Sausage- Stuffed Zucchini

Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini

Every season the vegetable garden, at East Durham Farms’, NY, explodes with zucchini.  I’m sure we’re not unique to this scenario.  Tonight we’re making sausage-stuffed zucchini.  However, this recipe could be enjoyed any time, breakfast, lunch or even for satisfying snack.  And for a bonus, it’s a snap to make.  I remember when I first started courting my boyfriend and visiting the farm, I thought he was living the life, fresh organic vegetables literally right outside his front door.  How amazing?!?  Start a garden today.

 

Ingredients:

1-      Zucchini

1-      Onion

1-      Pepper

1-      Jalapeno

2-      Garlic Cloves (medium sized)

1-      Cup of Sausage (casings removed)

Optional- Cheese

 

The portions or ingredients can fluctuate dependent upon your tastes.  I added extra sausage.  I also added some leftover baby eggplants I had lingering in the refrigerator.  Use your imagination.

 

Directions:

Slice zucchini in half.  Fill a large sauce pan with about half inch of water and boil the zucchini for approximately 8 minutes.  Another option, bake the zucchini for approximately 15-20 minutes, but be sure to clear out the seeds first.  Times vary, which are dependent upon the size of the zucchini.

Slice Zucchini in half

 

Dice the onion, pepper, eggplant, jalapeno and garlic.

Dice Vegtables

 

 

Sauté onion, pepper, jalapeno, garlic and sausage until vegetables are soft and sausage is browned.

Saute

 

If zucchini was boiled clean out the cavity, first.  Then add sausage mixture to the top of the zucchini.  Slice some of your favorite cheese and add to the top.

photo (5)photo (4)

 

Bake uncovered for approximately 18 minutes.  Then place the pan under the broiler, long enough to brow the top.

photo (3)

 

Enjoy.

Oh, Granola. Again!

Oh, Granola.  Again!

Homemade Granola

Okay, so every recipe on the internet explicitly states that making granola is simple, extremely simple.  It’s so simple that it took me numerous times to get it right.  The first time I made it, I added all the bells and whistles, which included coconut, coco powder, salt, fruit, nuts, spices and extract.  Needless to say, my boyfriend did not like it, and he eats just about anything.  However, I already knew it wasn’t a homerun, after I tasted it myself and was left with ultimately having to throwing it out.  The next time I made it, which was the following day; the outcome was too dry.  Now, totally obsessed and completely driven to nail this granola, an hour later that same day, I whipped up another batch and it was too wet!  The following morning, I made it again, much better, finally, something edible, but still not right.  So I made ANOTHER batch and yes, if you’re counting, I’m on my fifth batch.  Finally, granola that had the right texture and tasted delish too!  Whew!  Now, I’m about to unleash some secrets that I did not find disclosed on the good old internet.  First off, do NOT add salt!  It doesn’t need it and leaves a strange after taste.  Secondly, after you take your granola out of the oven to cool, if you have quality baking sheets that retain heat, take your granola off the baking sheets, because they will continue to cook.  These secrets could be a little obvious to some, but they were not to me.  Also, the secret is to finding the combo of wet and dry ingredients.  This isn’t always easy because your extra ingredients outside of the oats might not be the same as someone else, which is part of the fun.  The whole point to making homemade granola is that you can control the ingredients and customize your granola to your liking!

Here’s a recipe from the armature gourmet blog that I roughly followed and found most helpful:

Easy Homemade Granola

From “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup whole almonds [Note: I used slivered almonds, and they worked fine.]

1/3 cup whole hazelnuts

1/3 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, toss the oats with the cinnamon and salt.

In a medium bowl, stir together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until completely combined.

Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and use your hands to combine them: Gather up some of the mixture in each hand and make a fist. Repeat until all of the oats are coated with the honey mixture.

Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it out evenly, but leave a few clumps here and there for texture.

Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the almonds over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.

Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Let cool completely. Sprinkle the raisins and cherries over the granola…

Transfer it to an airtight container.

The granola will keep for 1 week.

ENJOY- Rene’

 

Make It a GREAT One- 2013!

love wallpaper 21

Hello Folks.

The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me. – Ayn Rand

Happy 2013!  It’s time to set forth some goals for yourselves and jump right into making them happen!  Don’t waste time.  I love the start of a new year.  For me it’s the ultimate time to wipe the slate clean and reflect on mistakes and triumphs.  I always make several New Year’s resolutions and usually accomplish most of them.  As for the ones I don’t accomplish, I carry them forward into the following year, if I still find them relevant.  I’d like to share my little New Year’s ritual because it works for me and I’d love to be able help someone else.  It feels awesome to accomplish something.  You develop a sense of pride and strength and an overall feeling of happiness.  We should all feel these emotions.

