Baked Zucchini Boats

Delicious and Easy to Make

Have I mentioned that it is summertime and that the zucchini are producing quite well?  :)  We like to eat from the garden while it is summer and zucchini is best eaten fresh.  I had one fairly large zucchini and I decided to make zucchini boats.  

This pan is a bit smaller than a regular cake pan.  It is 11″ X 8″.  I cut the ends off of the zucchini, so you can see it was over 11″ long.  I then cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. I made angular cuts to cut out all the middle meat of the zucchini and create a trough or boat.  This was another Costata Romanesco Zucchini.  So even though it was large, it was still very edible and meaty in the middle.

I browned a pound of our grass fed hamburger along with some onions and garlic.  I used Italian spices and lots of black pepper.  I also used some Redmond Seasoned Salt.  I chopped up the zucchini that I had cut out of the middle and cooked it in with the beef.  I mixed in 1/2 of a jar of this sauce that was left over in the fridge.  

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     I put the 2 halves of the zucchini, trough side up, in the baking dish.  I then filled each trough with the hamburger mixture.  There was not room for the whole pound unless I really mounded it up.  I will save the other part for something else.  I sprinkled some cheddar cheese on top and baked at 300°F for about 30 minutes.  This allowed the zucchini boat to still have a wee bit of crunch to it, which is how we like it.  If you want it softer, then I would bake a bit longer or turn the oven up to 350°F.  I cut them both in half.  We each had a half for supper tonight and will eat the other halves tomorrow for lunch.

What are some other things you could stuff these boats with?  I would love to hear your ideas.  Please leave them in the comments below.

Have you ever zoodled?

Noodles made from zucchini!

Summer means a garden.  A garden means delicious and fresh summer eating!!  If you have never had a garden, I would encourage you to at least plant a few things one time to try it.  You can plant in among your flowers or even in big pots on your patio.  There is nothing that compares to picking fresh veggies and eating them.  The flavor is so much better and you feel good about being a part of putting that food on your plate.  

Our garden has started to bring forth a harvest.  :)  We have gotten quite a few zucchinis.  My friend brought me some plants this year and there were a couple of Costata Romanesco Zucchini plants among them.  We love this variety.  It has a great flavor, but even when you miss one and end up with a baseball bat sized zucchini, it is still good to eat.  If you have ever grown zucchini, you know that no matter how well you watch and look, at least one per season will sneak up on you and be HUGE!!  A regular variety of zucchini that gets huge is not always too good to eat.  The insides are almost mushy.  This variety is not that way.  It is ribbed and beautiful on the outside.  They say that they produce about half of what the hybrids do, but ours put out quite a bit, so I am not sure I agree with that.

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Last night I was wondering what to have for supper.  We have had zucchini several ways now and I wanted to use up some of our harvest.  I decided that we would have ZOODLES!!  We love zoodles.  

Spiral Slicer  

This is a Spiral Slicer.  We sell them in our General Store because it is a product we use and love.  I have had mine for over 10 years and it still works wonderfully.  You can make spiral fries with it as well as other yummy things.  :)  I got out my spiral slicer and chose a zucchini that was about 10″ long.  I cut off both ends and then cut it in half.  I stuck the first half on the slicer and started twirling.  

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It is amazing how many zoodles you get out of one zucchini.  I get out a larger size pan and put my stainless steel steamer basket in it and add some water. 

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As my plate fills up with zoodles, I transfer them to the pot.  All of this came from that one zucchini.  

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You then lightly steam them.  You want them hot, but not mushy, so you might have to feel them a couple of times.  We actually like a little bit of a crunch to ours. 

In the meantime I had 1/2 of a lb. of sausage (from pastured hogs) that needed to be used up.  Instead of adding sage and making it more like a breakfast sausage, I used Italian seasonings.

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After I cooked the sausage I added some of this sauce.  I buy this at Costco and it really tastes good.  One jar lasts us at least 2 if not 3 meals.  We paid $6.99 for 2 jars.  

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We placed some zoodles on the plate and then topped with the sausage and sauce.  If you mix it all together, it really looks like spaghetti except where you see the green skin on some pieces.  If you peeled the zucchini first, you might be able to fool some people.  It has a very light taste and is low carb.  You need to try some!!

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Have you ever had zoodles?  If not, do you want to try? Let me know in the comments below.  

