Venison-Sausage Stuffed Zucchini

So, I just had to try this sausage stuffed zucchini boat recipe this evening. Only, I made some slight adjustments to the recipe. For those that like venison, then this recipe is for you. We love venison at our house, and a big thanks to my Hubby for keeping our freezer well stalked. Where this recipe calls for 8 ounces of hot Italian sausage, I substituted it with venison. The combination of the sweet Italian sausage and venison gives it a wonderful flavor. I actually make the most delicious meatballs combining sweet Italian sausage and venison. I will have to share that recipe one of these days. The other modifications I made involved the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Instead of cooking the chopped tomatoes with the stuffing mix, I placed them on top of the stuffed zucchini followed by slivers of fresh mozzarella cheese instead of shredded mozzarella.  I followed the rest of the recipe, and the results were mouth-watering. The stuffed zucchini is a meal all by itself. However, I added some roasted red skin potatoes and onions from the garden and salad to make this a very satisfying meal.

stuffed zucchini

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“I’m strong to the finish, ’cause I eats me Spinach”

Who doesn’t love spinach? Well, many kids for one; yours truly included. I remember hearing, “Popeye likes spinach. Just try it. You’ll like it too.” Of course, I don’t remember it being fresh sautéed spinach. As I recall, it came from a can just like Popeye ate, salty and slimy. Today, however, I love spinach. I love it so much, I started growing my own.

Spinach is such a versatile leafy green. You can eat it fresh, steamed, or sautéed. You can even make baked spinach chips the same way you make kale chips (see my recipe at the end of this article). And best of all, spinach is packed full of vitamins A, B, C, E and K as well as iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium.

This dark leafy green is a cool weather plant, so seeds can be sown in early spring and in the fall, even grown through winter, particularly if you use cold frames or row covers. During last winter, I did just that. Spinach is a cold-hardy plant that can tolerate cold snaps as low as 20 degrees, so the earlier you can plant in spring, the longer you will enjoy this nutritious green.

By the time summer heat approaches, spinach will begin to bolt. Here in the southwest, my spinach bolted in early May. I allowed it to bloom in order to harvest the seeds. It’s the first time I ever collected spinach seeds. Of course, I researched beforehand as I am learning how to save seeds from my crops. Did you know that spinach is dioecious? What does that mean? Well, basically it means that spinach produce male plants and female plants as opposed to monoecious plants that have both male (stamen) and female (pistil) flower parts on a single plant. While both individual male and female spinach plants produce flowers, as nature would have it, only the female plant will produce seeds.

spinach 2

spinach

Once the plant dies, you can start harvesting seed. I plucked them from the bed as they were dying and placed them in a paper sack to continue the drying out process. Once dried and the seeds are no longer green, it’s time to harvest the seeds.

spinach seed

spinach seed 2

It is a tedious process plucking the seed as several can be fused together. However, I was able to collect a fair amount of seed for the next planting season.

spinach seed 3

These will go into the ground come September. I look forward to another bountiful crop.

Now for that light and crispy spinach chip recipe:

Ingredients:

1 to 2 cups of spinach (depends on how much you want to make)

1 to 1 ½ TBS Olive oil (optional)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Place spinach on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. 
Drizzle with oil and with your hands gently toss to make sure spinach leaves are 
evenly coated. 
Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange leaves so they do not overlap.   
Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Now, if you’re really health conscious and want less fat, skip the oil. But, that’s not why I do not use oil on my spinach or kale chips. Without the oil, the spinach chips provide a lighter, airy crunch. You can still add salt and pepper to enhance flavor or substitute salt for garlic salt or any other spices you happen to enjoy. But, what I like about not using the oil is that the chips last longer. You can store them in a container to eat at a later time or crumble them over soups, baked potatoes or add to smoothies. It’s such a versatile food. That’s why I love me spinach.

So, eat you some spinach y’all!

