So in a pleasant series of events, my sister gave me some produce from her garden, including a nice, but not huge zucchini at about the same time that Andrea over at Food Embrace posted a recipe for vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini.  Her recipe was scaled for a monster zucchini and the one I had was only about a 10 inches long and not bloated like a zeppelin, so I had to scale it down a bit and of course I made substitutions because I wasn’t about to make the 25 minute round trip to the store.

Andrea’s Stuffed Zucchini


  • 1 HUGE zucchini, (literally like a foot in length, or as big as you can find)
  • 1/3 C Uncooked Quinoa
  • 1 1/2C Chicken Stock (or veggie broth)*
  • 1/2 Cup, chopped onion
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Carrot
  • 1/2 cup baby asparagus, chopped

  • 5-8 Grape Tomatoes, quartered

  • 1tsp Garlic Powder, or to taste
  • 1tsp Italian Seasoning

  • Shredded mozzarella or provolone (optional)

  • Olive Oil for sauteeing

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a baking dish by rubbing some olive oil around it. In a small sauce pan, heat over medium high heat and add about a teaspoon of olive oil to it.  Add in the uncooked quinoa and sautee for about 2 minutes.  Add in the stock and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer until the millet is cooked and has absorbed the liquid.  You may have to add a bit more stock if it evaporates before the quinoa is completely cooked through.

    zucchini hollow

    Trim the ends of the zucchini and cut in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the insides being careful not to scoop down too far.  You want to create a long dent in the zucchini so you can stuff it later.  Place zucchinis in the baking dish once they have been fully scooped out.

    Once the quinoa has cooked, place in a medium sized glass mixing bowl.  Add in the tomatoes, carrot, onion and asparagus. Add in the seasonings as well.  Mix until well combined.  Stuff the millet mixture into the zucchinis, packing them tightly.  If you have leftover stuffing, sprinkle that along the bottom of the baking dish.

    Place in oven uncovered and bake until you hear the stuffing sizzling and the top is a golden brown color. The zucchinis should be cooked through by this point.  About 15 minutes.

    Remove from oven and top with shredded cheese.

    *You may want to use low sodium stock if possible.  The quinoa was tasty and chickeny but rather salty.  It wasn’t as noticeable when mixed into stuffing, but if you’re concerned about sodium, it’s worth considering.

    You can pretty much vary the veggies, herbs and spices in the stuffing with whatever you have on hand. It would probably also work well rolled into a flattened chicken breast or as a side dish.

    stuffed zucchini

    China: Wyndecrest by Lenox

    Posted by Mike on Thursday, August 04, 2011 at 10:21 AM
    Filed in: EntreesVeggies • ◊ Permalink
    Comments (1)

    When I was a kid, we never ate sweet potatoes. It was another one of those foods that my Irish-German, Pennsylvania-born Mom considered ‘foreign,’ and therefore not worthy of cooking, along with things like lasagna, pizza and sauerkraut.  Essentially, anything that had spices, did not have hamburger as an ingredient or that wasn’t overcooked ,bland and tasteless was never served. As a result, it wasn’t until I was in college that I was exposed to a lot of the foods I now love. Yep.  College dorm cafeteria food as a taste treat. Amazing, eh? 

    That’s where I first had sweet potatoes.  Sadly for me, it was one of those vile sweet potato casseroles where the baby food consistency potatoes were drowned in way too much butter and sugar and weighed down by mountains of marshmallows which for my money, is one of the most disgusting food products invented and I’ve eaten potted meat straight from the can.  This one actually lets you taste the potatoes, but it’s still got the requisite sweetitude but with a bit of a kick.

    2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled
    2 Tbs unsalted butter
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup orange juice
    1/4 tsp ground cayenne
    1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

    Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 14x10 baking pan with cooking spray.  Half the potatoes lengthwise befor cutting into 3/4 inch thick wedges.  Cut the wedges down into 3/4 to one inch hunks before tossing into a bowl.

    Melt the butter in the microwave.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and nuke for another minutes or so until it gets syrupy.

    Pour over the potatoes in the bowl and toss to coat.  Throw the potatoes into the baking pan and spread into a single layer.  Bake for 40-45 minutes or until tender and the glaze has thickened and cooked down.