Fizzy, Pink and Good For You

Pink, Fizzy and Good For You - Water Kefir

I was raised by parents who were from the South.  I did not live in the South for much of my childhood, but I did pick up lots of traits from my parents.  One of those is that we call all carbonated beverages, cokes.  Do you want a coke?  Yes, please.  I will take a Seven Up.  :)  I remember one time my son (who also picked up on this trait) ordered a coke in a restaurant and was disgusted when they brought him a coke instead of asking which kind of coke he wanted.  I started hearing things about cokes and so I began my research.  My conclusion was that they are very bad for you.  Since we did not drink them very often, they were very easy to give up.  There are sometimes though that a cold fizzy type drink would be wonderful.  

I heard several people mention making water kefir and drinking that instead of drinking cokes.  I got some water kefir grains from someone and tried it.  I am not sure what happened that first time I experimented with water kefir, but I was NOT impressed.  It was just one more thing to have to keep up with in my kitchen so I passed the grains off to someone.  Our family goes through phases where it is sometimes harder to pass up the not so healthy foods.  We do keep some organic ginger ale on hand in case of upset stomachs.  These became a temptation to my husband at one point, so I decided to try water kefir again.  A friend gave me some grains and told me how she made hers.  I started experimenting with a second fermentation and OH MY!!  We are loving water kefir.  :)

With only two of us here, I don’t make a lot at a time.  You can make it in a gallon jar if you like.  I make it in a quart jar.  I will share my routine with you and also what I am adding for the second fermentation.  

I use a clean wide mouth quart jar and a plastic lid.  I was told to not allow metal to come into contact with my kefir.  You need at least 2 Tbsp. of kefir grains for a quart.  As you can see from this picture, I have more in there.  I have shared some with my Daughter-in-love and will have more to share.  You can also sell your kefir grains.  Some people make a business of it.  

kefir grains in bottom of jar     

You want to make sure that your kefir has minerals and some sort of sugar to feed from.  You can add a clean egg shell for minerals or even some good molasses.  I actually add a pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt since it is full of minerals.  I also use either 1/3 cup of Sucanat or 1/3 cup of Organic Cane Crystals, both of which have some molasses in them.  Fill the jar with water and stir gently.  I have started putting the sugar, salt and water in first.  I stir that up and then add the grains.  Then you put the lid on and let it sit out on your counter.  I let mine sit out about 24 hours, but it has been cooler than normal around here.  If you have a very hot and humid kitchen, I would try 12 hours.  You will notice the grains moving up and down in the water.  It looks like a mini lava lamp:)    I opened my jar so you can see that some of the grains are on the top.

Water kefir grains

At this point, you can put it in the fridge and let it get cool and drink it.  We are not overly fond of it this way.  I started doing a second ferment using different fruit juices.  This is much more to our liking.  I have 2 ways of doing the second ferment.  The picture above shows what the water kefir looks like when I use the cane crystals.  When I feed it sucanat it is much darker and the flavor of the sucanat is more evident than the cane crystals.  When I make the water kefir like it is show above (with cane crystals), I add citrus juice to it.  My favorite is pink grapefruit juice.  I have found a couple of brands with no added sugar that I use.  I have also added a touch of lemon and lime juices to this mixture as well.  YUM!!  I then add about 6 drops of this Stevia.   I add at least 1/2 cup (I don’t measure) of juices to a bottle using a funnel.  This is the type of bottle I use.  You can buy them here.  Not only do they have a great price, but their shipping is VERY reasonable and quick.   

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I then put this strainer in the funnel (it is plastic and nylon so there is no metal involved) and pour the kefir into the bottle capturing the grains.  I close up the bottle and leave it sit out on my counter for around 24 hours.  You need to be careful with it at this point as the pressure (the fizz) will build up quickly.  Make sure when you open it you step outside or hold it over a sink.  I now step out my back door.  I let mine sit too long and held it over the sink and opened it.  Within 2 seconds there was only about an inch or two of liquid left in the bottle. The rest was all over me and my kitchen.  :D My husband stood there and laughed at me while kefir dripped down my face.  Put it in the fridge to let it get cold.  Then drink up!!!  It is wonderful!  It reminds me a bit of the flavor of Fresca.

When I use sucanat to feed the grains, I use a stronger flavored fruit juice to go along with the taste of the sucanat.  I have been using POM juice that I buy at Costco.  This is Pomegranate Juice and it really makes a great tasting kefir as well.  I do not add the stevia when I make this flavor.  

Once I have strained the kefir grains out, I add them to another clean jar and start all over again.  

I would love to hear any questions you have or what flavors of kefir you make and love!!  Please leave your responses in the comments below.   

  

Want To Bless Your Family?

