eat A TON of them and still feel amazing! And they just taste good...soooo good...

Roasted Butternut Squash, Kale, and Red Peppers
makes 3-4 servings as a main

  • 2 bunches Lacinato kale
  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 2 bags cubed butternut squash (I used Green Giant steamer bags)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Italian seasoning, garlic salt, and fresh thyme to taste
Preheat oven to 400F. Place butternut squash in large ziploc freezer bag. Pour in about half of the olive oil and balsamic as well as the seasoning. Zip and shake until all the squash is evenly coated. Pour squash onto large foil lined baking sheet. Roast at 400F for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, remove stem from kale, rinse and chop along with peppers. Place these in the same bag you used for the squash with the rest of the olive oil and balsamic and more seasoning. Do the same zip and shake (way more fun if you do a little dance while you shake). When there are 20 minutes left for the butternut squash, remove the baking sheet, give the squash a stir, and pour the kale and peppers onto the sheet. It will overflow a bit, but not to worry because the kale will cook down a lot. At the end of the time, remove the baking sheet and sprinkle a little sea salt over the top of all the vegetables. Stir to thoroughly mix everything. Add whatever protein you prefer - my parents had chicken and I cooked some organic turkey bacon with Italian seasoning and crumbled that into the vegetables.

Fruity Green Salad
  • several Romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • about 2 cups spinach leaves, rinsed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries
  • 1 orange, peeled and diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 cup purple cabbage, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 TBS pomegranate balsamic vinegar
  • 2 TBS white balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
*the measurements for the dressing are all guesses, just add or subtract to your own taste!
Toss all ingredients into large bowl. Drizzle olive oil and both vinegars directly on salad. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss everything together to coat evenly with dressing. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Feet Untangled

Proverbs 3:26 "for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared."

I can walk confidently in who God has made me to be. I am free to live as the daughter of Christ, He has made me to be. I was once far away from God, easily caught in the enemy's traps. But now, I am free! I am free to live as you have made me to live...

"Free to dance and free to sing. Free to live and love, and free - O FREE - to be!"

Thank you Jesus for dying. Thank you for taking up the cross so that I could be free. Jesus Christ died, and was brought to life again. He did this so that I would not actually have to suffer an eternal death, but could symbolically die to my old self - be freed from my old ways and habits and LIVE a life that would bring glory to his Kingdom. THAT is the life I want to live today. I choose Jesus Christ. I choose to live a life that represents him. I was once lost, but now? Now, I'm found! One who is found is not meant to live like one who is still lost. I claim my freedom and give all the glory to the Lord. For it is God alone who brought me to life. And it is God alone who will keep my feet from being tangled. This is how I will dance. As one whose feet are completely free and untangled. I will not be caught in the snares of the enemy! I will dance freely for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. King of kings and Lord of lords.

Dinner time...

I could have just had leftover curry. My parents are out of town, so I was cooking for one and it really would have been easier just to heat up some of the leftovers from lunch today. But, where's the fun in that? So I decided to get a spaghetti squash and try something new. I really do love spaghetti's so yummy and healthy...

I just get lost in the magic. I enjoyed this with an awesome Mat Chandler sermon and a glass of Chardonnay. Buon appetito and buon nuit!

Spaghetti Squash with Bacon and Arugula
serves 1 as main dish

  • 1 very, very small spaghetti squash
  • 1-2 cups arugula
  • 2 slices organic turkey bacon (I used Applegate Organics)
  • olive oil
  • Italian seasoning
  • garlic powder
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • less than 1/4 cup grated parmesan (optional)
Preheat oven to 400F. Cut spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise (I soften mine in the microwave for about 4 minute to make it easier to cut). Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and ground pepper (to taste). Drizzle with olive oil and place cut side down in a baking dish. Cook at 400F for about 30 minutes. As time winds down, rinse arugula and place in large salad bowl of choice (or plate). Heat non-stick pan over low heat. Add two slices of turkey bacon and cook to desired crispiness. Let drain on paper towel. When squash is done, let cool to touch. Scrape flesh into bowl with arugula and crumble bacon on top. Mix together so the arugula wilts slightly. Add 1 tsp. salt and any more seasoning to taste. Enjoy! 

*Vegetarian/Vegan Option: Omit bacon and parmesan, and sprinkle with pine nuts. 

