Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats

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I have seen these recipes floating around on pintrest for a while but I’ve been too skeptical to give them a try. Our neighbors, Ryan and Laura, are fellow foodies and we often share samples of what we are cooking. They gave us a sample of their zucchini boats a few weeks ago and it totally fueled this recipe. I was blown away by the flavor and heartiness of their boats. A bit later I bucked up and gave this taco variation a try. This is a safe place to start in the world of zucchini boats because you can add toppings and customize it to your tastes. We floated some Ghost Scream Hot Sauce (a gift from Ryan) that really kicked these babies up a notch. The recipe in general isn’t overwhelmingly “squash-y.” Instead it is a fresh addition to the classic taco flavor. I’m very excited to experiment with these and am looking to try out a sausage or lentil zucchini boat recipe in the near future. Massive thanks to Ryan and Laura for giving me the confidence to try this recipe! I also want to note that this recipe is adapted from http://www.willcookforsmiles.com

Makes: 8 boats     Calories: 350     Time: 5o minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 Large Zucchini
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 large jalapeno, chopped (if you like it hot include the seeds)
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 packet of reduced sodium taco seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • (optional toppings we used) rotel tomatoes, hot sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. To keep stability of the zucchini boat on your baking pan cut a little sliver out of the green flesh on the bottom side so that the zucchini will lay flat. With a spoon scoop out the seeded middle part. Set the boats aside.
  3. In a large pan heat oil and saute the onion, tomato and jalapeno for about a minute
  4. Add the ground beef and crumble as you cook. When it is about half way done add the taco seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste
  5. Stuff each zucchini boat with this beef mixture and place them on a greased baking pan. Bake for about 25 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and top with pepper jack cheese. Continue to bake them until cheese is melted.
  7. Remove from the oven once more and top with your favorite toppings.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Original recipe adapted from http://www.willcookforsmiles.com

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Hearty Hot and Sour Soup

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My gosh this soup has so much flavor! With this recipe you’ll expect tons of veggies, tons of spice and such a savory broth. Don’t be surprised to find yourself slurping up every last drop of this stuff. I had started getting tired of the traditional vegetable soups. You know the usual culprits – barley vegetable, summer vegetable, root veggie puree. We desperately needed something different so I turned to my recipe companion, Pintrest. I fall so hard into the Pintrest web but have climbed my way out with some killer recipes, this being one of them. The original recipe does include tofu and mushrooms, but there are just some things I cannot stomach and those are two of them. So if you want to make this soup even more hearty then you will want to visit the original recipe posted at http://www.joanne-eatswellwithothers.com.

Serves: 8     Calories: 200/serving     Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (Add an extra one if you really like it hot)
  • 1lb bag of carrots, peeled and sliced into disks
  • 1 small savoy cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 2.5 quarts vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 6-8 leaves bok choy, thinly sliced
  • 1 (14 oz) can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add in the onions, ginger, and jalapenos Cook for a few minutes, stirring.
  2. Add in the carrots, and cabbage. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes, or until cabbage starts to wilt. Add in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, salt, pepper, cold water, and cornstarch in a separate bowl. Set aside.
  4. Add the zucchini, and bell peppers to the pot. Simmer until the veggies are tender, about 8 minutes. Add in the soy sauce mixture and stir until the soup thickens, about 8 minutes. Add in the bok choy and tomatoes and bring the soup back to a simmer. Stir in the sesame oil.
  5. Dish and Enjoy!

*Photo and video are originals belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.joanne-eatswellwithothers.com

Crispy Oven Fried Green Beans – ★★★★★

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This is a really fun and delicious way to dress up green beans. I absolutely loved the tender crisp result. Let’s be honest, you cannot really go wrong with parmesan crusted anything! The only problem is that these were so good that we had none left over. The recipe is super easy and took very little time to prepare so I’ve got a feeling this will be my standard weeknight side dish. Delicious! Perry gave 5 stars and here is why:

“These beans are awesome! I think they would make for a good appetizer with a dipping sauce. They almost didn’t make it to our plates because when Kelsey pulled them out of the oven we automatically started snacking on them while we waited for the chicken she was also making to come out of the oven. The parmesan was really browned in some spots giving off an almost smoky taste. I think the next time Kelsey makes these I’ll suggest she does a couple of pounds worth of greens.

