Family, Food

Spaghetti Squash Italiano

Spaghetti Squash ItalianoSpaghetti squash isn’t that common dish made in most households.  In fact, I never had it growing up.  I came from that meat and potatoes kind of family with all the common vegetable sides.

Plus, let’s admit it, big squash is a bit intimidating.  It’s heavy, and hard to cut.  Can I please have a saw to cut this baby? Not to mention, you don’t ever want to drop it on your foot.  But in all honesty, spaghetti squash is really pretty easy to make.

In my late 20’s, my husband came home with a recipe for spaghetti squash from a coworker.  That’s when we first tried spaghetti squash and loved it.  Since then we’ve been making it, but we’ve tweaked it a bit to our liking and we call it Spaghetti Squash Italiano or Dad’s “famous” Spaghetti Squash Italiano…as he likes to call everything!

It’s light so it can be an awesome side dish, or it can be eaten as a meal. For those non carb folks out there, this is a great dish for you.  Vegetarians will love this too.  We added all the awesome Italian spices and cheeses hence the name Spaghetti Squash Italiano. There are so many other awesome recipes out there for spaghetti squash, but Spaghetti Squash Italiano is a must try. Check it out!

Spaghetti Squash Italiano

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4 Roma Tomatoes chopped in 1/2 inch cubes
  • 4-5 cloves of fresh Garlic; minced
  • 1/4 cup of Parsley
  • 1/4 cup of Basil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of Rosemary
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup of Fresh Parmesan/Asiago cheese mix

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise.  Scoop out seeds.  Place the cavity side down in baking pan filled with a little water. Bake 20-30 minutes checking that the water hasn’t evaporated.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes and gather the other ingredients.  Combine the chopped tomatoes, garlic, and other seasonings.  Let stand at room temperature to marry the flavor.
  3. When squash is done, flip over in pan.  Fill each cavity with tomato mixture.  Top with cheese mix. Place back in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.  Remove and scoop mixture into a large serving dish.  Use a fork to fluff squash into spaghetti strands.  A small amount of olive oil can be added but it is optional.

**Check squash to be sure it is al dente.  Don’t over cook.

Enjoy!

St. Louis Small Businesses

Erin King Photography

Erin King PhotographyAs a Mom of three children, I love pictures especially of my kids.  Some of my all time favorites are when they were babies and toddlers.  I will never forget that day at Simon Says (my kids preschool/child care center) when I picked up the kids to be presented with these absolutely darling photos.  All of them taken by the one and only Erin King.

Let me introduce you to Lil’ Angels Photography and Erin King Photography with our second local business feature. Lil’ Angels Photography is a national franchise that works with child care centers and preschools to offer parents a little more than normal “school” photos. Lil’ Angels Photography offers a “fashion” program where the photographers bring in outfits and accessories.  Lil’ Angels Photographers dress the children up so when the parents pick them up, they have beautiful photos of their children in darling outfits, and parents don’t have to lift a finger!

When Erin King graduated from Maryville University in 2004 with a degree in Integrated Marketing Communications, she knew one thing for sure…She wanted to work for herself! A friend that Erin went to high school with had purchased a Lil’ Angels Photography franchise in St. Louis. She built the business for a couple of years, but was moving to Kansas City, so Erin bought it from her. Erin has owned that franchise for 10 years now, and 5 years ago, bought a second St. Louis area franchise with her husband, Rich King. At the child care centers, Erin King had a lot of requests for private sessions for siblings that didn’t attend the preschools or child care centers.  She started using her basement as a makeshift studio and met people in parks for outdoor sessions and family pictures.  These private sessions took place on Saturday and Sunday mornings for almost ten years until she explored other options.

It was then Erin King Photography was born! The studio is located in historic Cottleville, Missouri. It’s conveniently located 5 minutes from Erin King’s home!  The new studio is a historic home that was built in 1910 with the perfect setting to offer old world charm. Located on 3 acres, along with a cabin that was built in the 1800’s, a barn, and unlimited outdoor settings for spectacular photos. “Having a location that is great for a studio and outdoor photos is a photographer’s dream,” said Erin King of Erin King Photography.

Having both Lil’ Angels franchises and the Erin King Photography studio keeps Erin King very busy. Her five-year old son, Cole, loves to work with Erin at the studio and explore on the grounds. Recently, they welcomed a new addition to the family with a baby girl named Charley. Erin King could not be more excited about what the future holds for her family and their two photography businesses – Lil’ Angels Photography and Erin King Photography.  Below is contact information for Erin King at either Lil’ Angels Photography or Erin King Photography.

Check out her amazing work online!

