Zucchini Pizza Boats

Summer is the time for lazy days at the lake, yard work – or harvesting tons of fresh veggies from the garden!

Here in Saskatchewan, this is the time of year that the zucchini go crazy.

Gardeners use every possible recipe to use up their excess and then start giving zucchini to their friends, family, neighbours, and maybe even complete strangers!

We all want to make sure the produce we have worked so hard to grow doesn’t go to waste.

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So I’m here today to give you inspiration for one more yummy way you can use your zucchini – Zucchini Pizza Boats!

The great part about this recipe is that it is low carb, does great on the grill, and you can use other garden fresh veggies.

Just like with pizza, it is a flexible recipe that you can pick and choose which toppings you would like to use.

I like to start with a zucchini that is borderline too large because the skin will be a little tough, which makes the “boat” hold its shape on the grill better. Plus this gives you a larger hollow to add your sauce and toppings to!

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Cut the zucchini in half long-wise and scoop out the soft, seedy part.

Don’t throw it out, though! We will use the insides in the sauce in a minute.

Next, heat a pan on medium heat and add some butter, a few cloves of garlic, and diced onion.

I personally like to add whole cloves of garlic; once they are nice and soft, I just smash them with my knife and give them a quick chop.

I find that method a lot quicker than mincing or grating them raw.

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Oh! And this is where the zucchini insides get added.

Next, add diced tomato and some chopped oregano & basil.

I like a bit of heat to my food, so I add an entire cayenne pepper (either a fresh, chopped pepper or a crumbled, dehydrated pepper).

Then, add a splash of balsamic vinegar and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. This really makes the flavour pop!

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And as expected, give the sauce a nice seasoning of salt & pepper.

Allow it to come to a simmer and cook the sauce down until it is no longer watery.

The more tomato you add, the more like a pizza sauce it will be.

Adding the zucchini insides, however, makes the sauce a bit different texture than normal pizza sauce, but hey – waste not, want not!

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Once your sauce has cooked down to the desired consistency, scoop it into your zucchini boats.

Then you get to add your toppings!

I find that the toppings work best when they are added first and then the cheese added on top; when the cheese gets gooey, anything on top tends to try to slide off if the zucchini boat isn’t quite flat.

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You can bake the zucchini boats at 350º for about 40 minutes (depending on their size, time will vary).

My favorite, however, is throwing them on the grill with a bit of smoke!

The flavour is amazing that way, plus if it is a hot day you aren’t heating up your house.

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On a pre-heated grill, it typically takes about 40 minutes on low-to-medium heat to cook the zucchini boats.

NOTE: Be careful how high your flame is; you do not want to char the skin!

You can also use a pre-soaked wood plank to add flavour (and catch any gooey cheese that tries to drip off).

I like my Maple Grilling Plank better for this recipe than my Cedar Grilling Planks because it has a lighter flavour.

I like the zucchini to be soft enough to easily pierce with a fork, but not so soft that it is falling apart.

Some people may prefer their zucchini to be firmer so they are almost crunchy still.

That is completely up to you!

Once you remove the zucchini boat from the heat, allow it to cool for a couple minutes.

Enjoy!

I promise this will become a fast favourite!

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While zucchini is usually served as a side veggie, I like serving this as a main – or even the entire meal because it is so filling!

Recipe

1 large zucchini

1 large tomato

1/2 large onion

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons butter

1 cayenne pepper (optional)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Basil & oregano, to taste

Salt & pepper, to taste

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Directions

Cut the zucchini in half long-wise and scoop out the soft, seedy centre (reserve for later).

In a pan on medium heat, sauté garlic, diced onion, and diced tomato in butter.

Add zucchini insides along with balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, basil, and oregano.

If you want some heat, add cayenne pepper as well.

Salt & pepper to taste.

Simmer until the sauce has reduced to desired consistency.

Scoop sauce into zucchini boats, then add toppings and cheese.

Bake at 350º for about 40 minutes or grill on low-to-medium heat for about 40 minutes.

Cook time will vary depending on the size of zucchini and desired softness.

Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Enjoy!

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What is your favourite zucchini recipe? Drop a comment below!

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Fire Roasted Salsa

As summer draws to a close and fall sets in, my tomatoes typically begin to come ripe in the basket-full!

I use lots of the fresh tomatoes in meals like sourdough pizza, zucchini pizza boats, and chunky salsa – but there is always more than we can use without preserving the tomatoes!

