An Ode to Summer! The Beautiful Zucchini!

My neighbor gifted me two giant zucchini’s, here’s to summer. But a day too late for my current zucchini obsession. The recipe below is amazing and really highlights the vegetable or is it a fruit!?!
The main reason I made this recipe, two nights in a row, was to use up what I had on hand. This is usually how I go about dinner or weekday desk lunches. Or pretty much anything else I feel like cooking, use what you have.
Some good friends came to stay for the weekend and brought their local CSA farm box from Rutiz Family Farms in Arroyo Grande, delicious produce! So many good things hard to list, but for this I used the beets. Peeled, cut to small cubes, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, roasted at 375 for about 20 or so minutes. Followed the rest of the recipe below (kind of!) and piled everything on top of some fresh little gem and baby lettuce. Dollops of ricotta on top of that. I wondered if freshly made croutons, very lightly toasted, heavily oiled would add some nice texture. I also thought toasted pepitas (the green pumpkin seeds) would be nice too. My husband definitely thought the pepitas. Next time!
Some alterations… I did not use hazelnuts, thus the need for some crunch. Next post, my problem with not really following recipes. Sorry! I sautéed the zucchini, all different types patty pan (the squatty yellow ones), regular green summer squash and roundish green and white ones. Love the availability of produce at the farmers market this time of year! To the pan of squash I also added slices of Meyer lemon to sautee, this added a nice zing. You can eat these slices or not, up to you.
So the next night…. I did basically the same thing, but added Trader Joe’s gnocchi. Super yummy! Have you seen their gnocchi? It is super cheap and actually really good. Long shelf life too, I usually buy a couple packages. Got the memo from a blog called The Clever Carrot and the recipe below. Very much worth following, her recipes are amazing!
This zucchini recipe is so versatile and can be used all summer in lots of other ways. Side dish, salad, main, pasta, breakfast. Oh with eggs, add a little bacon or make a quiche. The possibilities are endless!
A week later, because I still had the neighbors zucchini… Remember two very large zucchini!
I made a zucchini bread for my husband to take to my father in law for Fathers Day. This recipe made two, so I took one camping. I also made zucchini chips, dehydrators are fabulous investments! I sliced the zucchini with a mandolin, pretty thin. Brushed each with olive oil, salt, pepper and this great chili lime salt we recently found. Set on trays, set to 135 for 15 hours. They were really tasty, I’ll be making those all summer.
I made the zucchini salad one more time, not the last to be assured. This time I added canned cannellini  beans and fresh mozzarella, yum.
Using what is fresh, on hand, in your fridge such as produce can create amazing dishes any night of the week. I just need a little inspiration and it usually takes one item and in this case, two very large zucchini. Thanks neighbors!

Pickled Jalapenos

Here’s another reason my friends convinced me to do a food blog, I like to take one thing and make multiple meals out of it. This was evident when we were camping for a week and I did the food menu for us. I made a sort of chimichurri, it is really just a cilantro pesto of sorts. I’ll add a recipe or has tons of good ones. Anyhow, I made this for our trip and we used it in all sorts of different ways. I put it on our sandwiches, used it as a salad dressing, I may have put it in scrambled eggs on another occasion and I used it with a tofu sauté.  My wonderful friends loved this idea of taking one simple thing and using it in so many different ways for many meals during the week. This can be done with anything really.
My husband has a new fascination with spicy foods, so I made some pickled jalapenos. I’m into spice, but figured the pickling would tone it down a bit so that I could enjoy it too. I don’t always (but I have recently been trying) to write things out that I want to plan and make for the week. Otherwise I get lost in many other fun things to make and lose track of reality.
So with the pickled jalapeños I decided I would make hamburgers, yum with anything, but let’s see if the jalapeños stand out. I will make a pizza, yes dough from scratch! On the pizza will probably be a salad of sorts, but again the jalapeños will be the star. I also saw a recipe for a zucchini and spinach chilaquiles, so I’ll add the remainder of them to this.
Chilaquiles recipe-I used fresh tomatillos and a Pasilla, roasted them till they burst, about 10 minutes. I had made the chimichurri mentioned above, so added some of that to the mix. I didn’t have spinach so used kale instead. I used fresh jalapeños, but the pickled ones would be great here, as well as some pickled red onions. This is basically a glorified nachos, but really tasty!
Hamburger-made burgers, added some good chunks of chimay cheese that I had and a leaf or two of nice farmers market little gem lettuce. The chimay helped balance the pickled jalapeños, it was tasty. I sautéed some broccoli and threw it on top of some farro. I made a light kale and lettuce salad with carrots, that we ended up combining with the farro and broccoli.
The Pizza-A local pizza joint has a pizza with a side of pickled delights, onions, jalapeños and one other item that I can’t recall. I think the base is a cream sauce and melted goat cheese, basic. But you add the pickled items on top and it’s a flavor bomb! So here’s my version, because again my husband is on this new spice kick and said we (obviously meaning me!) should make this at home. I made the dough from scratch, see recipe below, just plan a day ahead since it needs to rise for 24 hours. It is worth it, trust me. I think next time, I will divide the dough and freeze half, unless we have company, it makes a thick cookie sheets worth of dough. I added the rest of the chimichurri that I had made earlier in the week as the base/sauce, cooked the dough about 10-15 minutes, then took it out and added some chopped kale and queso fresco. Once the dough was cooked through I added the pickled jalapenos and some red pickled onions that I had on hand. This was tasty! I made a salad to go with it, which was perfect to add a little on top of the pizza as well.
I’m so proud of myself for sticking with my planned out week of meals. It really does help that you have one item that can carry all sorts of different food recipes, it also makes it exciting. I didn’t make wonton ravioli that I was planning on, but the jalapeños didn’t fit in very well. Next post!
I used apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. I carefully sliced two jalapenos, use plastic gloves if you have them, remove or keep the seeds, depending on your heat capability. Store them in a jar, but if you use them for all of these recipes you will go through them in about a week or so. Quick pickling is my go to, then you don’t have to worry about the huge canning process. Enjoy!

