Blogs, Recipes

Blue Cheese Burgers with Red Wine-Onion Jam and Crispy Beer Battered Onion Rings

Are you looking for a delicious Memorial Day recipe? Look no more!

Burgers are one of summer’s classic dishes and an ever-popular pick at backyard barbecues everywhere! Not only are these burgers a cinch to make but they are the tastiest burgers you will ever eat! 

I love using Italian sausage in my burgers! It is a  smart shortcut, because the meat is already seasoned. Caramelized red onions are tasty in their own right, but simmered in a sweet/spicy mix of red wine, honey and herbs, they turn into the most delicious jam ever. And it is a perfect addition to these Blue Cheese Burgers!

Brian and I love to top these burgers with homemade Beer Battered Onion Rings! I included our recipe below. It’s delicious! Not a beer fan? Sub in any other carbonated beverage, including ginger ale, club soda or your favorite soft drink.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • ½  pound ground Italian sausage
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 hamburger buns, split

Red Wine-Onion Jam Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat your grill to high heat.

Mix the meat and blue cheese in a large bowl until combined. 

Shape the meat into four burgers, each about 1 inch thick.

Brush with oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides.

Place the burgers on the grill and grill until golden brown, three to four minutes. 

Turn the burgers over and continue grilling to medium, about three minutes longer. 

Remove the burgers to a plate and let rest while you grill the buns.

Butter the cut sides of the buns and season with salt and pepper. Place on the grill, butter side down, and grill until lightly golden brown, about 30 seconds.

Place the burgers on top of the bun and spoon some onion jam on each burger. Top with the buns and serve immediately.

Red Wine-Onion Jam

– makes 3/4 cup –

Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan on the grates of the grill or on a stovetop over medium-low heat.

Add the onion and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Add the wine, vinegar, honey, and thyme and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated, five to seven minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. 

The jam can be made two days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Crispy Beer Battered Onion Rings Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) pale ale beer 
  • 2 large yellow onions
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups of flour with the paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Whisk in the beer until the mixture is well combined. Let the batter rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

While the batter rests, cut the tip off of the stem side of the onions then remove the peel. Slice the onions horizontally into 1/2-inch-thick rings and toss them with the remaining 1/2 cup of flour.

Add the vegetable oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pot (Dutch oven) to a depth of 2 inches and heat it over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reaches 375°F.

Working in batches, dip the onion rings into the prepared batter, shaking off any excess, then immediately drop them into the hot oil. Be careful not to overcrowd the pot. Allow the onions to cook in the oil, flipping them once to guarantee even browning, for a total of about 3 minutes. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate.

Immediately season them with salt. Repeat the coating and frying process, returning the oil to 375°F between batches, with the remaining onions.

TIPS: 

When measuring beer, don’t include the foamy head in your measurement. 

Shake off as much of the excess batter as possible when coating the onion rings in order to get the best ratio of onion to batter.

Blogs, Recipes

Grouper Piccata

Living in Florida has many benefits, sunny days, beautiful beaches, and it also comes with the benefits of AMAZING fresh fish. 

I was lucky enough to grab some grouper fillets from my local fish market but you can also score some at your store’s frozen section. If you are unable to find grouper fillets, you can use snapper, cod, catfish or even chicken. 

This sauce highlights the fish without taking over. In this recipe, I use a simple piccata sauce with lemon and capers to create an easy meal that everyone will love! Oh, and this is a one pan dish! Hello easy clean up! 🙂

I’m not usually a Chardonnay fan but since I received a bottle of Scout & Cellar Fiddleneck Chardonnay I thought I’d give it a try. I am now a Chardonnay fan! The Fiddleneck Chardonnay is the perfect pairing to this recipe! It’s not oaky like most Chardonnays I have tried in the past. It’s light and refreshing with notes of yellow apple, candied lemon peel, and ripe pineapple. It truly is delicious with the buttery lemon flavor of the grouper piccata! 

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 6-ounce grouper fillets
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

INSTRUCTIONS

Sprinkle grouper fillets with salt and pepper. 

Dredge fillets on all sides in flour. 

Melt 2 tablespoons butter and olive oil in a large skillet. 

Add fillets to skillet; cook until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove fish from skillet.

