Branching out – spaghetti squash!

One of my favorite shows is The Biggest Loser.  The season that just ended was a great season.  There were so many likable people competing.  I think one reason this show appeals to me so much is that I love food and I love to find healthy new ways to cook different things.  I prefer to eat healthy food, so I learn a lot by watching this show.

I love squash, but I had never tried spaghetti squash.  I’m sure I had heard of it, but never gave it much thought.  Then this season on The Biggest Loser, one of the contestants, Jackson, mentioned spaghetti squash several times.  He talked about how much he liked it and mentioned that he could now enjoy one of his favorite foods – spaghetti – without all the carbs of pasta.  This definitely piqued my interest.  I also love spaghetti on occasion, but hate all the empty calories that come from pasta.

I found Jackson’s recipe online and then started my search for a spaghetti squash each time I was in the grocery store.  After several misses, I finally found one.  It was the last one in the store.  I bought it and followed Jackson’s recipe.  I had no idea that spaghetti squash comes apart and looks just like noodles when cooked.  It’s amazing!

My sister also liked it.  In fact, she liked it so much that she thinks we should always use a spaghetti squash when available and then just use pasta for our leftover sauce once the spaghetti squash is all eaten.  I tend to agree!  If you’ve never tried spaghetti squash and are looking for a healthier alternative, I highly recommend it.  The only difference I noticed between pasta and spaghetti squash was that the spaghetti squash has a bit of a crunch to it.  It just has a firm crispness to it.  But it’s great and so much healthier.  And, kudos to Jackson for the idea of putting baby spinach in the sauce.  I love spinach, but that thought never crossed my mind!

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Here is a link to Jackson’s spaghetti squash recipe – http://www.biggestloser.com/nutrition/recipes/jacksons-spaghetti-squash

Shrimp Fajitas

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I bought some bell peppers – red, yellow, and orange – a few weeks ago when they were on sale at Super One Foods.  I used a little bit in what I was cooking that day, but separated the rest into three freezer bags.  Lately I’ve been thinking about how I wanted to cook with some of those peppers and fajitas came to mind.  I perused the Super One website and found that their shrimp (peeled & deveined – yes!) are on sale this week, so I went and bought some shrimp and a few other fajita necessities – cilantro, tomato, avocado, etc.  My mom and sister had both gone to south Louisiana for the day, so I invited Daddy over and we ate these shrimp fajitas for supper.

I loosely followed this recipe – http://www.food.com/recipe/shrimp-fajitas-89933 – and plan on making it again.  I’m sure it would be just as good with steak or chicken.  This recipe didn’t actually call for the bell peppers like I had, but I learned in cajun cooking class to just use a recipe as a guide.  Our teacher/chef told us, in his cajun accent, “If you like onion, put in mo’ onion.  If you like garlic, put in mo’ garlic.  The mo’ you put in the mo’ betta it be.”

My sister recently gave me some of those “Perfect Tortilla – Fajita Bowl Maker” pans, so that’s what we’ll have for lunch with the leftovers – shrimp fajita bowls.  It’s sad but I had to conceal the leftover guacamole by putting it in a non-clear container because I know how my sister can devour guacamole, and I want some for my fajita bowl.  She has no idea there’s hidden guacamole in our fridge and she won’t know until our lunch is ready and half of the guacamole belongs to me!  She’s like a bloodhound when it comes to anything avocado based.  I must take extreme measures if I want any!

Inspiration from PF Changs

On Good Friday, my brother-in-law, Robert, flew Melissa, Daddy, and me to Jackson, Mississippi in his airplane and we ate supper at PF Changs.  Robert has eaten at PF Changs way more often than the rest of us, and none of us are picky eaters, so we deferred to Robert’s suggestions for appetizers & entrees. One of the appetizers Robert ordered was the lettuce wraps.  I had heard people rave about the lettuce wraps, but I probably wouldn’t have ever tried them.  I would have thought … lettuce?  Surely I can pick something on this menu more exciting than lettuce.

Well, they were delicious.  Everything was delicious, but my goodness, those lettuce wraps are worth all the hype.  Yummy.  Yummy yummy yummy.  We loved them so much, Melissa & I decided we wanted to try making them ourselves.  But the more we thought about it, the more we didn’t really know how to go about making them similar to PF Changs without going to a specialty store to buy the right kinds of seasonings & ingredients.  So, we branched out.

This is what we came up with –

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We went the Mexican route!  Lettuce, of course, diced chicken cooked in fajita seasoning, black beans, sour cream, tomatoes, cheese, & avocado.  YUM.  So good.  So good that we’ve eaten this meal several times in the past month.  Even Mama loved them (and has made them herself) and has decided she likes black beans afterall!

We’ve tried one other way … diced chicken cooked in barbecue sauce, cheese, bacon, green onions, tomato, & avocado.  It was also very good.

Who would have ever thought we’d get so excited about buying a head of iceberg lettuce.  The possibilities are endless!