Posts Tagged With: zucchini

Leftover Magic

Well guys, if you’ve noticed that I’ve been posting more recipes after taking a break from doing that, it’s because I have a new-found love for my kitchen.

Maybe because it’s huge compared to my last kitchen.

Maybe because we have a brand new refrigerator that I love to fill up with delicious things. And a new oven that is begging to be used. Every night.

Or maybe it’s because we went a long time while we were moving and packing and getting ready to move when we were eating pretty much only frozen pizza, hamburger helper, and other not so blog-worthy meals.

Well, last night was going to be one of those meals as well.

See, we brought home some leftover cooked meat from the fair. Things like steak that had been sitting too long to served but still tasted fine, burgers and hot dogs that were leftover at the end of the night…you get the idea.

Leftovers…getting old. Taunting me every time I open the fridge.

Well, last night, we were going to use some of those up.

And I have a half-gallon of milk that’s going to go bad in a few days I wanted to use.

And we haven’t had zucchini in awhile.

So I planned out dinner to be pretty easy. I would heat up the steak to make steak sandwiches, make Kraft mac’n’cheese with the milk, and then something more creative zucchini.

Afterall, I cook with zucchini all the time so it’s really not a big deal to whip something up that makes the leftovers and plain, easy macaroni feel more special.

But then I added extra milk to the macaroni because I knew Hubs wouldn’t be home for awhile yet and it would start to tighten up and get too sticky if I didn’t put extra moisture in there early on.

And the milk made it extra extra creamy tasting.

So I added some fresh ground pepper, and some chives, and some parsley. And more milk.

And, oh my goodness, so creamy and delicious.

My mouth is actually watering just thinking about eating the leftovers for lunch.

And then I started to work on the zucchini. I had planned to make some sort of zucchini fries, like I did here. But then I saw this post from The Pioneer Woman (Do you read her blogs? You totally should.) and I wanted to add some lemon to the party.

So this is what I ended up doing.

Lemon-Crumb-Coated-Zucchini-Fries.

(Yes, that’s what I’m calling them.)

1 1/2 cups bread crumbs.

2-3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 packet of ranch seasoning

2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning

1 egg

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 average-sized zucchini, sliced into thin strips

Combine all the dry ingredients. I did this in my blender since I used it to make the bread crumbs anyway.

All in there, ready for mixing.

Combine all wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add in zucchini pieces and toss to coat. 

I didn’t do a great job of cutting our fries in equal sizes…

Add in dry ingredients. Toss again to coat.

Spread the zucchini pieces out on a baking sheet. 

See how many crumbs? Crumbs=yum. In this case.

Then, since I had plenty of leftover “crumbs,” I didn’t want to waste them so I sprinkled them all over the top of the cookie sheet I would recommend you do this, too.

Then bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Turn them, and bake for 12 more minutes.

By this time, some of your extra crumbs will be brown enough to taste. Do that. Yum. 

Turn again and bake/broil until your desired level of “brown-ness.” (We like things a little extra crispy in this house.)

See what I mean about the yummy crumbies?
(I think of Monica from FRIENDS when I say “crumbies”)

Then you’ll serve them ranch dressing, or just plain, because I didn’t think they needed anything else, but Hubs loves his condiments.

They tasted so fresh and yet creamy at the same because of the lemon and the cheese and the bread crumbs and the egg. Sooooo good. I’m telling you.

In the meantime, Hubs came home from work and asked what we were having. He’d forgotten that we had decided the night before to eat the leftover steak. And that no longer seemed very exciting to him. So he said, “Ok, but I want cheese on mine.”

Then we talked for a little bit about how if we added onions it would be a cheesesteak sandwich.

So we did that.

First, we sauteed the onions in butter.

I think onions and butter may smell a little like heaven.

And he chopped up the steak.

Cold steak looks awfully dry and boring.

And then we added the steak to the onions and butter.

Yup. This is way better than what I’d planned to do for dinner.

And then we melted cheese on top.

Yes, I put some of the leftover crumbies on my macaroni and cheese. No, I did not regret it.

(I went without the top bun because I just didn’t want it. I wold actually recommend some kind of hoagie roll for this, but since we were working with leftovers here, crumbly-sorta-old-hamburger-buns were all we had.)

Anyway, it ended up being a pretty spectacular meal.

And I was reminded once again, why I love spending time with the man I married. Because he’s fun. He’s creative. He’s spontaneous. He’s open to try new things. He will experiment with me. Play with me. Laugh with me. Eat ridiculously better than anticipated leftovers with me.

And then he’ll do the dishes.

Reason #47 husband roommates are the best.

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Categories: Food Fun | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Z”ucchini

It’s the last of the A to Z blogging challenge posts, and I’m excited to end with something I LOVE:

Zucchini.

Remember when I got those giant zucchinis from my grandma and wanted to use them all up?

Giant zucchini, how I learned to love you. Now I can't wait for more garden-fresh goodies!

