Spaghetti Squash Soup with Tomatoes

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
Mary Oliver

As the wind howls and snow falls outside I contemplate this beautiful scene. We had an incredible growing season in our new hoop house and I cannot wait to see what 2018 brings for the Waldo Farm.

As 2017 takes its final bow, I imagine that I am not alone as I reflect on the past year. Experience has taught me to not have regrets, but to believe that everything happens for a purpose (even if we are too close at the time to realize that gifts come in multiple wrappings and disguises).

I believe that we are our worst critics and that we must focus on the positives in our lives and not wish time away waiting for the things that we long for. We must focus on the now, while planning for the future. Even small changes can impact our tomorrow and help us achieve our dreams. 

What if we decide, as we reflect on the past year, to not beat ourselves up for all the broken promises we made (to ourselves or others), and we focus on the strides we made to live a full life? What if at the same time we made small and manageable resolutions and intentions to plan, grow, and set goals? Imagine entering 2018 with a mindset that allows us to move forward with wisdom and courage.
My goals for the New Year, as every year, are to focus on my health. After being diagnosed with Hashimotos disease this fall I have had to take many deep breaths and learn new things about my body. I profoundly believe that taking care of ourselves allows us to better take care of others. Since we have to eat every day, the way we nourish our bodies seems to be a natural start. While my taste buds naturally gravitate to fruit and vegetables – I can easily be lured into treats and indulgences that are heavily processed (especially over the holidays). Therefore, I have to make time to prepare wholesome food in my own kitchen.

While you will find a wide array of salad recipes on my blog, in the winter months I enjoy accompanying my greens with a steaming bowl of soup. Broth based soups help fill you up at mealtime and even make a satisfying and guilt-free snack. I love filling my stockpot, or crock-pot, with vegetables and have found that sliced cabbage or spiralized squash make a wonderful substitute for rice or pasta.

In the soup recipe that I am sharing with you today, I use spaghetti squash to bulk up the bowl.  This was a recipe that I shared back in 2013 and it is one that I keep going back to. This year this soup is extra special to me because I was able to can tomatoes from our hoop house and had a bounty of spaghetti squash. Of the benefits of growing squash in the summer is that when kept in a cool place it will last for months. Plus, I have noticed that local supermarkets offer a wide variety of squash throughout fall and winter. Some people are intimidated by the task of preparing squash, but they actually are not labor intensive.

Is there anything more lovely than garden tomatoes?

SPAGHETTI SQUASH AND TOMATO SOUP

  • 6-8 cups vegetable stock
  • 28 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • Quart of tomatoes (large can)
  • 1/2 large chopped onion
  • 3 ribs of celery chopped
  • 1 bell pepper chopped (I use 1/2 yellow and 1/2 red)
  • 1 large carrot chopped
  • Large cooked spaghetti squash (Approximately 10 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon each of oregano, rosemary, and basil

To prepare the squash simply pierce with a knife, or fork, and place into a shallow baking pan that is filled with water. (I bake the squash whole and use about an inch of water).

Bake for approximately 60 minutes at 375 degrees (the time depends on the size of your squash).

Let cool and cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and use a fork to shred the squash. It will naturally pull apart in strands that will resemble pasta.

To prepare the soup, sauté the onion, garlic, celery, pepper, and carrot in the olive oil until soft and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 30-45 minutes. Makes 15 cups.

You could cut the recipe in 1/2 and it would still make a generous pot of soup. I like to make extra to freeze. You could add beans for protein and add any other vegetables such as zucchini and mushrooms. It is delicious, filling, and the addition of tomato sauce makes it taste similar to spaghetti.

When my friend Jackie made this soup she added a dollop of cottage cheese and a sprinkle of Parmesan and said it tasted like lasagna. Add some croutons or a slice of garlic bread and you have a satisfying meal that will keep your healthy resolutions in check.

Whatever your goals are for 2018, make sure that they are achievable and realistic. Setting small goals helps us achieve success that will snowball and we can confidently make the next steps to finding our balance. Let us make sure to make time for our health in the coming weeks, month, and year. Trust me, we are worth it!

I was also able to can tomatoes and salsa from our tomatoes.



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Lemony Tomato Sauce with Dill

Lemony Tomato Sauce with Dill by Produce with Amy“There is no technique, there is just the way to do it.
Now, are we going to measure or are we going to cook?”
― Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun

I haven’t read Under the Tuscan Sun in ages and this is my reminder to do so soon. It was one of my favorites when I first began teaching and I pulled out line-after-line to share with my creative writing students. The way that Mayes described the colors of Tuscany took my breath away. Mayes writes, ” When it rains or when the light changes, the facade of the house turns gold, sienna, ocher; a previous scarlet paint job seeps through in rosy spots like a box of crayons left to melt in the sun.” In my dreams, I see the valleys she writes about — like bowls of fog  — filled with fruit tress. I want sink my teeth into figs, pears, and apricots and navigate the ancient Roman roads. I want to be there right now, don’t you? (It was -2 on my commute to work today.)

