Pizza Stuffed Zucchini Boats

pizzastuffedzucchiniboat

We are on the zucchini train and there ain’t no end in sight! (So if you would like one, stop on by. Really.)

We are big fans of these zucchini boats, but tonight I wanted to experiment and add a little pizza pizzazz to our zucchini.

Thus these babies were born.

I’m not going to say that they are good enough to make me salivate in the future just thinking about them, but when it comes to using up zucchini, it’s a tasty way to do so. And a nice low-carb way as well. 🙂

And the nice thing…they are easy as (pizza) pie to make.

You can adjust all ingredients to meet the number of boats you need to make.

Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchini, halved
  • 1 pound ground beef, browned with onion
  • 1 can pizza sauce
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Pepperoni

Here’s the How-To:

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the middle.
Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the middle.
Fill the boats with the browned beef. Leave a little room for the sauce. (You may not use up all the hamburger depending on the size of your zucchinis.)
Grease a baking dish. Add the zucchini. Fill the boats with the browned beef. Leave a little room for the sauce. (You may not use up all the hamburger depending on the size of your zucchinis.)
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Spread sauce over each zucchini boat. I also put a smear of sauce underneath each boat.
Top with lots of shredded mozzarella.
Top with lots of shredded mozzarella. Lots. Don’t skimp.
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Top with pepperoni.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes. If the cheese and pepperoni start to brown too much, cover with foil. (I only did for the last 5 minutes.)
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes. If the cheese and pepperoni start to brown too much, cover with foil. (I only did for the last 5 minutes.)

Voila! Pizza stuffed zucchini boats.

Time to dig in!

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Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Ok, this isn’t a very photogenic recipe, but it is quite tasty.

My husband, who is always a little leery of my zucchini endeavors, asks for this one every year.

Here’s what I do….

Take the zucchini, slice them in half the long way, and scoop out the innards and discard. I usually prep three smaller zucchini or two large ones, which is the case here. stuffedz-(3)

Crumble and cook one pound of sausage until done. I take a ring of our deer sausage, discard the casing, and use that. Once the sausage is done, allow it to cool slightly.stuffedz

Mix together 1 brick of cream cheese, 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, 2 Tbsp. Bacon Bacon, and sausage. (Here’s the thing…it would probably be better if you just used REAL crumbled bacon and some minced onion, but I have been using this forever and still have a bottle of Bacon Bacon on hand, so that’s why I use the “processed” version.) stuffedz(2)Stuff the zucchini shells with the cheese mixture. stuffedz-(4)Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until zucchini is tender. stuffedz-(5)And that’s it. Like I said, not a very photogenic dish, but it tastes good! 🙂

Have a great day!!

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

zucchinicake

We have officially entered zucchini season! 🙂

It always starts with a little excitement, and then that excitement wanes after you’ve picked the 137th zucchini from just 2 plants. (They just never quit!)

Even if you don’t like zucchini, this chocolate cake is worth making. It’s rich. A little heavy. And no one will suspect that there is zucchini in it.

It will disappear quickly. I promise.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup grated zucchini (you can use a heaping cup if you wish)

Here’s what to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8×8 or 9×9 square cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oil, sugar, and vanilla.
  3. Add baking soda and salt. Mix well.
  4. Add cocoa powder. Mix well.
  5. Add flour. Mix well. At this point you are probably thinking, “This looks nothing like cake batter.” And you are right. It’s crumbly, dry, and weird looking. That’s how it’s supposed to look. 
  6. Now add the zucchini and mix well. It should seem like a thick brownie batter.
  7. Spread it into your prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes. The center should be set. You can test it with a toothpick and see if it comes out clean.
  9. Cool on a wire rack.

Now to the frosting. Because nothing goes better with chocolate than cream cheese.

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

In a small mixing bowl, mix the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until creamy and smooth. Add powdered sugar and mix, 1/2 cup at a time. Spread over cooled cake.

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Keep the cake in the fridge because of the frosting.

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And see…no hint of zucchini. _MG_3644

People will never guess that they are eating their vegetables. 😉

 

Side note: I think that hand-shredding the zucchini works better than using a food processor. I like to use a box grater. When I used my food processor, the zucchini was shredded too perfectly, and the juices weren’t released. When I tried to mix it in with the rest of the ingredients, it turned out like this:

zucchinishreds

This obviously wasn’t going to bake up as a cake, so I threw it all back into the processor to break up the zucchini and release the juices. The cake turned out fine. But in the end, it just worked out much better for me when I hand grated the zucchini.

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

zucchinibread-(7)If you haven’t encountered a zucchini by now, you either a)don’t have a garden or b)don’t know anyone who has a garden.

These veggies produce prolifically. It is too easy to accumulate more than you know what to do with! Been there, done that. (In fact, still doing that.)

Somewhere, back in the day, someone had this same problem and thought, “Let’s just throw it into some bread. That will use it up!”

Thus, zucchini bread was born.

I’ve tried a few different recipes, but this has been my family’s absolute favorite. It comes from the Crystal Springs Faith Evangelical Church cookbook (gotta love those small community cookbooks!). I make it every year, and usually have loaves of it in the freezer (a reminder of just how much zucchini we planted the prior spring).

