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Child Labor (Recipe: Oven Baked Stuffed Squash Boats)

When I was growing up, I was convinced that the only reason my parents had me was to be their servant. I was the human remote control, getting up to change the channel anytime they wanted to watch something different on TV. I was their dishwasher and dish dryer…who needed to buy a dishwasher when there were kids to do the job? Life, in my mind, was truly rough because I always had more chores than my friends did…taking out the trash, vacuuming, picking dandelions (we lived on a farm, for goodness sakes… do you KNOW how many dandelions are out on a farm? Who in the world cares if dandelions take over the yard?) Anyway, I felt like I was given a huge disservice by having to do any work around the house. I’d go around the house singing “Cinderella! Cinderella! Wash the dishes, scrub the floor, see who’s knocking at the door.”

Now that I have kids of my own, I have to swallow my pride and say “Mom and Dad… you were right!” Oh my gosh, how nice is it to have kids old enough to help get things done around the house? If you are on the fence about having kids, let me tell you… they are a lot of work, but once they are old enough to actually do work, it is so well worth it! <tongue in cheek people…relax (but it is kind of true!)> I wouldn’t recommend having kids simply to have little servants around your house, but I would encourage you to put your kids to work if you have them. Giving kids chores teaches them to be responsible and makes them better long term contributors to society. They’ll have to do things their whole life they don’t particularly like or want to do… better do your part to help them get used to it!

My 8 year old is the dishwasher loader and unloader in our house. He is usually pretty good about doing it but every once in awhile he grumbles about having to do it. That’s why, on nights when we eat something like these Stuffed Squash Boats, I get to be Mom of the Year because he pretty much gets the night off of dish clean up. You see, with this Stuffed Squash Boats recipe, your dish is your dinner. It is truly a delicious recipe. Find your kiddos a different chore for the night, because cleanup from this dinner is a breeze.

Stuffed Squash Boats

2 medium spaghetti squash (2 to 2-1/2 pounds)
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 small Roma tomatoes, diced and seeds removed
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. 1.  Cut squash in half lengthwise; scoop out seeds. Place squash, cut side down, in a baking dish. Fill pan with ½ inch of hot water. Bake, uncovered, at 375°F for 30-40 minutes or until tender.
  2. When cool enough to handle, scoop out squash, separating strands with a fork. Set the shells and squash aside. In a skillet, cook beef, onion and green pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender; drain.
  3. Add mushrooms, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add diced tomato; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add squash; mix well. Cook, uncovered, until liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Fill shells; place in shallow baking dish.
  4. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese; place back in oven and bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Looking for other “eat your dish” dinners? These bloggers have some interesting ideas:

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  1. I would love this and my husband would love it because of the beef! It’s definitely a must make.

  2. Love these! I can’t wait to try them-great fall dinner idea!

  3. I have three boys and I think it is important that they do chores. Boys are given too much slack and I want to make sure I am creating good “future” husbands!
    Love the story and the sentiment! Oh…and the Stuffed Squash Boats look delish!

  4. Yummolicious! And you can’t beat the cleanup, it’s a win-win all around!

  5. These spaghetti squash boats are a great idea! Love what you write about the mini-servants. Hey, we all need to learn how to help out. I agree with you on holding the kiddos accountable to some house chores from time to time. Hmmmm, what can I have my 4 year old do :) The 6 year old is 7 in a few weeks-little doe she know but new tasks are awaiting. LOL!!

  6. Oooh…lovely photo. And while it looks so fancy, the recipe seems easy enough.

  7. Ha – I used to say the same thing. If I was being particularly flippant and grudging I would walk around like Quasimodo and grunt “yessss master” at them. They thought it was hilarious. I was irritated.

    Now that I have my own little Quasimodo though the tables have turned. They really were right. How about that!?!

  8. Mmm… I love the idea of easy clean up!

  9. I love having a kiddo servant! Survive toddlerhood and you’ve got it made! ;)

    These squash boats look delicious! Perfect for fall!

  10. It’s very important for children to have chores, it does teach them responsibility and also helps them to learn about what being a family is all about. Now as for those squash boats, YUM! I love dishes like this one – and not just because you can skip the dishwasher, but because they are delicious! Nice photo too!

  11. My mom tricked us into doing chores. She turned dishwasher stocking and dish drainer stacking into a contest, so we knocked each other over trying to show that we were better than our brothers at playing reverse Jengo with the dishes. With vacuuming, it was “see who could make the neatest, most parallel wheel lines.” Cheers!

  12. I cannot wait until the day I can put my kids to work! My daughter is good at retrieving items and putting things in the trash so I’ve got her going on that. My 9 mo likes to help me empty the laundry hamper (or any receptacle that contains anything). :-)

  13. YUM! This is like a supreme pizza in an edible, healthy bowl! Awesome!

  14. Great dish. Your son must truly love this recipe ;>)

  15. I had to do chores when I was growing up, and I made all three of my daughters do chores. Now, that they’re all grown and out of the house, I miss my helpers!

  16. Being due TODAY, I had to read this post with a title like ‘child labor’. Not the kind of labor I was expecting, but funny and true.

    The flip arrived today!! I’m sooo excited. Thank you again (and again, and again).


  17. I KNEW this was why i always wanted to have kids! Kind of. Sort of. Maybe.

    This is DEFINITELY why I want to eat spaghetti squash. I’ve always wanted to stuff them but hadn’t found a good filling recipe. I think this may be it!

  18. For a while our dishwasher was broken when I was a kid. I was CONVINCED that my dad didn’t buy a new one ASAP because he thought it would be good for us and to teach us a lesson. I hated it.

    This looks like a great recipe. I am trying to try more squash recipes because it’s not something we really ate growing up. I haven’t tried spaghetti squash yet, so this is one to bookmark for sure.

  19. Great recipe, Kristen. Yep, I know what you mean about kids and chores. I was the one who had dishwashing duty growing up and I swore I’d NEVER make my child do the dishes. Well, I’ve eaten those words.

  20. Haha that’s awesome!! “Eat all your dinner or you’ll have to do this dishes!” It looks delicious, too :)


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