Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Easy and Delicious Spaghetti Squash Casserole

I really like to cook and make new things but with my new work schedule I have had limited time at home.  This means I have been eating lots of easy to make meals like casseroles, pbj sandwiches, eggs, and hummus. 
I wanted to branch out a little and try something new and went through my long bookmarked recipe list.  I found this recipe from Real Simple last year and thought it sounded good and relatively easy to make.  After looking over it again I thought I could add some more to it to give it a little punch.  
I decided to add fresh spinach and marinara sauce.  Then I read the comments below which mentioned that it needed some more flavor so I added some Italian herbs to the ricotta mixture.  Someone also suggested adding beans which sounded good to me to give it some more protein.
Before this I had only eaten spaghetti squash once, but I am usually up for trying something new so I went for it.  The whole thing was pretty easy to make.  I simply roasted the squash, shredded it, and then layered everything in a baking dish to stick in the oven.

Spaghetti Squash Casserole (adapted from Real Simple)

1 3lb Spaghetti Sqaush
15 oz Fat Free Ricotta Cheese
1 Egg
15 oz can Cannelloni Beans
1 Tbs Italian Seasoning 
3 cups Fresh Spinach
1-2 cups Marinara Sauce
5 -8 oz Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
Salt, Pepper & Garlic Powder to taste (1-2 tsp each)
Olive Oil

1. Slice the squash in half long ways and scoop out seeds.  Then cover sliced side with olive oil and a little salt and pepper.  Place cut side down on a baking sheet.  Roast 45 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
2. Meanwhile in a bowl mix together the ricotta cheese, egg, beans, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic.  Also shred the mozzarella cheese and put to the side.

3. Once squash is done use a fork to scrape out the spaghetti-like strands.  
4.  Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.  Then layer spaghetti squash, the ricotta mixture, fresh spinach, marinara sauce, and top with mozzarella.  

5.  Bake 20-30 minutes until the dish is bubbly and cheese is melted. Enjoy!

More veggies could definitely be added to this and everything could just be mixed together instead of layered if you wanted.  Next time I think I am going to add zucchini and maybe mushrooms.  It is not the prettiest meal all mixed together but it was really tasty and filling.  I love the idea of using the squash as a noodle substitute.  It is a great vegetarian meal to add to my recipe book!

Have you had spaghetti squash before?  If you have any casserole or easy weeknight meal suggestions please share!

Monday, September 19, 2011

What Do You Do Without Your Computer?

Hello again!  I have been a bit disconnected for the past two weeks.  My beloved MacBook had to go to the Apple Repair center and it took about a week to get back in my hands.  Sorry about the mini disappearance.  I have been on twitter here and there through my phone, but my work schedule was different this week, which didn't leave much time to actually be on the computer.  
So with no computer for a week, I didn't know what I was going to do.  I simply went in to the Apple Store to get some help fixing my iChat and it turned into something much bigger.  I use my MacBook everyday to check mail, go on the internet, watch TV, blog, read the news, etc.  At first I was majorly bummed to have no computer, but it wasn't as horrible as I thought. 

Not having my computer made me realize how much I really use and depend on it.  If I am not on the computer, my phone is nearby.  It made me think about how everything is technology based today.  It is both interesting and crazy to think about how dependent we are on technology.  If something were to happen and we no longer had access to our phones or computers I think chaos might ensue because people would have no idea what to do.  I wasn't completely disconnected for the week since I had my iPhone, which can do almost everything a computer can, except on a much smaller screen.  Not having the computer was more of an inconvenience than anything else.  So without the computer I found some other ways to fill my time.  
I spent more time reading my current book, Handle With Care, by Jodi Picoult and the latest issue of Runner's World.  

Went to the movies and saw Crazy, Stupid, Love which I loved.  
Met and got lunch with Katie from Peace, Love, and Oats at Sultan's Market in Lincoln Park.  
(source: Peace, Love, and Oats)
Took my time at the grocery store and checked out some new foods.
I began my training plan for the Hot Chocolate 15K.  

