an army wife's guide to life

food and homemaking goodness

Pizza-Stuffed Zucchini

Pizza Stuffed Zucchini || An Army Wife's Guide to Life

They look a little messy, but they are really delicious. Zucchini has been something I’ve discovered that I LOVE over the past two years, and even though Dan doesn’t agree, I use it a lot over the summer months. Last week at the farmer’s market, I got four big ones for a dollar! It was more than I needed, but individually, they were $.50…I’m my mother’s daughter, for sure.

This is an easy recipe to throw together and then toss in the oven and forget about. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. 3 links Italian sausage, uncased (any flavor would do. I used mild and then added some spice on my own)
  2. 1-2 large zucchini
  3. Pizza Sauce
  4. Mozzarella Cheese
  5. 2 cloves of Garlic, minced
  6. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
  7. Salt & Pepper
  • First, you’re gonna preheat your oven to 350°.
  • Start the sausage in a pan over medium-high heat along with the garlic. I’ve found that cooking ground meat like this over lower temperatures helps it break up into smaller pieces, and that’s important for stuffing the zucchini.
  • While the sausage is browning, slice the zucchini in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. You can reserve the flesh to add to the pan, but I didn’t, I fed it to my dogs, who LOVE zucchini and are terribly spoiled. Add a small layer of cheese and sauce to the bottom of the hollow zucchini boats and set on a greased baking sheet (preferably lined with tin foil or parchment paper)
  • When the sausage is cooked through, add about 2 tablespoons of pizza sauce to the pan, along with the salt and pepper and crushed red pepper, all to taste. Once it’s all incorporated, use a spoon to fill the zucchini to fairly heaping. I had left over filling and I only used 1 zucchini, it will probably fill two just fine.
  • Top with more mozzarella and gently cover with foil.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, remove the foil and bake 5 minutes more, until cheese is browned.
  • Slice into manageable pieces (I made them a few inches wide) and serve.
Leave a comment »

My Quickest Pasta Sauce Recipe

This is not my grandmother’s sauce.
image

And i put that in bold, because, in my family, that’s a huge no no. This is my sauce, the sauce I make when I’m pressed for time or just don’t feel like starting to cook in the morning but I want pasta. This is different. It’s not as tasty because it hasn’t simmered for hours, but it’s still good. And it’s more than good enough to share. This is one of those recipes where you can dress it up however you like, just remember to taste often and season well.

What you’re gonna need:

  • 1 lb (or less) of ground meat. I usually use ground beef, but Italian sausage out of the case is delicious, too.
  • 1 (28 oz) can, crushed tomatoes w/ basil. That was the only kind they have in my grocery store and I haven’t wished there was anything else.
  • 1 (12 oz) can, tomato sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Italian Seasoning, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder
  • Salt&Pepper

Super simple, and the meat is totally optional. I’ve made it without before and it was delicious just like that, too. Basically all you’re gonna do is brown the meat with the garlic (or cook the garlic in a little olive oil if you’re omitting the meat), add your canned goods, then fill the crushed tomato can with water (slowly, so it doesn’t get weird and foamy) and add that to the pan as well. Season with Salt, Pepper, Italian Seasoning, Onion and Garlic Powder to taste and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. That’s it. Leave it longer if you have time, but 15 minutes should do the trick for getting it ready. Then just serve it over your favorite pasta. Simple and delicious.

Leave a comment »

Ravioli Soup

So this is going to be another pictureless post, because I’m an idiot who likes to forget how to take pictures. Also because my camera is out of batteries at the moment and I’ve been too lazy to put new ones in. Anyway, around here, it’s been rainy and cold and, well, perfect soup weather! This is the time of year I love the most. It’s just starting to get cold, and I’m starting to dream about all the soups I’ll get to eat through the fall and winter. It never really happens the way I plan it, but it’s always nice to dream about. And the first seriously rainy, cold day is usually the day I make my first soup.

That day just happened to be yesterday. And as it happened, I already had a soup in mind to create, so I jumped on it. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Spicy Italian Sausage (I used three links, which I pulled out of their casings, but you could use a pound that was never cased in the first place)
  2. A medium sized onion, roughly chopped
  3. About three cloves of garlic, peeled and minced (you can add more or less depending on your tastes, or leave it out if you don’t keep fresh garlic around [but seriously, who does that?])
  4. A (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes (not the fire roasted kind…and the ones I used were canned in sauce, so I didn’t drain them)
  5. A (8 oz) can of tomato sauce (to give an extra kick of tomatoey goodness)
  6. Two boxes of beef stock (I don’t know what size…sorry, but use the boxes, not the cans because they’re bigger. If you go with cans, you might need, like, four or so…maybe)
  7. Onion powder
  8. Garlic Powder
  9. Italian Seasoning
  10. A bag of Mini Raviolis (I used cheese, but you can use any variety…but seriously, the cheese was good)
  11. (Optional) I also added about a tablespoon of tomato paste, because I have a tube that needs to be used and I’ve been adding it to everything…it’s not strictly necessary, though

So once you’ve chopped up your onion and garlic, you’re going to put them in your pot with a little olive oil and get them going until they start to get soft. (If you’re me, you’ll add some salt and pepper at every stage, just to make sure all the flavors are coming out the way they best can, but that’s just me.) Once they’re starting to soften, you can add the Sausage and brown it, breaking it up as it cooks. (Again, I add some salt and pepper here.) Once you’ve got the sausage cooked through, you can add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste (if you have it) and the beef stock. I recommend adding them in that order, because if you add the stock  first, things tend to splash (call it experience). To that you’re going to add that onion powder, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. I didn’t measure, but it was probably a little less than a tablespoon of each, and you’ll want to definitely add salt and pepper at this point, to your taste.

Here’s the thing about adding salt and pepper to taste with a soup: I find that with any soup (or long-simmering sauce for that matter) you’ll want to let the whole thing come to a boil and then cool slightly before you get aggressive with the seasoning. This lets everyone get happy in the pot and figure out their balance. then you can add the salt and pepper a little at a time, stirring and (most important) tasting between each addition, until the flavors are balanced. This is the difference between an alright cook and a great one.

Once you have everything balanced, you’re going to want to let it simmer at least half an hour. Just remember that the longer you let it go, the richer and deeper the flavors are going to get. I started mine at 9:30 in the morning, and we ate at 6:30 that night. I just kept the stove on low all day and gave it a rest when it was looking a little low. I also ended up adding some water because of how low the soup was looking, since we had guest coming and I didn’t want to not have enough. Adding water, though, is completely up to you. Just like the salt and pepper, it’s all about taste.

When you’re ready to eat it, you simply cook the ravioli according to package instructions (not in the pot,but separately) until they start to float (that’s how my mom taught me to tell if they’re done.) Then simply strain them, ladle a few into the bottom of your bowl, and ladle the soup on top. Then top with Parmesan cheese, because cheese makes soup delicious.

This pot fed four people, and most of us got seconds, so it would probably feed up to eight people without seconds. Just trust me, though, they’ll probably want seconds, cuz this is an awesome soup.

Leave a comment »