Some of my favourite ways to preserve tomatoes is by making spaghetti sauce, sun dried tomatoes or this fire roasted salsa recipe!

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I often will make a couple of these recipes at the same time; in the photo above, I have a batch of tomato rounds in the dehydrator and the off-cut tops will be used for the fire roasted salsa.

That keeps my sun dried tomatoes in nice rounds, while the flesh left over from cutting the woody centre of the tomato out gets blended into the salsa.

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Why is fire roasted salsa better than raw salsa?

Don’t get me wrong – I love a good Pico De Gallo (chunky salsa) on my fried tacos, but fire roasted salsa is much better for preserving because of its thick, even consistency.

Roasting the ingredients before blending them not only brings out the heat in the peppers, but it also enhances the flavour in the tomatoes and reduces the water content (no one wants watery salsa!)

PRO TIP: Using beefsteak tomatoes will also help achieve the desired consistency because they naturally have lower water content than other varieties of tomatoes.

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Start by lining a large baking sheet with parchment paper and cover it with a layer of chopped tomatoes and onions, whole garlic cloves, and whole jalapeños and cayenne peppers.

Drizzle it with a bit of olive oil and mix well, then sprinkle a bit of salt to taste.

You don’t want the layer of veggies to be too deep or you won’t get the ideal results of an evenly roasted salsa.

Place the baking sheet on the top rack of a pre-heated oven, set on broil.

Watch your batch to make sure it doesn’t burn and flip once the peppers start to blister and the tomatoes start to brown.

This should only take a few minutes.

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Once the other side of the peppers blister as well, remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow to cool.

Next, cut the stems off the peppers and add the roasted ingredients to the food processor, along with the cumin, fresh lemon juice, and cilantro.

Blend well and give it a taste test!

The beauty of making your own salsa is that you can decide just how mild or spicy you would like it to be; if it isn’t spicy enough for your taste, just add a bit of cayenne powder to kick it up a notch.

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This recipe only makes about a pint, so you will need to roast multiple pans of veggies if you want to can large quantities of fire roasted salsa to use up the bounty from your tomato harvest.

If you just want a jar of fresh, homemade salsa to enjoy you’ll find this is the perfect size batch to whip up quickly!

Start to finish, this recipe only takes 15-20 minutes to make – including the roasting time!

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Recipe

2 cups tomato, chopped

1/2 white onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, whole

3 jalapeños , whole

2 cayenne peppers, whole

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon cilantro dried or 1 cup fresh

1/4 teaspoon cumin

Salt & pepper to taste

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Instructions

Drizzle olive oil on tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeño, and cayenne peppers – mix well.

Roast on a lined baking sheet in a pre-heated oven set to “broil” on the top rack.

Flip vegetables when the peppers start to blister.

Remove from oven when second side of peppers blister and allow to cool.

Cut pepper stems off and place all ingredients in food processor.

Blend well.

Add cayenne powder to reach desired spiciness, if it is not hot enough for your taste.

If canning the salsa, place in sanitized jars and process in hot water bath.

Enjoy!

Serving size: 1 pint

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Spicy Shrimp Taco Lettuce Wraps (with crema sauce)

Tacos of any kind are always a hit, and with summer weather this light, tasty taco recipe is a favourite! (Not to mention healthy!)

The mixture of creamy avocado, crunchy cabbage, and zesty shrimp are an explosion of flavour, texture, and color!

They are so fast and easy to make that it begs the question why I don’t make them more often!

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One of the other perks is the minimal heat that it adds to the house during a sweltering, summer day.

Start by thawing your frozen raw shrimp in cold water; this method helps thaw the shrimp more quickly than just setting it out to thaw and prevents it from cooking if you were to microwave it or use hot water.

If you have fresh raw shrimp, it will be that much better!

NOTE: pre-cooked shrimp will not have the ideal flavour or texture, so try to get raw shrimp if at all possible.

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Next, collect all your fresh veggies; cabbage, red onion, avocado, jalapeño, lemon, lime and, of course, the butter lettuce to wrap it all up!

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Slice the avocado, jalapeño, red onion, and cabbage into thin slices.

A slightly firmer avocado makes them easier to slice and keep the pieces together, rather than accidentally mashing them in the process.

Prepare the crema sauce by adding 1/4 cup sour cream to a bowl.

Zest 1/4 of the lime, then juice 1/4 of the lime into the same bowl.

