Zucchini Casserole

Homemade zucchini casserole made with homemade cream of mushroom soup

This is my 1st year to have our very own garden. We were having great luck with or zucchini and yellow squash plants, until we had a squash leaf fungus float into our yard. I was able to kill the fungus with a spray of 9:1 parts water and milk. After that I cut out the affected parts and sprayed the healthy parts with 1 tsp baking soda to 4 cups of water. This will make the leaf surface too acidic for fungus to thrive. Everything looks to be growing back healthy now, so hopefully we’ll have more squashes soon! We were happy to harvest these right before the mess.

Zucchini, yellow squash and cherry tomatoes fresh from the garden

The zucchini was seriously the size of my forearm! I made three loaves of bread with 1/2 of it.
Last week we had an unseasonably cool day. I was craving comfort food and my brother-in-law, who is a vegetarian, was coming over later so I decided to make a casserole. One of his favorite dishes is green bean casserole. You know that dish that is a thanksgiving dinner requirement, with the crispy onions on top? Yeah, that one! Well my mom has a zucchini stuffing casserole recipe that I decided to play around with. This is what I came up with. If you think ‘eww ick’ after the green bean casserole comparison, trust me, this is good! You can use a can of cream of mushroom soup, but homemade is much better! If you choose to use canned soup, you will need to also add a 1/2-3/4 cup of milk. The soup may be made ahead of time and split into to portions. It can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for a few months! You’ll notice that I use yellow squash with my zucchini in the casserole. I had it on hand and needed to use it. If you only have zucchini, that’s fine. If you have other summer squashes on hand, those will work nicely too!
First for the soup;

Cream of Mushroom Soup

5 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 small chopped onion
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream*
1/2 c milk*

In a large heavy saucepan, sauté mushrooms, onion and thyme in olive oil until tender, about 10 minutes. Add vegetable broth and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
In blender or food processor, puree the mixture. I poured mine into a Pyrex bowl and buzzed with my immersion blender. Don’t purée it to fine, you want to see some of those mushroom chucks. Set aside.
In the saucepan, melt the butter, whisk in the flour until smooth. Cook flour until it’s a sandy color and smells nutty. Add the salt, pepper. Slowly whisk in the milk and cream mixture. Stir in vegetable puree. Stirring constantly, bring soup to a boil and cook until thickened. Adjust seasonings to taste.

*you could use 1 cup of soy milk in this. Additional thinking time may be needed.

And now for the Casserole;

Zucchini casserole made with homemade cream of mushroom soup and topped with ritz crackers, ready to go into the oven

Zucchini Casserole

1 sleeve ritz crackers, crushed
1/3 cup melted butter
1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium sliced zucchini
1 small yellow squash
1 carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 cups cream of mushroom soup (see additional recipe)
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter, crush crackers and combine the 2 in a small bowl. Set aside.
Slice squashes into 1/8-1/4 inch slices and set aside.
In a medium sauté pan cook onion, celery and carrot on medium/low heat until tender, about 9 minutes. Add in garlic and continue to cook for a couple minutes.
In a medium bowl combine the sliced squashes, cooked onion mixture, sour cream and soup with 1/2 of the crushed crackers. Adjust seasoning if needed. Spread in a 9 x 13 casserole dish and sprinkle the remaining crackers over the top. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for an additional 5-7 minutes. Casserole should be bubbly and golden brown on top. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving, unless you like a burned tongue.

Zucchini casserole Made with yellow squash and homemade cream of mushroom soup

Enjoy!

