Stuffed Italian Zucchini

I realize Father’s Day was like, so last month. However, today’s blog post is a special one or my Dad, or as I call him, my “Duddy.”

I cook a lot of things, and sometimes they sound appealing to people. Sometimes they don’t. My darling Biffer is so supportive of my blog endeavor, even though she hates a very major ingredient in a lot of my recipes – cheese.

So I was describing this particular dish the other day to my Dad, who is going to be a bachelor next week as my mom is traveling, and he told me I had to post it immediately. I think I actually heard the drool through the phone.

You see, my dad loves Italian foods. There’s an awesome Italian festival in Memphis every summer and if he decides to brave the heat (he’s what I call, “heat intolerant”) to attend, his trip is not complete without an Italian sausage and pepper sandwich.

As they say, the apple does not fall far from the tree – because as soon as I saw this recipe on Skinnytaste, I knew it had to happen in my kitchen. So I hope y’all enjoy this one as much as I think my dad will!

Stuffed Italian Zucchini (Makes 8 “boats” / 3 WW Pts. each)

Ingredients

4 medium zucchini

1/4 yellow onion, chopped

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 tsp. olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic

1 1/2 cups marinara sauce

1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella

2 links hot Italian turkey sausage (I use Butterball brand), cooked and crumbled

8 tsp. reduced fat Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

While everything is heating up, slice your zucchini in half and scoop out the insides, leaving a border about 1/8 – 1/4 inch think. Reserve about half of what you scoop out and chop it up.

In a medium skillet, heat olive oil. Add chopped bell pepper, onion and garlic. Saute 3-5 minutes. Then add zucchini, cooking another 2-3 minutes. Finally, add the sausage and and cook for 2-3 additional minutes.

Scoop and Saute

Place hollowed out zucchini halves in boiling water for about 1 minute each.

In a large baking dish, pour a light layer of marinara sauce on the bottom. Arrange boiled zucchini halves on top of sauce. Distribute the sausage-veggie mixture in the zucchini. Then top with marinara sauce (about 2 Tbsp. per half). Add shredded mozzarella (about 1 Tbsp. per half) and grated Parmesan.

Stuff Top Bake

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, until cheese is melted, zucchini is cooked through, and your kitchen smells amazing. How could it not – look at these babies!

Close up - Stuffed Zucchini

The husband and I each enjoyed 3 for dinner with some yummy french bread, and he took the remaining 2 for lunch the next day. However you divvy them up, I’m sure you will love them…

Stuffed Italian Zucchini

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

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Buffalo Hummus

I know y’all have been worried about me.

I mean, there are likely several reasons you could worry about me.

My fear of balloons is a a cause of concern for some. My ability to get sucked in to a book and polish it off in a single day could raise eyebrows. Or how about the fact that whether I’ve watched the movie or tune in to the last 5 minutes, I can still break out into a straight-up ugly cry at the end of Rudy?

We haven’t even breached the subject of my bizarre talent of coming up with odd commercials, slogans or just ridiculous rhymes. Just ask my Biffer (whose latest blog post talks about the day she could have felt old) about the compilation I made for her as she went off to college. It was an epic combination of our favorite hits from the 80’s and 90’s, along with some of my super special commercials and jingles – and it was on a mixed tape. Let that one marinate for a while. Do cars even come with tape decks anymore?

All of that aside, I know you’ve been worried because it’s been almost two months since I’ve posted a buffalo chicken flavored recipe.

Today, we’re rectifying that issue. I made this recipe a few weeks ago as a bit of an experiment, and the husband and I went crazy for it! We both love hummus, and obviously you know about the buffalo obsession – so this was the perfect combination. It makes a ton so it was perfect for us to snack on throughout the week – give it a try and let me know what you think!

Buffalo Hummus (6 servings / 3 WW pts. each + chips, celery, etc.)

Ingredients

1 16 oz. can Garbanzo beans/Chickpeas (reserve 1-2 Tbsp. liquid, drain the rest)

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

1-2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/4 tsp. garlic salt

3 Tbsp. Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

1/4 cup reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles

I made hummus once before in college and for some reason forgot how easy it is. It makes good amount, doesn’t require much prep work and only leaves one dish to be cleaned. How awesome is that?