Grandma-Style Pizza Dough

The Journey Begins

So here’s my problem with food planning and essentially writing a food blog, I never really know what I’m doing. Well, I guess until I do it.
My dear friends and I recently went on one of those amazing girl trip adventures that are in magazines and stuff, but ours was better! Be prepared for plenty of casual snobbery if you plan to read this regularly. And if I actually write it regularly…  So they basically planned the logistics and I said I would do the meal planning for the whole week. For me, this is a dream, easy and stuff I totally love! Make and prepare a few things, buy some stuff and bam we have a weeks worth of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, totally easy.  Well I guess this isn’t the case for everyone. After a weeks worth of compliments and praises from my fabulous friends, they encouraged me to share my skills (that I swear everyone else has) with them. They then decided I should actually share this with many others in the form of a food blog. So here I am sharing it with my seven friends that may be interested. Or maybe not, which is totally fine too!
I’ll save that week long camping menu for a later blog (should this continue) because it actually turned out great and I would like to have it cataloged for future use as well.
So let’s start with something simple. Last week I decided to make beans. I soaked them on Saturday morning and cooked them on Sunday. I thought I would use them in meals all week, but I only had about a cup, maybe two. Change of plans! See my dilemma of writing a blog about food planning…. I threw some beans in a salad for work one day and then made beans and Italian sausage for dinner one night. Threw some spinach on top of that and it was actually really good. So here are those easy recipes to start.
Let me know what you think in the comments, because really, who knows!?!
Soak dried beans overnight, 2 cups is a good start, cover beans with water (at least 2″ above the beans) and soak for 12-24 hours. Drain and cook. I like to add an onion, white is good, a couple cut up garlic, some peppercorns if you have them and for this I threw in a few sprigs of rosemary and some sage leaves. Both of which I have growing outside, if you don’t have these on hand, don’t worry. The onion and garlic will do wonders on their own, if you have a bay leaf throw that in. Cover the beans with at least two inches of fresh water, bring to a simmer, partially covered and cook for at least 2 1/2 hours. Test beans, pull one out with a spoon, if it tastes soft, they are done, if not let them go another half hour.
Once cooked, let cool and store in the pot, with water or pour in a large glass jar, with the water, then put in the fridge. For the dinner I put them in a cast iron pan, a splash of olive oil first, then spread them out in the pan. Cut up some Italian sausage, added a bit more oil, salt and pepper and baked at 375 for about 45 minutes. Once I figured it was warmed through I added some spinach, probably something else…. Here’s my problem once again, I can’t remember what I do! And I probably should have thrown some feta on top, that would have rounded it out. If you don’t have spinach, any green like kale, collard greens, beet greens (you like that casual snobbery!) basically anything will work.
The salad I made for what they call al desko for work was the beans with some garbanzos that I already had, arugula, romaine (don’t worry it was from the farmers market, so no e coli!!!) avocado and I think that’s it…. With store bought dressing, it was good and filling.
For vegetarian version of the beans and sausage, veggie sausage would obviously work or tempeh would do great. You could also just throw some eggplant, peppers, egg, mushrooms, etc. The beans carry the dish, so anything works here.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton