The kids are getting old enough that they REALLY enjoy doing messy crafts and seasonal crafts and crafty crafts. And I’m always dragging my feet thinking… I hate messy crafts! Easter isn’t about eggs and chicks and bunnies! The prep work… the clean up… I’m too lazy!
Anyway, this weekend we did two (yes! TWO!) Spring/Easter crafts and it actually wasn’t even awful.
The two older kids and I dyed Easter eggs- they particularly enjoyed the trick where we drew on the egg with a crayon first and then the picture was revealed when we dyed it. We made an egg with each kid’s name, I drew a few bunny faces, Katie made a happy face and some polka dots. They turned out cute! Once the eggs were dry, all three kids enjoyed adding stickers to the eggs.
All three kids also really enjoyed making little pretzel chicks. We had some orange colored “chocolate chips” leftover, so we melted those and then I poured them over pretzel twists. We added orange and black sprinkles to make beaks and eyes and legs. This little endeavor turned out messier than I expected, and the chocolate hardened too fast to decorate them all, and James kept picking his up before they were hard and dripping orange goo everywhere, and blah blah blah. One or two turned out cute and the kids were happy and they were pretty yummy, so I guess in the end it was a success.
PS- happy April 14 from sunny Colorado!
I brought an appetizer to a dinner a few nights ago and decided to make something from what I have on hand… I came up with this recipe using spinach and artichoke dip as my inspiration- and it is YUMMY!
Hot Artichoke Pesto Crab Dip
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese or neufchâtel- room temp
1/4 cup 3 pepper mayonnaise
1/2 cup prepared pesto (we use the large jar from Costco)
1 can artichoke hearts- cut into small pieces
1 can real crab meat
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese + more to sprinkle on top
Mix all ingredients, pour into a baking dish (I used an 8×6 8 cup pyrex) and bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve with crackers or bread.
I’m seriously such a bad blogger- I snapped this picture before I baked it, but forgot to take another one when it came out all beautiful… just imagine it!
Leftovers? We ended up with about half of the dip leftover, so the next night I tossed it with some half and half, diced shrimp and whole grain spaghetti noodles, then baked it for 20 minutes. Also yummy!
Well hello! Even though I’m the most erratic blogger E V E R, I thought I’d get a post up with the details about this year’s Christmas ornament… mostly because the story behind it makes me happy.
When my dad died this past April, we spent time a lot of time reminiscing about our favorite dad quirks and sayings… my dad sure had a lot of them! He was always saying things like “Mess with the bull, you get the horns” and “I’ll give you something to cry about!” Or when he’d come into the house he’d shout “Don’t pay the ransom, we escaped!” One of his funny quirks was that he hated pennies… he thought they were worthless and would sometimes go on about how he wouldn’t bother to bend over to pick one up, or how when he got a handful of change he would throw away the pennies on his way out the door. This, of course, led to a general sense of outrage by the rest of his cheapskate family, and resulted in several practical jokes involving pennies- glued into jars, covering a box containing a gift, an April Fools Day penny tree, over the years there were many. On the day of my dad’s burial we each placed a penny on his coffin before it was lowered as a way of sending him off. So I knew early on that I wanted this years Christmas ornament to somehow involve pennies in his honor.
I started trolling Pinterest and came across these two ideas, and decided to meld the two together…
I ended up with this!
front of penny wreath ornament
back of penny wreath ornament
I am very happy with how they turned out… but man, it was tricky to get them to come together! It took several different tries before I found a glue/circle size/orientation that was sturdy enough to stay together. I ended up using Mod Podge Dimensional Magic to cover the green wrapping paper circles- I liked that it didn’t require time in the oven to set, but did find that it took well more than 24 hours to fully cure. It also kept lifting off with the E6000 glue I used to assemble the wreath, so I finally made the ornaments reversible (I originally envisioned two layers of green facing up with a plain penny back side) so I was only gluing metal to metal and not metal to Dimensional Magic. I think that ended up turning out nicely anyway, since you often see the backs of ornaments.
It makes me happy to have a Christmas ornament in my dad’s honor and makes me laugh to think of what his reaction would have been to receive one. Of course our first Christmas without him just wasn’t the same. We missed you, dad!
Since I’m on here posting I thought I’d attach a crummy photo of our Christmas card…
and a copy of the actual picture since the card came out so dark…
Happy New Year to you and your family… make the most of your time together this year.