    Serves 8-10

    sweet potatoes

    Photo info:
    Bowl by Lamberton China for the United States Lines

    Posted by Mike on Friday, December 17, 2010 at 08:34 AM
    Filed in: SidesVeggies • ◊ Permalink
    Comments (0)

    This is another one of my Meatless Monday experiments that turned out to be tasty and easy to make. Relatively healthy too, after making some substitutions for some of the original full-fat ingredients.  Also, it’s essentially a half-sized recipe; meaning that (if you’re like me and not feeding a small army) you don’t have a butt-load of leftovers to freeze and/or get thoroughly sick of eating before it spoils.  My only issue is that it was a bit dry and could have benefitted from a bit more sauce.

    Broccoli & Three Cheese Lasagna

    1 tub low-fat Ricotta Cheese (15 oz)
    1 lb broccoli florets, steamed & chopped (I had leftovers, use frozen; chopped and dried otherwise)
    2 1/2 cups 2% shredded mozzarella cheese
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    salt & pepper
    1 jar marinara sauce (16 oz) I like Bertolli Tomato & Basil
    1/2 cup heavy cream (sorry… no substitution here)
    8 no-boil lasagna noodles
    cooking spray

    Preheat oven to 400.  Combine ricotta, mozzarella, 1/4 cup of Parmesan, 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper, and broccoli in a big bowl.  In a smaller bowl stir the marinara and cream together.

    Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of an 8 inch square baking pan.  Cover with two noodles, then top with 1/4 of the sauce and 1/3 of the broccoli-cheese mixture.  Repeat twice.  Top with remaining two noodles and sauce.  Cover with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella.

    Spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray and cover the lasagna before sliding into the oven.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until noodles are tender.  Uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes or until edges begin to brown and the cheese is gooey and bubbly.

    Serves 6


    Posted by Mike on Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 10:47 AM
    Filed in: CasserolesEntreesVeggies • ◊ Permalink
    Comments (2)

    It never fails to amaze me that you can take the most minimal, simple and bland ingredients put them together and get major yum.  Scalloped potatoes is one of those dishes.  Take some milk and potatoes and a little bit of spice and you achieve comfort food nirvana.  It’s a freakin’ miracle I tell ya!


    5 TBSP flour
    5 TBSP butter
    1 small onion, chopped
    4 C milk (I use regular and my ass is really fat to prove it.  Use 1% or 2% if you’d prefer to have only one chin.)
    6 large potatoes
    1 packet G. Washington Gold
    1/4 C parmesan (optional)

    To taste:  salt, parsley, chives, pepper


    Peel and slice potatoes 1/4” thick.  Rinse and dry thoroughly.  Layer into a 2 qt casserole.  Sprinkle with parmesan.

    In a 3 qt saucepan saute onion in butter.  Add flour and G. Washington all at once, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Slowly add milk, whisking constantly.  Add spices.  Cook until thickened.

    imagePour sauce over potatoes moving them slightly with a fork so the sauce flows through.  It will seem like there’s a lot of sauce (see picture at left).  That’s ok, it gets all soaked up by the potatoes as they cook.  Bake at 350° for 1 to 1-1/2 hours until potatoes are fork-tender and sauce is thick.  Let cool on the counter for 15 minutes or so because this will be like molten lava...way to hot to eat.  Serves 4-ish people.

    Posted by Donna on Friday, March 05, 2010 at 06:59 PM
    Filed in: SidesVeggies • ◊ Permalink
    Comments (2)

    Recipe Twofer

    My regular days off are Tuesday and Wednesday and are pretty much the only days I’m motivated to cook unless there’s a good reason.  Of course in my mind, ‘good reason’ can encompass anything from ‘holiday goodies to be neighborly,’ to ‘what can I do with these leftover bits,’ to ‘found a new recipe that looks intriguing,’ to ‘I just picked up this package of something in an ethnic grocery so what now?’ This week covered regular cooking plus a smattering of holiday goodies for the office holiday party.  That one will be for Friday.  Today I’m covering the dinner I made on Wednesday; marinated porkchops with pan gravy and a hash brown casserole.  As always, pour yourself a glass of vino, pop in some tunes and follow along.

