Easy Stuffed Spaghetti Squash: Lasagna-Style!

This easy stuffed spaghetti squash recipe has all your favorite lasagna ingredients stuffed into handy (and healthy!) spaghetti squash boats. It’s an easy weeknight meal the entire family will love!

An overhead shot of two plates of stuffed spaghetti squash with herbs and a hunk of Parmesan.

I love finding ways to add an extra-healthy touch to a typically indulgent dish. While I’m certainly not against a hearty slab of lasagna every once in a while, putting all of the dish’s typical ingredients into a vessel that also just so happens to be a delicious vegetable ups the nutrition-factor AND presents the dish to the kiddo in a new and unusual way. You may recognize this tactic from my ever-so-popular Papaya Breakfast Boats recipe. Kids get such a kick out of eating out of something other than a plate or bowl.

So, here’s the scoop on this Easy Stuffed Spaghetti Squash: Lasagna-Style!

What You Need to Make Lasagna-Style Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

You don’t need much to make this delicious family meal, mostly all of the typical ingredients you’d use to make a classic lasagna, with spaghetti squash taking the place of the pasta.

You’ll need:
  • Garlic herb butter (Trader Joe’s has a great one!)
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Italian sausage
  • Marinara sauce
  • Ricotta
  • Mozzarella
  • Fresh oregano

And a few other basic things like salt, pepper, onion and garlic.

How to Make It

 Aside from a little bit of cooking time on the front end, this meal is very much “set-it-and-forget-it.” My favorite kind of meal!

A close up shot of lasagna-style stuffed spaghetti squash.

The first thing you’ll need to do is give your spaghetti squash a little head start on cooking. This will take the majority of the cooking time, about 30-45 minutes. You could also do this part in advance when you meal prep for the week!

If you don’t choose to prep your squash in advance, you can start on the filling while they’re cooking.  You’ll be preparing the “lasagna” part of this dish over the stove top, to make sure the meat gets fully cooked and all of the ingredients get nice and integrated.

Once your filling is ready and your squash boats have gotten their cook on, it’s time to stuff ‘em!

Sprinkle on the mozzarella and then it’s time to bake. The stuffed boats will only need to be in the oven for 10-15 minutes, with another 4 minutes or so of broiling to get your cheese nice and bubbly. Everything is already cooked through, we’re just putting on the finishing touches right now.

How to Serve Your Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Unless you have some hungry teenagers on your hands, you’re probably going to want to divide your stuffed squash halves in half once again after they’re cooked. Serve them with a little sprinkle of fresh oregano and some fresh bread to scoop up any extra filling, and you have yourself a delicious, well-balanced dinner.

Bonus if you can find some sleek black dining plates like these to serve [affiliate link], they’re such a fun change-up to the typical white china this time of year!

A giant forkful of a stuffed spaghetti squash.

Other Easy Weeknight Meals Like This One

 You asked, so I’m answering. Many of you have mentioned to me that you need more ideas for weeknight dinners (hence this tasty recipe) so I also want to point you in the right direction of some other great weeknight meals I have here on the site. Here are some of my other favorite weeknight meals, especially for this time of year:

What are your favorite weeknight meals for fall? Let me know in the comments below!

Easy Stuffed Spaghetti Squash: Lasagna-Style!
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 10 mins
Total Time
1 hr 20 mins
 

This easy stuffed spaghetti squash recipe has all your
favorite lasagna ingredients stuffed into handy (and healthy!) spaghetti squash
boats. It’s an easy weeknight meal the entire family will love!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: dinner, gluten-free, Italian, lasagna, squash, weeknight
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 552 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squash, halved with some of the insides scooped out to form a well Reserve any of the extra insides to stir into the filling.
  • 2 tablespoons garlic herb butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 of a large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 cup marinara sauce See notes for recipe, or use a jarred version.
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 ounces shredded mozzarella
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place spaghetti
    squash halves on a rimmed baking sheet facing up. Brush the garlic herb butter
    evenly over each of the spaghetti squash halves. Roast in the preheated oven
    for 30-45 minutes, or until the squash is fork-tender.

