Monthly Archives: August 2011

Summertime Stuffed Peppers

What’s for supper?  Stuffed Peppers!  If your garden is doing better than mine (which is everyone else in the world, I think), I bet you have some extra zucchini that you are trying to reinvent into something other than zucchini bread.  The zucchini makes these peppers light and moist.  I came up with this recipe a few summers ago, and it’s been our favorite ever since.

I have 5 green bell peppers, 1 red bell and 1 orange bell, a medium zucchini, some onions and some herbs.

Here’s what you will need for making these Summertime Stuffed Peppers:

  • 3 lbs. Ground Beef
  • 1 cup Rice – cooked (can be brown or white)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 medium Zucchini, grated
  • 2 small ( or 1 medium) Onions, grated
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon Seasoned Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 6 or 8 Basil Leaves*
  • marjoram, Thyme, Oregano (totally 1 teaspoon fresh) *
  • Fresh Parsley (about 4 Tablespoons, chopped)*
  • Tomato Sauce (one 20 oz. can and one 15 oz. can)
  • 7  Bell peppers remove seeds, stem and ribs, cut in half

*If you do not have fresh herbs, you can used dried and here are the measurements for those: 

  • For every Tablespoon Fresh = Teaspoon Dried  
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Each: Dried  marjoram, Dried Thyme, Dried Oregano
  • 1 Teaspoon dried Basil
  • 4 Teaspoons dried Parsley

Okay, now that we have that figured out here are the instructions for putting it all together:

Mince together all of the fresh herbs.  Grate zucchini and onion. 

In large bowl add:  Ground Beef, Grated Zucchini, Grated Onion, Seasoned Salt, Black Pepper, Worcestershire Sauce, Cooked Rice, Minced Herbs, and Beaten Egg.  

Mix well until everything is incorporated. 

I like to cut my peppers into halves.  If you would rather leave yours whole, that’s okay too.

Spoon mixture into pepper halves, place into large casserole dish or two 9×13″ pans.  

Cover tightly with foil.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 2 hours. 

After baking for 2 hours, remove foil, drain excess grease from pan and pour tomato sauce over peppers. 

Leave uncovered and bake for another 30 minutes.

This batch will make approximately 7 servings.  (2 halves per person) I like to serve corn muffins with these peppers. 

This recipe can easily be cut in half, or freeze the extra for another meal.  We like to have leftovers, they are great for lunches.  Enjoy!


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Oh, I believe in yesterday

Yesterday was no different from most Saturdays for us this summer. We loaded up and headed to the pool with family (my two guys and myself, my younger brother and his family, and sometimes an extra cousin or two will come along).  I have decided that these trips to the pool have been the highlight of my summer.  The sun, the water, the steel palm trees, the water slide, the long underwater bench in the 3 foot side of the pool. Really, what’s not to like?

I came to the conclusion that I think I know why I love going to the pool so much with my family.  It is quality time.  I truly mean that.  It’s not just quality time for our family, but for everyone else that is there with their families.  I think for those of us that had season passes to our local pools when we were kids, it’s a bit of nostalgia for us.  It takes us back to a time when we had not a worry in the world, except for what our mom had packed for our picnic lunches that day.  If we were lucky, it was fried bologna sandwiches on white sandwich bread!!  We were happy to leave our video games at home.  For us, our video game (that was a big deal, mind you) was Pong.  Pong would still be there when we got back.  Nowadays, kids  have bigger and better toys than I ever did.   At the pool though, kids still play the same games we did: catch, keep away, see who can hold their breath the longest, who can make the biggest splash off of the diving board.  Their high-tech games would be there when they got back home also.

Not much has changed at the local pool.  Families still pack up: beach towels, goggles, rafts, tubes, sunscreen (okay, that part has changed, thank goodness), coolers with cold drinks.  You get the idea.  I’ve noticed something that I don’t see a lot of, even in our busy, stay connected world.  People at the pool are not walking with their head down staring at a phone screen, kids are playing together and for the most part, everyone is really friendly and happy!!  Amazing!

  Normally, I would have never talked to two guys sitting on the bench, totally rocking their brockabrellas to keep the sun off of their faces.  Nor would have I sat down beside them.  But, when you are at the pool, people let their guard down.  It’s as if we are all on a miniature vacation together.  It’s the simplicity of it all and I love it.