Add garlic, lemon juice and wine to the skillet, scraping browned bits from the pan. Add the chicken broth and stir to combine. 

Cook for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. 

Tip: if the sauce is too bitter, just add ¼ cup of chicken broth at a time. 

Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter, capers and parsley.

Serve sauce over fish.

I served mine with a side of angel hair pasta and baby broccoli.

Blogs, Recipes

Roasted Garlic & Lemon Butter Risotto

I love risotto! I much rather have a bowl of risotto than Mac and Cheese any day of the week. 

I’m not going to lie to you. This creamy risotto is hands on. You do have to stand there and stir, and add liquid, and stir, and monitor. But I promise it is worth every minute! My friend Amy says risotto is a labor of love. 

I have several risotto recipes, that’s how much I love it!

This recipe is  buttery with hints of lemon! And the roasted garlic takes it up a notch! 

Roast Garlic is absolutely delicious! It will fill your house with the most irresistible, and mouth-watering aromas imaginable. I’m talking about the whole head of garlic roasted with olive oil until each individual clove is completely golden and butter-soft. It will just squeeze out! Roasted garlic is perfect for spreading a piece of bread or mashing into dishes like this risotto. 

This risotto recipe is a perfect side with baked cod or breaded chicken!

Looking for wine to compliment this dish?

Try the Scout & Cellar 2019 ADELANTE SAUVIGNON BLANC, bright and clean with lemongrass, lime zest and green apple balanced by a subtle minerality on a zesty, light-bodied frame with a refreshing finish.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 small shallots, chopped
  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic, roasted- see instructions below
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 3 tablespoon. Brandy, optional
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon. chopped fresh chives

Roasted Garlic 

  • 1 head of garlic
  • Olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

Roast Garlic 

Heat the oven to 400°F: Set a rack in the middle position.

Peel (most of) the paper off the garlic

Leave the head itself intact with all the cloves connected.

Trim about 1/4 inch off the top of the head of garlic to expose the tops of the garlic cloves.

Drizzle 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil over the exposed surface of the garlic, letting the oil sink down into the cloves.

Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil and roast in the oven for 40 minutes.

Risotto

In a medium saucepan, heat chicken broth stock to boiling; keep hot over low heat.

In a 2-1/2-quart saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Cook until butter begins to foam and turns brown, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Add shallots, onions  and cook, stirring until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. 

Stir in rice until coated with butter. Make a well in the middle of the coated risotto and squeeze the roasted garlic into the pot. Stir until combined. 

Add brandy and simmer, stirring, until almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup of broth and lemon juice and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Add lemon zest and stir until combined. 

Continue adding broth, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each batch to absorb before pouring in the next. Cook until rice is tender but still firm to the bite, 15 to 20 minutes total. 

Remove from heat; stir in 1 1/2 teaspoon of the chives; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer risotto to two serving plates and garnish with remaining chives.

Recipes

Citrus Sazon Beer Can Chicken

Beer can chicken is the best, easiest way to cook a whole chicken on the grill without any special equipment. The beer from the can steams the chicken, resulting in a perfectly-cooked and moist whole chicken. The chicken literally sits on the can and as the beer heats up, it streams and flavours the inside of the chicken. 

I start with marinating the chicken with  Sazon seasoning, vinegar, and stuffing lemon, lime and orange wedges inside the chicken overnight. 

Sazon is like the magic spice blend in many Latin dishes. It’s commonly found in the supermarket in small envelopes that you add to stews, beans, rice, etc. It gives yellow rice that yellow color and basically makes anything taste good! Goya is the most popular brand. If you can not find Sazon you can make your own, the recipe is at the bottom of this blog page. 

Next comes choosing the beer! 

Beer can chicken requires beer in a can. However, that doesn’t mean you have to buy canned beer. All you need is a can. I personally prefer to use an old soup can that I have cleaned and saved. Which opens up your beer possibilities immensely because many of the best beers are only sold in bottles. So it comes down to what type of flavor you want to add to your chicken. Does a sweeter bird sound good? How about something a little spicy, wheaty, or fruity? 

