Italian Zucchini Pie

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Want dinner tonight and dinner for later? This is a great recipe for that! It’s already enough for 2 zucchini pies, which taste a million times better than they sound. My two year old is still talking about Zucchini Pie. And we have another one in the freezer ready to go whenever we need it. Here we go.

Yields 2 pies; Each pie serves at least 4 (Weight Watchers Points based on 4 servings per pie)
Adapted from Simply in Season

Crust Ingredients:
1/4 c warm water
1 Tb active dry yeast
1/4 c milk
1 Tb olive oil
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1-2 tsp fresh basil, chopped
2 c bread flour

1. Mix warm water and dry yeast until it dissolves. Set aside.
2. Combine milk, oil, and egg in a mixing bowl. Add dissolved yeast and stir.
3. Blend in wheat flour, cheese, salt, and basil.
4. Add 1/2 c bread flour at a time to make a smooth but slightly sticky dough.
5. Place dough in a well greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and place in a warm place while preparing zucchini filling.

Filling Ingredients:
1/4 c butter
8 cups zucchini, thinly sliced
1.5 c onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tb fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
1 Tb fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp each dried thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
5 large eggs, beaten
4 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 tsp specialty mustard
1/4 c Parmesan cheese

1. Melt butter in frying pan over medium heat. Add zucchini and onions and saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a very large bowl.
2. Stir into large bowl the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper.
3. Combine eggs and mozzarella in a separate bowl, then stir into zucchini mixture.

Back to the crust and putting it all together…
1. Divide dough in half. Place each half on a lightly floured surface and roll into a circle about 12 inches in diameter.
2. Set each into a lightly greased 10 inch pie dish and crimp edges as you would a pie crust.
3. Spread the bottoms and sides of pie crusts with mustard.
4. Divide the zucchini mixture between the two crusts. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese on top.
5. Bake in preheated oven at 375 until center is set, about 18-20 minutes. (To test if set, jiggle pie after time. If it is mostly solid, you should be good.) Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

I recommend eating one and freezing the other, unless you’ve got lots of mouths to feed. If you let it cool completely and have greased the pan well enough, it should be sturdy enough that you can pop it out of the pie pan and slip it into a gallon freezer bag. It’ll hold its shape and be good for you whenever you need a quick meal to just reheat.

Nutrition:
Weight Watchers Points: 10

The piece our 2 year old ate.

The piece our 2 year old ate.

The crust is amazing!

The crust is amazing!

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Roasted Red Peppers with Sausage & Ricotta Meatballs

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We had this one tonight. It was pretty dang delicious and had such an interesting depth of flavor. I saw the recipe for Pork and Ricotta Meatballs in Cook’s Country and saw lots of potential in it, including ways to use those pesky sweet red peppers we had hiding in the veggie drawer. So here is my wildly adapted version of this recipe, broken into a few parts.

Sausage and Ricotta Meatballs
Serves 4-5

2 slices bread, torn into small pieces
4 oz (1/2 cup) ricotta
5 sweet italian sausage links (total about 20 oz), removed from casings
1/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano Cheese, grated
1 1/2 Tb dried parsley
1 egg
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 Tb salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest (1/2 lemon)

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Set wire rack on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or baking pad. Spray liberally with Pam.
2. Combine bread and ricotta in a large bowl and mix with a fork, let stand, and mix again, until a smooth paste forms, up to 10 minutes.
3. Add sausage, Parmesan, parsley, egg, shallot, garlic salt, pepper, and lemon zest to bread mixture and mix with hands until thoroughly combined.
4. Divide mixture into 16 equal portions. Roll meat between wet hands to form meatballs and sapce evenly on prepared wire rack.
5. Roast meatballs until browned and cooked through to about 155-165 degrees. Check after about 35 minutes. If not hot enough, put back in for another 10-15 minutes.

Roasted Red Peppers
Serves 4-5

4 sweet red peppers
1 Tb olive oil
pinch salt, pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Cut out the stems and remove the seeds from peppers. Slice length-wise.
2. Brush olive oil on peppers on all sides. And sprinkle with lemon juice.
3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Roast along with the meatballs and take out right as you notice the edges turning dark. These should be soft when poked with a fork.

