It has been a very busy summer to date: we celebrated my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary at the end of June and then my son’s 5th birthday on the 13th of July (it was a Friday this year, just like the year he was born!). Last week my two eldest children had one-on-one swimming lessons in a nearby backyard pool every morning at 9am for half an hour, and they both did so well and enjoyed it so much that I have signed them up for one more week (check out some photos from their lessons below!). There have been plenty of playdates with some very amazing friends, including an overnight visit from our friends who live in London, Ontario which means there were four adults and six children under the age of six sleeping in our house! Oh, and then there has been some serious potty training going on with my youngest and I am happy to say that we are well on our way to being completely diaper-free!

So with all that business and the extremely hot summer we have been experiencing, I have not found the time or desire to do much cooking in the last few weeks, which explains why I haven’t posted any new recipes lately. Many evenings I have simply served the children some healthy snacks and/or sandwiches and a big bowl of salad for my husband and myself. Tonight, however, we actually enjoyed what my husband refers to as a “real meal”: Zucchini “Boats” With Home Fries. I’m excited to share the recipes with you because they’re really quick and easy to prepare, super yummy, and reasonably healthy and kid-friendly! I found the recipe for the zucchini several years ago in one of the “Canadian Cheese” magazines (I think!) and it has been a staple ever since, especially in the summer months when zucchini is readily available. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does!

Home Fries
Ingredients:
1-2 medium potatoes per person (I generally prefer to use Yukon Gold, but today I used regular white potatoes and they were equally delicious!)
olive oil
salt to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Gently clean potatoes with water if leaving the skin on the potatoes (which I highly recommend, as that is where most of the fibre and vitamins are found!) Or, peel potatoes (which I do when the skin is not very nice looking anymore) and then rinse them under cold running water.
3. Cut potatoes into fries and place in a large bowl. The thinner you cut them, the faster they will bake!

4. Drizzle potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss until all fries are coated with oil.
5. Spread potatoes onto a baking sheet and bake for 30 – 45 minutes, until they are golden and crispy. You should turn the fries occasionally while they are baking.

Zucchini “Boats”
Servings: 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 to 25 minutes

Ingredients:
4 large zucchini, halved and cored
1 pound ground meat (your choice – I used beef)
1 or 2 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
2 tbsp fresh basil or oregano, chopped (I used dried oregano, paprika, ground coriander)
3/4 cup Havarti cheese – plain or with jalapeno or tomato and basil (I used Gruyere, but you could use pretty much any cheese)
3/4 cup Feta cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place zucchini on cookie sheet.

3. Combine remaining ingredients and use to stuff zucchini.
4. Bake 15 to 25 minutes or until meat well-cooked and zucchini are fork-tender.
5. Serve immediately with Home Fries (or brown rice or quinoa or barley!). Oh, and a side garden salad with my Honey Mustard Dressing is highly recommended!

What is your favourite way to enjoy zucchini?!

Below are a few pictures from the children’s swimming lessons:

Erik & Emma practice treading water in the deep end of the pool.


Erik swims in the deep end after jumping in!


Emma swims in the deep water with the aid of a noodle!

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Chicken Parmesan Bake

May 6, 2012

Imagine you’ve had an extremely busy day and now you are supposed to quickly prepare a healthy and super-delicious meal using the chicken breasts you had thawing in the fridge since last night, but the thought of all those dirty dishes to wash once dinner has been served and devoured is enough to make you want to order in a pizza instead. What if I told you I have a recipe that, approximately 35 minutes after starting to follow said recipe, results in a healthy and super-delicious meal with just one dish to clean?!  Impossible, right?! That’s what I thought, too, when my friend first told me about this recipe not that long ago. I have made it several times now and it has always exceeded my expectations.

You can click here to view the original recipe (literally, as there is no written recipe – it’s a video demonstration!), or you can read below to see my (healthier still) version of this recipe.

Ingredients:

1 jar of your favourite tomato sauce (as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my two favourites are the “Blue Menu” tomato sauces by “President’s Choice” available at No Frills, etc. and “All Natural Marinara Sauce” by “White Linen Collection – Gourmet Pasta Sauce” available at Costco – both are low in sodium and contain no added sugar)

fresh Basil leaves, chopped

1 – 2 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed (optional)

4 – 6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (I typically purchase the chicken breasts with the skin on and bone in and remove these myself – it’s usually cheaper this way AND allows me to make homemade chicken stock with the discarded bones – I’ll be doing a post on how to make your own chicken stock soon!)

1/2 bag whole grain, garlic croutons

shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese – as much or as little as you like!
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pour some tomato sauce into a 2.8 L baking dish (I prefer glass), just enough to provide some moisture for the chicken breasts, which you then place on top of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the chopped basil and garlic (if using) over top of the chicken breasts.

Pour tomato sauce over chicken breasts (I LOVE tomato sauce, so I am generous here). Next, sprinkle croutons over top, however much or little you like. (I would have used more if I hadn’t run out!) Sprinkle cheese over top, again as much or as little as you like.

Place in oven and bake for 30 – 35 minutes.

Steamed broccoli makes a good accompaniment. Or, as pictured above, enjoy with some brown and wild rice and a garden salad with my Honey Mustard Salad Dressing!