Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Spaghetti Squash with Veggie Sauce and Meatballs

This post is dedicated to my wonderful friends and next door neighbors, Jim and Julie. We probably have never had such gracious neighbors and I feel like I just can't thank them enough for all their kindness! One thing I can do is share my love of cooking quick and -  for the most part - healthy recipes. They have lived in New Zealand and then California, so they are somewhat dismayed (me too!) by limited healthy eating choices here in the Midwest. Julie mentioned that she was looking for recipes to use spaghetti squash in. I came up with a couple in this post, but here is another one. It's a riff on good old spaghetti and meatballs, but the sauce is loaded with veggies and the meatballs are free of dairy and grains. Definitely Whole 30 friendly for someone isstill in the game! If that's not a concern, it is delicious to include Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs, so I've included those as optional in the ingredient list. Also, I think this would be equally as yummy if two spiralized zucchini squashes were used in place of the spaghetti squash "pasta".

 Ingredients for Spaghetti Squash with Veggie Sauce and Meatballs - Serves 2 to 4

1 good sized spaghetti squash or 2 spiralized zucchinis


3 tomatoes
1 medium onion
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 red bell pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced or put through a press
1 zucchini squash
1 yellow summer squash
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 pound hamburger
1 egg
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Optional: 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Optional: 1/4 cup bread crumbs


Slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place in a baking dish and either bake it at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or microwave it for 12 to 15 minutes. Squash should seem tender but not overdone. It's better to under cook it first and have to cook it a few minutes longer than to have it limp and without its characteristic noodle-like strands. Using a dish cloth to hold each squash half, take a fork and run it length wise down the squash to release the strands in a bowl. Set aside.

If using spiralized zucchini, saute it in 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil until tender but not mushy. This should take about 5 minutes. The "zoodles" will still be just a bit crunchy. 

While the "pasta" above is cooking, saute the onion, green bell pepper, and red pepper until tender - about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute another 30 seconds. Mix in the tomato paste, water, zucchini, yellow summer squash, oregano, salt, and pepper. Allow the mixture to simmer at medium low heat until the squash slices are cooked through but not mushy.

Combine the hamburger, egg, sliced green onions, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper and, if using, the Parmesan and bread crumbs. Form into walnut sized balls. Either grill over medium heat 5 minutes per side or bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 minutes. 

To assemble, divide the spaghetti squash or zoodles evenly among serving plates. Ladle the vegetable sauce on top. Divide up the meatballs and dig in!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Green BEAN Delivery Review & Promo Code: Recipes for Whole30 Homestretch

I got an invitation -  a gift certificate - to try GreenBEAN Delivery at the perfect time. It seemed my inspiration for dreaming up interesting things to eat while on the Whole30 was ebbing, and then this fun opportunity appeared. I had heard of GreenBEAN Delivery, but never tried it.

First, customers have to create an account on their website. Once you have registered, you are assigned a delivery day based on your address/zipcode. Unlike community supported agriculture (CSA clubs), there isn't a membership fee or a contract. There is a minimum of $20 per delivery and a $4.99 delivery fee which is reduced to $2.99 on orders over $35.00 and is free if the order is over $65.00

Every customer begins with a default list of $20 worth of produce when they start shopping. I could have kept this as my delivery, but I deleted somethings and added others from the "store". Besides all organic produce there is also locally produced grocery items and meats. Everything is antibiotic-free, hormone free, and humanely raised with a 100% guarantee, so if you get a cracked egg or bruised apple, you get a choice of a refund or a credit.

Once you are a customer, you are set up for weekly or biweekly delivery unless you deactivate your account or just let them know not to deliver the next scheduled time. I actually checked this out and spoke with the nicest lady on the phone in customer support - I would give company-customer relations a five star rating!

My biggest surprise when poking around the website? The company has a 1-For-1 Food Donation Program; they donate a meal's worth of fresh produce to local food banks for each order made.

Will I use GreenBean Delivery again? Yes! The produce was gorgeous and I loved having it dropped off in an insulated container right on my porch! I felt like I got a ton of beautiful veggies for $20 and it spurred me on to cook up some yummy dishes - check them out below!

