Summer Garden Pesto Stirfry

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By Corinne

This is a bit of a garden miscellany recipe that will work with whatever fresh veggies you have, in basically any amounts that you have them! Don’t have snow peas? Use snap peas instead. No chard? Try kale or spinach. No garlic scapes? Use some fresh garlic at the end- or if your pesto is quite garlicky, pass on the garlic altogether! You can serve it on it’s own finished with a drizzle of balsamic as a side dish, served on top of rice, or mixed into pasta.

 

Time: about 15 minutes

You will need: some mix of the following, though substitute according to availability!

  • about 10 oz, 300g cherry tomatoes *
  • 3-5 leaves of chard
  • small/medium zucchini
  • 1 cup of snow peas
  • a few garlic scapes if you have them!
  • 2-4 tbsp of your favourite jarred pesto
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated asiago or parm
  • drizzle of good quality balsamic to finish
  • 1 tbsp of canola, olive oil or butter
  • rice or pasta for serving if desired

If making rice- prepare first.

Add oil to large pan on medium/high heat. Chop zucchini into thin rounds or half moons. If the peas you are using are large, you can halve them, otherwise leave them whole. Trim flower end from garlic scapes if it seems tough or dry, then give a quick chop into small pieces. Thinly slice chard. Add vegetables to pan in the following approximate order, giving them a minute or two in the hot pan before adding the next ingredient. First tomatoes, then peas, followed by zucchini. When these veg are getting hot and a bit softened and maybe browned, add the scapes. When veggies are done to your taste- I like things more crisp, but to each his own so cook accordingly, add a few tbsp of your favourite pesto and stir until all veg are covered. Add the chard and cook 1-2 more minutes until still bright but softened.

Finish by adding the fresh grated cheese and a drizzle of balsamic.

*note- if your cherry tomatoes haven’t ‘burst’ while cooking (which is fine) be careful when you eat them as they will be hot juicy tomato bombs if you pop them into your mouth whole!

Lemony Oregano Chicken and ‘Zoodles’

By Corinne

We’ve had a pretty warm summer here and in a house with no AC, I try not to make it any hotter inside than necessary, which means we do a lot of cooking on the BBQ.  As much as I enjoy a burger or a smokey, it’s easy to let things get monotonous when defaulting to the BBQ due to heat!

While this serves 2, it is easy to scale up. While I usually want leftovers for lunches, we were going out of town and I wanted to clear out the fridge. To be honest, I usually don’t blog things that I don’t absolutely love, and this probably wasn’t my favourite.  I found the dressing a smidge sweet for my taste(felt like I should have used regular red wine vinegar), and I prefer my zoodles hot. But my husband absolutely loved it, and fellow foodie TL insisted I blog it after she tried the leftovers the next day. This would also work with a generous helping of romaine lettuce to make it more a salad rather than the zoodles if you prefer.

You will need:

For the marinade and chicken

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup canola or olive oil
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp dry oregano
  • 1 shallot minced- or about 1 tbsp minced red onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Dressing

  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1/2 tsp mint
  • few grinds of pepper
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar – I used lambrusco red wine vinegar, which is quite a bit sweeter than regular red wine vinegar

Salad and add ins

  • 1 roasted red pepper cut into strips
  • 6 pepperoncini peppers
  • 1 cup mini pearl bocconcini
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 smallish zucchini, spiralized
  • 1 tsp salt
  • other add ins that would have been welcome – feta instead of bocconcini, cucumber, red onion, olives.

Whisk together all ingredients for marinade. Add chicken breasts and allow to marinate in fridge for at least two hours, or up to over night.

Whisk together all dressing ingredients and set aside – avoid adding salt the the dressing as the zucchini will be a bit salty.

Spiralize zucchini. Place in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with 1-2 tsp of salt. Give it a good stir around and allow to drain over colander. Allow zucchini to sit and drain for around 30 min. In this time it will release quite a bit of moisture, and end up with a still crisp but almost cooked texture.

