Hiya! Hope everyone’s doing well! Quickie post here:
September is always a busy month, whether the kids are going back to school, or secular work is getting more hectic; the end of summer means getting back into a schedule and accomplishing goals!
I’m adjusting to a new work schedule; starting the first week in September, I switched from Monday’s and Wednesday’s at the office to Tuesday’s and Thursday’s. I spend my “off” days volunteering and taking care of things around the house, groceries, cleaning, etc. I LOVE this new schedule, but one aspect has been a bit more difficult: for many different reasons, Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s are the busiest days for my husband and I. That’s when it comes in handy to have a recipe like the one I want to share with you today!
As with many of you, on the busiest days of our week, I may barely have a few minutes to spare each evening. It doesn’t leave much time to be whipping things up in the kitchen, concocting tasty AND balanced meals (not to mention doing all those dishes)! That’s why I like to prepare a large meal ahead of time on Monday night to prepare for the week! Then I refrigerate until Tuesday evening when I can just pop it in the oven, scarf it down, and go! It always leaves leftovers for Wednesday, so that even if my and Max’s schedules don’t coordinate for a sit-down dinner together, we can each grab some and reheat it before getting to our evening appointments (for me: a late evening in the ministry. For Max: a weekly meeting regarding a software project on which he volunteers). It’s as easy as that! On Tuesday and Wednesday, we have a tasty, healthy meal, with few dishes to clean and very little prep time!
Here’s one of my favorite recipes for these busy, busy week nights:
Creamy Chicken and Spaghetti Squash Veggie Bake!
- One spaghetti squash
- 1 to 1.5 lbs of chicken breast or tenders to shred
- Small-ish onion
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- Small green bell pepper (or half of a normal sized pepper)
- 1 cup cremini mushrooms
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup asparagus chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 2 – 3 cups broccoli stalks roughly chopped
- 1 can full-fat evaporated milk
- 3/4 – 1 cup of ricotta cheese
- 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese for topping
- Salt and peppa
- 1-2 tbsp Italian seasoning
- Splash (tbsp or so) olive oil
- Start by preparing your chicken to shred; if you prefer to use the crock pot or purchase pre-cooked, go for it! I filled a pot with water, brought it to a boil, added the chicken breasts and covered the pot. Then I brought the heat down a bit and let it simmer for about a half hour, until it was cooked through (internal temperature reached 170 degrees). Once the chicken is finished cooking, use two forks to shred it lightly.
- Meanwhile, get your spaghetti squash cooking. You may prepare it however you prefer, but I found the easiest method to be in the microwave! Slice the squash in half around the thickest part in the middle, and scoop out the seedy insides. Then, salt each half and let sit for fifteen minutes (to draw out some of the water). Then, pop both of those guys in a glass dish in the microwave (center/insides facing up) and heat for 8-10 minutes (depending upon microwave strength). When the squash comes out, it should start to fall apart easily with the prodding/scraping of a fork.
- While the squash and chicken are cooking, chop your onion, pepper, mushroom, and asparagus. Mince the garlic, and add it to a pan with the heated olive oil.
- Add your veggies to the garlic and olive oil in order of hardest to softest to cook all evenly; I threw in onion first, then asparagus, pepper, and then the mushrooms at staggered, one-minute intervals (approximately). Then saute all together until soft! Set aside when done.
- Using a large pot or bowl (I used the stock pot that the chicken was boiling in) combine the shredded chicken and sauteed veggies. Mix the broccoli stalks in as well.
- Shred the spaghetti squash by running a fork around the circumference, creating long “noodle” clumps, and add it to the veggies and chicken. Toss lightly, and spread the mixture into a 9″ by 13″ casserole dish (save the pot to make your cheese sauce in the next step).
- In a sauce pan (or the same pot you’ve used thus far, to save dishes) heat your evaporated milk on medium. Add in the ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, and whisk until melted down and combined. At this point, you can add in your Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste. Take the pan off of the heat and evenly pour it over your casserole.
- Top everything with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Before (and after) baking, as I have done, you can cover and store in the refrigerator until time to cook. If you do store it before baking, I have found that it takes just a bit longer to heat everything through; 25 minutes should be good.
Enjoy! I hope you like this recipe as much as Max and I have the past few weeks! If you do try it, I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments below! Let me know what you think!
Sorry for such a quick post today; this month has been hectic so far. As promised, I have been working on my next few articles and will update you all soon on our adventures in the New England states, Part 2 & 3! Stay tuned. 🙂
What are some of your quick, easy recipes for busy weeknights? Share with me by leaving a comment – I’d love some new ideas!