The most popular choice is lager, but I also like to use sour beer. I love citrus flavors, and the sour citrus seems to make the flavors come alive. It’s all a matter of personal preference. Get creative! 

Once you have marinated your chicken and chose the beer, you’re get the bird on the can and to get grilling! 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (12-ounce) can lager beer, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoon Sazon Seasoning
  • 1 cup White distilled vinegar
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1 lime,  cut into wedges
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges
  • 1 (4 to 4 1/2) pound whole chicken

Basting Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup beer, reserved from above
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of ½ a Lemon
  • 2 tablespoons Sazon seasoning
  • 1 Garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

INSTRUCTIONS

Marinate:

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. 

Place lemon, lime and orange wedges into the center of the chicken. 

Stir the Sazon seasoning, garlic powder and red pepper flakes together in a small bowl. 

Pour the seasoning mixture into a large Ziploc bag, slowly pour vinegar, and EVOO into the same bag. Combine. 

Drop the chicken into the bag, zip the bag and shake until the chicken is well coated.

Marinate overnight. 

Basting Sauce:

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. 

Grilling:

Heat grill by heating 2 out of 3 (or 3 out of 4) of the burners to high heat. Keep the remaining burners off. 

Pour out or drink about half of the beer, reserving 1/4 cup for the basting sauce. 

Place the beer can inside a metal 9×13-inch aluminum pan. Lower the chicken leg-side down onto the beer until it is securely propped upright. Be careful when picking the pan up, have a firm grip on the chicken with one hand while holding the foil pan with the other. Trust me, I’ve totally lost my chicken by not doing that. 

Place the pan over indirect heat (over the turned-off burners) and grill for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, baste the chicken with the basting sauce. At this point, it will start to brown and look almost cooked through, even though it is not.

Baste the chicken with the sauce and continue to cook, covered, basting every 10 minutes, until the skin is deeply colored, crisp, and a probe thermometer in the deepest part of the thigh registers 165°F, about 25 to 35 minutes more depending the size of the chicken. 

Rotate the pan as needed so that the chicken browns evenly.

Remove the chicken and the pan with its drippings from the grill. (If you use a foil pan, slide the pan onto a baking sheet before moving it around)

Discard the beer can. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil, and allow to rest in a warm area for 10 minutes before slicing.

Sazon Substitute Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder 
  • 1 tablespoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano 

Instructions

Combine all ingredients and mix well

Recipes

Jerk-spiced Chicken with Roasted Sweet Plantain Salad and Mango Chutney Yogurt

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved going to Disney World. It is definitely my happy place!

I have so many amazing memories, from camping at Fort Wilderness to birthday celebrations at Epcot’s Food & Wine festival. 

Epcot is my favorite park to visit especially when they are hosting one of their festivals; Food & Wine Festival, Art Festival or the Flower & Garden Festival. 

Epcot’s festivals combine my love for Disney, food and wine. Honestly, what could be better than hopping around the World Showcase and sampling new foods, drinks and rubbing elbows with Disney fans? 

Brian and I always enter Epcot, in the back by the United Kingdom. We have a beer at the Rose and Crown while I flip through the festival’s passport, which contains the menus for each World Showcase Booth and a sticker to use to mark off that you have visited. Yes, I am a complete passport geek, every time we stop at a World Showcase booth, I have to check off the foods and drinks we have tried. 

So when I saw Disney had a cookbook with recipes from all their festivals including the festivals at Disneyland, I couldn’t resist. I had to have it. 

After purchasing the cookbook, Brian and I took a margarita break in Mexico like we normally do. I’m a huge fan of the Three Caballeros ride and the margaritas in Mexico. As we sipped our margaritas, we looked through the cookbook. I was so excited to see so many of our favorite dishes from the festivals and some new ones I couldn’t wait to make at home! 

During the Food & Wine festival, we absolutely loved the Jerk-spiced Chicken with Roasted Sweet Plantain Salad and Mango Chutney Yogurt at the Islands of the Caribbean booth. And guess what the recipe was in the cookbook! And here lays the inspiration for the recipe below! 

My parents are retired and love to travel. They recently bought me a Island Jamican Jerk Spice seasoning back from one of their cruise vacations. So this is the Jerk seasoning, I used but you can find a number of different types of Jerk seasonings at your local grocery store. 

