OH, THE LAYERS OF DELICIOUSNESS.
You can’t even make this stuff up. These boats consist of spaghetti squash (the stringy-in-a-good-way squash that looks suspiciously similar to spaghetti) tossed around with some sautéed garlic kale, ricotta, lemon juice, salt, and mozzarella, baked right back in its spaghetti squash shell and topped with a super quick-simmer spaghetti sauce with ground turkey, because sometimes we find these things in our freezer and we need to top them with melty cheese to bring them out into the light.
These spaghetti squash lasagna boats are a major weeknight meal win for all the hungry people.
This is all we ate for the last three days before we headed out to the Philippines. Like, five meals in a row because I made them multiple times. You and I know that we don’t play around with serving sizes around here. I have no interest in a plate of three bites of food with some little bubbles of culinary foam on top. My MO is more of the Huge Plate Piled High With Food variety, whether nutritious Winter Bliss Bowls or just a good old burger and fries. But I might have even achieved a new level here – these spaghetti squash lasagna boat miracles were SO HUGE and so filling that even Bjork couldn’t finish one of them. We ended up halving the boats for smaller, more normal-person sized lunches and reserving the full-size boats for only the hangriest of dinner moments.
Here’s how it all came into existence in my mind:
I Want Pasta > How About Spaghetti with Creamy Sauce > Need a Way to Use Frozen Ground Turkey > Maybe Lasagna > Or Healthy Lasagna? > Turkey Lasagna with Creamy Sauce Could Work > I Know – Lasagna with a Butternut Squash Sauce > Google Search Squash Lasagna For Inspiration > Discovery of Cooking Light’s Spaghetti Squash Lasagna > Purchase of All Spaghetti Squashes in a 100-mile Radius > So Many Delicious and Healthy Lunches And Dinners.
That’s all this blog is, really. It’s just me being hungry for pasta all day every day and finding enough variations to keep us afloat for the last 5 years.
Even without any true-carb-pasta, I’ll give this one an honorary position on my favorite pasta list. Spaghetti Squash for the win!
- 2 spaghetti squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3-4 cups baby kale
- 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
- 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
- a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1-2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- a pinch of Italian seasonings like oregano, parsley, and basil
- a few glugs of red wine and/or a splash of red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
- Squash: Preheat the oven to 350. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash cut-side up in a baking dish and bake uncovered for 50-60 minutes. Pull the squash strings out with a fork and transfer to a large mixing bowl (be careful since you'll want to preserve the squash shells to use as the "boats"). The squash strings should look like spaghetti.
- Sauce: Meanwhile, while the squash is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes until just fragrant (not browned). Add the turkey and cook, stirring frequently and breaking the meat apart into small pieces until fully cooked. Add the tomatoes, salt, seasonings, red wine, and vinegar. Simmer for 20 minutes or so (until the squash is done). Add broth to thin out the sauce if needed.
- Filling: Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and kale, stirring until the kale is just wilted. Combine the kale in a small bowl with the ricotta, salt, lemon juice, and ½ cup of the shredded cheese. Add the cooked spaghetti squash and stir to combine.
- Arrange: Fill the boats with the spaghetti squash mixture and top with tomato sauce and remaining shredded cheese. Bump the temperature up to about 425 and bake for another 10-15 minutes to get the cheese nice and melty. Top with Parmesan, olive oil, parsley, and salt and pepper.
Nutrition information is for four servings, and it includes half of the sauce.
Thanks for hanging with us during this crazy return-from-travel-abroad-and-work-on-a-few-too-many-big-projects time, even when it means the posts are a little shorter than usual. I have a chalkboard FILLED with recipes inspired by 15+ days of being away from my kitchen and I cannot wait to get back into the regular swing.
Now for the making.
Four Stages - sausage, bun, grill and toppings. Follow along below, and print out a template at the end of the post. Please be reminded that these are for non-commercial use only - meaning that while your kids can fake-sell them to fake customers in their fake restaurants, you cannot sell them to real customers in your real shops.
Let's get started!
I used craft felt for this project, because it was cheaper. Feel free to use the pricey 100% wool felt for your hot dog restaurant. Also, uncharacteristically, I included the 1/4" SA in all the dimensions and templates, so you don't need to add your own.
Cut a 4" x 7" rectangle of brown felt and fold in half lengthwise, RS together.
I will show you two methods to make the sausage, and you pick the one you like more.
(For people who want less hand-stitching but don't mind spending a longer time overall)
Sew the long edges together to make a tube.
(For people who want it easy but don't mind extra hand-stitching)
I strongly recommend this method.
The other dart in each pair (B, C, F and G) is skewed, meaning that its dart legs are not the same length and the dart will deliberately slant to the side. So when you fold the dart in half with its apex/point along the midline (green arrow), the end points of the dart (red arrow) will not match up.
Here's a shot below of those two kinds of darts sewn shut. You can see the smooth edge (blue arrow) vs. the uneven edge (red arrow).
This is what I was talking about in the intro note to this section. I should have drafted the template with a jagged outline to compensate, but I didn't, because a smooth-outline template was easier to cut out 20 times for 20 buns than a jagged-outline template.
That's the most icky part of the bun, folks. When you're finished with all 8 darts, you'll get a voluptuous roast-chicken-looking thing like this:
Now snip the SA at points 1 and 3 of the white piece,
align it so that the its numbers match up with those on the brown piece,
Leaving an opening for turning out. sew the white piece to the brown piece. The trickiest bits will be points 1 and 3, where you'd have to lift-and-turn your presser foot a fair bit.
