Friday

For the Love of Spaghetti Squash - A New Holiday Dinner Favorite

Hey Friends!

I'll let you in on a secret - spaghetti squash is awesome :-)




I didn't figure out how to use spaghetti squash till this year so don't feel bad if you've never tried it. (hee,hee) And if you've been using it for years, don't judge me for just now trying it - hahahah!

My favorite SIMPLE way of cooking the squash is cutting it open, de seeding it and then putting it in the crockpot.  YES, I simply put it in the crockpot....no water, nothing!







I'll either cook it on HIGH for 2-3 hours or LOW 4-6.  I prefer my squash stringy like noodles.....but the longer you cook it, the mushier it becomes.  (You can also cut it open and cook it in the oven at 400 for 45 minutes or even microwave it for that matter!)

There is a good reason it's named spaghetti squash as the end result of a perfectly cooked squash is these LONG STRINGY NOODLE pieces.  I have used it as a replacement for my wheat noodles for the last year.  Even my picky non vegetable eating husband LOVES using the squash as a noodle replacement!  (Okay, he IS getting better at eating his vegetables - hee,hee)

The other day I made a fantastic HEALTHY recipe using the spaghetti squash and my husband said,

 "This is incredible, will you make this for holiday dinners?"

Ummmmmm.......friends, SAVE this recipe for later!  I know you'll be glad you did!



detoxinista.com



Creamy Spaghetti Squash Casserole (that tastes just like hash brown casserole!)
Serves 6

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:

1 large spaghetti squash
1 tbsp butter or coconut oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup plain non fat Greek yogurt
3 oz Cheddar cheese (divided)
1 tsp sea salt
black pepper to taste
(I LOVE making my dishes spicy so I add cayenne pepper)

Directions:

Choose your method of cooking the squash - I use the crockpot on low for 4-6 hours.  If you are on a time crunch place in 400 degree oven halve side down and cook for 45 min.  When you can easily pierce the shell with a fork it's done!

Melt butter/oil in a skillet over medium high heat and saute the chopped onions and garlic until tender and slightly golden, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the cooked onion and garlic to the pan you are going to bake this in and add in the yogurt and 2 oz of the shredded cheese, then season with salt and pepper.  When the spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the noodle like strands into the bowl. Mix well.

Smooth out the top and sprinkle the rest of the remaining cheese.  Return to the oven and bake at 400F for 30 minutes.

It's ready when the top is a crunchy golden brown - serve immediately!

Nutrition:  Serves 6 (one serving)
Calories: 142  Fat: 7.8  Carbs: 9.2  Fiber: 1.5  Protein: 8.9


There you have it!!  The latest "MUST HAVE" for holiday dinners :-)   I'm just thrilled that it's such a healthy alternative to some of the other holiday dishes.  

I have this pinned on my Salad and Vegetable Pinterest Board if you want to look at some of my other great dishes.   If you try it, please let us know what you think of it in the comments :-)
creativejuicesdecor

Best Practical Christmas Gift Ideas -Kids and Adult

Oh man, seriously?  

It's amazing that it's time to start thinking about Christmas gifts!  My mother has already contacted me weeks ago asking for ideas for myself and the kiddos.


Nope, that's not the Home Alone kid, it's my son - hee,hee.


For some reason this is always SO HARD!  I can't ever think of things I want and when it comes to the kids, all I want for them is something they will use longer than just Christmas day AND that won't just be another sitting "decoration" for their room.  (i.e. CLUTTER!)   

AS I'm writing this, my son said completely out of the blue (he didn't know what I was writing)  "I Can't wait for Christmas!  Everyone is going to be so merry and cheery and we'll get to drink egg nog."


(The question is, does he not think I am merry and cheery the rest of the year? - hee,hee......he IS right about the egg nog.)



One of my favorite "merry" pictures of my kids when they were young. 

So, I'm hoping for this post I can give you a few gift ideas.  These are things I have LOVED getting, or products I have used a lot.  (so, sadly, I can't use this post for myself as I already have them!)  



Gift Idea for ANYONE

The first gift idea is this starbucks coffee cup. (Even though I am not a huge fan of Starbucks coffee)





Alright, does anyone else out there REALLY dislike drinking lukewarm coffee? For me, it's the worst, I won't drink it lukewarm  - it has to be hot.  It's like paying the bill after an amazing massage....all the stress that just left,  came back on - ha!  Yes, I view lukewarm coffee and bills one in the same - hee,hee.

I received this as a gift last year and let's just say, it's been used EVERY DAY SINCE.  I will never use another mug.  (I should buy myself another one just in case I lose it - HEY, I now have a Christmas idea for myself! LOL)

So, if you like coffee that stays HOT for a LONG time (around 3+ hours) this is the coffee cup to get.  The one receiving this gift will thank you forever, or you will just thank me forever if you get it for yourself - hee,hee!  (Just don't get burned with how HOT the coffee is, then you will hate me forever!)  Plus I love that it's stainless steel and has a gripping rubber bottom.  I promise, you'll love it.  (Read reviews if you don't believe me - hee,hee)



Gift idea for the person who loves GOOD coffee!

Areopress Coffee Maker


I'm not even sure what to say about this next one - maybe that I couldn't live without it - that it gives me morning hope that my life will turn out OK?  haha! 





Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker


Honestly, this makes the BEST cup of coffee.  Yes, a single cup of coffee :-)  So if you are making coffee for 5 people every morning I wouldn't recommend this but if it's just for you or you and your spouse I have not found anything that beats the SMOOTH, non bitter flavor.  It's very simple to use and a really great gift idea for under $30. (Who needs a 200.00 Keurig?)  Just read the reviews off Amazon......I won't have to convince you that it's a pretty awesome gadget. (And you can even TRAVEL with it - woo whoo.....it has accompanied me on many camping trips.)




Gift Idea for the person who cleans the house - LOL

This next idea is something I decided to try out and now I wouldn't live without one. I really do not like cleaning, BUT I have to say I actually get a little excited when I see a dust bunny dog running around as I can just grab my quick and easy vacuum sweeper!  

Nearly my entire first floor is wood and it's always showing the dirt and miscellaneous debris my kids are bringing in so I absolutely love being able to pull out my electronic sweeper instead of a broom.  It just goes SO FAST and it works great.  NOW, if you needed to do a deep cleaning sweeping job, I would still pull out the broom (to get all the nooks and crannies) but let's just say, I use the "old fashion" broom once a month and the rest of the time the easy electronic sweeper is fantastic.  (Especially for picking up the dog and Selina hair! haha.....yes, I shed nearly as much as the dog - I probably should have saved that for my next Fess Up post /-:) You can run this over carpet too and it will pick up surface stuff....but a real vacuum is better over carpet.


My favorite one is the Electrolux:




My crazy cleaning girl always crack me up - yes, we play music loudly when we clean as a family :-)






Best Gift for Kids (ages 4 - 12 ish)


Quadrilla Basic Set -
Quality Wooden Marble Run!



Finally, a quality toy you could give them that they would want to save for their OWN kids.  This is a ton of fun.  It comes with a booklet of all different templates of marble run ideas.  My kids have had this for years and STILL like pulling it out.  (my kids are 7,11 and 13 now)



Best Gift for Older Kids (ages 7 - 16 ish)


The Complete Calvin and Hobbes [BOX SET]

My kids were being VERY goofy for this "staged" photo :-)  


My children ADORE this collection (it has three large hardbound books in one case) and has entertained them for HOURS.  They never tired of it and sit by the fire and just laugh and laugh.  They quote me entire comic stripes and will tell me how Calvin would have reacted had HE been in a similar family situation  This is such a classic gift to get a child. My daughter (13) just told me again, "Ya, that was an AWESOME gift!" They are all hardbound and definitely something that could be passed down. :-)

Also as a side note, superhero COMIC books (xmen,marvel characters etc) are HUGE with this age group.  I have a feeling you might become the "cool" aunt/uncle if you got your niece/nephew one of these.  

My kids FAVORITE card games!
Tons of family fun. Adults will love these games too :-)





This game will have everyone on the edge of their seat!  Fast pace and vocal :-)  My 7 year old just saw me writing this and was jumping up and down saying "I want to play pit!"  Adults will enjoy this game too.  (Hey, has anyone notice I haven't put ONE electronic gadget on this kid list LOL, yes, that is on purpose! - You're welcome mom ;-)




Best Stocking Stuffer for a woman


Other than chocolate (Frango MINT being a GREAT option, :-) 




Try this fun sugar scrub for your lips :-)  Ha, okay, that's not really how the lip exfoliator looks!




I have LOVED using this elf lip exfoliator, it really makes your chapped lips soft.




I always enjoy getting smelly things like bubble bath and candles in my stocking too.  



Best Stocking Stuffer for a man

Alright, let's get REAL here.  Men are SO HARD to get things for.....in general, I can't seem to find anything my husband would like under $50.00.  Men don't seem to like little trinket stuff like us woman do (am I right about this?)  

So I'm at a LOSS of giving you lots of ideas on stocking stuffers for the significant other in your life BUT I know my husband loves Quest Bars.  He doesn't buy them very much because they aren't cheap, so this year I'll be adding a few of his favorite ones to his stocking.  He's also on an "eating right" kick so getting an amazing yummy COOKIES AND CREAM protein bars instead of his normal fancy licorice, mints and toffee will probably make him happy. :-)


betterwithcake
 (If anyone is laughing at me, I'd politely ask them to stop - hee,hee)



Alright, if the bars were "odd" - how about making him these DIY comic book coasters that he can put his new "everlasting hot" coffee cup on!




A few other MEN gift ideas are:

Gift Cards 
(For his favorite hobby - Fishing shop? Scuba shop? Hunting shop?)

Movie Tickets 
(You kind of score on that gift too.....hopefully - haha :-)  

Event Tickets.
(The sky is the limit! There are so many fun events to go to)

A Planned Romantic Getaway 
(If you have little kids, this gift might be the best present he ever got - ha)

Lesson/Classes 
(What would he enjoy? Cooking? Dancing? Brewing? Instrument?)

A Massage 
(My husband would like that....oh wait, not from ME, from this amazing Russian gal I found that is not afraid to actually WORK your muscles!)

PS - Anyone notices all those listed above are CLUTTER FREE!  That was just an extra bonus for ya :-)


That's it my friends!!! I hope I have given you a FEW ideas for Christmas this year.  At least you know they are things that are USEFUL and fun.





I'd love to hear what your favorite gifts have been - Although a mouse with a pink cage sounds delightful (hee,hee) I need ideas for ME! Just leave a comment!




ENJOY the season my friends! If you are new here - feel free to see my About Me page - I'd love to have you join in on the fun for future posts - the more the merrier :-)




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