Beef Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini

The other day, I made a slow cooker roast dinner for my husband. Since this isn’t one of my favorite meals, I decided to use the left over roast for something other than just left overs. It’s also pretty warm in Canada right not. We don’t have an air conditioner so I had to come up with something I could cook on the barbeque.

I did a search on the internet for creative ideas “how to use left over roast”. There were hundreds of ideas from shredded beef casseroles to BBQ roast beef sandwiches. None of the suggestions I found tempted my taste buds, so I came up with this as an alternative.

My roots are in California where there are tons of great Mexican restaurants, so I have a special spot in my heart for enchiladas, tacos and burritos. I also have a love for fresh grown vegetables, zucchini being the freshest veggie in the market right now. So the wheels started turning and “beef enchilada stuffed zucchini” was created.

I am not creative enough to make an enchilada sauce without some kind of instruction so I went to the internet again. Chef Emeril Lagasse has a simple yet flavorful recipe on Food Network. It was for a larger recipe than what I needed, so I split the recipe in half and made a few minor adjustments.

Big shout out to Chef Emeril (oh and if you ever make it to Las Vegas, he has a restaurant in MGM Grande where you can get some amazing meals).

If you have left over beef or an over flow of zucchini from your garden, be sure to try this yummy recipe!!

Beef Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini

  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon flour (I used brown rice for GF)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 5.5 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 generous pinches garlic salt

Zucchini Ingredients:

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded left over roast beef
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • foil

Instructions for sauce:

  1. Set skillet on stove top to a medium heat.
  2. In a bowl, blend chicken broth and tomato paste. Set aside.
  3. Add flour and olive oil to skillet and whisk until well blended
  4. Add all the other spices (chili powder, oregano, cumin & garlic salt). Whisk together.
  5. Pour tomato mixture from bowl into skillet. Whisk until blended.
  6. Reduce heat to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened (about 5 minutes). Set aside.

Instructions for Zucchini:

  1. Turn barbeque on (I set mine on low because it gets pretty hot)
  2. Prepare foil into a square shape – like a mini cookie sheet.
  3. Wash zucchini well. Cut the tips off both ends, then cut in half length wise.
  4. Scoop out the seeds in the center of zucchini halves and place on foil.
  5. Add 1/4 cup of shredded beef to each zucchini.
  6. Add 1/4 cup enchilada sauce to each zucchini.
  7. Sprinkle both mozzarella and cheddar cheese on top of enchilada sauce.
  8. Sprinkle half the green onions on top of cheese.
  9. Bake on the barbeque for approximately 15 minutes, until cheese on top is a little crispy.
  10. Remove from barbeque and drizzle any left over sauce on top.
  11. Garnish with remaining chopped green onion.


Step By Step:

Make the sauce!!

In a bowl, blend the tomato paste and chicken broth. I used some of my Nutritious Chicken Broth from my freezer. The easiest way to blend the paste into the broth is to use a whisk. That will take away all the little tomato clumps.

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In a skillet, temperature set to medium on your stove top, add olive oil and flour. Use your whisk to blend well.

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Add all your spices. Blend again.

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Whisk in the tomato paste and chicken broth mixture.

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Turn the barbeque on to a low temperature so it can heat up while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Prepare the zucchini!!

Wash well. Cut the tips off each end. Slice in half length wise. Scoop out the seeds in the center.

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Add 1/4 cup shredded beef to each zucchini.

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Top each zucchini with 1/4 cup enchilada sauce.

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Sprinkle mozzarella, cheddar cheese and zucchini over the sauce.

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Bake in the barbeque for approximately 15 minutes, until cheese is melted and a little crispy on top.

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Drizzle remaining sauce and sprinkle remaining green onions for a garnish. SERVE!!

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This was filling and delicious. (fairly healthy as well – if you don’t count the cheese!). My husband also enjoyed it, but said it was too much zucchini. For us veggie loving folks this is perfect, but next time I serve it maybe I will add some potatoes to the side for my other half 🙂

If you enjoy this recipe, feel free to share with your friends or on social media. Thank you for stopping by.

 

 

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Spreading Kindness

Have you ever heard the saying, “hurting people hurt people”?

