Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini

This is not my first time attempting stuffed zucchini.  The first time I found a recipe that called for feta cheese and no meat.  Now, normally Jason doesn't mind eating a meatless meal, but since he's really not a fan of feta cheese either, well, let's just say he wasn't impressed.  It was the only time (that I can recall) that he didn't finish his dinner and looked at me and said "Can we not ever have this again?".  So, when he asked what was for dinner today and I told him stuffed zucchini....let's just say I could hear the not-so-excitement in his voice.  I promised him it would be different this time and he would like it.  He was hesitant, but I was right!  He loved it and asked to have it again :)

I used two zucchinis and did one stuffed with Italian sausage for Jason and the other with a fauxsage (as I call it) link chopped up for me.

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini
Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a meal

2 medium zucchini
1 tbsp evoo
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 oz mushrooms, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 lb Italian sausage
2 veggie Italian sausage links, diced or 1 cup veggie Italian sausage crumbles
16 oz tomato or Marinara sauce
6 oz part-skim mozzarella, shredded

1.  Preheat oven to 350°.  Halve the zucchini and scoop out the inside leaving a 1/8 - 1/4 inch shell.  Chop the zucchini that was scooped out and set aside.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Place halved zucchini in the boiling water and allow to cook for 2 minutes.  Remove and let drain/dry while you prepare the remaining ingredients.  In a large skillet, cook the Italian sausage *if using veggie sausage, skip this step*.  Drain well, set aside and wipe out pan.

2.  In the same pan heat evoo and saute the reserved zucchini, bell pepper, onion, garlic and mushrooms.  *If using the veggie sausage, add it in with the veggies.*  Once veggies begin to soften, add in the cooked Italian sausage and season with salt and pepper.

3.  Place zucchini halves in a baking sheet and fill with sausage/veggie filling.  Pour tomato sauce over and top with shredded mozzarella.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until cheese is melted and begins to brown.  Enjoy!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan Sticks

One of my biggest cravings this pregnancy has been Eggplant Parmesan.  I've been making it quite a big and was so excited when Jason brought home a fresh eggplant from a co-worker's garden.  I had just made Eggplant Parm the week prior, so I wanted something a little different (but not too different!).  I was inspired by a recipe for Eggplant Sticks on Skinnytaste.  I took the idea of eggplant cut into sticks, but used my own recipe and served them as a side dish instead of a main course.

Eggplant Parmesan Sticks
Serves 2 as a side, 4 as an appetizer
(pictured with my Quick and Easy Marinara)
1 medium eggplant
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup Italian panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup fresh Parmesan, grated

1.  Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1 inch slices.  Then, cut the eggplant into 2 inch by 1 inch sticks.  Place eggplant sticks on a cooling rack and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp Kosher salt - this will help remove excess moisture.  Let sit for 30-60 minutes, flip slices and repeat.  *This step isn't necessary, but I always do this anytime I make eggplant or zucchini*.

2.  Preheat oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.  Place the beaten eggs in a shallow dish and the breadcrumbs and Parmesan in another.  Dip the sticks in the egg then coat in the breadcrumb mixture and place on cookie sheet.  Repeat until all sticks have been dipped and coated. 
Why yes, those ARE Cars-themed plates.  They're the best for dipping and dredging!
3.  Spray the top of the eggplant sticks with nonstick spray and bake for 30 minutes, flipping once.  Serve with marinara dipping sauce and enjoy!

Quick and Easy Marinara

I needed a marinara sauce to go with dinner tonight and was all out of my usual jarred sauce.  I threw this together with what was in my pantry and was very pleased with the outcome.  I'm glad that I actually wrote down the ingredients I used because I know I'll be making this again. 