  2. While the squash is cooking, prepare the filling. Place a deep skillet on the stove over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is heated, add the onions and sauté for a few minutes, until fragrant and translucent, then add the garlic and stir to combine. Let cook for a minute or two and then add the Italian sausage and cook until browned.

  3. Add in the marinara, ricotta and oregano and stir to combine. Let the mixture heat up and come to a gentle bubble, then turn off the heat.

  4. When your squash is fork-tender and you’ve pulled it out of the oven, lower the oven heat to 350 degrees. Then, carefully scoop the filling into each of the halves and sprinkle with mozzarella.

  5. Return the squash to the 350-degree oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, then turn on the broiler and cook for another 4 or so minutes, until the cheese on top is browned and bubbly. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before cutting the halves in half and serving.

Recipe Notes

You can find a great recipe for homemade marinara here!

Ground Beef “Not-So-Sloppy” Joes That Even Your Little One Will Love!

These Ground Beef “Not-So-Sloppy” Joes take a classic Sloppy Joe recipe and turn it into something the whole family – even your youngest eaters – will love. Sloppy Joe filling is tucked into fluffy crescent cups for a neater, handheld version of the popular weeknight dinner.

If you have questions about starting solid foods, consult a physician or health care provider.

An overhead shot of Not-So-Sloppy Joes laid out on a cooling rack.

This post is a collaboration with Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. on behalf of the Beef Checkoff. I received compensation, but all opinions are my own.

I hope you’re ready for an easy weeknight dinner that the entire family is going to love, because these Ground Beef “Not-So-Sloppy” Joes totally fit the bill. They’re quick, easy, and so tasty you won’t even know they’re made specifically for tiny appetites.

That’s right, I’m thrilled to be partnering with Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. to bring you this baby-led weaning-friendly recipe and share all of the amazing benefits of introducing beef as a first food to your babes.

By now you likely know what a huge proponent I am of the baby-led weaning method, which encourages the introduction of ALL foods in their most natural form starting from very early on in a child’s solid food journey. With BLW, it’s recommended that foods like peanut butter, eggs, dairy, and, yes, beef are all introduced before a child turns one in order to expand their palates and set them up for optimal physical and cognitive development.

You can read more about the baby-led weaning method here. In the meantime, let’s dig into some of nutrition benefits of beef, and how it lends itself to these important developmental milestones.

A close-up shot of "Not-So-Sloppy" Joes in their baking pan.

Nutritional Benefits of Beef for Babies

Beef contains high-quality protein, iron and zinc, all of which are essential nutrients for a child’s healthy growth and development. With more than ten essential nutrients, beef can assist in improved recall skills and reasoning abilities, and also support brain health and optimal cognitive development. You can read more about the nutritional benefits of beef as a first food on BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.

While beef purées are certainly an option for ensuring your baby receives all of these benefits, I wanted to create a recipe with beef in one of its more natural forms for all of my baby-led weaning fans out there. So how did I create a Sloppy Joe recipe that’s baby-led weaning approved?

A "Not-So-Sloppy" Joe on a kids' plate with zucchini and tomato salad.

 

Let me tell you!

Ground Beef Sloppy Joes That are Baby-Led Weaning Approved

If you’re not too familiar with baby-led weaning, there are a few things to pay special attention to when offering foods to your little one:

CHEWING AND SWALLOWING ABILITY

When presenting food to a babe who’s just starting to eat, you want to make sure it’s appropriate for his or her current chewing and swallowing abilities. Ground beef – which I used for these Ground Beef “Not-So-Sloppy” Joes – is a great option as it’s already in small pieces and easy to chew. It’s even “gummable” for babies who may not have many (or any) teeth yet.

SALT

Sodium deserves some special attention when it comes to cooking for your little one. While adults can consume between 1,500-2,300 mg of sodium a day, babies and toddlers should be consuming much less, between 400-800 mg per day. That’s why you won’t see any added salt in this recipe, however, if you feel you want more salt in your Sloppy Joe mixture, feel free to set some “joe” mix aside for your baby and then season the rest as you wish.

