Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats

May I ask a question? WHY do people like zucchini? I mean, I understand not disliking it, or thinking it’s fine… but, people who LOOOOOVE zucchini? WHY?? I just had to ask. I personally think it’s fine, and I will eat it, but I certainly don’t skip through the produce section, seeking out zucchini with joy in my heart. I’ve always found it to be kind of watery and tasteless, and usually mushy.

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats

And with a glowing intro like that one… I assume you’re all ready for a zucchini recipe?? Yayyyy, zucchini! Seriously, though – I do try to vary my vegetable intake in the name of health, so I’m glad to have found a way to eat zucchini that I actually enjoy. Not to mention, this recipe is pretty quick and easy, and doesn’t dirty every bowl in the kitchen. Win-win-win.

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats
serves 2-4

4 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
half a yellow onion, diced fine
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
1 pound italian sausage (pork or turkey is fine)
1 can diced tomatoes, drained well
1/2 cup cooked brown rice, farro, quinoa, or wheat berries*
2 oz cream cheese
2 T parmesan cheese
2 T minced hot peppers (jalapeno or cherry peppers are great), optional
3 oz monterey jack cheese, grated
olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper

*You can skip this if making a grain just for this purpose seems like a real pain in the ass. However, I think it’s an excellent use for some leftover rice or quinoa from another meal!

1.) Preheat your oven to 325°F. Using a spoon, scoop the seeds and some of the flesh out of the center of each zucchini half. Lightly drizzle the flesh of the zucchini boats with some olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and lay them cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the flesh is soft, but not mushy.

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats

2.) While the zucchini bakes, start on the stuffing. Heat a skillet over medium heat, add about a tablespoon of oil, and saute your onions until they are translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic (along with a pinch of kosher salt and pepper – always season each layer of the dish), and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3.) Add the italian sausage to the pan; cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until the sausage is cooked through.

4.) Throw in the drained tomatoes, brown rice, cream cheese, and parmesan. You can also add the hot peppers now, if you’re using them. My husband doesn’t care for hot peppers, so rather than adding them to the mix, I just sprinkled them on top of my zucchini boats, and left his plain. Stir everything together and cook until the cheese is melted and everything is warm.

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats

5.) Turn on your oven’s broiler. Spoon the sausage mixture into the zucchini, and then top each one with some shredded monterey jack. Pop them under the broiler until the cheese is melted and browned, and then serve!

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats

One of the best things about this dinner is that there is no need for a side dish! You’ve got your protein, your veggies, and your whole grains all in one place. And, you can totally change the recipe up to use whatever you have sitting in your fridge. You could do a version with bbq chicken and corn added to the mix… or go vegetarian and use canellini beans and ricotta instead of cream cheese.

Because the seeds and insides are removed from the zucchini (and they get baked, empty and upside down, for a while), it’s not watery at all. It’s just a great vehicle for holding all the delicious fillings! The number of servings you’ll get out of this will vary. For my particular husband, on the particular night we ate this meal, he took down FOUR zucchini halves (I ate two). On another day of the week, he might stop at two halves… or finish plowing through six. It’s hard to say. You could certainly serve this with a nice side salad or maybe some roasted potatoes, and help it stretch farther.

FINALLY, a decent recipe for squash,

Whatchamacallit Rice Krispie Treats

If you’ve never experienced the wonder that is a Whatchamacallit candy bar, I am sorry to tell you that you are SERIOUSLY missing out. Sure, the Whatchamacallit doesn’t get the glory of a Snickers, or a Milky Way, or a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup… but there is a boatload of deliciousness to be had in this unassuming candy bar. (You guys, you can’t even find a bag of mini Whatchamacallits at Halloween… awfully RUDE, candy overlords!) It’s crunchy, it’s caramel-y, it’s subtly peanut butter-y – all without being overly sweet or overwhelmed by chocolate.