It’s when someone is hurting so badly that their pain seeps out into the people around them through criticism, rudeness, resentment, and so on.

My first experience with this was years ago in a restaurant where I was a waitress. The staff and I got along well and had a fun time at work until this new woman started working. For unknown reasons, she would go out of her way to be rude to me.

We would walk around the same corner and she would just stand there and say, “move!”. She made deliberate attempts to get in my way and eventually stopped saying “move” but just gave me a mean look. After about two weeks, human nature kicked in and I began to participate with negative responses. I felt justified in my behavior (well, she started it, right?).

Until this day…….

It was the holiday season and I was baking cookies to share with my neighbors and family. A feeling came over me that I should take a plate of cookies to my not-so-nice co-worker.

Do you ever get that little nudge from God asking you to do something you don’t understand? (or worse, a nudge from God to do something you REALLY don’t want to do)?

This was one of those moments for me. Why would God ask me to do something nice for someone who was never nice to me from the beginning? I figured if I took her cookies, she would probably just laugh at me, humiliate me, or not even accept my gift. My mind told me I was putting myself in a vulnerable situation, yet my heart was telling me to listen to the words God was whispering in my ear.

I lined a paper plate with some colorful tissue paper and chose the prettiest cookies. Then I wrapped the plate in clear tissue paper and tied it all together with holiday ribbon. It looked so professional and inviting.

Anxiously, I brought my plate of cookies to work (praying on the way for the right words). When I saw her, I asked if she would come outside for a minute. I didn’t want to put her on the spot and give her cookies in front of other people. If she was going to reject my offer, I wanted it done in private!!

When she came out, I said, “You may think I am strange, but I brought you some holiday cookies. I hope you enjoy them.”

Immediately, tears began to stream down her face. She responded, “No one has done anything nice for me in so long. I moved here from Florida with my boyfriend and he broke up with me a month ago. I’m here all alone”.

It was an eye-opening moment for me. God was showing me that hurting people really do hurt people. She was so full of pain that it seeped out as anger and frustration.

God was showing me that as faithful Christians we are not to take those acts personal, but instead, share acts of Gods loving kindness. Think about it………… When Jesus was on the cross he was asking the Father to forgive them “for they know not what they do”. If Jesus can overlook what the Roman’s did to Him, then we can overlook someone having a bad day, right?

Is there someone in your life who is hurting, someone unpleasant to be around?

My mission for this post is to encourage as many people as I can to put negativity, justifications and pride aside. Replace those things with random acts of kindness, encouraging words and God’s unconditional love (for no other reason than to just spread God’s love to a hurting world).

Here are some ideas to get you started…

  • My number one way of showing people I care is to give food made from the heart. Cookies and treats to neighbors. Chicken noodle soup to someone who’s sick. Cooking a few freezer meals like lasagna, for someone who just lost a loved one and doesn’t have the energy to cook. Fresh fruit for the homeless.
  • A woman at my church always has candy in her purse. She greets everyone with a smile and a piece of her yummy candy.
  • Take a co-worker a cup of coffee or a bagel in the morning.
  • Share some of your garden harvest with neighbors.
  • Hold the door for someone who has their hands full.
  • Offer to babysit for an hour so a single mother can have a little break.
  • Ask the grocery store clerk how her day is going (and thank her for ringing up your groceries), even if she was slow. She could be in training or maybe she was up all night with a sick baby.
  • Offer a cold drink to the garbage collector on a hot day.
  • Put runaway grocery carts (near someone’s car) back in the stall, even if it isn’t your cart.
  • Leave a random sticky note on someone’s desk to say “Hey, hope you’re having a nice day”.
  • Smile at everyone.. Someone once told me that a smile is free to give away, but could mean the world to the receiver.

Kindness is infectious!!

Feel free to comment below. How do you share kindness to the people around you? How has someone else’s act of kindness been a blessing in your life?

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Just SING

Over 30 years ago, I stood in the front row of a kindergarten performance. We were singing for all the parents at the elementary school. I wore a beautiful dress hand-made by my mother. My hair was long and styled in a curly Q, Shirley Temple sort of fashion. I felt like a princess.

During the performance, I sang “from my diaphragm” just as Mrs. Summers instructed. My heart felt as if it would pound out of my chest when the audience applauded our performance. Since I was in the front row, it was as though everyone were clapping just for me.

