Easy Make Ahead Zucchini Rollatini

With summer here that means summer squash is everywhere! Zucchini, yellow squash, etc. are all in abundance at the farmers market, grocery stores, and maybe even your backyard. One of my favorite ways to cook is through using in season ingredients because they are fresh and also budget friendly! This easy Zucchini Rollatini has become a staple in our house and it can easily be modified with whatever you have on hand - yellow squash, eggplant, even large carrots! Your kids will also love it too and you will get your pasta fix without feeling like you weigh 20 more pounds after indulging.

The best part? You can prep this ahead of time and throw it in the oven when you are ready!

Zucchini Rollatini

Ingredients:

  • 2 Large Zucchini (or other preferred vegetable) - the wider the better

  • 1 egg

  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups of Part-Skim Ricotta - I always make a little extra and go with the 2 1/2 cups

  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

  • Fresh or Frozen spinach - cooked, drained, and chopped

  • 1 handful fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)

  • 1/2 Shredded Cup Mozzarella Cheese

  • 1/8 Cup Grated Romano/Parmesan/or any similar blend

  • Kosher Salt

  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper

fullsizeoutput_4a89.jpg

Step 1:

First, cook the spinach until it is slightly wilted. Drain, cool, and chop. Then set aside.

fullsizeoutput_4a7f.jpeg

Step 2:

Preheat oven to 375 and slice the zucchini thin (about 1/8 inch). Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes or until soft and pliable - you want to be able to roll them without breaking.

fullsizeoutput_4a80.jpg

Step 3: While zucchini cooks, mix together Ricotta, egg, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

fullsizeoutput_4a86.jpeg

Step 4:

Add in the chopped spinach to the ricotta mixture. Check your zucchini and remove from oven when finished. Then grab your favorite tomato sauce!

fullsizeoutput_4a83.jpg

Step 5: Take your zucchini slices and lay them flat. Blot dry with a paper towel to remove excess water. Fill the slice with the ricotta mixture and roll each slice up.

fullsizeoutput_4a87.jpeg

Step 6:

Layer the bottom of a baking dish (I used 8x8) with the sauce. Place your rollatini with the ends facing down to avoid a cheesy explosion!

fullsizeoutput_4a82.jpg

Step 8:

Top off your rollatini with more tomato sauce, freshly grated cheese and the shredded mozzarella. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.

fullsizeoutput_4a7d.jpeg

FINAL STEP: Remove your rollatini from the oven when it is bubbling! Let rest for 10 minutes to cool and set. Then, ENJOY!

**You can complete steps 1-8 and throw the entire baking dish into your fridge until you are ready to bake it! I suggest with this method to let it sit for 5-10 minutes and come closer to room temperature before baking to ensure you don’t crack your pan or have excess water.

Now, get a fork, and DIG IN! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below or shoot me an email!

XoXo - Jamie

I picked up all of my ingredients for this recipe at Stew Leonards! If you haven’t been, it’s worth a trip!

I picked up all of my ingredients for this recipe at Stew Leonards! If you haven’t been, it’s worth a trip!

10 Tips for Hosting Any Party

Hope you are all recovering from a weekend full of holidays! This weekend we hosted a party to celebrate Easter and Passover with 25 of our family and friends. The party was a success but the planning is always a process, so I wanted to share with you my TOP TEN TIPS for hosting any party. These tips will help you to plan for a gathering of 5 to 50 people!

P.S. Also find a fund outfit  like this jumpsuit  - I’m wearing an XS for reference

P.S. Also find a fund outfit like this jumpsuit - I’m wearing an XS for reference

TIP #1 - Make a Guest List and Send Invites

This first tip may sound obvious, but it is important! Making a numbered list of guests, and separating adults from kids, will help you get an idea of how many people you need to plan for with food, drinks, etc., and it will also help you set budget (see TIP #2). Once you have your list figured out, take the time to send out formal invitations. I typically opt for e-invites using platforms like Paperless Post because you can send it directly to an email address, see if your guests have received and opened the invite, track RSVPs and send reminders if anyone forgets to RSVP. E-invites are also nice because if you remember a guest you forgot to invite later on, you can send an invitation without worrying about whether or not it will get there in the mail. Paper invites are fine too and for really formal occasions I use them, but with busy lives, e-invites are typically my go-to!

