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I’m currently lacking a memory card for my camera so don’t mind my pictures.  I’ve been using my iPhone for the last four or so posts, which has proved to work out pretty well.  I try to maximize the amount of light I have to prevent using the flash, so most are taken outside.  This meal was a late one, so the lighting was poor and the flash was used.

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Zucchini season is upon us!  I’ve been having quite a bit of fun stuffing the round variety but this week opted for traditional ‘boats’.  I’ve seen the concept of zucchini enchiladas floating around the internet for awhile but have never been inspired to make them.  I’m regretting this as they are quite exceptional.  The zucchini takes on the flavors of the dish and the hold up really well when baked.  I was pleasantly surprised and will be stuffing plenty of zucchini’s this fall.  (I pick and choose when to use the oven as the house gets too hot!)

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For this recipe I used ground beef.  It is the quickest and easiest to cook.  One pan for the onion, garlic, olives, green chilies, beef, and seasoning.  When I have a little more time I’ll switch it up and prepare some shredded beef – either a flank steak or a chuck steak slow cooked in the crockpot before stuffed into zucchinis.  My mouth just watered a little thinking about this.

Typically, I prepare my dressings and sauces from scratch.  I like knowing what goes into them, mainly because there is so much added sugar and other junk in bottled condiments.  But when it comes to Mexican cooking I prefer to buy jarred salsas.  There are so many on the market now and plenty with acceptable ingredients.  It’s one less thing I have to prepare and clean up after.  Time is of the essence these days.  Originally, I intended to only use a green chili salsa for this dish.  But once I tired it I realized it was a bit too spicy for me, so I opened up a jar of roasted green chili sauce and used them both.  Use whatever you prefer – enchilada sauce, salsa, tomatillo sauce, roasted green chili sauce, ect..

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Enchilada Zucchini Boats

  • 3-4 medium zucchini’s (I used 3 1/2 – that was all I could fit in my pan)
  • 2/3 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 can roasted green chilies
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  • oregano
  • s&p
  • olive oil
  • jar of salsa/enchilada sauce/roasted green chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • olive oil
  • fresh cilantro, to serve
  1. Half zucchini’s lengthwise and scoop out seeds to create ‘boats’ leaving a 1/2″ thickness.
  2. Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, and carrots.  Cook 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the ground beef, black, olive, and chilies.  Season with 1/2 tablespoons cumin, 1/2 tablespoon of chili powder, and a 1/2 teaspoon of oregano.  I don’t measure spices so this is my estimate.  Season with s&p and brown meat.  Once beef is cooked through taste and add more seasoning if desired.  Turn of heat.
  4. Lightly oil a pyrex dish and layer in the zucchini boats.  Fill each with ground beef mixture, pressing down into the boats.  Top each with a layer of salsa/sauce and cover pan with foil.
  5. Bake in a 350º oven for 35 minutes.  Remove foil, top with cheddar cheese, and bake another 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly browned.
  6. Serve topped with fresh cilantro.

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If you haven’t noticed chickpea salad has become one of our weekly meals.  I make the chickpea salad in the morning and let it chill in the fridge all day.  My main motivation is how quickly dinner comes together.  Chop greens, chop vegetables, mix, and top with chickpea salad.  Awesome!

I try to fill my days up with as much as possible, whether it be outside or inside activities, and once dinner time comes around it takes some serious motivation to make three dinners.  Yes three!  Josh gets home too late from work to do family style dinner.  This means I make something for Cia and another something for Calen.  I used to prepare dinner while Cia ate hers but now I’m feeding Calen instead.  And of course after the munchkins eat I clean the kitchen, and then bathe them.  I honestly don’t mind the routine, but after a full day I’m not looking to start a labor intensive dinner.  Being a stay at home mom is so many jobs molded into one.  There are times when Cia is driving me nuts as she explores her new capabilities, but I can’t complain, this is the best job I’ve ever had.  I always knew I was meant to be a mom!

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This is a perfect hot weather salad.  The cooling effect of cilantro, crispness of the cucumber, and the juiciness of the pineapple compliment each other so well.  After I made it I felt like it was almost a mild salsa with chickpeas instead of tomatoes.  I used lime juice and avocado to tie all the ingredients together.  And I love a nice crunch, adding in a stalk of celery.  You can substitute red bell pepper if you prefer.  And if you are looking for some heat add in a tablespoon or two of fresh minced jalapeño pepper.  Serve this on greens, in lettuce wraps, or with crackers.  It’s sure to please!

Pineapple & Cucumber Chickpea Salad

  • 1 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed well and drained
  • 1/2 cucumber chopped small
  • 1/2 pineapple, chopped small
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • s&p
  1. Place chickpeas in a bowl and smash using a potato masher until they have a flaky consistency. You could use a food processor for this too, just be conscious not to puree.
  2. Add cucumber, pineapple, cilantro, celery, and lime juice.  Mix well.
  3. Season with s&p and lightly fold in avocado.  Cover and refrigerate until serving.

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This recipe is for those who think you can’t cook with a crockpot during the hot summer months.  I don’t do it often but my ‘trick’ is to move the operation outside.  I set up a bucket or grate with the loaded crockpot on top and let it cook away.  I do miss how the house smells after a day of slow cooking but I much prefer to keep the temperature inside as cool as possible.  This works like a charm and you can still enjoy any crockpot meal you desire.

