What’s Cookin’ in Florida?

I love it when I can work outside...

I love it when I can work outside…

Well hi there! Checking in from sunny Florida. After leaving the deserts of California, we began to head eastward to our next destination Dade City, Florida. After a mere trek of 2500 miles over the course of 5 days, we arrived at our original destination of Zephyrhills, FL. Upon inspection of the so-called RV park we had booked, (wasn’t a RV park, but an extremely unkempt trailer park which had definitely seen better days!) we traveled for Dade City to our plan B park, a nice little park called Many Mansions. Lesson learned, always have a plan B when living the RV lifestyle.

Many Mansions RV Park

Many Mansions RV Park

So now we are settled in for the next couple of months, and ready to enjoy some fun Florida-style. Part of enjoying Florida is finding ways to use the abundant fresh produce. Fresh produce in February, I’ll take it. In Michigan, at this time of the year, all the produce labels read from California, Mexico, or Florida. Particularly plentiful here are the peppers, zucchini, and sweet potatoes. I thought I would share some recipes I have created or adapted from various websites that feature these items. If you follow this blog, you know I have certain criteria I follow for my culinary creations. They must taste good, be nutritious, not have hard to find or pricey items, and not be overly complicated to prepare. Well, there is one that is a bit time intensive, but worth the effort!

Even though it is warm here most of the time, I still crave those hearty, homemade winter meals. So today’s recipes fit the ticket including Breakfast Stuffed Peppers, Zucchini Lasagna, and Sweet Potato Chili. Enough said, let’s get cookin’!

Breakfast Stuffed Peppers. So, so good...

Breakfast Stuffed Peppers. So, so good…

Breakfast Stuffed Peppers-I love this dish because it combines 2 of my favorites, stuffed peppers, and ANYTHING with eggs! Recipe:

4 bell peppers sliced in half, core and seeds removed/8 eggs beaten/1 cup mushrooms sliced/1 onion diced/1 tomato diced/3 cups baby spinach/one-half tsp. garlic powder/2 links hot Italian sausage.

Preheat oven to 375/drizzle some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat/saute the onion and sausage til sausage is browned, add mushrooms and tomatoes, and cook about 2 minutes, add spinach, cook til wilted/season mixture with salt, pepper and garlic powder/divide mixture equally between the pepper halves, top each with some of the beaten eggs/Place peppers on a cookie sheet and bake 40 minutes.

A bit time-consuming, but worth it!

Zucchini Lasagna. A bit time-consuming, but worth it!

Zucchini Lasagna-I love Italian food, who doesn’t? But I don’t like all the carbs. So I replace the noodles with thin slices of zucchini. I replace the ricotta cheese with cottage cheese for no reason other than it is easier to work with. Delish. First time I made this I painstakingly sliced the zucchini with a knife. Never again! Get yourself a device (if you do not already have one in your kitchen arsenal) that slices veggies. I believe it is called a mandolin. Costs about $10. After you slice the zucchinis (lengthwise), spread them out on some paper towels and salt both sides lightly, then cover with more paper towels. Go check your Facebook, clean your house, or do any other task that takes about an hour, while you let the zucchinis dehydrate a bit. You need to get some of the water out otherwise you will have a soggy mess on your hands. Afterward wipe the salt off. They should have a somewhat rubbery consistency. No doubt, this is a time-intensive recipe just like any lasagna, so save it for the weekend. It freezes nicely, so do a double batch while you are expending all the effort!

3 or 4 zucchinis thinly sliced and prepare as stated above/1 onion diced/1 green pepper diced/12 oz mushrooms sliced/3 Italian sausage links/a jar of your favorite pasta sauce (thick is best!)/4 cups spinach (or a box of frozen; thawed and squeezed free of liquid)/cottage cheese, mozzarella, parmesan cheese-how much? Depends on how much you like!

Sauté sausage, green pepper, and onion over medium heat til sausage is browned/ add mushrooms, cook 3-4 minutes/add spinach cook til wilted (or just add your squeezed boxed spinach), add pasta sauce/spread about a quarter cup of the sauce mixture on the bottom of a greased 9×13 glass pan/add a layer of “noodles”/ add some more sauce mixture/spread about 2 tablespoons of cottage cheese over the top/add mozz cheese and parm/continue layers til out of noodles./Cover with foil and bake @ 375 for 40 minutes. It may seem as if the lasagna is too liquidy, but let the lasagna sit for 10-15 minutes and the liquid will absorb. If it still seems excessive, spoon some off.

A hearty vegetarian dish. You won't miss the meat. Inexpensive too.

Sweet Potato Chili. A hearty vegetarian dish. You won’t miss the meat. Inexpensive too.

Crockpot Sweet Potato Chili-I came up with this recipe while in California visiting our kids who live there and are vegetarians. I love to cook for my kids when I have the chance. We enjoyed this meal on our daughter-in-law’s birthday when her hubby was out of town. I made a double batch so he could test it out when he returned. Turns out he caught a bad cold, so a nice spicy chili was great to return home to. Recipe:

1 medium red onion diced/2 green peppers diced/4 cloves garlic chopped/2 medium sweet potatoes cut into bite-sized chunks/28 oz can of crushed tomatoes/1 can each black beans-kidney beans drained/1 cup broth either chicken or veggie/1 tbsp. chili powder/2 tbsp. cumin/1 tsp cayenne pepper/one-quarter tsp cinnamon/2 tsp dark cocoa powder (I know you may think this is crazy, but it gives any chili a richer taste and a deeper color)

Sauté the onions, peppers, sweet potatoes in some olive oil for about 5 minutes, add the garlic cook about 1 more minute/while this is sautéing drain your beans and throw everything else in the crockpot/add the veggie mix/cook on low 7-8 hrs or high 4-5. I like to top mine with avocado and have tortilla chips to crumble in. Cornbread would be great also!

We had this chili again last night with enough leftover for lunch today. I can’t wait, but first I think I will work up an appetite with a walk in this glorious Florida sunshine…

Florida Sunshine at it's finest!

Florida Sunshine at it’s finest!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s