Better-with-Bacon Summer Squash

Summer squash is often the gift that keeps on giving in our neck of the woods.  And, even though I have dozens of tried-and-true recipes on-hand, I find myself looking for new ways to prepare it.  This is especially true because one of my kiddos pretty much loathes the stuff.  She will eat it when it’s served, but only because she’s hungry.

Since so many things are better with bacon, we’ve added it to our summer squash this year in the hopes of finding another recipe that we can all get excited about.  Even if it doesn’t pass muster with her, I look forward to having this with some fresh corn on the cob and thick-sliced heirloom tomatoes.

You can use any type of summer squash in this recipe:  zucchini, yellow squash, patty pan or even 8-ball zucchini.  It really doesn’t matter.  This can even be served with rice or over pasta if you want to bulk it up a bit.

4-6 strips bacon, diced
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
2 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese, if desired

In large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon and carefully drain grease, keeping 2-3 tablespoons in skillet.

In the bacon drippings, saute summer squash and onion for 6-8 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Add minced garlic and stir for 1-2 more minutes until garlic is cooked.

Sprinkle with cheese if you want (and why wouldn’t you?).

Stuffed Zucchini

About this time every year, I am looking for new ways to use zucchini.  This recipe is easy and tasty, and it uses another veggie that I have plenty of right now–Swiss chard.  If you don’t have Swiss chard, feel free to use spinach.

6 smallish zucchini, halved lengthwise
4-5 c. Swiss chard, sliced and packed
1/2 c. onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. oil
1 T. fresh basil (or 1 t. Italian seasoning blend)
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. dry bread crumbs (or cracker crumbs)
4 T. grated parmesan, divided
2 T. butter

Scoop out the pulp of the raw zucchini halves.  Chop the pulp coarsely.

Cook the Swiss chard, then drain and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

Saute the onions and garlic in the oil until soft.  Add the spinach, zucchini pulp, herbs, salt, pepper, bread crumbs and half of the cheese.  Mix well.

Place the zucchini shells in a baking dish and stuff with spinach mixture.  Melt the butter and drizzle over the top.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

NOTE:  These can be completely cooled, wrapped in plastic wrap or wax paper, then placed in a freezer bag for freezing.

Easy Tomato Soup

Grilled cheese sounds good to me right now.  And, when I think of grilled cheese, I sometimes think of tomato soup.  This yummy version can be made with canned tomatoes or fresh, so it’s a great recipe to have on-hand in the year-round.  I’m even thinking of making enough of this to can this summer.  Soup always tastes best to me during the winter months.

2 cans (14.5 oz. ea.) diced Italian tomatoes, undrained (or about 4 c. of diced fresh tomatoes plus some basil, oregano and garlic to taste)
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. chopped onion
2-3 garlic cloves, pressed
6 T. flour
4 1/2 c. chicken or vegetable broth
parmesan cheese

In a blender, process tomatoes until pureed; set aside.

In a large-ish saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook until tender, then add garlic and cook about 60 seconds.  Remove from heat.  Stir flour in until smooth.  Return pan to heat and cook about a minute or so.

Gradually whisk in broth.  Add pureed tomatoes; bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes to allow flavors to become lovely.

Serve with grated parmesan cheese on top…and a grilled cheese sandwich on the side.

Eat Cheap!

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Unstuffed Pepper Soup

This is a great, low-cost recipe from my friend, Jamie.  It’s very versatile and quite tasty.

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (I only used 1 lb. because I’m cheap.)
3 lg. green peppers, chopped (I chopped frozen pepper strips from last summer’s garden–about 3-4 c. total.)
1 lg. onion, chopped
2 cans (14 oz. each) beef broth (You could use chicken broth instead,  if you prefer.
2 cans (10 oz. each) condensed tomato soup, undiluted
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes, undrained  (I used one quart whole tomatoes and kinda smooshed ’em up.)
1 can mushroom stems and pieces, drained (I didn’t use these b/c I didn’t have them.)
1 1/2 c. cooked rice
salt & pepper as needed (and maybe a little bit of sugar if you’re using home-canned tomatoes)

In Dutch oven, cook ground beef, peppers and onions over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.  Stir in broth, soup, tomatoes and mushrooms.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add rice and heat through.  Yield:  10 servings

Zucchini Quesadillas

I will admit that these sounded not particularly appetizing to me when my sister first brought them to my attention.  However, the recipe was found in a Taste of Home magazine, and my sister is a pretty good judge of what tastes good, so I gave them a try.  Very yummy!  I followed the recipe pretty closely the first time I made them, but I doubt that I’ve made them the same way twice since then.  Over the years, I have shared this recipe a dozen times, and I have consistently gotten good feedback.  These quesadillas make a lovely supper on a summer night–especially with fresh tomatoes, sliced cucumbers and corn on the cob.  My brother recommended to me last week that I share this specific recipe on my blog, so here it is.  Enjoy!

1 onion, chopped
1/2 c. red pepper, chopped OR shredded carrot (or both)
2 c. zucchini, shredded
2 T. taco seasoning (or just season to taste with garlic powder, cumin and chili powder)
1 t. salt
2 c. shredded cheese
6-8 flour tortillas

sour cream, salsa, avocado, hot sauce, etc., if desired

Saute veggies in a little bit of oil for a few minutes.

Add seasonings and stir, sauteeing a little while longer.

On hot griddle, lay out tortillas (as many as will fit at a time) and cover half of each tortilla with filling; top with cheese.  Fold over and brown on both sides until cheese is melted.

Zucchini Quiche

This tasty recipe comes from my beautiful and fun-loving college friend, Angela.  The notes are hers.

3 cups shredded zucchini, drained
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup bisquick (or alternative)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 oz. swiss cheese, shredded
1/4 cup cooking oil
2 green onions, sliced
1 1/2 tsp. dried dill weed

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix all ingredients together; pour into greased pie dish.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until knife/toothpick comes out clean.

Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving (sometimes, depending on the wateriness of the zucchini it needs more time to solidify).

** This freezes well (before baking).  Also, different cheeses work great – use what you like.  I usually use a different onion and omit the dill. Still awesome.