Make restaurant-ready quantities of both:
They were perfect for sanitary hot dog handling.
Side note about the hot dog colors: those three lighter dogs were my "muslin" hot dogs, which I made from some leftover brown felt sheets. I like their shade of brown more than the darker dogs, but I ran out. Unsurprisingly, the girls noticed immediately that the hot dogs were differently-colored and rather than deducing, "Oh, Mom used random fabric as usual, " they assigned different sausage-species-qualities to them. The light ones were brats, said Jenna, and the dark ones were "regular" (whatever that meant). Funny.
We used two different sizes for the mustard, so that customers could choose More Mustard vs. Less Mustard.
The ketchup, though, came in one-size-fits-all, because I've never heard of anyone wanting less ketchup.
Incidentally, the bun in the middle was my "muslin" bun and, again, I used some random felt that was different from the other buns. The girls similarly picked up on the disparity and labeled it "the whole wheat bun" vs. "the regular".
Here is the template download.
Sofie Hauge Katan, from The Noun Project
Ever notice how we tend to do similar things in the same environments? Wonder why we’re able to focus much more intensely in libraries or in coffee shops? Or why it’s so much more difficult to accomplish that same output of work from the comfort of your recliner?
It’s because our minds have associated certain environments with specific behaviors. Designer and writer Jack Cheng has a theory it’s about what he calls, “Habit Fields.” Each object inherently comes with a habit field, which we continue to reinforce or alter.
This is why Cheng chooses to have a specific chair for procrastinating and getting distracted. He writes on A List Apart:
I do most of my work from home, and in my apartment I have a comfortable chair reserved for email, checking status updates, and leisurely surfing the web. I call it my “distraction chair.” I try to reserve my work desk for actual work—writing, designing, and coding—and when I feel the inclination to read Twitter or check e-mail, I move to the lounge chair. Before I had an iPad, I unplugged my laptop and moved to the chair, and it worked just as well.
At first, it may seem like a nuisance to get up and move every time, but that’s exactly the point. As long as you adhere to the rules you’ve created for yourself, over time you’ll find that the strength of the habit fields keep you in place—the act of getting up, walking over, and getting situated in the chair becomes just tedious enough to keep you at the desk, leading to prolonged work periods.
Likewise, the lounge chair’s habit field turns into a “leisure zone”—one that I know to stay away from if I have a deadline and need to focus. Sometimes when I realize I’ve been spending too much time in the chair, it’s easier to snap out of it: all I have to do is stand up and leave the zone.
By isolating the distraction field, Cheng is able to make it easier for himself to focus when he needs to. Similarly, if you figure out which environments you thrive in and which objects have more distracting habits associated with them, you’ll have a greater control of your output.
The first level of trust is having it in yourself—trusting that your opinions matter and are valid. Even believing that your guess is as good as anyone else’s adds a level of personal trust and self-respect. This perspective, allows you the courage to crawl further out on a limb, to take chances and make sure you are not playing safe—or, worse, “giving the people what they want.” It also allows you to listen to your own opinion without the nagging voice of well wishing, but fearful friends (“You’re gonna start a business… in THIS economy?”) whose sincerest wish is to shield you from failure, while only succeeding in protecting you from success. Or, worse, to listen to the tiny critics inside your own head who concoct the wildest scenes possible of failure, carnage and financial ruin. It takes grit to stay on course, to trust yourself, your vision, your calling, and recognize this resistance for what it is: fear.
After believing in your own gift, you must strive for a higher level of trust: trusting others. Trusting that people will hear your message, that they will be inspired to your cause, that they will rise to your challenge and, further, act on your call. Of course it’s not possible that not everyone will heed your call, but as the Persian mystic Rumi tells us, “Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” We have to believe that when the right ones will come, they are not some generic audience, but your audience.
The opposite of this scenario is when we fail to put our trust in others. What we then win is the standard-issue workplace practice: employees are micro-managed, second guessed, and made to feel replaceable. This Dilbertian attitude tells employees that their work does not matter. It turns the drive to contribute into a week-long waiting game to collect a paycheck. Told what to do and how to do it reduces even creative enterprises into drone factory workers. Real trust in your employees means allowing them the freedom to make mistakes. Similarly, in parenting there is no better way to crush a child’s spirit and make them feel worthless than not giving them the room to be creative and to make mistakes. When you trust your employees its encouraging, empowering, and breeds loyalty.
Both building personal trust and developing leadership skills requires a courage and letting go of control and loosening the reins. You need to trust that you will reach your goals even though you can not know all the steps the steps or even the outcome. This “not knowing” is the most important part. There is a line from the Talmud that tells us to “Teach your tongue to say ‘I don’t know’ and ye’ shall progress.” This is a request for us to practice being in the state of not knowing, establishing comfort within trust. Heeding this advice we avoid the well-worn path of usual outcomes. We are invited to play and to be open to unexpected results.
In my own work, I recently started a long-term project with a publisher who came to me with little in the way of budget. In lieu of the right price I asked for complete creative freedom—essentially I was asking for their trust. Understandably, they said this idea scared them, but they agreed to our little contract. Their trust inspired me to do my best work. After the project was finished they posted on their blog, “James Victore asked us to trust him, and we are glad we did.” Now, this story may incite such claims as “Well, that’s okay for you, you’re James Victore.” But this in actuality is just an excuse—one of many reasons not to trust yourself or others.
I’d be lying to say that “Trust” is easy, especially in business. But the easy way is always a trap. Trust me.