Now about the recipe.. One of the stands at our local farmer’s market sells goat.  I don’t have a ton of experience eating or cooking goat but I enjoy it.  Especially in a caribbean styled curry dish.  When Josh and I first noticed the stand at the farmer’s market we knew we would have to try it out sometime.  Then randomly my friend purchased this goat meat, cooked a batch of her own goat curry, and had the leftovers during one of our afternoon get-togethers.  Of course after this I knew what we were having for dinner on night the following week.

I used a caribbean curry powder blend for the seasoning.  It’s red rather than the typical yellow colored curry powder you see at the grocery store.  Note, I did go to a specialty spice store to locate this.  The blend includes coriander, cumin, onion, allspice, fenugreek, garlic, mustard, ginger, mace, anise, scotch bonnet, black pepper, and annatto.  I’d say it’s medium heat.  I used it sparingly and in the end decided I could have spiced the dish a bit more.  It was still plenty delicious.

Along with the goat meat I added onion, garlic, collard greens, plantain, carrot, and okra.  I wanted my plantains to be starchy so I opted for green ones.  It reminded me of the caribbean and I like that they stay firm after cooked.  But you may prefer to use yellow plantains for a bit sweeter flavor and softer texture.  Stepping away a bit from typical caribbean curry I added in a can of coconut milk.  Coconut milk is a must in curry’s for me.  It brings richness to the dish and blends all the flavors together.  You can substitute broth instead if you prefer.

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Goat Curry

  • 1 lb goat stew meat
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium plantains, peeled and sliced into 1″ rounds
  • 3 carrots, sliced into 1/2″ rounds
  • 1 bunch collards, ribs removed and sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1 15oz can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup water
  • s&p
  • 10 oz bag frozen okra
  1. Place goat with s&p and place in crockpot.  Layer in onion, garlic, plantain, carrot, and collards.  Add curry powder and bay leaf.  Pour in coconut milk adding in just enough water to cover ingredients.
  2. Cook on low 7 hours.
  3. Stir in bag of frozen okra and cook another 40 minutes.

IMG_6279There’s nothing like fresh garden produce!  I walked into our backyard and picked this swiss chard immediately before cooking!  So sweet and juicy.  Much much better than anything you could buy at a grocery store.  I love spending time out in our garden, watching things grow, and enjoying the fruits of our labor.  I’m so glad we took the time to plant one this year!

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I made this super simple chard salad to enjoy with the grilled whole snapper, previous post.  A perfect compliment to the dish, without having any heavy sides.  Basically this allowed us to eat a 2 1/2 pound snapper no problem.  Our tomatoes are still green, so I used store bought kumatos.  Kumatos never disappoint, always having a sweet flavor and firm texture.  Perfect for salads of any kind!  I quickly steamed the chard, just to soften and tossed with chopped kumatos, garlic olive oil, and fresh oregano.  A light yet flavorful salad.
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Swiss Chard Salad

  • 1 bunch chard, stems cut into 2″ sticks and leaves sliced into 1″ ribbons
  • 2 kumatos, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic olive oil, I use Garlic Gold
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
  • s&p
  1. Steam chard stems 2 minutes, add the leaves, and steam another minute.  Just enough to soften.  The stems will still have a little crunch and the leaves not mushy.
  2. Once chard has cooled place in a bowl and toss with kumatos, garlic oil, and oregano.  Season with s&p.

 

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My biggest complaint living in Colorado is not having access to freshly caught saltwater fish.  I love living here and have no intentions of leaving any time soon, but I do know when it’s time to move on, my family will be heading near the ocean.  Whenever we visit our families, either in St Thomas or Virginia Beach, we eat as much fish as we can.  In the meantime we indulge on the occasion.  Whole Foods does have a pretty nice wild caught fish selection.  While shopping this weekend their whole snapper caught my eye.  I eat fish just about any way it can be prepared but whole grilled fish is one of my top three methods.  Super juicy and flavorful.

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I chose to make a chimmichuri sauce to go with the fish.  Cilantro, parsley, oregano, garlic, olive oil, and red wine vinegar.  Plenty of fresh herb flavor!  I stuffed the cavity of the snapper with lemon wedges and cilantro to season while grilling.  Josh and I were in our happy place.  We ate this outside with Cia at her picnic table, all three of us pulling the meat right off the bones.  Calen took a late nap, but I’m happy to report he ate plenty too once he was up.  Here are a few photos from our afternoon grill session..

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Cleaned to the bones, eyeballs and all!

Grilled Snapper with Chimichurri

  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, plus a handful more stems/leaves
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 1/8-1/4 cup olive oil, plus more
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • s&p
  • 1 lemon sliced into rounds
  • 2 1/2lb whole snapper, scaled and gutted
  1. Place cilantro, parsley, oregano, garlic, 1/8 cup olive oil, and red wine vinegar in a food processor.  Pulse until combined, drizzling in more olive oil if needed.  Season with s&p.
  2. Rinse snapper, inside too, and pat dry with a paper towel.  Score each side three times.  Rub both sides with olive oil and season with s&p.  Stuff cavity with cilantro stems/leaves and lemon rounds.
  3. Once grill is hot, coat with nonstick spray and place snapper on.  Cover and grill 7-8 minutes and flip.
  4. Spoon half the chimichurri sauce in the scores.  Cover and continue to cook another 7-8 minutes.  Once done, remove whole snapper from grill, flipping over so the under side is facing up.  Fill scores with the rest of the chimichurri.  Let sit 5 minutes and serve.