Weekly Winner: All Aboard the Buffalo Zucchini Boat Bandwagon!

zucchiniI’m not even sure where to begin with this recipe.  I thought my last entry was odd.  It honestly was nothing compared to this one.  I remember thinking when I saw the recipe for Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats “Wait, what? This doesn’t make any sense!  Who thinks up these things??” But something about it intrigued me and I could actually envision it working out.  I’m not sure why, but the thought the zucchini being stuffed with a buffalo-spiced chicken mixture was weird enough, that it just might… maybe… work out.

And it really did!  This is a super tasty, satisfying, amazingly easy dinner.  It feels indulgent and almost like a cheat meal since you’ve got buffalo sauce and cheese but actually it’s quite healthy.  The recipe for Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats comes from The Wholesome Dish blog which I discovered in a listing of 20 recipes using ground chicken (yeah, this is the kind of stuff I stay up nights looking at!).  Anyway, its crazy-easy — four ingredients! OK, full disclosure mine had 5 since I thought some chopped celery would be a nice addition as celery and buffalo wings go hand-in-hand.  It worked great but would be fine without it too.

Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 small to medium zucchini (about 1-1/4 pounds)

1 lb ground chicken

1/2 cup Buffalo Wing Sauce

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F degrees.  Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and break it apart with a wooden spoon.  Cook for 7-9 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Remove the skillet from the heat.  Stir in the buffalo wing sauce
  4. As the chicken cooks, cut the zucchini in half, lengthwise.  Use a spoon to scoop the seeds and center out of each zucchini half, leaving a 1/4-inch thick zucchini boat.  Place the zucchini in the baking dish cut-side up.
  5. Spoon the chicken mixture into the zucchini boats.  Sprinkle the zucchini evenly with the cheese.
  6. Cover the baking dish with foil.  Bake for 35 minutes.

Weekly Winner: Mystified by Miso-Mozzarella Mashup

pastaThere are combinations I honestly have never envisioned – miso and cheese is one of them.  I love both, but would never think of putting them together in the same dish.  Until now, that is.

Pasta with Miso Cream Sauce intrigued me from the word go.  I’ve added miso to my repertoire with meat and veggies, but never with pasta.  And certainly, never combined with cheese.  But why not?  This dish is super easy and in a word, luscious.  Very subtle but very addictive.   The recipe comes from Cooking Light Magazine and has me thinking what other strange combinations I will discover next.

Pasta with Miso Cream Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces uncooked casarecce, fusilli or penne pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 tsp. white miso
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups multicolored grape tomatoes (about 10 oz.)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 (6-oz.) pkg. baby spinach
  • 2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, diced (about 1/2 cup) and divided

Procedure:

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
Place 1/2 cup milk in a bowl; whisk in flour and miso until smooth. In a saucepan, bring stock and remaining 1 cup milk to a boil over high. Whisk in flour mixture, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add pepper.

Heat oil in a skillet over high. Add tomatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly blistered and beginning to pop, 2 to 3 minutes. Add thyme and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add spinach; cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cooked pasta, sauce, and half of cheese to skillet; toss to combine. Serve in shallow bowls, and top evenly with remaining cheese.

 

Weekly Winner: Sensational, Subtle, Salmon Salad

IMG_0468Sometimes food doesn’t have to smack you in the face.  As much as I like big, bold flavors, spice-encrusted meats, tangy sauces and a big ‘ol punch of garlic; occasionally I find beauty and comfort in subtlety.  Salmon, Radish, and Bibb Salad is that dish.

I found this winner in Real Simple Magazine.  Honestly, I was just looking for a different, simple salad to throw together for a midweek lunch.  Salmon had been on sale and, as we discussed in an earlier post I do love me a creamy dressing.  As I continued to eat this salad, picking along and marveling at how tasty it was with such few actual ingredients, the word “elegant” kept coming to mind.  This was definitely an elegant salad.  But that isn’t alliterative and you all know how much I love alliteration.   So serve up this salmon salad and savor the subtle simplicity of such a super selection. (Sorry, I’ll stop now… here’s the recipe)

Salmon, Radish, and Bibb Salad with herby buttermilk dressing

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 16-oz. skin-on salmon fillet (about 1 in. thick)
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil, plus leaves for serving
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, plus leaves for serving
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated
  • 1 4-oz. head Bibb lettuce, leaves torn in half
  • 3 radishes, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)

Procedure:

Season salmon with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Cook salmon, skin side down, until opaque and cooked most of the way through, about 7 minutes. Flip and cook to desired doneness, about 3 minutes for medium-well. Transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Break into large pieces and discard the skin.

Whisk buttermilk, mayonnaise, chopped basil, chopped mint, garlic, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Toss together lettuce, radishes, basil leaves, mint leaves, and remaining teaspoon pepper in a large salad bowl. Top with salmon and drizzle with dressing.