Spaghetti Squash Bolognese | Gluten-Free!

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If eating healthier is on your list of new year’s resolutions, here’s a recipe to get you started right! Here’s the best part, it’s gluten free, healthy, and delicious! That’s the most important part, it has to be delicious because I believe food is something that should be enjoyed. This recipe is inspired by one of my childhood Hong Kong Chinese restaurant favourites, spaghetti bolognese. Without further adieu, let’s get started. Here’s what you’ll need:

Spaghetti Squash Bolognese | Serves 4

**I rarely cook with measurements so some of these are approximates

  • 1 small spaghetti squash
  • about 1 lb ground beef (substitute other meats if you prefer)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • half an onion, finely diced
  • 2 handfuls of mushrooms
  • 2 tomatos
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut your squash in half carefully (I had to ask Kelvin for some help but I’m sure you could YouTube a video), and scoop out all the inside bits. Similar to what you’d do to a pumpkin on Halloween.
  3. Drizzle some olive oil onto the squash and rub it to spread the oil evenly. Then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place cut side down onto your baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
  4. While the squash is baking, start prepping the bolognese sauce. Cook the ground beef in a large pan with some olive oil. Once it’s cooked, add in the garlic and onion and cook until fragrant.
  5. In a separate pot, heat the tomato sauce, tomatoes, and oregano. Bring it up to a boil then let it simmer until the squash is done.
  6. Add in mushrooms into the beef mixture and cook until all the liquid is dissolved. Here’s a trick to avoid mushrooms letting out too much water: instead of washing the mushrooms under the tap, use a damp paper towel and polish the dirt off.
  7. Once the squash has finished baking, take a fork and start running the teeth through the squash. Magic will happen and you’ll see the “spaghetti noodles” appear right before your eyes!
  8. If you want to get fancy, toss the noodles with the tomato sauce and beef mixture, place it back into the squash shells, top with cheese, and broil it until the cheese is all melty and just a tad bit crusty and perfect.
  9. Enjoy!

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DOTN: Beef Ragout

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There’s nothing better on a cold and rainy day than something slow cooked, stewed, and warms your belly. For this year’s resolution, Kelvin and I are trying to plan out our meals more so that we don’t find ourselves eating the same thing everyday. He doesn’t have an issue with it, but I get sick of things easily so I like to change up our dinners every now and then.

This recipe is an adaptation from Anna Olson’s from her cookbook Anna & Michael Olson Cook at HomeThe method is the same but I’ve changed up and added a few ingredients to cater to our personal preferences. Make sure you start preparing this 3 hours prior to serving time because this is a “slow cook” dish. Here’s what you’ll need for enough ragout to serve 2 for two dinners and maybe a small lunch (approx 6 servings):

  • 1 lb stewing beef, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3/4 cup leek, sliced and rinsed (you could use 1/2 an large onion instead, but leeks are sweeter and lend different flavour)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 med-large carrot, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 3-4 kale leaves, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) diced tomato
  • olive oil for cooking
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Let’s get cooking!

  1. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large stockpot over med-high heat. I like to use a dutch oven because of the heavy bottom and lid, keeping more moisture in the ragout when cooking. While the oil is heating up, toss your beef in the flour.
  2. When the oil is hot, shake off excess flour, and brown beef on all sides. If you need to, do this in batches so that the meat can properly brown. Remove beef from pan and put it aside in a bowl to catch any beef juices.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add in another tbsp of olive oil. Toss in celery, leeks, kale and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes. Use your wooden spoon to scrape up all that delicious brown meat flavour that was left in the pan. This will make for excellent flavour when the ragout is all finished. Whatever you can’t scrape up now, wait until the wine step and try again then.
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  4. Add garlic, bay leaves, and the entire sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Please please please if you can, use fresh here because it’ll make a difference when you’re biting into little rosemary leaves and experiencing its full flavour! But if you absolutely can not get a hold of fresh, rub the dry herbs between your fingers to wake it up before adding it to the ragout. Let it all heat through and cook for 1 minute.
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  5. Pour in your red wine and let it simmer for 5 minutes. This was our wine of choice because it’s what we had around. Cook with what you like to drink.
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  6. Add tomatoes and return the beef, and any juices caught in the bowl, to the stockpot. Bring it up to a boil, then turn heat down to low and let it simmer for 2.5-3 hours. You’ll know when it’s ready when the beef is so tender, it can me shredded with a fork. Yum!
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  7. If you’d like, take out the beef and shred it before serving the ragout. What you must remove though are the bay leaves and the stems of the thyme and rosemary sprigs. You can serve it with pasta as a pasta sauce, or pour it over some mashed potatoes. For our dinner, we chose mashed potatoes, but for my lunch the day after, I chose to mix it with some whole wheat pasta for a wholesome lunch.
Arrange your mash in a donut like shape and fill the centre with the ragout.
Arrange your mash in a donut like shape and fill the centre with the ragout.
Or cook some pasta just shy of al dente and heat it up in the ragout to finish the cooking process.
Or cook some pasta just shy of al dente and heat it up in the ragout to finish the cooking process.

