Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa and Zucchini

I love stuffed peppers. As a kid this was always one of my favorite dinners that my parents used to make. The peppers were always so delicious, so filling, and I used to fight my sister to be able to eat the left over stuffing!

When my husband and I were first married, I started making my own version of stuffed peppers by using good old Rice-a-Roni as the base of my stuffing. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Rice-a-Roni…a lot, but the “health conscious” side of me knows that there are healthier options out there that are just as delicious. I finally decided to experiment a bit with quinoa as an alternative, and though I used to always add some kind of ground beef or sausage, I decided to make a vegetarian version this time.

Let me tell you–these turned out so delicious there weren’t any leftovers!

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Header 2.jpg

What You Need
3 cups cooked quinoa
6 to 8 red bell peppers, tops removed and diced, bell pepper cavities seeded
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 small to medium sized zucchini, diced
1 cup corn kernels
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can petite diced tomatoes
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon chili powder, to taste
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

The How To
Preheat your oven to 350º F.
1. Cook the quinoa according to package directions to yield three cups.
2. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the bell peppers by chopping off the top, removing the stem, seeding the pepper cavity, and dicing the cap.
3. In a saute pan over medium high heat, heat the olive oil until hot. Saute the garlic until lightly browned. Add the onions, zucchini, and diced bell pepper caps. Cook until onions are semi-translucent and the other vegetables are slightly softened.
4. Salt and pepper to taste and add the chili powder as well.

Sauteed Vegetables for Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

5. Add the corn first, then the beans, the tomatoes, and finally, fold in the quinoa.

Quinoa and Bean Stuffing for Peppers

6. Stuff the bell peppers with the stuffing mixture. Place upright in a baking dish, and top generously with cheddar and feta cheeses. Note: you can add a quarter to a half inch of water in the bottom of your baking dish if you would like to help prevent sticking and to help “steam” your pepper to help it cook a bit more quickly, but it is completely optional. Don’t add too much–you don’t want your peppers to boil at the bottom and cook unevenly.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Topped with Feta

7. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pepper is cooked and the cheese is brown and lovely on top.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Right Out of the OvenQuinoa Stuffed Peppers Close Up

They look delicious, right?! I promise you, they are. What are you waiting for? Get in the kitchen!

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Dinner Plate

I paired these delicious peppers with a simple salad: mixed greens with spinach, topped with fresh berries, more feta (because, yum!) and a simple balsamic vinaigrette.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Dinner Plate 2

Note: I mostly just threw things together, but just before making the peppers I decided to google “quinoa stuffed peppers” to see what other people put in their stuffing and I stumbled across a recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, Damn Delicious. I’ve mentioned this blog here in the past (because everything is so amazing!) and from the looks of it, the recipe was sure to be a winner. I got the idea for the corn and the feta from that blog, but I pretty generously adapted the recipe to fit my taste and what I had on hand. You can check out the original recipe here, if you are interested.

Also, you may find that the recipe makes more stuffing than will fill 6 or 8 peppers. It really depends on the size of the peppers and on the size of the other veggies you use. If you have extra stuffing, it keeps as leftovers very well and would also be delicious all on its own if you don’t want to buy more peppers.

I hope you all enjoy these when you make them! Let me know how they turn out for you!

Linking up with Linking up with Tuesday’s Table and Lou Lou Girls!

Zucchini Lasagna

If you are a regular reader of my blog I’m sure you have noticed by now that I love zucchini. It’s so healthy, versatile, and it’s relatively inexpensive. This recipe is fantastic because it’s a healthy, veggie packed, low carb lasagna option. Oh, and did I mention it’s delicious? Because it is. It’s so good!

Zucchini Lasagna Header

Since having gestational diabetes during my last pregnancy I’m more aware of my carb intake and always looking for ways I can swap ingredients in recipes for low or lower carb options. The zucchini in this recipe replace regular lasagna noodles so well that I don’t even miss my regular lasagna recipe. It’s also nice to get more veggies in my meal and be able to save my carbs for a yummy, crusty, crunchy piece of bread to sop up the extra sauce. Yum!

