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Pizza Stuffed Zucchini

18 Aug
(sorry if this photo looks white and grainy! Blogger is being ridiculous and uploading my photos weird!)

Guess what, friends! I have ANOTHER giveaway coming up next week! Stay tuned for that! It’s a good one you’re not going to want to miss!

Well, summer is coming to a close which means I am up to my eyeballs in fresh zucchini. In an attempt to eat a little healthier and lower my carb intake, I created this handy dandy little 20-minute dinner. Seriously! Only 20 minutes from start to finish. And, I used up my extra large garden zucchini. If you don’t have access to any jumbo zucchinis or friend’s with gardens full of them, pick up some small ones from the store. About 1 per person, or in my husband’s case, 2.

To road map this recipe for you, I sliced my huge zucchini down the center and then in half again. I scooped out the seeds so I was left with 4 skinny zucchini boats–perfect for fillings! Before I filled them, I cooked them in a skillet 5 minutes per side, covered; this gives them a little needed flavor and color. I cooked them enough to be crisp-tender–how I like it. (See recipe tips for softer zucchinis) Then I filled them up with loads of pizza toppings and stuck them under the broiler! Thats it! I did happen to have some cherry tomatoes from my garden around too, so I made a little tomato basil mix for the top. So simple, and so good. It’s like the taste of summer in your mouth. I loved these and so did my husband. My daughter just ate all the cheese off the top! 🙂

Hope you all are enjoying these last few days of Summer before we’re into Fall! (PS- I’ve got some GREAT pumpkin recipes that I’m dying to share with you so fall can’t get here fast enough!)

Pizza Stuffed Zucchini
yield: 4 servings

2 extra large zucchini from the garden or 4-6 small
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large garlic clove, crushed
2/3 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup sliced pepperoni
4 slices deli ham, julienned
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
1/4 onion, sliced thin
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
any other pizza toppings you’d like
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
10 fresh basil leaves, torn (if desired)

Preheat skillet over medium heat with olive oil and garlic. Slice ends off of zucchini and slice down the center lengthwise. Scoop all the seeds out so you are left with a skinny boat shape, about 1/3-1/2 inch thick. (*If you are using large zucchinis, slice in half, this time width-wise so you have 4 ‘boats’ per zucchini. If you are using small zucchinis from the store, you can forgo this step) Sprinkle salt and pepper over prepared zucchinis. Remove garlic from pan. Place zucchinis cut side down in pan and cover. Cook 5 minutes and turn. Edges should be brown. Cover and cook another 5 minutes. Transfer cooked zucchini to a sheet pan. Fill with pizza sauce, desired toppings and cheese. Sprinkle with oregano. Bake under the broiler until cheese has browned. Remove from oven. In small bowl, combine tomatoes with basil, salt and pepper. Top cooked pizza stuffed zucchinis with tomato mixture, if desired.

Recipe TIPS
-I like my zucchini crisp-tender. Meaning it is still a little firm but not crunchy like a totally uncooked zucchini would be. If you would like a softer pizza stuffed zucchini, all you need to do is bake the pizza stuffed zucchinis at 375 for 10-15 minutes (as opposed to broiling). This should soften things up!