Last year our family had such a great trip to Arbol de Vida, that we decided to do it again! We will be driving down on Nov 22 and returning on Nov 28, just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. We are so excited that most of the families who joined us last year are returning this year, and we are excited to welcome at least one new family on our adventure. Our kids have talked nonstop about returning to Juarez since our last trip- and they’ve had a countdown going for months! It was one of the highlights of last year, and we are so glad that we will be able to do it again.
We are humbly asking for donations to help us cover the cost of our trip, and to provide for some of the needs at the orphanage. As we did last year, we plan to bring a complete Thanksgiving dinner to share with everyone at the orphanage. Our out of pocket expenses will include gas and two night’s motel stay. We have a pretty extensive list of items that we’d like to provide for the orphanage (kitchen utensils, window and shower curtains and rods, toiletries and clothes for the kids) and we would like to bring a van full of supplies down with us again. While we are there, we have several construction projects on our list, and I’m also planning a few crafts, including pillowcases that each student can decorate, desk organizers, and some type of chalk/bulletin board (since the walls are all cinderblock and hard to personalize!). We also always want to be sure that we leave enough money at the orphanage to cover our food and other expenses while we stay with them.
In addition to bringing items that the orphanage needs with us, this year we plan to interview each student and put together personal Christmas wish lists. Our hope is to then pair each student from Arbol de Vida with a student from South Fellowship Church, who can pray for that student and provide some of the requested items to him or her for Christmas. A group from South Fellowship will be visiting Arbol de Vida the week after Christmas and will hand deliver the gifts.
As was the case last year, safety is always a factor, and we appreciate your prayers for the long drive and for our time in Mexico. While we were there last year we stayed within the compound for our entire visit and never felt unsafe, but it is always a concern. We also ask for prayers for our time with the students, that they would know God’s love through us and that we would quickly connect with them and build relationships with them. We hope to be an encouragement to them and to remind them that they are not forgotten and that their lives matter!
In addition to monetary donations, we are collecting donations of new socks and underclothes in sizes appropriate for teenagers, full size toiletries, and rugs and floor mats. All donations can be sent directly to us. We hope to receive all donations prior to Nov 15-
Chris or Melody Benschoter
2285 Wynterbrook Dr.
Highlands Ranch CO 80126
Please let us know if you will be praying for us. We appreciate every one of you who supports us!
With the love of Christ,
Chris, Melody, JT, Kate and James
I have two new recipes for you! No pictures, but let me assure you, both of these recipes were excellent and got rave reviews from the fam. For the rice bowls I combined the basic idea of 2 different recipes to get the flavor I wanted… they turned out so great, and they are super healthy if you go easy on the sour cream and cheese! The Tuscan Chicken was a Pinterest find and man it turned out yummy! This one is also very healthy- I thought I had fresh spinach, and then I didn’t, so I subbed in fresh asparagus and it was so good!
Fish and Rice Bowls
1 boil in the bag brown rice- prepared
1 can black beans- rinsed and drained
1 mango- diced (could substitute peach if you prefer)
1 bell pepper- diced (we abhor peppers, so we skipped them, but they are so good for you, so add them if you like them!)
1 jar mango salsa (I used store brand)
4 tilapia fillets
Heat oil in skillet. Season tilapia with Mexican seasonings and sauté in oil until white and flaky.
Assemble all ingredients in large bowls and enjoy!
Serves 4 (or 2 adults and 3 kids)
Tuscan Chicken with White Beans
4 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper, to taste
cheesy garlic (or garlic powder), to taste
basil, to taste
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15 oz can of Italian diced tomatoes, drained
1 15 oz can of great northern beans, rinsed & drained
2 cups of baby spinach (I subbed in about half a pound of fresh asparagus, cut into bite size pieces)
Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the bacon is slightly crispy, place it on a paper towel then cut it into bite size pieces. Drain all but 1 tsp of the bacon grease from the skillet. Add 1 tsp olive oil to the bacon grease in the skillet and heat on medium high. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic, and basil, on both sides. Once the skillet is hot, add the seasoned chicken and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the skillet, cover with a tin foil tent, and set aside.
Add the remaining teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 4-5 minutes or until tender. Add the minced garlic, and cook stirring continuously for 1 minute. Add the drained diced tomatoes and white beans. Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the spinach (or asparagus), season with more salt, pepper, and basil, to taste. Pour the juices from the chicken into the pan and mix well. Ladle the beans and spinach onto a serving dish then top with chicken. Serve immediately. Enjoy.