Serves4-6     Calories:130 per serving     Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil, preferably extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces fresh green beans
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine oil, garlic, egg, garlic salt and pepper.
  3. Toss green beans into the mixture, coating them well.
  4. Add parmesan cheese and continue to toss gently until coated.
  5. Lay the green beans out evenly on a greased baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Broil for an additional 2 minutes or until crispy.
  8. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Original recipe adapted from http://www.sugarfreemom.com

Roasted Asparagus with Feta – ★★★★★

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I take pride in trying to feed my family healthy dinners, but I seriously need to up the ante on how often we eat veggies. That being said, I am trying to include one dinner a week that is 100% veggie based. The problem with this is that there are not many recipes out there that take a vegetable and stick to some sort of nutritional value AND pack in some flavor. All the recipes that look good are either smothered in a brown sugar glaze or have so much salt I would end up a bloated mess for about a week. This recipe surfaced from a google search that led me to www.gonnawantseconds.com, a beautiful recipe site that had me salivating by the time I was done looking through all the yummy meals. This recipe is a dream because it so easy to make and the asparagus tips literally melt in your mouth. You start by making a garlic and herb infused oil that I would probably drink if I knew no one would judge me for it. I think this oil would go great on roasted green beans, brussel sprouts, or basically any savory veggie you can get your hands on. I know that is what I plan to do to keep this veggie train in motion. The feta is an awesome creamy touch that Perry really enjoyed. He gave 5 stars and here is why:

” This one did not disappoint. The asparagus had a”melt in your mouth” texture at the tips but kept a tender/crisp texture towards the bottom. My favorite part was the feta. The crumbles that fell on the pan came out melted but when it cooled they were like parmesan crisps. I would describe the flavor as refreshing because it has a nice light lemony taste. I give it five stars”

Serves: 4-6      Calories: 157 per serving     Time: 45

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs fresh asparagus, washed and woody roots trimmed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 14 cloves of garlic, minced (original recipe only calls for 6 but I love garlic… Don’t judge me….)
  • 1.5 tsp lemon zest
  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta (I used sun-dried tomato and herb feta because… why not?)
  • 1 lemon

Directions

  1. Start by prepping your ingredients. If you’re using 14 cloves of garlic, which I totally recommend, this could take a few extra minutes.
  2. In a saucepan heat oil, garlic, lemon zest, oregano, and pepper flakes over low heat stirring occasionally until garlic starts to turn a golden brown (approx.. 5 minutes). Remove the saucepan from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
  4. In a large mixing bowl toss the asparagus with garlic and herb oil.
  5. Lay the asparagus in a single layer on baking sheet. Top with oil left in the mixing bowl and 1/2 cup of feta.
  6. Roast for approximately 15 minutes. Remove and spritz with lemon juice.
  7. Serve immediately

*Original recipe found at http://www.gonnawantseconds.com/

*Photo is an original belonging to me

Margherita Pizza – ★★★★✩

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We moved back to Pennsylvania from Southern California about a month ago and are taking full advantage of the wonderful farmers markets around here. Summer in the northeast translates to Jersey Tomato season, and I am extra spoiled because my mom grows all kinds of hearty veggies and fragrant herbs in her back yard. I really wanted to utilize all these resources to feed my family a delicious and easy-to-make meal. This is a new crust recipe as I normally use a cornmeal dough, but I was really happy with the results. The crust is pretty simple which allows for the tomato and basil to really stand out. The flavor was wonderful and had only a couple of complaints. First, that I did not add sauce to the pie. The reason I usually do not add sauce is because I am selfish and don’t like the taste of reheated sauce. However, I do heat up marinara for dipping if anyone wants sauce so keep that in mind if you have family/friends who don’t like white pizza. Secondly, I did not overload with toppings. This pizza is meant to be light so please enjoy the simplicity of it because it is a nice change from extreme pepperoni and sausage. I doubled this recipe in order to make two pies which worked out perfectly. The four of us ate until we were satisfied last night, and there was enough for three of us to have left overs today.  Perry gave 4 stars and here is why:

“The flavor of this pizza was really good but I’m an extreme pizza topper. When I order a pizza I ask for double meat, double cheese and double veggies. This is not that kind of pizza. It is really light on your stomach which is good, but it’s nothing like the loaded Mediterranean Pizza Kels makes. That is why I’m not going to give full stars. It was a delicious slice. but I would have added double cheese, double tomatoes, and double basil. However, if you’re looking for something with decent flavor and doesn’t sit heavy in your gut then this is the pizza for you.”

