Stuffed Cod Rolls with Fresh Zucchini Sauce

Even if we are not quite at the peak of zucchini season, is no reason to forget about it. I love zucchini and because its such a mild flavored vegetable, you can find it in recipes from appetizers to dessert. Its versatility lets you steam, poach, saute and fry it but it also makes great cakes, bread, relish and sauce. In Canada, we use it extensively for just about anything you can imagine.

In Mexico, they prefer the flower to the zucchini bulb in soups and quesadillas.

In Italy, it is served in many ways, especially breaded and fried.

In France, it is the key ingredient in ratatouille or stuffed with meat, tomatoes and bell peppers.

In Turkey, zucchini is the main ingredient in pancakes or stuffed with ground meat, rice and herbs.

In Greece, there are numerous uses for zucchini such as fried, boiled, stuffed, hors d’oeuvers and main dishes. Sometimes the flowers are stuffed with white cheese or a mixture of rice, herbs and occasionally ground meat.

In Egypt, zucchini are cooked with tomato sauce, garlic and onions and the list goes on and on—

Today’s blog recipe uses a fresh zucchini sauce to compliment the cod fillets which have an herb and sunflower seed stuffing.

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Stuffed Cod Rolls with Fresh Zucchini Sauce
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Instructions
  1. Saute the garlic & onion in olive oil until softened but not browned. Remove from heat & toss together with the remaining stuffing ingredients. Prepare 6 fish portions in roughly 5 X 7-inch size rectangles. Overlap slightly if using two pieces of fish to prepare the portion.
  2. Squeeze handfuls of the stuffing into sausage shaped portions the width of the fish fillet and place at one end, roll the fillet rectangle all the way around the stuffing.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lay out bacon slices in 6 portions; place the prepared cod & stuffing at one end. Roll bacon tightly around the cod & place in a lightly oiled shallow baking dish. Do not crowd the portions; allow at least an inch or two between the portions for good air circulation in the oven.
  4. Bake stuffed cod for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven & serve with warm fresh zucchini sauce.
Fresh Zucchini Sauce
  1. In a skillet, saute zucchini, onion & mushrooms until tender crisp. Remove from heat; add flour & spices mixing well. Return to heat & slowly add milk & chicken broth. Cook until thickened & bubbly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat & serve over stuffed cod rolls.

Ravioli di Portobello Casserole

I guess its my German heritage that gives that love for anything that resembles a dumpling. Whether sweet or savory doesn’t seem to matter, filling between two thin layers of pasta or dough is just plain good to me.

Around the world, Italian ravioli has many culinary ‘sisters’ in other cultures. Kreplach, in Jewish cuisine, is a pocket of meat filling covered with pasta. In India, the dish Gujiya, has a sweet filling, rather than savory. There are many similarities between Italian ravioli and certain Chinese dumplings as well.

Although ravioli can come in many shapes, including circular and semi-circular, the traditional form is a square. The word ‘ravioli’ comes from the Italian riavvolgere, which means ‘to wrap’.

Not being someone who enjoys to eat ‘out’, its a rare occasion (when we do), for me to be really happy with my meal. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I cooked a lot of ‘commercial’ meals in the food service industry years back. I guess I just got ‘burn out’ to that kind of cooking you might say.

Nevertheless, whenever we have chosen to go to the Olive Garden Restaurant, there is a meal I really do enjoy. It’s called ‘Ravioli di Portobello’. Today, I am re-creating those flavors in a casserole and adding some ground chicken to make it a little more interesting from Brion’s perspective.