Whatchamacallit Rice Krispie Treats

As an ardent lover of rice krispie treats (I can easily take down an entire pan on my own), I occasionally sit around and daydream about how I could make a standard rice krispie treat more delicious. Clearly, my life is more exciting than you can possibly comprehend. Anyways, one day I was hit with a stroke of genius – that I could make a rice krispie treat that would taste like a Whatchamacallit! It took me several months to actually decide to do it (let’s be honest, I don’t particularly need a gigantic pan of rice krispie treats staring me down all week)… but over the weekend, the urge struck, and I just decided to go with it. I had all the ingredients, I was in the mood for a kind of salty/sweet dessert… and now I’m doing that thing where I keep walking by the plate of treats, cutting off a sliver here or there, just eating a little bit at a time. I fully expect all of them to be gone by this evening.

Whatchamacallit Rice Krispie Treats

Whatchamacallit Rice Krispie Treats
makes one 9×13 pan of treats

5 T salted butter
8oz marshmallows
3 T peanut butter
generous 1/4 cup salted caramel sauce
approx. 7 cups rice krispies
2oz milk chocolate, chopped
1 tsp coconut oil (or vegetable oil)

Whatchamacallit Rice Krispie Treats

1.) Start by melting your butter in a large pot, over medium low heat. Once the butter is melted, add your peanut butter and caramel sauce and stir, so the warm butter starts to melt the peanut butter.

2.) Add in your marshmallows, and stir continuously so the sugars don’t burn, until everything is melted and smooth.

3.) Remove the pan from the heat, pour in your rice krispies, and use a rubber spatula to gently fold them into the marshmallow mixture. I like to start with maybe 6 cups of rice krispies, and add more as needed – you want to be sure they’re not too dry!

4.) Spray a 9×13 pan with baking spray, and press the rice krispie mixture into the pan (lightly wet your hands to keep everything from sticking).

5.) Add the chocolate and coconut oil into a small bowl, and microwave in 20 second increments until it melts and can be stirred until smooth.

Whatchamacallit Rice Krispie Treats

6.) Scoop the chocolate into a small sandwich bag, and snip off a tiny bit of one corner. Drizzle the chocolate over the treats in whatever pattern you like! Let the treats cool and the chocolate harden (you can stick them in the fridge for 20 minutes or so, if you’re impatient like me), and then cut into squares. Enjoy!


YESSSSSSSSSS. These Whatchamacallit treats were EXACTLY what I had in mind. A little salty, a little sweet… nutty, buttery, and juuuust enough chocolate. And, because they consist primarily of puffed rice, they don’t taste heavy or too rich (all the better to eat 18 of them in one sitting). Keep in mind, you can mess with the proportion of caramel to peanut butter, too – I wanted the peanut butter to be present, but not overwhelming (as it is in a Whatchamacallit), but if you’re a peanut butter fanatic, feel free to use more PB. I am not sure why I’m admitting this, but I added my peanut butter and caramel sauce to the pan, and kept tweaking until the mixture smelled like a Whatchamacallit. Evidently, I am intimately familiar with the exact scent produced by the Whatchamacallit-specific ratio of peanut butter and caramel. Please feel free to be embarrassed on my behalf.

The nose knows,

Shrimp and Jalapeño Enchiladas Verde

I’ve been on an enchilada kick lately. I was trying to think of something relatively healthful for dinner, something that would taste kind of indulgent without actually BEING indulgent… and I realized that as long as I kept the cheese minimal, enchiladas could be a fairly health-conscious option. It had been several years since I had made them – and I decided that instead of my usual standby of chicken, I wanted to use shrimp. And now, several weeks and half a dozen enchilada dinners later, I think I’ve got a hell of a recipe to share! Of course, if you don’t feel like making them yourself, you can always just swing by my house, because we basically have enchiladas once a week these days. Just make sure you call first, because my husband generally commandeers no fewer than eight enchiladas for himself, and I’d hate to run short of food when I have guests. How embarrassing!