Chicken and Vegetable Curry

It's been raining off and on here. Yesterday was on pretty much all day, so Megan got the full gray and rainy San Francisco experience! It was actually really wonderful and made me love the gray, rainy weather even more. It hasn't been raining all day today, but it's still blustery and cold so I felt like making something warm and comforting. As I was looking through different recipes, I found this one for a chicken and vegetable curry. Perfect! I had some chicken I'd been saving for a full recipe and some vegetables that needed to be used. With a few tweaks - adapting the recipe for the vegetables I had on hand - and a quick jaunt to the grocery store for curry powder (Moor girls, you now have an ABUNDANCE of curry powder because I left all 500 of my jars there :o) ) I was ready to enjoy some yummy, warm curry...

Chicken and Vegetable Curry
makes 3-4 servings, adapted from Chicken and Vegetable Curry
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 TBS grated ginger
  • 1 heaping TBS curry powder
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 large yam, peeled and cubed in 1 in. pieces
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut in 1 in. pieces
  • 1 small head broccoli, separated in small florets
  • 1 - 15oz. can diced, no salt added tomatoes with juices
  • 14 oz. unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (preferably organic, I used Harmony Farms) cut in 1 in. pieces
Heat oil in a large pot, over medium heat. Add chopped onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and saute for about 1 minute. Add curry powder and salt. Stir into other ingredients for another minute. Add yam, bell pepper, and broccoli florets. Stir to thoroughly coat with spices. Add diced tomatoes and coconut milk (the vegetables should be completely covered with the liquid). Bring to a simmer, and stir everything together. Add chicken and stir to incorporate everything. Simmer, partially covered, for about 15 minutes until chicken is completely cooked. Enjoy! This would probably be really good with rice, too. 

*Vegetarian/Vegan Option: substitute tofu or garbanzo beans for chicken, following same instructions

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Journey of Isaiah 52:7

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns.'"

I was going through Isaiah when I went to Hungary with Operation Mobilization's dance ministry group, Dancelink, last summer. I was having one of those days before leaving when my enthusiasm was lacking. I was feeling cranky, frustrated, and questioning why I was going. Then I read this verse and everything kind of just stopped. That was the Word I needed. God had created my feet to dance the Good News of His salvation. Period.

Before leaving for Hungary, I had received an email from Mat Carson of OM, inviting me to join several other artists for the pilot of OM's Art School for Missions. I had been "recommended" by Dancelink's director, Linda Wells and informed that "she must think really highly of you (me) to recommend you for this." Here's the thing, I had never met Linda before. Our only communication came in the form of two emails in which almost no personal information had been shared. Yet for some reason, God placed me on her heart to pray for. And He led her to this decision to extend the invitation. Through prayer and petition, I received confirmation that this was the next step God desired me to take. And, this invitation came one week before I graduated college. Lesson in God's timing? Check. (Psalm 75:2, 2 Peter 3:8-9)

Today, less than one month before I leave for Italy, I have been reminded and rocked time and time again, by God. He has tugged and pulled on my heart strings, so that my desire for Him has grown more in the last 6 months than ever before. I love Him. I can say that with full confidence, never to be shaken (Psalm 125:1). He has shown me great discipline and challenge, and poured out blessings and truth more abundant than my imagination could have created. Like this...

About a month and a half ago, I had a really interesting dream. I mean, I've had a lot of interesting dreams...weird ones. All kinds. Like, the ones you wake up from and go, "Huh?" This was interesting in the "I'm pretty sure that was from God and I've never had a dream from God before." kind of interesting. I was with several members of my church family from Fountain of Life covenant church in Long Beach, CA and the women decided to pray over me. They wanted to pray for my trip to Italy, especially in regards to support. One woman was praying aloud and the others were agreeing with her, when she said, very clearly,these words, "He will provide abundantly more than you could ask or imagine."

These words have been a great comfort to me during the support raising process, and I can honestly say that God has kept my mind at peace, fully trusting in Him at all times. By the grace of God, I haven't experienced any anxiety or worry over the God-sized amount of money that needed to be raised for the trip. He made this promise, and of course, He kept it. It is His character. He cannot and will not break His promises to us (1 Kings 8:56). And I can and will testify to His faithfulness today. Not only did He provide the amount needed for Itay, but He provided ABUNDANTLY more than I could have asked or imagined - about $1400 more. Only God.

This is just the beginning of the journey in Italy (obviously, I'm not even there yet), but already, in the months leading up to it, God is filling me with a greater and more real desire to dance and live for Him. My feet are His and I will move as He leads.

