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Back in the Vegetable Garden

Last year my vegetables grew great.

Until my garden was suddenly overcome by weeds and then the vegetable plants got so overgrown and mixed with the weeds which turned into a giant green jungle and I got so overwhelmed I couldn’t look at it.

This year I really wanted to avoid that. So I make sure to spend a few moments once a week pulling weeds and taming the vegetable plants as they grow bigger and bigger.

My camera did a good job with this picture. Check out the detail!

I planted okra for the first time!  But I’ve never cooked with it before, hopefully I can make something good with it.

This year I bought all my plants at a nursery instead of starting them by seed indoors during the winter. It was a lot less work but it took forever for them to get big enough to start making vegetables, so next year I’ll go back to starting seeds indoors.

So far I’ve managed to avoid becoming overwhelmed, and I’m glad to be excited about my vegetable garden again!

You can check out past veggie garden posts here. It’s been a while!

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Zucchini Noodle Spaghetti

I try not to eat pasta, too many condensed carbs make me sick, plus who wants all those calories? But that doesn’t mean I don’t ever find myself craving spaghetti..

That’s why I am obsessed with our vegetable spiralizer! I can make so many yummy dishes, with no pasta in sight!

 One of my favorites is spaghetti made with zucchini noodles.

All it needs is a few ingredients:

Three Zucchini
Parmesan Cheese
Sauce of your choosing- I used about half the jar
Italian seasoning

Cut the ends off the zucchini and spiralize them. I like to use the large noodle setting.

If you don’t have a spiralizer you can use a mandolin or a grater. But definitely recommend a sprializer! They’re around 20 bucks on amazon. 
Put a splash of olive oil in the bottom of the pot and cook on medium heat. 
Don’t add any water!
Zucchini is made up of quite a bit of water, so while the zucchini is cooking, I like to reduce the sauce to eliminate as much water as possible. In fact, I start simmering the sauce as the very first step. Before I even spiralize the zucchini.

 I prefer my zucchini noodles to be on the firm side, so I don’t cook them all the way through. Believe me, it tastes way better when the noodles aren’t all soggy!

Once the zucchini noodles are cooked to your liking, (I usually sample a little piece to check) dump them into a colander like you would to normal pasta to drain out any excess liquid. I usually use a large spoon to squeeze out as much as I can.

After draining, return the noodles to the pot and add the sauce, cheese and seasoning. And anything else you like to add to your spaghetti! 

I think it tastes much better than regular spaghetti. And my favorite part is, I can eat as much as I want without going into a major carb coma and gaining 20 pounds!

This recipe makes about four servings. Or two if you’re a zucchini fool like me!

Have you ever tried a veggie noodle recipe?

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Easy Vegetarian Tacos

This is one of our favorite meals to make with our spiralizer.

Ingredients:

Six zucchini
One can of corn
One can of black beans
One packet of taco seasoning
 Mozzarella cheese
Taco shells or tortillas

This recipe made enough for six people.
Chop the ends of all the zucchinis an spiralize them on the large noodle setting. After spriralizing I cut the noodles into shorter more manageable pieces
Saute the zucchini noodles on medium heat with a little bit of olive oil until they just barely start to turn transparent.  I prefer them to be on the firmer side rather than the mushy side, so you have to be careful not to over cook.  They also produce a lot of water which I drain out to avoid forming a soup.

Once the zuccini is drained, put it back in the pot and add the black beans and corn.
After a couple minutes add the taco seasoning, mix well and then it’s ready to serve!


My favorite topping are mozzarella, iceberg lettuce and guacamole
Prepare your tortilla or taco shell and enjoy!  

What are your favorite taco ingredients?

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Zucchini Carrot Apple Pecan Bread

I recently came across this recipe on pinterest and just knew I had to try it! I made a few modifications and halved the recipe because we really don’t need to be eating two whole loaves of bread, but you can always double it back up if you want.

Ingredients:

Half a cup of butter
1 cup of sugar
1 egg
1/8th cup of orange juice
1/2 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice (Or any combination of spices really!)
1 cup of shredded carrots
1 cup of shredded zuccini
1 half cup of diced apple
1 half cup of chopped pecans


Shred the zucchini and carrots in a food processor or with a grater, dice the apple and the pecans if needed and set aside. 
Soften the butter and cream it with the sugar, then add the egg, vanilla and orange juice.
 Mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then add them to the wet ingredients and add the veggies.

Once everything is mixed together, scoop it into a greased bread pan and bake at 350 until done, approximately 50 minutes.

Once it has had time to cool, slice into it an enjoy! 

I really liked this bread, the colored veggies were pretty and gave it an interesting texture and a yummy flavor! I would definitely bake this again.

Does anyone else’s kitchen turn into a disaster zone when they’re done baking?  I can’t seem to help but make a giant mess! It’s all part of the fun though.

