Baked Parmesan Crusted Zucchini

I love zucchini any way it’s cooked. Growing up, my Grammy made the best fried zucchini. My mouth waters just remembering it. 

I rarely make it because the frying isn’t all that healthy and it’s also kind of a pain. I decided to take a stab at doing an oven baked, slightly-altered version with some fresh Parmesan and bread crumbs that I needed to get rid of.  Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 4-5 zucchini, sliced thinly lengthwise 
  • 1 cup garlic bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp pepper 
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan 

 
Instructions:
Preheat over to 425. Spray a large baking sheet or pan. (I also cover mine in foil because I’m lazy and it’s an easier cleanup) Melt butter. Slice zucchini thinly lengthwise. Toss in a large bowl with the melted butter. 

In a separate bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, pepper, and cheese. Dip and coat each strip of zucchini in the mixture. Lay them on the pan in a single layer. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until they brown. If you want some good color, use the broiler for a few minutes. 

 
It isn’t the same as Grammy’s fried zucchini but it was prett tasty….and much healthier. It went well with Sriracha Honey Chicken and a salad. 

What’s your favorite zucchini recipe?

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Making Baby Food- Part 2: What and How I Made Baby Food 

After our trip to the grocery store (see my previous post, Part 1: The Why and Preparation), I got started.    Honestly, it hasn’t been that bad. I never expected to be the mom that makes homemade baby food but, surprisingly, I actually enjoyed it. I went into it without recipes but more of a general idea of what I thought might go well together. Here’s what I made:

  • Apple cinnamon sweet potatoes
  • Corn and green peas
  • Corn and bananas 
  • Peas and lentils
  • Carrots and lentils
  • Green beans and lentils
  • Spinach and lentils
  • Bananas, blueberries, and strawberries
  • Blueberries and strawberries 
  • Green peas and wild rice. 
  • Blueberries 
  • Strawberries 
  • Bananas 
  • Pumpkin carrot
  • Pumpkin bananas 

Here was my process:

  1. Get food processor ready
  2. Have hubby unpackage all of the new ice trays and start hot soapy water to wash trays before use
  3. Cook steamer pack of corn as directed
  4. In the meantime, start cooking lentils as directed   
  5. Once corn is finished, start steamer pack of peas. 
  6. Pour finished corn into the processor 
  7. Wash a few trays and put on drying mats to dry while peas cook
  8. Once peas are finished, add them to the processor and start mixing  
  9. Add water (some people add formula or Breastmilk but I didn’t) to get to the consistency you want. You can always add more water when you are ready to feed your little one. 
  10. Spoon or pour the processed food into the ice trays. They’re easier to get out once frozen if your food stays inside the tray rather than overlapping. 
  11. Smooth the food out as much as possible   
  12. Put on a level surface in the freezer. Top with Saran Wrap if you’re going to be stacking any in top of these so they don’t freeze together (like mine did the first round).  
  13. Repeat this process with other combinations or single foods.     
  14. Once the trays are frozen, put them into labeled freezer bags and store in the freezer. 

Note: Here are a few variations from the above process that included other preparation:

  • Finish the lentils and use with combos, as you wish
  • Cook the frozen spinach on the stove rather than the microwave 
  • Cut the apples up and roast them in the oven with cinnamon 
  • Peel and cook the sweet potatoes 
  • Open the cans of pumpkin 
  • I had to do two rounds of the freezing process because it required more than 18 trays. I put the mixtures into bowls and stored in the fridge until the first round was finished.   

This made 465 cubes of food, using the $49.99 of food I listed in my previous post, Part 1: The Why and Preparation. The girls usually eat 2 cubes for lunch and 3 for dinner. Soon they will be eating one with oatmeal or cereal for breakfast too, which is 6 each and 12 cubes used a day for both.  At that rate, what we made should last us about 38 days. My estimate is that we would go through 7-8 jars of store bought food a day, so that means I would spend between $266-$304 in 38 days if each jar costs $1.00. (Try not to be jealous of my killer math skills). 