Mediterranean Chicken & Rice

6 Aug
Here is some interesting information that I need your opinion on: I am thinking of switching URL’s to something easier to remember like “lauren’s lifestyle” or something along those lines. I’m just so indecisive that I can’t decide what to do or when to do it, so tell me what you think of the name, if you like or don’t like it better than golokitchen, etc. etc. It would really help! 
Also, don’t forget to see what I’m up to on twitter (@golokitchen) and make sure you check out the GoLoKitchen facebook fan page!
Now, onto this delicious chicken! I have been meaning to post this recipe for a while now, but I kept forgetting. It wasn’t until today that I found all these photos that I took a few weeks ago for this recipe. So, without further ado, I give you a delicious and healthy dinner that I call simply Mediterranean Chicken & Rice. 
I don’t remember this dish as vividly as other ones because it’s been a while, but my husband certainly does. He scarfed this one down and then took the leftovers to work the next day for lunch. Mediterranean cuisine is very different from our go-to day in and day out meals. We usually go for Southwest and Italian. I wanted a change from the ‘norm’ and this was the ticket! The kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes and lemon juice were just delicious together and made a great addition to the sauce. I like acidity, so I squirted in lots more lemon juice. The fresh parsley was a nice touch to round out the dish. All in all, a fabulous meal that came together in about 30 minutes. A great summer meal and a great way to switch things up! 
*I didn’t have any artichoke hearts on hand to toss in, but they would be a perfect addition. (I actually meant to pick some up from the store and completely overlooked it, even though it was on my list! How crazy am I?)
Mediterranean Chicken & Rice
yield: 4 servings
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 large chicken breasts (sliced in half or pounded out and cut in two–you want 4 cutlets)
1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil & herbs, chopped

1/4 cup kalamata olives, halved
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon oregano
lemon juice, to taste
1/2 cup chicken stock or white wine
splash of cream (1/4-1/2 cup)
fresh parsley
more salt and pepper to taste
cooked white rice

In large skillet, preheat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Stir salt and pepper into flour. Coat chicken in flour and cook in hot oil until browned but not necessarily cooked. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Pour in remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in same pan and reduce heat to medium. Saute onions, garlic, green pepper and sun dried tomatoes until onions have softened, 5 minutes. Stir in olives, bay leaf, oregano, lemon juice and white wine or stock. Place chicken breasts back in to pan. Cover and cook 5-10 minutes. Reduce heat and stir in cream, parsley and more salt and pepper. Serve over warm rice with lemon slices.

My New Favorite Salad & Dressing

2 Aug

Hi, friends! Did you guys have a good weekend? I sure did! Complete with more celebrations and fattening food. Sunday was a little anniversary of sorts: August 1st is the day that my husband asked me to marry him! (So glad I said yes! He’s wonderful!) Anyways, we were eating pretty rotten stuff over the weekend so to lighten things up, I’ll be making this salad today and probably tomorrow! Last week, I ate this salad three times for lunch. It’s so easy and delicious.

Don’t let the apples fool you. Their sweet taste and crunchy texture are perfect with the rest of these ingredients. I used to be an apple in salad hater once upon a time, but I took a bold move a few weeks ago and tried it and ended up loving it! Also, this salad ends up being a great option for those hot muggy days and it’s very low in carbs so it’s good for your waist line.

Give it a whirl and let me know what you think! And, don’t forget to check out my updated links/pages above!

New Favorite Salad
yield: for 1 person

for the salad-
2 cups lettuce or baby spinach
2 slices garlic & herb deli turkey
2 tablespoons toasted, chopped pecans
1/3 fuji apple, diced
1-2 tablespoons shaved parmesan cheese

for the dressing-
makes enough for large dinner salad
1 clove garlic, finely minced (if I was making this for my husband, I’d do half a clove–its garlicy stuff)
2 tablespoons maple syrup, honey or something sweet
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup light flavored olive oil or canola oil

Pour all ingredients for dressing into a leak proof container or into the bottom of a bowl. Shake or whisk until dressing has emulsified. Set aside.
Make salad by placing all ingredients into a bowl or onto a large plate. Top with desired amount of dressing.

Garlic Hummus

9 Jul

Yesterday, I needed a fast and healthy lunch. After a quick scan of my fridge and pantry, the realization that I needed to go grocery shopping was evident. So, not a lot of options, however, in the very back of one cupboard I found garbanzo beans! Eureka! And thus the hummus was born! I love hummus, especially with lots of lemon juice and garlic. I have a little garlic obsession. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, refer to this post about guacamole. You’ll see what I mean. Anyways, I love the stuff and since Gordon HATES hummus, I decided I’d make a small batch and eat it myself before I leave tomorrow for a race! (Did I mention I’m running a race Saturday? Yup, I am! Another half marathon! Wahoo! I’ll give details on Monday…)

Anyways, part of the reason my wonderful husband hates my hummus so much is because of all the garlic. All I say to that is more for me! Haha! Maybe subconsciously I realize I want to eat it all myself so I put more garlic in to repel him more. Maybe I should see a therapist for that….. Hmm.