SUGAR

While many traditional Sloppy Joe recipes use brown sugar as a sweetener, I try to steer away from pure sugar as much as possible when cooking for new eaters. To sweeten up the sauce a little bit, I recommend adding just enough maple syrup to tone down the acidity of the tomatoes.

THE MESS

If there’s one thing anyone who’s already gone through baby-led weaning can attest to, it’s that it makes a huge mess! In BLW, babies are encouraged to practice self-feeding from the very beginning, so things definitely don’t stay neat and tidy. The great thing about this Ground Beef “Not-So-Sloppy” Joe recipe is that the mess of the Joe filling will be at least somewhat contained by those fluffy crescent cups, and babies won’t even need to wield a fork to get to the good stuff.

"Not-So-Sloppy" Joes cooling on a rack, surrounded by a blue and white checked napkin.

While the nutrients in beef offer an ample amount of benefits, tomatoes and bell peppers give the recipe an extra dose of nutrition. With less mess and babies’ nutritional needs in mind, these “Not-So-Sloppy” Joe’s will be the perfect addition to your weeknight dinner rotation, not to mention they’ll be enjoyed by the whole family!

For more great family recipes and additional information about the health benefits of beef, be sure to check out BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.

I’d love to hear all about your BLW adventures with beef in the comments below!

Ground Beef "Not-So-Sloppy" Joes
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
12 mins
Total Time
42 mins
 

These Ground Beef “Not-So-Sloppy” Joes take a classic Sloppy Joe recipe and turn it into something the whole family - even your youngest eaters - will love. Sloppy Joe filling is tucked into fluffy crescent cups for a neater, handheld version of the popular weeknight dinner.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baby-friendly, baby-led weaning, beef, entree, kid-friendly, main course, weeknight
Servings: 24 cups
Calories: 212 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 pound Ground Beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ground mustard
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons coco aminos
  • 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt to taste (for adults)
  • 3 cans refrigerated crescent dough (enough dough for 3 dozen crescents)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven according to crescent dough package directions. Spray cupcake pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

  2. Warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until just translucent, about 3 minutes, then add bell peppers. Once bell peppers begin to soften, add Ground Beef. Stir in pan until it begins to brown, then add garlic powder and ground mustard. Continue stirring until most of the meat is browned.

  3. Add crushed tomatoes and tomato paste to pan and stir until combined, then stir in the coconut aminos, maple syrup and balsamic vinegar. If you want to add some salt for the adults and older kids in the family, now’s the time to do it, but go as light as you can. Turn the mixture down to low and let it simmer while you prepare the crescent cups.

  4. Unroll the crescent dough from its package and separate each triangle. Cut the top off of each triangle and then reattach it to the side to make a rectangle (as shown in the photos). Press rectangles one by one into the cupcake molds.

  5. Take a tablespoon measure and scoop 1-2 tablespoons into each crescent cup. Place cupcake pans in preheated oven and bake according to the crescent package directions (typically at around 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes), or until golden. Leave in pan until cool enough to touch, then gently remove, using a butter knife to gently ease them out if necessary.

Recipe Notes

DISH DENSITY: Low

Quick and Easy Instant Pot Guinness Beef Stew

This quick and easy Instant Pot Guinness Beef Stew is the perfect weeknight meal, or way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! It’s full of delicious, hearty flavors and comes together in less than one hour.

Quick and Easy Instant Pot Guinness Beef Stew | CaliGirlCooking.com

It’s been a while, but I hope you’ll forgive me once you take a look at this Quick and Easy Instant Pot Guinness Beef Stew!

In case you don’t follow along on social media, I’ve been hard at work in what has become a favorite new capacity of mine – baby meal prepper! Just this week I came out with my second ever ebook, 30 Freezer-Friendly Recipes for Babies and Toddlers and it has been receiving rave reviews. It’s chock full of healthy recipes that the little ones go gaga over and – I have to say – I’m pretty darn proud of it!

