Cornbread-Stuffed Zucchini

It feels so wonderful to sit in the sun room and look through recipe magazines. This morning i found a picture of gardenias that i am dying to attempt to paint.  Hopefully they will end up looking like gardenias and not weeds, but that is another story! Flipping through pages of a Southern Living, this recipe got my attention!  It also made me think about how i could use leftover dressing at Thanksgiving or just make a little extra dressing to put in the zucchini and serve that as a side dish. But first I’m going to make it just like the recipe because it sounds delicious.

3 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread 

4 zucchini (use the middle to larger sized ones, using same size so they cook evenly)

3 tables canola oil, divided

1 tsp kosher salf

16 oz ground chicken

1/2 cup chopped red onion

4 garlic cloves, minced 

1 tsp paprika

1/2 teas black pepper

6 oz white Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 & 1/2 cups)  

1/2 cup whole kernel corn

3 tables chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Spread corn bread in an even layer on one end of a baking sheet. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a serrated tomato core or melon Baller,  Scoop out zucchini pulp to equal 3 cups of pulp, Leaving a 1/2 inch shell in tact. Coarsely chop 1 1/2 cups of pulp; reserve remaining pulp for another use.

Brush zucchini shells with 2 tablespoons of the canola oil. Place zucchini shells on baking sheet with cornbread, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Bake zucchini and corn bread at 375° until cornbread is slightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground chicken to skillet, cook stirring to crumble until browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Add onion, garlic, paprika, pepper, reserved one and 1/2 cups zucchini pulp, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon of salt to skillet: cook stirring occasionally, until onion is tender, about three minutes. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in corn bread, cheddar cheese, corn and parsley. Divide chicken mixture evenly among zucchini shells. Place shells on a baking sheet.

3. Baked stuffed zucchini at 350° until filling is lightly browned and zucchini is tender, about 25 minutes.

Serves 4

Wild Rice Chicken Mushroom Soup

Yesterday i served this incredible soup to some friends who came over for lunch and cards!  It was a hit!   It is easy and so flavorful!  Great soup especially for this time of year!  This recipe served 8

1 store bought rottisery chicken, deboned and chopped

2 1/2 boxes (the 32 oz box) low sodium chicken broth, so that would be 80 oz)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup chopped celery

4 tables butter

2 tables olive oil

1 8 oz container sliced white fresh  mushrooms 

4 carrots, sliced thin

2 cups washed and torn pieces of fresh spinach

1 box of Zatarain’s Long Grsin &  wild rice mix

Garlic powder (or chopped fresh garlic) salt and pepper to taste! 

Make rice according to directions on box! Set aside! 

In large Dutch oven, melt butter with the olive oil. Sauté the onion and celery in the butter olive oil mixture until onions are clear and transparent and celery begins to get tender. Add washed mushrooms, cooking the onion, celery mushroom mixture for about five minutes. Add the chicken broth and the chopped chicken until it is heated thoroughly. Add the seasonings to broth!  Add your chopped fresh spinach and carrots to the soup. Cook the soup for 1 to 2 hours over low heat until all vegetables are tender. About 10 minutes before you’re ready to serve the soup add the rice to the soup mixture allowing it to heat thoroughly. 

 

Browned Butter Banana Bread

Is there anything that doesn’t taste better than browned butter? I remember the first time I tasted it. So much added nutty flavor and such an addition to already wonderful butter flavor. The praline frosting that is on the blog, which is made with browned butter is still one of my favorites. So when I saw this in an old magazine from Paula Deen, I instantly knew what I was going to bake next when the new bananas ripened.

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups cake flour, sifted
1 teas baking powder
1 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
1 1/4 cups mashed banana (about 3 medium)
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teas rum extract (extra, so since I don’t like rum flavor, will use vanilla)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter begins to foam. Continue cooking, without stirring, until butter is golden brown and has a nutty aroma. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl, discarding any remaining solids. Let cool to room temp, then refrigerate for 30 minutes or until butter has solidified but is not cold.
Preheat oven to 325. Spray a 10×5″ loaf pan with Pam baking spray with flour.

In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with mixer on medium until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and next 3 ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together banana, buttermilk, and extract. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with banana mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat just until combined after each addition. Stir in nuts, if using them. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until bread tests done. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Stor in airtight container for up to 3 days or wrap tightly and place in plastic bag to freeze up to 3 months.

