Stuffed 8 Ball Zucchini

Last Saturday I found these little squash at the Farmers Market in Sugar Land.  They are a hybrid squash, named 8 Ball Squash, that can be used much like Zucchini.  They are perfect for stuffing.

The stuffing I used is a variation of a recipe I found online, but any number of ingredients can be used.  I will try adding some fresh herbs and pine nuts the next time I make these. You could also try different cheeses or even add cooked ground meat.  I have often stuffed long zucchini.  My family calls those Zucchini Boats.  These look a bit like Zucchini Muffins!  I have planted a squash in my garden called Cupcake Squash and I can’t wait to see what that squash looks like!

Stuffed 8 Ball Squash

3-4   8 Ball Zucchini

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 tomato, peeled and chopped

1 small onion, chopped

3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I use Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset)

Salt

Ground black pepper

1 cup water, or less.  See directions.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice the tops off each zucchini. Set aside and reserve for later. Hollow out with spoon, chop,  and reserve the pulp.

Add bacon pieces to skillet and cook until bacon is brown.  Add the reserved chopped zucchini pulp, tomato, Italian seasoning, and onion and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until most of the liquid has cooked down. Remove pan from heat, add bread crumbs and 2/3 of the cheese reserving some for topping. Stir well to combine all ingredients. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired. Stuff each hollowed zucchini with mixture. Place in a shallow baking dish or pan and add chicken stock to a depth of about 1/4 inch. Place the pan in oven and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and top each zucchini with extra cheese. Place the reserved zucchini tops in the pan, return to oven and cook for 20 more minutes or until the zucchini is tender. Lift out stuffed squash to serving dish and add tops.

Garden Vegetable Pie

There are a variety of recipes for pies or tarts using summer vegetables. I find some in my cookbook collection; many more are found online. Some recipes use a crust for the pie, others do not. A combination of eggs and cheese makes the dish set up so that it can e sliced into wedges.  Some would say that makes this a fritttata or crustless quiche, but plain old pie works just fine for me. Almost any assortment of fresh vegetables can be combined but I got great responses last week when I took this zucchini pie to a friend’s home. The entree was roasted pork tenderloin, and guests were asked to bring salad, vegetable, fruit, and dessert. The combination of pork, spinach salad, fruit salad, and this vegetable pie was delicious and hearty. We almost did not need Key Lime Pie for dessert, but it was yummy, too.

Garden Vegetable Pie

4 tablespoons butterhalf

1/2  onion, diced

2 ears sweet corn, kernels removed

2 large zucchini, sliced very thinly (about 4 cup

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped

½ teaspoon salt

12 ounces shredded cheese (I used white cheddar)

4 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the butter in a large, deep skillet. Add onions and zucchini. While the veggies saute, cut the corn kernels off the cob. Add them to the pan and continue to saute for another 5 minutes.. Remove from heat.

Once the mixture has cooled for a few minutes, stir in basil, oregano, salt, cheese, and the beaten egg. Line a pie pan (9-inch or larger) with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. Arrange a few zucchini slices so they lay flat and look nice. Top with a little extra cheese, cover with greased foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes to brown the top. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting into slices.

Crock Pot Pork Tenderloin with Asian Rub and Ginger Glaze

asianporkgingerglaze

I adapted my version of this recipe from one called Asian Pork posted at thefoodcharlatan.com.  I had hidden it away on Pinterest in my Best Crockpot Pick board and made it last week. The flavor is amazing!  We served it at a family gathering and used leftovers in pork fried rice!

