Sunday, November 13, 2011

Zucchini Boats

Are you looking for a different recipe for side items for your holiday season?  Years ago, I stumbled upon a stuffed zucchini recipe in Cooking Light magazine that was absolutely a wonderful substitute for turkey stuffing for the holidays. It was a low carb, meatless way to have dressing. I am determined to find the recipe, but have not been able to locate that magazine. As soon as I find it, I will share. When I was craving the stuffed zucchini not long ago, I went a little rogue and made a simplified version without several of the ingredients. What I got was a REALLY nice vegetable side dish, and I'm not a huge squash fan. {Mainly because I'm not a fan of mushy food, but this is not mushy. I promise.}

6 zucchini squash
salt & pepper
real parmesan
olive oil
*optional 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Here's how you prepare these simple zucchini boats:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and get a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan ready. Wash 6 zucchini squash. Cut off the end. Slice them length-wise. Score the edges with a paring knife to begin hollowing out the skin of the squash. Carefully score through the center of the vegetable. Carefully, without going through the skin, score horizontal cube-sized blocks with your knife. Using a teaspoon, scoop out as much of the flesh of the zucchini as possible. {My apologies. The dicing of the vegetable inside the skin is not a simple thing to do.} Put the veggie in a small bowl and salt and pepper it generously. Spoon the vegetable back into the boats. Using a vegetable peeler, shave parmesan slices in a pile on your cutting board or any clean surface. Drizzle tiny bits of olive oil across the zucchini boats. Sprinkle the shaved parmesan over the vegetable. If you like, top each boat with a sprinkle of panko bread crumbs for extra crunch.  Bake this for 25-35 minutes, until golden.

Meatloaf Perfection

Once upon a time, I watched a television cooking contest. In it, contestants had to use frozen Pilsbury products in unusual and innovative ways. The top recipe took home several thousand dollars. Watching the show, gave me a bit of inspiration. How many things did I have in my pantry that were more versatile than I gave them opportunity to be?

Investigating those items gave me a brilliant idea that turned into one of our favorite meals. I'm not a huge fan of meatloaf in restaurants because the textures are almost ALWAYS funky, mushy, too ketchupy, or brick-like.  My favorite way to create a moist, but crunchy crusted meatloaf is so easy, you'll be stunned. I typically use a combination of 1 part beef to 1 part deer meat. Our family loves to economize and we love the rich flavor of ground venison.
Here's my recipe:
2 pounds meat {turkey, beef, deer, elk, chicken}
1 package Stove Top dressing
1 cup grated fresh Parmesan/Reggiano {Not the stuff in the green can.}
2 large eggs

Mix these ingredients with your hands until they are incorporated evenly. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees before you start mixing. Once your loaf is mixed well, put it on a stone cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Half of the reason textures are off in many meatloaves is that they swim in grease in a standard loaf pan. Avoid that and use a shallow edged pan. The edges will crisp up nicely this way.

Here's what it should look like {this is all organic, hormone free, beef} before you pop it into the oven.