Sauce
Serves 4-5

1/8 c olive oil
5 garlic gloves, smashed and peeled
2 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper

1. While meatballs and peppers are in the oven, combine oil and garlic in a dutch oven set over low heat and cook until garlic is soft and golden on all sides, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Stir in tomatoes. Cover with lid slightly ajar. and bring to simmer over medium high heat.
3. Squeeze lemon juice into sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until sauce has thickened somewhat. Turn off heat and let sit.
3. When you take the meatballs and peppers out of the oven, pour this into a food processor and process until smooth.

To plate, with an extra 1/4 cup grated Parmesan:
1. Lay down two roasted red pepper halves.
2. Sprinkle some Parmesan over peppers.
3. Place 4 meatballs on top of the peppers.
4. Ladle sauce over the meatballs.
5. Garnish with more Parmesan.

Then enjoy! I loved the garlic and lemon in this dish. The sausage was incredible. The meatballs were killer and could’ve been just fine on their own, but the sweetness of the red peppers and the sauce brought everything together.

Nutrition:
Weight Watchers Points: 12

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Kielbasa with Bok Choy Gratin

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As you can tell from my previous post, I had some bok choy on hand and I had great plans for it. I found this amazing sounding recipe for bok choy gratin on a weird website call chocolate broccoli. I put all the ingredients into my Weight Watchers app so I could figure the points value, and planned to go back to the recipe when the time came to make the dish. Unfortunately in between my finding the recipe and my going back to actually prepare the recipe, chocolate broccoli had allowed its domain to expire. So… yeah. The result is that although the ingredients were inspired by that page, this one is otherwise entirely original. So, enjoy.

Serves: 4

1 clove garlic
1 Tb butter, divided in half
1 1/2 c onion, chopped
2 small heads bok choy, chopped (leaves & stems)
1 1/2 oz prosciutto, diced
1/4 c chicken stock
3/4 c milk
1 Tb flour
salt & ground black pepper to taste
4 oz Gruyere, shredded
1 Tb panko breadcrumbs

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Slice garlic in half and rub along the inside of a casserole dish. Then mince the garlic.

3. Melt 1/2 Tb butter in a large skillet. Add minced garlic. Cook about 1 minute, then add chopped onion.

4. In a separate pot, steam bok choy until you can easily insert a fork into the stalk pieces.

5. Add chicken stock to the garlic/onion skillet and stir.

6. Add bok choy and prosciutto to the skillet. Stir and cook until most of liquid is absorbed.

7. Pour vegetable mixture into prepared casserole dish.

8. In same skillet, melt the other 1/2 Tb butter. Add milk and heat for a minute, then add flour and whisk until smooth.

9. Slowly add about 2/3 of the shredded gruyere and whisk continuously to smooth out sauce.

10. Pour sauce over veggies in casserole dish.

11. Sprinkle panko over top.

12. Bake, covered, about 15-18 minutes.

13. Remove cover and sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 gruyere. Continue baking, uncovered, about 5 minutes more, until golden brown on top.

Skillet of garlic, onions, prosciutto, and bok choy.

Skillet of garlic, onions, prosciutto, and bok choy.

Vegetables and sauce mixed in casserole

Vegetables and sauce mixed in casserole

Bok Choy Gratin, golden and delicious

Bok Choy Gratin, golden and delicious

For the kielbasa:
As many links as you have people eating

1. Place frozen kielbasa links on a cast iron griddle and bake in the oven along with the bok choy gratin dish for the duration of the 20-23 minutes.

I *loved* this combination. It felt just right for the time of year of summer turning into fall. The kielbasa was killer because it got so well cooked that it was a little crunchy on the outside, but stayed super moist inside because it had been frozen to start out. And this bok choy gratin had incredible flavor. I highly recommend this! And encourage you to swap out the bok choy, and try this with whatever you have on hand– broccoli, spinach, whatever!

Nutrition:
Bok Choy Gratin Weight Watchers Points: 7
Kielbasa Weight Watchers points: 5 (for 2 oz)

Cooked kielbasa

Cooked kielbasa

Balsamic Roast Beef with Fresh Green Bean Casserole

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I’m still dreaming about this dinner. I think it’s the most delicious meal we’ve had in a while, and I think it’s almost entirely due to how delicious that roast beef ended up being. I can’t take credit for actually making the meal, but I am responsible for setting up the menu and being a lifeline for my husband as he cooked throughout the day. If you have a beef round hanging out in your freezer like we did, and you’re looking for something to do with it… or if you are just looking for an incredible meaty meal, look no further, my friends.

