The Secret to Stuffed Zucchini + Crispy Stuffed Zucchini Recipe

 Stuffed ZucchiniIf you are anything like me, any recipe that requires you to “stuff” something into something else is one that I tend to avoid.  It never seems to turn out right!  I usually end up destroying what I am trying to stuff and looks anything but appealing.  This time, though, I discovered a sure-fire way to get a beautiful zucchini shell with minimal effort!  Included is an easy and delightfully light Crispy Stuffed Zucchini recipe that works for lunch or dinner!  At the bottom you will find instructions for a dairy-free version, as well as one for using meat instead of beans.
 All you do is use a paring knife to cut around the outside of the shape you want to remove (it doesn’t even have to be perfect – you can see where I cut it again to get the shape right).  Then I just made short cuts across – just make sure you don’t cut too deep or you will cut through the bottom.  The flesh was then easy to scoop out with a spoon, leaving a beautiful shell to fill later! It is as simple as that!

Cut zucchiniCrispy Stuffed Zucchini

Prep: 30 minutes   Cook: 10+20 minutes   Total Time: 60 minutes
Needed Equipment: skillet, baking sheet
Makes 4 servings

STARTING PREPARATION:
-Cut up broccoli and carrots
-Prepare zucchini: using a paring knife, cut around the inside edge, leaving about ¼” around the outside.  Make short cuts across the shape that you cut out.  Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and part of the flesh.  Chop up the removed zucchini and add to the broccoli and carrots.

INGREDIENTS
  • 4 zucchini, with seeds removed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 1 cup broccoli, diced
  • 1 cup Great Northern Beans, cooked
  • 1 cup carrots, finely diced
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz plain yogurt
  • ½ cup potato chips or rice cereal (like Chex) crushed
  • ½ tsp cloves
DIRECTIONS
1.Heat a skillet over medium heat with the olive oil.  Sautee the broccoli, carrots, cut up zucchini, onion, beans, and thyme for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft.  While that is cooking, mix together the cheddar cheese and yogurt in a small bowl.  Also, prepare the potato chips or rice cereal by crushing with your hands into a small bowl – you don’t want the pieces to be too small.2.Assemble the zucchini in the following order: sautéed mixture, yogurt and cheese mixture, crushed chips or rice cereal, then cloves (sprinkle on top).

3.Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

For dairy-free version:
Omit the yogurt and the cheese.  Substitute 1 cup diced red peppers for the broccoli and 1 cup petite diced canned tomatoes for the carrots.

For an omnivore version:
Substitute ½ lb ground beef or turkey for the beans.  Sautee vegetables and meat until the meat is thoroughly cooked.  Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and discard the fat.This recipe is adapted from the “Crunchy Stuffed Zucchini” recipe found in the June 2015 issue of Vegetarian Times magazine.

Prepping Vegetables – How Far Ahead & How to Store Them

This handy table lets you know what you can cut up ahead of time and how to store it – and what to not cut up early!  After all, if you are trying to get dinner on the table, oftentimes the thing that takes the longest is cutting up the vegetables.  Get dinner on the table faster by doing prepping the vegetables ahead of time!
All cut vegetables should be stored in the refrigerator.  If the vegetables appear bad (moldy, mushy) or smell strange, do not use them – no matter how long they have been there!
Note: Potatoes will keep best if covered in water (not just with wet paper towels) to keep them from turning brown.
 Prepping Vegetables Chart

Southwestern Chicken Pasta Bowl

Southwestern Chicken Pasta Bowl  Pasta, chicken, corn, and Southwestern goodness – how can this go wrong?  This quick and easy meal will delight you and your family!  Adjust the hot sauce to your family’s preferred spiciness.  I made mine using the Restaurant Style Salsa recipe from The Pioneer Woman.  Serve with tortilla chips and salsa if desired.
Prep: 10 minutes   Cook: 20 minutes   Total Time: 30 minutes
Needed Equipment: saucepan, skillet
Makes 3 servings

STARTING PREPARATION:
-Thaw chicken (in the fridge overnight, in a sink of cold water for a couple of hours, or in the microwave).
-Cube chicken (or use leftover cooked chicken)

INGREDIENTS:

  • ½ lb chicken (chicken breast or thighs or used leftover cooked chicken)
  • 1 tsp oil (omit if using leftover chicken)
  • ¼ tsp each paprika, garlic powder, and cumin (omit if using leftover chicken)
  • 6 oz fettuccine or spaghetti noodles – gluten-free if needed (use fettuccine noodles preferably)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • ½ cup frozen corn
  • 1-2 Tbsp chili sauce
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped (you can substitute 4 tsp dried cilantro, but add with the other ingredients)

DIRECTIONS:

1.Heat oil in the skillet over medium heat.  Add chicken to the skillet, sprinkle with the seasonings, and toss to combine.  Cook until no longer pink in the middle.  Remove from heat, drain off excess fat, and set aside until needed.

2.While the chicken is cooking, cook the pasta in the saucepan until not quite done.  While the pasta is cooking, chop the cilantro (be sure to use a clean cutting board, not the one you used for the chicken unless you washed it first).  Drain the pasta, keeping about ¼ cup of the water.

Pasta with Water
Leave about this much water
3.Add the chicken and the remaining ingredients except the cilantro and return to medium heat.  Continue cooking until pasta is done and the other ingredients are heated through.

Add in your ingredients

Adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook.

Lamb Stew – Our Easter Tradition

Lamb StewEvery year for the last 3-4 years, we have had an absolutely delicious lamb stew for Easter dinner.  This is definitely not a “quick meal” or even a weeknight dinner but there are some things that you can do ahead of time to reduce the amount of work that you have on the day you are serving it.  This recipe freezes relatively well for short periods of time (more than a couple of weeks and the potatoes get mushy).
Prep: 20 minutes   Cook: 120 minutes   Total Time: 140 minutes
Needed Equipment: Dutch oven, saucepan
Makes 12 servings
STARTING PREPARATION:
  • Thaw lamb (in the fridge overnight, in a sink of cold water for a couple of hours, or in the microwave).
  • Cube leg of lamb meat and finely dice the fat (you will have some meat mixed in with the fat, which is fine).

 

Lamb Broth (optional):

  • Bone from leg of lamb
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 celery rib, halved
  • 1 carrot, halved
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
1.Place all the ingredients in the saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours.  Makes 5-6 cups broth (you can freeze the remainder for at least 6 months).

Lamb Stew:

  • 3-4 lb leg of lamb
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped and divided
  • 4 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 2 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 12 oz beer of choice (gluten-free as needed)
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups lamb or beef broth
  • 1 cup barley or rice
  • 1 lb (about 4) potatoes, cubed
1. Saute the fat from the leg of lamb until well browned (don’t stir it too often, or it won’t brown as well).  While you are cooking the meat, cut up the vegetables except the potatoes).  Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and save in a bowl.  Remove and discard half the fat from the pot.  Brown the lamb meat in batches (putting too much in at a time will not let the meat brown as well), seasoning it with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove with a slotted spoon and save in a bowl with the fat pieces.

2. Add celery, half the carrots, garlic, onion, rosemary, thyme, and oregano and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add in the beer, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 10 minutes until reduced by half.   Add in the tomatoes and broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.

3. Add the barley or rice and cook for 15 minutes.  Add more water at this point if you want a thinner soup.  Add the rest of the carrots and the potatoes and cook for another 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

Adapted from JG’s Irish Lamb Stew recipe.