Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

I Survived the Cutting of the Spaghetti Squash...So Bring On Those Literary Pumpkins!

October likes to tease us with hot weather here in Southern California, just when the grocery stores are starting to stock an abundance of pumpkins and other fall vegetables, er, fruits. (Did you know that pumpkins are actually berries?!)
"I'm a what?" gasped Harry.
photo source
Despite the heat, I thought I'd share a cozy fall recipe that I made a few days ago. During the short-lived cooler temperatures we had last week, I went to the market and bought a large spaghetti squash to roast for a yummy pasta-less lasagna.  

I wrestled the huge squash for quite a while in my attempt to cut it in half and scoop out the insides. Quite scary, since my big butcher knife kept getting stuck deep down in the dense yellow flesh.
Luckily, it turned out beautifully for our dinner, and I've shared the recipe below (at the end of this post).  Next time, I think I'll just buy two smaller squash - which are much easier to cut then one large one.  

Do any of you have some squash-cutting tips...or better yet, pumpkin carving tips?  Because it's time for my annual round-up of Literary Pumpkin and Party Ideas that I've gathered from around the internet.  (You can find even more ideas on my "Pumpkin/Turkey/Fall Time" Pinterest Board.)

Here's to a BOOkish HALLOWEEN -

featuring pumpkin books by Tasha Tudor and others, for ages 4-8

for OZ, Jack Skellington, Cinderella, and Edgar Alan Poe inspired pumpkins!

for some not-too-scary Halloween/Fall/Woodland Party ideas, 
costumes, and pumpkins.

 Click here for my "STORYBOOK PUMPKIN PATCH" post...
full of Book-O'-Lanterns (pumpkins carved up to look like favorite storybook characters!)

Fun costumes, pumpkins, and parties based on classic children's books.

Sherlock, Steampunk, Sleepy Hollow, Edgar Alan Poe, 
and OZ themed parties and pumpkins.

Now for the promised recipe:


2 small-medium sized spaghetti squash*
1 T + 2 t. olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
1 shallot, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 lbs. ground turkey
1 jar chunky marinara sauce (Trader Joe's)
2 T. tomato paste, to thicken sauce
1/4 c. chopped green olives
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. dried thyme (or a few sprigs of fresh leaves, stems removed)
1/2 t. dried basil (or 1 T. fresh, chopped)
1/4 t. dried rosemary
1 c. ricotta cheese
1 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded

*Depending on the size of the squash halves to be filled, you may have extra sauce.  It can be frozen or refrigerated to reheat for another meal.

Preheat oven to 400.  Line cookie sheets with foil.

Squash Preparation: 
1. Slice squash in half length-wise; scrape out seeds.  
2. Rub 1/2 t. olive oil into each of the 4 squash halves.  Season with salt and pepper.
3. Place squash face down on cookie sheets and bake for 30-50 minutes (to test, flip over the squash and squeeze halves gently - you'll know they're done, when the middle is soft.)
4. Set aside when done.

Meat Sauce:
1. Meanwhile, saute onion, shallots, and garlic in 1 T. olive oil over medium heat until soft. 
2. Add ground turkey, cooking until no longer pink.  Drain off fat.  
3. Add jar of chunky marinara sauce, sliced green olives, and herbs.  When sauce begins to bubble, stir in 2 T. tomato paste, reduce heat, and simmer 5-10 minutes.

To Assemble:
1. Spread about a 1/4 c. ricotta cheese into the bottom of each right-side up squash half.
2. Spoon meat sauce into each half, mounding it a little bit.
3. Sprinkle 1/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese onto each of the four filled squash halves.
4. Switch oven setting to "broil", and place the cookie sheets in the oven.  Broil for about 2 minutes, until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.  (Watch closely!  It browns quickly!)

To Serve:
Scoop out about 1/2 a lasagna-filled squash for each person - or if the squash are  really small, just eat right out of the squash half!  I serve this with sauteed spinach.  YUMMY!

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