TIP #2 - Set a Budget

Once you have an idea of how many guests you’d like to invite, try to set a budget and stick to it! With party planning it is really easy to get carried away and keep adding expenses here and there (I am my own worst enemy with this) but if you have a set amount you’d like to spend, it will help to keep stress to a minimum. When setting the budget, think about the type of party you want to have - are you looking to do a formal, sit-down dinner? Or a backyard barbecue? Do you want cocktails and crudités? Or a multi-course meal? You can set the budget per person for food or allocate a general amount for food and decor. See TIP # 4 for more on this!

TIP #3 - Choose a “Theme”

Theme may not be the right word but choosing a aesthetic for your party and deciding how you want everything to look is another important tip for making it appear that you have everything together (even if you don’t) and your guests will appreciate cohesiveness. Trust me, you don’t need to be creative to do this! If you want a rustic or boho theme, opt for things like burlap, white, and muted greens. Looking for formal? Stick to colors like gold, silver, black, royal or navy blues, and classic white. For summer parties or barbecues I like to use brighter, tropical colors like pinks, yellows, greens, and decorate with inexpensive pieces like palm leaves. If you are trying to decide on a theme, feel free to shoot me an email or comment below, I would love to help!

TIP #4 - Go Shopping (and How to Plan for Food)

My rule for shopping is two-fold. First, purchase decor two weeks ahead of time (especially if ordering online) because it gives you time to add pieces later if needed and also exchange products if they aren’t what you expected. Second, purchase food the weekend before, if possible, or the week of, but not later than 2 days before. Buying the food can be a challenge because things don’t last forever. I like to buy things like proteins ahead of time and freeze them if needed. For our party we had a ham and turkey that were frozen and we thawed them out a starting on Tuesday for a Saturday party. For things like vegetables, fruit, cheeses, and any cooking ingredients, most can be purchased 5 days before and will keep. Use your best judgment here and pay attention to how the food looks before you buy it. If the strawberries look super ripe, maybe hold off for a few days. When figuring out how much food to buy, I like to follow the rules of one protein for every ten people or 1/2-1 lb of meat per person. Obviously this can vary greatly but we come from families who LOVE leftovers so having extras is never really an issue. I also like to have variety so I want to give people the option of two different meats. And for things like a barbecue this can mean chicken and burgers, you don’t need a fancy carving protein! For sides I like to have two sides for every 10 people and 1 vegetable. You can be creative here depending on dietary restrictions, etc., but I think the more variety, the better. For desserts, always have at least 2 options, no matter how many people! If you are doing more of an appetizer type party, I like to have 5 different items for 25 people and estimate 3-4 of each per person. Oh and speaking of appetizers, I always like to have something for people to nosh on even if there is a dinner to follow so stick with inexpensive things like deviled eggs, a veggie tray, or frozen items like spanakopita that you can throw in the oven quickly! Obviously, you can always cater too, but my family and I love to cook!

TIP #5 - Allocate Tasks and Accept Help

If you are having a larger party, this is important! Do NOT try to do everything on your own if you have people offering to help. If you are worried about things not looking how you want them to, allocate tasks that can’t really be messed up. Have someone help count seating and set the table, run to the store, etc. And if you have anyone really creative helping you, use them to your advantage! I wouldn’t be able to plan such great parties without the help of my sisters! Also, if you are making food on your own and someone offers to bring something, don’t be afraid to take them up on the offer! Things like fruit, veggie trays, even a salad, are all great options.