Serves 4 (or 2 adults and 3 kids)
Hello friends! I know, I know… I’ve fallen off the face of the earth. Frankly, this past year I’ve had to cut WAY back on all non-essentials. And blogging just didn’t make the cut. Now that James is almost a year old I’m hoping I’ll have a little more time for writing. We’ll see.
I decided that today was the day to write a quick post to show you the Christmas ornaments I made this year as well as the card we ended up sending out. I can still blog about Christmas in January, right? Good, because I’m so pleased with both projects! I have to say that it is SO GREAT having Pinterest to turn to- both my ornaments and cards were inspired by pictures I found on Pinterest. It’s so nice to have hundreds of other’s ideas to inspire me and a place to keep them to refer back to later!
For our Christmas card I combined a couple of cute photo ideas into one card. You can see my inspiration here and here. I thought that this pose was so sweet and this was the year to do it, with a baby in the house! It also helped that JT took ownership of it and really wanted to act out the nativity. He can be pretty tricky to capture photos of right now (he loves to turn his back to the camera and give a stinky face) so I tried to get him excited about the photo shoot and let him contribute ideas and be a big helper. We also bribed the big kids with the promise of a candy cane before dinner if they cooperated- I’m not above bribery!
All we did was round up a few brown and tan and blue blankets, wrap them around the kids and set them in front of the tree before we put the ornaments on it. They really enjoyed being Mary and Joseph and seeing James as little baby Jesus. I think that part of it’s charm is it’s simplicity- it gets the idea across without actual costuming. I was thrilled that one of the cardstore.com templates included the phrase O Holy Night with a bible verse- it was the theme I was planning to use and I thought I was going to have to design it myself. Turns out they did all the work for me! (Please excuse the cellphone pics- our camera is on the fritz again and we’ve decided to make due with our phones. It’s hard to complain about not having a working camera when we both enjoy the luxury of new iPhones!)
When it came to the message on the inside of the card I went around and around about what I wanted to say. I try to be real and don’t want people to think that our kids are always sweet and “holy”- we took 40 some pictures and only got the one that I was happy with! Plus I was taking advantage of an awesome deal from cardstore.com- by having them send the cards directly, each card cost less than the price of the stamp, but it also meant that I wouldn’t be hand writing any messages on them this year. So I ended up using one of our funnier outtakes and writing a short message about how most of our pictures weren’t picture perfect.
I am really pleased with how they came out. What do you think?
For my ornaments this year, I had been pinning every idea that I liked for months and months. Nothing really spoke to me until I saw this ornament in late October- I knew instantly that it was the one! I ended up using 4 different fabrics that I had on hand and a variety of trims- no two are alike. Unfortunately, I seem to have given away all of the ornaments with green fabric! I didn’t realize it until I went to take pictures and discovered all of ours are white! (When I make ornaments I always keep one for Chris and I and one for each of the kids. When they grow up and move out each kid will have a nice little collection of ornaments for their new home. I also make one for each of my nephews for the same reason.)
I found the little trees and the salt shakers online and then used fabric and beads and trim I already had. I tried filling them with regular table salt first, but it didn’t have enough sparkle, so I ended up using a mixture of half table salt and half epsom salt. I think they turned out darling!
I ended up making a second batch of ornaments this year. My group of girlfriends loves to celebrate with sprinkles and when I saw this idea I knew I had to make it happen! When I ordered the trees I also ordered a package of clear glass ball ornaments. I already had a big jar of sprinkles, so all I had to do was fill them up, hot glue the tops and tie them with a cute length of ribbon!
I was glad that I made these this year, because the gifts I ordered for the kids’ teachers didn’t come in time. I ended up making four more sprinkle ornaments at the last minute and tucking each one in a pair of Christmas socks for a cute little teacher gift. Of course the gifts I ordered came the next day… so I’m keeping them in reserve for the next time I need a teacher gift!
So there you have roundup of my December creativity. I hope it inspires you!
We make small plans: God multiplies and magnifies and the truly incredible happens! He is not limited by our imaginations! When we started talking about going to Juarez several months ago, we were basically inviting ourselves to tag along with one other family so we could cook a meal. Now, less than 2 weeks before we leave, we are expecting 5 families to make this journey with us- for a total of 10 adults and 18 children, ranging in age from 6 months (yes, another baby even younger than James is coming!) up to 17! The momentum that we are gaining (no blog title pun intented!) is nothing short of miraculous.