Balsamic Roast Beef
(Adapted from addapinch.com)

Serves: 5
Total Time: 8 hrs 15 mins

1 3/4 pounds trimmed beef round (ours started off frozen)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c balsamic vinegar (break out the good stuff for this recipe!)
1 c beef broth (we used beef bullion dissolved in a homemade veggie broth)
1 Tb Worcestershire sauce
1 Tb soy sauce
1 Tb honey
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1.) Place beef into your slow cooker. In a glass measuring bowl (at least 2 cups in size), mix together all remaining ingredients. Pour over beef.

2.) Cook for 4 hours on high and 4 hours on low.

3.) When meat is ready, it should break up easily with two forks. Break meat up somewhat in slow cooker. Break it up the rest of the way in a serving dish/when serving.

4.) Serve with tongs and be sure to ladle some of the sauce overtop.

5.) Save beef and sauce leftovers for sandwiches!

Nutrition:
Weight Watchers Points: 7

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From Scratch Fresh Green Bean Casserole
(Adapted from Southern Living online)

Serves: 4
Time: 55 minutes total, 25 active

3/4 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
1 Tb butter
1/8 c flour
3/4 c 2% milk
1/4 c buttermilk
1/2 Tb Ranch dressing mix
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp butter
1 c French fried onions, crushed
1/4 c panko breadcrumbs
1 plum tomato (or 2 small regular tomatoes), seeded & chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350. Cook green beans by steaming them until desired doneness (not too soft!). Plunge the beans into an ice bath to stop cooking process. Drain and pat dry.

2. Melt 1 Tb butter in dutch oven over medium heat, whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook, whisking constantly, 3-4 minutes or until sauce is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and whisk in buttermilk, Ranch dressing mix, thyme, salt, and pepper.

3. Gently toss green beans in buttermilk sauce. Spray a square baking dish or casserole and pour in green bean mixture.

4. Combine French fried onions, panko, and tomatoes. Sprinkle over green bean mixture.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Nutrition: 168 Cal; 8.4 g Fat (3.9 g Sat); 5.7 g Protein; 18.5 g Carb; 3.9 g Fiber; 15 mg Chol; 296 mg Sodium

Weight Watchers Points: 4

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Kale Fritatta

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Yet another thing we had too much of– kale. Kale is another vegetable that I’m really not a big fan of. But I’m willing to try it all sorts of ways to see if it has more value than being made into kale chips. Luckily our CSA newsletter has had a few recipe ideas for us, and this is one we made recently. It is intended for swiss chard rather than kale, but I made it work.

Adapted from Stillman’s CSA newsletter, Week 6 (July 20-26)
Serves 6
Active Time: About 40 minutes

1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tb olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh basil
1 tsp fresh oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
ground pepper to taste
1 zucchini, chopped
1 bunch of kale, leaves chopped
1 pepper, chopped
5 eggs and a splash of milk
1 c shredded cheddar

1.) In a French oven, saute onion and garlic in oil with seasonings for 5-8 minutes.
2.) Add zucchini and kale. Cover to help cook the kale down and wait to add more ingredients until the kale cooks down by at least a quarter.
3.) Add pepper.
4.) Beat eggs with milk, add cheese. Pour over veggies.
5.) Place French oven in a 400 degree oven and cook 15-18 minutes or until set.

Nutrition:
Weight Watchers Points: 6

Between steps 3 and 4.

Between steps 3 and 4.

Right before sticking in the oven.

Right before sticking in the oven.

Green Bean & Cherry Tomato Pasta Salad

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Another vegetable that we’re drowning in, courtesy of Stillman’s Farm CSA, is green beans. As a result, I was on a hunt to find recipes that would allow me to plow through most, if not all, of the green beans we have on hand. I came across this pasta salad in a random cookbook I’m not sure I’ve ever otherwise opened. It sounded to me like the perfect summer salad. I made a large batch of it and we brought it along to Shakespeare on the Common (King Lear) last Sunday. It was perfect paired with the tasty sangria I made– both totally refreshing and great for enjoying outdoors. Recipe on the sangria to come later.