In a large ziploc bag, toss chicken, 3 tablespoons of the Jerk seasoning and 1 tablespoon canola oil until chicken is completely coated. Refrigerate for one to two hours, the longer you allow the chicken to marinate the more flavor you will have. After the chicken has marinated, preheat the grill to medium-high heat, and remove chicken from the ziploc bag. Place chicken on grill grates and grill for approximately 10-12 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Rest for 10 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate, cover lightly with foil, and allow them to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Mango Chutney

You can use a store bought Mango chutney or you can make your own. It is simple and turns out delicious. Chutney is made much the same way as you would make a fruit jam, but with vinegar to offset the sweetness, making it more appropriate for savory dishes. This chutney is spicy from ginger, garlic, and red chili pepper flakes. It gets its tangy-ness from the acidity in the mangoes and added vinegar, and it gets its sweetness from the mangoes and sugar. It pairs great with almost anything from his chicken, to a spread on a cheese board.

To make the sugar vinegar syrup, combine sugar and vinegar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add the peeled chopped mangoes, and chopped onion, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Leave the saucepan uncovered and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour until syrupy and slightly thickened. Stir occasionally during cooking.

Mango Chutney Yogurt

Whisk 1 cup plain yogurt and 2 ½ tablespoons of the Mango chutney with chopped cilantro. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Place in the refrigerator until dinner time. 

Sweet Plantain Salad

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and brush a baking sheet with canola oil. 

Your plantains have to be ripe. The best thing to do is buy them a few days before you are going to make this dish. Plantains may look like bananas but they do not peel like one. Ripe plantains are a lot easier to peel. To peel a plantain, you will need to cut off the ends of the plantain, run your knife lengthwise through the skin of the plantain without cutting into the flesh, and finally, use your hands to pull the skin off. If some of the skin doesn’t peel off, use a vegetable peeler to remove the “stuck” skin. Place your peeled whole plantains on the prepared baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, then flip and roast for an additional 15 minutes. After a total of 25-30 minutes, plantains should be lightly golden brown and soft. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Cut into bite-size chunks. 

While the plantains are roasting, prepare the rest of the salad. In a small bowl, combine Apple Cider Vinegar and chopped garlic, whisk together. Slowly add the canola oil, whisking as you add it to the bowl. Chop your red onion, peppers, cilantro and place into a large bowl with the plantain chunks. Pour the dressing over the top and toss until everything is well combined. Refrigerate while you prepare the rest of the meal. 

Once everything is done, it’s time to plate it up! In true Epcot fashion, take a scoop of the Sweet Plantain Salad and place it in the middle of a plate. Lay the grilled chicken on top and serve with a dollop of the Mango Chutney Yogurt. I also drizzled some of the Mango chutney over the top of the chicken and sprinkled chopped cilantro on top. 

During the Stay at Home Order, I have definitely been missing trips to Epcot but this meal made me feel like I was taking a trip around the World Showcase. 

This is a great recipe to make for a summer cookout yet it’s easy enough for a weeknight dinner. Trust me, you will love it!

INGREDIENTS

Jerk Chicken

  • 4 Chicken thighs and 4 Chicken drumsticks or 8 Chicken Breast
  • 3 tablespoons of your favorite Jerk Spice
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Sweet Plantain Salad

  • 3 medium or 2 very large ripe plantains (they should have some black spots and be slightly soft) 
  • ¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup canola oil, plus more for roasting the plantains
  • ½ cup red onion, diced
  • ½ cup red pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon Jalapeno, chopped (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Mango Chutney, or you can buy the jar stuff

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 4 cups mangoes (2 to 3), peeled and cut in 3/4-inch pieces 
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped 
  • ½ tablespoon ginger
  • 2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes 

Mango Chutney Yogurt

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 ½ tablespoons Mango chutney
  • 2 ½ tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Jerk Chicken Instructions