If you’ve never had zucchini bread, don’t worry. There’s nothing vegetable-y about it. It tastes like dessert. In fact, it is dessert. I don’t why they categorize these types of breads as “breakfast” anyway. 🙂  Other than the vegetables (that are masked by all the sugary goodness), there’s really nothing healthy about this.

But it’s zucchini season. So we must, must come up with every possible way to use of these green clubs of glory.

Or…I could just not plant so much next year.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

Here’s what to do:

  1. Combine eggs and sugar. Beat in oil and vanilla.
  2. Combine dry ingredients. Gradually add into sugar mixture and mix well.
  3. Stir in zucchini, chocolate chips, and nuts.
  4. Pour into 5 greased mini loaf panszucchinibread-(5)
  5. Bake at 325 for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. zucchinibread-(8)zucchinibread-(9)This kid loves to help, and he loves this bread!

*You could also use regular-sized loaf pans. Just bake for about 1 hour. I prefer the mini pans because I just have better luck baking with them, and I like the size of the slices.

*I like to line the bottom of my pans with parchment paper. I find that it’s way easier to remove the loaves. I simply place the pan of top of the paper, trace the bottom, and cut it out. zucchinibreadzucchinibread-(2)zucchinibread3

*I have had the best luck using the spray version of coconut oil to grease the pans. The loaves come out without any effort.

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

It’s rhubarb season, so I’ve been into trying new things with rhubarb lately.

My most recent making is strawberry rhubarb sauce. It’s the strawberry sauce that I like to make, but I added rhubarb.

Combining strawberries and rhubarb. Kind of a no-brainer. 🙂

We used it on blueberry pancakes. Yum.

We also used it to top mini cheesecakes. Very yum. strawberryrhubarbcheesecake

This sauce is very easy to make. The most effort required is washing and cutting up the strawberries and rhubarb.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. strawberries
  • 3 stalks rhubarb
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar (Add 1/2 cup if you like it sweeter. With 1/4 cup, it is still a little tart.)
  • 2 tsp. corn starch

Here’s what to do:

  1. Prep the strawberries and rhubarb. Wash, remove stems, chop.strawberrieschopped rhubarb
  2. Add all ingredients to a saucepan. rhubarbsauce rhubarbsauce1
  3. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let it cook until fruit starts to break down, stirring occasionally. rhubarbsauce2
  4. Break down the fruit even more using a potato masher. rhubarbsaucemash
  5. And that’s it! Homemade strawberry rhubarb sauce.  Let it cool and then transfer to storage container. I divided mine between two jars. One went in the fridge and one went into the freezer for later.

10-Minute Strawberry Sauce

Cheesecake. Ice cream. Toast. Pancakes. Smoothies.

All of these items are better with THIS strawberry sauce.

Strawberry sauce is incredibly easy to make, keeps in the fridge, and tastes delicious. Another nice thing about it: you can customize it to your liking. Try adding rhubarb, or peaches, or raspberries. If it’s not sweet enough, add more sugar. If it’s too sweet, take some out. The recipe is easily transformable to your tastes.

Here’s what to do:

In a smallish pan, add 2 cups strawberries, 2-3 Tbsp. sugar, 1-2 Tbsp. orange juice, and 1 tsp. of cornstarch. Bring to a boil over medium heat. strawberrysauceboilOnce the strawberries start to soften and release their juices, use a masher or fork to break them down. strawberrysaucemashAllow sauce to cool. Use right away, or transfer to a glass jar and store in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

 

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

When I was in high school, my summer job was to cook, clean, and provide company for an elderly lady in my community who was unable to get out of her home. I must say that she taught me many, many lessons about food and life itself, and that summer proved to be a valuable one for me indeed.

One of the foods that she taught me how to make was strawberry rhubarb jam. 

My grandma makes this using the same recipe that Frieda used, and I believe I once referred to her jam as “liquid gold” when I combined it with a cheesecake recipe. 🙂

I don’t know if there is a better summer combination than strawberries and rhubarb.

So this summer I set out to make some jam of my own.

I did change the recipe up just a bit. The original calls for a can of strawberry pie filling. I wanted to use fresh strawberries instead, so I swapped. Also, I cut the recipe in half, mainly because I was experimenting and didn’t want a large batch if it didn’t turn out. Even with the halved recipe, I ended up with three jars of jam. That amount is about perfect for our family.

One last thing…instead of using boxed gelatin in the recipe, I used Jell-O brand Simply Strawberry because it works just as well and doesn’t have artificial flavors and dyes in it.

I think the result of my experiment is just as tasty as the original. We’ve been having it on toast, and I can’t wait to top a cheesecake with it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups rinsed, chopped rhubarb (I sliced mine using a food processor)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 16 oz. carton fresh strawberries, rinsed and quartered
  • 1 pouch Jell-O Simply Good strawberry gelatin (a 3 oz. box of regular jello would work, too)

Here’s what I did:

  1. Add rhubarb, water, sugar, and strawberries to a medium-sized saucepan.
  2. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until fruit is softened and the juices have been rendered out. It should come to a low boil. You will want to stir occasionally.
  3. Once the fruit is soft, and you have a “liquidy” mixture, use a potato masher to break down any large chunks of fruit.
  4. Add Jell-O, stir, and continue with the low boil for a few more minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and pour into jars.
  6. Store in the refrigerator.

Eat and enjoy!

We love this jam, and I love that it is easy.

Happy summer!

Now excuse me while I go make some toast…