Shrimp and Jalapeño Enchiladas Verde

(Please note: my methodology skips the step that quickly and lightly fries the tortillas to keep them from breaking. It honestly makes no difference if the tortillas crack or break – they still taste damn good, even if they look less than perfect. These days, I am focused on getting in and out of the kitchen as fast as I can on weeknights, which means I can’t be bothered to fuss with another pan and another step. I will still gladly shovel ugly enchiladas into my food-hole!)

Shrimp and Jalapeño Enchiladas Verde

Shrimp and Jalapeño Enchiladas Verde
serves 2-4

12 corn tortillas (6″)
1lb shrimp
1 large sweet onion, sliced
2 jalapeño peppers
24oz jar of salsa verde (I prefer Herdez brand)*
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2oz cream cheese**
3oz monterey jack cheese, grated***
kosher salt
vegetable oil

*It’s not totally necessary, but I like to drain my salsa a bit to draw out the excess liquid before I start cooking with it. I set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl, and pour the salsa into it; after 3 or 4 minutes, it will have drained a few tablespoons worth of liquid, and be nice and thick.

Shrimp and Jalapeño Enchiladas Verde

**Full-fat or low-fat is fine – but don’t you dare let me catch you using fat free. That stuff is an abomination.

***You remember the First Rule of Melty Cheese, right? Thou shalt grate thy own cheese, and leave that awful pre-shredded stuff for some other sucker. Don’t ever forget that rule, it’s super important for maximum melty cheese enjoyment.

1.) Preheat your oven to 350°. Heat a large pan over medium heat, and add one tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot, add the sliced onion.

2.) Sauté the onion until it starts to soften and become translucent. Meanwhile, cut one of the jalapeños in half, and scrape out the seeds and ribs. Slice it into very thin strips, and add it to the pan. Continue the cook the vegetables until their edges are slightly browned, and they’ve softened.

Shrimp and Jalapeño Enchiladas Verde

3.) Cut your shrimp into bite-size pieces. Push the sautéed onions and peppers to the sides of your pan, and add the shrimp. (Be sure to add a splash more oil to the pan, if it’s looking a little dry.) Season everything with a big pinch of kosher salt, and the garlic powder.

Shrimp and Jalapeño Enchiladas Verde

4.) Add half the salsa verde to the pan, along with the cream cheese. Lower the heat, and stir to combine everything. Cook just until the cream cheese has melted and incorporated into the salsa (so the shrimp don’t overcook and become rubbery), and you’re ready to build your enchiladas.

Shrimp and Jalapeño Enchiladas Verde

5.) Add half the remaining salsa to the bottom of the large baking dish, and spread it into a thin layer. Spoon a bit of the shrimp filling on to the center of each tortilla, being careful not to overfill them. Roll each enchilada, and place it seam-side down into the baking dish. Repeat until all the tortillas and all the filling have been used.

Shrimp and Jalapeño Enchiladas Verde

6.) Once all the enchiladas are rolled and in the baking dish, spread the remaining salsa verde over the top of them. Sprinkle the grated monterey jack cheese over the enchiladas. Take the second jalapeño, and slice it very, very thinly. Lay the jalapeño slices across the top of the cheese, and then sprinkle the entire dish with a bit of kosher salt.

Shrimp and Jalapeño Enchiladas Verde

7.) Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the enchiladas are warmed through. Finish with a minute or two under the broiler, so the cheese gets nicely browned.

8.) Let the enchiladas rest for a couple minutes, so the cheese has a chance to set up. Serve and enjoy!

Shrimp and Jalapeño Enchiladas Verde

As I write this, I actively annoyed that I do not have any leftovers to enjoy at this moment in time. These enchiladas are sooooo good! I want to eat them every day! I realize that’s not terribly practical, but the heart wants what it wants, man.