    For the porkchops:

    (Makes enough for 4 chops)

    4 porkchops, 1/2-1 inch thick.*

    1 1/4 cup olive oil
    5-6 Tbs Balsamic vinegar
    2 cloves crushed garlic
    1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
    1 tsp thyme
    1 tsp rosemary
    2 Tbs chopped cilantro
    1-3 dashes lime or lemon juice


    2 Tbs unsalted butter
    2 Tbs finely chopped onion
    2 Tbs flour
    1/2 cup liquid from rested chops plus chicken broth to make up the difference


    Earlier in the day:  Toss the oil, vinegar, garlic, spices and juice into a bowl and whisk to combine.  Place the chops into a big freezer bag and pour the marinade in.  Squeeze out as much air as possible, seal and toss in the fridge for a minimum of 1/2 hour, though it won’t hurt anything if you did this in the morning and left them marinate all day.  About the same time you start baking the potatoes, pull the chops out of the fridge to allow them to come to room temperature (45 minutes to an hour before you want to cook them). image

    Wipe as much of the marinade off the chops as you can.  Place all four in a large skillet or split them up into two smaller skillets. I use the cold skillet method.  It seems to result in incredibly moist chops without the need for brining.

    Once the chops are done, Turn off the burner. Remove the chops to a warmed plate and cover loosely for about 5 minutes.  If needed, turn heat to medium and simmer away remaining liquid, being careful not to burn or scorch.  Add butter and onion and saute for two minutes or so, scraping up any browned bits. Add Flour.  Whisk together and cook for another minute or so. Add juices and chicken broth and reduce to whatever consistency you like your gravy. 

    Hash Brown Casserole

    Pure comfort food here.  I kind of tried to make it a bit healthier as well as give it a bit of a kick in the pants taste-wise in order to combat the richness of it all.  I thend to like things a bit on the spicy side, so


    2 lb hash brown potatoes (frozen works just fine here)
    1 can cream of chicken soup (98% fat-free if possible)
    2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
    8 oz fat-free cheddar cheese
    1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
    1 cup onion, chopped
    3/4 tsp ground cayenne or…
    several shakes hot pepper sauce (I like Marie Sharp’s if you can find it)
    1 tsp ground nutmeg


    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

    Dump the hash browns in a big-ass bowl.  Big enough to mix the spuds with the other ingredients.  Think really, really big.

    Throw the remaining ingredients in a smaller bowl.  Whisk and/or stir together.  Take a little taste and see if you like the way it tastes and adjust accordingly.

    Combine with the hash browns and mix as well as you can. Mine was kind of a gloppy, uneven mess, but it turned out pretty damn tasty anyway, so don’t worry if it’s not perfectly mixed.  Put the whole mess into a rectangular baking dish (no greasing necessary) and bake for about an hour (an hour and a half is okay if you’re using frozen browns).

    Let rest 5 or so minutes before serving.

    Suggested additions/modifications:  chopped bell peppers (whatever color you have handy), diced ham, Nacho cheese sauce as a substitute for the cream of chicken soup

    *Donna and I both prefer bone in meat.  It’s almost always more flavorful and juicy; but hey… when boneless pork loin is on sale for $1.08 a pound, you don’t pass that shit up.

    Posted by Mike on Thursday, December 17, 2009 at 02:28 PM
    Filed in: EntreesPorkVeggies • ◊ Permalink
    Comments (3)

    3 lbs small red potatoes, unpeeled
    2 cups choped red onions
    12 oz fresh green beans, trimmed and cooked al dente
    3 1/2 cups roughly chopped red cabbage
    1 pint grape tomatoes
    3 tablespoons capers, drained
    2 oz basil leaves, trimmed and roughly copped
    salt and pepper to taste

    In a large pot boil whole potatoes until fork tender. Cool and cut into bite-sized peices.
    In a large bowl combine all ingredients from potatoes to basil.
    Add salt and pepper to taste.
    Drizzle dressing* over and toss to coat.
    Chill and serve.

    1 shallot, chopped
    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    a few splashes of white vinegar

    microwave shallot and olive oil for 30 seconds. Whisk in vinegar. Pour over salad immedietly.