Apple Fritters

On the back of some of my cooking magazines, come these lovely little recipes from Sevierville, TX, advertising Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant This little gem is perfect for those mornings or late evenings when you don’t want to get back out of the house, but a donut sounds really good with a cup of tea or coffee. Simple and quick, this will not disappoint.
1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
4 tables butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teas salt
1 orange rind with juice
1 cup apples, peeled and finely chopped
2 teas baking powder
1 teas vanilla

Combine ingredients and mix well.
Drop 1 tablespoon at a time into 350 oil until brown and cooked in the middle, Drain and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar.

Fall Prediction

Some of you out there in Blogville who are wishing that Fall gets here quickly will SO love this prediction. I really think it is only days away. (I won’t say how many days because I don’t want to look foolish). But when you hear my reasons of why I KNOW it must be close you will totally understand why I do not need a weather person to tell me when it will arrive. First of all, my first sign that it will be here soon is my desire to grow my hair (no, not the hair on my legs, I’m actually so old that there’s not much of that left). For some reason, by this time each year, my love of short hair is disappearing. All I can think about is “wonder how long it will take my hair this time to get to one length?” Each year, it’s the same thing. Blaming it on the nights that is still too hot to go walking or exercising, I sit and look through old photos, which includes pictures of previous Falls and Winters when my hair seemed to be headed toward growing out from it’s summer short cut. So when that desire to let it grow comes over me, I can rest assured Fall is almost here.

Another sign that Fall is close, is my desire to rearrange furniture. Sitting there in the evenings I begin to look around the room, wondering where the Christmas TREES will go this year. Notice I said trees, not tree. If there were only one, I wouldn’t have too much trouble, but because I like to have one in each room to enjoy the lights of the season, I realize that we will be moving furniture around. When we sit at night and Randy sees my eyes looking around the room, he says, “oh no, you are thinking again. What and where are we moving?” He also has learned that when I start that, it will be impossible for me to go to sleep until I have moved what I have imagined the whole evening. So he gets up, goes to the cabinet and gets out the sliders. We are not talking about hamburger sliders, we are talking about the most wonderful invention, little cushioned plastic backed pieces which allow me to slide any furniture anyplace. IF you are strong enough to lift a piece of furniture so that the slider is scooted under it, you can move it. We have had these sliders since around 1996. When we first married, Randy traveled quite a bit. Most of the time I went with him, but if he was going to boring cities, I stayed home and rearranged furniture how I wanted it to be without him looking over my shoulder and throwing his two cents in of where he thought the couch should go. One of these evenings when he was out of town, he called me from the hotel. He said that he had the TV on and had seen something that he just knew I would love. As newlyweds, my mind began to wonder. TV…advertisements, close to Christmas; had he ordered me a new car? had he been watching the shopping network and had seen a beautiful diamond bracelet that would look perfect on my skinny little arm? (ok, maybe it wasn’t skinny, but it was definitely much smaller that it is now and there were not wings hanging from the underside)My imagine ran wild. He wouldn’t tell me what the surprise was. He sounded so excited that he had seen this and knew immediately that he wanted to buy them for me. So I would just have to wait. Well, in a few days, the wait was over. I came home to find a package on the front porch. Excitedly, I threw down my purse and began to tear the package open. There looking back at me were four sliders. Does he know how to win my heart or what?
Mr. Romantic! So to show him my appreciation, I moved every piece of furniture in the house before he got home. When he arrived back in Dallas and walked through the front door, his reply was, “I’m so glad I didn’t come home drunk, or I would have broke my leg falling over the newly placed furniture.” Call me crazy, but if I had a husband who drank too much, this system is certainly a lot cheaper than therapy. Just keep moving the furniture around. Keep em guessing. That’s my motto. OK, back to predicting Fall.

Last, but not least is my drink. All summer long, I was addicted to Ombre’s at Starbucks. Well, last Sunday, on the way home from church, I ordered my first Pumpkin Latte. There, that is the one true tale tale sign. When I no longer order cold drinks, but switch to Lattes, well, you might as well get that sweater out and start wearing your gold jewelry. Why is it silver jewelry just looks better in summer and gold looks like it belongs in Winter? You can trust me on this, it happens every year. So when you see me walking down the street (well, actually that would be a miracle in itself, as I don’t walk anywhere) with a Latte, wearing gold jewelry with long hair, you can turn the fireplace on, Fall is here. No need to watch the 6:00 weather!

