A Homemade Challenge and Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Sauce

I love the holidays. Any excuse for a get together where good company combine with good food and drink, and I’m there. A month and a half of these excuses? Yes please. And although many of us tend to take a lot on, no matter the time of year, we all know things slip by us around this time. I’m hardly whipping up an elaborate meal every night, but prefer to have something simple and homemade if possible. Time management is something I’ve struggled with forever, but here’s my latest (successful!) experiment…

ExcentriqueI just wrapped up a 30 day yoga challenge(!), taking 30 yoga classes in 30 days. This was a HUGE accomplishment for me, and I don’t think I could have done it without telling other people about it. Having that sense of accountability really pushed me closer to my goal, and I’m so happy to have reached it. I noticed a real change as the month progressed, realizing that we can make time for the things that are important to us. I work full-time and try to keep up with my hobbies (hello blog), and of course my friends and family. Now that the month is over, I’ll go back to taking classes about 4 times a week, and work to “stay on my mat” outside of class.

I love knowing I can attain that intense sense of accomplishment, but that I’ll never “arrive”. Rather, there is constant work in becoming. I think this can be applied to anything we struggle with, whether it’s difficulty with something at work, saving money, or preparing dinner. I plan to apply the idea of a 30-day challenge to other areas of my life, and am really excited about it. It could even be something as simple as setting aside time to enjoy – really enjoy – good music everyday for 30 days. It’s also an interesting perspective; instead of coming up with lofty New Year’s resolutions that are quickly forgotten, it’d be a worthwhile experiment to think of a series of goals, tackling one for 30 days, adding on another, and creating a more positive life.

winter berriesSo, if you have a hard time coming up with dinner every night, why not a challenge to make a homemade meal everyday for 30 days?

Here’s a REALLY simple, healthy, and tasty recipe to get you started.

spaghetti squash with tomato sauceOn the final night of my yoga challenge, after taking two back-to-back classes, the last thing I wanted to do was cook something from scratch to fill my starving belly. As I opened the fridge to see what my options were, I was SO overly excited to remember the spaghetti squash I had roasted the night before. Five minutes later, supper was ready: took out my cast iron pan, melted a nub of butter, scraped some of the spaghetti squash with a fork into the pan, and threw in 3 frozen cubes of tomato sauce I made late summer. Cooked everything together for a few minutes, breaking up and mixing in the sauce as it thawed, added salt, pepper, and coriander. Voila – with a little extra nub of butter, there was my tasty -FIVE MINUTE- dinner.
SONY DSCThese are the kind of things that are so great to have around to make those tired nights easier, so making a sauce here and roasting a veggie there, when you have the energy, will save you many a headache when you don’t have the wherewithal later. Although there aren’t any fresh, local tomatoes around anymore like in the heart of summer, you can easily whip up a delicious sauce using canned tomatoes. I use Muir Glen organic fire-roasted tomatoes (whole) when tomato season is over. Feel free to add any variations to the recipe below; it’s really versatile.

Light Tomato Sauce, from James Beard’s Beard on Pasta

makes about 3 cups — either use immediately, or once cool, spoon into an ice cube tray, freeze, then keep in a ziplock bag in the freezer for lazy days.

  • 28-ounce can Muir Glen organic, fire-roasted whole tomatoes
  • 2 small white or yellow onions, thickly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil (optional)
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the tomatoes, onions, salt, pepper, and basil over medium-high heat for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. If you want a smooth sauce, strain it or puree it in a food processor. If using a food processor, wait until it cools quite a bit, otherwise you will make a huge mess…and I just don’t believe in putting hot food in plastic. However, it’s also really yummy to just leave some of the tomato lumps in, breaking up some of the bigger ones with a wooden spoon, which is what I do (and James Beard did, so it’s got to be good, right?). Just keep in mind you don’t want too many really large pieces if you’re planning to freeze it. Then add the butter and continue to cook until it melts.

spaghetti squash with tomato sauceSpaghetti Squash

Preheat oven to 350F. Slice the squash in half lengthwise, add about an inch of water to a roasting pan, and roast the squash face down until you can scrape the spaghetti-like loveliness out with a fork. Start checking it around 30 or 35 minutes into roasting; mine took about 40-45 minutes since our oven is old. Refrigerate any leftovers, intact in the squash, until that lazy bones night, preferably eating it within a couple of days. For this dish, you could also add a poached egg in a little nest in the middle, like the little nook below (except mine is without the egg), or use pesto instead of tomato sauce – which can also be frozen into cubes!

spaghetti squash with tomato sauce

Will you take the 30-day challenge to make a homemade meal everyday?

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