When I get that busy, I have two goals – try to eat healthy at home as often as possible and not waste my produce delivery. This usually keeps me just focused enough on my crisper drawer to keep cooking simple, nutritious meals, but creating new recipes is out of the question.
Fortunately, I have blogger friends who provide terrific inspiration when I’ve lost mine. Natanya Anderson at Fete and Feast does a meal plan for her busy family and is the queen of make ahead shortcuts for busy weekday meals. Megan Myers of Stetted and Lisa Lawless at Lisa is Cooking make beautiful dishes featuring fresh, local produce and I often turn to them when I need a culinary spark.
I did manage to eek out a pretty tasty meatballs with spaghetti squash dish. I use a pretty basic meatball recipe (below) so that by the time the spaghetti squash is done, the meatballs are ready. I made four servings which gave me enough for a delicious dinner and plenty of leftovers for lunch that week. I don’t put a sauce on my spaghetti squash, but you could definitely add another layer of flavor to the dish with a simple spaghetti sauce.
One of the challenges for me in January was having a plethora of beets on hand. I don’t mind beets, but I don’t love them. I usually saute the beet greens as soon as I get my produce delivery, but then the beets sit in the fridge until I force myself to cook them. I have a few go to recipes for beets like beet pancakes and beet risotto, but I get bored with them. I love this beet ravioli recipe from the now closed restaurant Aquarelle, but it’s more work than I’m willing to do for a dinner for one.
I reached out to my Twitter friends for ideas on new beet recipes and they offered up several great suggestions. I’d never thought of using beets in curry before and loved the idea. I tried this recipe from Cooking and Me and it was very tasty. I didn’t dice the beets small enough so it took a little longer to cook than the recipe suggested, but I look forward to trying it again. I’m also looking forward to trying Megan’s beet brownies and my friend Hector’s beet muffins. Since we still have three months of beet season in Austin, I’ll have plenty of time to experiment. If you have a favorite beet recipe, I’d love to try it.
What are your strategies when life gets too busy for creativity in the kitchen? I highly recommend turning to others rather than not cooking.
Spaghetti squash with meatballs
1 spaghetti squash
1/4 cup water
1/2 pound Italian sausage (I use spicy)
1/2 pound ground beef (you could also substitute veal, lamb or turkey)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated paremsan
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Butter and salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Split the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Put a 1/4 cup of water in the bottom of a baking dish and place the spaghetti squash flesh side down in the dish. Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until you can easily pierce the skin of the squash with a fork.
When the squash is finished, remove the pan and allow the squash to cool enough for you to handle it safely. Turn the squash flesh side up and use a fork to scrape the squash meat out of the skin. The meat will come out in “strings” that look like noodles.
While the squash is cooking, combine the sausage, ground beef, bread crumbs, eggs, parmesan, garlic and pepper flakes in a bowl and combine it well with your hands. (Yes, your hands.) Form the meat mixture into balls that are about an 1.5 inches in diameter, like a ping pong ball.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and place the first batch of meatballs in the pan so that they do not touch. (If you are using a lean meat like turkey, drizzle olive oil in the pan before placing the meatballs in it.)
Turn the meatballs at least twice so that all sides are browned and the meat is cooked through (160 on a meat thermometer.) Remove the meatballs to a plate and cover with foil while you cook the next batch.
Place a scoop of spaghetti squash in each bowl. Place a small pat of butter (about 1/3 tbsp) on the squash and sprinkle with salt to taste. Place 2-3 meatballs on top of the squash and serve.