Very few ingredients are needed for this recipe, so be sure to use the best stuff you can find. I used organic garbanzo beans, fresh lemon juice, the best tahini paste I could find and fresh gahlic. Don’t forget that you can adjust flavors and seasonings to your liking. I use a lot of garlic–if you are like my husband and hate the stuff then leave it out. Simple as that.

Also, this stuff is really healthy. High in fiber and low in fat. Plus if you serve it with some vegetables and whole grain pita or bagel, then it becomes a super healthy yet light lunch. Perfect for summer!

Have a great weekend, folks! If I don’t die running, then I’ll be seeing you bright and early Monday morning with a new post!

Garlic Hummus
yield: 4 servings

1-15 oz. can garbanzo beans rinsed and drained
2 heaping tablespoons tahini paste
1 lemon, juiced (about 1/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon light flavored oil such as light olive oil or canola oil
bagel chips
anything else you want to dip

Pour all ingredients into food processor. Pulse until desired consistency is reached. (I like mine thick with a little texture, so it didn’t take me long to get there. If you want more of a smooth consistency, add in 1-2 more tablespoons oil and keep processing!) Serve with vegetables, or pita. Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

Recipe TIPS
The garlic flavor becomes stronger the longer the hummus sits. So, at first when you make this, you may not taste a strong flavor, however, the next day you will, so beware! Don’t be like me and think there isn’t enough and add in 2 extra garlic cloves!

Minestrone Soup

16 Jun

Hello, friends! Is it finally summer where you are? We got a glimpse of it over the weekend, but now we’re back to temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s. I think the crazy temperature changes is what is making me feel awful– stuffy nose and a cough. Yuck. So I made some soup to make me feel better. It’s not really the time of year for soup, but sometimes you just have make it.
Minestrone is one of those great soups that is delicious, vegetarian and packed full of nutrition. I personally love the stuff and could eat the entire pot. Its warm, satisfying and one bowl will fill you up! I put dark kidney beans, garbanzo beans and whole wheat pasta for added protein and onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes and cabbage for vitamins and minerals. Overall, its a pretty healthy meal! If you don’t like certain vegetables in here, then you can omit them or substitute them for other ones. For example, if you don’t like cabbage then substitute it for zucchini. Zucchini is a pretty traditional ingredient for Minestrone–I didn’t have any on hand but feel free to add it in. Like lots of other dishes, the longer it cooks the better it tastes. I’d recommend lightly simmering this soup for as long as you can and then 10 minutes before serving, put in the pasta to cook OR just cook it separately and serve it along side. Top the whole dish with some parmesan cheese and crusty bread and thats dinner!

Minestrone Soup
yield: 6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, washed and chopped
4 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes (I use Knorr)
1-15 oz. can Dark Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
1-15 oz. can Garbanzo Beans, rinsed and drained
1-15 oz. can tomato sauce
1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano or marjoram
lots of salt and pepper
1/2 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage
1/4 lb. whole wheat pasta
parmesan cheese
1 loaf crusty good quality bread

In large pot, sauté onions, carrots and celery in butter and oil over medium heat for 7-10 minutes. Stir in water, bouillon, beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, spices and cabbage. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer at least 20 minutes. 10 minutes before serving, pour in pasta to cook or boil it separately. Serve with parmesan cheese and good quality crusty bread.

Homemade Ranch Dip

31 May

Move over hidden valley ranch packets! I have got an easy and fresh 100% homemade ranch dip recipe for you guys! Perfect accompaniment for your Memorial Day BBQ’s! And, all the ingredients are extremely common, so you are more likely to whip this up without having to go to the store to get that one last ingredient that you inevitably forgot. I love recipes like this!