At the end of the performance, Mrs. Summers spoke words that would impact me for nearly a lifetime. She walked up to my mom and said, “she certainly is the most excited and eager student I had this year, but she couldn’t carry a tune in her pocket (hahaha)”. Most certainly she was just making a joke, but those words hurt me.

From that day on, I was insecure about my singing. It became a source of embarrassment and I didn’t want anyone to hear me. When I was home alone though, I would belt out songs as if I was on stage. It made my heart dance and my soul felt alive.

Years later when I began attending church regularly, I found a place of comfort where I could sing freely. One morning a woman asked why I didn’t join the choir. She said I had a beautiful singing voice and sang from my heart. I gave a little chuckle and told her  I KNEW I wasn’t choir material. With a look of surprise, she simply suggested I pray about it because I would be a nice addition to the choir.

That night I prayed and God began to show me how those words from my childhood found a home in my heart. He showed me that, even though the words didn’t play in my mind, the feeling from them came to surface each time I sang.

With the new revelation about why I had a hard time singing in front of others, I began to do some research. What did science say about singing? What did the bible say?

Professor Graham Welch from the University of London studied the health benefits of music and singing for over 30 years. His findings suggested that singing was good for the heart and lungs because it was an aerobic exercise. In addition, he said that singing reduced stress and increased our emotional well-being because it increases the “feel-good” hormones called endorphins.

When I went to my bible I found this scripture…..

Psalm 33:3 “Sing to Him a new song; skillfully (on the strings) with a loud and joyful sound”.

Science was saying that singing was good for me, and my bible was saying I should be singing loud and joyfully!! I cant even tell you how excited this made me feel!

I made a decision to stop believing the lie that had been rooted in my heart for so many years.  The following week, I joined the choir at church, singing talent or not, and I began to feel better. Slowly, I started singing in other places.

Now I sing in the streets, I sing in the gym, I sing while I lay outside tanning, and I sing while I drive. It doesn’t matter if I can carry a tune in my pocket or anywhere else, I carry it on my heart. Singing brings me so much joy. When I see someone else singing, I smile because I know I see a happy person.

What is the point of this story? Words (as innocent as they may be) can be spoken over us and they can hurt us, mold us, cause us to believe untruths about ourselves. We need to go to God’s word and believe what the bible says, not what our insecurities say.

Maybe you are insecure about something and you don’t know why. Maybe words were innocently spoken over you that hurt you. Maybe the enemy is just whispering words meant to steal your peace.

Go to God in prayer and ask Him to reveal truth to you.

Love yourself and give yourself permission to enjoy every part of you. Your heart and your spirit will thank you.

References:

http://heartresearch.org.uk/fundraising/singing-good-you    

4 Ingredient Healthy Dog Treats

Today my little Snap ran out of dog treats and I didn’t feel like paying $7 for a bag of the treats I usually buy for her. I figured “How hard could it be to make dog treats as good as the ones from the pet store?”.

Surprisingly, it was easy-peasy!!

Read on and you will see with a little of invested time, I was able to create a delicious, nutritious HUGE bag of snacks for my little pup.

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Meet Snap

First I looked at the ingredients from the bag of treats Snap had just finished. There were some grains (this being the biggest ingredient), meat, vegetables and fruit (along with some random chemical names items)…..

I figured it shouldn’t be that hard to recreate something similar, except I decided the largest ingredient would be meat.

Homemade Healthy Dog treats

  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 large apple cut in chunks (including peels and core)
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans (I used raw)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice blend
  • Water

Supplies needed:

  • Cake decorating bottle with small tip
  • Cookie sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • High power blender

Directions:

  1. Set oven temperature on 225F.
  2. In a high-powered blender, blend the chicken, apple, garbanzo beans and rice. Add small amounts of water and press ingredients until everything is mashed completely. The texture should be like a thick hummus or peanut butter. Make sure the mixture is blended completely or the tip of the bottle will clog.
  3. Scoop mixture into cake decorating bottle.
  4. Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Put 1/2 inch dots onto the paper. The dots will shrink by half so if your dog is bigger you may want to make your dots bigger.
  6. Put into oven and let sit (dehydrate) for 2-3 hours.

