Sausage and Gouda Stuffed Zucchini

Now, this is how you eat your vegetables, friends.

stuffed zucchini

Straight from the farmer’s market to your table.  I’ve seen my fair share of zucchini boats floating around Pinterest and the interwebs.  They never appealed to me much.  Some call themselves cheeseburger boats.  I’m just not convinced that sounds delicious.  Some have marinara.  Not my thing.  I read, oh, about 20 different receipts and then decided to make my own with ingredients I had just purchased from our local, organic farmer friend.  I threw in some sausage because, well, sausage, and sprinkled with Gouda because it just made sense, and my family asked if we could have it every day thereafter.  Not even kidding.  It’s that good.  We sure will be eating this once a week while all this produce is beautiful and freshly picked!  Who wouldn’t?  Feel free to sub in or out any veggies that aren’t your faves.  My daughter, Addie made these with chicken sausage!  You could use chorizo or whatever you have on hand.  You can also change the cheese if you’d like — but I must say, Gouda is where it’s at.  :o)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  In a large sauté pan, brown 1 lb. of ground Italian sausage.  While the sausage cooks, wash and chop the following veggies:

1 onion

3 cloves garlic

1 1/2 c. cremini mushrooms

1 pepper, I used any fresh pepper I had on hand.  I had some spicy peppers picked from my garden and I’ve also used a green pepper.

Then, slice four zucchinis lengthwise to make 8 boats.  Scoop out the majority of the zucchini from the rind.  No need to be too picky.  I used my small kitchen scoop that I use to fill cupcake batter into pans, but you can use whatever is easiest.  Coarsely chop the zucchini that you scooped out and set it aside.

Once the sausage is fully cooked, remove the meat and most of the grease leaving behind 1 T. or so of the drippings in which to sauté your vegetables.  To the hot grease, add in the onions. and the pepper and sauté for 3 or 4 minutes on medium heat.  Next, add in the zucchini that you scooped out.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add in the mushrooms and garlic and sauté until all looks the texture you’d like, 3-4 more minutes.  Add the sausage back in to the mixture.

Add in 1/2 tsp. curry, if you like curry, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and salt to taste. you could even spice things up with some crushed red pepper if you’d like.

Set the scooped out zucchini boats on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Fill each with the hot sausage mixture heaping it until it’s all used up.  Sprinkle with 1 1/2 c. freshly grated Gouda cheese.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the zucchini is tender (can be easily pierced with a fork).  Serve hot.

zucchini1

Serves 4-6

Sausage and Gouda Stuffed  Zucchini Grocery List:

1 lb. ground Italian sausage (or sausage of your choice)

1 onion

3 cloves garlic

1 1/2 c. sliced Cremini mushrooms

1 pepper, green or hot (your choice)

4 zucchinis

1/2 tsp. curry (optional)

1/2 tsp. pepper

salt to taste

1 1/2 c. Gouda

zucchini2

 

 

Lemony Blueberry Bars (and how to easily freeze blueberries)

There aren’t many recipes from my childhood that I still make.  My mother was just not a very good cook.   I can say that, right?  She made these a few times and I have the recipe card in my box and once I adjusted the bake time so that they aren’t burnt to a crisp, they rank up in the favorites category.  Rich, gooey, yummy blueberry filling ribboned into a cake that’s so decadent it passes even through these lips that hate cake.

Add the lemony glaze that reminds me of lemon pound cake and you have perfection.

blueberry bars 1

These serve a crowd since they’re made in a jelly roll pan (10×15″) and look and taste so beautiful, you’d be proud to bring them to a gathering.  But I made them today because it’s blueberry time and what better way to celebrate?  I make my own pie filling from fresh or frozen blueberries we have picked.*  But, as a time saver, you can definitely use canned pie filling.
It would be almost as yummy.

To make the filling, in a saucepan whisk together 1 cup of sugar, 3 T. of cornstarch (or 6 T. of flour), 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp. nutmeg. Grate in 1 tsp. of lemon zest.

I want to note here that one lemon will be just right for both the filling and the bars. I juice half a lemon for the pie filling and use it for the zest. The remaining half and its juice will be used for the glaze later.

Slowly whisk in 1 cup of water and bring to a boil over medium high heat whisking often to prevent lumps.

When the mixture is thickened, add 4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, stirring carefully so as not to turn them to mush. They will cook down somewhat, but if you are careful with them, some will stay mostly intact. Cook and stir until thick, about 4 minutes. Add 2 T. lemon juice.

blueberry filling

While this cools you can start your batter for the bars. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Using a mixer, cream 1 cup softened butter and 1 3/4 cup sugar together. Add 4 eggs one a time beating well after each addition and then 1 tsp. vanilla.
In a separate bowl, mix 3 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt.
Mix the dry with the wet mixture.
Spread about 2/3 of the batter into a jelly roll pan.  It’s a sticky dough, and I tried several ways to spread it effectively.  The best I found was a wooden spoon.  Just be persistent.

Spread the pie filling over the batter leaving about 3 Tablespoons full to put into your mouth because you just have to.

Drop the remaining batter a glob at a time over the pie filling.  I put a glob into my hands and spread it until somewhat flattened and then just laid it in random pieces all over the pie filling.

blueberry batter

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes (check starting at 35) or until all of the dough is golden brown. Make sure the middle of the dough looks done as well or it will be gooey.

Now, you make the glaze by whisking together 1 T. very soft butter, 1 1/4 c. powdered sugar, and 2 T. lemon juice. When it’s smooth, drizzle it over the bars that have cooled a bit. They should still be warm, but not straight out of the oven.

blueberry bars 2

And there you go! Ooey, gooey, blueberry bars. Enjoy!

Blueberry Bars Grocery List

Filling:
1 c. sugar
3 T. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1 c. water
2 T. lemon juice
4 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

Bars:
1 c. butter
1 3/4 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1 1/2 c. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Glaze:
1 T. butter
1 1/4 c. powdered sugar
2 T. lemon juice

*How to successfully freeze blueberries…
Prepare a large counter or table by covering the surface with a layer of paper towel. Rinse the berries very well in a strainer, picking out stems and squishy berries as you go.
Lay out clean berries in a single layer on the paper towel. Let them air dry for several hours, rolling them around partway through to help them dry.
When they are completely dry, fill quart-size freezer bags with blueberries, and pop them into the freezer.
Mine keep at least a year this way, and when I need to use them I just pour them straight out of the bag into my recipe. Perfect for year-round muffins, blueberry breads, and buckles, and pies!