On Friday night we gathered with a house full of people for an information meeting about our upcoming trip to Arbol de Vida. The Schrimps are a couple with whom Chris works at Cherry Hills, they have lived at Arbol de Vida and continue to faithfully serve the orphanage from Colorado. They will be heading up this little adventure, and they were able to give us more specifics regarding the mission and purpose of Arbol de Vida, our safety risks while in the Juarez area, travel to and from Mexico, and the needs at the orphanage. We were also able to meet all of the families who will be joining us and to brainstorm about the difference we can make together. We’ve had so many great questions in response to our first letter I thought I’d put as much information as possible into one place for you.
The goal of Arbol de Vida is to provide a safe, family environment to youth who would otherwise be on the streets where they would surely turn to the gangs and/or to prostitution just to survive. Because these boys and girls receive an education, learn job skills, and learn about Jesus, there is hope for the future of Juarez. These youth are life in a town that is desperate for revival. Arbol de Vida is literally fostering the future of Mexico. Unlike many orphanages that cut off services when the child turns 18, Arbol de Vida is committed to the long term success of it’s charges. They provide a safe home for as long as it’s needed, they continue to provide training and support into adulthood, and they serve as a resource when life outside of their walls gets complicated.
In regard to safety, we will not be using the main border crossing into Juarez, but a small crossing well outside of town. The compound where we are headed is less than 7 minutes across the US/Mexico border. We will not be taking our kids into the city of Juarez- and in fact I doubt if any of us will go into town at all. If we do have needs that arise, it is safer and easier to cross back into El Paso, Texas to get what we need. The property that the orphanage is on is protected by armed guards who are loyal to the children of the orphanage and to anyone who is coming to serve them. Despite all of the well deserved bad press that Juarez gets, the orphanage is much safer and is apart from the main areas of danger. The town knows and respects the people who run Arbol de Vida and the gangs and drug cartels have left them alone (and in some cases support them!). We have been told that they have only ever had one problem- years ago some looters came in and stole and damaged some property and roughed up one of the workers- and that actually served to increase the protective nature of the surrounding community and the guards. We will be sleeping in the dorms, Chris and JT will be in the boy’s wing in their own bedroom, and I will have Kate and James with me in a private room in the girl’s wing. We will have access to clean, safe water- for drinking and bathing. The orphanage has it’s own aquifer well and reverse osmosis filtering system.
We have made one change to our itinerary- we decided to leave on Friday (Nov 16) to get a head start on the drive. We would like to meet up with all of the other families and cross into Mexico together on Saturday afternoon well before dark sets in. We decided that it is unrealistic to attempt the entire 11 hour drive on Saturday since we are expecting stops at least every three hours to feed James and to keep the kids from revolting. This means we will require an extra night in a hotel and does add to our expenses, but it seems like a more feasible itinerary.
Regardless of all that, we feel strongly that there is no place safer than where God has called us. We are trying to be as smart as possible in our planning, but we also have to trust that since God has put it on our hearts to go that He will protect us as He sees fit. Truly, I am more concerned with the logistics of the drive and time at the orphanage with three small children than our safety due to violence.
As to what we’ll be doing while we’re at Arbol de Vida, it turns out they have plenty for us to do! Because of the unrest in Juarez over the past 5 years, most of the U.S. support to the orphanage has dried up. People have stopped coming to serve, people have stopped sending money, and the youth there feel forgotten and abandoned. We hope to change that- by spending a few days with them and showing them that they are not forgotten and that they are important to us! We are planning to provide a big festive meal for them, repair some damage to their buildings, provide sporting equipment, and do some craft projects with them (we’re thinking we will make no-sew bags, duct tape wallets and purses, and hair accessories). We also will be bringing some specific items that they have requested- bras and underclothes, church clothes, toiletries and hygiene items, new bedding, etc. I believe that they deserve better than our cast offs, more than a check sent from afar. They deserve for someone to spend time with them, to look into their eyes and to show them that they are valuable. That they are beautiful. That their life is worth something. That they can make a difference in their community.
If you have already sent us money to help cover our expenses, THANK YOU! As of today our family’s budgeted travel expenses are completely paid for ($800!). As a group, we are hoping that we will raise enough money to purchase ALL of the supplies and goods that we have on our wish list. Our group goal is to raise $1500 for the building supplies and I estimate that we need an additional $2000 for the rest of our purchases. Specifically, we want to pay the orphanage for all of the food and expenses related to our group’s stay, buy food for a turkey dinner, paint, building, and roofing supplies, toiletries, undergarments and hygiene items for the girls, dress clothes for the boys, bedding, supplies to make crafts, and sports equipment. If you have considered making a contribution toward our trip, there is still time and we would love your support! We would also love to know if you have decided to partner with Arbol de Vida directly, it would mean so much to us to know that because of our trip you have decided to support their work.
