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?).


Hawaiian Chicken

We ran across this recipe recently and decided to try it.  It will be coming out of the slow cooker in 3…2…1…

4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs)
16-oz. pineapple bits, drained
15-oz. can mandarin oranges, drained
3 T. cornstarch
¼ c. brown sugar
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. lemon juice
½ t. salt
½ t. ground ginger
pinch cayenne pepper
1 green bell pepper, cut in strips

Combine all ingredients except bell pepper.  Place in slow cooker.  Cook on low 4-5 hours or on high 2-3 hours.  Add bell pepper one hour before serving.

Serve over rice.

NOTE:  If this is put in your slow cooker frozen, be sure to add a couple of hours to the cooking time.


Zesty Chicken

This creamy recipe is a super easy freezer meal option.  When you find chicken breasts at  a good price, buy enough for three or four of these meals, along with the remaining ingredients and you can have supper ready to cook and spares for yourself and a friend in less than 20 minutes.

If you’re steering clear of canned cream soups, you can easily make your own version for not much more time.  There are lots of recipes available online.

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pkg. cream cheese, cubed
1 pkt. Italian seasoning/dressing mix

Added later:  1 bag frozen broccoli, cauliflower or California medley, if desired

Add all ingredients to slow cooker, stirring to coat.

Cook on low 5-6 hours.  (Add a bag of frozen veggies last hour, if desired.)

If preferred, you can bake this in the oven, covered, at 375 for about 30 minutes, or until chicken is done.

Serve over rice or noodles.

One-Skillet Arroz con Pollo

My aunt made this for a Christmas get-together last year, and my kids hounded me until I requested the recipe.  It really was very tasty, and we found it very easy to make here at home.  I’m going to give you the recipe as she gave it to me (with my changes in parentheses).

This is a great way to stretch a little bit of leftover chicken into a meal.

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1/2″ strips (I used 2-3 c. chicken leftover from something else.)
3 T. oil
1 medium onion, chunky diced
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used, um…five.)
2 c. salsa of your choice
1 c. monterey jack cheese, shredded (I used colby.)
2 c. chicken broth
2 c. cooked rice
salt, & pepper to taste
1 t. cumin
1/4 t. cayenne pepper, if desired
chopped parsley, if desired

In large skillet, heat oil then add onion and garlic; cook for about 2 minutes.  Add chicken and season with salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne.  Cook until chicken is browned on all sides, which happens pretty quickly.

Add salsa and rice; stir frequently while chicken continues to cook.

Add chicken broth, a little bit at a time, stirring frequently while adding.  You may not need it all.  When chicken is cooked through and rice is creamy, remove from heat and stir in cheese.

Top with parsley, if desired.  (Green onions would be really good on top.)

Skeleton Recipes

Skeleton recipes are “bare bones” low-cost foods that are combined with other ingredients you already have on-hand to make fast food at home–without the guilt of low-quality, high-cost eating.

Here’s a cooking segment I did on WISH-TV to share the whole idea of skeleton recipes.

I also share some skeleton recipes in my book, Eat Cheap!, which is available at a special price on this website under “Books”.

Zucchini -Sausage Italiano

This is what we’re having for supper tonight, because, well, I have no other plan in place.  It’s a perfect quick meal for us this time of year, because we have almost everything on-hand.  I am using pork sausage tonight, but you could certainly use ground beef or ground pork or a mixture of the two.  Or, you could increase the amount of zucchini and go totally meatless. You can also used cooked pasta instead of cooked rice.  And, instead of stirring in the rice or pasta, you could just serve the zucchini mixture over the rice or pasta for a more filling meal.  On a hot, sticky summer evening, I prefer to cook it on the stovetop instead of heating up the kitchen with the oven; it’s kind of like a lazy skillet lasagna.

4 c. zucchini, thinly sliced
1 lb. ground meat
1/2 c. onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. cooked rice
1 c. tomato sauce (or leftover spaghetti sauce
1 T. fresh oregano (or 1 t. dried)
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. cottage cheese
1 c. cheddar or mozzarella cheese, shredded

In large skillet, cook beef, zucchini, onion and garlic until meat is browned and onion is tender.

Stir in rice, tomato sauce and seasonings.

Combine egg and cottage cheese.

In 2-quart baking dish, put half of meat mixture on bottom, then top with cottage cheese mixture.  Spread remaining sauce over creamy layer.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until bubbly.

Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for additional 10 minutes.

Slow-cooker Spanish Rice


My twelve-year-old daughter found a version of this recipe a couple of weeks ago and decided to give it a try on her night to cook supper.  It was surprisingly good–not because she made it, but because the recipe’s ingredients just did not impress me.  We ate the leftovers wrapped up in whole wheat tortillas for lunch the next day.  We use our own tomato products, so my daughter typed this recipe up with the changes she made.  As long as liquid amounts stay similar, you can certainly use commercial tomato products.  If you can find ground beef for a good price, this could even be a $4 meal.

1 lb. ground beef, browned
1 pt. salsa
1 pt. tomato sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 c. water
2 1/2 t. chili powder
2 t. salt
1 c. long-cooking rice

guacamole (optional)

Combine first eight ingredients in slow cooker and mix well.

Cover and heat on low setting 6-8 hours or on high setting for 3-1/2 hours.

Serve with guacamole.

Serves 8-10 people.