    Posted by chnnature on Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 08:33 AM
    Filed in: SaladsVeggies • ◊ Permalink
    Comments (0)

    After eating some surprisingly tasty vegetarian meals of late, I’ve been trying to cook vegetarian from time to time. 

    Black beans and rice

    Black beans and riceIngredients
    1 cup Basmati rice
    1 Tbs olive oil
    1 onion, chopped
    1 bell pepper, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 tsp ground cumin
    2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
    1 tsp oregano
    1 Tbs red wine vinegar
    4 radishes, cut in largish chunks
    1/4 cup cilantro

    Cook rice according to package directions.  While rice is cooking heat the oil over med high heat in a large pan.  Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic 1/4 tsp black pepper and cook until the veggies are softened.  Stir in the ground cumin and cook for another minute or so more.

    Add the beans, oregano and 1 cup water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes before stirring in the vinegar. Mash some of the beans with a fork to thicken the cooking liquid. Serve over rice and top with radishes and cilantro.

    Serves 4 as an entree, 6 as a side dish

    Note:  This was tasty, but a little bland. The next time I cook this, I’ll up the amounts of garlic and cumin and add a bit of cayenne or habanero pepper sauce--or at least sprinkle some on when it’s in the bowl.  I also use dried reconstituted beans which cuts down on the salt content dramatically.  Without the rice, it also works as a kind of burrito

    Posted by Mike on Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 03:22 PM
    Filed in: EntreesSidesVeggies • ◊ Permalink
    Comments (0)

    This has a similar mouth feel to regular au gratin potatoes but without all the cream and butter.

    Sorta potato gratinsorta gratin potatoes

    3 Tbs olive oil
    3 lbs Yukon gold or other similar potato
    1/2 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
    2 tsp dried herbs of your choice (I used Penzey’s italian herb mix), or to taste
    minced garlic (if desired)
    Kosher salt and pepper
    Canola oil cooking spray

    Preheat oven to 375 and spray the inside of a 9x9 baking dish with cooking spray.

    Peel the potatoes, then slice them about 1/8 inch thick. Rinse, then place in a bowl of cold water for about a half hour.

    Drain the potatoes and dry with paper towels or dishcloths.  Arrange the first layer in the baking dish, sprinkle with herbs and garlic (if using) and repeat until potatoes are used up.

    Bring the broth to a simmer and remove from heat.  Add the olive oil and whisk together. Pour over potatoes, then press with the back of a spatula to distribute the liquid. The broth mixture doesn’t need to cover the top layer, but it should come close. Add some additional broth if you feel it’s needed. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

    After 30 minutes, remove foil, press the potatoes with the spatula again to redistribute the liquid and return to the oven, uncovered.

    Repeat every fifteen minutes until the potatoes have cooked for at least 90 minutes. When done, the potatoes should be soft (a paring knife should easily slide into them) and should be nicely browned on top.

    When done, remove from oven and let cool for 20-30 minutes before serving.

    Posted by Mike on Friday, March 07, 2008 at 10:44 PM
    Filed in: Veggies • ◊ Permalink
    Comments (2)

    Serves four

    I got this from one of Jamie Oliver's cookbooks. It's damn good and simple to make.

    4 handfuls of green beans, stem ends snapped off
    2-3 tsp ground dry mustard
    2 T white wine vinegar
    7 T extra virgin olive oil
    Salt and ground pepper
    1 med shallot, diced finely

    1 T Capers, drained and rinsed
    1/2 clove garlic, crushed

    Bring water to boil and add beans. Cook for 405 minutes, or just past the "squeak on your teeth" stage.

    While the beans are cooking, combine vinegar and mustard in a bowl, and while stirring, add the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, add shallots and capers, and garlic.

    Test beans. If it's still hold it's shape but is soft enough to not squeak, drain the rest and toss with the dressing.

    Serve hot as a side dish or warm as a salad in a bowl.
    Posted by Donna on Thursday, November 23, 2006 at 06:19 PM
    Filed in: Veggies • ◊ Permalink

    1/2 pound bacon
    1 large head cabbage
    1 cup chopped onion
    1 tsp garlic salt
    1 tsp red pepper flakes
    1/3 cup of water
    salt and pepper to taste

    Fry the bacon until crispy in large frying pan. Pour off most of the grease.