Took me about 10 minutes to make this dip and prep all the vegetables for this veggie tray I ended up bringing to a birthday party on Saturday afternoon. I placed it down with the rest of the food buffet style and everyone helped themselves. A few hour into the party, the host came up to me and asked me specifics about the dip. I explained everything I put into it and to her surprise she responsed “its not one of those ranch dip packets?” NOPE!! She then said “fresh ranch is always so much better than store bought stuff” to which I totally agreed! There aren’t any random ingredients that you can’t pronounce in this recipe! All fresh and all 100% natural! My favorite quote from the party was “I could drink that stuff” (referring to my dip!) Needless to say, it was a hit.

I was planning on posting a different recipe today, but since this dip got rave reviews, I decided to post this instead! Hope you guys like it! And, you can add in some buttermilk or plain milk to thin it out and have homemade ranch dressing too! Two in one! Have a great day off!

Homemade Ranch Dip
yield: 1 1/2 cups

1 cup low fat sour cream
1/2 cup real good quality mayonnaise (I use Real Foods brand-yellow and blue label)
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 tablespoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup finely minced onion

Mix all ingredients together in bowl. Serve with cold fresh vegetables, or thin out dip with a few splashes of buttermilk to make ranch dressing.

Grilled Vegetarian Burritos!

18 May

Is it just me or am I posting a lot of Southwest/Mexican recipes lately? Its just so easy to do because we usually have all the fixings! We also love all the flavor combinations between guacamole, salsa, cilantro, lime…. the list goes on!

Anyways, I never was a burrito lover or eater before I met my husband. He made fried burritos all the time growing up (which probably explained the excessive weight back then–I didn’t believe it at first either!) Anyways, one day he made them for me/told me how to make them and then I proceeded to assemble and fry me some burritos. I’m such a good wife, aren’t I?! The conclusion from that day was earth shattering, mind blowing and life changing. Fried burritos are the and I don’t care how many calories they are! Except for today because I felt like switching it up and making them vegetarian and grilling them. I promise you won’t miss the meat! I’m a meat eater and lover and these burritos were totally satisfying (and under 300 calories!) The semi crunchy semi soft outer shell is pretty stellar on its own, but then when you add in all the other goodies, its just incredible. My daughter ate these suckers up…and she’s 15 months old. I’d recommend putting all the goodies/fillings on the table and letting your family assemble their own burritos and then……use a panini press to cook them all at once!! GENIUS! I was pretty excited about that idea….but if you’re a plain jane traditional type then you can use your skillet. But seriously though, pick yourself up a panini press–now THAT invention was life changing….much like these burritos.
**Side Note: This post reminded me that I used to sometimes call my husband Gordito…..I should do that more often. Haha.
If you have picky eaters at your table, then use the fillings they’d like. These were all the ones I had in my fridge today! Burritos are really easy to assemble and you can make it to ‘order’–just how you like it–my kind of recipe!
Grilled Vegetarian Burritos
flour tortillas
grated cheddar cheese
black beans
rice pilaf (Plain rice would work but see recipe tips at bottom for recipe)
sauteed Vidalia onions (you want them to be soft and have brown crispy edges)
good salsa
diced tomato
butter for the pan or panini press
Heat skillet or panini press to medium to medium high heat. Steam or microwave tortillas so they are soft and easy to work with. Starting with grated cheese, fill your burrito with desired fillings. Top your mountain of fillings with more cheese and fold into a burrito, tucking the edges as you go. Brush hot panini press or skillet with butter (don’t be stingy!) Place burritos seam side down and cook until golden in color and crispy. Serve warm.
Recipe TIPS:
-For easy rice pilaf, sautee rice in 1-2 tablespoons butter. Stir in correct amount of chicken broth, 1 large bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and then reduce heat until rice is completely cooked, about 20 minutes.