TIP #6 - Tablescapes

This tip can apply whether or not you are having a formal sit down party or not. Tablescapes are super easy to throw together and they give your party that extra touch of wow! Once you’ve chosen your theme, measure your tables and create something that flows with the rest of your decor. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. For our Easter/Passover party we opted for white table cloths, some fake garland, wide burlap ribbon and gold speckled eggs - all of which were found at the local craft store. If you want to add an extra touch, you can always opt for chargers underneath your plates and fun napkin folds - we made really easy bunnies for our table. Fresh flowers also go a LONG way on any table. If you do nothing else, run and grab some fresh florals and place them on your tables! I like to get bigger blooms like hydrangeas that take up a lot of space so you don’t need to spend as much! Trader Joes or a local farm market are the best places for fresh flowers in my opinion. You should aim to set your tables and tablescapes 1-2 days before your actual party.

TIP #7 - Label Your Serving Dishes Ahead

It’s never fun scrambling last minute to make sure you have enough platters and that they are all of the right sizes, so my sister taught me a great tip - label everything ahead of time! If you know you want your salad in a pretty glass bowl, label it, and if you know you need 5 different plates for appetizers, write down what they are on a sticky note and stick it on the dish. This not only will help you keep your sanity the day of, but it also will allow others to help plate things without asking a bunch of questions because you have already told them where it’s going!

TIP #8 - Create a Signature Cocktail and/or Drink Station

Another great thing you can do to add a nice touch is create a signature cocktail or drink station for your party. This will allow people to have a choice in what they drink and they can even make a mocktail if no alcohol is added ahead of time for a signature cocktail. It’s a nice way to get your party started as well and has an air of sophistication about it. Lemonade always makes for a great base because it can be mixed well with all types of alcohol. Adding fresh fruit and herbs too allows for a truly custom crafted cocktail. I love this letter board too which could be customized for the cocktail or for the party occasion.

TIP #9 - Don’t be Afraid to Guide People

Parties need a host for a reason, if there isn’t one, everyone would sit around and not really know what to do when. So, don’t be afraid to guide people to different things. If you are serving appetizers, announce it. When it’s time for dinner, ask everyone to find their seats. Don’t be afraid to ask more than once - the more people, the harder it is to corral everyone, so make sure you let everyone know when it’s time to transition to the next thing!

TIP #10 - Work the Room and Say Thank You

As a host, you also need to remember to work the room and thank all of your guests for coming. You don’t have to get into a 1/2 hour conversation with everyone, especially if there are a ton of people, but a personal “thank you” goes a long way. You can do this while offering drinks, taking coats, showing them around, etc. Nobody is going to be mad at you for walking around to greet your guests and if they are then either put them another cocktail or don’t invite them the next time ;-)

BONUS TIP - Create Something for the Kids

Okay I know I said this would be 10 tips, but here’s a BONUS. If you plan to have kids at your parties, make sure you have something for them to do and give them their own table if possible. You can do simple things like a coloring station, or a few little prizes - we did an egg hunt! Giving the kiddos something to do will help to keep them occupied and their parents will thank you for allowing them to be adults for a minute! Also, if you give them their own table then it’s much easier to use things like paper plates, etc. and minimize a mess and broken dishes and it also is less likely to disrupt anyone eating at the “adult” table.

I hope you all loved reading these TOP 10 HOSTING TIPS! If you have any questions, want to bounce an idea, or just wonder where something is from, please shoot me an email, comment below, or DM me on Instagram! I would love to help you with planning your next party!

XoXo - Jamie

IMG_9656.jpg

Easy Hanukkah Holiday Recipes

How is it December already?? I swear I was just lounging in the pool a minute ago. But, no denying it, we are in full blown holiday season and for most of you that probably means you are B.U.S.Y….I know I am! Now after Thanksgiving I am pretty over cooking, at least for a few weeks, but with Hanukkah approaching and Christmas right behind it, I like to use recipes that are both fun and easy to make.

fullsizeoutput_3aaf.jpeg

I also hate showing up empty handed, even if it’s to family events, so for this year’s Hanukkah celebrations I made two really easy recipes that I’ve shared with you all below. These Hanukkah Cookies and Crockpot Applesauce are a perfect mix of festive and traditional, and are sure to be enjoyed and appreciated by all!

