Stuff yo face, I mean veggies.

Ok so this idea is kind of a culmination of a few things. Not the idea of stuffing your face, the idea of this stuffed veggies recipe. Anyway, get amped guys. This is just a peak into the method behind the madness of this fun lil blog here. I realized that we try to always provide recipes that use and reuse ingredients. We want there to be enough overlap that when you are spending money on something, its being used to its full value. However, I can’t say that’s been true for the mirepoix mix that I reference in my turkey meatloaf recipe. So I got to thinking on what else I use that with. Not that you need a specific recipe because its something so multi faceted that it can be thrown in a frittata, it can be used as a starter to soups and stews (says the label on the packaging. ha so ya I felt like a fraud, saying hey guys just throw it in anywhere). Then, I ate this delicious stuffed zucchini the other day from this Italian deli I frequent (shout out to Tredici’s). They made the marinara fresh and it was stuffed with hot sausage. I was in love. All I had to do now was to find a way to make it easy & healthy (I mean some of us are still sticking to 2014 resolutions). Anyway, let’s get right to it. Oh and don’t be scared of the long list of ingredients, this dish isn’t complex, there are just layers to its yumminess.

Vegetables:

  • 3 large zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise
  • 3 bell peppers (any color works)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Filling:

  • 3-4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups of the mirepoix mix
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/3 cup white wine, such as pinot grigio
  • 3/4 pound ground turkey (use dark meat if possible)
  • 1 large egg, beaten, at room temperature
  • 1 cup of seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray 2 heavy baking sheets with vegetable oil cooking spray. For the vegetables: Using a melon baller (or spoon since I have no such melon baller in my kitchen) remove the flesh from the zucchini, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Reserve the flesh. Place the  zucchini and peppers, hollowed-out sides up, on the prepared baking sheets. Season with the salt and pepper. For the filling: Place the zucchini flesh in a food processor. Add the garlic, mirepoix, chili flakes, oregano, salt and pepper. Blend until all the vegetables are finely chopped/mixed. In a medium nonstick skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the blended vegetable mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until all the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. (make sure to taste the mixture before blending in the meat, make sure there is enough flavor & its seasoned enough). In a medium bowl, combine the cooked vegetables, turkey, egg, 1 cup Parmesan and the breadcrumbs. Mix the ingredients until well combined. Spoon the filling into the hollowed-out vegetables. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan on top of the filling. (I also did some shredded cheddar because more cheese is never a bad thing). Drizzle with olive oil and bake until the vegetables are tender and the tops are golden brown, 45 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a platter and serve. You can accompany with marinara from the call it what you will recipe.

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*I was out of zucchini & did it with squash, stick with zucchini though because you will get more “flesh” from the center to mix with the meat. I would also chop up the tops of the peppers and blend with the other veggie mixture. It makes the stuffing less meaty and more flavorful*

Happy Eating, XO.

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Weeknight Wonder

Ok kids, the holidays are over. Back to reality, back to the grind. We need a quick weeknight dinner because cereal 3x a week just isn’t cutting it. If you want something filling & tasty in a hurry, this is your dish. Bust out that sage you bought for the Winter Warmth recipe and get crackin’ on this delight. Oh and for all you meat lovers…feel free to add a grilled chicken breast to the top when serving, but honestly if time is of the essence, the mushrooms will act as a great faux meat for one night.
  • 1 lb. penne pasta or fusilli (spaghetti just wont cut it since the pasta needs to be the same size as the mushrooms).
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of red wine (don’t act like you HAVE to open a bottle just for the recipe & weren’t pulling a Thirsty Thursday anyway).
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot diced
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, sliced
  • sage, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, grated
  • (reserved pasta water)
While the pasta is boiling per packet instructions, reduce the broth & wine down to a sauce (will turn into 1/2 cup of liquid). Sautee the garlic, shallot, sage, & mushrooms (s&p to taste) in pan while stirring in the cooked pasta, wine reduction sauce, butter, and cheese. Thicken sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, will depend on desired consistency of sauce.
* The idea for this recipe came from a coworker that is doing http://www.thefresh20.com with her husband. Check it out, it seems like a cool & easy program. Equipped with grocery lists, recipes, and everything you need for healthy & fresh dinners for 5 nights of the week. *
Happy Eating, XO.

Winter Warmth

I know what you are thinking. We just love our alliterations so much we will title a post anything. FALSE! Although this one IS a fun title, it actually represents the feeling you get when you eat this dish. This dish is stick-to-your-bones-good & will warm your insides up…that’s the heartiness of the squash and let’s face it any pasta dish reads comfort food as well.

  • 11 oz. (4 links) spicy chicken Italian sausage (sounds easy, except I had a blonde moment-yes brunettes can have them too! And I accidentally bought cooked spicy sausage. Wasn’t an epic fail but doesn’t come out of the casing or crumble like this recipe entails. Plus I was stressed out I was going to burn it since it’s already cooked. So ya don’t rush at the store and make sure you actually buy the spicy, chicken or turkey, uncooked sausage. Also don’t be freaked at the thought of spicy. The dish is not spicy at all. I believe from my very important palate (haha) that it’s because of the spices that are in Italian/spicy sausage-fennel seeds, etc. so that’s why the recipe calls for sausage that would already have those flavors in it and makes you have to think even less when making this dish! Score!)
  • 1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and diced (trader Joes plug again, I wonder if they read this slash we could strike a deal with them? But anyway, they carry cheap, already diced & peeled butternut squash to save your fingers from cuts!)
  • 1 tbsp. light butter
  • 10 oz. casarecce, or pasta of your choice (I don’t even know what that kind is, I know I used fusilli, but legit penne works too).
  • 1/4 cup shallots, minced (I made mine a half a cup vs. the ¼ because I heart shallots but to each his own).
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (Again I used the jarred minced stuff, so sue me).
  • 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped (not gunna lie, I am lazy and didn’t chop…why should you have to? Spinach wilts down to nothing-ness anyway, why waste the time…don’t chop, whatevs).
  • 2 tbsp. fresh shaved parmesan cheese (I grated my finger doing this, because not only was I feeling lazy and stupid when making this I apparently was dying to eat it that I may have gotten over zealous with my grater. Anyway I lived to tell about it all thanks to my Cinderella band-aid).
  • 4 sage leaves, sliced thin (lay the 4 leaves on top of ea other, roll ‘em up and chop…it’s called something fancy like chefinade but bottom line is, its takes ½ the time than doing them individually, you’re welcome).
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (umm so I forgot this part, and I definitely noticed. Pretty bummed because I loved this dish. I would suggest doing this part when you sauté the shallots & garlic in the pan. I know it tells you that too but I didn’t have this out like a play book at the time, nerds!)

Bring a large pot of salted water (I substituted with chicken broth because I love the stuff & thinks it sneaks in flavor when you don’t even know it) to a boil. Add butternut squash and cook until soft. Remove squash with a slotted spoon and place in a blender, blend until smooth. Add pasta to that same boiling water (or broth) and cook according to package directions for al dente, reserving at least 1 cup of the pasta water before draining. (you will need this to thin out the sauce to your liking).

Meanwhile, in a large deep non-stick skillet, sauté sausage over medium heat until browned, breaking up with a spoon as it cooks. When cooked through, set aside on a plate. Reduce heat to medium-low and melt the butter, sauté the shallots and garlic until soft and golden, about 5 – 6 minutes. Add puree butternut squash, season with salt and fresh cracked pepper and add a little of the reserved pasta water to get the thickness you desire.  Add baby spinach and stir in parmesan cheese & sage.

Happy Eating, XO

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