  • 5 pounds pork tenderloin (I used 4 tenderloins, which filled the bottom of my crockpot)
  • 1 cup water
For the rub:
    • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 3 teaspoons salt
    • 2 teaspoon powdered ginger
    • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon powdered cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
For the glaze:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (or white)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons Penzey’s crystallized ginger bits
  • fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish
  • lime wedges, to garnish
  1. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt, powdered ginger, cinnamon, garlic, cloves, black pepper, and crushed red pepper to make a rub for pork..
  2. Place the tenderloins in the slow cooker. Rub the seasonings over the top and bottom of tenderloins.
  3. Pour 1 cup water in the slow cooker, on the edge or in the middle so that you don’t wash off all the spices you just rubbed on.
  4. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, then preheat your broiler.
  5. While the pork is finishing up in the slow cooker and your broiler heats up, combine 1 cup brown sugar, cornstarch, rice vinegar,  water, and soy sauce in a small saucepan.
  6. Set over medium heat and stir until mixture thickens, about 4 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in ginger bits.
  8. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick spray.
  9. Remove the pork from the crock pot (discard the liquid) and place on the lined baking sheet. Brush a generous amount of the glaze on the pork.
  10. Put your oven rack as high as it will go, and broil the pork for 1 or 2 minutes, until bubbly and caramelized. Don’t walk away! Repeat 2 to 3 more times until it is as crusty as you want it but not dry.
  11. Serve with remaining glaze on the side, and garnish with lime and cilantro.

Lemon Picatta Chicken Casserole

lemonpicattachickenbakeIf you try this, you may never want to go back to the tried and true way of making chicken piccata!  My son deconstructed his normal oh-so-good way of making this dish with delicious results. The method could not be simpler. Try the recipe below or use your favorite Lemon Picatta Chicken recipe. Farfalle (Bow-Tie) or Penne pasta adds to the appearance and texture of the dish.  After you cook the chicken breasts, transfer to cutting board, cool slightly, and cut into bite size pieces to combine with pasta in your favorite baking dish. Our family may rename this Ben’s Chicken Picatta.

Lemon Chicken Picatta Chicken Casserole

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 2 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets, pounded to about 1/4 inch thick
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons drained capers
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • Fresh lemon slices for garnish

16 ounces Farfalle, or Bow-Tie, Pasta, cooked al dente.

Set three wide, shallow bowls on a work surface. Add flour to the first one, beaten eggs to the second, and panko and Parmesan cheese to the third. Mix panko and Parmesan thoroughly.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Season chicken cutlets all over with salt and pepper. Working with one at a time, dredge a cutlet in flour with your left hand, shaking off excess. Transfer to egg dish, then turn cutlet with your right hand to coat both sides. Lift and allow excess egg to drain off, then transfer to bread crumb mixture. With your left hand, scoop bread crumbs on top of chicken, then gently press, turning chicken to ensure a good layer of crumbs on both sides. Transfer cutlet to prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining cutlets.

Fill a large skillet with 1/4 inch oil. Heat over high heat until shimmering. Working in batches and using tongs or your fingers, gently lower cutlets into the pan, laying them down away from you to prevent hot fat from splashing toward you. Fry, rotating cutlets for even browning, and adjusting heat as necessary until bottom side is browned and crisp, about three minutes. Flip cutlets and fry until other side is browned and crisp, about three minutes longer. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt right away. Repeat with remaining cutlets, topping up oil if necessary.  When cooled slightly, cut chicken into bite size pieces.

Drain all but one tablespoon oil from skillet. Add wine and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cooking about two minutes while scraping browned bits from skillet. Add capers and butter, whisking until butter has melted. Lower heat to medium and continue whisking and reducing until sauce is smooth and creamy. Whisk in lemon juice and parsley, season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.

0Add chicken pieces and cooked pasta to sauce in large baking dish, tossing to combine.  Sprinkle top with shaved parmesan.  Place in oven just until heated through but not brown.  Scatter chopped parsley over top and add a few fresh lemon slices at serving time.

 

Fondant Potatoes

fondantpotatoes“The texture this old-school method provides for russet potatoes is unlike anything you get by just roasting: so dense, moist, and rich. The way the crusty, crunchy edges outside contrast with the uniquely rich and creamy inside is truly a magical thing”  quote by Chef John, who posts a like version of this recipe online at allrecipes.com

When our son Jeremy and his family were here recently, he made this wonderful potato dish to go with our New Year’s Day 2017 dinner.  He had made Fondant Potatoes and told us about it in much the same glowing terms as the quote above.  He promised they would be amazing, and they were!

