Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spaghetti (Squash) and Meatballs, Apple Crumble Bars

Living GF has its ups and downs.  I would say, 98% ups.  The 2% downs mostly are due to my regularly occurring baking disasters.  Thursday night was the latest in a long string of these unfortunate wastes of perfectly good ingredients.  At this point, I have tried at least 4 different grain-free brownie recipes and it seems, it really is not going to happen.  I am done trying to create a yummy, chocolatey, fudgy brownie.  My favorite dessert, ever.  No matter what, it's either too dry, too cakey, too bland, too bitter, or too nutty tasting due to all the nutbutters.  This final and last attempt involved using "date-paste" as the sweetener and needless to say, turned out horribly.  I really am so upset about this.  But cocoa powder alone cannot create the consistency I'm looking for and an almond flour brownie just sounds wrong.  I had intended to bring said brownies over to our friends for dinner Friday night- and instead had to show up empty-handed, although that certainly was better than the alternative!

Anyways- I am happy to report that I redeemed myself today with two successful GFG approved creations.

Go get yourself a spaghetti squash and make this NOW!  I have to say I never cared much for pasta but I absolutely love marinara, every single kind of it- so this was a great opportunity to use quite a bit.  I was skeptical about the taste of squash and marinara together, and the texture too.  I was soooooooo pleasantly surprised.  This dish was incredibly easy and did not dissappoint in any way. Seriously- try it!

Spaghetti (Squash) and Meatballs
1 squash, halved lengthwise, seeded, and drizzled with EVOO and S&P
1 jar of your fave (homemade, store-bought, whatev) marinara
Prepared meatballs (click here for my Giada-inspired Meatballs)

Preheat oven to 350.  On a foil lined baking sheet, place both halves of squash cut side up.  Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt and pepper generously.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours.  Once it's finished, let it sit for 10-20 minutes so it can cool enough to handle.  Into a bowl, use a fork to scrape out all the "noodles."  If you want, sprinkle with some parm, EVOO, more S&P.  At this point, I dumped the warmed marinara and meatballs into the bowl and tossed everything together.  These days, there are great frozen, pre-cooked turkey meatballs at the store.  I got some from TJ's that I really liked, and they are a great quick protein for S.  Dinner was a breeze.  Of course, if you are planning on making meatballs anyways- why not make a double batch and freeze a bunch?!  Same goes for sauce.  It freezes great.  If a nice big plate of pasta and sauce sounds good to you, seriously try this.  It was hearty, filling, and a fun new take on spaghetti.

We had a few too many apples lying around so I decided to make a quick crumble.  Thanks to my new convection oven I was able to roast the squash, bake the crumble, and roast pumpkin seeds at the same time.  Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!  The recipe for the crumble originated at Chocolate-Covered Katie.  I changed it significantly and while I'm sure it pales in comparison to hers (which uses flour, brown sugar, and maple syrup) this version is really not bad at all!  I also recently made an Apple and Cherry Crumble that was quite good too.
Apple Crumble Bars (Vegan, grain-free, sugar-free)
1 1/2 cups almond flour
2 tbsp nut milk
3 tbsp vegan butter, like earth balance
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup stevia in the raw
2 cups chopped apple
15 drops Vanilla Creme Stevia
3 tbsp Orange Juice

Grease a 4x7 baking dish or casserole.  Combine flour, nut milk, cold vegan butter, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and stevia in a bowl.  Spread 2/3 of the mixture on the bottom of the dish.  In another bowl, toss apples with OJ (or just more nut milk) and Vanilla Creme Stevia.  Pour apples into the dish and then sprinkle remaining crumble mixture over the apples.  Bake 45-50 minutes until the top is golden.  No question- the addition of brown sugar and maple syrup is going to have a superior "crumble" taste.  The almond flour I can promise though, is a welcome addition.  I personally never bake with sugar anymore so wouldn't even try it- but for those of you watching your sugars, this is a fabulous approximation!  Hope you all had a wonderful weekend, and have a fantastic Halloween tomorrow! XoXoGFG

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