Weeknight Dinner: Spaghetti Squash with Cheesy Chicken Meatballs

Dear Readers. I have missed you so much. Did you miss me? It sure has been a crazy three weeks! No, I haven’t abandoned you – I was just not here behind my little laptop on my comfy couch. What was I doing? Working, watching Imagine Dragons in concert, going to a luau on Lake Erie, going to bridal showers and feeding Mr. Grumpy turkey sandwiches, oatmeal and peanut butter banana sandwiches (recipe to come).

IMG_2696The recipe for the perfect peanut butter sandwich? Toast the bread, spread the peanut butter, place your naner slices on top, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar… OH MY GOD IT IS SO GOOD.

During this hiatus, I was able to spend a few days in Findlay with Suzie Q and DS, where my mom told me it was time I go on a diet. Ok – that’s an exaggeration. What really happened was that I told Suzie Q I needed to go on a diet, and she didn’t disagree. (Awesome). We decided to go on my diet AFTER we made these super yummy chocolate-covered strawberries:


Now, even though Mr. Grumpy thinks I’m just as BEE-U-TI-FUL as the day we met, I’ve gotten a little chunkier than I used to be. Listen, people. It’s called AGING. You can’t eat three boxes of mac n cheese and still expect to fit into your leggings from 7th grade. You can’t eat an entire pint of Mitchell’s ice cream and not expect your neck to sag. Why? Because that’s how God wanted it. Is it fair? No! So, Suzie Q and I went to work learning about the secret to all successful diets – PORTION CONTROL. Seriously – when you live with a Mr. Grumpy who eats an entire box of Nerds after dinner and still maintains his 23-year-old body (he’s almost 27 by the way), don’t try to keep up. Don’t even try. You will need new pants… among other things. 

Enter spaghetti squash. Now, Mr. Grumpy was not very happy when I brought this baby home. He thought it was a pumpkin, and when I explained it was not a pumpkin and that we’d be eating that instead of a bowl full of pasta for dinner, his face got very pale and he exclaimed, “But I wish we were eating pasta instead!” Get over it Mr. Grumpy. My reputation is on the line here.

Spaghetti squash, in case you’ve never had it, is a … squash … but when you cook it and take out the middle part, it looks just like spaghetti noodles. It’s really quite phenomenal. And it helps you avoid all those carbs that make your butt grow two times its normal size. Truth be told, I had never cooked it before. So, I asked my coworkers Debbie and Melissa what to do. They had some great advice, and I felt fully equipped going home that evening – ready to try to trick Mr. Grumpy into liking this vegetable.

Spaghetti Squash with Cheesy Chicken Meatballs

What You’ll Need: 

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus 1/4 tsp
  • 1/4 tsp pepper, plus 1/8 tsp
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (divided), plus some for garnish
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lb sweet Italian chicken sausage
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, whole
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 tbsp basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

First, preheat your oven to 350. While that heats, cut your spaghetti squash in half. Remove the seeds from the middle. Take one clove of garlic and mince it. Smoosh the garlic all over the two insides of the squash. Next, take a baking pan and cover it with aluminum foil. Pour 1/2 cup of water and place the squash face-down (so the open middle is facing the pan). Cook the squash for 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently grab the middle part out of the squash. It will shred like really tender chicken. That’s your pasta!

In the meantime, combine breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, egg, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, chicken sausage, 1 clove of minced garlic, and ketchup in a mixing bowl. Using a melon baller, scoop out the mixture one-by-one to make small, 1-inch sized meatballs. Place each meatball on a non-stick baking pan. Bake the finished meatballs for 20-25 minutes at 350, until they are slightly crispy on the outside and firm to touch.

Next, in a small pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Place onions in the pan and cook for about 7 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the final clove of garlic, minced, into the pan and stir. Add the can of diced tomatoes with the juice and the cherry tomatoes, whole. Add sugar and the remainder of salt, plus a dash of pepper. Let that simmer for about 20 minutes, until the cherry tomatoes are easy to pop (go ahead, pop ’em!). Add the remaining Parmesan cheese and stir.

Now, take your spaghetti squash and separate it into two bowls – one for you and one for your Mr. Grumpy. I put about 3/4 cup my bowl (Mr. Grumpy got about 1 cup). Add 1/4 cup of tomato sauce to the top, and add 1 tbsp of basil per bowl. Next, give each bowl a few meatballs. Sprinkle with about 1 tsp of Parmesan cheese, and voila! Healthy pasta!! We did it!!

Now, Mr. Grumpy got done eating our dinner, ran into the kitchen and grabbed a biscuit from the fridge. He yelled at the top of his lungs, “I’M EATING THIS BISCUIT!!!” and then stuffed the entire thing in his mouth. You’d think he had just defeated the diet beast. It was really quite alarming, but alas – whatever makes him happy I suppose (apparently that’s not spaghetti squash).

Also, for the record, luaus do not make Mr. Grumpy happy either. We learned that lesson once…

IMG_2224I took Mr. Grumpy to Luau on the Lake, and forced him to wear this beautiful floral necklace. Then, I made him stand in front of this beautiful plant. He was extremely pleased.
I took Mr. Grumpy to Luau on the Lake, and forced him to wear this beautiful floral necklace. Then, I made him stand in front of this beautiful plant. He was extremely pleased.

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