Things I thought I would never say

It happens as a parent. We say it won’t, but it does. We’re in the grocery store walking along telling our toddler how you shouldn’t stick your finger in your nose and maybe that’s why his nose hurts today. Or you’re at the park with a stream for the kids to explore and your potty training kiddo decides this would be a great place to practice… “Don’t pee in the stream! Pull your pants back up!”. Or after telling your kid that if he throws one more rock we’ll have to leave. You turn to the employee at the discovery center and say “He doesn’t get out much.” And you realize she doesn’t see that you were trying to be humorous. Oops.
This morning I found myself explaining that it’s difficult to eat grapes out of the bowl like a puppy because we have mouths on flat faces, not snouts. So our mouths don’t fit into bowls like dog mouths do.
Just five years ago I never would have imagined even thinking these things. My day was spent stitching Feltidermy, while watching Dr. Who episode marathons on Netflix. I didn’t have to get anyone else ready to go if I needed to run out for a certain color thread or down to the grocery. Now I’m not surprised if I catch myself asking Squishy if he’s pooped again and can we please change the stanky poop pants. (One of these days he’ll decide that sitting on the potty is a good idea.)
A few months ago we had taken Squishy to Ikea…Why do we keep thinking that’s a good idea? Anyway, as I was carrying my screaming overstimulated toddler through the parking lot, I noticed a young couple watching us and giggling. I looked at them and growled “Someday this will be you. You think it won’t, but it will.” He continued to smile, she got a glassy horrified look to her eyes. I guess I got through to one of them.
When you decide to bring a child into your life, you think it’s going to be all sunshine, rainbows, all organic produce and giggles. Then one day you find yourself explaining the concept of privacy to the little body throwing himself into the other side of the bathroom door. And you’re yelling about the concept of privacy very loudly so that the little ears on that little body can hear you over the loud thuds of them slamming into the door over and over and over. Then you find yourself asking “Can Mommy just pee in private this one time? I’ll give you a pack of fruit snacks when I get out!”. Yep. Before kids I thought those are things I’ll never say to my kids. Then I became a parent and I find myself saying things I never thought I would never say. So for those of you who are parents, it’s okay, we’ve all been there. We’re all going to be there at one point.

20140805-102310-37390924.jpg
Really, it’s okay. At least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself.

Southwest Baked Stuffed Squash Recipe

Baked stuffed zucchini and yellow squash topped with sour cream, cherry tomatoes and salsa verde

This past weekend I accomplished my 1st solo road trip with Squishy and Bean! The Mr was heading into the city to go to Pitchfork with his brother, so the rest of us took a mini vacation! Saturday morning Squishy, Bean and I loaded up the car, dropped of the Mr at the train station and drove to my parents house. It’s a nice 2 hour drive across northern Illinois through countless corn and bean fields. We spent the weekend hanging out in mom & dad’s back yard and deck, celebrating my nephews’ 13th birthday(!) at my sisters’ house and investigating mom’s garden. Squishy even got to take a swing at a piñata for the 1st time!

Read more

Honey Almond Granola

Good afternoon! We’re having one of those ‘getting odds and ends done’ type of days around here. Laundry is getting caught up (again), the car is in for service, floors are getting swept and I’m baking granola. I’ve been making our granola for a few years. It’s so easy to throw together and I love knowing exactly what is in it. The Mr eats granola almost daily on his yogurt while Squishy and I love sprinkling it over out shredded wheats and milk.

20140717-153718-56238821.jpg
I’ve made several variations on this recipe, but this one tends to be our favorite. Okay, it’s my favorite and since I’m the one making it I get to make the one I prefer, right?

20140717-153829-56309863.jpg

~ Honey Almond Granola ~
2 C. Old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 C. Wheatgerm
1/4 C. Flax meal
1/2 C. Sliced almonds
1/4 C. Broken pecan pieces
1 C. Shredded coconut
2Tbs. Dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 C. Honey
1/2 tsp. Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste
1/4 tsp. Nielsen-Massey Almond extract
3Tbs. Coconut oil
1/3 C. Water
Preheat oven to 325.

20140717-153946-56386696.jpg
Combine wheat germ, flax meal, nuts and coconut and spread on a dry baking sheet. Put the sheet into the oven and toast these ingredients for about 7 minutes. Check them half way through and stir. If your oven is like mine, your ingredients will brown faster near the edges of the pan.
Mix oats, salt and brown sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in your toasted ingredients and set aside. Combine honey, coconut oil, vanilla bean paste, almond extract and water in a separate small bowl.

20140717-154055-56455742.jpg
Mix into dry. If mixture is still a bit dry add a little more water. Bake for 20-22 mins stirring after 10 minutes with a large spatula until it reaches the golden brown of your preference. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

20140717-154302-56582529.jpg
After your granola is cool you can add dried fruits and other optional goodies you might like. I prefer to add a 1/2 C. of dried cranberries and a 1/2 C. mini chocolate chips.

20140717-154430-56670274.jpg
Enjoy!
I hope you’re trying out some of my recipes. If you do, please let me know! I’d love to hear how they worked for you.
Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Afternoon at Cosley Zoo

20140715-085611-32171408.jpg
Sunday afternoon we were looking for something fun to do with Squishy. After hearing about it from several locals we decided to head to Cosley Zoo in Wheaton, IL. Squishy’s been asking to go to a zoo since it warmed up for spring. It’s just a short 20 minute drive for us. So Cosley Zoo is perfect for an afternoon outing!

Read more