When I met John I learned that he shares my love of travel. We have plans to visit Alaska this summer – and he will be the travel director – meaning the vacation will be on his terms. Alaska was never on my bucket list before I met John but he talked so passionately about a trip he took there with his uncle and father that I want to experience the real Alaska with him. We will not be taking a cruise or staying in touristy hotels. We will be roughing it – so to say. I am nervous and excited to venture out of my comfort zone. I promise plenty of blog posts from our adventures.

I can get lost in the beauty of our home and land.

I can get lost in the beauty of our home and land.

My friends and family have found themselves shaking their heads in amusement many times over the past year as John encourages me to embrace my true Yooper. This includes helping him split and stack wood to heat our log home, cleaning the chicken coop, weeding the garden in my Bog boots and bikini, and this winter I have even learned how to load the outside wood boiler with logs.

Because marriage is about compromise, John has agreed to visit Italy and Greece – on my terms – for my 50th birthday (that gives us a substantial amount of time to save) and I cannot wait to experience the colors and flavors of the Mediterranean. In my mind’s eye I imagine the magic that  Mayes describes come to life before my eyes. I am a goal setter and I love having my eye fixed on the future and knowing that John and I can reward ourselves for hard work. It also helps me live more frugally, knowing that being wise with our money will pay off with new experiences and the wisdom gained by travel.

In my last post, Time to Make Myself a Priority Again, I shared my struggles in finding time for myself and even for cooking healthy meals. I was waving the white flag at my picky family and relying on processed food  – in return I have been feeling less than healthy. Last weekend an abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables, greens, and berries found their way into my shopping cart and this week I plan a repeat performance. My favorite mid-day snacks at work this week were grapefruit – peeled like an orange. They were so sweet and juicy that sugar was not needed (though I don’t think I’ve put sugar on grapefruit since I was a kid).

I love having a bottomless fruit bowl at home. Our kids love bananas and cuties.

I love having a bottomless fruit bowl at home. Our kids love bananas and cuties.

On Tuesday I got home from work and whipped up a batch of homemade marinara for a pan of vegetarian lasagna (a great way to sneak vegetables into my family’s diet). I sautéed garlic, onion, celery, red bell pepper, mushrooms, carrots, and spinach, and added one jar of store-bought spaghetti sauce and a large can of crushed tomatoes along with oregano and basil. I layered up the sauce with lasagna noodles, cottage cheese, and added three cheeses to the middle layer and top (mozzarella, parmesan, and Colby jack). My husband and stepson LOVED it – though my stepdaughter picked around her plate. Oh well, more for us! 😉

Vegetarian lasagna is a great way to "trick" my family into eating vegetables. They love lasagna!

Vegetarian lasagna is a great way to “trick” my family into eating vegetables. They love lasagna! I am wild about our new Pioneer Woman dishes and accessories.

In recommitting to my health, I started thinking about all the meals that I used to enjoy but have not made in over a year because I know that John and the kids would not favor them. I have decided to cook them again. John is always willing to help in the kitchen and we will just have to eat two totally different things more often. This morning when I came downstairs after getting ready for work; not only had John made my coffee and pulled my vehicle out of the garage, but he had already put dinner in the crock pot for him and kids (ribs with BBQ sauce). On Monday I roasted potatoes, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts and made sure to make a double batch – so there was plenty for tonight. I had roasted vegetables with a GIANT dinner salad with a veggie patty and a dollop of hummus for extra protein.

My dinner salad.

My dinner salad.

After dinner I decided that I would prepare one of my favorite tomato sauces dishes to have for lunch tomorrow. As I chopped up the ingredients and juiced and zested the lemon – I could not help envision the Italy that Frances Mayes has fanned out for me in the pages of her writing. Oh, what a delight it would be to select a fresh lemon from a tree and allow its perfume to fill the kitchen.  Like the quote I shared at the top of the page – I am often a cook that creates without recipes. Of course, blogging has changed that slightly, but I always recommend that you let your own taste buds lead you. Add as much or as little lemon as you like and season with the amount of dill that satisfies you. My recipes are always a suggestion and I enjoy hearing the tweaks that individuals make to suit their family and their own tastes.

