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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Quinoa-Veggie Burgers

May 4, 2012

If you’ve been following my blog since its inception just over two weeks ago(!), you already know that I adore quinoa. Well, today I finally had a chance to try out the Quinoa-Veggie Burger recipe that I discovered while flipping through an issue of Chatelaine during one of my many visits to the walk-in clinic (when you have three young children, you go there A LOT!). These tasty “burgers” are surprisingly quick and easy to make.

Chatelaine gives the preparation and cooking time as 20 minutes each (for a total of 40 minutes), but really the preparation (peeling and chopping vegetables) can be done in about 5 minutes, and if you use left-over quinoa instead of cooking a fresh batch, the cooking time can also be reduced to 15 minutes – meaning you can have lunch or dinner ready in about 20 minutes!

You can view the Chatelaine version of this recipe here, or you can follow along below to view how I made my burgers.

Ingredients:

1 and 1/4 cup cooked quinoa (I usually cook 1 cup quinoa – which turns into approximately 3 cups once cooked) at the beginning of each week so I have some readily available throughout the week for recipes like these Quinoa-Veggie Burgers, Quinoa Carrot Muffins, Greek Yogurt Delight, etc.)

1 egg, scrambled – EDITOR’S NOTE: by scrambled, I mean whisked & uncooked!

2 Tbsp cornstarch and 1 Tbsp brown rice flour (because I ran out of cornstarch, though you could use 3 Tbsp of either ingredient – I purchase my brown rice flour at the Bulk Barn)

2 Tbsp ground flaxseed (optional)

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cumin (because I didn’t have any cayenne pepper, which the Chatelaine recipe calls for and I thought cumin would taste good – it did!)

1 tsp canola oil

approximately 115 g cremini and portobello mushrooms, cleaned and chopped

1 coarsely grated medium zucchini

1 coarsely grated medium peeled carrot

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Directions:

1. Transfer quinoa into a large bowl. Stir in egg, cornstarch (and/or brown rice flour), ground flaxseed, salt and cumin.

2. Heat a large, wide non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add oil, then mushrooms, zucchini, carrot, onion and garlic. Cook until soft, about 5 min.

3. Add cooked veggies to quinoa and egg mixture and stir.

4. Heat the same non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Firmly press quinoa mixture into a 1/3-cup measuring cup. If the burgers are not sticking together well, add some more cornstarch or brown rice flour to the mixture.

5. Turn and release into pan. Gently press to shape into a patty. cook until golden and warmed through, about 4 minutes per side. Repeat until quinoa-veggie mixture is “all gone” (picture my almost-two-year old here shrugging her shoulders and holding out the palms of her hands upwards as she says “all gone”- too cute!).

I THOROUGHLY enjoyed my quinoa-veggie burgers along with some romaine lettuce, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado, topped with a generous dollop of hummus. Of course, I drizzled the raw veggies with my Honey Mustard Salad Dressing! [Though I have made my own hummus in the past, I prefer the one from Costco (brand name: “fontaine sante”) because let’s face it, I don’t really have time to make EVERYTHING from scratch, and the listed ingredients are “normal”: chickpeas, tahini (sesame butter) canola oil, lemon juice concentrate, sea salt, vinegar, garlic juice (garlic juice, salt).]

Chatelaine suggests topping the burgers with tahini sauce and roasted plum tomatoes. Their photo of the cooked burgers shows them served on top of a grilled portobello mushroom and arugula. It looks soooo yummy, I think I’ll try this next time!

Will you give this recipe a try? Are you interested in more “meatless” meals?