I would say that’s a pretty good savings. Now we’ll see how Clara and Kate like them. So far, so good. 

Let me know if you’ve made baby food and what combos you’ve made. 

Making Baby Food- Part 1: The Background and Preparation 

I’ve never tried making my own baby food. Honestly, I’ve been intimidated by it. The thought of cooking, blending, and storing it all seemed like a daunting task. Plus, we are on the go a lot so jarred baby food has been convenient to grab and go. 

But after about almost two months of the girls eating baby food now, I’m realizing how expensive it is to feed two. We have been ordering their food from Amazon because it’s quick, easy, and cheaper than in the store. But it’s still a little over $1 a four (4) oz jar. That’s for Earth’s Best Organic so I do realize I could get it cheaper. I’m not really an organic produce person but I tried different types of baby food when Will was a baby and liked Earth’s Best. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. 

Anywho….Saturday about 4 different recommended pins came up on my Pinterest wall about making your own baby food. I took that as a sign that I should try it out. 

Like I do before any project, I read a few blogs about it. Thanks to Gina of Fitnessista and Wholesome BabyFood for great posts on making your own. I realized that I would have a lot more flavor options and could possibly save money if I made my own. And, with my food processor and two freezers, I figured it might not be that bad. 

Challenge accepted. 

I made a list, checked it twice. Garen and I headed to the store to buy everything. My goal was to make a month’s worth. We ended up coming home with $49.99 in ingredients. Here’s what I bought at Kroger: 

  • 14 bananas 
  • 3 cans pumpkin 
  • 5 organic apples
  • 2 large sweet potatoes 
  • Frozen blueberries, 3 lbs
  • Frozen green beans, 4 steamer packs
  • Frozen strawberries, 3 lbs
  • Frozen green peas, 4 steamer packs
  • Frozen corn, 4 steamer packs
  • Frozen carrots, 4 steamer packs
  • Frozen spinach, 1 lb
  • Green lentils, 4 cups

We also stopped at the Dollar Tree, where I bought 18 ice cube trays and a 10 pack of gallon zip-top freezer bags, which cost me a little over $10 with tax. 

  We got home and unloaded the goodies and I went to work, not knowing exactly what to expect or how much baby food all of this might make. 

See my next post (Part 2: What and How I Made Baby Food) for how the adventure went. 

 

Spicy Zucchini Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs

I’ve been planning to cook zucchini spaghetti for two months and never have actually done it, despite it being on the menu. Tonight I finally did since I had plenty of zucchini in the fridge to be used.  

 I went into this not having a plan but I  knew that I had to use whatever I had at the house because it was too late for a grocery run. I also felt like whatever I cooked needed some good spice, which is why I decided not to go with a traditional Italian spaghetti sauce.   

Since I had a Pei Wei salad for lunch today, I knew tonight called for light meat. I just happened to have a Sam’s Club size bag of turkey meatballs that I figured would be a perfect addition to the zucchini spaghetti.   

Ingredients:

  • Frozen turkey meatballs, about 30
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes 
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with chilies (Rotel)
  • 5 zucchini, make into noodles 
  • 1 tbsp garlic salt 
  • 1 tsp red crushed pepper flakes 
  • 1 tsp black pepper 
  • Parmesan cheese, about 1/4 cup

Instructions:

Put Frozen meatballs, crushed tomatoes, and drained Rotel into a big pan. Add spices and mix well. Simmer for 20 minutes. While that cooks, make your zucchini noodles. After 20 minutes, add noodles and mix well so they are coated with the sauce. Cook for another 10 minutes on low. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve hot.  

It turned out pretty well. A few things worth noting:

  • It’s pretty spicy. If you don’t like things that hot I suggest using mild Rotel and omitting the red pepper flakes. 
  • The sauce will seem thick but the juices from the zucchini thin it out nicely. 
  • You could substitute another meat easily. Garen suggested Italian sausage but I’m not a fan. 
  • If you use turkey or another light meat, it should be pretty healthy, although I didn’t calculate the nutrition facts to check. 
  • I used my Veggetti noodle maker. There are different brands that do the same thing. I’ve had this a while and it works well enough. 
  • You could use this sauce for almost anything. It’s fast, easy, and flavorful. 