This sauce is great with a variety of olives and I have even been known to chop up some of my mom’s famous dill pickles to add to the sauce. It is fantastic over pasta or zucchini noodles  If you eat fish, tuna is a wonderful accompaniment (I have added a tin of tuna to the sauce – or topped with a piece of seared tuna steak). If you are vegetarian or follow a plant-based diet, tender white beans are a fine addition.

LEMONY TOMATO SAUCE WITH DILL

*2 cloves finely minced garlic
*1/4 cup chopped onion
*1/2 cup chopped celery
* 1 Tbsp olive oil
*32 ounces canned tomatoes (I used crushed tomatoes because that is what I had on hand. I often use whole tomatoes and break them apart a bit with a spoon or my hand. In the summer I have made this with fresh garden tomatoes and there is nothing that can compare to it.)
*10-15 olives (cut in 1/2 or chopped)
*2 Tablespoons of capers
*Fresh chopped dill (I use kitchen shears to snip and I used approximately 1/4 cup. A couple teaspoons of dried dill would work as well)
*Juice and zest from one lemon
*Black pepper to taste 
(I do not add salt since the olives and capers add enough of saltiness to the sauce)

image

 

Sauté the onions, celery, and garlic until soft. Add in the tomatoes and simmer for ten minutes. Stir in the olives, capers, dill, and lemon zest and juice – simmer a few minutes to incorporate the flavors. Spoon over pasta or zucchini noodles.

 

 

Print out the recipe here: LEMONY TOMATO SAUCE WITH DILL

I hope that you enjoy this sauce as much as I do. I cannot wait to have it for lunch tomorrow. Incidentally, after my sauce was finished bubbling on the stove – John, who was scrubbing the pans in the sink (he sweetly offered to help without my asking) – eyed the Lemony Tomato Sauce. “Try it,” I encouraged him, curious as to what he would think. “It’s good!” he responded in surprise. He thought it would be a great topping for pasta with seared tuna steak. It looks like I will be adding tuna to my shopping list. I wonder what the kids will think – I will have them try a bite (they love tuna steak).

Not only am I changing up my meals and snacks, but this weekend I am going to buy a new multivitamin and add in a vitamin D and calcium supplement. What are your favorite brands of vitamins? I am open to suggestions.

It is also at the top of my list to make more time for myself to read for pleasure, write, and focus on my photography. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan has dramatic landscapes in all seasons and I need to capture the beauty of our hobby farm in the winter.

Thank you for the comments and emails – it certainly is empowering to know that I am not alone in my struggles and I love that we can help encourage each other. As I like to say about my new role of motherhood – it takes a village – and I am happy that you are part of mine! ❤

Our kitten Trixie is getting big and Louie loves her so much. Not only do they snuggle together but he growls at the other dogs when they get "too close" to her.

Our kitten Trixie is getting big and Louie loves her so much. Not only do they snuggle together but he growls at the other dogs when they get “too close” to her.

Avalon and Lukas started a mutiny about school hot lunch so we bought them new lunch bags for Valentine's Day. I always send a snack with them to school but it's complicated because their school is nut free.

Avalon and Lukas started a mutiny about school hot lunch so we bought them new lunch bags for Valentine’s Day. I always send a snack with them to school but it’s complicated because their school is nut free. I will be scouring Pinterest for healthy cold lunch ideas.

 

Spicy Peanut Dressed Vegetables

Spicy Peanut Dressed Vegetables by Produce with Amy

“You are what you eat. What would YOU like to be?” ― Julie Murphy

With the first week of 2015 in the near distance, I keep reminding myself to stay true to my healthy goals and to keep progress over perfection my mantra. I have been navigating a personal struggle and I have to remember that nourishing my body with fruit and vegetables will help me keep my immune system strong and help me find the balance in my life that I am craving. When I feel like too many things are out of my control  – I need to find a way to manage stress in a healthy way. Therefore, I often turn to the produce section of the supermarket and make sure that I am properly feeding my body.

One of my goals this year is to post a weekly recipe. Today I find myself perched on a chair at a local Starbucks doing just that. I posted photos of this recipe on my Facebook page on December 2nd and I am finally making the time to share it with you.

I am always looking for new ways to reinvent my favorite flavors and I tend to like food with a spicy flair. When I get tired of Mason jar salads for lunch, I like to come up with different options. These Spicy Peanut Dressed Vegetables combine spiralized butternut squash, roasted broccoli, black beans, tomato, and cilantro. Can you imagine anything more perfect?