Caesar Mushroom Caps

Isn’t it great to receive those cooking magazines that all us to have wonderful evenings when we get to just sit and look through them for new ideas?
Because Fall is (hopefully for those of us who live in the Sun Belt, known as Arizona) right around the corner, it seems like those kind of evenings just come around a little more often than they did in the summer. Maybe it is because our hearts turn to cooking and baking, because after all, isn’t that what Fall is for? As I got out some old magazines last night, while watching Diners, Diners and Dives, this page called to me. Loving mushrooms and loving what great appetizers they always make, it got my attention.

12 large whole mushrooms
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 teas onion flakes
1 tables olive oil
1/4 teas ground cayenne pepper
3 tables Brianna’s Asiago Caesar salad dressing

Preheat oven to 350.
Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Careful break off stems. Chop stems extremely fine, discarding tough ends.

Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add chopped mushroom stems to the skillet. Salute until any moisture has disappeared and stems are tender. Set aside to cool.

Combine cream cheese, Caesar dressing, onion flakes, cayenne pepper, cooled mushroom stems and chopped pecans together mixing well. Mixture should be very thick.
Using a small spoon, fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of stuffing. Arrange mushroom caps in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over each mushroom.
Bake for 20 minutes in preheated oven or until the mushrooms are piping hot and the parmesan cheese is a golden brown.

Chocolate Ganache (thank you Ina)

A couple of weeks ago, we had dinner at a sweet friends house. She served all our favorite Southern Dishes, Southern fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans. The great ending to the evening was this amazing chocolate cake, which she had found in her Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) cook book. So, needing my fix of weekly chocolate, I bought the can of chocolate syrup yesterday and made it first thing this morning. It is such a rich velvety cake with coffee granules in the ganache frosting. It actually will make you forget that the weather is not cooperating with cool temps, just because we are ready to have the fall decorations up. Treat yourself to this wonderful rich cake that is truly very simple to make.
Thanks Marilyn (and Ina) for sharing that heavenly cake with us.

Cake
1/4 lb unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 extra large eggs (this is the first cake recipe I have seen that called for extra large eggs instead of large)
1 (16 oz) can of Hershey’s chocolate syrup
1 tables pure vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour

Ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz good semisweet chocolate chips (not imitation)
1 teas instant coffee granules

Preheat oven to 325. Butter and flour a 8″ cake pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the chocolate syrup and vanilla. Add the flour and mix just until combined. Don’t over beat, or the cake will be tough.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40-45 min, or until just set in the middle. Don’t overtake. Let cool thoroughly in the pan.
For the ganache, cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips and instant coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. (I don’t have a double boiler, so just cooked over low heat until chips were completely melted and mixture was smooth. I stirred it almost the whole time)
Place the cake upside down on a wire rack and pour the glaze evenly over the top, making sure to cover the entire cake and sides. Then place cake carefully on a serving plate. it frightens me to have to transfer a cake layer from a wire rack to a plate so I * (once again, I didn’t do that. I just placed it on a cake plate and poured the ganache over the top, allowing it to flow over the sides of the cake.*
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Face Lifts & Labs

Since this story was written on Labor Day, 2013, I thought it might give some smiles in a time that we are praying and thinking so much about Texas and the many needs they have this Labor Day Weekend.
As we continue to pray for Texas as they begin to face more difficult days ahead, we want to remember this Labor Day Weekend, those who have sacrificed so much and those that continue to do so. Military, First Responders and those that are responding to the call for help. God’s blessings on each of you.

Chocolate Castles

This morning I fasted. I would like to say that I did it to spend more time in prayer, but the fact is that I had to have some lab work done. I put on enough make-up so as not to scare anyone and headed out the door at 7:05 a.m. Now, I am the first to admit that I truly am one of those that need all the layers of makeup so that I hopefully hide several years of wrinkles. I had just had my roots watered and fed and so no gray was showing. When I walked into the waiting room, I thought to myself, “hum…I shouldn’t have really worried about how my hair or makeup looks, most of the people there looked like they barely had rolled out of bed, much less brushed their hair and maybe not their teeth. But I sat down to wait my…

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Tell Of His Wondrous Acts to Perform

We are instructed in Psa 105, to “O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon His name; make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto him; talk ye of all His wondrous works.” When we pray asking the Lord to guide us, that is what we are suppose to do. To allow Him to guide us, not walk ahead of Him; but that is exactly what I have been doing.