  • Toss chicken, jerk seasoning and canola oil in a large ziploc bag, until chicken is coated. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. 
  • Remove chicken from the refrigerator and let sit for 10 minutes at room temperature before grilling. 
  • Preheat the grill to medium- high heat. 
  • Remove chicken from the jerk marinade and place on a medium to high lightly oil grill. 
  • Grill chicken for approximately 10-12 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You may also broil, or roast the chicken in a hot oven (425 degrees F).
  • Rest for 10 minutes. Remove chicken thighs to a plate or serving tray, cover lightly with foil, and allow them to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Sweet Plantain Salad

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and brush a baking sheet with canola oil. 
  • To peel plantains, cut off the ends from both sides. Then cut a long strip down the length of the plantain without piercing the fruit. Remove the fruit from the peel. 
  • Place peeled whole plantains on the prepared baking sheet and roast until tender and golden brown on both sides, about 25 to 30 minutes, flipping once halfway through. 
  • Combine Apple Cider Vinegar and chopped garlic, whisk together. Slowly add the canola oil, whisking as you add it to the bowl. 
  • Chop your red onion, peppers, cilantro and place into a large bowl with the plantain chunks. Pour the dressing over the top and toss until everything is well combined. 
  • Refrigerate while you prepare the rest of the meal. 

Mango Chutney, if not using store bought

  • Combine sugar and vinegar in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  • Add remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, until syrupy and slightly thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir occasionally during cooking.

Mango Chutney Yogurt

  • Stir together yogurt, mango chutney and cilantro. 
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper. 
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve. 
  • Serve Jerk Chicken on top of Sweet Plantain salad with a scoop of Mango Chutney Yogurt and garnish with chopped cilantro. 
Recipes

Zucchini Taco Boats

Looking for an alternative to your Taco Tuesday?

These Zucchini Taco boats are made with fresh zucchini stuffed with seasoned ground beef, bell peppers, and topped with cheese and salsa. But the filling could literally be anything, from chicken and corn, to meatballs with tomato sauce! 

They are low carb and keto diet friendly. 

Start with 3 or 4 small zucchini. 

I used a small cookie scoop to scoop out the middle of the zucchini, but you can also use a small spoon. I got a little close to the edge on one of them, but don’t worry about it. The meat filling will cover it up. I love using the insides of the zucchini I scooped out to add filler, so place the insides to the side.  

Pour 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa in a baking dish- I used Pace. Lay the boats on top of the salsa and sprinkle each with salt. 

Now it’s time to make the filling.  Heat a pan over medium-heat and cook the meat. You can use any ground meat, I used ground beef.  Once the meat is cooked, transfer to a bowl and set aside. Wipe out the same pan and add a drizzle of EVOO.

Sauté the insides of the zucchini. Make sure to cook it down to reduce the liquid. Then add bell peppers,- any color,  I used red and yellow. Sprinkle it with chili powder, cumin, and salt. Stir together and cook for about two minutes. Add the red onion and garlic. It should start to smell like it’s almost Taco time! 

Continue to cook until vegetables are softened and water has absorbed. Lastly, add the meat back to the pan, and stir together. Once it is combined, it’s time to fill up the boats. Go ahead and fill those babies up- don’t be shy! Let the meat spill over if you need to.

I love cheese and, what’s a taco if it doesn’t have any cheese on it? Cover the filled boats with shredded cheese. I used Cheddar but Monterrey Jack or a Mexican blend would work great, too. 

Place the baking dish in the 400°F preheated oven and cook for 20-25 minutes. 

This recipe  is great if you’re looking for a low-carb option for tacos, or need to get more veggies into your diet. Try them out for Taco Tuesday and enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 Zucchini
  • 1lb Ground Beef
  • 1/2 cup Mixed Red & Yellow Bell Peppers, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup Red Onion, diced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced  
  • 1 tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Cumin 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 8 ounces Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Salsa

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400°F

Prepare your zucchini, cut each zucchini in half lengthwise. Use a measuring spoon (teaspoon) to hollow out the zucchini forming a boat… save the insides and set aside. 

Pour salsa into a baking dish.

Place the zucchini boats in the same baking dish and sprinkle a small amount of salt over them.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef. Once cooked, transfer to a bowl. Wipe out the same pan and add a drizzle of EVOO.

Add the inside of the zucchini, water will release. Let it cook down to reduce the liquid, then add bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Stir together and cook for about two minutes. Then add the red onion and garlic.