SPICY PEANUT DRESSED VEGETABLES
(I made five servings in 3 cup Pyrex glass dishes, but you can adapt to your individual needs)

Spiralized Butternut Squash*1 – 1/2 cups of cooked black beans 
*1 pint of halved grape tomatoes
*1 large head of broccoli – roasted (you can also roast frozen broccoli.  I chopped, drizzled with a little olive oil, and roasted for approximately 40 minutes (turning at the 20 minute mark) at 400 degrees.Times may vary depending on your oven)
*Spiralized butternut squash (approximately 1/2 cup per serving. The spiralizer that I use can be found HERE.)
*1 teaspoon of cinnamon
*1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
*1/2 cup of vegetable stock

*1 bunch of chopped green onions
*1/2 cup of fresh chopped cilantro
*Oil 
(2 teaspoons per serving. I used flax oil)

SPICY PEANUT DRESSINGChili Sauce

*1/2 cup of rice vinegar (or to taste. I like my dressings tangy. You could reduce the amount of vinegar and use water)
*1 Tablespoon of garlic chili sauce (or to taste)
*2 Tablespoons of lime juice
*2 Tablespoons of peanut butter
*Optional – teaspoon of fresh ginger

After spiralizing the butternut squash, heat the vegetable broth in a pan with the nutmeg and cinnamon until it starts to boil. Add the squash, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and allow to cook for approximately five minutes. Toss at the halfway point and remove from heat.

I ate this cold but I imagine it would also be terrific warm. It would also be wonderful layered in a Mason jar.
Divide the ingredients in individual containers and dress with the Spicy Peanut Dressing (I used all the dressing). Drizzle each serving with 2 teaspoons of oil. Sprinkle the top with the chopped green onions and cilantro.
Spicy Peanut Dressed Vegetables

 

The vibrant colors of this dish speak for themselves and the flavors and textures work well together. This recipe would also work well with roasted Brussels sprouts, cabbage, or cauliflower and a variety of beans. Sweet potato would also make a great swap for the butternut squash.

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as I did. Please make sign up for email updates of my posts, and follow my posts on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think. I love hearing the tweaks and additions that others make to my creations to fit personal tastes. Together we can thrive and embrace a healthy lifestyle.  Thank you for reading and I look forward to sharing more recipes with you.

 

 

 

 

Zucchini Noodles with Lemon, Capers, Tomato, and Dill


Zucchini Noodles with Lemon, Capers, Tomato, & Dill by Produce with Amy

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
― Maya Angelou

Last week I proclaimed that perhaps my husband Mike and I needed an intervention because we were obsessed with zucchini noodles. At least it is a healthy addiction. We love them raw, lightly sautéed and topped with marinara sauce, mixed with my bruschetta topping (future post), tossed with pesto, and simmered in soup. The combinations are endless. Summer is the perfect time to experiment with different zucchini noodle combinations because I have fresh herbs in my garden which really enhances the taste of sauces and other dishes.

I purchased my spiralizer from Amazon and have had it for a year now. Even though I am a food blogger, I am not a huge fan of kitchen gadgets but a spiralizer is an exception. I wash the zucchini and leave the peel on and within less than a minute I have piles of 0 Point Plus zucchini noodles.  They are a healthy substitute to pasta and if you try them, I bet you will be hooked! You can even mix in a small amount of whole wheat spaghetti if you so desire.

The recipe that I am sharing today is unbelievably quick to make and delicious. My husband and I are both of Finnish heritage and we LOVE dill.

Produce with Amy

DillZUCCHINI NOODLES WITH LEMON, CAPERS, TOMATO, & DILL

*3 ribs of chopped celery
*2 small chopped tomatoes
*2 Tablespoons of capers
*1 medium spiralized zucchini
*1 small chopped onion
*1 large minced clove of garlic
*1 lemon (juice and zest)
*1 Tablespoon cooking oil of choice (I used coconut)
*1/4 cup vegetable broth (white wine would also work well)
*Kalamata olives (I was out but I will be adding them next time)
*Fresh chopped dill (to taste. I added approximately 3/4 cup)

Sautee the onion, garlic, and celery in the oil for a couple of minutes. Add the vegetable Lightly Sauteebroth, tomatoes, lemon juice and zest, capers, olives, and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for a couple of minutes tossing the noodles in the sauce the whole time. I like the noodles Al dente and make sure that I do not over cook them or they will get mushy.

Printable Recipe: ZUCCHINI NOODLES WITH LEMON, CAPERS, TOMATO, & DILL

Pin it HERE.

 

Zucchini Noodles, with Lemon,  Capers, Tomato, and Dill

I hope that you enjoy this recipe and if you do try it, let me know what you think. You may be interested in these other zucchini noodle recipes:

 Raw Zucchini Noodles with Lemon Basil Pesto

Zucchini Noodle Soup

It is not too late for you to join me in the Summer Green Smoothie Challenge. Today is day #6 but you can jump in anytime. Thank you for stopping by my blog and I hope that you are having a healthy and happy August. I promise to keep the recipes coming!