Sadly because I wasn’t in my normal cooking/eating element, I failed to take any photos of the dish. But take my word for it– it is as colorful as you think when you read through the ingredients.

Adapted from One United Harvest cookbook, as Snap Bean and Cherry Tomato Pasta Salad (by Evan & jodi Verbanic)
Serves 8 as a Main (can also be used as a side dish)
Active Time: 20 minutes

3/4 lb bow tie pasta
3/4 lb green beans
2/3 c olive oil
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
2 c grape tomatoes (half cut in half, half kept whole)
3 Tb chopped basil leaves
2 Tb chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese

1.) Cook pasta according to package directions. When done, rinse with cold water and drain.
2.) Steam beans until just tender, then dunk in cold water with ice.
3.) In a large bowl, mix the oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, and salt and pepper to make the dressing.
4.) Add the tomatoes, herbs, pasta, and beans to the dressing and toss to coat.
5.) Shortly before serving (1 hour or less), add in the shredded mozzarella and toss again to combine.

Nutrition:
Weight Watchers Points: 10

Spaghetti with Spicy Summer Squash and White Beans

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I’m not a huge fan of Mario Batali, but my husband and I received a “bonus” wedding present from a friend of ours, who bought us some things on our registry related to bread dipping and slightly fine dining, along with some dipping oils and a cookbook. The oils and cookbook are the bonuses I speak of (which, by the way, if you’re buying a wedding present in the future, I totally think this is a great way to approach giving a gift people want, and coupling it with some individuality and creativity on your part). So, anyhow, the cookbook is Mario Batali’s Simple Family Meals, and it’s kind of wonderfully divided up by month, so you’re also theoretically cooking in season. The recipe I just made yesterday was part of the July section, but I think it’s close enough. The recipe was supposed to be Bucatini with Spicy Summer Squash and White Beans. Us not being hugely into pasta and also not being Italian, we didn’t have bucatini laying around, so I went with our thin spaghetti. It worked like a dream. And I have to say, I think this was way more delicious than I expected. Here, I was just looking for recipes to help us use up some of the multitudes of summer squash we have in the crisper drawer, and I ended up with a delicious meal. Not bad.

Adapted from Molto Batali, by Mario Batali
Serves: 5 as a Main Course

1/8 c plus 1/8 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Tb hot red pepper flakes
3/4 lb yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2 inch thick coins
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 oz cannellini or white navy beans, drained and rinsed (half a can)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb thin spaghetti pasta
1/2 cup fresh seasoned breadcrumbs, toasted
1 1/2 cup grape tomatoes
1 tsp oil

1.) Boil water in a pasta pot.
2.) Add whole grape tomatoes to a baking dish. Spray lightly with about 1 teaspoon of oil and move tomatoes around to ensure they are lightly coated. Pop dish into a 400 degree oven and cook for the duration of the pasta dish.
2.) While water is heating, heat 1/8 cup oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the red pepper flakes and just enough squash coins to cover the bottom of the pain in one layer. Cook, without moving squash, until golden brown on the bottom, about 8-10 minutes. To aid with cooking all the way through, cover pan about half way through cooking. Transfer squash to a plate. Repeat until all squash is cooked. (I used a big pan and mine only took 1 round.)
3.) Add remaining oil and garlic to the saute pan and cook over medium heat until garlic is light brown, about 2 minutes. Add the beans and simmer for 5 minutes, until warmed through. Add the cooked squash, season with salt and pepper to taste, remove from heat and set aside.
4.) Add salt to the boiling water. Drop pasta into the water and cook for 1 minute less than package instructions indicate. Just before done, ladle 1 ladle full of the pasta water into the squash mixture.
6.) In a small skillet, toast breadcrumbs over medium heat for about 2 minutes, moving the breadcrumbs to keep from burning.
5.) Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Toss over medium heat for about 30 seconds, until the pasta is nicely coated.
6.) Pull tomatoes out of the oven and add to a small serving dish. Serve pasta immediately, with breadcrumbs and roasted tomatoes on the side.

Note: I also had some parmesan ready to grate if need be, but it was totally unnecessary.

Nutrition:
Weight Watchers Points: 10

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