Hanukkah Iced Sugar Cookies (2-3 hours total prep/cooking/decorating time)

  • Cookie Ingredients (yields about 30 cookies)

    • 3 cups unbleached flour

    • 1/2 tsp baking powder

    • 1/2 tsp salt

    • 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)

    • 1 1/3 cups white sugar

    • 2 large eggs

    • 2 tsp vanilla extract

    • Hanukkah (or any holiday) cookie cutters

  • Frosting Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup salted butter (room temperature)

    • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening

    • 5-6 cups powdered sugar (taste after 5 cups)

    • 4 tsp vanilla extract

    • 3 tbsp milk

    • Blue gel based food coloring

  • DIRECTIONS

    • For the cookies, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt in separate bowl. Then, in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, whip butter until smooth. Add in the sugar to the butter and mix for a few minutes until fluffy. With the mixer on low, add in each egg and the vanilla.

    • When all wet ingredients are mixed, turn the mixer off and add in 1/2 of the flour mixture. If you have it, you can switch out the paddle attachment with a dough hook before adding in the rest of the flour mixture (if not, just keep adding the flour in as usual). A pretty stiff dough should form. Be sure not to over mix the dough. If it is combined and looking like cookie dough, you are done.

    • Remove dough from mixing bowl and form into a round disc shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. I usually make the dough the night before (if you do this, be sure to bring to room temperature before baking).

    • While you are waiting for your dough to chill, you can make the icing. This recipe couldn’t be easier…In a stand mixer, with the whisk attachment, add in the butter, shortening, vanilla, powdered sugar and milk. I suggest adding powdered sugar in gradually so it doesn’t look like the first snow storm in your kitchen (speaking from experience here). If you want your icing a bit sweeter, add in more powdered sugar. And if it seems really dry, add in a bit more milk. You really can’t mess this up! The taste should remind you of those soft sugar cookies with the colored icing and sprinkles you can buy in the supermarket.

      • **This icing is designed to crust over (which is why we add the shortening) so if you prefer that it doesn’t, you can just sub with more butter, but I highly suggest using the shortening, especially if you want cookies that can transport easily.

    • If desired, split the icing in half and add blue food color gel to the icing until you’ve reached the desired color. Kids LOVE the colored icing. Be sure to keep the icing covered while waiting to ice your cookies.

    • BACK to the cookies….

    • Once your icing is done, set the oven to 350 degrees. While the oven heats, cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

    • Remove the dough from the fridge and split in half. Place each piece of dough between two sheets of wax paper and roll until it is about 1/4 inch thick. After rolling the dough out, cut desired shapes with cookie cutters. Any extra dough can be rolled again to yield the maximum amount of cookies.

    • Place cut shapes onto the cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Watch for the bottoms to get slightly golden if you want a crispier cookie (about 11 min), if you want a softer cookie, take them out right at the 10 minute mark or just before. Be sure to move to a cooling rack immediately and cool completely before icing

    • The FINAL STEP - let’s decorate! This is the fun part so feel free to get creative and get the kiddos involved! You can spread or pipe the icing on (if piping, be sure to add a little more milk) and then decorate with any sprinkles or decorations you have! I found great Hanukkah themed sprinkles at Home Goods of all places!


Another super easy dish that makes a perfect topping for latkes is homemade applesauce. This Crockpot Applesauce is also so easy and delicious!

  • Crockpot Applesauce

    • 12 apples (I like Golden Delicious)

    • 1/2 cup sugar

    • 1/2 cup water

    • 1 tbsp lemon juice

    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon.

  • DIRECTIONS

    • Core, skin, and cut your apples into quarters and place in crockpot. Add in lemon juice and toss (if your crockpot isn’t huge, I suggest doing this beforehand). Toss apples with cinnamon and sugar. Then add water into crockpot.