Fondant Potatoes

3 large whole russet potatoes

2 tablespoons high-heat-resistant vegetable oil

salt and ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons butter

4 sprigs thyme, plus more for garnish

1/2 cup chicken broth, or more as needed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  2. Cut off ends of russet potatoes, stand potatoes on end, and peel potatoes from top to bottom with a sharp knife, shaping each potato into barrel shape.. Cut each in half crosswise to make 6 potato barrels about 2 inches long.
  3. Place potatoes into a bowl of cold water for about 5 minutes.Pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Place a cast iron skillet over high heat. Pour in vegetable oil; heat oil until it shimmers slightly.
  5. Place potato cylinders with best-looking ends into the hot oil, lower heat to medium-high, and pan-fry potatoes until well-browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
  6. Flip the potatoes onto the opposite ends. As they cook, use a paper towel held with tongs to carefully blot out the oil from the skillet. Add butter and thyme sprigs to skillet.
  7. Pick up a thyme sprig with tongs and use it to brush butter over the top of the potatoes. Cook until butter foams and foam turns from white to a pale tan color. Season with more salt and pepper. Pour chicken stock into skillet.
  8. Transfer skillet to preheated oven and cook until potatoes are tender and creamy inside, about 30 minutes. If potatoes aren’t tender, add 1/4 cup more stock and let cook 10 more minutes.
  9. Place potatoes on a serving platter and spoon thyme-scented butter remaining in skillet over potatoes. Garnish with more fresh sprigs of thyme and a few of rosemary.

Deep Dish Skillet Pizza with Artichokes and Kale

deepdishskilletpizza

 

Deep Dish Skillet Pizza with Artichokes and Kale

1 Tablespoon olive oil

one small bunch kale leaves coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 c. ricotta

1 1/2 oz. Parmesan, grated (about 1/3 c.)

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste

sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 Tablespoon corn meal

1 lb. store-bought pizza dough, at room temperature (I used Artisan pizza dough, from the freezer section at HEB)

6 oz. Mozarella cheese grated (1 1/2 cu1 (14-oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

14 oz. marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely choppedred

Fresh basil leaves

Heat oven to 450 degrees.Heat oil in a 10″ skillet over medium heat. Add kale and garlic and cook until wilted and liquid has evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes; transfer to a plate and set aside. Cool skillet slightly and wipe clean.

Stir together ricotta, Parmesan, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Season with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle skillet with cornmeal. Stretch dough into a 12″ round. Carefully press dough into the bottom and up the sides of the skillet.

Top dough with ricotta mixture, spinach, grated Mozarella, and artichokes. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 20 to 24 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes.

Serve sprinkled with basil and cut into wedges.

Split Pea Soup with Sherry

splitpeasoupCold weather and hot soup – perfect combination.  We enjoy a number of different soups, but this split pea soup is one of my favorites. It is a hearty soup, nutritious, and easy on the budget. If you have leftover ham, this is a great way to use it.  Bits of bacon work great too. We like to add a splash of dry sherry at serving time.This is is good served with crusty French bread.

Split Pea  Soup with Sherry

1 lb. dried split peas (2 1/3 cups)

8 cups chicken broth

2 cups chopped ham

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup sliced carrots

1 Bay leaf

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Dry sherry, optional

Rinse dried split peas and add to large soup pot. Add ham and chicken broth.  Bring to simmer, cover, and cook on low for 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and continue cooking for another 30 minutes, or until it reaches the texture you prefer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve steaming hot with a splash of sherry stirred in.

