Monday, September 12, 2011

Celebrate Family Dinner with #B4FD!

I wanted to personally invite all Dinner Together blog readers to join me at the Blog for Family Dinner project.

From September 26, 2011 through October 24, 2011, we will be featuring daily blog posts that explore the far-reaching benefits of family dinner. (Learn more about why we chose those dates here.) We've gotten some fantastic written and video posts already, including some personal stories about the challenges involved in making family dinners happen, recipes, and helpful tips and tools, and we can't wait to start publishing! We still have a few slots open and would welcome your submission. You can also help us spread the word to let others know about this project. We even have some sample Facebook and Twitter posts already written for you to just copy and paste for use on your own accounts.

My cofounders in this project, Grace Freedman of and Billy Mawhiney of Time at the Table will be will offering a teleseminar, "Celebrate Family Dinner with #B4FD!" with me on Tuesday September 20, 2011 at 12pm Eastern. We will be discussing why family meals matter, some tips for overcoming obstacles to family meals, recommendations for enhancing family connections at the family table, and more. We will also be discussing the Blog for Family Dinner project and offering you a preview of upcoming posts we have lined up. This event is free for all Kitchen Table Parents members, and Basic Membership is also free. To learn more about this event, click here.  If you can't join us live, but have a question or comment, please leave it in the comments below this post. The teleseminar will be recorded.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

3 Easy Recipes with Zucchini and Summer Squash

As I mentioned earlier this summer, my family joined a CSA for the first time this year. During the month of August, we received an abundance of zucchini and summer squash. I was actually a little disappointed when there was none at yesterday's pick up (now we've got an abundance of peppers and tomatoes) because I've been having fun experimenting with some new zucchini recipes. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites below.

Baked Ziti with Zucchini and Summer Squash

1 lb ziti
2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium yellow squash, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups (8 oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
½ tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
cooking spray
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and return to pot.
  • Mix together ricotta cheese and egg.
  • Add ricotta mixture and 1 ½ cups of mozzarella cheese to the cooked pasta and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Saute zucchini, yellow squash, and onion for about 5 minutes.
  • Add tomato and garlic and cook for about 3 more minutes.
  • Stir cooked vegetable mixture into pasta mixture.
  • Add basil and oregano.
  • Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Transfer pasta mixture to baking dish.
  • Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
Serves 10.

Note: This dish freezes very well. Increase the cooking time if baking from frozen.

Slow Cooker Ratatouille
Adapted from The New Creative Crock Pot Cookbook by R.T. Swatt, 2001.

2 medium eggplants, cut into ½-inch thick round slices
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium zucchini, cut into ½-inch slices
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium yellow squash, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 medium tomatoes, sliced into wedges
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup chicken broth (or white wine if you have it)
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
grated Parmesan or crumbled feta cheese (optional)
  • Place the eggplant slices in a large colander and sprinkle with salt to remove excesss water. (I peeled my eggplant first, but that is optional. I know there are lots of nutrients in the skin, but I don’t care for it.)
  • After 30 minutes, rinse the salt off the eggplant and pat dry.
  • Cut the eggplant into 2-inch pieces.
  • In a large skillet, sauté the eggplant, onion, garlic, zucchini, yellow squash, and red pepper for a few minutes.
  • Transfer to a slow cooker and add the tomatoes, olive oil, chicken broth, and vinegar.
  • Cover and cook on Low 4 to 6 hours.
  • Serve with cheese if desired.

Serves 8.

Note: This recipe can also be frozen, but it tastes better fresh; it became a little more watery through the freezing/reheating process.

Summer Squash Ribbons with Lemon and Parmesan
Adapted from

1 large zucchini
1 large yellow squash
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
½ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste
  • Cut the squash and zucchini into long, thin ribbon strips using a vegetable peeler. Stop peeling when you get to the seeded core.
  • Place squash in a large bowl.
  • In a separate small bowl, combine oil, lemon juice, cheese, and salt and pepper.
  • Pour dressing over squash ribbons and toss gently to combine.

Serves 6.