Well, that began my love affair, and now, I’m hooked.

Here’s our most recent zucchini adventures.

Try them, they’re yummy!

Steak, with potatoes, zucchini, and red peppers, sauted with Italian seasoning. YUM.

And a bit less healthy, but so yummy, fried zucchini.

Start by slicing it pretty thin.

About a quarter inch works well for this.

Then it’s time for batter.

Egg wash and crushed cracker crumbs are perfect and delicious.

And then time for frying!

Turn then pretty often to avoid burning, especially if you slice them super think and make them more like chips.

We also baked some and they turned out good, but I think I’d use a bread crumb base for those to help them get more crispy and golden faster.

Still, they were delish!

Hubs liked them, too. And how could you not? Zucchini is awesome!

Your turn! How do you love to cook zucchini? 

Categories: Food Fun | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Lesson #12: Long days are hard. Love notes help.

Today I worked at job number 3 from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. That means I got up at 6:00 (when we went to bed at 2a.m.!) and drove a total of an hour there and back…in medium traffic. I also had another  “eh” day at work. I’m still very much in the settling in phase…

When I got home, I cleaned the kitchen and folded and hung up clothes for about twenty minutes until I headed off to job number 2 from 5 to 9. While there I vacuumed for about thirty minutes, using a vacuum literally made in the 50s. (Ok, I made that up, but it’s old, and weighs about 50 pounds, so I took a wild guess.) And everyone knows how I love to vacuum, right?

…yeah…

I also answered the phone a lot.

…yeah…

And then, I came home and spent about 40 minutes on job number 1, editing a freelance assignment piece I wrote last night (before the soccer game) that needed to be sent out today.

Individually, all of this would have been pleasant. Together, as it was, it wasn’t terrible. Just a long day.

While at job number 3 (the third job I received, which is how I label them, but the first job I went to today, which makes it a bit confusing for you guys…), I wrote this note:

A little silly. A little sweet. A little sarcastic. All honest. All exactly what my heart needed to say.

I love to write love notes. I love using written words to tell someone exactly what they mean to me, and why I’m feeling especially blessed by them today. I love the way writing makes me slow down and really focus on the person and how rich they make my life.

Hubs doesn’t write a lot of love notes. He did when we were in high school. He’d scribble a message on notebook paper and leave it in my locker in between classes or after soccer practice. I still have those. All of them. Someday I’ll use them to embarrass our kids, and as proof that yes, we really were young and dumb, two crazy kids in love.

Now that I think about it, maybe that’s why Hubs doesn’t write love notes anymore.

So anyway, just because Hubs doesn’t write love notes, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t ever give me love notes.

Because when I came home from job number 2 and settled down to start job number 1 (see the note above about how the jobs are labeled if that confused you…), I was given this for dinner.

His words, "Presentation means everything." Boy, is he right!

Because when he presented this dinner to me (Macaroni, sauteed zucchini and tomatoes–don’t judge if you haven’t had it. It’s delicious, so so so so good), I felt loved. I could see that I was loved. I could taste that I was loved.

And what better kind of love note is there than that?

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Have you heard of zucchini fries? If not, you’ll be glad I told you. Yum.

I love when people give me fresh vegetables from their garden. To me, there’s nothing better than home-grown, and free(!) produce. I love to eat fresh veggies in so many different ways, too, so it’s great when I can get them given to me (insert a quick shout out of thanks to anyone who’s blessed Wyatt and I with food from your garden, especially Grandma L!)

But, I do have to say that sometimes all these fresh vegetables can present a challenge in the best way to cook them. For instance, we had two giant zucchini to use up. And while Wyatt is very supportive of my efforts to feed him healthy green vegetables, he doesn’t love the way zucchini can be a little mushy (especially the huge squash-like ones we have).

So I found this idea for zucchini fries on a friend’s Pinterest page and immediately repinned it to my page to try later. (P.S. Do you follow me on Pinterest? There’s a link to the right.)

I thought Wyatt would like them because they would be crispy and crunchy for him, full of that fresh zucchini flavor for me, and healthy for both of us.

Here’s the original recipe, but as usual (you should know me by now!), I changed it up a bit.

Here’s how I did it.

Oven-Baked Zucchini Fries

Ingredients
Zucchini (however much you need for however many servings you want. I made enough for 10-12 fries each)

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 Tbs Mrs. Dash, or other seasoning mix

1 tsp salt

1tsp lemon pepper seasoning

2 Tbs melted butter
1 small egg
Method
Heat oven to 450ºF.

Cut zucchini into thin sticks, about 3-4 inches long. The thinner the sticks, the crisper the fries will be.

Yummy zucchini fries to be!

Whisk the egg and mix in melted butter.

Dip each stick in the egg mixture to coat.

You want to make sure they have egg on all sides.

Then dip the coated sticks in the bread crumb mixture. And roll them around in there very gently just to make sure your fingers don’t knock off any of the crumbs.