Isaiah 52:7

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dinner for Breakfast...

Megan came back up to Modesto with me much better when someone does the 5 and a half hour drive with you! My mom had asked what we wanted for dinner and I suggested spaghetti squash with a pesto sauce. We had salmon marinated in a yummy Braggs and ginger marinade - which doesn't necessarily go with pesto, but was delicious! Oh and of course a salad on the side. But we had plenty of spaghetti squash leftover and it is possibly one of my favorite foods ever, so I thought I'd incorporate it into breakfast. I don't know what it is, but when people are here as guests I go into bed and breakfast Lauren mode...I already have lunch's lookin' really good.

As for breakfast, I used the spaghetti squash as a sort of hash and made scrambled eggs with Italian seasoning (went a lot better with the pesto). It was quite good if I do say so myself (Megan did too, with very little force)! So here's the recipe...enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash Hash with Italian Scrambled Eggs
Serves 2

1/2 spaghetti squash
1 TBS Italian seasoning
1/4 cup pesto
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 eggs
2 egg whites
1 TBS Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 400F. With half of spaghetti squash, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning. Roast at 400F for about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool to touch. Remove flesh from skin and mix with pesto, olive oil, and pine nuts.

Heat saucepan over medium heat. Place squash mixture in saucepan. Heat until slightly browned. Meanwhile, heat another saucepan over low heat and melt 1 TBS butter. Break eggs and egg whites into saucepan and sprinkle with the other tablespoon of Italian seasoning. Scramble over low heat until completely cooked. Divide squash hash (that's fun to say...) between two plates, and serve eggs on top. Enjoy with a nice warm cup of joe (we had some delicious Kona blend..mmmm...)

Former Roomie Reaction...

Megan: "I really liked it and I've only had spaghetti squash a couple of times, but never thought to use it as a breakfast food. It was really good!"

Friday, January 6, 2012

Aloha!! It's good to be back...

Oh my feels like forever since I've written anything after those 25 days straight! My parents and I left the day after Christmas for Hawaii (absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!), got back at 1am Tuesday, and have been cleaning and rearranging since then. But, I felt like it was time to get back to it on the old blog after the break. And while I did miss cooking for that short time, it was exactly the break I needed! So, here we go loop-dee-loo!

I'm doing a 30 day trial of something called the "Paleo Diet." Basically, no grains at all, no artificial sugars, no dairy (except butter and very high quality cheese...still a little confused about this part, but I'm sure there's a scientific explanation somewhere), LOT'S of vegetables and animal protein. Some fruit, but limited (because of the chemical makeup of the sugars, or something like that), nuts are good too, but no legumes. It's a really interesting diet, because you can pretty much eat however much you want calorie wise (as in no calorie counting needed), but is taking some getting used to after a lifetime of whole grains being good, and four years of a mostly vegetarian lifestyle. All of a sudden I'm cookin' up meat! I'm enjoying it so far, and am looking forward to seeing how I feel at the end of it. The few people I know who have chosen to follow this have really slimmed down from it - not that I'm looking for a crazy change, because I was already living fairly healthfully. Mostly, I am interested to see simply how I feel at the end of the month and if there are any noticeable changes.

Don't worry roommates, I'll still post plenty of veggie meals for you :)

For the first post, it's a little salad I concocted yesterday for lunch, and it was DE-LISH!

Roasted Yam and Prosciutto Salad

  • 1 small/medium yam
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • several leaves of red leaf lettuce, washed and torn
  • about 2 cups chopped red and green cabbage
  • 4 thin slices of high-quality prosciutto*
  • less than 1/4 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
  • balsamic vinegar to taste
Preheat the oven to 400F. Wash the yam and wrap with a paper towel. Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes. Crush your garlic during this time. Remove yam from paper towel and place on sheet of aluminum foil. Poke some holes in the yam, sprinkle with the crushed garlic, and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap yam in aluminum foil and roast in oven at 400F for about 10 minutes. In the mean time, shred the strips of prosciutto and place in non-stick pan over medium heat on the stove for about 10 minutes, until slightly crisped. Place the shredded lettuce and cabbage in a bowl, ready to serve. When the yam is done, remove from oven and let cool slightly (just to touch). Cube the yam and top greens with cut up yam and prosciutto. Finally, top with a sprinkle of cranberries and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

*Note: To make this vegetarian, simply omit the prosciutto and top with roasted nuts..pistachios would be excellent on this!