ZF – Moroccan vegetable stew

This is from my sister Kristen who blogs at The Uncomplication Project. Great way to use a bunch of veggies!

I’ve made this recipe several times for friends and it has been very well received! The types and quantities of vegetables are adjustable to whatever you might have in the fridge.
Suggested Ingredients:
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 carrot (or a collection of baby carrots)
  • 1 white or yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ⅛  – ¼ teaspoon dried minced garlic
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth (I use a whole can)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 15 oz can stewed tomatoes with juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cans chickpeas (or 1 can and about 2 cooked, chopped chicken breasts)

Chop zucchini, carrot, & onion. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add veggies and cook for about 5 minutes until tender but still firm. Stir in garlic, broth, tomatoes, chickpeas, & spices. Bring to a boil, cover & reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over rice or couscous.

ZF – Summer sauté

From the woman who taught me how to cook – today’s recipe is from my mom, Joyce. 

We have a small garden in our backyard, which I have always referred to as being a “supper garden.” Other than freezing pesto and chopped basil, everything in the garden is used fresh.

Over the years I have made endless variations of what I call “Summer Sauté.” I have written down a basic road map, but you should view this more as a springboard than a recipe. I have also included some possible variations, since customization is what this is all about. Use vegetables and quantities to suit what you have and what you like. Zucchini is always at the heart of the sauté, as there’s plenty to use up!

As you can see in the picture, my garden veggies are all quite small. My sauté for today will include zucchini, ichiban eggplant, tomatoes, a jalapeño, two banana peppers, basil, onion, mushrooms, garlic and some Trader Joe’s chicken sausage.

Summer Saute Road Map

Bowl #1 – Use any combination of zucchini, yellow summer squash, ichiban eggplant, green beans, sweet corn, onions, mushrooms, garlic, peppers (green, red, banana, jalapeño) of a quantity to suit you.  I would also add chicken sausage.

Slice or cut the vegetables and sausage into pieces of similar size and thickness. (Just lay the ear of corn onto your cutting board and slice off the kernels) Dice the onion and peppers. Tip – Cut up the eggplant as your pan is pre-heating, since eggplant darkens after it is cut.

Bowl #2 – Dice the tomato. Chiffonade (a fancy word for rolling up a stack of leaves and then slicing thinly across them – better than chopping) some fresh basil and stir it in with the tomato.

Pour 1-2 T olive oil into a large, deep non-stick skillet. Heat to medium high. Add the contents of Bowl #1. Stir lightly, and then let this sit until things start to brown. Stir lightly and let sit again. Repeat as needed. Resist the temptation to add more oil.

When things in the skillet look to be somewhat cooked, add the contents of Bowl #2 and stir this together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer lightly until everything is warmed. Do not overcook so everything is mushy.

Remove from heat and pour into a large serving bowl. Sprinkle optional freshly grated parmesan over the top.

Protein options

Instead of the chicken sausage (yes, it is delicious and you can find many flavors of this at Target, Hy-Vee, Trader Joe’s) you could use:

Chopped rotisserie chicken

Leftover beef or pork

No meat – use canned white beans, or additional cheese

Veggie options:

Leftover veggies should be added when the tomatoes go in, since they just need to be warmed.

Flavor options

Leave out the basil and add chili powder & cumin for a Mexican flair. Top with cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese instead. You could even clean out your fridge by adding the last inch or two from the jar of salsa.

Leave out the jalapeño and yellow banana peppers, and add more of your favorite Italian seasonings.

Go Greek by using oregano as the seasoning, add some sliced olives right before serving, and crumble a little Feta over the top.

Consistency options:

If you opt to add lots of tomatoes and your consistency is soupy, then this is wonderful served over rice, couscous or pasta. Otherwise, it is fine on its own. Nice to have a little crusty bread on the side.

Preschool open house

Hannah starts preschool next week, and Thursday night we got to go to her classroom and meet her teachers. It was a lot of people in one room – ten 2-year-olds plus parents and babies – so it was a little chaotic but good to get an idea of the class. The teachers, Ms. Barbara and Ms. Joanne, seem really nice and have been at the preschool for several years.

Hannah was very excited to be in the room and was walking all around investigating everything. Most of her classmates are older than her and talkative as well. There is another Hannah in the class, so I’m going to have to relabel our items from “Hannah” to “Hannah W.” The other Hannah is in a set of identical twins, so I’m sure she’s already used to name confusion.