    • Place top on and turn on high for about 3 hours or until the apples are really soft and can be mashed. Once soft, turn heat off and let cool for about 10-15 minutes. Then, mash the apples with a potato masher to desired consistency.

    • Next…just kidding, you’re done! How easy was that!?

Remember, all of these recipes can be adapted for any holiday and to your tastes! They are both so easy and delicious and you can make them ahead of time! Woohoo!

If you have questions, please feel free to comment below!

Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays!!

XoXo - Jamie

Pumpkin Pie Lactation Cookies

Any other pumpkin lovers here?! I know, I know, I can see the eye rolls for pumpkin and everything fall coming our way, but I have always loved anything pumpkin and at anytime of year! So, when I decided I wanted to make a big batch of lactation cookies I wanted to somehow incorporate pumpkin into them.  Now don’t let the word “lactation” freak you out haha, I promise these cookies don’t have anything in them that is going to make you spontaneously produce breast milk and they are totally okay for anyone to eat! But, they do have the added benefit of some ingredients that can help to boost your supply if you’re looking to do so!  

IMG_3328.JPG

Now, full disclosure, this recipe is an adapted version of one from Premeditated Leftovers. I’ve made some modifications to create what I think is a slightly better tasting and less sugary cookie. I’m also including some tips for making this without the Brewer’s Yeast in case that isn’t your thing. 

Also, a note on Brewer’s Yeast. Basically it’s a nutritional supplement and not just for breastfeeding mamas. It’s full of B vitamins, probiotics, and can have some great healthy benefits too! (Now I’m not a doctor so you should always ask your doctor if taking a new supplement or if you are wanting to know more, I’m just going off of my personal experience and research and in no way should it be construed as medical advice). That being said, I just wanted to make it clear that you don’t need to be afraid of it in the cookies! It’s in bread, beer, etc. 

Alright let’s get down to the recipe.  First, the ingredients: 

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour 
  • 1 1/2 Cup of Oats (I used Old Fashioned Oats)
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar 
  • 1 Cup White Sugar (or Coconut Sugar works here)
  • 1 Tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice (Recipe below) 
  • 3 Tbsp. Brewer's Yeast - I've linked the one I found on Amazon for the best price!
  • 2 Tbsp. Ground Flax Meal 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1 tsp. baking soda (don't add this until LAST..I'll explain why later)

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened to room temp (Tips: 1. I use one stick of salted, 1 stick of unsalted butter...it's your preference whichever you'd like to use. 2. Don't microwave your butter, let it sit out or else you will get tough, chewy cookies)
  • 1 egg, beaten 
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 
  • 1, 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree (plain pumpkin, not pie filling which is "pre-seasoned")

Pumpkin Pie Spice: 

  • 2 tsp. cinnamon 
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger 
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice 
  • **this will make more than the 1 Tbsp. needed for the recipe, but always good to have on hand

STEP 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

STEP 2: Mix the flour, sugars, pumpkin pie spice, yeast, flax, oatmeal, and salt together with a whisk or wooden spoon in large bowl.  Do NOT add the baking soda yet!

FullSizeRender.jpg

STEP 3: Combine the softened butter, beaten egg, and pumpkin in a different bowl using a hand or stand mixer until combined.  It will look a little chunky, but that's okay!

STEP 4: Gradually add in the "wet" pumpkin mixture into the dry ingredients using a wooden spoon. You'll have to use some muscle here and you should end up with a pretty sticky cookie dough by the end.  Don't worry, it will probably look like it's too runny but I promise it isn't! 

STEP 5: Add the baking soda!  Once all of the ingredients are combined, add the baking soda to the cookie dough mixture.  This is a trick I have learned when baking over the years and it makes for amazingly soft, fluffy cookies every single time!! 