Quick and Easy Marinara
(pictured with my Eggplant Parmesan Sticks)
2 tsp evoo
4-6 garlic cloves, chopped
28 oz can whole tomatoes
2 tsp dried Basil
1 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1 bay leaf

1.  In a large pot, heat the evoo and saute garlic until fragrant, be careful not to burn.  Add in remaining ingredients, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

2.  Remove bay leaf and remove the sauce from the heat.  Using an immersion blender (or a potato masher if you want a good arm workout!), blend sauce until you have reached desired consistency.  Taste and add additional seasonings if needed.  Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Gnocchi Mac & Cheese

I was FULL of wins tonight in the kitchen - I made Eggplant Parmesan sticks with a quick, homemade marinara, Apple Pie bread and, the star of the show - Gnocchi Mac & Cheese.  Seriously, this stuff was ah-mazing!  I fell in love with gnocchi when Jason and I went to Italy back in 2008.  I don't make it too often because, well, it's not the healthiest pasta option, but it sure is yummy.  This takes its yumminess to a whole new level!

I do think that there was a little too much cheese sauce - I used a cup of milk and a cup of cheese.  I think knocking both back by a quarter cup will be perfect, so that's how I'm going to write the recipe.  Also, you can use any cheese (or combo of cheese) that your heart desires (or that is sitting in your fridge!) - Gruyere would be really good in this!

Gnocchi Mac & Cheese
Serves 2-4

1lb gnocchi
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp flour
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp Cayenne (optional)
S & P
1/2 cup Fontina cheese, grated
1/4 cup Smoked Gouda, grated
1/4 cup fresh Parmesan, grated

1.  Preheat the oven to 375°, spray a 1 1/2 - 2 qt baking dish with cooking spray.  Prepare the gnocchi as directed on the package; drain and set aside.  In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and saute the garlic until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.  Whisk in the flour and cook until well combined and mixture begins to turn a slight brown.  Slowly whisk in the milk, ensuring there are no lumps. 

2.  Once smooth, add in the Dijon, cayenne (if using) and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a low simmer and whisk occasionally until sauce begins to thicken.  Once thickened, add in the Fontina and Gouda, stirring until melted.  Add in the gnocchi and coat with the cheese sauce.

3.  Transfer the gnocchi to the prepared baking dish and top with grated Parmesan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbly.  Broil for an additional 5 minutes if you want a nice brown crust on top.  Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I never had Goulash growing up - it was a total foreign food to me.  But for Jason, it was a staple in his house.  So, when he asked for it for dinner years ago when we first started living together I was totally clueless.  When he bought this house, his mom gave him a recipe box full of different recipes that she and his grandmothers made while he was younger.  Thankfully, inside that box was a recipe for goulash.  Now I, of course, have changed it up a bit and made it my own, but now I stick to this recipe every time I make it.  It's become one of my favorites and it's nice because I can make a vegetarian version for myself and a meaty version for him.  And, it's one of the very few things I'll actually eat left over!

Serves 2-4
His and hers.....or is it hers and his?
1 cup uncooked elbow noodles (I like Ronzoni Smart Taste)
1 tsp evoo
1 cup diced celery
3/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced red or green onion
1 roma tomato, diced
1/2 lb ground beef (I prefer to use lean for this)
1 1/2 cups veggie crumbles (I like Morningstar brand)
2 cups no salt added tomato sauce
1/2 tbsp dried basil

1. Cook elbow noodles in boiling water for 5 minutes (you want them al dente).  Drain and set aside.  Heat evoo in a large pan with a tight fitting lid and add in beef or veggie crumbles, basil, pepper, celery, onion and bell peppers.  Saute until beef is browned and veggies have begun to soften.  If using beef, drain any excess grease after meat has been browned and cooked through. 