To begin, drain the chickpeas, reserving 1 or 2 tablespoons of the liquid. In a food processor (I use my precious mini one) add chickpeas and garlic. Pulse a few times to break everything up a little.

Next, add your oils, 1 Tbsp. chickpea liquid, hot sauce, lemon juice, paprika and garlic salt. Then chop on full speed, making sure everything is blending together. I rotated “chop” and “grind” a few times to switch up the direction of the blade to ensure the chickpeas were smoothing out a little.

Steps to Blend

Adjust seasoning to your taste buds. I played around with the paprika and garlic salt, and probably added another tablespoon of hot sauce to make sure we got the heat – so use the recipe above as a starting point and adjust. If it’s too thick, add a little more liquid/oil/hot sauce.

Scoop into a serving dish leaving a shallow well in center. Add blue cheese crumbles. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving with pita chips, pretzel crisps, veggies (I recommend celery), etc.

Buffalo Hummus

Try making some this weekend or at your next gathering and watch people who normally scoff at hummus devour it!

Buffalo Hummus Close Up

Baked Tacos

Let’s be honest – there are few things worse than the first day back at the office after a wonderfully relaxing vacation. I mean, other than the first entire week back. Obvi.

Apologies for my lack of updates – after a fun-filled wedding weekend in Chicago, I was in full on survival-mode with vacation on the brain! The husband and I spent 8 days in South Carolina with my parents, enjoying all that Lake Keowee had to offer! We ate good food, drank good wine, watched movies (it rained a few days), played some tennis, hiked to a beautiful waterfall, soaked up sunshine when we could, read some books, and just had an overall amazing time.

SC WaterfallsLake Keowee South Carolina

Thanks to my parents for putting up with us for a week!

Anyways – aside from that first day catching up on e-mails and curling up in fetal position under your desk when you look at your completed to-do list, the other quite miserable thing  is the kitchen.

Like, why didn’t somebody stock my fridge for my return? Seriously, going to the grocery store can be exhausting when you’ve just spend 8 1/2 hours in a car singing along to the 80’s and 90’s XM stations at the top of your lungs much to the delight dismay of your husband.

Luckily, I had a few items to throw together one of our of new-found favorite meals which was perfect for our “Meatless Monday”. The husband always loves taco night, but this way is so easy because everything is ready at once and the filling doesn’t fall out everywhere!  Honestly, this one is a bit surprising for 2 reasons:

1 – My hubby loves it even when I use the “fake meat”

2 – I love it even though it has re-fried beans, which I usually make the hubby scoop out of the can because they gross me out so much.

So, if anything in this recipe doesn’t sound quite up your ally, just give it a try – I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Baked Tacos (Serves 2 / 10 pts. per serving)

Ingredients

6 Whole Grain Taco Shells (I use Ortega)

1 1/3 cup MorningStar Farms Meal Starters Veggie Crumbles (or ground turkey/chicken/beef of your choice, will affect WW point values)

1/4 cup chopped yellow onion

2 oz. canned tomato sauce

4 oz. fat-free re-fried beans

4 tsp. Taco seasoning (we use the “Hot and Spicy” mix – yum!)

2 oz. chopped green chiles, canned

1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese

Toppings of your choice (salsa, lettuce, avocado, olives, sour cream, etc. – adjust point values accordingly!)

Preheat oven to 350. Add taco shells to a lightly greased baking pan so that shells are upright.

Heat a skillet to medium heat and add non-stick spray. Add veggie crumbles and cook 2-3 minutes, then add onions. Cook another 2-3 minutes before adding tomato sauce, chiles, re-fried beans and taco seasoning. Cook another 5 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring to combine and heat through.

Step by Step Tacos

Bake taco shells 2-3 minutes. Remove from oven and distribute the meat(less) mixture evenly in the shells, pressing down to the edges. Distribute the cheese evenly on top of the mixture. Return pan to oven and bake 10-12 minutes until cheese has melted and shells are baked.

Plated

Add toppings of your choice and devour. I usually go with salsa, lettuce, black olives and avocado – but I’m sure anything will be delicious…

Baked Tacos

Hope y’all have a great weekend!