I often hear women saying that they wished there was a way they could bring in a little income and still stay at home.  Other women would like to be able to be able to pay for some fun times for their family.  Still others really wish there was a way to help with their family budget.  They are having to stretch their grocery dollar so thin and it is hard to be able to purchase anything extra. 

I know for me a little extra money can be used in many areas.  I have tried several things over the years.  It was important for me to be at home at least most of the time.  Things just run better when I can be here.  I often help people get started in their whole foods journey.  I share with them how to slowly start making changes and many times end up giving them lessons in bread making or cheese making, etc.  Sometimes it is just to show a young woman how to cook with real food instead of the instant in a box stuff.  I would help them out and then send them somewhere else to buy their equipment.  That is the reason we started our store.  It helps bring in some income and since it is online, I am able to stay at home.  I also have several affiliate accounts and often post links to share items with you.  I earn a bit of money through doing that.

I have since found another way to bring in some money that has turned into something really worth while and I love it!!  

Lilla Rose Hair Jewelry

I do not consider myself a sales person.  I bought a Flexi-clip from Lilla Rose to help with an adoption fund raiser.  Nothing would stay in my hair or hold it up with out constant adjusting.  I figured I would give a Flexi-clip a try and if it didn’t work I would give it away and go back to the only barrette I had that worked (from high school – that I guarded with my life).  The Flexi’s held my hair and stayed all day.  I was thrilled.  I bought some more to have choices.  Then people started noticing them in my hair and asking about them.  I gushed about them because I was (and still am) so excited about how well they worked.  I decided to sign up to be able to share them with others and to purchase mine at a reduced cost.  Plus, they would make great gifts.  I signed up on the 18th of April in 2012.  I did not do any shows that month, in fact I did not do my first show until November of 2013.  Just sharing them with people I was around brought a response I never expected.  From April 18th when I signed up until April 30th, I had made back everything I had spent to sign up including shipping.  I was thrilled!!  Since then it has been a slow steady climb.  I did not get my first person to sign up under me for a very long time.  I was OK with that.  I was still bringing in a bit of money.  Fast forward the 2 years plus that I have been a part of Lilla Rose and I am bringing in a regular income that more than helps us out with extras, paying off debt and being able to contribute to a couple of mission trips and other giving opportunities. I have done a few shows, but no more than one per month and some months I have not done any.

If you have ever thought about signing up to be blessed and to bless others with your own Lilla Rose business… NOW is the time!! There are too many pros to name them all. You will get training one on one with me, plus you will be added to our group on Facebook which has lots of resources for you.   You will get your own website at no cost to you, and you only have to sell or buy $29 per year to stay active. Through the end of this month there is a special JUST FOR YOU!!! You can find out more details about signing up HERE!! The special is outlined in the picture below.  If you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them.

This is the deal you have been waiting for!

What is keeping you from being able to bless your family?  I would love to hear from you.
      

Need Help With Your Garden?

Learn the basics and more of gardening.

This is a delightful book to sit and look through.  It would be a nice coffee table book in the summer months, but is is full of wonderful practical help as well. It is full of colorful pictures that will draw even a child into looking through this book.  Shoshanna’s children are pictured through out the book as well.

It discusses individual vegetable and what their needs are.  It starts with what sort of soil they need and how much sun.  They list any fertilizing needs that particular veggie has.  They list varieties that grow well.  It shares about harvesting and which veggies store well and how to store them.

They share DIY projects such as building your own cold frames and greenhouses.  There are step by step instructions to make it simple for even the most challenged.  :)

It ends with all sorts of recipes that you can make using your garden’s harvest.  This is truly a delightful book and you will not be disappointed.

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Making Vegetables from the Bulk Herb Store.

Suzanne’s Summer Sensation!

Suzanne's Summer Sensation
 

My friend Suzanne made this the other night for her family.  I was drooling just looking at the picture, so I asked if I could share it with you and she said yes!!!  Doesn’t it look wonderful?!?!?!?!  Suzanne LOVES to garden and she and her family have a beautiful piece of property with gardens and an orchard.  She loves to use up what they grow.  She is also an artist with her knitting needles.  She helped me out one time when I got stuck on a pair of socks.  She comes up with unique patterns of her own design.

 

Suzanne’s Summer Sensation

Chop up an onion and saute’ it in the oil of your choice.  You can add some basil to this if you like.  Then put the onions in the bottom of your casserole dish.  Slice up enough potatoes, zucchini and tomatoes for your family and put them on top.  I love how she made it artistic.  Top it all with Parmesan, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Bake it at 375F, covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for another 30 minutes.

Then eat it warm!!!  YUM!!

Let me know if you try this and how you liked it.  I know we will be making it here!!