Add salt & pepper to taste.

The crema sauce really makes all the flavours pop, so don’t skip this step!

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By now your shrimp should be thawed; devein and shell them if they are not already prepared this way.

Place in a bowl and juice 1/4 fresh lemon, then add the cayenne, cumin, and paprika.

Mix well, making sure the spices are rubbed into the shrimp well (I use my hands).

Allow to sit for about 5 minutes so the shrimp absorbs as much flavour as possible.

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Fry in a pre-heated pan on high heat with butter until just cooked.

You do not want to overcook shrimp; it makes them chewy.

You can tell they are ready to be flipped when they start turning pink on the bottom.

Once the second side turns pink and the center is white (and not translucent) you know they are ready.

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Plate the lettuce, garnishing it with the cabbage, red onion, jalapeño, and sliced avocado.

A little bit goes a long way, so don’t overdo the toppings.

Finally, add the shrimp and drizzle with crema sauce.

If you are a cilantro lover, by all means sprinkle a few leaves on top!

This will be the life of the party next time you host dinner!

It pairs well with chips and chunky salsa and guacamole dips on the side.

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Recipe

24 medium sized raw shrimp

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 lemon, juiced

8 leaves butter lettuce

Shredded cabbage, to taste

Thinly sliced red onion, to taste

Thinly sliced jalapeño, to taste

1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

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Crema Sauce

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 lime, juiced

1/4 lime zest

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Directions

Devein and shell thawed, raw shrimp and combine with cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, and lemon juice.

Marinate for 5 minutes.

Thinly slice cabbage, red onion, jalapeño, and avocado.

Make crema sauce by combining sour cream, lime, and lime zest.

Fry shrimp in pre-heated pan on high heat with butter. Do not overcook!

Plate the lettuce leaves, then garnishing with cabbage, red onion, jalapeño, and avocado. Place 3 shrimp on each taco and drizzle with crema sauce.

Makes 8 tacos

Enjoy!

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Jalapeño Popper Stuffed Chicken Breast

Want to make a fancy meal that isn’t expensive and is even pretty easy to make?

This recipe is bound to impress!

Not only does it taste amazing and look like a gourmet chef created it, but it is also easy to make – and won’t break the bank!

I am a big fan of foods with a bit of heat, so I took the concept of Cordon Bleu and spiced it up a bit. (It has Jalapeños, so yep! It had a bit of kick!)

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First, thaw 2 large chicken breasts. If you want to go with fresh cuts, go for it! Frozen tends to be less expensive and lasts longer.

Prep your ingredients: shred your cheese, dice the jalapeños, mince the garlic, and soften the cream cheese.

Combine these ingredients, along with the salt, pepper, and cayenne powder and mix well.

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Next, butterfly cut your breasts. This simply means cutting it almost in half between the top and bottom of the breast, but leaving it attached at one side.

Cover with plastic wrap and flatten with a meat tenderizer. Don’t hammer it too thin, though!

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Add the cheese mix and spread evenly on the chicken.

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Next, roll it up!

Wrap in plastic…

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… and roll it tightly so it looks like the photo above.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To coat it and give it a nice crunchy finish with a golden color, dredge in flour. I used to skip this step and go straight to the beaten eggs, however flour helps the egg adhere to the chicken.

Once floured, cover well in egg, then dredge in the Panko crumbs.

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Add to a pre-heated pan with oil on high heat.

Rotate the rolls so they brown evenly on all sides.

You are not trying to cook them thoroughly at this point, so don’t worry about that. You are simply getting that golden finish.

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Place on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 20 minutes at 350º or until the internal temperature reaches 165º

Slice into rounds and serve on rice. (CLICK HERE FOR THE ROSEMARY RICE RECIPE)

Add a side of some balsamic Brussels sprouts and you are set!

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Recipe

2 large chicken breasts, thawed

1 large jalapeño, diced

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup cream cheese

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

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Breading

Flour

Beaten egg

Panko mix

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Directions

Butterfly cut the chicken breasts and flatten with a meat tenderizer.

Mix cream cheese, cheddar cheese, jalapeños, garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.

Spread cheese mix evenly on the chicken.

Roll tightly, using plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove plastic wrap and add rolls to a pre-heated pan with oil on high heat.

Sear the sides evenly until golden brown.

Place in oven at 350º for 20 minutes or until interior temperature reaches 165º

Slice into rounds and serve on rice.

Enjoy!

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