Prepare add ins. I made my own roasted red pepper on the bbq because I didn’t happen to have any in the fridge – jarred ones will work just fine 🙂 To roast a pepper on the bbq, halve, remove seeds and brush with canola oil. BBQ over direct heat on high for a few minutes on each side until skin is bubbled and blackened. Remove from heat, and when cool, remove skin. Slice up pepperoncinis, cherry tomatoes and any other add ins you are using.

Remove chicken from marinade, and BBQ over medium direct heat for about 7 minutes on each side, keeping the lid closed as much as possible. Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your chicken breast.

When chicken is finished set aside to cool for a minute while you assemble plates. Put zoodles on the bottom, then arrange all other add ins on top. Slice chicken breasts and place on top. Give dressing a whisk and divide between plates. Yum! A healthy supper that didn’t require the oven 🙂

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Sausage Stuffed Zucchini and Mushrooms with Watermelon Salad

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By Corinne

This is a perfect summer supper. While we had this as dinner, the mushrooms and zucchini would also make a wonderful side or appetizer. I personally dislike mushrooms, but my husband loves them. Cremini are his favourite and what I used here, though I imagine this would work just fine with those white button mushrooms.

Serves: 3-4

Time: about 45 min

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini and/or Mushrooms

You Will Need:

  • 4 italian sausage removed from casing-I used 2 hot, 2 mild because there were no medium about 1 1/4 pound or .665 kg (from Tim’s Meats)
  • 1 onion- chopped
  • 1 clove garlic- minced
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine, I used Grey Fox Chardonnay
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • some combination of zucchini and mushrooms – I used 2 zucchini and 5 large cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • 1-2 tbsp canola for brushing vegetables

Watermelon Salad

You Will Need:

  • 3 1/2 cups cubed watermelon
  • 2 cups thinly sliced cucumber (I used 3 of those mini kirby cucumbers)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced or small dice red onion
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh mint if desired
  • freshly ground pepper

For the zucchini/mushrooms

Place sausages (casing removed) and chopped onion in a heavy bottomed pan. Cook on medium until sausage is well browed with lots of little crispy bits! If your sausage was particularly fatty, you should probably drain off some of the fat before deglazing. I use local sausage that tends to be quite lean and don’t need to drain anything.

Use the 3/4 cup of wine to deglaze the pan- add it a bit at the time scraping up all the browned bits of goodness. Add the minced garlic, lemon zest and juice and let reduce until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, let cool slightly and mix in about half of the grated asiago- the rest will be used to top your zucchini/mushrooms.

White your filling is cooking, prep the zucchini and mushrooms.

Pull the stems out of mushrooms. Chop up stems and use it in omelettes for tomorrow morning, or for pasta sauce if you’re into that sort of thing, or compost them if you’re not:)

Trim zucchini ends, and slice in half length wise. Cut into approximately 2.5″ pieces, and using a melon baller or a spoon, scoop out insides, being sure to leave a ‘cap’ on each end of your section so your filling will stay put! (I ended up with about 12 pieces from my two zucchini) With the leftover inside bits, you can save for another purpose, or compost. If I had just been making zucchini ones, I might have used less sausage and used the zucchini ‘insides’ as part of the filling as well. But I didn’t, and you don’t have to either 🙂

Brush tops and bottoms of zucchini and mushrooms with canola or olive oil. Place them on the grill on high/medium high top side down for only a minute or two until they have some nice grill marks. Remove from grill and fill with sausage, top with cheese.

Return to grill on low for about 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and zucchini and mushrooms are heated through. If you prefer your zucchini softer/more cooked leave them on a bit longer.

For the salad

Chop watermelon, cucumbers, onion add to bowl, mix gently. Crumble feta over top and juice of one lime and mint if using. Stir gently again to mix. Add fresh pepper to taste and serve.