Shrimp and Jalapeño Enchiladas Verde

To recap, here’s what we’ve got going on: sweet, caramelized onions. Melty, perfectly browned cheese. Fresh, crunchy, SPICY jalapeños. Hearty, perfectly cooked shrimp. Bright, tart salsa verde. These enchiladas are proof that I was a very, very good person in a former life, and that all that excellent karma is coming back my direction. All that excellent, cheesy karma (insert heart-eyes emoji here).

This is one of the few exceptions to the “no cheese with seafood” rule,

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

As I have admitted here before, I am not big into sweets. Sure, I enjoy a freshly baked cookie (or 5), or a big slice of key lime pie – but most of my dessert preferences trend toward things that are tart, or set off with a touch of salt. If I am going strictly sweet, I’m usually content to keep it to a smaller portion (the key word there being “usually”… I will not pretend I’ve never made quick work of a pan of brownies). It can be hard to come up with a dessert that doesn’t lend itself to huge portions, isn’t terrifyingly rich, or doesn’t require 3,000 steps. That’s where truffles come in.

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

They’re simple to make, they require few ingredients, and they’re customizable in any way you wish. Now, be forewarned, making truffles can get a little messy… but as long as you’re not afraid of getting a little chocolate on your hands, you’ll be just fine.

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles
makes about 24 truffles
modified from here

1 scant cup granulated sugar
1 T light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
1.25 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips*
1 tablespoon salted butter
assorted toppings: cocoa powder, toasted coconut, toasted and chopped nuts, sprinkles, etc

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

*Use higher quality chocolate chips, if at all possible. The cheaper ones tend to have more junk on them, to keep them from sticking together, and they won’t melt as smoothly. I like the ghirardelli chips, myself!

BEFORE you start: please remember that molten sugar will burn the daylights out of your skin. Be very cautious not to splatter yourself, and resist the urge to grab those caramel-y drips with your fingertip. You will regret it.

1.) In a small saucepan, heat your heavy cream over low heat. Place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl, and set them aside.

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

2.) In a medium saucepan, combine your sugar, corn syrup, and water. Gently stir everything together, and then set the pan over medium heat. Heat the sugar mixture without stirring (feel free to gently swirl the pan occasionally), until it’s a medium gold/amber in color.

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

3.) Carefully pour the warm cream into the sugar and water mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula as you do. Be very careful, as the mixture will bubble up pretty aggressively.

4.) When the cream and sugar mixture are totally combined, pour it over the chocolate chips. Let it sit for a minute or two, then gently whisk the caramel and chocolate together, until it is smooth and uniform in consistency. Add the butter to the chocolate mixture, and whisk that in.

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

5.) Pour the chocolate mixture into a shallow dish, and set it in the fridge for a couple hours to firm up. Once the mixture is firm to the touch, use a small metal scoop (or spoon) to scoop out small portions of chocolate (about the size of a large marble). Use your hands to roll each portion into a ball, and set aside (on a plate, or parchment-lined baking sheet).

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

6.) Place your toppings in small bowls, and toll the truffles in them to coat. Set the finished truffles on a plate or in a dish, and store them in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them! (You’ll likely want to cover the plate or dish with plastic wrap, so the truffles don’t pick up any strong smells in your fridge!)

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

My preferred coatings are unsweetened cocoa (for those that want a super-rich chocolate taste), toasted coconut (because coconut is sent straight from heaven), and toasted, chopped hazelnuts (because it tastes like a gourmet ball of nutella, clearly). There are TONS of options, though – powdered sugar, colored sprinkles, chopped pecans… the world is your oyster, my friend.

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

I find these truffles to be preferable to just straight chocolate truffles. The caramel adds an extra bit of sweetness to cut through the dark, rich chocolate – but without being cloyingly sweet, or overtly caramel tasting. These little guys are the perfect sweet treat to end dinner with, whether you enjoy one, or a dozen!

It’s amazing how many truffles you can down as you just sneak ONE MORE out of the fridge, over and over and over again,