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My veggie anniversary

I have now been a vegetarian for one whole year! I don’t remember the exact date I ate my last piece of meat because I never officially made a big decision to stop eating meat, it just sort of happened, and I know it was sometime during the last week of may. So I figured why not make June first the date of my veggie anniversary.  Or should I say, veggieversary! hehe. (I know, I’m a few days late writing this) Anyway, I thought I would share the story of my first year being a vegetarian.

Not eating meat was something I had wanted to do for years, but never thought I would be able to; there seemed to be so many good meals that contained all kinds of meat! And how would I cope at Thanksgiving? Easter? At summer cookouts?!! But one day last year I realized I hadn’t had any meat in about 3 days as a fluke, so I was curious as to how long I could keep it up. I didn’t really expect it to last that long but before I knew it a whole week had gone by!  I decided that maybe I would just try to avoid eating meat and only eat it on occasion, but whenever the occasion came up I felt like it would be cheating to eat it. Plus I’ve always liked to see how long I can keep something going, and the thought of starting all over again after I had a little bit of meat felt like a failure.

 At first it was kind of hard; I felt like I could hardly eat anything. I remember going to a charity cookout downtown for lunch one day with some coworkers and the only thing that was served was hamburgers. So I ate a tomato with cheese on a bun, and I don’t even like tomatoes very much! Another time I went to a wing restaurant and just snacked on celery the whole night. But I soon noticed that I didn’t even miss the meat, in fact, I thought a lot of meals were actually improved without it! Like lasagna! Being a vegetarian also made ordering at restaurants very easy, I usually only have about one or two options at most places and for an indecisive person like me, that’s great news! 

Throughout most of the year I was unsure I could actually avoid eating meat forever. For instance, before I became a vegetarian Steven and I had decided to serve a bunch of hot wings at our wedding and his uncle’s delicious beef stroganoff, which was one of my favorite meals. But surprisingly enough I didn’t feel like I was missing out by not eating it. I also thought for sure I would have to have my mom’s famous meat pie at Christmas time (something I would crave the entire year!) But nope. I didn’t even want that. It’s funny how once you stop eating something you eventually don’t even want it anymore. I used to love bacon, now the thought of it grosses me out. I think after declining the meat pie last Christmas was when I really knew I could be a vegetarian forever! 

I thought I would share a few veggie recipes, some of my favorites and some I would like to try.

Zucchini fritters– This look so good! Like healthy pancakes 🙂
Spinach burgers– We usually have store bought veggie burgers, but I’d love to try making my own!
Vegetarian bean chili– Just because you don’t eat meat doesn’t mean you can’t have chili! We made this last winter and it was sooo good.

Spinach balls– One of my favorite treats used to be my mom in law’s sausage balls so I was kinda sad about not eating them anymore. But then I found this amazing recipe and have made these a bunch of times!
  Zucchini squash sandwich– I came up with this yummy sandwich recipe when I was trying to come up with vegetarian sandwich ideas.


I’m so glad I decided to finally go for it and I am still surprised I was able to do it! I don’t even think twice about eating meat now. And  I also don’t feel  guilty when I see cows anymore. Haha


So if any of your guys have ever thought about being a vegetarian, you should try it! It may be easier than you think.

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Zucchini and Squash Grilled Cheese

I made one of the most delicious sandwiches ever..

Sourdough bread
Fresh zucchini and summer squash strips
Mozzarella cheese
Crispy iceberg lettuce
Saute the zucchini and squash until just cooked, you don’t want them too soggy! 
 Then I layed the zucchini and squash out on the bread, added the cheese and grilled it like I would a grilled cheese sandwhich. 

After it cooled a little bit I added the lettuce.

It was so good!
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Bean Chili/ Bean Dip Recipe

I wanted to share this super easy recipe for bean chili/bean dip! We intended it to be vegetarian chili, but when we were done it ended up being more dip-like. Which ended up being awesome!

  Steven and I made this on the big snow day, and it was a wonderful thing to smell this delicious meal bubbling away on the stove while watching the snow fall outside. 

You can basically choose any bean combination you want- we went with two of our favorites plus chili beans because it seemed fitting. 😉

Two cans of diced tomatoes

One can of corn

One pack cream cheese
Drain off most of the water in the cans and dump everything except the cream cheese into a large pot.
Mix together and let simmer on low heat until the beans are soft. I cooked it for about an hour, but 30 minutes or so probably would have been enough.
Remove from heat and soften the cream cheese in the microwave.

Cut the cream cheese into small chunks and stir into the beans until completely incorporated.

Add your favorite spices/seasonings, as much or as little as you like.


And it’s ready to eat!  It tastes great by itself or with tortilla chips. 

 The great thing about this meal is that you  don’t have to be exact while making it. If you don’t like corn, don’t put it in, if you really like tomatoes, put in three cans! If you can’t decide on just three types of beans, use five types! (This almost happened to us!)