Mommy Review Monday: OXO Corn Stripper

Corn on the cob is one of my favorites, grilled especially. I always like to grill a little extra to put into dishes and salads. 

 A couple of years ago my sweet sister-in-law gave me a OXO corn stripper. And, I love it. 

  
It may be one of the easiest kitchen gadgets I own but it’s still one of the handiest. 

  

It contains the corn as you strip it and then you can just break it up, if necessary.   

Check out my stripped corn (Garen, I know you’re giggling right now)
  

Here’s the finished product. We used it for an awesome taco salad.  

I give the OXO Corn Stripper two thumbs up. Easy to use. Easy to clean. 

Right now corn on the cob is dirt cheap too so go get one of these and a few cobs to grill up next time you fire up the grill. 

P.S. It appears they are now yellow rather than white but I’m sure it’s is still just as effective. 

Grilled Sriracha Honey Chicken

  Because I knew Garen Grillmaster was already going to be grilling Cilanro Ranch Chicken for us last night, I went ahead whipped some sauce up for him to cook some Grilled Sriracha Honey Chicken. 

Garen loves Sriracha…He puts it on an estimated 40% of his food, so when I saw the pin of Sweet Sriracha Chicken from Kacey at The Cookie Writer, I knew I had to try it. Only, I did an adapted version of it because I did these things different:

  1. I love fresh cilantro and used that rather than dried basil. 
  2. I had crushed pepper flakes instead of crushed red pepper. 
  3. I didn’t have soy sauce (shocking, but true). 
  4. I use pre-minced garlic (because I buy it at Sam’s, it stores forever in the fridge, and it saves a little time).

Warning:  This recipe packs some heat so if you don’t do well with spiciness, my friends, this recipe is not for you

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs chicken breast, about 4-6 pieces
  • 1/4 cup Sriracha 
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted 
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp,  minced garlic

 Instructions:

Mix all ingredients well together in a bowl. Brush about half of the sauce onto the chicken. Cook on the grill around 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat, until cooked through (Garen Grillmaster handled this part).  Brush on more sauce a couple times during the cooking. 

 It was spicy, yet sweet and very tender. We will have it again. Next time probably with some grilled corn and potatoes. 

Cilantro Ranch Chicken

 This is another one of my thrown-together “using what I’ve got” recipes. I had a Sam’s club size container of sour cream. Usually, I only use sour cream with chicken in casseroles or crockpot dishes, so I was really going out on limb here deciding to grill it. 

I even broke one of my cardinal rules when having friends over: NEVER try new recipes on company. I threw the rule book out the window since I needed to use this stuff and cilantro always sounds good to me.  It’s super easy, using only 5 ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs chicken breast (about 4-6, depending on size)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Half a package ranch dressing mix
  • 1/2 cup sliced jalapeños (more or less, depending on preference)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (more or less, depending on preference)

 

Instructions:
Put the chicken into a ziplock bag. Put all other ingredients into the food processor to mix. You could chop everything finely and mix in a bowl if you don’t have a food processor. Once mixed, pour into ziplock bag and marinade for 1-2 hours.  

Cook on grill around 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat, until cooked through. (This is the part where Garen Grillmaster came in). It was tasty and very tender. 

I served it with a Caesar salad, garlic bread, and oven baked Parmesan crusted zucchini. For dessert, we had an Icebox Oreo Pie. While Garen had the grill going I also had him grill my version of Sriracha Honey Chicken as well. 

  
It was all pretty tasty. I think if I was going to do this again, I would cook this slowly in the oven with bacon and topped with the sour cream mixture. I think it would be just as tender but I think the bacon might add a little somethin-somethin’. Plus, it would look a little better, even if looks aren’t everything.  

What do you think?