It was one of those weekends I had a lot to get done. Working full-time during the week, weekends are time for my “other jobs”, i.e. freelance writing, blogging, cooking, cleaning and trying to be a decent friend, wife and family member.
Turns out, I can’t do it all. Inevitably, I only achieve half of what I need to cram into the two short days I’m not in the office. It comes down to a choice. Sometimes, I choose to spend quality time catching up with a dear friend, like I did Friday. Or saying screw my to-do list and watching garbage TV for three hours, completely zoned out, i.e. Saturday. I consider it a win that I managed to clean the kitchen, do some laundry and have a nice dinner with my brother. Today was best spent with my mom, aunt and Oma over a long lunch.
No, I did not get everything done I needed to. Yes, I feel a little guilty about it. But what I don’t feel bad about is sometimes pushing everything I HAVE to do to the side and doing things I WANT to do. It’s a tricky battle in my head, but I’m trying to be better about making my weekends more focused on me time and spending time with those I love rather than always working. Balance is coming, slowly.
I did manage to get some home-cooked dinner on the table, also sometimes a triumph with everything else that’s going on. Luckily, this Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca Bake doesn’t take much effort. Sure, it takes time to roast the squash, and again to bake everything together, but at least it doesn’t require much brain power, since mine is feeling a little zapped.
I have a love/hate relationship with spaghetti squash. I love the idea of it — replacing pasta with a vegetable that sure looks and behaves a lot like traditional pasta. However, the texture is different, and it’s taken me a little while to get used to it. Adding a puttanesca sauce (a slightly salty and zingy tomato sauce) makes up for the spaghetti squash’s noticeable lack of carbs by being just flavorful enough to make you forget you’re not eating pasta.
It’s pasta without the guilt…while I’m working on life balance, without the guilt.
Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca Bake
1 medium spaghetti squash (about 2 pounds), halved, with seeds removed
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound chicken Italian sausage, casings removed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 (24 oz.) jar organic marinara sauce
3 Tablespoons capers, drained
1/4 cup chopped green olives with pimentos
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the spaghetti squash halves on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until it can be pierced with a fork. Set aside until it’s cool enough to handle.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up. When it’s nearly cooked through, add the bell pepper and cook until the peppers have softened.
Add the pasta sauce, capers, olives, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
When the squash is cool enough to handle, shred the flesh with a fork, creating spaghetti-like strands, and add them into a 13″x9″ casserole dish. Discard the squash skins. Pour the sauce over the spaghetti squash and mix it together until it’s totally combined.
Sprinkle with the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbling and the cheese has browned slightly.