For the last few weeks I have seen nothing but turkey, stuffing, pie and "green bean casserole" recipes and I have been a little bit jealous. Here in Canada, we had our Thanksgiving months ago, or so it seems like it. After seeing so many Thanksgiving recipes and roundups, I had a huge craving for brussel sprouts. I guess you know you're officially an adult when you actually crave green vegetables.
I wanted to make brussel sprouts as a side to something, but I wasn't sure what to make. Then that idea progressed into making a mini "Thanksgiving" dinner on American Thanksgiving Sunday. I didn't want to buy a whole turkey, so I made vegetarian stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts with some homemade pumpkin pie for dessert.
I use spaghetti squash as a substitute in quite a few dishes now. According to Chatelaine Magazine, spaghetti squash is only 44 calories a cup and if you use half of it instead of a full pasta serving, you can cut down on 100 calories. Traditional turkey stuffing, on the other hand--as well as consuming a plate of Thanksgiving goodness--probably has a lot more calories. I didn't actually find any recipes based on my creation. I found a lot of "stuffed spaghetti squash" recipes, but no, "spaghetti squash stuffing" recipes. So, this is an invention of my own.
A traditional stuffing with half spaghetti squash instead of bread. It might not cut down on all of your holiday calories, but the small things help right? If you had a turkey, you could put the turkey neck on top of the stuffing to add some more juice or cook the stuffing right inside.
Spaghetti Squash Stuffing1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 spaghetti squash
4 pieces of sliced bread or day-old baguette
1 cup chicken stock
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup crushed walnuts
1 handful of fresh sage and rosemary
Directions:1. Leave the bread out for a few hours to make it a bit stale.
2. Microwave the spaghetti squash for about 5 minutes then scoop out the filling. Combine vegetables, bread, herbs, raisins and walnuts in a casserole or baking dish.
3. Pour chicken stock and then egg over the mixture. Mix up with your hands.
4. Cover and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes.
Since I'm in the holiday spirit, I thought I would do something to give back. Of course, it's important to give all year round, but I just happened to stumble across a wonderful opportunity. Soup Sisters is an initiative dedicated to providing comfort to women and children in need through the making and sharing of soup.
Once a month, at Soup Sister events across Canada, ladies (and gentlemen too, called the Broth Brothers) get together for a soup-making event in a professional kitchen under the supervision of a chef. Anyone can sign up for an event and some even sign up in groups as a night out with girlfriends. Events are a chance for people to get together to make soup and then have a nice meal together afterwards.
We were separated into four teams to make four different types of soup: mushroom, lentil, chicken noodle and hamburger soup. I was on team "Hamburger Soup" and our soup included tomatoes, barley, ground beef, carrots and celery. I helped chop some carrots and celery, while my other team members added the ingredients to the pot and stirred. The recipes were printed out on each station and we also wrote out the ingredients on labels that were going to be on the soup containers for the Women's House.
After all of the soups were made, we all sat down for dinner and wine. The meal started with a moroccan salad of quinoa, lentils and vegetables. The chef wouldn't tell us her secret recipe, but I think I'm going to recreate it at home some time.
Then cheese biscuits, warm right out of the oven, were passed around in anticipation for the soup.
The soup du jour was Moroccan chicken stew. The chef leading the event also teaches cooking classes and had taught a Moroccan cooking class that day, hence the theme. So we ate the leftover soup from her cooking class instead of eating the soup we made. Overall, we made about 70 litres of soup that night, which is about 150 individual servings. The soup gets packaged up and delivered the next morning to the shelter kitchens.
I didn't have enough cash on me to purchase a Soup Sisters Cookbook at the event, but I am planning to pick one up soon for a Christmas gift. It was a nice evening out and a chance to give back, as well as pick up some new cooking skills and recipes. There are monthly events across Ontario, including Ottawa, Toronto and Kitchener, so check out their website for bookings or to donate.