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Bocconcini Stuffed Meatballs with “Zoodles”

By Corinne

I feel somehow like cheesy stuffed meatballs get a pass here, since you’re not using “real” noodles, I mean really, it’s at least a serving of vegetables, right?

This is a wonderful summer meal. I love making a double batch of the meatballs and freezing them before they are cooked for a quick meal on another night.

You can of course use regular noodles rather than the zucchini ones, but I do really like them in this.

Serves: 4

Time: 30 min-1 hour -> depending on if you make your own sauce or not 🙂

Oven: 400F

You will need:

For meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 medium italian sausages (bump it up to hot if you like the heat!)
  • 20 bocconcini cheese balls 🙂

For the sauce – I always use my favourite drunken red sauce, but feel free to use your favourite marinara.

For the sauce:

  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1-2 stalks of celery diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 thai chili pepper – or other small hot pepper, finely minced
  • 1/2 a bottle of red wine – I like to use a cabernet sauvignon
  • 1 can of diced or whole tomatoes *you will be blending them up, so it doesn’t really matter
  • 2-3 tbsp of tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pat of butter for sautéing the vegetables

For the noodles:

  • 4 medium/largish  zucchini- spiralized
  • 1tsp salt
  • or your favourite pasta noodles 🙂

Make your favourite red sauce or follow these instructions for mine 🙂

Sauce

Add onion, celery and pat of butter to a thick bottomed pan you are making your sauce in. Cook onion and celery on medium low for at least 10-15 min. If you have the time to let your onion caramelize rather than just soften, it will only make your sauce better.

Add garlic and chili pepper to the onion and celery just before you add the wine. Give them a good stir around, but don’t let the garlic brown. Add a little bit less than half a bottle of the delicious wine you are using for this recipe. If you really feel like the need to measure here, that should be about 1 1/4 cup of wine, but I’ve never actually measured. You end up using half a 750mL bottle of wine. If you add all the wine here and then reduce, that totally works.  I usually reserve about 1/4 cup to add to the sauce later.  Let this bubble away for a while until it is reduced by a bit more than half. Add the can of tomatoes. Let this simmer away for 20 minutes, or as long as you like if you’ve got all day (in which case you will need to add some extra liquid to replace that lost in a long simmer).

Use an immersion blender to smooth out your sauce. Add remaining 1/4 cup of red wine (if you managed to reserve it) and 2-3 tbsp of tomato paste.

Meatballs

For meatballs, mix together ground beef and sausage. If you are using a good flavourful sausage, no other seasoning will be needed. Roll a smallish golf ball sized ball, then push an indent into it with the bocconcini, pull the meat around the cheese, give it a good roll and move on to the next one.

When you are finished rolling your meatballs, pop them in the 400F oven for about 25 minutes. Depending on the colour/seasoning of the sausage used, they may still look ‘pink’ but remember there’s really not that much meat wrapped around the ball of cheese!

Noodles

Spiralize your noodles (or prepare your favourite pasta). It will look like far more than you can possibly need, but they will shrink! Put zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt, mixing noodles around to distribute salt. Let them sit for 10-15 min. They will let out quite a lot of moisture in this time.

Just before your meatballs are finished, pop the zucchini in a bowl and then into the microwave. This time will depend on your microwave a bit- in mine (the smallest, cheapest microwave I could buy!) it takes about 5-6 minutes, but in my friend’s super power microwave it only takes about 2.5 min. You really just need them hot, don’t overcook them or they will lose their noodle like texture and turn to mush.

Plate noodles and top with sauce and a few meatballs.

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Magic Muffins – Zucchini!

By: Julie

Time:  30min:  10min prep, 20 min cook

Serves:  16 – 20 large muffins

Introducing Muffin Mondays!  Every Monday for the next several weeks we will bring you a new muffin post.

I like my muffins to taste like muffins.  I like them to be moist and slightly sweet, but not cakey or deserty.  I think the muffins that come from Tim Hortons these days don’t resemble anything we should be eating for breakfast, so I make my own.

