Italian, Savory

Stuffed Zucchini

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This is a versatile recipe and it will most certainly make the “veggie-haters” eat zucchini.  For this particular recipe, I used ground beef with Italian flavors.  You could use taco spices for a Mexican spin and you can change up the protein with ground chicken or turkey.  You can also make this a 100% vegetarian meal by using beans, corn, quinoa, and peppers as a filling.  I have also heard a friend use crabmeat as a filling, which I have to try next.   However you choose to make this, it is a fool-proof way to jazz up zucchini!

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Ingredients

2 large medium-sized zucchini

1 medium onion, chopped

1.5 cups of ground beef

1/2 tsp of minced garlic

1/4 tsp of Calabrian chili paste

1 tsp of Italian seasoning

1 tsp of tomato paste

1/2 cup of tomato basil sauce

1 Tbsp of fresh parsley, chopped

1 Tbsp of olive oil, plus additional oil to brush on zucchini

Shredded mozzarella cheese for melting on top, as much as you like

salt and pepper for seasoning.

Method:

Slice zucchini down the middle, length-wise.  Using a melon baller or a spoon, scoop out the inside of the zucchini, making a hollow “boat”.  Season with a little bit of salt and let the zucchini rest for 30 minutes to an hour.  This will pull out some of the excess liquid in the zucchini and also season the flesh.

Preheat oven to 375F.  While that happens, move on to making the filling.

Heat oil in a skillet and add the ground beef.  Saute till it starts to brown.  Then add all the remaining spices except for the tomato basil sauce and parsley.

Cook all the ingredients, till the beef is dark brown, and all the spices have bloomed and are married together.

Finally, add the sauce and parsley and cook for an additional 7-9 minutes.  At this point, you can store the filling in the fridge for later use or you can proceed to the next step.

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Using a paper towel, blot the excess moisture off the Zucchini and arrange them, cut-side up, on a greased baking pan.  Sprinkle the cavity with some black pepper and bake the zucchini for 10 minutes.

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Pull out the zucchini and fill then with beef mixture.  You will note in the picture that two of the “boats” have more filling than the other two, personal preference really, I like more vegetable and my husband prefers more beef.  He also likes more cheese as you will see in the following pictures.

 

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Baked the filled zucchini for another 10 minutes.

Top the boats with cheese (as much as you like) and bake for another 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melty and bubbly!  Turn the broiler on at the end if you want to brown the top of the cheese.

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Serve piping hot!

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Dinner, Mexican, Poultry, Savory

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

 

00000img_00000_burst20200417172959541_coverThis is a fun, nutrient-dense dinner that I wish I had thought to make before.  It looks like you are eating pub-food, but in reality, it is a hearty dinner.  Like any “stuffed” recipe, this can be tailored to your taste or dietary restrictions.  I made it with chicken because you always need to come up with creative ways of cooking chicken breast; you can most certainly make it with ground beef or add no animal protein at all.   This particular version has Mexican flavors.  Personally, I think the spiciness to chilies pair really well with the sweetness of the potatoes.  It is also an easy recipe as it uses ingredients that probably already have in your pantry/fridge.  Here is what you will need:

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Ingredients:

2, medium-sized sweet potatoes, thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned

4, thin chicken breast slices or 1 big chicken breast.

1 bunch of scallions, about 8 stalks– chopped.  Use half for cooking and half for garnish

3 Tbsp of black beans from a 15oz can

3 Tbsp of sweet corn from a 15oz can

1 medium-sized jalapeno, dice half of the pepper for cooking and slice the remaining half for garnish

1 tsp of cumin

1 tsp of garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt, plus more for sprinkling

1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder

1/4 cup of store-bought salsa (spice level of your choice, I used “hot”)

1/4 cup water

1Tbsp of olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Cheese and avocado slices for garnish

Method:

Preheat oven to 400F

Scrub and wash the sweet potatoes and cut them in half, lengthwise.

Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with some salt and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

During the last 9 minutes of baking, add in the chicken breasts.  The goal is to get them par-cooked so as to shred the meat.  You might have to adjust the cook-time depending on the size and thickness of your chicken breast.

Let the chicken and the sweet potatoes cool for about 5 minutes or until you are comfortable handling them.  Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh from the sweet potatoes, leaving a little bit left on the skin.

Using a fork, shred the chicken.  You will end up with approximately, 3/4 to 1 cup of shredded chicken.

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Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and add scallions, jalapenos, and all the spices.  Stir everything around in the pan to incorporate and then add the chicken and the sweet potato.  Continue stirring till everything is completely covered in the spice mixture.

Add the corn, beans, salsa, and water, and continue to cook on medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes.

During these five minutes, stick the potato skins back in the 400F oven to crisp up slightly.  If you want the skin to be more crisp, consider increasing the baking temperature and roasting for a little bit longer.

Fill the potato skins with the chicken mixture, I still had some of the mixture leftover.

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After filling the skin, top with as much cheese as you like and serve piping hot with a garnish of scallions, sliced jalapenos, and sliced avocadoes.

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