Continue to cook until vegetables are softened and water has absorbed. Add the meat back to the pan, stir together. 

Once combined, fill each zucchini boat with the beef and vegetable mixture.

Top the zucchini boats with cheddar cheese.

Bake for 25 minutes or until zucchini has softened and cheese is melted.

Serve hot! 

Recipes

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is one of my favorite Italian comfort foods.
The one thing to keep in mind when cooking eggplant, is eggplants hold onto moisture, like a sponge. So if you’re not careful you can end up with a mushy mess.

So the best method to make eggplant parmesan is to pull the moisture out of the eggplant prior to frying it.

How do we pull moisture out of the eggplant?

You sprinkle salt on the eggplant slice and let them sit for 45 minutes to one hour.The salt pulls out the moisture from the eggplant. 

It also helps to cut the bitterness of the vegetable and makes it “sweat”. You will notice little drops of moisture on the surface of the disks. Removing the moisture from the eggplant will prevent it from releasing it during cooking. 

After the 45 minutes, all you have to do is just pat them dry and dust off the excess salt and then you’ll be ready to start making your eggplant parmesan! I guarantee you will have a much crispier and less soggy eggplant parmesan dish! 

Now of course, you can bake or roast the eggplant for eggplant Parmesan, and they are tasty but frying the eggplant gives the dish a deep caramelized flavor that can not be mimicked by baking. 

I like my eggplant a tad thick so I slice mine about ¼ thick, using a sharp knife. Grab two shallow dishes, crack two eggs in one dish and whisk. I like to add some seasoning, like granulated garlic and black pepper, to my whisked eggs but that is totally up to you. Pour 1 ½ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs in the other dish. I love cheese and feel you can never have too much so I sprinkle ¼ cup of grated Parmesan into the breadcrumbs and whisk until combined. 

Take each slice, dip it into the egg mixture, roll in the bread crumbs and shake off any excess. Place the breaded eggplant slices on a plate or large baking sheet and repeat until all eggplant slices have been coated. 

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil into the skillet. I always use my cast iron skillet but any skillet will work. I have become a big fan of cast iron in the last year. Check out my Tips & Tricks page for why. 

Once the skillet is hot, slowly slide two-three breaded eggplant slices into the oil. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, they should be a nice golden brown. The first batch will take longer than the rest as the oil heats up. You will want to keep a close eye on them and watch out for oil splatters. 

Line a large sheet pan with foil, this will make for an easy clean up. Add a layer of eggplant slices then dollop 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce on top of the eggplant slices. The idea isn’t to smother the layers with sauce. On top of the eggplant slices, sprinkle a generous amount of mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. The more cheese the better, in my opinion. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown on top. I use the broiler for 5 minutes to get the cheese nice and brown – you don’t have to, but if you do, watch it carefully!

There is nothing better than the smell of fresh basil. It reminds me of my grandparents’ backyard when I was a child. My grandfather, Papa, always had a basil plant in his backyard. Here’s a great tip for cutting basil. Stack the basil leaves on top of each other and roll up like a cigar. Then make thin slices from one end of the basil cigar to the other. Sprinkle on top of your eggplant parmesan and serve. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil, for lightly pan-frying
  • 2 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 2 cups whole milk mozzarella shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves sliced, for garnish (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Salt both sides of your eggplant slices and place them in a large colander in the sink. Let the liquid drain for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

When your eggplant slices have finished draining liquid, brush off the excess salt.

In 2 shallow plates, add breadcrumbs to one and whisk eggs and in the other. Dip both sides of the eggplant slice into egg mixture then cover with breadcrumbs, shaking off the excess. Place on a plate or large baking sheet and repeat until all eggplant slices have been coated.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil into the skillet. Once the skillet is hot, add two-three eggplant slices at a time to the skillet and cook on both sides until golden brown, remove and set on a large plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until you’ve pan-fried them all.

On a large sheet pan, add a layer of eggplant slices then using dollop 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce on top of the eggplant slices. The idea isn’t to smother the layers with sauce. On top of the eggplant slices, sprinkle a generous amount of mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown on top. I use the broiler for 5 minutes to get the cheese nice and brown. 

Serve hot and top with sliced basil.