Also, don’t be fooled…I know I usually post quick and easy, 30-minutes or less dinner recipes, but this meal is kind of time intensive. It isn’t difficult! It just takes a while to make. Save this for a night when you have plenty of time and are in the mood to cook.

What You Need:
1 lb mild or medium Italian sausage
about 2 teaspoons (3ish cloves) of minced garlic
1/2 onion, diced
2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can tomato sauce
3 to 4 medium zucchini, sliced longways (about 1/8″ thick)
salt and pepper to taste
15 oz part skim ricotta
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 egg
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

The How To:
Preheat your oven to 375°F.
1. If the sausage has casing, remove it and begin to cook over medium high heat until the sausage is cooked through and there is no pink left. *Note* If you want to keep this recipe strictly vegetarian you can replace the sausage with diced portabella mushrooms, but be sure to drain the excess liquid so the lasagna doesn’t become watery.
2. Once the sausage is cooked through, drain the excess fat until there is only about a tablespoon left. If you would like to remove the sausage from the pan you can, but I like less clean up, so I left the sausage in the pan for the next step.
3. Saute the garlic until lightly browned and then add the onions. Stir all together and cook until the onions are somewhat translucent.
4. Once the onions are translucent, add the sausage back to the pan if you removed it, and then add the diced tomatoes as well as the tomato sauce and Italian seasoning. If you purchased tomatoes and tomato sauce already with Italian seasoning, you can leave out the extra seasoning according to your preferred taste. Allow the sauce to simmer over medium low heat while you prepare the zucchini.
Zucchini Lasagna Sauce

5. Slice the zucchini longways so that they are about 1/8″ thick. Your life will be one thousand times more simple if you have a mendolin slicer, but I did not, so I cut my zucchini in half and used my wavy slicer (does that have an actual name?). The goal is to make the slices thick enough that they don’t just disintegrate into mush, but thin enough that they will cook all the way through and act like noodles. It can be tricky, I know. Don’t worry. You’re doing great!
Sliced Zucchini

6. Lightly salt the zucchini slices as you go. This will not only season the zucchini but will also help the excess water come out. I put my slices on a bed of paper towels and then soaked up the excess water by gently pressing the slices.
7. Brown the zucchini in a pan. If you cook the slices before putting them in the lasagna, most of the excess water will be cooked off beforehand. This makes a much more delicious (and significantly less soupy) dinner. Trust me. I know it seems like a time consuming step, but it really does make it worth it. You can also add pepper at this point, if you prefer.
8. Once your zucchini slices have all been cooked off, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, and egg together in a bowl until well blended. Ta-da! You are ready to layer!
9. Start with a layer of sauce at the bottom of your baking dish or disposable pan (hello easy clean up!). Follow with zucchini slices, then a thin layer of the ricotta mixture, and then some mozzarella cheese. Continue to layer until you run out of ingredients. My lasagna usually consists of sauce, zucchini, ricotta, mozzarella, sauce, zucchini, ricotta, sauce, and mozzarella to top it off. Also, sorry! I forgot to take a picture of my ricotta layer. But I’m sure you get the idea.
Zucchini Lasagna Layers

10. Cover your baking dish in tinfoil and then bake at 375°F for 45 minutes, then bump the temperature up to 400°F and bake uncovered for another 10-15 minutes until the mozzarella on top is browned and bubbly to your liking.
Baked Zucchini Lasagna

Enjoy! You will probably want to dig in right away, but if you have the time to allow it to rest for about 10 minutes, you may come out with a slightly more structured slice of lasagna than I did. Ha, I didn’t want to wait–I was starving!

Plated Zucchini Lasagna

Also, don’t you worry if it kind of falls apart. It may not look like the most amazing thing you have ever cooked, but I can promise it will be among the most delicious! I hope you love it! Let me know if you try it out or if you have any questions.