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Zucchini Marmalade

By this time of summer we usually have zucchini coming out of our ears.  Again, not this year, but I’m not dwelling on it. You don’t have to have a garden to make this tasty treat.  You can pick up some zucchini at the grocery store or hit a farmer’s market or roadside produce stand.  To make this marmalade you will need 2-3 medium to large zucchini. 

Zucchini Marmalade                                                                                                 

  • 1 cup of water
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 6 cups grated, peeled zucchini
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple

Here is where you decide what type of fruit you would like to put in the marmalade:

Strawberry Zucchini Marmalade

  • 1 cup fresh, finely chopped (you can also puree) strawberries.
  • 2 ( 3 ounce) pkg. Jello (strawberry)

Peach Zucchini Marmalade                                            

  • 1 cup chopped peaches
  • 2 (3 ounce) pkg. Jello (peach)


Boil Zucchini in 1 cup water for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and drain. 

Add sugar, lemon juice, crushed pineapple and fruit of your choice to the drained zucchini.  Boil 10 minutes, remove from heat, add jello.

Pour while hot into jelly jars, making sure to wipe the rim of the jars clean after filling.  (the jars should seal on their own) Refrigerate any unsealed jars.

  • The flavor options are really endless.  You could also use fresh oranges, a mixture of berries, etc., you get the idea.  Just a cup of fruit is all you need. 

I couldn’t believe how simple it was to make this marmalade the first time I made it a few years ago!  Now I make several batches every year.  I like to use it for gifts.  Tie some ribbon around the lid and it’s perfect.

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Versatile Vinegar & Oil

My Great-Grandma B used “winegar” (she was German) to make one of our favorite summer salads, Cucumber Salad. 

This recipe for Cucumber Salad is a long time family favorite, but so is vinegar and oil slaw and vinegar and oil dressing for over your favorite garden greens.  They are all made from the same basic recipe. 

Vinegar and Oil Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch of Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or celery salt
  • Dash Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups sugar* (splenda can be used to replace all of the sugar or do a mixture of half sugar, half splenda for reduced sugar)

Whisk together in medium bowl, or what I do is put all of the ingredients into a jar with a lid and shake well until blended. 

At this point, you can add this mixture to:

  • Cucumber Salad:

2-4 Medium Cucumbers & 2-3 slices of Sweet Onion, Cherry Tomatoes, & Sliced Banana Peppers.  (onions, tomato, and peppers are optional)

  • Cole Slaw:

2 Bags of C0le Slaw Mix , or 1 Shredded head of Cabbage (to the head of cabbage you can add: few strips of bell pepper diced, a couple of green onions)

  • Tossed Garden Salad:

1 Large Bowl of Fresh Leaf Lettuce or Baby Field Greens, crumbled Bacon and a couple of slices of sweet onion.

If making the Cucumber Salad and Cole Slaw, mix everything together and let refrigerate for about 2 hours.

If making the tossed salad, dress the salad immediately before serving.   (you will not need the whole amount of dressing) Save remaining dressing in glass jar and refrigerate.

When I went to the garden today, this is what I found:

Normally, I would have baksets running over with cucumbers.  Not this year.  There are two reasons why I think we did not have as many to harvest.  #1) The heat  #2) I did not plant the same varieties as I had in previous years.  (because I could not find the seeds and I was impatient) I know, I know… there’s a moral to this story.  Live and learn, I guess.  I won’t make this mistake next year. 

I have a couple of cucumbers from a few days ago that I will add to these and make a cucumber salad today.  Did you notice the cucumber ball?  There’s a few of those out in the garden.  This is what the sad plants look like:

I hope you all try this recipe so it can become one of your family’s favorites!  Have a great day and stay cool.


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You Say Tomato, I Say Tomahto

Look what greeted me in the garden this morning!  Our first sunflower of the year.  Ahhh… summertime!

I feel like Forrest Gump when I go out to the garden each day.  I never know what I’m going to get.  This morning it was good news, lots of ripe tomatoes:

I picked three varieties today:  Beefmaster, Roma and Cherokee Purple.  This one was as big as my hand. 

This gives a little more perspective on the size of this one.  It’s just a tad larger than the Roma tomato, don’t ya think?

