Turn on the Oven Tuesday – Spaghetti Squash (Again) + Crème Brûlée

When it comes to cooking, I lack motivation.  For me, it’s a job that creates a huge mess and has little reward.  I do like to eat, but I rather do it at a restaurant.  That said, since I do not have an unlimited restaurant budget nor unlimited dining out time, I must somehow feed 3 kids at home.

I’d be okay with salads and sandwiches but I’ve decided that I should probably show my kids that ovens are for more than just storage.  This is why I started Turn on the Oven Tuesday.  I try to cook something new for my kids each week.

Now, I’ve already made Spaghetti Squash for the kids, but since it’s May and all parents of school aged children seem to be going crazy this month, I decided it would be okay to repeat the meal.  This time I made it even more exciting with a Crème Brûlée dessert.

Check HERE for how to make the spaghetti squash.  It is super easy and makes for super healthy spaghetti.

Once I sliced open the squash and cooked it in the microwave, I ran a fork through it to make spaghetti.  At the same time, I cooked every vegetable in the house and added some spaghetti sauce on the stove.  These vegetables included peppers, zucchini, onions and a little garlic.   Once the veggies were soft and the sauce was warm, I topped my “noodles”.

The crème brûlée is my new super secret recipe.  I went to the grocery store, bought pre-made crème brûlées, in glass ramekins, and broiled them for a couple of minutes.  After cooling, I served them and got rave reviews.  (This is my favorite kind of cooking.)


No Turn on the Oven Tuesday – Super Secret Guacamole Recipe

I did not turn on the oven this Tuesday.  The kids and I were invited out for pizza and I’ve decided that spending time with friends is more important than showing my kids how poorly I cook.

The tricky part is, if I don’t mess something up in the kitchen, I don’t have material for my Turn on the Oven Tuesday blog post.   This week I’ve decided to share my super secret guacamole recipe.  Unlike most of my dishes, this one actually brings lots of complements.

Guacamole is very easy to make and I had the preschool children help me for the Cinco de Mayo celebration.  The only trick is to pick good avocados.  They need to be just slightly soft but not squish when you hold them in your hand.  If they are too hard, the avocados do not mash well.  If they are too soft, the guacamole is just gross.  I suggested practicing a lot, and eating a lot of guacamole.  (Guacamole is one of my favorite foods.)

For my family, I usually use two avocados.  Slice them open, take out the pit and peel of the outside skin.  Remove and brown spots and then mash with a potato masher.

Next I chop up half an onion into fine pieces and add it to the avocados.  Then I squeeze in the juice from one lime and half of an orange.

My final and most secret ingredient is this…  salsa.  Rather than slicing up tomatoes and peppers, I just add salsa.  Add about a cup of salsa and mix up all the ingredients.

The final step is to taste it.  If you think it needs something, add it.  If not, serve it.


Turn on the Oven Tuesday – Really Bad Chicken and Plantains

I started Turn on the Oven Tuesday to show my kids that those shiny boxes in the kitchen can actually cook food.  Inspired by El Cubano at El Pueblito, I made chicken with rice, beans and plantains.  As it turns out, I should have just kept the oven off.

I had no ideas on what to serve for dinner, but when I was walking around the store I saw plantains and was 100% confident I could make my favorite dish from El Pueblito.  I went home with my ingredients and announced that I was going to make the best dinner ever.

As I was browning the chicken breasts, my husband started asking me where I had gotten the recipe.  Why would I need a recipe?  I knew exactly what El Cubano looked like.

As I sliced up the plantains, my friend tells me that the plantains should really be much more ripe.  So, instead of yellow, I should have purchased brown ones.  Still, I did not let this get me down.

Next I decided that instead of rice, I would make my favorite cauliflower “rice” to make the meal healthier.  See details HERE.  My kids helped to shred the cauliflower and then I threw it in the microwave.

In the end, I had browned chicken breasts, fried plantains, refried beans and cauliflower rice.

We sat down for the best dinner ever and it was absolutely terrible.  If you can imaging biting into a raw potato, you have a good idea what the plantains tasted like.  The kids ate the cauliflower rice, which they generally eat when smothered in sauce, and told me that they wanted RICE and not white broccoli rice.  On top of this, the chicken was rubbery.  The only thing that was decent was the canned refried beans.

And my feeling weren’t hurt by the complaints.  The meal was awful.  Next time I’ll follow some instructions… or better yet, go to El Pueblito!