Peach French Toast Bake

 

peachfrenchtoast

This is another great breakfast bake that you assemble the night before and bake before serving the next morning. To tell the truth, I have assembled it on the morning I am serving, but flavors are better blended when it sits in the refrigerator overnight. We used a jar of peaches from a shop in Wharton that was home canned from local peaches. But you can do this well with canned peaches. I also substituted a good whole grain bread for French bread.   If you freeze leftovers, be sure to reheat in your oven, not the microwave.

Peach French Toast Bake

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 can (29 ounces) sliced peaches, drained
  • 12 slices day-old French bread (3/4 inch thick)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.  Yes, that is 1 Tablespoon! 
  • Ground cinnamon
 In a small saucepan, bring brown sugar, butter, and water to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour into a greased 13×9-in. baking dish; top with peaches. Arrange bread over peaches.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and vanilla; evenly pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. . Uncover; bake 25-30 minutes longer or until golden brown and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve warm with maple syrup.. Yield: 6-8 servings

Cranberry Ricotta Scones

cranberryricottasconesIn 1991 while traveling in Scotland, we stopped at a Tea Room. The rustic crispiness of these scones reminds me of  200 year old Shore Cottage Tearoom in Taynuilt, Argyll, where Lily McNaught, her daughters, and granddaughters baked sweets and treats. Thanks to online information, I see that Shore Cottage is still there but not as a “Tea Room” – the ladies moved the business to The Robins Nest on Main Street, Taynuilt and guess what – the Lunch, the Teas, the Cakes, everything is just as it was. This is not one of their recipes, but my granddaughter Maddie and I baked them together. Surely Miss Lily approves.

Cranberry Ricotta Scones

2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

4 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter,  cut into tiny pieces

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup (Whole Milk) Ricotta Cheese

3 tablespoons Whole Milk

1 cup cranberries, fresh, roughly chopped

 

Whisk the following together to brush over scones before baking

1 large egg, beaten

1 teaspoon milk or water

extra sugar to sprinkle over top.

 

Orange Glaze

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Pinch of salt

3/4 cup confectioners sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 400°(F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and orange zest.
  3. Cut the butter into small cubes then, using two forks or a pastry cutter, quickly work it into the mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together the egg, ricotta cheese, and milk. Add to flour and butter mixture and use a fork to stir everything together until just moistened.
  5. Add in the chopped cranberries and gently fold them into dough with a spatula.
  6. Pour the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface and shape the dough into an 8-inch circle. Cut the dough into 8 wedges and carefully transfer them to the prepared sheet. Leave an inch or so between each scone as they do spread a little.
  7. Lightly brush each scone with the egg wash, then sprinkle the top of each scone with sugar.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden brown. Cool scones on the pan for 10 minutes, then top with glaze and serve warm.
  9. For the glaze:
  10. In a small bowl whisk together the orange juice, zest, salt, and confectioners sugar. Drizzle over warm scones and serve at once.

Kale, Beet, and Apple Salad with Curry Vinaigrette

kalebeetapplesaladAfter seeing a beautiful salad recipe posted by my friend Debra this week, I adapted ingredients we had to make one that looks much like hers and used the same delicious vinaigrette with a bit of extra curry. The result is colorful and tasty –  a work of art  with layers of flavor!  Since we have an abundant crop of kale in our garden, we will have this often in our winter menus. This salad rates very high on the nutrition scale as well. I used pickled beets but you can add roasted or steamed fresh beets instead.

Kale, Beet, and Apple Salad

4 cups ruffled kale, shredded.

2 cups coarsely chopped peeled apples

2 cups pickled beet pieces

Curry Vinaigrette, recipe below.

Wash and pat the kale leaves dry before stripping from center stems.  Roll leaves and slice crosswise to shred.  Add chopped kale to a large bowl.  Add apples.  Drain beets and add, tossing with Curry Vinaigrette at least 4 hours before serving. Store covered in refrigerator.  Toss gently when ready to serve.

Curry Vinaigrette

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

2 Tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon (or more to taste) hot curry powder.  Use mild if your family prefers.

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger

Whisk all ingredients together before pouring over salad.