Our tomatoes are thriving this year.  I’m thinking it’s because of the heat.  “Heat” is an extreme understatement, it is oppressively hot and has been for weeks.  For most of the month of July we’ve had temperatures in the upper 90’s, with the heat index going into triple digits.  While the heat is good for the tomatoes, it has not been good for the cucumbers and peppers.  Our garden is looking like it is the end of August.  The cucumbers have pretty much fried out in the sun.  I’ve not been able to make any pickles yet.  Usually by this time of the year, I’ve made several quarts of pickles.  I’m thinking that I will seek out the local farmer’s market this week.  I’ll keep you posted!

Want to hear something crazy?!  I don’t like tomatoes, especially fresh tomatoes.  See, I really am crazy.  I like tomato sauce, tomato soup, salsa and those types of things that are tomato based.  I don’t like the taste or texture of the fresh.  Crazy, I know.  Salsa, tomato juice are obvious options for using tomatoes, but I found another way.  Check out this recipe I found for Chocolate Tomato Cake :

Ingredients for Cake:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup tomato juice

Icing Ingredients:

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup tomato juice
  • 4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Instructions for Cake:

Line a 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1 inch-jelly roll pan with parchment paper.  Spray the parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray.

Cream together margarine, shortening and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time beating well after adding each one.

Sift together cocoa, flour and baking soda.  Add to butter mixture, combining thoroughly.

Combine tomato juice, hot water and marshmallows; add to batter.

Batter will be thin and marshmallows with come to the top.  ( I had to spread the marshmallows around because they all wanted to stick together)

Pour batter into the prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven 350 degrees F for 35 minutes.

Instructions for Icing:

When the cake is nearly finished baking, start making the icing

Combine the margarine, tomato juice, water, cocoa and salt in a sauce pan and heat until boiling.  (watch this carefully, it doesn’t take long to scorch the cocoa)

Pour this mixture over the powdered sugar and beat well in mixer.  Stir in nuts.  This mixture gets stiff rather quickly so work fast.

Spread hot icing over the cake.  Let icing set up and enjoy. 

~What I liked about this recipe:

 It was fairly easy to follow and has basic ingredients that can be found in the pantry. 

It uses tomato juice!  If possible, try to use fresh squeezed. 

~What I did not like about this recipe:  you really do have to work fast!


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Hey Everyone!

Here goes! 

The first of the month is as good of a day as any to start a blog, right?  I hope to be able to share some of my thoughts, ideas, recipes, tips and lots of randomness. 

Today I shall talk about myself and my family.  My husband, Brian and I have been married for forever, I mean 16 years and still going strong!  He’s the exact opposite of me.  He’s quiet, a deep thinker, artistic, creative, a by the books kind of guy.  Me?  I’m usually not quiet, I’m more fly by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal.  I’m trying not to be as impulsive as I used to be, but it’s hard sometimes.  I’m not very precise either.  When I cook, I often follow recipes, but most of the time I use the recipe as a guide and put my own flare into the dish I’m cooking. 

Brian and I have one son, Eli.  He is 14 years old.  He’s not your typical 14-year-old boy in some ways.  He likes to hang out with us.  He likes to spend time with me.  He enjoys reading books, playing video games, staying up late, sleeping late and music (quite a wide variety from Katy Perry to Beethoven to Metallica).  He has a great sense of humor and is very witty.  I think he gets that from me. 🙂

I wanted to start this blog because SO many people have suggested to me that I should.  After much thought, I decided that I’d try it out.  I mostly want to share my passion for cooking and recipe sharing.  Nothing is more therapeutic for me than to cook an amazing dinner for my family or send a dish with Brian to take to work on “food day”.  The only way I can describe how it makes me feel is that I get so much joy from seeing others enjoy what I just created.  It’s an amazing feeling. 

I love to read cookbooks.  I read them like one would read a novel.  I look forward to sharing which cookbook that I am currently looking at.  Some of the cookbooks that I’ve acquired over the years are: the simple “church or organization compilations” (those are usually my favorite) , the very detailed type of cookbooks usually are ones that I will just browse through, and some of my cookbooks are falling apart at the seams.  I would also love to hear about or see which cookbooks are your favorites and why they are your favorite. 

I am so excited about sharing this blog with the world!  I would greatly appreciate your patience as this is a process for me, and hopefully I will be a quick learner.  I also wouldn’t mind your suggestions or feedback.  Have a wonderful day, everyone!


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