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Ravioli di Portobello Casserole
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Course Main Dish
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Instructions
Ravioli Filling
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Saute onion until soft. Add mushrooms & saute for two minutes. Reduce heat & let simmer for 5 minutes or until liquid has evaporated & the mushrooms are fully cooked. Add seasonings. Set aside.
Ravioli Dough
  1. In a bowl, combine dry ingredients with eggs. Add water a little at a time, while stirring, until it forms a soft dough. Dough should be soft but not sticky. Roll out the dough, on a floured surface, into a rectangle that is 1/4-inch thickness. Place 1 teaspoon of filling about an inch apart in even columns & rows to cover half of your dough rectangle.
  2. Before adding the top layer of pasta to the ravioli, moisten the dough around the filling dollops. Carefully fold the dough (without any filling on it) over the half with the filling dollops. Using the side of your hand, press the dough together between the dollops, accentuating the pockets of filling in each ravioli. This is very important step to ensure your ravioli will not leak while cooking.
  3. Using a pastry cutter (or a pizza cutter), cut straight lines through the pressed down sections between the filling dollops. In a large kettle of boiling water, drop ravioli in a few at a time, being careful that they do do touch the kettle. When the raviolis float to the top, boil for one minute & then remove them with a slotted spoon. Keep warm in a covered dish, drizzling a tiny bit of butter or oil over them to prevent sticking until you are ready for them.
Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce
  1. In a skillet, melt butter & saute garlic, seasonings, sun-dried tomatoes for a few minutes. Add chicken broth & half & half; bring to a boil & continue to stir until thickened & creamy about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside until ready to use in casserole.
Assemble Casserole
  1. In a skillet, brown ground chicken until no longer pink; drain & place in a bowl. Add salt, garlic powder & pepper. In the skillet, melt butter, add onion & zucchini; saute until tender crisp. Stir in sun-dried tomato sauce.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a buttered 9 X 13-inch baking dish, spread 1/4 of sauce, layer 1/2 of the ravioli, another 1/4 of the sauce, half of the chicken & half of the cheese.
  3. Repeat again except OMIT cheese. Cover & bake for 35 minutes. Uncover & sprinkle with remaining cheese. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If you wish to garnish, chopped green onion & diced tomato are nice.

No-Yolk Noodles with Chia Chicken Meatballs

Although rice takes top priority at our house, noodles (pasta) are always a staple nevertheless. Some years ago, we started using the ‘no yolks’ version of egg noodles. 

Like many old world pasta products, there is a history. In 1976, Robert Strom created  NO YOLKS. They would become the world’s first                          no-cholesterol egg noodle. They are made with Durum wheat semolina, corn flour, egg whites and have no problem cooking up firm and fluffy.

In Canada, they are the top selling noodle and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. In this recipe, I have paired them with my favorite Chia Chicken Meatballs. Does it get more healthy than that?!


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No-Yolk Noodles with Chia Chicken Meatballs

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Cuisine American

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Meatballs

Sauce

Course Main Dish
Cuisine American

Servings


Ingredients
Meatballs

Sauce

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Instructions
Meatballs
  1. In a small bowl, mix together chia seeds & water; let stand for about 20 minutes. In a large bowl, combine remaining meatball ingredients. When chia gel is ready, add to meat mixture. Using your hands, combine ingredients well. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with foil & lightly coat with baking spray. Scoop into 50 meatballs; place on baking sheet & bake 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely if you are choosing to freeze half for a later meal. Set aside the amount you are using for this meal.

Sauce / Noodles
  1. In a saucepan, melt margarine; saute zucchini & green onion until tender. Sprinkle with flour & seasonings. Add milk/broth & cook, stirring until slightly thickened. Meanwhile, cook no-yolk noodles as directed on package in salted boiling water to which 1 Tbsp of olive oil has been added. Drain.

Assembly
  1. In the pot you cooked the noodles, combine noodles with sauce & meatballs. Fold together & serve topped with some parmigano-reggiano if you wish.

Amigos Birthday

Today, December 21st, ‘our’ precious little Amigo is having his 14th birthday. Technically he belongs to my sister Loretta, who adopted him when he was only two months old. If you are a dog lover and have ever been in the presence of a Dachshund, you will understand how easily they can ‘velcro’ themselves onto your heart. Brion and I are accepted by him as if we were his aunt and uncle, so I guess you could call us part of his ‘pack’.

The antics of a Dachshund are priceless. During visits to our house he could come up with all kinds of games. One such game was to put his ball in a chosen spot then sit, out of sight, patiently waiting and watching to see how long it would take you to find it.

To be loved by a Dachshund is truly a privilege of a lifetime never to be taken lightly.

For today’s blog recipe, I thought it would be nice to have roasted chicken breast with a savory-sweet stuffing of apricot and brie, accompanied with small roasted potatoes.

                                       HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO AMIGO!

