Cooking Tutorial: Spaghetti Squash!

We eat a lot of veggies. That was one of the huge lifestyle changes we made a few years ago that has helped us maintain healthier weights.

One healthy swap we made was to spaghetti squash instead of pasta.  A lot of healthy/food swap websites like Hungry Girl tout Spaghetti Squash as a good substitute for carb-y noodles.

Here is a quick tutorial on making spaghetti squash.

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  1. Select a squash that is firm and unblemished. Not sure what they look like? Here is the wikipedia article all about the vegetable with a few pictures.
  2. Chop the end with the stem off. You’ll need a good sharp knife. I love our Henckels Meat Cleaver.
  3. Chop the squash in half. I do it length-wise, so it takes less time to cook in the oven.
  4. Take a spoon and scoop out the stringy guts and seeds.  Discard them.
  5. In a large glass baking dish, place the squash halves cut side down.  Pour a 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of the baking dish.
  6. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until the squash are fork tender (about the same feeling as a baked potato).
  7. Remove baking dish from oven and set the squash halves on a cutting board.  Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes, or until you can comfortable handle the vegetable.
  8. With a fork, “rake” the interior of the veggie.  The “meat” of the interior should flake off in long strings that resemble broken spaghetti.
  9. Once complete, discard the exterior of the squash.
  10. Toss the “spaghetti” with the sauce of your choice.

1 medium sized spaghetti squash serves 2-3 people, with a serving size of about 1 1/2 cups. It’s yummy with sauce (Spaghetti/red sauce, pesto, or even a cheesy sauce), or just a little butter and herbs. It’s a great way to get extra veggies into your diet, or if you’re Gluten Intolerant, it’s cheaper (and tastier) than GF pasta.

Later today, I’ll be posting a recipe that uses spaghetti squash as a main ingredient! With winter veggies starting to make an appearance in grocery stores and farmers markets, you’ll start seeing more and more squash!

How I Scored a Free Bed (And How You Can Too!)

Fresh-fruit-green-font-b-polka-b-font-font-b-dot-b-font-piece-set-flannelRecently, our bed frame broke. Our bed is  nine years old, and our bed frame was the cheap-y one that came free when we bought our mattress and box springs. I shouldn’t really be surprised that it broke, but it did and it was no longer comfortable to sleep in our bed. It’s sagged in the middle because the part of the bed frame that broke was the center slat that provided the support for the mid section of the mattress.
I began my search online for a new bed frame. I checked all of the usual suspects: JCPenney, Sears, as well as trusty old Craigslist. All I wanted was a sturdy metal bed frame. No headboard, no foot board, just a bed frame.

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 9.14.51 PMFinally I found one that fit the bill. It was this one here from Sears. It was sturdy, as it had extra supports in the middle (which is very important when you have a small child likes to bounce on the bed like we do), and it fit my budget. So I set upon trying to get it for cheaply is possible.

First, I checked to see if there’s any place I could get a free Sears gift card with points from various rewards programs I use. I checked my Mypoints account, and I checked my SwagBucks account, and finally I checked my RecycleBank account. Turns out I had enough RecycleBank points to get a $10 gift card from Sears.  I cashed out my points and a few days later I have received via email a $10 gift card from Sears.

Second, I logged onto my Shop Your Way Rewards Account (through Sears.com). If you haven’t signed up for Sears Shop Your Way Rewards, it’s easy! You can do it at any Sears, Sears Outlet, or Kmart location. It’s like any other store club card. Scan your key fob or enter your phone number when you check out and earn points. Points can be redeemed for cash off purchases. Also- Shop Your Way Rewards members get access to great coupons, and sometimes even surprise points (Frequently they send out $5 in points- just for being a member!). I had a $10 off of $50 or more purchase good for anything in the home department, which happens to include bed frames.
Third, I logged on to all of my survey websites: PaidViewPoint, and PineCone Research to see if I had points I could cash out for a PayPal payment. It turns out I had over $25 that I could cash out at PaidViewPoint. I requested a PayPal pay out and within six hours I had $27 and change in my PayPal account. I also discovered that I had enough points to cash out for a $15 payment via PayPal through PineCone Research. I requested that as well.  I had $42 and change to use!
Fourth (And Finally), I also logged on to Top Cashback as well to see if I can earn any cash back for this shopping trip. Turns out I was going to earn a cool 3% cashback on my purchase.

So here’s how I got it for free:

Bed Frame $54.98 + $3.60 Tax
-$10/$50 Coupon

-$10 Sears Gift Card
-$38.58 from Paypal.  (Money was earned doing surveys online as I outlined above. It took me less than two hours combined to do all of the surveys and earn this money. This time with spread over about a months time.)

Plus I qualified for free shipping because the original price was over $49.99

The best part is, I earned 3% of my post coupon amount ($38.58) because I shopped through Top Cashback. That’s more free money to use in the future! So I got paid .30 to buy something we really needed!

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Freshly made bed (and laundry- It is Monday, after all!)

The bed frame was delivered on Friday and I just set it up this morning. And we did give it a good test bounce after the bed with put back together. It’s very sturdy I’m proud to announce.

The point of this post isn’t to show off, “Look what I can do isn’t this cool?!?”, but it’s meant to inspire you and show you that you can-do these things as well. You can get stuff for free. And not just little samples of this and that, but you can actually get things that you need for your home for free.

Taking surveys does take time however with PaidViewPoint, and PineCone Research.  The surveys that you will do you’ve been pre-selected for, and take less than 10 minutes each. So you’re not wasting time doing surveys you don’t end up qualifying for and the payout for both of those companies is so low you’ll be able to reach a payout in less than a month even if you only do a few surveys for them each week.

So there it is. That’s how we got a brand-new bed delivered to our house for free. No smoke, no mirrors, no hocus-pocus, or anything shifty or questionable. Just a brand-new bed frame delivered free.

I’d love to hear about the kinds of things that you have gotten for free or really cheap using the profits from surveys or even secret shopping. So leave me a comment and let me know what kind of awesome things you’ve gotten for free!