Vegetarian Tuesday

So, it’s Tuesday, but not just any Tuesday. While I am not a vegetarian, I sometimes think I could be as much as I love eating fresh vegetables and enjoy many vegetarian dishes. However, my love of venison, fish, and seafood of all kinds runs deep, especially when the Hubby is an avid hunter and fisherman. He keeps our freezer well stocked with venison, bass, crappie, and catfish. He truly is a meat and potatoes kind of guy. But, once in a while, he will venture out of his meat and taters comfort zone and eat my vegetarian dishes. Tonight was one of those nights he lovingly nicknamed “Vegetarian Tuesday.” I’ve learned that if I make a vegetarian dish hearty enough, I get two thumbs up from him. Rice and beans is a pretty filling meal. My version is quick and easy. Add fresh veggies from the garden, and you have a feast for a king. What makes this dish so easy is that I use organic canned beans. And, I keep a good stock of brown and white rice in the freezer. I like to mix the two on occasion, particularly since I like brown rice and the Hubby likes white rice. Mix the two, and it’s quite a tasty combo. To start this delicious dish, cook rice according to package directions. Now, canned beans by themselves are okay, but my goal is to capture the taste buds as well as fill the belly. Before cooking the beans, sauté ¼ cup chopped onions and 2 cloves of garlic in olive oil. Then, add beans to the sautéed onions and garlic. To add more flavor, I used one can of organic pinto beans and one can organic baked beans. Of course, the meal is not complete without some steamed leafy greens and roasted garden goodies to make it hearty and satisfying, not to mention, packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals. And bests of all, no complaints from the Hubby.

sautecan beansbeans

Ingredients:

2 cans beans (any kind)

¼ cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic chopped

Olive oil to sauté onions and garlic

Roasted Veggies:

6-8 small red skin potatoes sliced in half

1 large onion or 2 small onions quartered

4-5 cloves garlic slivered

4 large carrots sliced

3/4-1  cup snow peas

3-4 beets sliced

4 banana peppers sliced in strips

2 large tomatoes quartered (or handful of cherry tomatoes whole or sliced in half)

Place vegetables in pan lined with tinfoil.

Drizzle vegetables generously with olive oil

Sprinkle with a bunch of Fresh herbs chopped (I used fresh rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil and parsley)

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all vegetables so oil and herbs  evenly coat veggies. Cover with tinfoil.

Bake at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes

Roasted done

 

Steam a handful of Swiss chard and beet greens until wilted

Serve with salt, pepper, and a splash of Balsamic vinegar.

greens

dinner

 

 

 

Natural Goodness

In keeping with eating light and healthy now that the warm weather has arrived, I happened upon a recipe for homemade muesli. It makes for a perfect breakfast or satisfying snack. What is muesli? Well it is a mixture of nuts, seeds, fruits, berries and oats. It was originally created by a Swiss-German doctor, Maximilian Bircher-Brenner, who believed people could prevent disease by eating raw foods and daily exercise. I happened upon a recipe at Bon Appetit. While this recipe uses dried fruits, my version uses fresh berries from the garden since my strawberries and blackberries are ripe for the picking. There are many different recipies for meusli on the Internet, the combination of raw nuts and fruit are endless. It can be poured over yogurt, added as a topping for pancakes or waffles, or eaten alone as a cereal, just add milk. But, I enjoy eating it dry. This morning’s version did not include oats simply because I was out of oatmeal. Every mouthful was a crunchy explosion of sweet and tangy goodness.

meusli
homemade meusli

Ingredients:

Handful of the following:

Walnuts

Almond slivers

Sunflower seeds (I like lightly salted)

Blackberries

Strawberries (sliced)

Blueberries

1 ripe banana (sliced)

Directions: place sliced bananas at bottom of bowl, top with nuts, then add berries. Now, all that’s left to do is enjoy the natural goodness.

 

Summertime Fresh

Picked a couple of the first ripe tomatoes today. With such an early spring, I tried my luck transplanting tomatoes earlier than usual. While I lost some, quite a few plants took off bearing fruit earlier than usual. Perfect timing, too, as today’s hot and muggy weather calls for a light and healthy meal. What better way to celebrate the first tomatoes of the season than a lovely tomato basil mozzarella salad drizzled in olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar with shrimp on the side. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and top it off with a nice refreshing madras cocktail to quench the thirst. Definitely screams summertime fresh to me!shrimp and basil tomato