    Crumble the bacon into the pan. Add onion.

    Chop the cabbage into pieces removing the hard center. Add the cabbage to the pan containing the bacon and onion. Add the seasoning and 1/3 cup of water.

    Cook covered over medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir then continue cooking until desired tenderness.
    Posted by Donna on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 at 07:02 PM
    Filed in: Veggies • ◊ Permalink

    5-6 Large Baking Potatoes
    3oz Cream Cheese, softened
    1/2 Cup good Parmesan, grated
    1/2 Cup Cheddar Cheese
    2TBSP Sour Cream
    1 Egg beaten
    1/4 Cup Onion, diced
    1TBSP Chives
    1 Clove Garlic
    3TBSP Butter +1TBSP for frying
    2 tsp Salt
    1/2 tsp Pepper
    1 tsp Paprika
    Splash Olive Oil

    Bake potatoes at 400° for 1-1½ hours until tender. Cool just enough to handle.

    Saute onion, garlic and chive in 1TBSP butter and the olive oil just until translucent. Cool.

    Melt butter, cream cheese and sour cream over low heat. Beat with wire whisk. Mixture will appear mildly curdled.

    Beat egg and set aside.

    Combine parmesan and cheddar in a small bowl and set aside.

    Cut a thin slice from the top of potatoes and scoop out potato into a large bowl leaving an 1/4 inch of potato in each skin. Save skins.

    Add onion mixture, salt, pepper, paprika, 3 TBSP butter and a splash of the cream cheese mixture to potatoes. Beat with an electric mixer adding egg and cream cheese mixture alternately until a good thick consistency is achieved. Add one half of the cheese and continue mixing until fully incorporated.

    Place skins on a cookie sheet. Scoop or pipe potato mixture back into skins and top with remaining cheese. Bake about 30-35 minutes or until just golden and heated all the way through.

    Editor's Note: If you like you can also add green onion or bacon bits to this recipe either in the potato mixture or as a topping.

    This recipe can be made several days ahead and can also be frozen. To freeze, place unwrapped in freezer until potato is firm and THEN wrap with plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. To cook, thaw first and bake as above.
    Posted by Donna on Monday, February 28, 2005 at 07:46 AM
    Filed in: Veggies • ◊ Permalink

    Day old mashed potatoes, cold

    *Green onions, chopped

    *Shredded cheddar cheese

    Seasoned bread crumbs

    2 TBSP of unsalted butter

    1 TBSP of olive oil

    *The amount of green onions and cheddar to use depends on how much you like and how much mashed potatoes you have left over.

    In a mixing bowl combine the potatoes, cheese, and onions. In a skillet melt the butter with the oil over medium heat. Form patties with the potato mixture. Roll the patty in the bread crumbs and sautee in the skillet. Sautee until both sides are a golden brown color and the patty is cooked through. Serve as a side with left-over gravy.
    Posted by Donna on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 at 07:36 PM
    Filed in: Veggies • ◊ Permalink

    6 medium sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cooked
    1/4 cup flour
    1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    1/4 cup oil

    Combine brown sugar, salt, nutmeg, and flour in a large bowl.

    Cut sweet potatoes into fingers or strips. Rinse. Coat each with flour mixture.

    Heat oil to 365 degrees in electric skillet or on medium-high heat in a large skillet. Fry potato fingers 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown.

    Makes 6 servings.
    Posted by Donna on Wednesday, March 03, 2004 at 05:26 PM
    Filed in: Veggies • ◊ Permalink

    4-5 slices bacon or salt pork
    1 head cabbage, chopped
    1 tbsp cider vinegar
    1 tbsp sugar
    1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

    Fry bacon in large skillet on medium heat until crisp. Remove. Drain. Crumble.

    Add cabbage to skillet a little at a time. Allow to wilt after each addition. Add vinegar, sugar, and pepper. Cover. Cook about 20 minutes or until soft. Stir in bacon just before serving.
    Posted by Donna on Wednesday, March 03, 2004 at 05:17 PM
    Filed in: Veggies • ◊ Permalink

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