One thing I’ve learned since becoming a mom is that delicious, healthy food doesn’t have to be elaborate or take hours to make. Whereas before I took pride in never taking the shortcut for any food I was preparing, I now take immense pride in figuring out ways to cook delicious meals using as many shortcuts as possible.

Quick and Easy Instant Pot Guinness Beef Stew | CaliGirlCooking.com

Perhaps the greatest “shortcut” I’ve discovered is the Instant Pot. To be honest, it took me a while to give in to the Instant Pot craze. Did I really need ANOTHER kitchen appliance? Was it really going to be THAT life-changing? It took a great sale last fall for me to finally break down and get one and I can now say with 100% certainty that YES, it is that life-changing. There’s a bit of a learning curve getting started, but once you get the hang of it you’ll never want to use your slow cooker again.

If you’re also new to the Instant Pot game (or are planning to be), these have been some of my favorite IP recipes I’ve made so far:

Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup from Gimme Some Oven

Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup from Jo Cooks

Healthier Instant Pot Coq Au Vin from Half Baked Harvest

Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker) Kalua Pig from Nom Nom Paleo

While I have an Instant Pot recipe in my new ebook and am working on adapting some of my old recipes for the IP, this Quick and Easy Instant Pot Guinness Beef Stew is the first blog recipe I’ve developed for all of you IP fans out there and, if you don’t have an IP yet, now’s the time to get one! (*affiliate link)

Quick and Easy Instant Pot Guinness Beef Stew | CaliGirlCooking.com

We have had one of the rainiest winters we’ve had in a loooong time, so I’ve been craving all the comfort food. To me, there’s nothing like a hot bowl of soup or stew and a crusty piece of warm bread on a chilly, rainy evening. We had beef stew fairly often when I was growing up, but I’d never ventured into making my own…until now! With the Instant Pot, it comes together in less than an hour yet still fills your home with that delicious, slow-cooked aroma.  Did I mention it tastes amazing?

Since St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, I thought I’d jazz up what would be considered a traditional beef stew with a healthy dose of Guinness (after all, you know I love my cocktails.) Otherwise, I kept things pretty traditional with the typical carrots, onions and potatoes.

Quick and Easy Instant Pot Guinness Beef Stew | CaliGirlCooking.com

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with the couch, some beef stew and a big ol’ glass of wine. And will you do me a favor? Let me know your favorite Instant Pot recipes in the comments below!

Quick and Easy Instant Pot Guinness Beef Stew
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
43 mins
Total Time
53 mins
 

This quick and easy Instant Pot Guinness Beef Stew is the perfect weeknight meal, or way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! It’s full of delicious, hearty flavors and comes together in less than one hour.

Course: Main Course
Keyword: beef, dinner, Instant Pot, stew, weeknight
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 719 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat
  • 5 tablespoons flour, divided
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 11.2-ounce bottle Guinness beer Or 1 can would be fine
  • 4 Yukon gold potatoes, large diced
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Place the beef and 3 tablespoons of flour in a medium bowl and toss so the beef is evenly coated in the flour.

  2. Place 3 tablespoons of butter in the Instant Pot and set it on sauté for about 8 minutes. Once the butter is melted, add the beef. Let beef brown for at least a couple of minutes on one side and then stir to get a nice brown on all sides. 

  3. Add onion, garlic, carrots and celery to the Instant Pot and stir to combine. Pour in the Guinness to deglaze the pan.

  4. Add potatoes, Worcestershire, tomato paste, beef broth, thyme and bay leaves to the Instant Pot. Stir to combine. 

  5. Turn the valve to Sealing, press the Meat/Stew button and select high heat for 35 minutes. The pot will take a bit of time to preheat, then it will begin to count down.

  6. Once the time is up, turn the valve to vent. It will take a few minutes for all of the pressure to release. While you’re waiting, place remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small, microwave-safe dish and microwave until melted, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Once butter is melted, stir in remaining 2 tablespoons of flour. Add this mixture to the stew in the Instant Pot and stir to combine. This will help thicken it up.

  7. Remove bay leaves and serve warm.