Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday Supper - Stuffed Zucchini

I grew up eating my Nana's stuffed peppers so when I saw this recipe for stuffed zucchini I was definitely intrigued, especially since zucchini is one of the few vegetables everyone in my house will eat without complaining.

Bell Squash
But, since I can't leave well enough alone, I decided to make a healthier version of stuffed zucchini. My first dilemma though was it was going to be a total pain in the a** to stuff cut rounds of zucchini. Then on a trip to the farmers market this weekend I discovered these little beauties - the farmer called them Bell Squash - but really they are just bell shaped zucchinis! Perfect to just cut the tops off and stuff!

I also decided to make two versions of the recipe - a healthier meat version for the kids and a vegetarian version for myself.

I used a spoon to scoop out the zucchini bells
leaving a flat bottom. The insides were used
to bulk up the filling.
The most obvious way to make the meat version healthier is to cut out how much ground beef I used. I read through the recipe twice to figure out what she did with all the zucchini meat she cut out of the zucchinis. Why would you be wasteful and not use it? So I cut the amount of ground beef in half and used the extra zucchini meat to help bulk up the stuffing.

Also, two cups of shredded mozzarella cheese? No. I used one cup of a lower fat colby jack blend - less cheese but more taste.

For my vegetarian version, I skipped the 90% lean ground beef altogether and instead used an equal amount of pre-cooked quinoa. I also chopped up some asparagus I had in the refrigerator that needed used.  Next time I think I'll also add in some diced cauliflower. Yes, I realize the cheese is the only thing keeping these from being vegan. I'm OK with that.

For some reason the little kids liked the
boat shaped stuffed zucchini more than
the round ones. I think they just
liked saying they were eating zucchini boats.
I had a lot more stuffing than I anticipated so I pulled a couple regular zucchini out of the refrigerator and sliced them in half, scooped them with a spoon and made little boat shapes out of them to stuff. I didn't pre-cook the zucchini because I didn't want it to get soft or squishy. Mine only needed 15 minutes to cook ( everything in the stuffing is cooked so really you just need to heat the zucchini through).

Of course the test comes when I call the kids to the table. And the answer is...
Yes - they loved them. OK, maybe love is a little strong. But all six kids ate them and no one complained! That is a successful recipe in my house!  I served them with a salad and cup up watermelon (also from the farmers market) - a perfect summer meal.

Vegan option on the left. Meat option on
the right.
Stuffed Zucchini

Using a bit of olive oil, saute diced onion, green pepper and minced garlic. Add in diced asparagus or any other vegetable you choose. With just a minute or so left, add in the zucchini meat to heat through. Remove from heat and place in a bowl.

Brown extra lean ground beef. Drain grease.  Allow to cool slightly before adding to vegetable mixture. ( To make this vegetarian use quinoa instead of beef)

Add in a half jar of marinara sauce and a 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Stir all together.

Scoop into zucchini bells or boats. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Top with a dash more cheese and heat until cheese is melted.


Friday, June 8, 2012

The Apples Don't Fall Far From The Tree

Tonight as the sun was setting I sat on the front porch swing with my two girls; kid #4, who just turned 11, and kid #6 who will be 7 next week. Although they are both little minnie me's, the 11 year old is almost an exact duplicate of me.

This isn't always a good thing. The eye rolling, drama, competitiveness and mean girl tendencies are all too familiar to me. She has to be in charge of everyone and everything - and if you've read this blog for any time at all you know she gets that from her momma.

Tonight she was still excitedly playing with her iTouch that she got for her birthday. She wanted to play me a song she discovered. Well, not only was it not a new song, but it was a song I knew all the words to and used to sing out loud all the time.

At first she was surprised I knew all the words. Then the three of us sat on the swing together and sang the song. And then we sang it again.

I guess our neighbors thought we were nuts. I don't care.  Me and the girls were singing and putting flowers in our hair.