25 September 2017

PinTest # 30: Zucchini Pizza Boats

I have committed to eating as little carbs, dairy and sugar as possible. It's a challenge, I don't especially like it but it's good for me and I'm going with it. This means a pretty much wholesale change in eating habits, even though I eat a lot of healthy foods already. But saying goodbye to bread, crackers and sweets is a toughy for me. So I'm collecting recipes and looking for new meal ideas. That brings me to Pin Test #30: Zucchini Pizza Boats.

via delish.com
I have been thinking about trying these for a while because I am a pizza fan and the crust is the killer. I realize I mentioned earlier that I'm limiting dairy and these obviously have cheese on them. I'm allowing a little dairy here and there and if a little cheese is going to help make saying goodbye to carbs and sugar less miserable I'm okay with that.

Now I'm not one of those people who says modified recipes taste just like the real thing. I've never said tofu tastes just like chicken, I don't like rice milk or almond milk and no they don't taste just like or better than dairy. So swapping out zucchini for delicious crusty bread dough is a bit of a stretch for me.

I followed this recipe from Delish.com and then made the following additions. In with the sauteing zucchini bits, I added a 1/2 teaspoon of minced fresh garlic, 1/8 tsp. of New Mexico green chili from a jar, 1/4 cup minced onion, a very small dash of red pepper flakes and a few shakes of Italian Seasoning. This really punched up the sauce I think and even gave it a tiny kick.

Oh! Forgot one thing. I didn't have any pepperoni in the house so I used finely diced cooked bacon and some left over  seasoned ground beef I had used for tacos earlier in the week. I definitely think pepperoni would be tasty on these and give it a lot of flavor -- but the bacon and seasoned ground beef worked great too. Mushrooms and green peppers would be a great addition too. One other note, I initially wished I had cut my zucchini up a little smaller but it cooks down very softly anyway. But if you're trying to hide it from your family, cutting it up in finely diced pieces would work. It will be hard to find when you get down below the cheese.

After we had everything assembled I added some fresh sliced garlic, freshly ground black pepper and another quick shake of Italian Seasoning on top. Then there's one other thing I did differently, I baked these at 350 for 15 minutes and they were cooked but we like our pizza a little crusty on top so I bumped up the temp to 400 for a few minutes and got the cheese a little browned and the tops a little bit crusty. A family preference thing.

To go along with these I cooked up some Trader Joe's breaded chicken breasts, which are super easy to heat in a pan with a little olive oil - and they take about the same time as it took to cook the boats so you can throw them in a pan after you put the boats in the oven. I didn't realize it at the time but together they make a Chicken Parmesan style dinner - and they taste great together. Now I bet you're wondering if this pizza replacement is going to get a thumbs up or a thumbs down from me and the family.

I am even a little bit surprised to say this, but I give Zucchini Pizza Boats a big thumbs up. I loved it. Kiddo gave it an 8 out of 10. Then man gave it a 7.5. I thought it was delicious and ate it for dinner last night was already looking forward to having it for lunch today. The one thing about these is that they are better when first cooked. Putting it in the fridge over night made the zucchini a little soggy. It was more crisp and fresh tasting last night. Today it was much softer. But still delicious and today I didn't add anything to it, just heated it up and it was as delicious.

So  big thumbs up for Zucchini Pizza Boats. Will be making these again. It may turn out that I'll still make homemade pizza for the family and make the boats for me but we'll see how it goes. I think an occasional boat dinner will work for the family too.

11 September 2017

Make Time To Spend With Friends

It is so easy to get busy and find that weeks or months have gone by without checking in with your friends. I have some terrific friends here and in different parts of the country. I'm trying to do better staying in touch from a distance, thank goodness for social media which helps a lot, but can still be rather impersonal. I've been trying to shoot emails to friends more often to just say "Hi" and "How ya doin?"

Over the summer I have made it a priority to meet up with girlfriends for brunch or lunch every couple of weeks. We've had some great talks about schools, creative pursuits, home design and decor, about challenges we are facing and we've even read some personal development books that we've been sharing.

It is so nice to once a week or so be able to leave the grind of housekeeping and work at home and just get away somewhere different, to talk and think about other things and leave feeling renewed of soul. It's definitely a great when a friend can help inspire you and you can inspire them with your past experiences and dreams for the future. Plus it's giving me the chance to get to know friends' favorite cafes and eateries around our area.

While I've tried to do this as a habit over the years, this is really the first time where I've been able to maintain it regularly and it's been a joy. One of the best parts about our community here is that there are a lot of friends who have kids about the same age, are at the same school and often the same church. So we are able to do both family activities, fun kid things and parent get togethers with the families we know quite easily.

Because we live in an area where people have yards, backyard parties are easy to throw together and there is space for everyone to spread out and have fun playing or talking. That may sound weird to some people, but living in LA, most everyone lived in an apartment, so very few people had yards. We had to meet at parks or other places and it was not so easy. Not to mention we often had to pay for parking or entrance fees to many places. Things to be grateful for!

One of the things a girlfriend and I are doing is keeping a list of cool places in the city that we want to check out. Then when we decide to get together, we can choose something off the list. We've been to a cool book signing, a hip store grand opening and to some fun cafes. On the list we have added going to breakfast and to the farm shop at my favorite working farm/upscale hotel, happy hour at a favorite downtown historic hotel, a new french bakery, some local boutiques and museums we have yet to see. It's great to have a buddy to adventure to new places with and that helps me make it a priority to actually get to those places that I so often think I want to visit. This way it becomes a plan, rather than a wish that never happens. Having someone fun to go to those places with makes it even better. On our list are a few things we want to do with husbands too and families too.

Making time to spend with friends has been such a gift to us here and I think it's a great thing to do no matter where you live or what station in life you are in. It might be taking babies to the park with other mom friends or going to lunch with a bunch of empty nester friends but it's good for the soul no matter our age.


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