STEP 6: Scoop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto a cookie sheet.  Here's my FAVORITE cookie sheets in the entire world! I recommend using parchment paper too if your cookie sheet isn't non-stick. 

dough.jpeg

STEP 7: Bake cookies in the oven for 10-12 minutes.  Watch for them to start browning, you don't want the bottoms to get too dark.  When baked to desired doneness, remove and place  onto a cooling rack. 

STEP 8: EAT THEM! They are so good! I recommend storing them in the fridge for prolonged shelf life, or the freezer if you plan to make a ton

You should get about 48 cookies from this recipe.  I doubled it and ended up with 100 something cookies...which was the plan all along because I wanted to freeze them so I can easily grab them and go when the baby is here! Also, feel free to add in things like chocolate chips, nuts, etc.! I added chocolate chips to some of mine and it makes them even more delicious! 

FullSizeRender-5.jpeg

Remember - you can make these without the Brewer's Yeast or modify to your taste! 

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them for me in the comments below!

Happy Baking! 

XoXo - Jamie 

Getting Juiced!

**Post contains affiliate links for products which I personally recommend.  By clicking the links and purchasing the products, I may earn a commission. I do not include affiliate links for the purpose of solely earning product commission, I do so in order to share products I love with you! Purchases are made as-is as the consumers discretion** 

IMG_1438.jpg

One of my favorite afternoon (or morning) pick-me-ups is a fresh juice!  It's the perfect way to beat the heat, feel refreshed, and get in your daily dose of veggies and vitamins.  I went through several different juicers before I found one that I absolutely love.  This Breville juicer is my absolute favorite.  I actually asked for it for my birthday a few years ago and it's honestly one of the best gifts I've ever received! 

CLICK HERE to get your very own Breville Juicer!  And keep scrolling down below for this juice recipe and some of my other favorites, as well as some of my juicing tips! 

IMG_1427.jpg
TIP: Use the veggie and fruit bags from the grocery store to catch the pulp.  It makes clean up so much easier!

TIP: Use the veggie and fruit bags from the grocery store to catch the pulp.  It makes clean up so much easier!

IMG_1429.JPG
12-15 ounces is a good size for a full glass of juice.  If you want a smaller sized juice, opt for around 8 ounces. 

12-15 ounces is a good size for a full glass of juice.  If you want a smaller sized juice, opt for around 8 ounces. 

Looks SOO good! Don’t be scared of greens!  

Looks SOO good! Don’t be scared of greens!  

Juicing Tips: 

  1. Always, always use organic vegetables and fruits...you're juicing everything out of the veggie or fruit so you don't want a glass full of pesticides!
  2. Scrub/wash all veggies and fruits before juicing 
  3. Apples - Remove seeds! They contain cyanide...enough said. 
  4. Always quarter larger fruits or veggies, if you don't, they might get stuck and you'll be losing out on precious juice!
  5. Put in leafy greens with a heartier fruit or veggie, like an apple.  I find that you get more juice from the greens this way. 
  6. Pulp - save your pulp for everything from compost to a soup base
  7. Drink right away!  For the optimum nutrients from your juice, its best to drink it right away. Also, because these are FRESH and not pasteurized, I do not recommend refrigerating them for any long period of time (over a few hours).

 

Green Grapefruit Juice Recipe (featured)

1/2 Organic Grapefruit, peeled (just get the skin off)

Large handful of organic baby spinach 

One bunch organic celery (washed/scrubbed)

1 Organic Granny Smith apple (or any apple)

4-5 Fresh Mint leaves 

*Juice on the "soft" setting if using the Breville juicer

 

Carrot, Apple, Ginger, Beet

5-6 organic carrots, washed/peeled if you prefer

1-2 inches of fresh ginger 

1 organic red delicious apple 

1 organic red beet, peeled and cubed 

*Use the "hard" setting since these are heartier fruits/veggies.