Want to learn more? Check out http://greenbeandelivery.com/how-it-works 

Use promo code "Yates Yummies" for 20% off 3 orders! (New members only)

Asian Spaghetti Squash Bowl - Serves Two to Four

Asian Spaghetti Squash Bowl - Serves Two to Four


1 medium spaghetti squash (Or - spiralized zucchini)
1 1/2 cups cooked, cubed/shredded chicken or pork
4 cloves garlic, finely minced or put through a press
*1 tablespoon oyster sauce
*1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce or Maggi, Tamari, or coconut aminos
1 teaspoon sesame oil or vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium red onion
2 medium carrots
1 medium cucumber
2 cups regular white vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 cup cilantro
1 package basil leaves
*4 tablespoons garlic chili sauce 
1 lime 

*Using these sauces adds to the deliciousness of this dish, but if not easily accessible, either or all may be omitted.


Slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place in a baking dish and either bake it at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or microwave it for 12. Squash should seem tender but not overdone. It's better to have to cook it a few minutes longer than to have it mushy and without its characteristic noodle-like strands. Using a dish cloth to hold each squash half, take a fork and run it length wise down the squash to release the strands in a bowl. Set aside.

While the squash is cooking, slice the onion and cut the cucumber & carrot into match stick like rectangular pieces. Place each into their own bowl. Mix the vinegar with the sugar and/or salt. Divide and pour vinegar mixture over each vegetable so it can soak while the rest of the preparations are going on.

After squash is done cooking, place the meat you are using in skillet along with the garlic, oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper. Combine and cook five minutes over medium heat. Gently add spaghetti squash and cook 1 or 2 more minutes.

Drain the vinegar from each vegetable.

Gently rinse and pat dry both the cilantro and basil. Discard the stems.

Divide spaghetti squash mixture evenly between serving bowl. Evenly distribute the onion, carrot, cucumber, cilantro, basil leaves, and chili garlic paste over the spaghetti squash mixture.

Serve with lime wedges for squeezing.

Green Bean Curry - Serves Two to Four


2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 medium onion, peeled and sliced

1 medium green bell pepper, cored and cut into strips

1 medium red bell pepper, cored and cut into strips

1 cup chopped cilantro, leaves and stems

1 tablespoon seeded and diced jalapeno, Serrano, or Thai chili

2 cloves garlic, finely minced or put through a press

2 teaspoons curry powder

1/4 cup red curry paste

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pound green beans, washed with ends snapped off

1 (16 oz.) can coconut milk

1 1/2 cups cooked protein such as chicken or shrimp

additional cilantro leaves for garnish

lime for squeezing

1 medium spaghetti squash, cooked and shredded (see recipe above)
2 medium zucchini, spiralized and sauteed until tender in 2 tablespoons coconut oil


Over medium heat, saute onion, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, chopped cilantro and diced spicy pepper until tender. Add garlic and curry powder. Saute for another 30 seconds. Add red curry paste,salt, coconut milk and green beans.  Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the green beans are tender but not mushy.

Divide shredded spaghetti squash or zucchini "zoodles" among 4 serving dishes. Ladle curry evenly over each serving of squash. Top with protein choice, cilantro leaves and lime wedges.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Two Speedy Soups From Canned Tomato Sauce

Tomato Coconut Curry and Tomato Sausage Soup

Now that all my girls are out on my own - it's weird, I know - but I'm still cooking for them. It's like we are in tandem universes. They are hundreds of miles away, but I still try to make dishes I think they would like as well as approve of! It makes for a lot of sharing and discussion, which is a lot of fun for me. One thing I realize is they come home late, tired and hungry after a whole day of working followed by some kind of exercise class or activity. They want something substantial, but fast and also perhaps Whole 30 compliant or at least healthy. The soups posted here are so easy and with label reading, they can be made with canned tomato sauce that doesn't have bad stuff in it! The trick to the Tomato Coconut Curry is to have already cooked chicken meat on hand and a left over sweet potato. Or, a microwave that zaps them in five minutes.  The smooth broth goes so well with the velvety cooked sweet potato and the subtle spiciness is very warming on a cold day. The Tomato Sausage Soup is an old favorite of Roy's and I've made it for years. I put it together out of desperation one night when all I had on hand was a can of tomato sauce, some sausage, and a handful of mixed salad greens. It turned out to be hearty and delicious! Aidells brand sausage is available at most grocery stores and happens to be Whole 30 allowed. I'd love to know which of these soups people enjoy more!

