One of my resolutions for the year is probably the same as at least half of the rest of the women in this country: to lose weight. My goal is pretty specific however, and has nothing to do with pounds, involves no commercialized diet plan, or even involves such vague undefinable goals like “eating healthier” or “exercising more”. My goal has to do with inches: I want to lose 1/2-inch (and I may be satisfied with about 1/4-inch). Pretty ambitious, don’t you think?
The kicker comes in where I want this 1/4” – 1/2” to come from. I need it to come from the ring finger of my left hand. So that I can remove the wedding rings from my finger! Not that I want to keep them off, it would just be nice to BE ABLE to take them off – for cleaning and such. So if anyone has any sure-fire finger-fat-shrinking diet they would like to share, I am open for suggestions!
Until then, I will have to stick with those unmeasurable methods of eating healthier (I am taking the “whole food, very limited sugar/refined starch” approach) and exercising more. We have always eaten a mostly whole foods diet, but I am going to be much more diligent about the exceptions that I allow myself to eat (like the cookies and desserts that filled my life over the holidays). I’ll let you know when I reach my goal, or my rings completely cut off all circulation to my finger.
Zucchini Boats with Turkey Sausage
This recipe, from Simply Recipes, turned out to be both super healthy and a new family favorite (probably because no one could tell just how many vegetables were packed into that filling-Hurray for the food processor). Most of them even ate the zucchini boat! Which actually surprised me, as we have only one admitted-squash-liking child.
The zucchini I used were pretty long, so I cut them in half both length-wise and width-wise. This also made for better kid-sized portions. Just be sure to leave part of the shell on both ends when you are scooping. A small melon-baller worked great for scooping out the insides. I softened these “boats” slightly before filling by brushing with olive oil, sprinkling with s&p and microwaving for 2 minutes.
The turkey sausage filling is made using ground turkey, onion, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini-insides, seasonings and Parmesan cheese (I kept that a secret from Big A, as well). I chopped all of the vegetables, except the tomatoes, in the food processor so that they would not be recognized. This is not a dish that it would be easy to pick out more coarsely chopped mushrooms and squash bits. Once my home is occupied by fewer picky eaters, I will keep those veges more chunky. They would provide a nice texture.
But for now, the food processor is my friend.
The turkey filling is pre-cooked, then cooled and mixed with an egg and the cheese. Not being a patient dinner preparer, I flash-cooled the pan of turkey filling outside on my deck full of snow. I just set the pan, straight off of the burner into the 6 inches of snow that had collected. It quickly sank quite a ways into the snow, but it did cool off mighty quick!
Fill your zucchini shells and bake about 45 minutes, until browned. The crispy browned pieces of filling were especially delicious, so don’t take it out of the oven too soon!
In fact, the browned bits were so good that I broiled the extra filling until most of it was brown and crispy (thinking that the original amounts would not feed our whole family, I made much more filling than I ended up needing) and made a breakfast casserole with it the next morning.
about 4 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 lb ground turkey
2 Tbs white wine
2 diced tomatoes (I used 1/2 of a well drained can of diced tomatoes)
3 Tbs chopped fresh basil
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out insides (a melon-baller works great here), leaving about 1/4 inch of the shell on all sides. Chop zucchini insides; set aside. Place zucchini shells in a glass baking dish and brush insides of zucchini with a very small amount of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Microwave for 2 minutes to soften zucchini slightly.
(For my vegetable-adverse children, I chopped the onion, garlic, mushrooms and zucchini-insides in a food processor)
Heat 1-2 Tbs oil in a large skillet. Sauté onion, garlic and mushrooms until tender. Add zucchini-insides and cook until tender. Remove from pan and set aside.
Heat an additional 1-2 Tbs oil in the same skillet. Add the turkey and cook until browned. Drain any fat. Add wine and stir to deglaze pan. Stir in onion/mushroom mixture, tomatoes, basil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool.
Stir Parmesan cheese and then egg into cooled turkey mixture. Fill zucchini shells.
Bake, uncovered, at 375°F for 45 minutes, or until well browned. Serve hot.