I have a binder that has been housing all of my resolutions for the past five years.  With every new year,  I add to it.  On the page to the left I write down all my goals and on the page to the right I write down all the months.  Then I place each resolution in the month or months I plan on working accomplishing that goal.  Every month I reference the binder, to make sure I’m on track.  Some goals could take a month, such as building a summer vegetable garden, and others could take several months, such as meditating daily.  Usually, I find it takes me three to four months to make a change habitual.  For instance, this year I would like to start meditating daily.  Work has been stressing the heck out of me.  I find that when I wake up on a work day, thought of my work day immediately consume me,  what meetings do I have scheduled for the day, are there suspense dates that need to be met, what are the pending projects, who’s working on what…ehhh!  I hate it!  I now wake up ten minutes earlier and don’t hit my snooze (I used to hit my snoozed at least once every morning), essentially, I’m only waking up ten minutes earlier, but have twenty extra minutes in the am.  I now use these twenty minutes to meditate.  It’s been dousie not hitting the snooze and an extremely grueling the first two weeks, however, now it’s slightly easier.  By the end of March, I hope this entire process will be second nature, which will allow me to cross it off my list and consider it accomplished!  As of right now, this goal is sitting in January, February and March as being worked on.  I always enjoy this, at the end of the year, I open up my binder and see what I’ve accomplish and what I didn’t.  By the end of the year, I notice most of my resolutions have been made, but this hasn’t always been the case.  Again, that ones that I haven’t accomplished, that I still find relevant are carried forward, so it’s no big shakes if you don’t make all your goals.  The important aspect is that you’re striving for something.   Please, give this process a try or tweak it into something that works for you.  Keep in mind; this binder ends up being a book of inspiration.  Every time you want to get reenergized, flip open your binder, just looking at all the exciting things you wrote down and know that now is the time to accomplish them.  Try and make your binder fun and inviting, include your favorite colors, images, quotes, whatever makes you smile.  This is not supposed to be stressful or daunting, whatever you don’t accomplish carries forward and you try again.  Eventually, as the years pass and you’ll be able to flip back and see what’ve accomplished over the years.  You’ll be amazed and proud off all you’ve done.

Cheers to 2013!  Go out there and make it happen.  Remember; don’t let yourself get in the way of you can accomplish!

Time to Relax! Tub Time!

Soak away the worries of the day…

 

I’m a fan of long, relaxing soaks in the bath tub. I’ve been doing this for years, I think since high school. They provide me with that moment to empty my mind, recharge and refocus. I light candles; bring in some reading material, a large glass of water and I’m prepared to soak for an hour… Love it. I also love scents. I think scents can have a huge impact on how we feel. I used to purchase all kinds of bath products to create this relaxing bath time moment. My soak time included bubbles, powders, oils, salts. You name it, I tried it. I remember even paying $100 for an Asian bath soak at Bluemercury. I was a beauty product junkie. However, now I take a much simpler natural approach and make my own bath salts, which also happen to sometime be cheaper!  It’s super easy too!

Mix together:

3 Cups Epson Salt

2 Cups Sea Salt

1 Cup Baking Soda

Essential Oils

Herbs  Optional

Last night the temperature dropped to a brisk forty-two and I had another stressful week at work.  When I came home from work, I made myself a little snack and poured myself a LARGE glass of red wine.  Then I went into the bathroom and started filling  tub, I needed to soak my stress away for the weekend!

When I make my bath salts, I usually make enough for a couple baths and store them in a Mason Jar.  I also put in some fresh herbs from the garden.  I leave the leaves whole for easier clean up.  Now here’s a tip worth its weight in gold.  After you’ve distress and finished that large glass of wine and it’s time to drain the tub, but oh snap, there’s all these herbs floating in the tub.  For easy clean up, put a washcloth over the drain.  Don’t fold it because it won’t be thin enough for the water to run through.  Now, all you’re left with are the herb remnants.  Simply, get a napkin and whip them up!

Cheers to red wine and baths!

YOGA: Confession Time

Confession time!  I haven’t been to yoga in a while.  Work and life have been so demanding lately, not offering me the opportunity to take a class or even take the treadmill out for a quick spin.  Have you ever murmured these words?  I know I have too many times; it’s like a bad track on repeat.  Well, I can say that this tragic excuse will not occur for me again.  Next time life decides rear its unforgiving ugly demands, I will find time for myself.   As I have said in my bio, part of the reason for starting this blog is to take back control and realign my focus towards a healthier life style.  Back to skipping out on yoga, my body is stiff, it aches, there’s pent up anxiety in my chest, my spirits are on a downward spiral  L and I can even feel myself taking shorter quicker breaths.  Not to mention my poor BF has felt the lashings of my short fuse these days.  So with that said, I know that there are benefits to yoga. What are they exactly?

What is yoga?  Simply speaking, yoga is defined as the “yolk” or “union” in Sanskrit, which is the language of ancient India, where yoga has supposed to have originated.  The union occurring is between mind, body and spirit.  Any longtime practitioner or even an open minded beginner can attest to the feeling of this union.  When people generally think of yoga they think of the physical postures or asanas.  However, there is much more to yoga than the physical poses, but it is also said that the poses are the gateway to finding your inner yogi or yogini.  Yoga instructors will often use the phrase “your practice” during class.  Yoga is non-competitive.  “Your practice” is purely your relationship to yoga.  This relationship is forever evolving, changing and deepening.

Yoga has many benefits, some physical, some psychological and some spiritual.  Yoga emphasizes controlled breathing, which enables one to lengthen and deepen their breath.  This stimulates a relaxation response.  Meditation results in improves mental clarity.  Students also find themselves having improved concentration and focus. Yoga even promotes better sleep.  Yoga is also known to ward off and even have positive effects on depression.  Any yogi or yogini can tell you they feel happier and clearer after a class.  For some reason, you start to become mindful of what you’re eating and eating habits start to improve naturally, not forced.  Your body yearns for healthier fuel.

Yoga of course improves flexibility, but it also increases strength and improves balance.  Yoga poses also emphasize proper alignment.  These factors improve posture.  You’ll be standing taller, sitting straighter, shoulders become less round and shoulders are lowered, no longer up by the ears, which is caused by anxiety.  Yoga also lowers blood pressure and slows the heart rate, which has health benefits for heart disease and stroke.  Yoga also boosts the immune system functions.  Poses also stimulates and massages all of the organs of the body, which provides the benefits of fighting off disease.  This also helps with detoxification by flushing out toxins and flushing in new blood supply.

Please, hit the mat and give yoga a chance.  Feel the benefits yourself.  I recommend visiting a yoga school and taking a class with a qualified instructor.  Listen to your body.  You know your limitations.

Enjoy and be happy in this moment because tomorrow isn’t promised.