When we moved to Arizona, we had spent many hours in prayer asking the Lord to lead us to the church home that He wanted us to be in service to Him. After visiting churches around the area, we found a church that had amazing preaching and people who were so very easy to love. Even though it was very different from the churches we have been members in both Texas and California, we felt that this church had great folks and great preaching, so we decided that this would become our church home. Each week, we would leave the service and get in the car and I would get teary eyed. Randy would take my hand and say, “I know this is not what we are used to, but churches out here are very different and I guess this is the best it’s going to be.” I know this is not the attitude that we should have, but I began to think that if we joined, maybe it would feel more like our “home church” and being a member would make us feel better about things. So I began to tell Randy that we should begin the church membership process. This is certainly not something that I am proud of, and is exactly why we are encouraged to allow the husband to be the head of the household. I could tell he was not feeling the same about joining, but after me continuing to say that “we need to do this”, he agreed and we went forward in preparing the church membership videos. The appointment was set to meet with one of the pastors and we went. The entire hour we met with this sweet young man, I felt a check in my spirit, but just decided that maybe it was because I was still trying to “make it happen”. So we joined. The two Sundays after joining, each week, we would leave the service and get in the car. Tears would fill my eyes, and we both knew that we had indeed got ahead of the Lord and was not in the place where we should be.

The week after joining, a friend called me to tell me that they felt that they had found their church home. She began to tell me about it and let me know that it had a traditional service and had Sunday School and a Women’s Ministry, which is something that has always been such a passion of mine. As she spoke, I remembered the whole past year of both Randy and I praying and asking the Lord to allow us to find a church which had Sunday School and a traditional service and a Women’s Ministry. Randy had heard the whole conversation because I had my phone on speaker phone. This was on a Thursday. Right then I decided that for once, (yes I do get ahead of God so many times) I would not even mention this to Randy, but to let him be the one who suggested that we attend Grace Community Church. Calling my BFF in Dallas, I began to relay the whole story to her when she spoke up and said, “Trudy do you not remember me mentioning Grace Community to you when you first moved there?” No I didn’t remember. She had heard about it from her daughter who lives in Scottsdale and had friends who attended Grace. The next Sunday morning, we got up and began to get ready for church when he quietly said, “what do you think about going to visit Grace Community this morning?” Quickly I responded, YES! So off we went. After the service, we walked out and got in the car and just looked at each other. As he looked over to me, I said, “what did you think? He told me that he loved it and we both said that it was a church we could see ourselves growing old in and serving” The next 3 weeks, we went back and have begun visiting Sunday School classes. But now the burden of telling our sweet friends who have been not only our small group leaders, but my ladies Bible study leader who invited us into their small group. We left for a couple of weeks for vacation and we ask friends in California to pray for us as we felt badly for now telling these folks who had become such sweet friends to us, that we would be leaving the church. But God….He truly goes way beyond our needs and answers prayers which still amaze! When I talked to Marilyn, she was just so sweet and kind and told me she totally understood. Then she told me a story. She said that as soon as she got my email explaining our story, she went in to tell her husband. It was then that he revealed to her that he had just received an email from a couple who had tried once before to get in their small group, but there wasn’t room. The man had written to Bob and had ask him if there was still no opening in their group, as their small group had disbanded and they were desperate to be in a small group. So us leaving allowed them to be able to invite this couple into theirs. All that happened on the very same day. A confirmation from the Lord that we were being called to a new place. So from this circumstance, several things were learned.
1. Do not try to “make things happen”. Allow God to lead in His timing, not mine.
2. Don’t settle for something less that what God has intended to give you. We had been praying for a year for a church that was more like our home church in Texas and California. We didn’t wait, but took it upon ourselves to get ahead of the Lord, thinking that this was as good as it was going to get. God never gives you anything but His best. Why can I not learn that?

3.When we don’t wait on God and lead ourselves, instead of allowing God to lead, there are consequences. Yes, He forgives our trying to control situations, but my consequences were that I had to go back then and tell precious friends that we had made a mistake and acknowledge that this was just not the place for us.

4. Quit trying to be the spiritual leader of our home. Randy was not ready to join, and had I listened to him, we would not have signed a church membership covenant.

Lord, there are so many times when I try to get ahead of you and think that I know better than you how to live my life. Forgive me Lord and may I learn to trust You more and more and may my faith in You grow no matter the circumstances.

“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Mark 11:24

2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.