I discovered that Netflix and Hulu have iPhone apps so I watched a few shows on my tiny phone screen.  

Otherwise most of my time was spent at work and getting a few more hours of sleep in, which was nice.

Although the time away from the computer was fine I was so glad to get the call last Tuesday that my MacBook was back.  My iChat is still not working (the thing I originally went in to get fixed), but my computer is back home.

Since having my computer back, I have noticed I haven't been on it as much as I was before it had to be sent away.  This is partly because of my schedule, but I enjoyed taking the time to read or go out with a friend instead of just plopping down in front of the computer. I want to spend my time doing other things, and although I really like the internet I want to make sure I get to do the other things I like too.  The whole computer situation was not expected, but I think it turned into something good.

How often are you on your computer or smart phone?  What would you do without access to your computer for a week?

Monday, September 5, 2011

To Fleet Feet for New Running Shoes!

The time has come again for new running shoes.  I bought my last pair of running shoes in March and in the last two weeks I have noticed that the cushion and support are not as strong.  Those shoes have been with me for the last four weeks of half marathon training, the race itself, the GOTR 5k, the Women's Race 10K, the Champions Run 5K, and all my weekly runs (including a few in the rain).  My legs have been sore and achey so I knew it was time for some new shoes.   
I think the process of getting new shoes is so fun and informative.  I headed to the local Fleet Feet store (with my handy $10 coupon from the Women's race) to get fitted this past Friday.  I met with Margaret who asked me about my running, if I was experiencing any pain, and then watched me run back and forth through the store.  She had lots of information to share with me.  I told her about my "runner's knee" issues and she offered up a few exercises, that I was not aware of, that could help.  She said I had really good arches (yay!) and was overpronating just a bit.  I brought in my old shoes which are Asics Fortitudes, which is closer to a neutral shoe.  She decided to bring out some with a little more stability to help with my pronation.  
Margaret came back with the Nike Lunar Glides, Asics GT 2160s, and Adidas Supernovas.  The Nikes were first.  The color was a super bright and bold blue.  I got laced up and did a short jog through the store.  They felt good, but I was not sure I could pull off the bright blueberry shoes.  Margaret said that I was still pronating a bit and that the others might correct that.  
Next were the Asics.  I did a short jog again.  They were a little tight on the sides, but otherwise felt good.  I finished up with the Adidas, which were just OK.  My foot didn't feel very supported in the shoe during the jog.  We got the next size up in the Asics to see if that would feel better and they did.  We both agreed that they were the best bet for me.  They have more stability for my inner arch which will likely help with any leg or knee pain.  Plus they are a really cute plum color.  I like them!

As Margaret was lacing up my shoes she showed me a different way to lace them.  Essentially you make a little loop using the last two holes of the shoe and run the ends through.  After tying the laces I noticed that I felt more secure in my shoes, which I liked, so I think I am going to lace my shoes like that.  I thought it was interesting and wanted to share. 
Saturday I decided to try out the new shoes on a real run along the lake.  They were wonderful!  I got out there a little later than I wanted to, so it was a bit warm, but ran five miles and ended by my favorite farmer's market.   
My nice new shoes!
The right kind of shoe makes all the difference!  I think getting fitted, at least once, is important, so you know what kind of shoe will be best for you.  Six months or 300-500 miles is usually how long a running shoe lasts.  Over time the cushioning and tread of the shoes wear down and decrease.  I definitely notice a difference in how my legs feel after a run in older shoes.  After my run Saturday and Monday my legs feel good and I don't have that aching feeling anymore.  Yay for new shoes!    

I have been itching for a longer race to do next and am thinking about the Hot Chocolate 15K that is coming up in November (it is coming to a few other cities too, if your interested).  I have never done a 15K before and this sounds like a good one.  I am working on getting a training schedule together right now!

Have you been fitted for a running shoe before?  What's the next race on your calendar?