Another girl in the class has a peanut allergy, so we will be a nut-free room. This isn’t too big of a deal since Hannah isn’t a super peanut butter fan anyway. But we’ll still be careful about what we send as there can be peanuts in granola bars, snack mixes, etc. I only have to pack a lunch on Mondays since Wednesday is pizza day (we bring $1 and the school orders Papa John’s). I think Hannah will be pretty excited when she figures that out.

There’s the pro-education saying that “School is cool,” and to Hannah that is really the case. Her word for school is “cool.” She had a lot of fun, and I foresee the first day going well. And since the first day is Wednesday, it’s pizza day; she is going to be so happy. :)

ZF – Fruicchini smoothie

Today’s recipe is by my friend Vanessa whose son Finn is only days apart from Hannah. This is a super-toddler-friendly idea, and I can’t wait to try it out!

Today I invented the Fruicchini Smoothie (husband Joel came up with the name). In order to get a bit more than just fruit sugars, I decided to go to my handy-dandy grated zucchini.

This is your basic fruit smoothie, and I throw in whatever fruit we have in the house. Today’s selection was the following:

  • 2 clementines
  • 1/2 bag of frozen smoothie fruit: strawberries, pineapple, mango
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (or enough to make the smoothie thin without being too thin – I don’t actually measure anything when I make smoothies).

To this I added:

  • 1/4 of zucchini grated

Blend until smooth.

This is quite delicious. Finn actually stole Joel’s glass, so Joel didn’t get any. He didn’t seem too heartbroken over that, though. I think you could do this with any fruit combination really – would probably go really well with berries. Well, darn, now Finn has stolen mine, too. Sigh. But at least he’s getting veggies!

Zucchini Fest – Italian stuffed zucchini

Welcome to Zucchini Fest! (hereafter abbreviated as ZF) Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be featuring a famously prolific summer vegetable, and I’ve enlisted some helpers for some fantastically diverse recipes, so look forward to some guests coming up.

Today, I’ve got a fun one to kick us off. I don’t know why, but stuffed food seems fancy to me – stuffed mushrooms, stuffed peppers, stuffed tomatoes – everyday ingredients when mixed up and put in a hollowed vegetable are elevated beyond the everyday fare.

Several years ago, I found a recipe for stuffed zucchini in a Family Fun magazine. My version is very close to the original with just a few time-saving tweaks. This is a great veggie-heavy main dish. It kind of tastes like pizza on a zucchini but much healthier! I also like this recipe because it features zucchini in the main dish when it’s so commonly seen as a side. So enjoy ZF!

Italian stuffed zucchini
  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 2 T. oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3/4 c. chopped mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained well
  • dashes of assorted Italian dried herbs (basil, parsley, etc)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 c. dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 T. finely chopped pepperoni or cooked bacon (optional)

1. Cook whole zucchini in boiling water for about 1 1/2 minutes to tenderize. Remove and let cool enough to handle.

2. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out flesh with spoon. Leave at least 1/4 inch “shell.” Finely chop the scooped flesh and squeeze/drain to remove excess water.

3. Heat oil in a sauté pan on medium heat. Add onion and zucchini flesh and sauté, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic, cook for 2 more minutes.

4. Add tomatoes, dried herbs, and salt and pepper, cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Add bread crumbs, parmesan, and pepperoni.

5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking dish. Put filling into zucchini halves and place in dish.

6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Home from ’Homa

We spent a long weekend with Brett’s family in southern Oklahoma (or “Homa” as Hannah says). We “met in the middle” near the Turner Falls area for a couple days of fun family time. Hannah was very excited to see her cousin Addie again, and we all had fun seeing the sights, cooking together, and playing games in the evening.

Just a few pics to sum up the trip.

Cousin time! Playing in puddles - so happy.

Visiting Turner Falls

Aunt Mindy gives Hannah her first hair cut

Enjoying Grandpa Buck's homemade ice cream

Here, Addie, have some more!

The funniest blog I read

I’m not Catholic, but through a series of click-throughs on various blogs, I was blessed one day to discover Simcha Fisher. She started out with a personal blog but was picked up by the National Catholic Register to do a regular column. I do not actually read the Catholic Register, but I will be forever grateful to them for paying her to share her humor with us on a regular basis.

You do not have to be Catholic to enjoy Simcha’s writing. Anyone who has gone to church ever will find her commentary highly amusing. She also writes about random life. Some of her posts include:

Good Writing is Not a Luxury – so true!

Ten Tips for Actually Having Fun at the Fair – good family fun (did I mention Simcha has eight kids and one more on the way, so she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to family stuff)

Fast Girls – modesty and context

Confessions from the Confession Line – I’ve never been to confession, but this is just funny

Snappy Answers for Stupid Questions about Your Big Family – remember the nine kids thing I mentioned above?