Zucchini Boats

Hi there! If anyone else has a garden this summer, then I’m sure you can relate to the abundance of veggies that are coming from that garden right now, right?! Unfortunately for me, the only thing in abundance is massively large summer squash. I mean, seriously? Look at the size of these things! It’s just not normal.

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Anyway! I’ve seen some zucchini boats floating around the blog world and internet world and since I had a decent sized zucchini (not obscenely large like the summer squashes above), I figured that was the perfect thing to make this week! I didn’t want to stuff it with ground chicken since I just used ground chicken in my Summer Squash and Zucchini Lasagna that I made last week, so my mom suggested that I buy uncooked chicken sausage, take it out of the casing and cook it on the stove as I would ground chicken or sausage. Mom, this was a great idea! Chicken sausage is so much more flavorful than ground chicken so it’s always a great addition to a veggie-filled meal.

I also cooked up my favorite veggies to have in any dish: onions, peppers, broccoli and corn. As I thought about what I could use to help keep everything together in the boats, as well as provide a little boost of flavor, I remembered another trick from mom: add cream cheese or any other type of cheese dip to veggies, because it makes it seem like you’re eating a rich, cream sauce when you’re not! Mixing red sauce and cream cheese was just what the dish needed! I highly suggest trying this recipe if you, too, have zucchini and/or summer squash growing out of your ears.

Zucchini Boats- Stuffed with veggies & a light creamy red sauce

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 3 uncooked chicken sausage links
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 3/4 cup chopped broccoli
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 tbsp. cream cheese
  • herbs and seasoning

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1. Slice the zucchini lengthwise and scoop out the seed part to create the “boat” that will hold the stuffing.

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2. Cut up the veggies and cook them in the pan. I always cook the onions first (for about 3 minutes or until translucent) and then I add the green peppers, broccoli and then corn. While these are cooking, I throw all sorts of herbs and seasonings into the pan: sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, oregano, etc.

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3. When the veggies have finished cooking, remove from the pan and add the chicken sausage (removed from the casing). Cook just as you would cook ground chicken. When it’s fully cooked, the veggies back in, as well as 1/2 cup of marinara sauce and 1 tbsp. of cream cheese. The cream cheese helps to make a nice, smooth sauce (learned this tip from mom).

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4. Once everything is combined, scoop it into the boats, top with cheese and bake at 350* for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, broil for 5 minutes or until the cheese gets nice and browned.

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2 words: Holy.Yum! Such a healthy and light summer meal! Now I just have to figure out what to make with the 3 ginormous summer squash and 1 more good sized zucchini….

Questions for you: What’s your favorite recipe that incorporates zucchini’s and/or summer squash? I’m in desperate need of good ideas!! Do you have a garden? What’s your favorite summer veggie?

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Chicken Sausage & Veggie Quinoa Salad w/Lemon-Basil Dressing

Hey there! After I made that delicious Caprese Orzo Salad, I knew that more summer salads were in my future, and boy was I right! This past weekend was another hot and humid one, so the last thing I wanted to do was turn on the oven and make a big, hot meal. Not only did I not want to cook that, I didn’t want to eat that; no need in raising the body temperature any more than it already was! I got another craving for chicken sausages, so I picked up a package at Market Basket along with some veggies and quinoa. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do a pasta dish or quinoa dish, but the sale on quinoa made that decision very easy!

I went into the meal with really no recipe but did consult a blog for the “dressing”. Originally, I wanted to use marinara sauce and bake the dish, but once I decided that I would rather have a cold salad, those ideas/plans went out the window. Luckily, I was able to find an easy recipe for the dressing (found it here– I only used the dressing recipe, although the rest of the recipe looks delish!) and the rest I just threw together.

Chicken & Veggie Quinoa Salad with a Lemon-Basil Dressing

  • 3 Chicken sausage links
  • 3/4 cup dried quinoa
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken broth (reduced sodium)
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 3/4 cup chopped green peppers
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • Corn from 1 ear of corn
  • 4 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp honey or agave
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped basil

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1. Bring chicken broth and quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes. While the quinoa is cooking, chop your veggies. Let the onions cook first (about 3 minutes) and then add the green peppers, broccoli and corn. I poured a little of the leftover chicken broth into the veggie pan to help steam the veggies a little.

2. Cut up the chicken sausage and add to the veggies.

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3. Prepare the dressing: combine the lemon juice through chopped basil. Once the quinoa and veggies and sausage are done, combine and pour the dressing onto the mixture. Mix well.

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I put mine in the fridge to cool before eating, but my sister thought eating cold meat was weird, so she heated hers up. I don’t mind eating cold meat, especially on a hot day, so I served mine cool and loved it! Although it seems like you might need something extra on the side to make this a full “meal,” I was fully satisfied with this “as is”. Ok, that’s a lie, Danielle did make garlic bread that was really tasty to eat along side this salad. Everything in moderation, right?!