Tomato Coconut Curry Soup - Serves Two as Main Dish


1 cup chopped cooked chicken
1 medium sweet potato, cooked and cubed
1 medium onion
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, put through a press or finely minced
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz.) can coconut milk
1/2 heaping cup chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Lime wedges for serving


Peel and slice onion. Heat oil over medium low heat and saute onion until tender - about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cilantro and curry powder and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomato sauce, coconut milk, sweet potato, chicken, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes. Turn the heat up to medium high to get the mixture up to a simmer, then turn down to medium low and cook for 5 more minutes.

Tomato Sausage Soup - Serves Two as Main Dish


1/2 pound sliced sausage
2 cups greens - spinach and/or kale
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz.) can beef broth
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon thyme


Brown sausage over medium heat - about  3 to 5 minutes per side. Add tomato sauce, greens, beef broth, oregano, salt, pepper flakes, garlic, thyme, garlic powder. Bring up to a boil, then turn down to medium low and simmer 5 minutes.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Chicken Paprikash with Pepper & Onion "Noodles"

So - we are halfway through January which means for some people, they are halfway through the Whole 30. (Not for me though - I had to start over on the 10th!) Allison set up a Facebook message group called "Whole 30 Yates Clan Support Group" which even includes cousins.  From this sharing communication I feel that the anxiety of actual cooking is now being replaced by the big question of what to do with all the vegetables that everyone seems to now have around. Also, time is still huge a issue. As I've said before, if it isn't quick and easy, I'm not going to make it - but it has to taste yummy. I suspect that the secret to staying on this program for the 30 days is that food has to have a lot of flavor and be delicious. In chilly January, it also needs to be warm and satisfying. I've replaced traditional noodles in the post here with onion and colorful bell pepper ribbons. When I see bell peppers on sale, I like to buy a bunch, seed, slice and freeze them in zip lock bags - it's a time safer. This dish is packs a spicy punch that combats the chilly temperatures outside  - enjoy!

Chicken Paprikash - serves 4

1 pound chicken pieces
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon hot Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine the paprika, oregano, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper together. Rub into the chicken. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat and brown chicken - about 7 minutes per side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Bell Pepper & Onion Noodles for Chicken Paprikash

1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 large onion
2 tablespoons oil
1 (15 oz.) can of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
parsley to garnish

Core and seed peppers. Slice peppers and onions into strips. Heat oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Saute vegetables until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Combine diced tomatoes, tomato paste and Hungarian paprika, salt, oregano, pepper, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper flakes. Add to pan.

Gently combine the tomato mixture and the peppers together.

Place the browned chicken on top of the vegetables, cover with foil, and simmer over medium low heat for 20 to 25 minutes. Cut into a chicken piece to check to make sure it is completely cooked. Ladle into individual serving bowls and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Pulled Pork on Braised Red Cabbage

Cooking at home is a healthy habit; there is total control over what ingredients are in the dish! But I've realized that for some, it really stresses them out! They come home from work tired, hungry and don't want to mess with an hour of kitchen toil. I know - I've been there!  The secret is recipes that are quick, easy, and are made with some protein that's already been cooked.  When the girls were growing up, I'd roast a chicken or a cut of beef on Sunday, then I could use the left overs in other things during the week. Today, my Instant Pot makes it even easier. This post involves placing some pulled pork on top of braised red cabbage. If time and patience are short, ditch the carrots and/or the apples in the recipe - it will still taste great - but if five more minutes could be spared, it's worth it! 

Spice Mix Rub for Pulled Pork

2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Mix all ingredients together.

Directions for Cooking Pulled Pork

3 - 4 pound pork shoulder/Boston butt
Spice mix rub for pulled pork above
2 cups beef broth
1 cup apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit, or get out crock pot or pressure cooker such as Instant Pot.
First pour the beef broth and apple cider vinegar vinegar into a roasting pan, crock pot, or pressure cooker.

Then rub the spice mix into the meat.

Put the meat into the cooking vehicle.

Cook until pork can be pulled about and shredded with two forks. For oven, roast for 4 to 5 hours. For crock pot, cook on high for 4 to 5 hours. For pressure cooker, cook on high pressure for 60 minutes.