We definitely appreciate and need your prayers. Of course, please pray for our safety. We are facing long hours on the highway, border crossings, and the risks of Juarez. Pray for good health for each member of our family. Please pray for unity among those of us serving together. Pray for the Spirit of the Living God to fall on Juarez- not just while we are there, but that revival would occur and that the community would be renewed. Please pray for the boys and girls who live at Arbol de Vida. Pray that they would reject the lies that they aren’t valuable, that life on the streets is the best they can hope for, that it’s time for them to strike out on their own. Pray that they will be encouraged by our visit and that they will continue to have hope for the future. Pray that our children would have soft hearts and develop a love for serving others. Please pray that us parents would have extra patience and wisdom as we are facing extra stresses there. Please pray as we continue to prepare for our trip, that the essentials will not be forgotten and that the details will fall into place. I’m sure that you can think of many other blessings to pray over us, and I encourage you to do so. I would love to know if you are committed to praying over our trip- please let me know!
I understand that we will have some cell phone coverage and internet access while we are in Mexico. I am hoping to keep my blog and Facebook updated while we are there so that you can know how to pray and what we are accomplishing along the way.
If you would like to support us financially, you can mail a check directly to us-
Melody or Chris Benschoter
2285 Wynterbrook Dr
Highlands Ranch, CO 80126
If you want to learn more about Arbol de Vida or would like to support them directly you can access their facebook page at www.facebook.com/TreeofLifeJuarez or their website at www.treeoflifejuarez.org.
Thank you for your love and support! I have loved hearing your reactions and responses this past week!
When Chris and I got married we set some short and long term goals for our family. One of our short term goals was to serve on a mission trip together before we had children. Sadly, we didn’t meet that goal- in the busyness of life it is something that got pushed off time and again. As JT and Kate are growing old enough to understand and follow our example as Christ followers, it has become more and more important to us to live out the gospel intentionally with and before our children. Our desire is to love our neighbors both near and far and to serve widows and orphans the best that we can as a family.
A few months ago Chris was chatting with a coworker about Arbol de Vida, the orphanage that he works with in Juarez, Mexico and that our church happens to support. During the conversation it was mentioned that last year the children had oatmeal for dinner on Thanksgiving. It’s like a lightbulb went on and we saw a need that we could meet. Why not provide Thanksgiving to these children? Why not bring our family down and serve it to them ourselves?
Chris and I have decided to answer God’s call to take our family on an adventure in serving Him over the week of Thanksgiving this year. On November 17 we will be joining the Schrimp family, the Babb family, and possibly two more families in driving 11 hours south to Juarez, Mexico to serve the children and staff at Arbol de Vida. We will be returning on Thanksgiving day, hopefully in time to celebrate with family at home.
We are excited for an opportunity to expose JT, Kate, and James to another culture, to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others, to love some children who can use extra love, to help meet practical needs at the orphanage, to show our children how God gives to us so that we can give to others, and to provide a turkey dinner with all the trimmings to the residents of Arbol de Vida. (Thank goodness I cooked Thanksgiving by myself for the first time last year! God knew what was in store for us this year!)
We are nervous about spending 22 hours+ with our three (very young!) kids in the car (especially since James is still breast feeding every 3 hours!), border crossings and travel in another country, safety on the road and in a town known for violence and drug wars, spending 4 nights in a dormitory (no naps = cranky kids!), exposing our children to the older children of the orphanage (most of the orphans are middle and high school aged), and living and sharing the gospel when we have so much to learn ourselves.
How can you support us on this adventure? First and foremost we need your prayers. We know that all things are possible with God and that prayer is a powerful agent of change. We will face many challenges during this adventure and will need an extra measure of wisdom and grace and patience as we face the unknown. Second, we would appreciate your financial support. We will require gas for the round trip drive, a hotel stay for one night, and groceries, toiletries, and goodies (all of which must be purchased in Mexico) for the children of Arbol de Vida. We would like to lavish the kids and staff with love and practical goods while we are there. If you feel called to support us, whether through prayer or gifts of money please let us know before November 10.