Questions for you: Do you like chicken sausage? Do you mind eating cold meat or would you rather it hot?

Boston Has My Heart.

**edited to add- As I posted on Facebook yesterday, I had this post all ready to go up yesterday, but after Monday’s horrific events in Boston, I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t sure what to say or how to say it, so I ended up doing my best to avoid social media all together. I realize for most people, this was a source of comfort and way to express emotions and connect, but I really just had to step away for some time. To all my readers out there, I hope everyone is safe and that your friends and family are safe as well. The texts, emails and phone calls I received to make sure I was safe were overwhelming. I was, and am, safe and am fortunate that all of my friends who were at the marathon are safe as well. Boston is the strongest city around, so I know we will overcome this.

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I’m not the best with words or transitions, and am not even really sure how to segway into my original post, but here goes nothing…

Hey everyone! How’s it going? I swear the birthday talk and posts are almost done:) Even though I nursed an awful headache all morning, I pulled myself together to go out for a birthday lunch. I had really wanted to go to Local 149 in Southie, but since I knew my patience was low, I opted to avoid the parking and probable lines and suggested that we go to Not Your Average Joe’s right near us in Medford. The greasy food and fountain soda did the trick. I felt a million times better not long after we got there!

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Yes, all 3 of those drinks are mine. I needed a lot of liquid and wasn’t sure what was going to do the trick so I went for a variety: booze, soda, water. The Diet Pepsi did the trick! My sister’s recent hangover cure is a milkshake, so we swung through McDonald’s after lunch and I just had to get myself a sundae! I’ll tell ya, I felt human again after these! So much so, that I was able to come home, pick up around the house and clean my room! boom! Take that, hangover;)

I got a pleasant interruption midway through the afternoon. MORE birthday flowers… AND chocolate covered strawberries. I am a lucky girl!

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Rachel stopped by a little while later and it was fun catching up, hashing & rehashing, and playing with Millie (her sweet pup!).

After Rachel left, I started to make a healthy dinner to try to redeem my not so healthy lunch (I don’t regret any of it, though! It was just what the doctor ordered.). I stocked up on a bunch of veggies at the grocery store because I was not sure what I was going to be in the mood to make on Sunday night. I took my mom’s tip and sautéed up a huge batch of veggies (EVOO, wine, garlic, seasonings) to have handy for the week. I also had a few chicken sausage links leftover from when I made my Chicken Sausage & Veggie Sauce Spaghetti Meal, so I also cooked up some of those. To accompany the chicken sausage and veggies, I made a batch of quinoa/brown rice blend (love this stuff!).

I probably cooked about 3/4 cup of each veggie, few dashes of wine and garlic, and a few shakes of different herbs/seasonings and let everything simmer for about 30 minutes on med/low heat.

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039When the veggies were about halfway done, I started my quinoa and chicken sausage.

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041Once everything was cooked, I placed some veggies in a bowl, topped with chicken sausage and goat cheese and gave myself a serving of quinoa. I wasn’t sure what to use for a sauce for the veggies and chicken sausage, but out of sheer laziness, I settled on using a little marinara sauce which was actually a pretty good idea!

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045Yum! This meal was so warm and comforting. And it was really very easy! I packed up all the leftovers and am excited to have a bunch of nice veggies and quinoa handy for meals throughout the week. If any of you have any ideas/suggestions for how I can use these in a meal this week, please share! I also have a sweet potato that I want to do something with, too, as well as a spaghetti squash. So many options!

Questions for you: What was a memorable meal from the weekend? Do you like to “stock up” on foods so you can have quick and easy meals during the week?

Chicken Sausage & Veggie Sauce Spaghetti Meal

Hi everyone! It’s about time I finally got my “weekly recipe” post up for you! Since I knew I was not going to be around on Sunday night because of Danielle’s study abroad event, I spent a few hours of my Sunday afternoon food prepping, cooking and baking. Miranda Lambert Pandora station cranking, sunshine streaming through the windows, delicious smelling food cooking/baking… the only thing missing was a big ol’ glass of Chardonnay!

Anyway, where was I? Oh, that’s right… talking about my dinner with all of you (I get so sidetracked when I talk about wine;) ). While flipping through this month’s Cooking Light magazine, as well as some blogs, I came across an add for Al Fresco Chicken Sausages. I mentioned it to Danielle and she was totally on board for a meal with chicken sausage. Perfect! The only unfortunate thing, was that they were not on sale at the grocery store and I was not about to spend $6 on 4 sausage links. I almost scrapped the whole meal idea until I saw the Nature’s Promise brand of uncooked chicken sausage links- 5 for about $5 was still not a “deal” by any means, but it was better! Note: if you do not like chicken sausage, feel free to substitute for regular sausage or chicken breast or something else of the like!