I call these magic because they seem to work out no matter what I do to them.  They are my choose your own adventure muffins.  I use applesauce instead of oil and the stayed moist for five days.  FIVE DAYS.  That’s what makes them magic. I keep the basic ingredients the same and swap out the flavors regularly. You will see several variations of these over the next several weeks to get a sense of what you can do with them. I frequently use this recipe to get rid of leftover fruits, jams, nuts and flours. Have fun with it.

Today’s adventure is with zucchini!

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A neighbor friend of mine, the lovely Lynsey, was kind enough to drop off some giant zucchini last summer.  These are not much good for grilling, but shred them and they are terrific for baking.  Sadly, this is the last batch.  Zucchini will keep shredded for up to 6 months.  Longer if you’ve packaged it well.  And the raisins… a number of you will say you don’t like raisins in your muffins but I say you can’t have a muffin without a raisin.  Bring on the raisins.  You can omit them.  If you must.  But you shouldn’t.

You Will Need:

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp of baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup applesauce (or oil if you prefer)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • 3 cups of shreded zucchini

Prep

Preheat oven to 350F and grease you muffin pans.  You can use paper liners if you wish, but I prefer the slight crisp on the outside of the muffin when they are baked naked.  This recipe removes easily from the baking pan with just a slight coating of cooking spray.

Mix The Wet Ingredients

Whisk the sugar, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla, and applesauce together in a large bowl until smooth.

Mix The Dry Ingredients

Stir flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder together in a medium bowl.

Combine and Bake

Fold wet ingredients into dry until just combined.  You know the muffin rule, NEVER OVER MIX.  There should still be bits of white flour.  The rest will work itself in when you fold in the zucchini and the raisins.  On that note… fold in the zucchini and the raisins.  I used a large cookie scoop and used heaping portions, filling the muffin cups nearly to the top.  If you use a bit less you can make up to 24 smaller muffins.  Place the muffins in the oven for 20min.  If you’ve made them smaller check them after 15.  Poke with a wooden skewer in the center to make sure they’re done.  The skewer should be clean or with a few crumbs.  Remove from oven an let cool for 10 min before removing from pan to cooling rack.  Enjoy warm or cold.  Even butter isn’t needed, but it is delicious.

 

 

Chicken with Spinach, Zucchini and Orzo

By: Julie

Time:  20 min:

Serves: 2-3

I have fallen in love with orzo.  I probably should break up with it.  It is not a complex carb, it is full of empty calories, and I have yet to find a whole wheat version.  I am in love with the smooth texture and how it absorbs the flavours of it’s surroundings… like rice, but not.  I am now pretty much using it exclusively instead of rice.

I used to make a dish similar to this with rice and lemon.  Then one day I was out of rice, and lemon, but had lots of orzo (yay!) I made magic.  I needed an acid and thought immediately of white wine… but sadly I was also out of that.  Gasp!  Because I was using dill, white wine vinegar was out.  I didn’t want my pasta tasting like pickle brine.  Instead I opted for red wine vinegar for a more subtle flavor.  What happened was a balanced, delicious taste that highlighted the delicate zucchini without overwhelming it.  Just as good, or better, than my rice and lemon version.

You Will Need:

  • 1 cup of orzo
  • 2 large skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips that will sear and cook quickly
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium zuccini, sliced in 1/4 inch rounds.
  • 2 generous handfuls of spinach
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill
  • Some fresh dill to finish (optional)

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Prep:

Cook your orzo according to package directions.  Drain and return to pot to keep  warm.  Pat chicken dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add the chicken to brown.  Cook until chicken registers 168 on an instant read thermometer and remove from skillet.  Add the zucchini to the skillet and saute until crisp-tender.  Add remaining oil, vinegar, orzo, spinach, and dill to the skillet.  Stir until spinach is wilted.  Plate skillet mixture and top with chicken.  Voila!  A healthy happy meal in a jiffy.