Erin V. Veith-King
Lil’ Angels Photography & Erin King Photography
314-604-0800
Food, Snacks

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Do you need that awesome dip to share at a party?  One that is easy to make with very little prep time. How about one that has a spicy kick to it?  Look no further than the jalapeno popper dip or as I like to call it my ultimate jalapeno dip.  If you google jalapeno popper dip, you will find tons of recipes.  There’s a lot of similarities to all of them including this one, however I believe the crunchy topping is the key to this jalapeno popper dip, as well as the fresh parmesan and panko bread crumbs!

Ingredients:

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 (4 ounce) can of green chilies
  • 1 (4 ounce) can of diced jalapeno or 2 fresh jalapenos diced
  • 1 Cup of fresh Parmesan/Reggiano mix
  • 3/4 cup of Italian seasoned Panko bread crumbs (or as much as you choose)
  • 1 cup of crushed multi-grain crackers and Ritz crackers (the multi-grain adds a great texture to the topping)

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth.  This can take some time to get smooth.  Stir in jalapenos and green chilies. Pour and spread mixture into a Pyrex or Corning ware dish approximately 2.2 quart or you can use a pie plate.
  2. Add the fresh parmesan covering the entire jalapeno popper dip. Next, sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the jalapeno popper dip.
  3. If planning to bake later, cover and place in the refrigerator. When ready to bake, place the dip uncovered in a preheated oven of 350 degrees.  Cook approximately 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and a little browned on top.  Serve with crackers, tortilla chips, or wheat thins.

Enjoy!

Food

Bacon in the Oven

Bacon

There is nothing better than the awesome aroma of bacon being cooked at home.  The smoke alarm goes off almost every time we make bacon.  We love bacon at this household.  We cook it at least twice a week.  Bacon is a very common ingredient in several of our dishes. Some may think bacon is very easy to cook, but there’s really quite a science to perfecting bacon.

First, your bacon selection is key.  It’s ok to be picky about your bacon. I’ve learned it’s worth paying a little extra money for good quality bacon. Recently, we’ve become fans of the Farmers Applewood Bacon sold at Costco.  It’s a great choice for bacon in the oven because it’s a thicker cut.

Secondly, how you cook your bacon is super important as well. For years, I cooked it on the stove top which I still enjoy.  Of course, I’ve used the quick and easy microwave at times too, but it fails to get crisp.  Most recently my husband has been cooking our bacon in the oven on a broiler pan.  It’s amazingly delicious, crisp, and close to perfection.  Bacon in the oven is super easy with less mess.  Check it out!

Ingredients:

  • Bacon – any kind of your choice – thicker cut works best for the oven.

Directions:

  1. Set the oven to 450 degrees.  While the oven is preheating, arrange slices next to each other on a broiler pan.
  2. Cook the bacon in the preheated oven for 12-16 minutes. The time depends on whether you have a thicker cut of bacon or how crisp you like your bacon.  Keep a close eye on it so it’s cooked to your liking.

Enjoy!

Family, Food

Italian Sausage Spinach Soup

 

 

Italian Sausage Spinach Soup

Soup is the perfect comfort food, especially on cold winter days.  It’s also the perfect meal for a busy family that doesn’t have time to sit down for a meal.  Soup is always our “go to” meal when we have a night packed full of practices or meetings which happens a lot.  It was one of those kind of nights.  Time to make some Italian Sausage Spinach Soup, leave it on the stove, and eat at your convenience.

Italian sausage is used in this house at least once a week. I love Italian sausage!  It probably has something to do with my Italian heritage, but it also adds so much flavor.  You can taste the extra bold flavors and spice of the sausage in this awesome Italian Sausage Spinach Soup.  This soup is also very versatile. If you are looking for a low carb option, then leave the pasta on the side.  My husband eats the Italian Sausage Spinach soup with out the pasta. The kids enjoy it with the pasta so everyone is happy. Of course, we double the recipe because we like left overs. Italian Sausage Spinach Soup is a favorite in this house.  Check it out!

Ingredients:

  • 16 Ounces of Bulk Italian Sausage
  • 4 Cups of Chicken broth
  • 2 14 1/2 Ounce cans of Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic, and Oregano
  • 2 Cups thinly sliced celery hearts with leaves
  • 1 Cup uncooked Small Shell Pasta
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons of Italian Seasonings
  • 4 Cups of bagged Spinach Leaves
  • 4 Tablespoons freshly Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1.  Heat a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the sausage to the pan and cook.  Stir the sausage, breaking it up to crumble for approximately 10 minutes, or until browned. Drain, and return to the pot.
  2. Add broth, tomatoes, celery, pasta, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until pasta is done.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in spinach until wilted. Sprinkle each serving with fresh grated parmesan cheese.  Serve with hot Italian bread!

Optional Low Carb – If you want to add the pasta separately, prepare pasta according to package directions.  Do not add pasta as indicated in step 2.  Leave the pasta on the side.  It can be added individually to each serving.  Another note, we used a larger shell pasta because that is what we had at home.  Remember, you can get a little creative and adjust accordingly to what you might have in your kitchen.

Enjoy!