As far as the sauce, as much as I would love to make homemade sauce from scratch, it’s just so much easier to buy a jar of it (or, take some from my parents when they make a big batch!).  However, if I am making a pasta and sauce meal, I will always “doctor up” the jar sauce. What I mean by this, is that I cut up veggies and sautee them in wine and garlic and then add the jar sauce to those veggies and let everything simmer on the stove for a couple of hours. This gives the sauce some extra texture and flavor without requiring you to slave over the stove for hours.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped red pepper
  • 1/4 cup summer squash
  • 1/2 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • Couple splashes of white wine (optional)
  • Dash of salt, pepper, oregano, basil and italian seasoning (probably about 1/4 tsp. of each)
  • 2 cups of jar sauce
  • 2 servings of whole wheat spaghetti (or any other pasta/spaghetti of your choice)
  • sprinkle of parmesan cheese

1. Chop up your veggies. I did measure this time (go me!), but feel free to use these just as a guide pending on whether you like more or less veggies in your sauce. Add a little bit of EVOO to a pot, add the onions & minced garlic.  After a few minutes, add the rest of the veggies, herbs/seasoning and wine.  003

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0042. Let the veggies sautee for about 5 minutes until they just start to soften. Add in 2 cups of sauce. I used Prego since that was on sale this week:) Mix everything together and reduce the heat to a simmer level.

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3. While the veggie and sauce mixture is cooking, it’s time to start the sausage. I only used 3 links because I didn’t want to waste any (I froze the other two and have plans on making some type of chicken sausage sub in the near future:) ).

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All I did was brown these up and *mostly* cook them. I say mostly, because I had plans of cutting them up and placing them to finish cooking IN the veggie and sauce mixture.

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4. Let the sausage, veggies and sauce simmer for as long as you desire- mine ended up simmering for about an hour before I added the sausage and about 45 minutes after I added the sausage, but you don’t have to wait that long.

5. When you’re about 15 minutes from “dinner time,” cook your spaghetti according to the back of the package.

Place spaghetti in a bowl and top with the sauce/veggie/sausage mixture. Add parmesan cheese if you wish (note: I added goat cheese because I love it so much!).

005Questions for you: Do you make your own sauce? What’s your favorite pasta meal?

Feeling Greek

Good morning and happy Monday! Did everyone have a nice weekend? I think we last left off with me sharing our girls night, right? So fun! After publishing that post yesterday, I got very busy with my “Sunday things,” including a Target run, cooking, baking and going for a nice walk.

017How nice was the weather yesterday?! I couldn’t get over it! And I’ll tell ya, gabbing with mom for 30 minutes of my walk definitely helped to pass the time- thanks mom:)

Feeling Greek

With a name like Monique Gagnon, you might be wondering how on earth I could ever feel Greek, right?  Well, last night my sister was invited to her study abroad program’s 50th anniversary at Vlora Restaurant which is on Boylston Street in the Back Bay, and she invited me to join her.  We dined there a few years ago for Danielle’s birthday because she was missing Greek food (she studied abroad in Athens, Greece in the fall of 2009) and have always wanted to go back, so I obviously jumped at the opportunity!

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026As soon as we walked in, they showed us where to go and gave us the tip to order the Sangria- twist my arm- I LOVE sangria!

021My intentions going into this were to have a couple of apps and then save myself to have dinner at home since I had made a delicious looking veggie sauce and chicken sausage (recipe to come soon!), but after chatting (so nice to meet you, Rebecca) and enjoying some adult beverages, I decided that I should probably just make myself a plate. I mean, I love the food there so my meal at home could definitely wait!

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I had a chicken skewer, some grilled veggies, an Arancini ball (total splurge, but so worth it!), tomato and feta skewers and some goat cheese/honey mixture.  Not pictured were the watermelon and feta bites- holy yum! The most refreshing little treat! Definitely check out their menu because if you like Greek/Mediterranean food, it’s totally drool-worthy!

We got home just after 8:30, meaning we were able to catch Revenge! Anyone else following that? Anyone else think that it’s getting a little twisted now?

Social Media

Are you guys following and “liking” me? If you are- thank you!!! If not, check me out:)

Instagram- @burpeestobubbly

Twitter- @burpeestobubbly

Facebook- facebook.com/burpeestobubbly

I hope everyone has a great Monday! I am working from home which always makes Monday seem a little better. I plan on getting my own workout in this morning/today and then teaching Dynamax at the YMCA.

Questions for you: Are you a fan of Greek food? What’s your favorite non-American style food? Do anything share-worthy over the weekend? I love to hear from you!