Happy cooking!

Linking up with Tuesday’s Table and Lou Lou Girls!

Pasta alla Zucchini

I love zucchini–it’s one of my favorite veggies. I know it’s technically a “summer squash,” but most places you can still get it all year round which I am grateful for, because it’s delicious! Zucchini is jam packed full of vitamin C and potassium and a bunch of other awesome vitamins and such, which makes it a nice addition to a simple pasta plate which usually lacks much substance. I’m sure you all have noticed the pattern my recipes seem to follow…this recipe is quick, easy, and pretty healthy as well. Bonus: it’s also really inexpensive to put together! Let’s get cookin’!

Pasta alla Zucchini Header

What You Need: 
Olive oil
1 medium sized zucchini
1 medium sized (or 2 small) yellow zucchini
1/2 onion
2 generous tablespoons of garlic
1lb of your favorite pasta (I chose linguine)
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes (optional)
dried basil (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
Parmesan cheese, as a garnish

The How To:
1. Bring water to a boil to make your pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions, but make sure to leave your pasta al dente. This isn’t vital to the recipe, but mushy pasta is gross, y’all. Trust me, it’s better this way.
2. While your water is beginning to boil and your pasta is cooking, prepare the zucchini. Over medium to medium high heat, warm about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and dice the zucchini and onions.
3. Generously measure out about 2 tablespoons of minced garlic, and sautee until golden. Sorry I don’t have an amount in cloves of garlic–I keep about three pounds of minced garlic in a large jar of oil in my fridge at any given time. Because you never know when you’ll need garlic. (Hint: you always need garlic.)
4. When the garlic is golden, add the onions and zucchini to the pan. Mix well, and add salt and pepper to taste. You can also include the optional red pepper flakes (which I did not use) and the dried basil (which I did use) at this point.
Step by Step collage5. Sautee until the veggies are mostly translucent, but still somewhat crisp. You want them fully cooked, but not mushy and disintegrating.
6. By now your al dente pasta should be finished. Toss it with about two tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter. You want to coat the pasta so it doesn’t stick to itself.
7. Plate the pasta and top it with the zucchini mixture. Sprinkle on Parmesan cheese, and enjoy!

See? Mostly healthy and definitely delicious!

Zucchini close upPasta alla Zucchini 1

What’s your favorite way to eat zucchini? Let me know! I’m always looking for yummy new squash recipes.

Linking up with Delicious Dish TuesdayTuesday’s Table, Lou Lou Girls, and Hot Momma’s Kitchen!

Zucchini Crisps

Chung-Ah is my new favorite foodie. Her blog Damn Delicious is absolutely amazing and the first time I stumbled upon it I was literally drooling all over myself looking at her pictures–I wanted to stop what I was doing and cook every single recipe I saw. Whenever I am stumped for a recipe now, I go straight to her blog. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Just go to her blog. You wont be disappointed.

A few nights ago I needed a side dish for pan seared pork chops (which I have posted on the blog before here), and having seen a simple recipe for these zucchini crisps on Damn Delicious the first time I found the site, I decided to try them out.Zucchini crispsOh my goodness.

These were so yummy.Zucchini crisps top viewI ate more of these than the pork that I made. They were crispy and crunchy, salty from the parmesan but slightly sweet from the zucchini. They were just perfect. I probably could have baked them to make them a bit healthier, but Chung-Ah fried them and made them look so delicious that I wanted them the exact same way!

The process is simple. Just slice, flour, egg, bread, and fry. The breading I used was just Italian style panko, pepper, and parmesan cheese. You can add any other yummy spices that you’d like, but I just kept it simple. We ended up dipping them in ranch, but they would have been so amazing with a spicy chipotle sauce or something of the sort.How to do it collageOh man these were so good. I want to go make more now. Is it bad to have these for a late breakfast?

Go check out Damn Delicious! (She has no idea who I am, but I’m a big fan!)

Linking up today for Delicious Dish Tuesday!