Turn on the Oven – Cheeseburger Pie

I started Turn on the Oven Tuesday to show my kids how some of the expensive appliances in my kitchen work.  (They always get a balanced meal.  Sometimes it involves cooking. )

This week I made Cheeseburger Pie.  Why?  Because I saw a Bisquick box in my pantry and was pretty sure I also had ground beef, onion, cheese, salt, eggs and milk in the kitchen.

To make it I browned 1 lb of beef and added1 chopped onion.

While this cooked, Joe helped me mix 1/2 cup Bisquick, 1 cup milk and 2 eggs.

Once the beef was ready, I drained, added 1/2 tsp of salt and transferred it to a  greased casserole dish.

Brooke then helped added 1 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese to the top of the beef.  Finally Joe poured the mix on top of the cheese.

I put it in the oven at 400°F for 25 minutes.  When it was done, I made sure a knife, inserted into the center, came out clean.

I added a quick spinach salad and dinner was done.

It was easy, the kids got to help and it was a hit with everyone.  Hip hip hooray!

Turn on the Oven Tuesday – Turkey Melts and “Please Stop Fighting Over The” Guavas

I started Turn on the Oven Tuesday to prove to my kids that the microwave is not the only way to warm up dinner.   My kids are good eaters, and eat a lot of healthy foods, but anything cooked well was usually not prepared by their mom.  This week was not our most creative dinner, but it was quick and did involve the stove top.

As we were getting ready to make turkey melts, my big kids were in a heated argument over who would eat the last guava.  I was half exhausted and half amused over their disagreement, and ultimately decided that I was okay with them eating guavas and forgetting about my secret stash of cookies behind the crockpot.

We put the sandwich making on hold and headed out to Fiesta.  Here the kids picked out a pile of their own guavas and once again their was peace between siblings.

At home we quickly used coconut oil to “butter” the outside of turkey and cheese sandwiches.  We put them in a hot pan and made turkey melts.  Within minutes we were sitting at the table enjoying our sandwiches and guavas.

Phew.  One more successful dinner.

Turn on the Oven Tuesday – Frog Party Food

I started Turn on the Oven Tuesday to show my kids how my kitchen appliances work.  I’m on travel for work this week, so I’m happy to report that I do not need to cook.  I am also happy to report that I stole these Froggy Party ideas from my friend.  She did turn on the oven to make these awesome cupcakes.

For a very froggy birthday party my friend made regular cupcakes.  She frosted them with blue “water” icing.  Next she used Premade Fondant to make lilly pads and frogs.  The frogs are balls of Premade Fondant with Food Marker smiles.  She claims it was as easy as playing with Play-doh.

As if that was not impressive enough, she made a froggy fruit salad. She cut the “mouth” out of the watermelon and used a Melon Baller to scoop out the the inside. She then used toothpicks to secure two lime eyes.  She filled the watermelon back up with fruit.  The kids loved it.


Turn on the Oven Tuesday – Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Today while I was cooking dinner, Brooke sat at the table and told me all the good things I make to eat.  I make good toast, cereal, carrots and pancakes.  And she’s right.  I pour a darn good bowl of cereal, with just the right amount of milk.  Still, in an effort to show my kids how an oven works, I’ve been making a new dinner every Tuesday.  This week it was stuffed portabella mushrooms.

To start, I located every vegetable in my house, chopped them up and put them in the frying pan with a little oil.  This included asparagus, celery and carrots.  While this cooked, I washed 4 huge portabella mushrooms and cut off the stems.  I chopped up the stems and added them to the pan.

Once the veggies were  soft, I added about 5 oz of break crumbs and a little water to soften up the crumbs.

Next I put the portabella caps on a baking sheet and spooned in the stuffing.  I popped them in the oven, at 350, for about 15 minutes.

I made a quick side salad, added the mushroom when it was ready, and dinner was done.

It was lucky that this dinner was easy, because my kids were not especially impressed.  They ate the salad and the stuffing but left the mushroom.

Not to worry, I personally liked the dinner, and I’ll be able to impress my kids with buttered toast tomorrow morning.


Turn on the Oven Tuesday – Sauteed Portabella Mushroom Salad

In an effort to cook my kids some new meals, I started Turn on the Oven Tuesday. Sometimes I actually turn on the oven, and do it on a Tuesday. This week I made dinner on Tuesday, but I did not use the oven. Tonight’s dinner was Sauted Portabella Mushrooms on Mixed Greens.

