I convinced The Man and The Dogs to let me try another vegetarian recipe.
“It’s for the blog,” I said.
“Does the blog earn us any money?” The Man asked.
“Does this vegetarian recipe have bacon bits?” The Dogs asked. “Bacon bits do not count as meat.
“No,” I said. “And no. And yes… chopping meat into tiny bites and bits does not take away the qualities of meat.”
The Dogs decided to sleep through the recipe, which I understand. They’d had a hard day of barking at UPS drivers and squirrels, drooling on windows, and longing for meat products.
The Man did not sleep through the cooking. He had questions, sort of like a copy editor or something… So many questions about every little detail.
“Does this mean you’re finally going to get rid of the gigantic spaghetti squash that’s been in our bread box for months?’ The Man asked. “Because then I am good with this recipe as long as we can go get pizza later.”
I have a lot to put up with here. Obviously.
This bad boy recipe is really loosely adapted from a much grander recipe from Cookie and Kate. You should check them out and applaud the beauty that is their website.
For background if you are new to this part of my blog:
Everyone always talks about writing being like cooking.
Clarification: By everyone, I mean writers. Writers like to talk about themselves.
Anyways, there are a million blogs about how writing is like cooking, but not really anything about cooking like a writer. So, our new Thursday segment is now COOKING LIKE A WRITER.
What does this mean?
It means I’m going to share one recipe with you each Thursday and it’s not going to be shiny and pretty and slick. It’s going to be real, people, because writers of kidlit are authentic AF.
Here is your Thursday recipe. The hardest part is cutting the damn squash, honestly. It was so hard! I had to get help.
Burrito Bowl inside a Spaghetti Squash! Say What the What?
Writers! YOU CAN DO THIS! You can make a thought into a story. Of course you can make a squash into a burrito!
Also, the calories are on the upper end of the scale because I’m imagining you’re using a lot of toppings because writers are like that if we have other jobs. If you don’t have another job, you probably won’t use cheese, right? Because cheese is expensive! And maybe not as many beans? Then your count is going to be in the 250 range.
THESE ARE THE ROASTED SQUASH INGREDIENTS – ACT ONE
- 2 squash – medium, take out its innards and seedy things.
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- salt – dash
- pepper – a few dashes
THESE ARE THE SLAW INGREDIENTS – ACT TWO
- 1 package cole slaw mexican salad mix OR two cups of green cabbage shredded
- 1 can black beans, drain it because it's icky if you don't
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup green onion – all parts white and green, we love all parts here
- 1/3 cup cilantro
- 3 TBSP lime juice
THESE ARE THE SALSA SAUCE INGREDIENTS – ACT THREE
- 3/4 cup salsa verde
- 1 avocado – make it ripe, dice it up
- 1 TBSP lime juice – yes, again with the lime juice
- 1/4 tsp salt – yes, again with the salt
- 1/3 cup cilantro, you've got it, again with the cilantro
- 1 clove garlic
Random garnishes if you are into that – cheese, more cilantro because we're trying to increase the livelihood of those who produce cilantro, I guess?
I am so sorry. But you have to cut the squash in half. I know! I know! This is hard. This requires muscles. Writers’ only muscles are in our fingers. This is not enough to chop spaghetti squash in half.
Recruit help to cut the squash in half. This is like a beta reader. It’s okay for a writer/cook to have back-up. Just make sure they are strong.
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit because that’s important. You can do this. This just requires finger muscles to set the degrees. You’ve got this, writer!
Spread the olive oil on the squash. Pretend it is the tears that have coalesced after rejection letters. Look at you! You’re tears are making something delicious.
Add salt and pepper because why not, honestly?
Flip the squash over so that the inside parts are now down against the baking sheet. Think about how this is like your own inside parts, hidden inside your story. This is you, this squash! This is your heart and soul hidden from the reader but turning into something beautiful.
Put the pan in the oven! THIS IS IMPORTANT! Use those writing muscles and eat the time for 40 minutes, but it might take an hour. Squash like stories don’t really follow perfect schedules and some take a little longer. It’s done when a fork can pierce through the flesh.
DO NOT MAKE THE SQUASH YOUR OBJECTIVE CORRELATIVE! I promise. It is not you. It is not your writer soul. You do not need to be pierced easily with a fork. You must remain intact. Take a moment to breathe. You’ve got this.
Okay. Are you okay? Make sure you’re okay. Don’t think about rejections or bad reviews. Take the slaw mix. Add black beans, the red pepper, the cilantro, the lime juice, the olive oil, the salt, the tears. Toss it around. Let it marinate. This is just like writing a book, isn’t it? Leave it alone for a bit. Do not check it out. It’s good. It’s parts are mixing up and complimenting each other like plot and setting and action and voice and dialogue. Actually, maybe walk away from the kitchen and post an Instagram poem about squash and flesh and forks and marinating slaw.
Okay. It’s salsa time! Do you feel happier? Did you write a poem? Did anyone like it? Find a blender. Borrow a blender if you don’t have one. It’s like borrowing a plot – totally not a big deal. Cough. Okay. So in the blender put the avocado, the salsa verde, the cilantro and lime juice. Add the garlic because this is not a YA novel set in Seattle. No sparkly vampires here, baby.
Writer. Um… I forgot to tell you to plug in the blender. Put the top on. Press BLEND. Watch things blend. Blend it till smooth. Marvel at how all these random bits come together to make something yummy. These bits are like your thoughts! Wow…. That’s deep!
Dude. You are amazing. You have made three parts of something! IT IS LIKE THE OLD BORING THREE-ACT STRUCTURE OF A STORY! Whoah… Mind blown. Do a happy dance. You’re amazing.
Assemble it! Fluff the squash innards up. Put slaw into the hollowed out squash places. Put the salsa verde mix on top. Dang. Look at that. Garnish if you want. Eat your masterpiece! You did this, writer! You!
Man’s Verdict: That was surprisingly good actually and hearty. Probably because like you know the beans and the spaghetti squash has some density to it. The slaw is like a binder. Through some hot sauce in there.
Dog’s Verdict: Why do you hate us?
Carrie’s Verdict: This was pretty yummy, but cutting a spaghetti squash is so super hard. There must be an easier way to do that. Wait! I should check the internet for ways to do that.
The ways are here, thanks to Trial and Eater.
Also, my middle grade fantasy series, TIME STOPPERS, is totally out there in the world thanks to the wonderful people at Bloomsbury. It’s about two kids finding love and acceptance and friendship even though their lives have been super horrible. One of them was raised by trolls pretending to be people. Apparently, there are a lot of trolls out there.
It’s sort of Harry Potter crossed with Percy Jackson crossed with Inkheart, but set in Bar Harbor and Northeast Harbor, Maine and it’s full of magic and adventure, but mostly it’s full of friendship. Because friends? Friends matter.
To find out more about it, you can go here. I hope you all have an amazing day and eat yummy food and nobody torments you too much. Watch out for trolls.