Thursday, August 28, 2014

Recipe Roundup #1: Spaghetti Sauce, Cucumbers and Onions, and Zuchinni Bake

Over the last few weeks, I've been blessed by several friends giving me produce from their gardens. At one point I had zucchini, squash, red onions, tomatoes, green beans, corn, and blueberries. I decided to freeze the blueberries for later, but all the rest I found some recipes for.

So this post is a roundup of a few of the recipes I found to use up the veggies. I didn't alter any of them in any way so I thought it would be fun to just put them all in one place and add links to the original recipe. This way, I can still add in my experiences with making all of this. 
Ready? Here we go.

1. Crock-pot Spaghetti Sauce
Original Recipe: Iowa Girl Eats

 This sauce is pretty darn amazing.
Iowa Girl got it right!
The only thing required outside of the crock pot is to brown ground hamburger (or turkey).
When I made this, I chopped up my onion and cooked it with the meat. Our family can handle onions if they are cooked. The only other thing I did differently than Iowa Girl is I did not use a can of crushed tomatoes. I had a TON of fresh ones, so I chopped those up in to decent sized chunks and threw them in the crock pot. I still used the tomato sauce and paste, but I think the fresh tomatoes gave it a fresher taste. I wish I could tell you how many tomatoes I used...but I just eyeballed it.

After browning the meat and onion, you throw everything in the crock pot and let it cook on low.
So easy!

My crock pot cooks fast, so I cooked it on low for 3-4 hours. The first time I made this, I made it as written. It made about half a crock pot, which was perfect for one meal. So the second time I made it, I doubled the recipe, which filled the crock pot, and then I split it into two freezer bags. I laid the bags flat on a cookie sheet and placed them in our deep freeze. Now I have two batches of sauce that just need to thaw for a spaghetti dinner.

This sauce truly is delicious. The meat literally melts in your mouth and the flavor is full and wonderful. My favorite part is probably the added butter. Who would have thought of that? I think it just adds a little something to it. If you freeze the sauce, don't add the butter yet. Add it when you are reheating the sauce in a sauce pan to be used for dinner. 
Great sauce and great freezer meal!

2. Cucumbers and Onions

Original Recipe: ??????

So, apparently this has been around for ages. But I was not a cucumber, nor an onion fan, as a child. In fact, I'm still working on it as an adult. I don't mind onions (cooked), but I'm still not a huge fan of cucumbers. 
We've been spending a lot of time at our friend's farm this summer, and I've been introduced to good old farm cookin'. I love how she just throws it all together out of thin air. So every time we've had dinner at the farm, I've been taking mental notes.
This recipe is something she ALWAYS has in the fridge, and when I found out my husband loved it, I decided to give it a try. It's pretty easy and I'll admit, it's pretty tasty, too. (I even ate the onions! Look Ma, I'm all growed up!)

All it is is cucumbers and onions in a vinegar-sugar-water mixture. 
That's it!
I'm sure the majority of you are reading this thinking "duh!". But I didn't know about it, so I was excited and I wanted to share it for anyone else that is sheltered like myself. 

To make it you mix equal parts vinegar, sugar and water. 
So if you use 1 cup of vinegar, then you use 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar.
(Now, I never said this was a healthy recipe!)
You can eat it right away, but it's better to let them sit in the mixture for a few hours in the fridge so they can absorb the flavors and get nice and cold.

3. Sour Cream Cucumbers 
Original Recipe: Taste of Home 

Another quick cucumber and onion recipe if you are tired of the one above or, like me, just have a crap-ton of cucumbers to use up.
 It's very similar, but uses sour cream. In all honesty, I like the vinegar-sugar-water mixture better, but this one is still good. I wanted to share because everyone's palettes are different and some of you may really like this!
All you have to do for this recipe is whisk together the ingredients: sour cream, vinegar, sugar, and pepper. Then toss the cucumbers and onions in the mixture and refrigerate for four hours. 
I will say this, these didn't make the BEST leftovers, so this might be a good recipe for a church picnic or family cookout.

On Pinterest, I saw a similar recipe to this one, but it uses dill. I LOVE dill, so I think I will give that one a try, too. I'll let you know if it's any good!

4. Zucchini-Squash Bake 

Original Recipe: Kalyn's Kitchen

I had zucchini coming out my EARS. My friend was giving some away, and she stood on my porch and handed me a zucchini that was, I'm not kidding, bigger than my cat. 
This was the perfect recipe to use up some of that zucchini. That one...gigantic...zucchini.

My husband was gone for work for about 10 months. The day he moved back home, I made a completely homemade-from-scratch dinner just for him. (No, I'm not bragging...this was the first time I cooked in....well, 10 months.)
I used the spaghetti sauce I shared above, made some homemade bread sticks (another farm recipe!), and found this zucchini bake to put with it. 
I was in such a tizzy trying to throw all of this homemade stuff together and time it for right when he got home, I didn't even think it take pictures of anything...until we sat down to eat. So the only picture I have of the bake is on my plate. And it didn't stay there long. 

I'm hungry just looking at this. He's been home a month now....I'm think it's time for round two. 
I'll share the breadstick recipe another day. Homemade, easy, and they almost taste like Olive Garden's breadsticks!
 Mmmmmm breadsticks.....
Focus, Evie.

For this recipe you need the veggies, some olive oil, basil (fresh or dried), thyme, garlic powder, and cheese. You can also throw in green onions if you like. I didn't have any in the fridge so I didn't use them, but I would definitely like to try it next time. 

Toss the veggies in the olive oil and spice mixture, spread in a greased baking dish, and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 min. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for another 10 minutes to melt the cheese.
It went great with the spaghetti dinner and it made pretty good leftovers the next night. The webpage also has a printer friendly version, so it's really simple to print the recipe for your collection.

Well, that's it for now! I hope you like some of these! I made a few other recipes, but they either needed some modification or they were just so good they deserve their own post. So you'll see those pop up eventually. 

I've had a lot of fun find recipes to use up all these fresh veggies. Enough so that I plan to try a garden out next year. (This is big deal people. Green-thumb is NOT my middle name.)
Wish me luck!

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