My Dear “Kindred Spirit,”
So, if your read last Monday’s post (you can find it here) you should already know that I love to cook. And that I don’t like to follow recipes (or traffic laws).
Although I (usually) find any kind of cooking or baking relaxing and enjoyable (dirtying dishes and messing up the kitchen is just so much fun!), my absolute favorite method of cooking is making “concoctions.”
I love digging through the fridge and pantry, seeing what ingredients I have on hand, and finding some way to throw them together into a yummy (or at least mostly edible) dish.
I’ve always liked doing that, actually… I can remember as a kid waiting until mom left the house to go shopping or something, and then digging through the cupboards and throwing things together for the fun of it. My younger brothers sometimes got involved in the process as well, and boy did we come up with some absolutely gross stuff!!
In case you’ve ever wondered, chocolate chips are not improved by melting them and adding ketchup and soy sauce. Also, a mixture of mustard, ketchup and leftover “duck sauce” (from Chinese takeout) might be barely edible when used as a sauce, but eaten by the spoonful it’s not quite so appetizing.
Oh, and I don’t recommend using coffee grounds in the same way you use hot chocolate mix – a spoonful directly into the cup, then fill ‘er up with hot water. Makes for a rather gritty cup of coffee.
(I should’ve warned my mom not to read that section… oh, well. She probably already knew all about our shenanigans. Mom always knows more than you think she does).
I’ve come a little way since those days of pulling random things out of the cupboard to toss together, and then rushing to get rid of the uneaten leftovers before mom got home. These days, the leftovers generally get put in the fridge in a container labeled “NOT YOURS” (because I don’t like trying to share my precious yummy food with 10 other people).
In fact, the only trouble I’ve found with concoctions like this is they can be a little difficult to replicate… or give directions to someone else for. I never have the same ingredients or amounts of ingredients on hand. I don’t measure, so I never know how much of something I used. Or how much it’s going to make. I’m always “tweaking” based on the food I have on hand and ideas I have to make it better.
So now that I’ve convinced you just how impossible it is to create a “recipe” that replicates any of my concoctions… I’m gonna give you a recipe for one of my concoctions! 😀
A few weeks ago I bought a Spaghetti Squash. Can you believe that I’d never cooked Spaghetti Squash before!? I grew up on copious amounts of Butternut Squash (I can remember mountains of Butternut Squash at the end of our driveway with a “free” sign… it grows really well in my mom’s garden! But we never did Spaghetti Squash, for some reason).
Yes, sorry. I know that was a bit of a “bunny trail” I started chasing there (you should be used to it by now!).
So I had this Spaghetti Squash I was going to cook up… and it sat there a few weeks with me remembering it was there, but not being quite motivated enough to do anything about it, and… you know how that goes.
I also had some extra sausage/onion mixture I had set aside from when I was making my Minestrone Soup.
And cheese! I had half a package of some “Farmer Cheese” (which is very much like ricotta) and some cheddar.
Last Thursday I ran out of “other” food in the fridge, so I was forced to do something with this mixture of ingredients.
I’m just gonna tell you what I did, and you can copy, tweak, get ideas, or just drool, as you wish.
So I took:
- 1 medium sized Spaghetti Squash
- 1 quart container of cooked Italian Sausage and onion (probably equal to about a pound of sausage and 1 onion)
- Half a package of “Farmer Cheese” (1/2 LB, I think? Ricotta would work well)
- A good amount (probably half a pound) shredded mild cheddar cheese
- A good amount (probably 1/4 – 1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 of a jar of spaghetti sauce (yes, it was store bought… *hangs head* I am slightly ashamed of myself… It would have tasted so much better if the sauce had been home made. But I was in a hurry, and using up leftovers, so… oh, well).
And then I: (This is the directions, silly)
Steamed the squash. If I’d been thinking, I would have heated up my sausage/onion mixture at the same time (to get the grease melted, and therefore make the mixing easier. Also to heat the sausage through, and therefore cut down on bake time). But thinking ain’t one of my strong points, so I didn’t.
If your sausage isn’t already cooked and all, like mine was, it would work out perfectly to cook your sausage and onion while the squash is steaming (jus’ sayin’… you don’t have to follow my advice, of course. *sigh*).
Once my squash was cooked, I just scraped it directly into my pan (I used an 8×8″ square pan and it was overflowing. I’d recommend mixing everything together in a separate, bigger, bowl…). Chopped at it a little with my spoon to break up the really big clumps of squash, then mixed in the sausage and onion (and grease, of course! Don’t want to lose all that flavor!).
In a separate bowl (I finally got a little smart and realized everything would not mix well in my pan), I mixed the Farmer Cheese, Parmesan, eggs, and spaghetti sauce (and a little bit of the cheddar). Then added that to the pan and proceeded to splatter the entire counter (and my shirt) trying to mix it all up… I got it mostly mixed, and sprinkled the rest of my cheddar cheese on top.
Into the oven (350 degrees) for… uh… well… I, um, don’t remember, actually…
I think it was between half an hour and 45 minutes that it was in there. The main thing is just to get it heated through. I was pulling it out and digging out forkfuls to “test” it as soon as the cheese was melted (hey, I was pretty darned hungry by this point!), but it did take a while for my sausage to heat through (hence, why I should have heated up the sausage while the squash was steaming).
A tiny bit soupy (a more patient, foresightful person than I would have let the squash cool and drain a bit before using it), but very yummy!
You should really give it – or something kinda like it – a try sometime.
P.S. It would be improved by more tomato-y stuff (either more sauce, or a better sauce, or maybe just some chopped tomatoes thrown in there), and some spices (Basil, Oregano, Parsley… you know).