 

Jamie's Morning Power Boost

1 organic red delicious apple

1/2 organic lime, peeled 

1 handful organic baby spinach 

2 inches of fresh ginger 

1 organic cucumber (washed & peeled if preferred)

1 bunch of organic celery 

1 small handful of pineapple (peeled and cut)


Juicing is such a great way to improve your overall daily health and a REALLY easy way to get in some fast nutrients, especially if you forgot to eat your veggies for the day! 

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or send me a message.

Happy Juicing! 

XoXo - Jamie 

Shrimp & Spinach Artichoke Spaghetti Squash

A Delicious and Healthier Way to get your Spinach Artichoke "Dip" Fix

fullsizeoutput_30e1.jpeg

Ahh...Spinach Artichoke Dip.  We all love it, but no so much the calories that go with it. And even if you do make a healthier version, its not exactly a well balanced meal that you can serve on your dinner table.  

Not to worry, this recipe solves ALL of those problems and is absolutely DELICIOUS! Keep scrolling for all of the details and step-by-step directions (with pictures)!


INGREDIENTS

Estimated Time: 1 hour

  • 1 large spaghetti squash (cut in half, seeds removed) 
  • 14-16 large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined 
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt (I use 0% fat)
  • 2-3 oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese (1/3 fat tastes just as good as full fat)
  • 1 can artichoke hearts (15 oz), quartered, drained, and unmarinated 
  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (can sub. vegetable broth too)
  • 2 large handfuls organic baby spinach 
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 Tablespoons corn starch (or flour if you don't have)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter (can sub EVOO)
  • EVOO
  • Salt
  • Pepper 

Step 1:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash the squash and cut it in half horizontally so you have two "boats", then, remove all of the seeds.  I like to use a spoon to do this and scrape along the edges, just like you would if you were carving out a pumpkin.  Once all seeds are removed, lightly drizzle EVOO over the squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

Place squash halves face down on a non-stick baking pan or one lined with foil. My favorite baking pans of ALL TIME are these Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch Bakeware.  They don't stain, nothing sticks, and they are just all around amazing. 

Step 2:

Once the oven is heated, place your squash (face down) in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes.  This will depend on how big your squash is.  I usually start checking it around the 30 minute mark to see if it will easily "spaghetti" with a fork.  If it does, feel free to turn the oven off and let those babies sit in there until you're ready to fill them.  The nice thing about this recipe is that you can prep your other ingredients while the squash bakes.

This is how the squash should look once you "spaghetti" it with a fork and it should be fairly easy to do.  If it seems too tough, stick it back in for another 10 minutes.

This is how the squash should look once you "spaghetti" it with a fork and it should be fairly easy to do.  If it seems too tough, stick it back in for another 10 minutes.

Step 3: Prep Your Ingredients 

Start out by getting all of your ingredients ready to go...I find that recipes always go much more smoothly when you are prepped ahead of time! It reduces the risk of things burning or you missing an ingredient which can totally ruin a great meal.  

Begin by mincing the garlic cloves and chopping the artichoke hearts into quarters (make sure you've drained the artichokes).  You can usually find artichoke hearts already quartered to save some time, but if whole artichokes are all you've got, you'll just need to do a little extra labor.  Also, be careful that you aren't buying marinated artichoke hearts.  Many varieties come marinated in spices and vinegar...not saying it would ruin your recipe, but it definitely risks compromising the delicious flavors!

Just noticed Baby R making an appearance in the background! 

Just noticed Baby R making an appearance in the background! 

Step 4: Prepare the Filling 

Okay now comes the fun part...bringing everything together for that delicious, creamy spinach artichoke flavor. 

Begin by drizzling a large skillet with EVOO and heating over medium heat.  Add shrimp and dust with salt and pepper (and garlic powder) if desired.  Cook shrimp thoroughly until pink.  Set aside on plate.  (Note: I tried to use a smaller skillet and it was a PAIN later on in the process, so definitely go with a larger option).