This process gets your fingers a bit messy, but you can always use tongs to help if you want.

Spread the coated sticks onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.

Ready to turn into "fries," though...if we don't fry them, can they ever really be "fries?

Bake for 20 minutes, turning them once in the middle, then turn the oven setting to broil for a few minutes to make sure they’re extra crispy. Just make sure to watch them so they don’t burn.

Mmm....

And of course, you can serve them with a dipping sauce. I just sprinkled some salt on mine, but Wyatt dipped his in ranch dressing. I was going to whip up a special sauce, but we decided we were hungry and just ready to eat.

Fry time!

And then, Ta-Da! You have a meal! I made twice baked potatoes topped with some of our remaining leftover BBQ brisket from our wedding. (Don’t worry, it’s been frozen, not just sitting in our fridge this whole time…)

And now I can honestly say we have a new favorite way to eat zucchini. At least I do. Wyatt had a headache last night so it was hard to tell how much he loved them, but I’m hoping it was as much as I did. Because, yum.

What about you guys? Do you have a favorite way to eat zucchini? What about other vegetables to make fries out of?

Categories: Food Fun | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Dinner with my guys, or rather my guy, and a famous guy who has no idea I exist, much less admire him.

Usually, when we go to bed, I try to ask Wyatt what he wants for dinner the next day. His response is normally noncommital. But the other night, he says, out of the blue, you should make a burger with an egg on top.

Um…Yum. Ok!

So the next day, as I’m working on my laptop in the living room and listening to Food Network in the background, guess who comes on?

Hint: It’s one of my favorite chefs. I’m a tad obsessed with watching him cook whenever possible. He’s on my list of famous people I’d like to one day meet…

Anyone know?

It’s Michael Symon! (With a mixer like mine!–only his is red…)P.S. Thanks Yumsugar.com for the photo…

Anyway, so he’s on Paula Dean’s show, and what do they make? His Lola burger. It’s a burger, made with bacon and eggs on top.

I’d say that was as much motivation as I needed. Both Wyatt AND Michael wanted me to make it. That’s enough for me!
 
So I got to work. Now, no offense to Michael, but I have to cook to please Hubs, so I didn’t follow his recipe exactly.

Here’s how I did it.

 1 lb ground beef

4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp chopped chives

1 tsp dried parsley

1 Tbsp chopped onions (fresh or dried)

Mix together and form 4 loose patties. Cook in a preheated skillet until brown, or desired level of doneness.

In a skillet, cook 4 slices of bacon, set aside grease.

When burgers are close to done, butter and toast 4 hamburger buns.

Using the skillet from the bacon, fry 4 eggs, leaving the yolk runny.

Create your burgers with the toppings of your choice. 

(I’m sure Michael’s pickled onions and spicy ketchup would be fantastic, but I didn’t have the ingredients to make those. Maybe next time.)

 

The onions in these make them smell fantastic while they're cooking. And they taste great too, with having to eat a big slice of onion of the top. Best of both worlds.

I’ve never been this creative with my cooking before, though I guess I’ve never cooked this much before. I think I need to have company soon, so I can cook for them! Though it’s fun to cook for two because we get to be a lot more creative. It’s all trial and error. And there’s a lot less pressure, than say, cooking for the in-laws. Or my grandparents.

 

My bacon looks lonely in the pan. (I only made 2 since we were only going to eat 2 burgers that night.)

 

I also had the idea to try a totally new zucchini recipe. (Translation: I have a lot of zucchini again and need new ways to cook it so I started experimenting.)

I started by slicing off a few thin slices from my very large zucchini. Then, since of course I’m not going to waste it, I had Wyatt wrap the rest up with saran wrap, which he doesn’t get along with very well, so that might not have been the best job for him…

Then I cooked them for a few minutes in olive oil, seasoning with salt, pepper, and lemon pepper seasoning.

You don't want to cook them too long, or they will get mushy. Just a few minutes on each side is plenty.

Then I transferred them to a baking dish, added some feta and mozzarella cheese and a little more lemon pepper seasoning on top. I then cooked them in the oven at 450 degrees (I was also baking some fries) for about ten minutes, or until the edges started to crisp up a bit.

I know, my baking dish is huge. But I don't have a smaller one! (Actually, I do, but it's still in the box because it wouldn't fit in my cabinet! Darn that small kitchen!

All in all, the meal turned out great, thanks of course to my inspiration from Wyatt and Michael.

Yum. Need I say more?

And the best part of dinner?

When Wyatt squished his bun down on his hamburger so he could fit it in his mouth, he popped the yolk open and it squirted across our coffee table, much to his dismay.

Of course, that didn’t stop him from enjoying his eggy, bacon, burger…

Yes, that's my hubs, dipping his burger into egg on the coffee table. I'm such a proud wife!

Ah well, he cleaned it up later.

Such a fun night!

Categories: Food Fun | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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