2.  Add in tomato sauce, diced tomato and reserved noodles.  Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Enjoy! 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Apple Crisp

I was so excited when I went into my favorite organic market in MD and they had fresh Honeycrisp apples.  I love Honeycrisp apples and so does Jason.  I found the perfect bag, got home all ready to dig in and realized I had gotten a bag of Galas instead :(  I'm very particular about my apples (well, most fruit actually) - they need to be nice and crisp.  These, unfortunately, were not.  So, I needed something to do with them.  I went to the America's Test Kitchen website and did a search.  I decided on their Fruit Crisp (not sure if that link will work, some recipes you have to have a membership to view) recipe - I made a few changes - their recipe called for nutmeg, nuts and lemon zest.  I'm not a fan of nutmeg so I upped the cinnamon, also not a fan of nuts in baked goods so I subbed in old fashioned oats and I had no fresh lemons so I just added a bit more lemon juice.  Galas wouldn't be my first choice for an apple crisp, but it was still yummy!

Apple Crisp
Serves 6-8

6 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
2 1/2 - 3 lbs (about 6 cups) apples*
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

1.  Heat oven to 375° and spray an 8x8 baking dish with non-stick spray.  Combine the first 7 ingredients (flour through oats) in a medium bowl and, using either a pastry cutter or two forks, mix until it resembles coarse crumbles.  Refrigerate while you prepare the apples, for at least 15 minutes.  Thinly slice or chop apples and combine with the 1/4 cup sugar and lemon juice.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape all of the filling into the prepared baking dish.

2.  Sprinkle on refrigerated topping and bake for 40 minutes.  Increase heat to 400° and bake an additional 5 minutes, until apples are bubbling and topping is browned.  Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.  Enjoy!

*This recipe could be used with just about any fruit.  Nectarines, plums, peaches, berries, etc.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cake Batter Blondies

Like pretty much any other day, I was scrolling through Pinterest today and got sidetracked once I saw a yummy looking dessert.  But, unlike most days, I actually made said yummy looking dessert.  The recipe I followed is here.  The only changes I made was using a French Vanilla flavored cake mix and I added more white chocolate chips because.....well, why not add more chocolate chips?  They were super simple to get in the oven - literally took me about 5 minutes from start to baking.  Just make sure you have some milk or water on hand when you start eating them - they made me so thirsty!

Cake Batter Blondies

1 Box French Vanilla Cake Mix
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream (I will probably just use a 1/2 cup of milk next time and omit the cream)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

1.  Preheat oven to 350° and grease an 8x8 or brownie pan with cooking spray.  Mix together cake mix, milk, cream, oil, egg and vanilla until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips and sprinkles.

2.  Using a spatula, place batter into prepared baking dish.  Bake for 20-25 minutes; you want batter to stick to a toothpick - this will give it a gooey, brownie consistency.  Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes.  Cut and enjoy!

These would be a great dessert at Christmas.  Just use red and green sprinkles instead of the rainbow!

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

I'm still in the Honeymoon phase with my freaking awesome breadmaker.  I've made this bread twice now - we all love it!  It's a little time consuming, but totally worth it.  I've used it for French toast (check out the picture at the bottom!) and just eaten it plain.  Yummy!  You could also add chopped pecans or walnuts to the cinnamon swirl if you're into that kind of thing :)

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread
Makes one 1 1/2lb loaf

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 cup raisins (optional)
1 cup milk, room temperature
2 tbsp butter, cut into cubes, room temperature
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
3 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tsp yeast

1.  Combine the cinnamon and 1/4 cup sugar.  Set aside with the raisins.  Add the remaining ingredients as directed by your breadmaker.  Choose white bread, medium crust, 1 1/2 lb loaf.  When paddle attachment sound goes off, place dough onto a floured surface.

2.  Roll out dough into a large rectangle, approximately 1/4 inch thick, and sprinkle dough with cinnamon sugar and raisins.  Roll dough into a loaf beginning at the short end, ensuring the ends are tucked in and sealed.

3.  Place back into bread maker (be sure to remove the paddle attachment) and let it finish cooking.  When done, remove and place on a cooling rack to cool.  Slice and enjoy!

Makes great French toast!!!