Thank you for your love and support-
Chris, Melody, JT, Kate, and James Benschoter
I mentioned previously that I struggle with low carb side dishes. Unfortunately, when it comes to vegetables I don’t typically venture very far beyond frozen corn and peas (although I did develop weird cravings for asparagus during my pregnancy with JT and I still love it!). So, we’re trying to explore new frontiers and I’m trying to be a little more creative with using vegetables in my cooking. I’ve been perusing the www for inspiration and pinning like a madwoman to my South Beach board on Pinterest. I decided to make a yummy balsamic glazed salmon for dinner tonight from my South Beach 30 minute cookbook (one of my go to cookbooks) and literally came up with a brand new veggie/bean side dish on the spot. For someone who doesn’t usually create new recipes out of thin air I was pretty impressed! Chris said that both the salmon and the spinach with black beans were winners. Culinary victory!
Spinach with Black Beans
1 TBS olive oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 handful of bacon bits (I use the large Costco bag)
several handfuls of fresh spinach
1 dash lemon juice (I get mine in a bottle!)
2 dashes cheesy garlic
Heat the olive oil in a skillet, add garlic and bacon bits and cook for 2 minutes. Add black beans, spinach, lemon and cheesy garlic. Cook until spinach is wilted and everything is warmed through, tossing several times. Serve warm.
In other news, this is what my kids are doing as I type up this recipe…
and James started solids a few weeks ago- so far he loves avocado and banana! He is so sweet. If only he’d take a bottle when I’m at work!
Chris and I decided that it’s time to start losing the baby weight. Three kids in 4 years has not been kind to either of our waistlines. Not at all. So we decided that it’s time to crack the whip and buckle down and get serious and go back on South Beach. We did the South Beach diet about 6 years ago and we both lost more than 25 pounds fairly easily. Then we moved and started having babies and slipped back into old habits and convenience foods. And said yes to chocolate. And cookies. And chocolate cookies. Now it’s time to say goodbye to all that and hello to a healthier lifestyle and way of eating. Bummer.
One of the problems we had with South Beach when we did it several years ago is that Chris would much rather have a casserole for dinner than a piece of meat with a veggie on the side, and I always feel like my plate is missing something without a carb as a side dish. Now that it’s so easy to find recipes online I’ve been looking for easy and yummy meals that will fit the bill- they meet the requirements of the South Beach diet and satisfy my casserole loving man. I stumbled upon a great blog called Kalyn’s Kitchen, which features hundreds of South Beach friendly recipes. While perusing her archives I came across this recipe for Spaghetti Squash Gratin and decided that I could add some meat to make it a main dish. Of course I didn’t have some of her ingredients and I mixed things up to suit our tastes, but we were all VERY pleased with how this turned out- even JT ate a full serving. This will be going into the regular rotation for sure. It’s a cheesy, filling, flavorful casserole that tastes much less healthy than it really is!
Spaghetti Squash, Sausage and Kale Gratin
1 spaghetti squash
cheesy garlic (or other seasoning blend)
1 bunch kale (5-6 cups chopped, you could also use other greens like spinach, collards, or chard.)
1 pound turkey sausage
1 large onion, diced (you know I always use frozen diced onion)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 T minced garlic
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup reduced fat feta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus more for topping
1 egg, beaten
Preheat your oven to 400º. Wash the spaghetti squash, then carefully cut it in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and the gunk and discard. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the squash halves face up on the baking sheet. Rub the cut sides of your squash with olive oil, then sprinkle each side with cheesy garlic. Pour 1/2 inch of water into the pan around the bottom of the squash and roast for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool, then separate into strands with a fork. (Don’t turn your oven off yet!)
Meanwhile, wash and dry your kale (a paper towel or salad spinner will work). Remove the large stems and dice or shred leaves into small pieces.
In a large fry pan, brown the turkey sausage- remove most of the grease if there is a lot in your pan. Then add chopped onion, oregano, and black pepper and saute until onion is softened- 2-3 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add all of the kale to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes, tossing regularly until kale is wilted to about half size.
Gently mix the shredded spaghetti squash into the meat and kale mixture. Toss in the Greek yogurt, feta, Parmesan cheese, and beaten egg. Then pour the whole thing into a 2 or 3 quart baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking oil. Sprinkle the top with more Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 30-35 minutes at 400º, or until the mixture is bubbling and browned on top. Serve hot and enjoy a creamy tasting, good for you casserole!
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