Enjoy! Thanks as always for stopping by to take a read, and have a great day!

Childhood Fave: Mum’s Soup

It’s freezing here in Vancouver! Is it where you are? If so, I have something that is going to warm you right up, from the inside out. It’s an Asian soup, and a very flavourful brothy one at that. Anyone else on my side in that they prefer brothy soups over chowders or the like? Anyways, it’s a soup my mom used to always make and I never got sick of it. It’s only a few simple ingredients, but what you need is time. Like any soup or stew, the longer it hangs out, the better. Here’s what you’ll need:

Yields 6-8 portions

  • 8-10 piece of pork neck bone (2-3 bones per adult serving)
    You can find this cut of meat in your Asian grocery store and if you’re unsure, let the butcher know you’re making soup and they should point you to the right cut of meat. The meat should be quite bony but with meat on it.
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3-4 tomatoes
  • 3-4 potatoes
  • a lot of water
  • salt to taste
  • slow cooker or a thermal cooker; you could cook it all on your stove top, but for optimal flavour this soup has to simmer for 8 hours and it would save energy to use a slow cooker or thermal cooker

Let’s get cookin’!

  1. Heat up a pot of water, large enough to hold all your pork bones. What we’re going to do is pre-boil the meat to cook out the excess fat. This removes the excess grease and yields a clearer and healthier broth. Let the bones boil for 3 minutes, then remove and set aside.
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  2. Cut up your carrots, tomatoes, and potatoes into roughly bite sized pieces. No need to get precise, just cut them small enough that you can eat it without having to fork and knife it.
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  3. Dump it all into a very large stock pot if you’re using a slow cooker, but just use the thermal cooker pot if you’re using the thermal cooker. Add the meat into the pot, then pour in enough water to cover everything.
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  4. Bring it up to a boil and let it boil on high heat for 30 minutes.
  5. Transfer it into your slow cooker or thermal cooker and let it go (on low for the slow cooker) for 8 hours. You could obviously leave it for less but remember, the longer you let it go, the more flavour you’ll get out of it. Ideally, get this soup started in the morning before you go to work, and you’ll be rewarded with a quick delicious soup when you get home. But if you really don’t have the time, 3-4 hours could suffice and that’s how long my mother used to let it simmer on the stove for.
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  6. When you’re ready to eat, give the broth a quick taste and season if desired. Serve it with some rice in the soup if you’d like, or with a side of stir fried veg or whatever your heart desires. For Kelvin and I, we just have a bit of rice and we’re good for a meal. I don’t even bother seasoning the soup because there’s so much flavour from the pork bones simmering away for 8 hours.
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Please let me know if you try this out and if you love it as well! But how can you not love meat that is so tender that you can pull it off just with chopsticks? Hehe and yes that’s my grinning face excited to have soup!

Just look at that! Yummers!
Just look at that super duper tender pork! Yummers!

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By the way, this soup can sit in the fridge for a few days (in other words make extra) and then you’ll have an even more flavourful soup (for days)! If you want your soup to be “cleaner”, skim the fat from the soup because overnight in the fridge, the fat rises to the top and hardens, making it easier to remove. If you don’t care, just leave it and more flavour! Haha

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day! Bundle up and stay warm 🙂