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Apricot & Brie Stuffed Chicken Breasts
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
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Instructions
Potatoes
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a plastic bag, combine potatoes, olive oil, seasoned salt, pepper, garlic & lemon zest; toss well. Place on a foil lined large baking sheet & roast for 10 minutes.
Chicken Breast/Stuffing
  1. Place walnuts, 1 cup fresh basil & garlic in food processor; slowly add 1 Tbsp olive oil until mixture becomes paste-like. Next add brie, cream cheese & egg to the food processor & pulse until mixed well. Season with salt, pepper & pepper flakes.
  2. Place chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap & carefully flatten with a meat mallet. Divide stuffing between the 4 breasts. Roll up or fold over, enclosing filling well. In a small bowl, combine apricot preserves, balsamic vinegar & remaining Tbsp olive oil.
  3. Remove potatoes from oven & slide them around a bit to make room for the chicken. Place the chicken on the pan; brush apricot mixture all over breasts. Place the pan back in the oven & roast for 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through & potatoes are golden. Garnish with fresh basil if preferred.

Chicken Fajitas

When I’m working in the yard, summer always tempts me to spend less time in the kitchen. As much as I love to cook, I find the ‘gardener’ in me takes over. I can’t simply just go out and do a bit of looking. The first thing I know, there’s a little weed that needs to be picked or a plant to prune and that does it — I’m hooked for hours. Nevertheless, one thing for sure and that is the fresh air and exercise builds an appetite which brings me to a fast-to-fix meal.

Today, I’m thinking some chicken fajitas for our evening meal. Before I even go outside, I’ll do a bit of quick prep work, that way it will be a ‘no brainer’ later when I’m tired.

Technically, only beef was used in fajitas, but the term has become ‘blurred’ and describes just about anything that is cooked and served rolled up in a soft flour tortilla. The origin of the fajita goes back to Mexican ranch workers living in West Texas (along the Rio Grande on the Texas-Mexican border) in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s. When a steer was butchered, the workers were given the least desirable parts to eat for partial payment of their wages. Because of this, the workers learned to make good use of a tough cut of beef known as shirt steak. The first print mention of the word fajitas anywhere in the world didn’t occur until the 1970’s.

The chicken breast I’m using in this recipe is marinated for a number of hours making it nice and spicy as well as tender. This is a great little, quick and easy hand held meal.

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Chicken Fajitas
Instructions
  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine 2 Tbsp oil, lemon juice & seasonings. Add chicken. Seal & turn to coat; refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
  2. In a large skillet, saute peppers & onions in remaining oil until crisp-tender. Remove & keep warm. In the same skillet, cook chicken over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes or until no longer pink. Return pepper mixture to pan; heat through. Spoon filling down the center of the tortillas; fold in half. Serve with cheese & choice of other toppings.
Recipe Notes

Chia Chicken Meatballs with Linguine

Chia — the little seed with the huge nutritional profile. Known as a great source of healthy omega-3 fats and fiber as well as positive health effects such as boosting energy, stabilizing blood sugar, aiding digestion and lowering cholesterol.

In the early eighties, when the terracotta ‘Chia Pet’ figurines were first marketed, I really didn’t pay much attention to them. I just thought they were a cute way to grow a ‘houseplant’ never checking out their true potential.

Chia seeds have a fascinating and long history of use in several cultures. The word chia means ‘strength’ in the Mayan language. The Aztecs, Mayans and Incas, supposedly all used chia as a staple of their diets as well as an energy food.

There seem to be endless ways to use these naturally gluten free little seeds. Just to name a few would be, as an egg substitute, in puddings, as a thickener in soups and gravy, in meatballs, sprouted in salads or for breading fish or chicken.

One of the recipes I have featured in my ebook is Chia Chicken Meatballs  served with a fresh zucchini sauce over linguine pasta.

My husband, Brion is all about anything that promotes good health so this meal works for him. The chia seeds definitely give these little chicken meatballs some extra ‘pizzazz’. Hope you enjoy.

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Chia Chicken Meatballs with Linguine
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Fresh Zucchini Sauce
Course Main Dish
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Fresh Zucchini Sauce
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Instructions
Chia-Chicken Meatballs
  1. In a small bowl, combine chia seeds with water; let stand for about 20 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, use your hands to evenly combine the chia gel with the remaining meatball ingredients. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with foil; coat lightly with baking spray. Scoop meatball mixture into 50 servings onto baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes; remove from oven. Cool half of the meatballs & freeze for another meal.
Fresh Zucchini Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt margarine; saute zucchini & green onion until tender. Sprinkle with flour & seasonings. Add milk/broth & cook, stirring until slightly thickened. Fold in baked chicken balls.
Linguine
  1. Cook linguine about 14 minutes in salted boiling water to which 1 Tbsp of olive oil has been added. Drain & combine with meatball/sauce mixture.