Margaret Button | Kitchen Comfort: Nothing but bargains - and a great meal

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Saturday was the Adams townwide tag sale. I picked up my friend, Pat, at 9 a.m. and we were off. She joked she was looking for a sofa and I reassured her the back seats could be folded down to accommodate it. Fortunately, that option wasn't necessary.

Pat and I didn't have a game plan Saturday other than to go. We downloaded a map of the sales — there were 61 on the official map, but there were quite a few more that weren't — and drove around, targeting a few neighborhoods. We started in the Friend Street area, had lunch at McDonald's, and then up East Street to East Road. By the time we got to East Street, we were fading fast, running out of money and there wasn't much room left in the cargo space of my Jeep, although we still hadn't resorted to folding down the back seats. We did get some great bargains though!

Before I left for our venture, I had made the filling for my dinner that night — Southwest taco-stuffed spaghetti squash. Because I was only cooking for myself, I had a smaller spaghetti squash and halved the recipe to accommodate that fact.



Southwest taco-stuffed spaghetti squash

4 Servings



INGREDIENTS:

1 (4 pound) spaghetti squash

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 pound ground beef

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon cumin

1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (14 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup frozen corn kernels

1/4 cup minced cilantro

Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place whole spaghetti squash in the microwave for 5 minutes. This helps slightly soften the squash so it's easier to cut open. Remove from the microwave and carefully cut in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and pulp from the middle.

Drizzle each half with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season liberally with kosher salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour or until the flesh of the squash will shred when scraped with a fork.

While the squash is cooking make the meat and vegetable filling. In a large skillet set over medium-high heat add ground beef and break up with a spatula. Cook until browned and remove ground beef to a plate, wipe out any grease and set the skillet back on the heat.

To the pan add 1 tablespoon olive oil and once the oil is hot add in red bell pepper, onions and jalapenos. Saute until the vegetables are soft. Add in the garlic, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin and tomatoes. Cook until the tomato juice has cooked off and the mixture is thick. Add in the black beans, corn kernels and cilantro. Stir to combine and remove from the heat. Add the ground beef back to the skillet and stir to combine.

Once the squash is fully cooked remove from the oven and carefully scrape and fluff the flesh until fully shredded. Remove the shredded squash and add it to the skillet with the ground beef and vegetables. Toss to combine so the shredded squash is mixed with the meat and vegetables. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed.

Top with cheese and place under the broiler for about 15 minutes to melt and brown the cheese.




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