Spaghetti (squash) and meatballs

Ah, the challenges of attempting to eat South Beach/heart healthy/low refined starch, and still eat inexpensively. It’s damn tough! This one’s been lingering in my draft pile, but it was so yummy I didn’t want to let it slide.

Back when Grant wanted spaghetti and meatballs RIGHT AFTER a bunch of starch-overloaded Stroganoff, I countered with spaghetti squash and meatballs. He consented. I cooked. I had never made this dish before, or even heard of spaghetti squash before my friend Jen introduced me to it a couple years ago. I was so thrilled to learn of a less starchy spaghetti alternative!

I used About.com‘s guide for cooking the actual squash, because Martha’s said to cut it open raw and I thought that might be too rough on my tennis-elbow-crippled arms. And I used roughly Martha’s turkey meatball recipe, but I kinda fudged it as I’m wont to do. My meatballs were better anyway, and beefier. (I don’t know why, but I just really really hate ground turkey. I think it’s sort of like carob — it feels like someone is just trying to trick me.)

Always better with some Italian flat-leaf parsley mixed in. And prettier, too.My sauce was just a jar of Newman’s Tomato Basil to which I added a bunch of herbs and veggies, as I usually do. It’s nice that there’s a cheap, easy to find, no sugar added natural sauce out there — makes me feel less bad about using a prepared sauce. This wound up being a pretty tasty dish, all things considered, though the meatballs make it much more labor-intensive than just a straight up meat sauce. It all depends on how much time you have to spare. Either way, yum!

And for those of you who, like me, are horrified at the idea of pasta plus more starches, this is a great way to feel less guilty about making the perfectly accompanying garlic bread.

Further bread success

After our Thanksgiving extravaganza, in which Grant made an adorable but short & heavy little loaf of whole wheat bread, we’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with our Zojirushi. After our slightly imperfect Turkey Day attempt, I started doing some research as to what makes for good bread.

We learned that bread flour (or high gluten content or other glutinous binders) would help create a better web with which to trap yeast bubbles, and a faster rising yeast (like Rapid Rise or Perfect Rise varieties) would both help, and that dry milk would help over wet (aka “normal”) milk.

But even though our bread-flour, dry-milk loaf turned out great, I wanted to figure out a way to use up all the whole wheat flour I’d bought, plus I wanted to try out the quicker bread recipes that only take 2 hours instead of 3.5. So I designed a blend of whole wheat and bread flour, and I included about a half teaspoon of xanthan gum in the dry ingredients. And it worked! Check out the loftiest little loaf we’ve managed yet!