Serves: 4         Calories: 413.4 per 2 slices     Carbs: 55 per 2 slices      Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2/3 cup lukewarm water + 2 tbsp lukewarm water
  • 1 large tomato, rinsed and sliced thin
  • sprinkling of garlic salt and black pepper
  • large handful of fresh basil, rinsed
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Mix 1 cup of water with yeast, salt, sugar and lukewarm water. Gradually add the second cup of flour until a dough ball forms.
  3. Knead dough ball on clean surface for 3-5 minutes
  4. Put dough ball back in mixing bowl and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Let dough rest and rise for 15 minutes
  5. While dough is rising, slice tomato and season with garlic salt and black pepper. Set aside until ready to assemble pizza.
  6. Spread dough on greased pizza stone or pan and poke with a fork in order to avoid large bubbles in the finished pizza.
  7. Rub down the “face-up” side of dough with olive oil and bake for 8-10 minutes. Be careful because you will be baking it again after you put on your toppings so you don’t want it too crisp right away.
  8. Remove from oven and assemble your toppings.
  9. Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
  10. Slice and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

**Original pizza dough recipe can be found at http://www.food.com

Hearty Minestrone Soup – ★★★★★

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We’ve been eating on the heavier side lately so I consulted pinterest for “healthy affordable family dinners.” I found this recipe and it was exactly what I was looking for.There are seven different kinds of vegetables in this soup plus beans and a bit of pasta. You do not need a side salad or sandwich with this soup because you will be guiltlessly full after one bowl. The aroma of oregano had my stomach growling the whole time I was cooking and the flavor was everything its scent promised. I’m dubbing this my “sick soup” because I know that if I’m ever feeling under the weather this is the kind of soup I would want to warm me on the inside. Perry gave five stars and here is why:

“This soup is extremely hearty and has an awesome variety of vegetables. Kelsey always says that she wants to eat more veggies but I’m such an adamant meat eater. THIS is THE way to get your family eating veggies. The flavor is robust so don’t be ashamed when you are slurping it down to the last drop. I could honestly eat it every day.”

Servings: 10-12 (1 cup)       Calories: 240       Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped (if using dried you can use about 1 tsp)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 yellow squash, diced
  • 2 large zucchini, diced
  • 3 medium/large carrots, diced
  • 1 can whole kernel corn
  • 6 roma tomatoes
  • 3 (14-oz) cans less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup uncooked ditalini pasta
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • Coarsely ground black pepper (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté 3 minutes or until softened.
  2. Add oregano and garlic; sauté 1 minute.
  3. Stir in squash, zucchini, carrot, and corn; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat
  4. Place 3 chopped roma tomatoes and 1 can of chicken broth in a blender; process until smooth. Add tomato mixture to pan; return pan to heat.
  5. Stir in remaining chopped tomatoes and remaining 2 cans broth; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.
  6. Add pasta and beans to pan; cook 10 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.Remove from heat.
  7. Stir in spinach, salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  8. Ladle soup into individual bowls; top with cheese and fresh cracked black pepper.
  9. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.myrecipes.com

Vegetable Lentil Soup – ★★★★★

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I think Flu season should be renamed soup season because it just sounds much more appealing. Everyone has been sick and so a soup night has been overdue. This soup was very easy to make and the results were simply perfect. It’s pretty hearty so be ready for a full feeling after one bowl. It really hit the spot and I’m positive it warmed Perry’s soul after being sick for so long. Quick note before I delve into the details of the recipe. There is a part where you can puree some of the lentils and broth to thicken the soup to your preference. I only pureed 1.5 cups of it because I didn’t want to loose all of the lentils. It’s totally up to you but I wouldn’t overdo it with the puree process. The original recipe was found at http://www.foodnetwork.com . Perry gave this one a full 5 stars!

” I feel like I have been sick for 2 months now. Nothing seems to stop the chills so I was pretty excited when Kels said she was going to make some soup for me. I love Lentil soup and while Kelsey will say she just followed a recipe I’ll compliment her and say SHE nailed it. I have no suggestions to make this soup better. It wasn’t over/under spiced. The texture was good and the lentils were tasty (not undercooked which stinks.. I’ve had undercooked lentils in lentil soup before and it’s awful). This one gets 5 stars hands down.”

Serves: 6-10     Calories: 372

Ingredients:

– 2 tbsp. olive or canola oil.

– 1 cup chopped onion

– 1/2 cup – 1 cup finely chopped carrot (the more you use the heartier it will be.)

– 1/2 cup- 1 cup finely chopped celery

– 2 tsp salt

– 1 lb lentils

– 1 can of diced onions

– 2 quarts of chicken or vegetable broth (We used veggie)

– 1/2 tsp ground coriander

– 1/2 tsp ground cumin

– 1/2 tsp curry powder (optional)

-1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)

 

Directions:

1.) Place the oil into a large pot and set over medium heat.

2.) Once hot, add the onion, carrot, celery and salt and stir until the onions are clear. About 6 to 7 minutes.

3.) Add the lentils, tomatoes, broth, coriander, cumin and other optional spices. Stir.

4.) Increase the heat to high and bring to a low boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to low, cover and cook at a low simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 35 to 40 minutes.

5.) Puree/blend to your preferred consistency.

6.) Serve.

*Original recipe found at http://www.foodnetwork.com

**Photo original taken by me