Braised Red Cabbage

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 medium red cabbage, cored and shredded
1 Granny Smith Apple, cored and sliced
Juice of 1 orange (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup red vinegar
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pinch ground cloves

Place the 2 tablespoons olive oil, onions, and carrot in a pan and saute over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds more. Then add the cabbage, apple cubes, orange juice, vinegar, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and ground cloves. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes over medium low heat until the apples are tender when pierced with a fork. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Place some braised cabbage on each serving plate or on one large platter. Place pulled pork on cabbage. Place a handful of greens on top and finish off with a sprinkle of red wine vinegar, drizzle of olive oil, and a shake of sea salt.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Old Classic: Louie Salad and Its Scrumptious Dressing

When we visited San Francisco this past September, one of the places several people recommended as a "must see" was the Cliff House. It's been a part of local history since 1858 and is located on Point Lobos Avenue near the Ocean Beach neighborhood. The building has been rebuilt at least five times due to fires and renovations. It was once a destination for movie stars and the rich but is now owned by the National Park Service as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The two restaurants inside are managed by a private contractor and the menus are old school traditional.
I ordered the Louie Salad and was blown away by how delicious the accompanying dressing was - and I usually don't even like thousand island! Of course I had to try to duplicate it and what I came up is not only good on this salad, but also as a different take on shrimp cocktail or even mixed into to chopped seafood as a sandwich filling. 

Ingredients and Directions

Yields four servings:

1 pound medium cooked shrimp or 1 pound cooked lump crab meat
 1 head of lettuce, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
1 cucumber, washed and cut into slices
1 bunch asparagus
2 or 3 tomatoes, cut into slices
4 eggs

Hard boil the eggs. (Here's the way I do it: place the eggs in a pan filled with enough cold water to cover them. Place the pan on the stove and turn the heat to high. Set the timer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, take the pan off the heat, drain the water, and run cold water over the eggs until they are cool enough to handle.) Peel and slice in half.

Wash asparagus and cut the woody ends off. Cook by placing the asparagus spears in a skillet with enough water to barely cover them. Turn heat to high and allow to come up to a boil. Then, turn heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes or until spears are tender and easily pierced with a fork.

If using shrimp, rinse and remove the tails.

Place lettuce on four serving plates or one large platter. Arrange the cucumber slices, asparagus spears, tomato slices, and halved hard boiled eggs on each plate or platter. Top with the shrimp or crab meat.

Serve with the dressing below:

Yields about one cup of salad dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, put through a press or finely minced
2 tablespoons Heinz chili sauce
1 tablespoon chopped bread & butter pickles
1 teaspoon country style Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Franks hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in small bowl until well blended. Serve along side salad.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Incredibly Delicious Maple and Bacon Pancakes

Roy and I are spending our first weekend home after being gone for three and a half months meandering around the western United States. Being in that part of the country, we couldn't help feeling the cowboy influence. Lots of western genre movies have been filmed out that way and we enjoyed visiting Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills in California as well as the Old Tucson movie set in Arizona. Several John Wayne films were made in both places and local people still are in awe of the Duke. Somewhere along the way, Roy bought me The Official John Wayne Family Cookbook (published by Topix Media Lab, 2016). Turns out Wayne must have really liked pancakes - there are three recipes for them in the breakfast section. The one in this post is adapted from the Maple Pancake recipe in the cookbook. I have to confess that we ate these two times this week; they really are that good. There is just something irresistible about the salty sweetness of maple and bacon!

Ingredients and Directions:

Makes about Six Maple and Bacon Pancakes

6 slices thick-cut bacon
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons uncooked old fashioned oatmeal
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup plus more to serve
2 tablespoons bacon grease

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut bacon in half lengthwise, and then into 1/2 inch pieces. Cook in skillet over medium heat until brown and crispy. Stir frequently. When done, remove with slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain.

Reserve the bacon grease.

Put oats in blender or food processor and grind to a powder.

Add flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, buttermilk, eggs, maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon grease.

Blend well, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container once or twice. Then let sit for 10 minutes. Stir all but a handful of the bacon bits into the batter; save the reserved bits to garnish each serving.

Heat the skillet over medium-low and brush some of the reserved bacon grease on the pan. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the skillet for each pancake. Cook until the pancake has bubble holes showing in the middle and the edges look dry. Then carefully flip over and let it cook for another minute.

Put cooked pancakes on a plate and keep warm in the oven until all the batter is used.

Put some of the bacon bits on top of each serving and pass the maple syrup!