My brother, the Vegan Chef, once told me that portabella mushrooms are sort of the vegetarian’s steak. They are hearty and can be served in lots of dishes. Since we we looking for a hearty restaurant sized salad, we decided to make sauteed portabella mushroom salads.

We first sliced up portabella caps. Half we marinated in barbeque sauce and the other half got garlic essence dressing and chopped up garlic. We sauteed them (separately) in a frying pan with a little oil.

While these cooked, we made salads with mixed greens, tomatoes, Mandarin oranges and cashews. When the mushrooms were warm, we added them to the salad.

My favorite were the garlic portabellas, but the barbeque was also popular. The kids gobbled them up and never once asked why we eat such weird food in our house.

Turn on the Oven Tuesday – Loaded Sweet Potatoes with Secret Baby Food Surprise & Brussels Sprouts

Each week I’ve been making an effort to cook a new meal for my kids.  Sometimes it’s on Tuesday and sometimes I turn on the oven.  This week I did make a new dinner on Tuesday and I sort of used the oven.  My mostly-done-in-the-microwave meal was Loaded Baked Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts.

I took 4 sweet potatoes, sliced off any spots, and poked them with holes.  I put them in a shallow dish and microwaved for about 15 minutes, flipping every 5 minutes.  When tender, I pulled them out and let them cool.  I then took some chopped broccoli in a bowl, added some water, covered, and microwaved for 4 minutes.

Next I sliced the potatoes in half, scooped out the insides, and put the skins back on the pan.  I put them in the oven at 400°F.  After about 5 minutes, when they were crispy, I took them out.

I smashed up the sweet potatoes, added the drained broccoli, a little salt and a bunch of cheddar cheese.  I put it back in the microwave for a few minutes so the cheese would melt.   Finally, I added a little baby food surprise.

I purchased a whole box of Earth’s Best Squash, which James quickly rejected.  I’ve been adding the purée to our dinners and no one has seemed to notice.   Last week it was in the chili and in the lasagna.  This week it was in the potatoes… and who knows what next week will bring…

Once the potatoes were loaded up with surprises, I scooped the mixture back into the skins.

For the Brussels Sprouts, I just steamed them in the bag, in the microwave, for 5 minutes.  I then put them in a bowl with a little oil and salt.

Within about 20 minutes of starting, we were sitting at the table and eating.  Joe focused on eating the Brussels sprouts, because they looked like something a dinosaur would eat.  Brooke gobbled up the potatoes, and told me, “I looove potatoes!”, and gave me a thumbs up sign.  And James was just happy to have his squash baby food disappear!




Turn on the Oven (Fat) Tuesday – Falafil, Pita Bread and King Cake!

If you have been following along, you know that I try to turn on the oven every Tuesday.  It’s never all that exciting, but I do  try to show my kids that the fridge and microwave are not the only working appliances in the house.  This week we make falafil sandwiches and, since it is Fat Tuesday, King Cake.  You’ll soon notice that most of the items were pre-made at the store, but I did turn on the oven!


At my favorite Phoenicia grocery store, we picked up some frozen falafil.  The instructions say to fry it or bake it.  In an effort to be a little healthier, we put it on a pan and dusted it with a little oil.  I added some sliced green peppers to the pan and put everything in the oven at 375 for 25 minutes.   I sliced pita bread and added hummus, cooked peppers and falafil.  I served it with a small spinach salad.


Brooke and Joe were happy with the funny bread sandwiches (as they called it).  They are used to eating salad, but we did sing our Hungry Hungry Herbivore song for fun.


After dinner, we ate the King Cake (purchased from the store).   King Cake comes from the festival of Epiphany when the wise men brought gifts to Baby Jesus.  The cake is closely associated with Mardi Gras and is served from Epiphany to Fat Tuesday.  Inside the cake is usually a small plastic baby, representing Baby Jesus.  Whoever gets the slice with the baby either gets to buy the next cake or is the King or Queen of the party, depending on your tradition.


Since it was Fat Tuesday, we decided to serve our own King Cake.  No one found the baby, but then again, the box from HEB did not say “choking hazard”, so I’m guessing there is no hidden trinket.   Joe was a little disappointed, but when he saw that his sister did not get the baby either, he seemed okay with everything.  Brooke was never unhappy.  She just licked the frosting off her cake and told everyone she was the Queen.