Next, use the same skillet you cooked the shrimp in and place the 2 tablespoons of butter (or EVOO) in the skillet and add the minced garlic.  Saute over medium heat until garlic begins to brown...you'll need to watch it, it can go from not cooked to too cooked pretty quickly and burnt garlic can overwhelm your dish.

Once the garlic is sautéed, add corn starch to the pan and turn heat down to low, whisk/stir until you get a thick paste-like substance.  If you don't have corn starch, flour is always a good alternative but you may need a little extra!

Begin adding your milk and chicken broth to the pan.  Add each gradually over a five minute period, alternating back and forth between the two and stirring after each addition.  The idea is that as you continue to add the liquid, the mixture will continue to thicken and you should have a creamy sauce by the end. 

fullsizeoutput_30eb.jpeg

Next, add the cream cheese and Greek yogurt to the mixture.  Stir to allow the cream cheese to melt into the mixture.  If you have a few lumps still it is fine, just try to smooth it out as much as possible over about 3-5 minutes. 

fullsizeoutput_30e5.jpeg

After your creamy sauce is made, add in the chopped artichoke hearts and the spinach.  I like to add the spinach in gradually as it will cook down a bit as it heats and your pan will have more room.  That way you can prevent an unwanted spill-over onto your stove (speaking from experience here...)

If your sauce seems really runny, feel free to add a little more corn starch and stir vigorously for a few minutes to help thicken it back up.  Sometimes if your spinach has a lot of water or your artichokes weren't well drained, it can cause for a runnier sauce than you'd like. 

uNulwxM6SgOA7WCYQx8%aQ.jpg

Finally, remember those shrimp sitting to the side?  It's time to add those back into the pan and stir into the spinach artichoke mixture.  Heat for about 3-5 more minutes on medium heat stirring constantly.....you don't want your shrimp to get too tough from overcooking. This is also a good time to give your sauce a taste to see if it needs any salt/pepper and add those accordingly. 

OMG....this looks SO GOOD I want to make it again just writing this.

OMG....this looks SO GOOD I want to make it again just writing this.

Step 5: Assemble the Squash 

Now comes the time to assemble everything!  Your squash should be done so take that out of the oven and "spaghetti" it with a fork.  If its not done, see the directions at the beginning of this post and just pop a lid on your sauce mixture to keep it hot.

Next, gradually spoon in the mixture to the squash stirring after each addition so you incorporate the "spaghetti" with the spinach artichoke mixture.  Make sure you divvy up your shrimp evenly here so nobody gets a squash just full of the spinach/artichoke mixture or vice versa.

 

Step 6: Top it Off!

Set your oven to broil.  Then, take that mozzarella we set aside in the beginning and sprinkle it on the top of the filled spaghetti squash boats.  You can use as much or as little cheese as you want here...obviously, I opted for a lot because I love cheese.  

Stick your cheese topped squash back into the oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese begins to bubble.  Depending on your oven, it will likely be less than 5 minutes.  Watch that it doesn't burn...broilers can make something go from good to bad pretty quickly.

When you remove the squash from the oven, top it with fresh parsley and grated parmesan if you want (I skipped this step because I was out of it...a sin, I know).

FINAL STEP: Plate it!

Okay now all that is left to do is plate this deliciousness and serve it to someone you love! If you used a pretty big squash, don't be surprised if you can't finish the entire thing in one sitting, but that is totally fine because this dish is SO good as a leftover! 

Also, this can totally be adapted to meet any dietary restrictions.  If you are dairy free, skip the butter and milk and opt for almond milk and a dairy free cream cheese and shredded mozzarella substitute.  Also, if you don't like shrimp, chicken always works too! 

IMG_1779.jpg

Once you've filled yourself up....there is always room for dessert right?!

We headed to our favorite Italian bakery/cafe in Westchester, Boiano Bakery for some after dinner treats.  If you're in the area, you MUST check it out!

IMG_1784.jpg

Thanks so much for stopping by!  I hope you enjoy this recipe from my kitchen to yours.  If you have any questions leave them in the comments below! 

XoXo - Jamie