This recipe made 4 cookie sheets of treats. Two sheets can go in the oven at a time (unless you are lucky enough to have a conventional oven and you can put 4 sheets in at once).

Step-by-Step

Gather all your healthy yummy ingredients.

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In a high-powered blender, blend the chicken, apple, garbanzo beans and brown rice. Add small amounts of water until the mixture looks like a thick hummus or peanut butter. The more water you add to the mixture, the longer it will take to dry the treats:

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Scoop the mixture into the cake decorating bottle.

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Squeeze 1/2 inch droplets onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.

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Place in an oven preheated to 225F. Slow cook them for 2-3 hours (Depending on how big your droplets are – if they are smaller they wont take as long). Feel free to taste test them to see if they are done in the middle!!

I didn’t take a photo of the finished product on the cookie sheet (sorry!!). They dehydrated to half the size. Here is the finished product.

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Look at those delicious little dog treats!

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Under $10 for about 3 months worth of dog treats!!!

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Substitutions

  • Chicken: Beef, lamb, duck
  • Apple: blueberries/raspberries/strawberries, pear, broccoli, kale
  • Garbanzo beans: lentils, kidney beans, green beans, black beans
  • Brown rice flour: garbanzo bean flour, lentil flour, almond flour, quinoa flour

Wholesome ingredients, happy dog!!

Feel free to share this recipe with any of your dog loving friends. Thanks for stopping by.

Hungry, Please Help

The man was wearing tattered clothing covered with stains and holes. His hat kept the hot California sun from burning his face. He stood on a busy street corner, during the middle of rush hour traffic, holding an old cardboard sign.

“Hungry – Please Help. God Bless!!!”

My first reaction was to think about how this man could go out and get a job just like I did. After all, I was a single mother with no formal education and I was supporting two children on my own. If I could do it, surely this man could.

As I got closer to the street light, I actually prayed, “God please don’t let me get stuck at the light, just let me get through”. I was beginning to feel angry at this man for wanting something from me. If I had extra, I would buy myself some new socks or maybe a Starbucks coffee.

Of course, my prayer didn’t work. I was the first one to get stopped at the light so the homeless guy was standing right next to my window. I was doing that thing where I pretended not to see him – no eye contact. Then God gave me a gentle nudge and reminded me that I had just been to Costco. I had a whole tray of apples sitting in the seat next to me!!

God also opened my eyes to the sign that said, “Hungry, Please Help……” The man was not asking for money, he was asking for food.

Immediately I felt convicted, so I rolled my window down and offered the man an apple. Just as soon as I did, he smiled the BIGGEST smile and said, “Thank you and God Bless”.

That’s when I noticed he didn’t have a single tooth in his mouth!!

Just as quickly as God laid conviction on my heart, the enemy swooped in and did the same thing. I drove away feeling mortified for offering a hungry man with no teeth an apple.

I cried and felt totally defeated, “I am such a jerk and totally useless. I can’t even do God’s work right!”

Thankfully, it was Wednesday Night Bible Study and I was able to take my story to a group of women that walked me through it.

We talked about how God speaks to us, but so does the enemy. God gives us thoughts of righteousness, love, thanksgiving, worth, and encouragement. If we aren’t careful the enemy will replace those thoughts with fear, insecurity, anxiety, anger, frustration, and discouragement.. The enemy will tell you that you’re worthless, you’re a failure, you’re ugly …….. “you can’t even do God’s work right”.

After that study, I began immersing myself into bible scriptures. As I learned more about the Word of God and had a better understanding of God’s love, I realized that I could choose to believe God’s words over the enemy’s.

God wants us to believe in ourselves because we were created in His image.

Imagine one of your children (or someone you love very much if you don’t have kids) coming to you and saying, “I’m a loser. Ugly. No good. No one likes me and I will never amount to anything”.

What would your response be?

You would say, “Sweetheart, you are beautiful, amazing and talented. You may be struggling right now, but this wont last forever. I love you.”

God loves us just the same. When a negative thought enters your mind, realize it isn’t from God – be quick replace it. “I am a beautiful child of God and I refuse to listen to the lies”.

What are some of the ways God has worked in your life? Please share in the comment section.

John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

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